Archives For June 2013

aplaceaftermyheart

One of the first Spanish words we learned upon entering Ecuador was, “Chau.”  It means, “See you later.”  This is a bit friendlier than saying, “adios,” which means, “goodbye.”  “Adios” is used when people do not expect to see each other again.

On the last day of our Kid’s Club in Portete, we had a great time with the kids.  We laughed as they tried on and decorated the pipe cleaner eyeglasses we had made.  We had fun as we played games.  And we made funny gestures as we tried to communicate since we were unable to speak the others language.

Kids Club

Once club was over, Amanda and Chandra (the missionaries) asked our team to line up.  I turned and asked our youth pastor why and he simply said, “It’s to say ‘adios.’”  Those words wrapped around my heart like a vice.  It was at that moment I realized my time with the kids I had fallen in love with had come to an end.  And it was unlikely I would ever see them again.

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The tears began running down my cheeks.  I tried to gain control but the first child through the line squeezed my neck in such a loving hug that it only made the tears pool in my eyes blurring my vision.  The next child hugged me and I cried even harder.  It was a losing battle so I just let the tears fall.

The kids were concerned but also seemed to understand.  One little girl held on so long I knew she was experiencing many of the same feelings.

I hate goodbyes.

I not only fell in love with the kids of Ecuador but all the adults we met as well.  They are all wonderful people.  When people capture your heart, it’s hard to say “adios.”

DSC_0324Being a Christ-follower, I don’t want to say “adios” to anyone.  I want to say, “Chau,” meaning, “I may not see you in this lifetime but I’ll see you in heaven.”  Unfortunately, I will not see many of those I love in heaven.  Being a Christ-follower, I believe the bible when it says in John 14:6,

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

Many Ecuadorians worship idols and believe praying to them will get them to heaven.  But God makes it clear that is not acceptable.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God…”  Exodus 20:4-5

I never want to say, “adios.”  My desire is to spend all eternity with my friends in heaven.  We have much more to talk about it.  Games to play.  Laughter to share.  So I will pray God will use our work and the continued work of the missionaries to reach the hearts of my friends and those friends I have yet to meet.  And I’ll support any way God desires including going and giving when He asks.

ecuador team 2013I will also continue to pray for my friends here and afar who have yet to accept Christ bridges the gap between them and God.  Spending eternity with me may not sound appealing to some of them 🙂 but living forever in paradise should.

“Adios” can just go “adios.”

Other posts in this series:

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

Disclaimer:  These blog posts and other social media activity contain my own personal views & opinions and may not represent the views, beliefs, or ideas of my teammates or the church I am involved with currently or have been involved with in the past.

 

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Creating a Stir

June 22, 2013 — 1 Comment

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Took a walking tour of Gonzanama yesterday. Since white people are a rarity around here, we created quite a stir. People were coming out of their houses, sticking their heads out of businesses, and stopping their cars to stare at us. It was quite funny.

The people are very friendly, especially the children. The children have a hard life. Many work during the day to help their families and then must attend school at night. As we drove through town at 9:00 last night, we saw children walking home in their school uniforms carrying backpacks. It was a strange sight to see after dark.

We’ve had the opportunity to visit a couple of family homes in Portete. Both homes were very primitive. The toilet and shower were outside. And they were equipped very sparsely. Most people in Portete do not own a refrigerator or have other items that we feel are a necessity in America.

Houses are tucked into the mountainside making them only accessible by rocky paths or steep stairways. Although they have challenges that would stretch the average American beyond imagination, they are joyful and make it work.

We were privileged to have one family invite us to their house and make us lunch. The dad cooked the meat outside. He used a pan that fit into a chair that was missing the seat. He then set up a blowtorch underneath the pan. The picture is above.

The blowtorch kept falling and at one point caught the “nearby grass on fire. The daughter calmly walked in the house and brought out a bowl of water to put it out. He then cooked plantains in the meat fat. It wasn’t the healthiest of meals but it was excellent!

We led another day of VBS and loved on many kids. They loved every minute of our time together. They especially enjoy having their picture taken so I can’t wait to share those with you.

Last night we attended a women’s bible study held in a family home. The hunger these women and children had to learn more about Christ was incredible. So many Christians have lost that hunger somewhere along the way and it made me realize how we need to be intentional about holding onto it. Loving the bible, loving to meet together, loving our leaders, loving each other, holding each other accountable, sharing it with others. That’s what I desire.

Today, we will lead our last VBS with the children. All of us are very excited to work with these kids again. Today, we will be explaining how to come to Christ and allow Him to bridge the gap between them and God. We want them to know God sent His Son to die for our sins. He took our place when our punishment was to be death. Our desire is for them to realize the unfathomable love God has for each of them to offer such a gift as His Son to die in their place.

They can have eternal life in Heaven with a Father that never fails them if they just believe and pray asking God to forgive them of their sins. If you have not prayed this prayer, have questions about God and this gift He offers, please message me. I would love to speak more with you.

Please be praying for us today as we work with the kids and as we visit the same family who fed us lunch the other day. A couple of people will be sharing what God has done for them with this family. We are here to be the hands and feet of Christ. Pray that He will use us in powerful ways.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” John 3:16-18 (The Message)

Disclaimer: These blog posts and other social media activity contain my own personal views & opinions and may not represent the views, beliefs, or ideas of my teammates or the church I am involved with currently or have been involved with in the past.

Kids of Ecuador

June 21, 2013 — 1 Comment

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Yesterday we led a VBS for the kids in Portete. The children were threatened by the priests, locals, and parents not to come to the event since it was being led by Christians. However, 63 kids had the courage to show up anyway.

We played games, made a craft, performed a skit that was mimed and narrated in Spanish, and sang songs. The kids had a great time so we are expecting even more kids this afternoon.

Many parents don’t know how to discipline so they allow their children to do whatever they want until they reach a certain age and then they change and punish by beating. We are praying the kids are not being punished in such a way because they attended the VBS.

We have another great day planned for these kids that are so often ignored and left to their own devices. They crave to be loved and that is what we are providing for them.

There is much more to share but unfortunately, there isn’t much time today. More tomorrow, hopefully.

Long Road to Ecuador

June 20, 2013 — 1 Comment

We made it to Ecuador.

We left at 5:30 AM Tuesday morning and arrived in Gonzama at 10 AM Wednesday. Spent the night on the cold tile at Quito’s airport and took the very bumpy and interesting ride from Loja to Gonzama.

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We avoided livestock in the road, watched as cars passing other cars on blind curves, we got used to cars coming straight at us in our lane, swerved to miss a napping dog in the middle of the road (he apparently always sleeps in the middle of the road according to Amanda, the missionary), and hit the endless potholes.

All of it only added to our adventure.

We hit the ground running after arriving, painting at the Community Center. All the white people attracted the kids coming out of the school across the street and they eventually came over to check us out. The kids taught us some of their games so we got a nice little break.

Laughter and squeals are a universal language.

Amanda shared with me that 1 little boy asked if she cried in Spanish. Sometimes we just want to share an emotion with another person no matter what language.

It was a very busy day that ended at 9PM that night. Today, we will be leading a VBS for the kids in Portete.

I’m unable to upload pictures at this time but as soon as I figure out the problem, I will share photos.

Afraid to Obey?

June 19, 2013 — Leave a comment

Frances Chan Power Quote

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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

Desire to be Weak!

June 18, 2013 — 5 Comments

91300442Today begins our long journey to our final destination in Ecuador.  We left at 5:30 this morning.  We will experience 3 planes and 2 layovers, one of which is 8 hours long.  If all goes well, we should arrive tomorrow at 10:30 AM.  Sleep deprived, we will hit the ground running with orientation, lunch, a quick tour, and then beginning our work project in Portete, a long drive from where we are staying.

Today and tomorrow, excitement will mingle with nervousness and sleepiness.  Meaning there may be times when we will be silly, emotional, confused, groggy, and comical.  We will likely feel quite weak when we arrive.  How will we find the strength to actually work?

Saul (later called Paul) was brought to a point of weakness during a life-changing moment on a road he was traveling.  Saul had been breathing out murderous threats toward Jesus’ disciples and His followers.  He hated Jesus’ ministry and was determined to crush it.  He was a man who struck terror in the hearts of the people.

However, on this day on the road, a bright light suddenly appeared that made him fall to the ground.  It was Jesus wanting Saul to answer for persecuting Him.  Jesus told Saul to go into the city and he would be told what to do.

Saul was then struck blind.  He didn’t eat or drink anything for 3 days as he waited for instructions.  All the power given to him by man did him no good during this time.  All of the strength he had built within himself failed him now.  He was brought to a point of utter weakness.

Finally a man named Ananias showed up and told Saul Jesus had sent him so he could see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Saul’s sight was restored and he began eating and drinking which gave him strength.

He then began preaching telling others about Jesus.  (Acts 9:1-22)

It’s quite remarkable for a man who once hated Jesus to become one of His most effective leaders.  By making him weak, Jesus was able to change Saul’s heart and use him in many powerful ways.

Although each of us on this mission trip have followed Christ for a while, there are times we, too, must be brought to a point of weakness.  We must be completely emptied of ourselves and our own agenda so He can work effectively through us.

So even though it may seem disastrous to begin a mission trip so tired, we are being brought to a point of weakness for a reason.  We are trusting God to fill our weakness with His strength, fill us with His power, and do what He desires.

Please be praying for us!

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Other posts in this series:

A Scary yet Amazing Trip

Does God Shop at Garage Sales?

God’s Going to Fail Me!

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

Disclaimer:  These blog posts and other social media activity contain my own personal views & opinions and may not represent the views, beliefs, or ideas of my teammates or the church I am involved with currently or have been involved with in the past.

 

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  1. Prayer is essential to keeping God in the middle of our marriage.
  2. My breath still catches in my throat when I see him across a crowded room.
  3. We truly are growing old together.  But he becomes more handsome with each passing year.
  4. He can still make me laugh until I snort.
  5. He still treats me like a Princess.
  6. We’ve learned there will be times we argue but we do not “punish” each other by making the other guess our thoughts, bringing up past arguments, or by withholding intimacy.
  7. Sometimes (*gasp*)…….he’s right.  OW, that one hurt!!
  8. We’ve learned to love, respect, and be thankful for our differences.  This is vital since we are opposite in every way except for religious and moral views.
  9. It is NEVER a good time to discuss trivial matters or anything serious during UK basketball, Cardinal baseball, or Bronco football games.
  10. We have both mastered the art of shaking our head giving the illusion we are listening to the other when we really are not.  See number 9!
  11. It may take us a few minutes but we can always tell when the other is not listening.  See number 9!
  12. We never bash each other to our friends, family, or kids.
  13. I may have carried our children for 9 months and gone through labor but he is just as important to the kids as I am.
  14. No matter how long we are married, it will always be important to have strict boundaries with the opposite sex.
  15. Sometimes a listening ear and a hug is all that is needed.
  16. Love is a verb.  Although we have a settled upon division of duties, we “love” by helping the other at times.
  17. He never tells me “no.”  There is no other word that will get my dander up faster.  He’s become highly skilled at saying no without using the actual word, “no.”  For that I’m thankful!  However, an intense conversation usually follows any words he chooses to use that convey, “no.”
  18. I bend to his “want to know everything beforehand so there’s no surprises” nature by planning every detail of our vacations and researching every large purchase.  He bends toward my “sometimes I just want to live life and not answer a bunch of questions in advance” nature by not making me answer 1000 questions when going on my own trips for speaking, work, or missions.  He’s also learned not to ask about my Kohl’s purchases.
  19. We talk through all decisions and although one of us may need to concede a few points, we come to a mutual agreement before moving forward.
  20. There truly is “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.”  But we live it together and still cherish each other just as we promised.
  21. We started as best friends and we are still best friends.
  22. The kids may live on cereal and pizza when I’m away but he’s still a great dad!
  23. There are times we do go to bed angry.  But we always work it out in the morning.
  24. A sincere, “I’m sorry,” holds a lot of power.

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life, Craig.  I love you more now than when I walked down the aisle 24 years ago.

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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

It’s 4 days before my daughter and I join 13 other people from our church for a mission trip to Ecuador.  The reality of what we are about to do is finally beginning to sink in.  Although I’ve been to Ecuador before, there are still butterflies.

132077687Will any of us be detained in the airport?  Will we find ourselves in a difficult situation because we don’t know the language or culture?  Will I be able to keep my daughter safe?  Will we get sick from the food?  The worries are sometimes overwhelming.

However, even though we are nervous, we are also excited.  We get to meet new people, attempt to communicate when we don’t speak the language, try new foods, see beautiful landscapes we may only see once in our lives, and spread the love of Christ in the process.

I’m personally excited to share this experience with my daughter.  The last mission trip really changed my perspective on life and I know it will do the same for her.

Affecting me in a deep and profound way were the two home visits we made in Quito, Ecuador.

One was the home of a disabled couple.  We discovered this couple must maneuver a wheelchair and walker up a damaged walk, climb a few stairs, and navigate some tight corners just to reach their front door.  Once inside their 2 room apartment, we found it furnished with only a couple of plastic lawn chairs.  A clothesline was strung across the living area with clothes drying above the concrete floor.  They had very little food in their tiny kitchen with tiny refrigerator.  Apparently any refrigerator is a luxury in Quito so they were blessed by someone who donated it to them.

100_2410The 2nd home we visited belonged to a mom of 5 kids, one who has cerebral palsy.  There was a steep staircase from the street leading down to their apartment.  The 2 room apartment with a concrete floor was sparsely furnished similar to the 1st one.  The other room held two beds that all six shared.

The kitchen, big enough for only 1 person to stand in, had no refrigerator or stove.  The bathroom was outside and was shared with the woman upstairs.  When one of the kids needed to use the bathroom, the mom was forced to lock everyone else in the apartment while she took the one outside to use the facilities.  And to top off everything, the mom had to carry her child and her wheelchair up the steep staircase whenever she needed to leave the house.

The missionary who arranged the tour explained the dad abandoned this family and left them to fend for themselves.  The mom had recently been fired from her job because she was caught stealing food from her work’s kitchen.  The little money she made could not feed her children, so in utter desperation she resorted to stealing the food her children needed.  This explained the meager food in the house. 100_2425and1

I suddenly felt the need to escape this woman’s apartment.  Choking back sobs, I ached to be alone.

The shame I felt was overwhelming.  Just a few days before leaving for the trip, I had complained about our carpet and countertops.  The stress of getting ready for the trip made me snap at the kids and my husband.

The appalling need in front of me was making me come to terms with the overly blessed life I was taking for granted.  Even more distressing was their joy in contrast to mine.  By their standards, I had it all and yet lacked joy.  By my standards, they had nothing but had unmistakable joy.

My longing for more rather than being content with what I had was stealing my joy.  When my family didn’t meet my expectations, they were subjected to anger and frustration.  In comparison to the Ecuadorians, the love for their family superseded all other needs.  Somewhere between the altar, the delivery room, and now, I had allowed that joy to turn to stress.

I came home a different person.  My family comes first (after my relationship with God).  Time with them is protected as much as possible.  All requests for time already spoken for on my calendar receives the same response, “I already have something on the calendar for that time.”  I have found this garners more forgiveness than the unwillingness to sacrifice time with family.  And since I use it regularly, nobody knows when my time is filled with obligations or family.

And when the “I wants” threaten, I turn off Pinterest and pull out photos from these home visits.

I can’t wait to see how God uses the experiences on this upcoming trip to change my daughter.

We may be nervous at the unknowns.  But we are also eager to get there and do what God has asked of us.  To learn the lessons He has for us.  To experience the culture and scenery.  And hopefully make a lasting impact on the people we serve all while God is at work changing us to become more like Christ.  It’s going to be an amazing trip!

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