Thursday, January 28, 2010


Shortly after Christmas, my two bosses and I went on an investigation trip to a Quechua village called Ayuma. We had an amazing experience there. As always, we never know what to expect. Everything we do goes against what my culture tells me is acceptable. It never gets easier going into a random community without knowing anyone, without any notice, or any money. We go out relying on the Lord to go before us, preparing the way, leading us to the right house and hoping that someone will be willing to feed us and put us up in exchange for what little help we can provide and Bible stories.

Don't get me wrong, we might not be able to provide much help to them but what we bring them is something worth far more than anything else this world can offer. We go out with much confidence in the power of our message but a little nervous about how to work past culture and language barriers to convey that message. In the end the Lord's Word is always shared and, whether we feel confident about our work there or not, we leave with a peace knowing God is always working through your prayers on many different levels.

While in Ayuma we were very well-received. There were some men there and children who knew some Spanish and tried to translate at times when our Quechua was, well... awful. I have never met such amazing people in my life! I have to admit that before I went to Ayuma I was very burdened at realizing that my heart had changed and that the deep passion and brokenness I had once had for the lost here had slowly dissipated. I pleaded with the Lord to give me that brokenness and a love for these people but the Lord chose to withhold those feelings from me, teaching me to be obedient to Him with or without the feelings.

One of our biggest struggles with being in the communities sometimes is when the people will not let us work. They put us on pedestals because we are white missionaries and feel we want to sit around and just preach or if we work we will get hurt. However, in Ayuma we begged the believers to let us try to help and eventually we were right there with them. I'm not going to lie, it was some of the hardest physical labor I have ever done and I began to wish I wasn't out there. However, we soon realized that everyone in the village was beginning to take notice and see that we were serious about helping. We saw this as our great opportunity and worked all day long as hard as we could.

Our work consisted of pastoring sheep with the women, which was an all-day event, climbing up and down mountains, chasing after sheep that would eat themselves right off a cliff , and my personal favorite - using a warhaca, or slingshot, to through rocks at a group of sheep going the wrong way. We unfortunately only packed sunscreen with SPF 15 so, needless to say, we got blasted by the sun. The next day we helped a widow in her field all day with long sleeves and socks trying as best we could to protect our skin from another burn. That was the worst day for me because not only was I being outdone by a 60-year-old lady with a pick-ax, but my skin was sizzling from the last burn, and feeling the pain of yet another coming on was killing me.

The food there was great, but that's not the problem - it's the amount! I have never eaten so much in my life. More than any of the other communities we were given tremendous amounts of food! In this culture, it is extremely rude and offensive to turn down an offer to a meal. During the meal, you must eat with a smile. We got invited to several different houses to eat huge meals back-to-back. We tried to explain we had just eaten but they don't take "no" for an answer. For one of the meals, we were given so much food we had to leave to throw up.

Overall our trip was amazing and God gave me a love for these people that I can't explain. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be used by God to bring these people truth, joy, and peace in life through Jesus. I ask you to please pray as we struggle to do this through our broken Quechua. They asked me to tell you thank you for praying for them and please continue to pray for their village and the lost villages around them. We will be returning to Ayuma in March and we are all very excited!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Where the Team Stands

For those of you who have not yet heard, the community we were supposed to go to, Qochumi, kicked our boys out after two years of working with them. We were all devastated and confused as to what happened after two years of building relationships and working hard alongside them. It all happened so fast - they asked our guys to leave and said they didn't want to hear anymore. We all know who is behind this, but we are not surprised, just broken-hearted for the people of Qochumi. We did our best to understand and try to work out any issues, but it was clear we were not welcome there anymore.

Please continue to pray for them and the other villages that have not yet heard. The enemy is hard at work using many of their superstitions and fears to keep them from allowing us to come in. After language school, Misty and I were to work in Qochumi discipling the few believers there, but due to this abrupt change we were left searching for other communities to work in. Thankfully, word got out that there were missionaries looking for places to share bible stories, and we received an overwhelming response. There have been many villages that have few or many believers that are begging to be discipled.

We are truly blessed and are so humbled to be used by the Lord in this way. We by no means feel qualified for this but we are continually reminded that it is His work and not ours. We can barely carry a simple conversation; cooking with the women results in a lot of laughs, strange looks, and burnt food; the kids soon become our best friends and teachers helping us understand the culture and how to fit in. If there is one thing I have learned so far, it is that God does not need me - He just wants my heart in obedience.

Please pray for Misty and I as we leave this Saturday to go to our next community, Falsuri. We have heard that there are a handful of believers here that have been asking to have someone come and share more Bible stories with them. We are very excited and nervous. Trips are always amazing times of growth and precious times with Jesus but, like always, there are many trials and rough times ahead. Please pray for wisdom, clarity to speak and understand the people, God's moving in the hearts of the believers and unbelievers of this community, and protection from the attacks from the enemy. We will be gone for a month and really depend on your faithful prayers. Thank you so much, I love you!

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Big Thanks!

Once arriving back to Sucre on Dec. 23 we were able to rest and spend Christmas with our friends Trent and Kay who are the bosses of the guys Xtreme team. We had such a great Christmas with them. We watched Christmas classics like: A Christmas Story, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Its a wonderful Life, and Home Alone. We all cooked our favorite side dishes and had turkey. It wasn't grandmas cookin but it sure was delicious! We tried to get in the Christmas spirit as best we could in the summer temperatures but the Lord blessed us with a cloudy cool day on Christmas.

I was greatly surprised to find a big box full of Christmas gifts waiting for me. I just want to thank everyone for their sweet cards and gifts they sent me. I was not expecting anything and came home to lots of my favorite treats, lotions, candles, and the biggest of all a brand new computer! A big thanks goes out to the Awana kids for raising all that money for me to get my computer. I love it and use it all the time to talk to my family. I heard about all you did to raise money for me, but you know you didn't do it just for me but for Jesus, so He says thank you to and He is very proud of you! It was the best gift I could have ever gotten! I love you guys and can't wait to talk to you!

To my core team I can't begin to express what you mean to me! Your faithful prayers and continual support gives me such peace and strength to continue through the rough times in the communities. I by no means feel alone with all of you lifting me up back home. Thank you to everyone else who is praying for my team and the lost here. Your prayers do not fall on deaf ears. God is blessing our team in many ways and opening up many opportunities to share His love and we couldn't do it without you! THANK YOU!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Language School

As of the beginning of October my team and I have been in language school studying Quechua. Our time there was amazing! We were able to form great relationships with our teachers and other students who were from different parts of the world. It was so cool to meet so many different people and learn about their culture, traditions, and beliefs. The Lord opened up so many opportunities for us to share our testimonies and beliefs with many people we met while
being there. However the most lasting relationships were made with our teachers who we met with everyday. It became very clear the Lord was really working in their hearts as time went on. Several times one of us would come home and share how the Lord opened a great opportunity to share our faith, stories, testimonies, etc. They were very curious and showed much interest in what we did and made comments about the difference they saw in us as compared to the other students. Of course we told them the reason we are different is because Jesus has changed our lives.

Kelli asked one of our friends what she believed in and she told us her family was Catholic but she really didn’t know what to believe in. She told us she was open to anything and was interested in hearing what we believe. We were very excited to have found someone so honest, willing, and ready to listen. Over a course of 2 months she hung out with us and we all became very close. We continue to pray for her and praise the Lord for the many times we were able to share His love and truth with her. Please pray for the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of all of our teachers and friends in Cochabamba.

Well, I bet you are wondering about the language now, right? This was a different story. Quechua is a very difficult language and proved to be a big struggle for all of us. It was very easy to get discouraged with this being the second language we learned in 8 months. We found ourselves struggling to remember how to talk in English. The other day I made out a grocery list and intending to write ham I wrote jam (the j is silent like h) this is how it is spelled here. So Misty bought jelly thinking I meant jam making it a total of three jars of jelly. We felt we were all going crazy. You know it gets bad when your partner speaks different languages in her sleep.

The main difficulty is not the pronunciation of the many plosives but the length. Quechua is a very literal language and the average word in Quechua is about 12 letters long. A one page bible story in English or Spanish can be anywhere from 2 to 3½ pages in Quechua. This wouldn’t be that big of a problem if we weren’t working with some of the hardest working people in our time. It isa struggle for them to find time to stop working long enough to listen to a story and when they do they are usually so tired they either struggle to stay awake or pay attention. I don’t mean to sound like a downer but these are some of the harsh realities we are facing. So, this being said, we appreciate all of your prayers and ask you to continue praying for us in this area specifically. I will do my best to keep you updated with the language-learning process.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Bad Trade Off

While living in the jungle I experienced many trials that differed from any trial I had ever experienced in the States. One of those being the dire feeling of hunger. A constant craving for chocolate, ice cream, Dad´s bbq, Chik-Fil-A, pizza, etc. My mind would wander off daydreaming of winning the lottery in Wendys hamburgers or a year supply of Ben and Jerry´s ice cream. Crazy things happen to you in the jungle!

During our approximate 5 months of training in the jungle, we were allowed a small allowance each week to buy food from the market. In an effort to push us to our breaking point, our boss J would occasionally limit our budget, forcing us to learn to ration our food and learn to go without. We all attempted to ration our food as carefully as we could but, unfortunately, due to our American mindset of eating excessively and for pleasure, this was a struggle.

One week we ate rice and beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for several days. One can imagine the results of such. That made for very long nights as we were squeezed elbow to elbow in a small wooden truck bed. The situation only worsened as time went by. One of our friends, an older Xtremer, brought us some fruit flavored fiber pills. We all tried one and were immediately hooked to the mouth-watering taste of sugar. I was the worst at controlling my daily dosage of pills. I found myself sneaking 2 and 3 at a time, and on average eating anywhere from 5 to 10 a day. You can probably guess what happened next!

As the effects of the fiber pills were setting in, my team began to get worried. They asked me all kinds of medical questions and couldn´t figure out what was happening. Not wanting them to find out, for fear of losing my sweet, fruit flavored friends, I blamed it on a parasite. No one knew of my secret addiction until they realized the bottle of fiber pills were almost empty. They immediately questioned me and after denying their accusations my red face and nervous twitch gave it away. Therefore, a new rule was set in place, that no one was to allow me to eat any more fiber pills. A couple days later I claimed it was a miracle that the stomach issues had disappeared, however, they didn´t think it was funny.

As I dreamed about food, home, a warm bed, hot shower, etc., I became very discontent and overwhelmed. After not having eaten in three days I reached my limit and left the girls to take a walk. Immediately I broke down as thoughts of leaving, quiting, and regret began to flood my mind. As I walked deeper into the jungle, my mind sank deeper into these negative thoughts. I began mulling over every negative aspect, difficulty, or trial I was facing: bug bites, infections, sickness, bland food, hunger pains, sleepless nights, hard continuous work, extreme heat and humidity, and having to give up my rights and desires.

The jungle was no longer beautiful, adventurous, and inviting, but suffocating, foreign, and miserable! I felt I was on the front lines being attacked right and left. At that point I fell to the ground holding the surrender flag and with everything in me cried out to God, ¨I´m done! I give up, I can´t do this any longer, I surrender! Please, if you love me send that 100 ft anaconda to eat me!¨

At that moment God reminded me of the story of Jacob and Esau. In that time the birthright was everything, your treasure, prize, and joy. This was your livelihood, the greatest blessing you could have. However, in a moment of weakness and desire Esau traded it for the temporal pleasure of a BOWL OF SOUP! Crazy, right? That is what I thought until God showed me how I was like Esau. My flesh was in a state of misery desiring that sweet feeling of comfort again. I was so busy focusing on the negative and whining about my discomfort that I was forgetting all the things God was doing in me.

I had been growing more than I ever had. Experiencing a true relationship with my Father. Daily, as my flesh was being crucified with Christ on the cross I was becoming one with Him. I don´t know any other way to put this except that I was falling in love with my maker! Never have I felt so much love within me. I loved taking walks with Jesus, just He and I walking together. We would talk, I would cry telling him of my struggle, and we would laugh together as I attempted to sing to Him. (Many of you know I am the one choirs tend to put in the back, claiming it´s a height issue.) Nevertheless, here I was ready to give it all away; trade this precious time in my life for temporal comfort and pleasure.

How many times do we do this in our daily lives? Excluding God fom our personal lives, relationships, work, decisions, even ministry for our own pride or comfort? Also, when facing trials we whine or complain, questioning His love, power, and soveriegnty. My prayer for you is that you recieve His love and will for your life in the many different forms it may come. The majority of the time He just wants your attention, love, and dependency on Him. Trust like Job in His unconditional love and wisdom for you , His beloved child.

Zeph. 3:17, Jer. 29:11

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Mountain Experience

The past couple of weeks my partner Misty and I have been living in a Quechua village in Bolivia. We stayed with a believer named Te Adora, who quickly became like our mama. The first couple of days I experienced something thats hard to describe. Our two bosses, Leah and Kelli, took us to the village where we would be living. We all had a great time laughing, talking, and getting to know our new family. I was feeling comfortable until the next morning when it was time for Leah and Kelli to leave. As I watched them drive off after hugging them bye, something within me broke. Immediately I was filled with emotion. I was scared, sad, and overwhelmed, like a little girl when her mom drops her off at her first day of school. Tears filled my eyes as I watched them fade away into the mountains into that once seemed so beautiful but now were new, different, and scary.

I was overwhelmed as I turned and headed toward the mud house that was now my new home with a new family, who spoke a new language, and had a completely different way of living. As I neared the house a million thoughts flooded my mind, and emotion swept through my heart sending adrenaline pumping wildy through my veins. I began to walk back very slowly, with each step being more painful as the first. I fought back tears as I entered the house to find a pot of food waiting for me to eat. I looked ate my partner Misty, gave the host a fake smile, and inwardly screamed, ¨What am I doing here! Ican´t do this, get me outof here!¨

The rest of the day the feelings worsened and finally when we left thier house to go to bed I burst into tears. I think I freaked Misty out crying for hours without much of an explination. We had done this many times before in the jungle for longer time periods. I just came out of jungle boot camp , nothing should faze me, what was going on? The next two days I became like a robot. Waking up and blocking off my emotions, putting on a big smile laughing an talking with the people but flooding my bed with tears at night.

By the third day we had a break to rest so I hiked up a mountain to get away and spend time alone with God. As I was up there I had what I call my ¨Moses moment.¨ While on the mountain, God met with me! It was a very windy afternoon the skys dark grey filled with rain clouds ready to burst, it was beautiful. I love storms, they always make me feel so close to the Lord. Watching his creation put on a show for him delcaring his power, beauty, and glory. I looked up at the clouds, closed my eyes and imagined myself at home on my grandma´s porch watching the storm.Immediately I felt at home. I began to cry and didn´t want to open my eyes.

At that moment God whispered to me, ¨Amy, if you go to distant lands, the farthest of places with the strangest faces, with me you are always home.¨ I will never leave you, I am with you Amy! At that moment the wind began to pick up and it blew so hard I thought I was going to be thrown off the mountain. I burst into tears as an incredible peace and joy flooded my heart. For the first time in the year of being away from my home, friends, family, and all I knew , I felt at home. My home is with my father wherever that may be. We are not of this world we are just passing through.

I felt my Dad, God, was wrapping His arms around me and as the wind rocked me to and fro I felt as though I were in his lap wrapped so tight in his arms and He was rocking me back and forth wiping the tears from my eyes saying don´t worry honey your home, your daddy is here. I felt those same feelings I had when I was a little girl and my mom would rock me to sleep becuase I had a bad dream. I could rest in her arms trusting her love for me, knowing she would not let anything happen to me.

The love He has for us is indescribable! He is waiting to love you. God almighty, Holy, Righteous, creator of all we see longs for you and me! The greatest mystery of all mankind the love of God! Read Matthew 10. 29-31 and Zepheniah 3:17. The very hairs on your head are numbered. He knows every tear that falls, and every up and down. He has a plan and purpose for your life.
To love Him and be loved by Him.
Gods Love!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Get to Know the Team

I apologize, this blog is way overdue. I figured before I begin telling you stories about my team I should introduce you to them first. I am very blessed to be apart of such an amazing team. I truly feel as though I am experiencing in many ways what it felt to be apart of the first church mentioned in Acts. I am continually being challenged, held accountable, encouraged and because of that I am growing in many ways. So without further delay, meet the fam....

Meet The Boss Man, Jeremy Talifero. He is a big roughin, black wearin, tattoo sportin, pony tail hangin, Johnny Cash lovin, kinda guy. At first glance one might think he escaped from prison, or begin having sudden flashbacks of the big bully in elementary school; But WAIT, before you reach in your pocket to give him your lunch money, stop, and talk to the man, and you´ll realize that he´s actually a relatively nice guy!

All joking aside, Jeremy and his wife Susan have been leading the Xtreme Team with the IMB for many years now and have made a profound impact on my life and the lives of many who have had the privilege of being under their leadership.Although the classes we had each day in training were beneficial, watching their daily lives made the greatest impact in my life. Together they gave up their time, home, comfort, and most of all each other to pour into the lives of a couple young girls.

Just to give you a little run down of what training looked like. Every day J would come to our camp with Jeff, the walking post-it, or Susan, who would teach us stories or just be there to encourage and support us. Arriving at mid morning he would teach us for hours, sometimes missing lunch or just takin down two cans of raw tuna, and continuing the lesson, leaving late in the afternoon. After a long day of teaching, answering numerous questions, frequent bathroom breaks, and listening to many silly girl chats, he would head home; probably feeling the need to work on the car, work out, spit or whatever guys do, to regain his masculinity after spending a whole day with a bunch of crazy girls!

On a serious note God has blessed J with such a wise and discerning spirit unlike anyone I have ever met before. The wisdom and truth he pured into us with such a passion was something that kept our team going through those rough days. He might be a tough guy but it is clear his heart is so tender for the the Lord and His work. To me that's what makes the difference between a leader and a role model, and that is exactly what he became to all of us. I can´t lie, some days we did hate him, shooting him the evil eye and wishing Susan were there instead. Haha, J/K, maybe. Anyways, the impact he made on my life is a life long one and one that Will never be forgotten!

Meet Kelli the walking, talking, biblical concordance. One might think she is a theologian, but she is actually a pharmacist. One suggestion, don´t ever play Bible Trivia with her unless you´re on her team,lol. Kelli is one of my SC´s(Strategic Coordinators)or boss. She is a blast to be around and has become such a role model for me to look up to. Her knowledge of God´s word is unlike anyone I have ever met.She has the gift of teaching of which we all benefit, and she unknowingly spreads that passion to others around her. Her gift of teaching coupled with her passion for God´s word makes it impossible to become bored listening to her or content in your walk.

Meet Leah our Xtreme nurse. She is no bigger than a minute, but has a huge heart. Leah is also my SC and has, along with Kelli, gone through training with us. Leah is the most genuinely caring person I know. Her heart is so tender for the lost and sensitive to others around her. She has such a heart like Jesus and continually is serving others counting it as a true joy. Her gift of encouragement tagged with her silly personality makes it evident why everyone wants to be around her. I can honestly say her positive encouraging spirit is one of the major reasons I was able to make it through training. She clearly walks so close to the Lord and is a challenge to us all.

Meet My partner Misty. We couldn't be more different if we had been born on different planets,lol! She is tall, artistic, and unfortunately for me sarcastic:)Misty has an incredible sense of creativity. She has a certain eye for things that any normal person wouldn´t look twice at, but she can see the potential and turn it into something beautiful. In the same way she can look past the external and see the light and darkness in people and places. She has the spirit of discernment and in many situations this has proven to be very beneficial. I guess you can say I am naive in this area, and here in SA I have found there is usually meaning behind the pretty smile and nice guy act. I guess you can say she is my personal body guard and in many ways an answer to my parents prayers. She is a great friend, accountability partner, and team mate. I am very blessed to have her!