Psalm 146:2 "I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live."

Monday, February 28, 2011

How Things Are Going

Hi Everyone,

Here is the promised video update for today. Thank you for your prayers and I appreciate you all!

video

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bloom Where You Are Planted!

Hi Everyone,

I am amazed that Mexico seems quite like home to me, although the only thing missing is having familiar friends around me. I am doing the best I can to "bloom where I am planted" and am enjoying it. It is always best to make the most of the opportunities that we are given with what God has given to us.

Have a great day! Thanks for your prayers---and I will have a video up on Monday!



(This is a picture of one of the flowers that is painted on my wall in my room! I like it)

Friday, February 25, 2011

What It Means To Walk With God

Hi Everyone,

Every morning at the office we have a devotional time together before starting to work. Today one of my co-workers talked about "What it means to walk with God"

It was a really good devotional and I told him I would share it with you. Here are some of the things that he mentioned-or that were talked about. It is again pretty interesting because I was going to blog about this concept fairly soon.

So here are some of the points about walking with God-the list is not exhaustive by any means.

WALKING WITH GOD MEANS.....

1) Walking with God means companionship. We are walking with Jesus as His friend. He himself said John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." He called us His friends and gave His life willingly for us. Jesus also said, "You are my friends if you do what I command." John 15:14.

2) Walking with God means Walking by Faith and trust. It is hard to have a relationship and walk with someone that you don't trust. Hebrews 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Romans 1:17 "For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith."

3) Walking with God means that you are going in the same direction-TOGETHER. not lagging behind-or trying to run ahead of God, but rather, going through life and taking the "steps of life" together.

4) Walking with God means that you are enjoying fellowship-enjoying the fellowship of talking together but also realizing that there may be times where you don't talk at all, but simply knowing that HE is there walking with you and His presence as a secure safe place is enough---imagine the illustration of what a young child feels when they are secure holding the hand of a parent that they truly understand who loves them.

5) Walking with God means obedience--not just "Obeying to obey" but obeying because we love Him....having a relationship that is honest and sincere.

How can we walk more closely with God today?


On Monday I will try to have a video up-I realize I wasn't able to get one up this week. Have a great day! Blessings to you all!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pray-It's The Greatest Thing I Can do!

Hi Everyone,

The way I see my ministry and job right now on top of coming to the office three days a week, working on orientation requirements, and continuing to learn language and culture, is that a large part of my job is to PRAY-having the privilege to pray for the situations that are all around me-as well as for Bus drivers and passengers when I am on the bus and out and about doing whatever is needed.

I pray that God makes me sensitive and aware of what is going on around me so that I can intercede accordingly.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Waiting With Hope And Expectation

Hi Everyone,

The other day a few of myteam members and I were discussing the Lord´s reurn. We don´t know when that will be as in the day or hour, but one thing is sure-Jesus will return. So I gues I started asking some questions to myself like: Are we waiting expectantly for Jesus to return? How do we truly feel about His return? Are we ready? How is He calling each of us to ¨be about His business¨today? Are we doing that faithfully as unto Him?

For some reason this song has ben going through my head lately.

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
Words by Charles Wesley

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Opportunity



Hi Everyone,

One exciting thing that I discovered at Olga's house is that there is a single lady renting a room there. We "ran in to each other" one day on the way out and she said that she wants to get together to get to know one another sometime. I am pretty excited about that. Pray that God would provide the opportunity for us to talk at some point.

Thank you for your prayers! Right now I am at work so I need to make this update quick so that I can get on to some responsibilities.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Is Comfort Our god?

Hi Everyone,

Something I have been thinking about lately is the emphasis we put on comfort--esspecially in the culture I come from. Sometimes I wonder if comfort becomes a god to many of us? Or is it just a value of our culture? Obviously, thre is probably a fine line in all of this and people´s convictions vary. I am not writing this to be leglistic or to step on anyone´s toes, as they say. Sometimes though, I think we may prize ourselves in not having "actual idols," and yet I can´t help but wonder if maybe our "idols" are not neceasaily a statue on our shelf, but rather the things to which we give the most of our time, attention, and thought.

So are there idols in my life--things that have a higher importance than God? If so, what are those things? And what do I need to do about them?

Lord, I don´t want anythig in my life taking the place that only YOU alone deserve. Show me the offensive ways that are in me, so that I might walk more closely with You.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

God Is With Me

Hi everyone,

There is such comfort in knowing that God is with me. This is what sustains me. Knowing that God is with me keeps my prespective more centered upon Him.

I absolutely love these verses. Psalm 73:23-26 "Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

I´ve had a few of those reminder of the flesh in how I have communicated today. Sometimes I respond without thinking first. Please continue to pray for my grwth in this area. I do see some encouragement, but when I blow it---doing what I don´t want to do--that gets kind of frustrating. I guess it is all part of the process of becoming more like Jesus.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Language Learning And Culture!

Hi Everyone,

This morning I dicovered that I can actually read the newspaper in Spanish quite easily! Honestly, I don´t think I had ever tried before. I feel like I am learning a lot language wise and starting to learn more culturally. Honestly I am enjoying the process.

I have received approval from those on my team as the orientation committee to do my cultural paper on the reasons behind the various holiays that are in Mexco...as well as exploring how the days are celebraterd. Celebration is such a big part of the culture. I actually began writing up interview questions to ask people. Pray for me, as I, after writing the questions and geting them approved, will go out and talk to people. Pray that people would have answers to the questions I am seeking, and that I would learn new things about the culture and what people are truly thinking and believing. I am passionate about understanding where they are TRULY coming from and not just think I know when I probably don´t. THAT is how I will be able to minister more effectively as God enables.

I still can´t get over what it is like to wake up every morning with peace with God and myself in my heart--THE REAL JOY of knowing that Heaven is my true home---and deeeply desiring to reflect His love to those around me...there are still many here that need to know about Jesus`love. It has almost been nine months since God changeed my life and brought me to Himself.

I want more Mexicans to know of that JOY and to be able to celebrate JESUS--for who He really is.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pray For Javier

Hi Everyone,

Reality is settling in in some ways--like washing dishes with cold water this morning. But things are going well...and honestly it is not my intention to complain. I am enjoying being here but pray I would have patience with things that aren´t bad--but just different than what I am used to.

Today I have been out and about and ran into Javier--the guy who paints absolutely beautiful plates. When I was here in August, I shareed my testimony with him about how God brought me to the place of giving Him my trust for salvation. Javier actually started a conversation about spiritual things, but from what he said, I could tell he is still confused. Some of the things he said weren´t right--but I wasn´t quite sure how to answer. Please pray that God would show me how to answer the next time I see him. Pray that Javier would come to know the one and only true and living God and not just combine bits of different religions.

Well, I need to go for now----Thank you so very much for praying.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Getting Settled In!

Hi Everyone,

I am absolutely loving it here in Mexico. I do not have internet access at Olga's house (the lady I am renting from)---but am hoping we can work out something with that eventually--as I also need it for my work at different times. I will update whenever I am able to do so. I am doing well-getting settled in into my lovely painted room. Here is a tour of my room and the parts of Olga's place that I will be using.

video

This week I've been getting settled in and trying to work on some of the orientation requirements-my goal is to have everything completed in six months--which on top of everything else means I will be working VERY hard.

Please do pray as I have either allergies or a cold thing that is quite draining...thankfully pills help a little.

Thank you for your prayers! I appreciate you all!

Here are some more flower pictures.



href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dCnozYpLvjw/TVwQtT4Yn7I/AAAAAAAAAQw/nEn5VB8AEV8/s1600/IMG_1037.JPG">

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Favorite Places In Mexico

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to two of my favorite places in Mexico. Come along with me to enjoy them! The first two videos are taken at an ecological park called Chapultepec. It is really a neat place, and even though I believe some of the waterfalls may be man-made, they look great! These two videos only show a tiny bit of what the ecological park has inside....I may be able to share more another day in the future.

video

video

The second place that is one of my favorites is a little local coffee and Churro shop in the center of Juitepec. When I move to Olga's tomorrow, I will have to scout out a little new coffee shop to enjoy on occasion. The quick video of the "Don Churro" shop follows.

video

Today I enjoyed both of these places---for a total cost of six dollars (transportation included)! I also went to church this morning--Please pray that the Lord would lead me to the church He wants me partnering alongside during the time God has me serving here.

Oh! And here are some flowers I saw on the way home.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cultural Places Part One

Hi Everyone,

Here are two videos-one at the Palace of Cortes and the other is of the tourist market.

video

video

I enjoy taking all of you along to see me in my travels. My camera is carried around everywhere I go.....and maybe just a tiny bit--it makes it seem like you aren't so far away. I can feel it to0day that I am missing many of you...but nonetheless, I am thankful to be here.

It's God's Ministry---Not Ours.

Hi Everyone,

Here are some thoughts that were mentioned by our devotional Speaker Stewart from team conference....and put in my own words.

Sometimes when we have been working really hard at something-especially in ministry--pouring ourselves into it----we can tend to start thinking that it is ours---and therefore be trying to "own" it.

In reality, however, the truth is--we don't own the ministry that we've had the privilege of participating in. We have only been given the privilege to participate in it because God has given it to us----and in reality the ministry is all God's.

God can take where we are currently involved and give it to any one else, if He would chose. We must hold it open-handed--remembering that it is God who works in the hearts and lives of people. This does not mean that we let go of all of our responsibility with what we have been entrusted for this time.

John put it this way John 3:25-30 "An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”

We can only serve out of what God has already given to us----And Christ in us must become greater--we must become less. Ministry is not ours--and is not "about us." It's about Him.

Sometimes I feel like changing my blog title---because all that God is enabling and giving the privilege of is not mine at all.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Final Conference Reflections

Hi Everyone,

Following is a video with some of my thoughts from conference this morning.

video

I plan to follow with a devotional either later tonight or early tomorrow morning.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Will Of God

Hi Everyone,

One of the things that has been brought up during our conference devotional time, and also that I have been reflecting on, even before arriving to conference is how we normally view the will of God.

Often our perspective of the will of God is that we want to know what His will is to get from point A to point B. For example, we may ask the typical questions like, "Who should I marry?" "Which job should I take?," or "Which school should I attend?" There may not be anything wrong with wanting to know these things.

But God's perspective of His Will for us is not necessarily to give what we want, There are times that God doesn't allow things that truly may be good-however at that time and point in our lives they may not be the absolute best.

God's will and desire for us is to conform us to the image of His Son. That is Hi main objective.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Conference Update

Hi Everyone,

Here is a video update from conference. Enjoy the tropical birds in the background!

video

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Adventures Arriving To Conference!

Hi Everyone,

God took care of me in a huge way when I was supposed to be going to conference. I had arranged with a co-worker to be picked up at 8:15 from a certain restaurant. I didn’t expect any problems, and therefore left the cell phone at home (my mistake). This co-worker is very timely. Sounds simple, RIGHT?

WRONG! All of the sudden I realize it is 8:45 and my co-worker has not arrived. I realize I need to get to conference and begin thinking “What is the best way to get to a place that I have never been?” “Should I try to take the bus? A taxi?” I had to make a decision. {I didn’t have an address-just the name of the place which our team leaders had said was a little more than an hour’s drive away.) I began to pray and I guess more than anything get nervous. I wish I could say I calmly trusted God throughout the whole ordeal---but that wasn’t true. And I think that Is what frustrated me the most!

A taxi had pulled up and I thought, “I’ve only been here a week” “Is it the right thing for a single girl to take a taxi such a long distance when I don’t even know where it is?” “What if I don’t make it to conference or the driver can’t found the place?” “Uggg---Lord just help me to trust you!” Isn’t it funny that sometimes out minds just jump to the worst scenario? (Oops! Stay away from the “what if’s.”

I got in the taxi, and said, “Look, I am looking for this specific place. I don’t have an address—I don’t know where we need to go but I have to get to my conference!” By this point I was almost crying—and then I thought, “Crying is not going to help the taxi driver’s job of finding this place!”

He asked a taxi driver that was nearby and the other driver said that the place was in a town called Cuautla-an hour away. I wasn’t sure if that was right or not. “It’s okay,” he said, “you pay me 300 pesos (about 29 dollars) and we’ll get there.” To my surprise I had exactly the right amount to be able to pay him. (The amount of traveling in the taxi would have cost over $100 in the United States.)

In Mexico, it is a “saving face culture”----which means, for example, that if people don’t know where something is they would rather just make up something rather than tell you they don’t know—that would shame them. My taxi driver asked another driver down the road and the driver also said that it was towards Cuautla. We went to Cuautla—an hour’s drive—me sitting somewhat nervous in the back seat. (A side note: You never ride in the front seat of a taxi as a woman-a male driver (because a male taxi driver would take that as you “wanting more than a taxi ride"—not good.)

He started asking in Cuautla where the certain water park was where I were suppose to gave conference. No one knew-NOT A GOOD SIGN. I began to get nervous again. And then someone more official said that it was back from where we had come. He confirmed it and drove all the way back another half an hour.

By this time I am late for conference! My heart sinks! But yet there is nothing I can do about it.

He drove back towards where our property is at and headed towards the town where the water park was. It was another 20 kilometers—over half an hour away according to various police officials he asked.

I finally arrived at the park-quite shaken up and near crying after 2 and a half hours in the taxi. After numerous hugs from my team, assurance that I was ok and, tears on my part as I told the story, I discover that my co-worker was unable to make it to conference because she was not feeling well. I never got the message from everyone else, although many people had tried to contact me. There was miscommunication about the whole thing…..and people felt so bad for that. It all really reinforced to me how much my team really loves me when I walked in the door.

I don’t think anyone was happier to be at that water park than I was! It will definitely be the conference discussed for years to come, “Oh yes, that was when Crystal took the taxi……”

And the best part was that conference ended up starting later than planned-it started officially ten minutes after I arrived!

God is so good! Praise Him for his care! In a way I am glad that it all happened because it was a good “trust lesson” for me----and something to remember in the challenges that will come in the future. I am grateful!

Thank you Lord for a team that loves me and a committed taxi driver that did the right thing and stuck it out!

Lord, you have proved Yourself faithful yet again!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Church Today

Hi Everyone,

Here are a few videos. One was taken on the way to church this morning walking by the cathedral. The other was taken at the church I visited. After the service I had lunch with the pastor and his family. It was really neat and might be a possibility for serving with while I am here. Please pray for the Lord's wisdom regarding the decision of which church I end up serving with.

I should be able to update you once from our conference site. Thank you for your prayers throughout this coming week.

video

video

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Our Annual Conference Has Begun

Hi Everyone,

Conference began today! We spent the day sharing testimonies about how we are presently doing and how God has worked in our lives during the past year. It was so neat to hear everyone share.

I would appreciate your prayers as my body is sending me signals that I need to slow down a little. As I have mentioned before, pray that I would get some much needed rest this week as well as have wisdom as I interact with my team members at conference.

Our speaker for the devotionals at conference really sounds like He will be wonderful--I am excited to "get some meat" from a Biblical standpoint.

Tomorrow I am going to look at a church that might be a good possibility to work with and things. The person who is taking me says we are going out to lunch with the pastor and some of the members, and will just hang out most of the day.

Today I have to finish packing for conference---we go Monday to the place where we are having it!

video

Friday, February 4, 2011

hi Everyone,

Here I am at the sending base. I have been reading a book for my new workers orientation, sorting through a few things that are stored in my field leader's garage to take some things to conference (I found the cell phone!!!!)), and finishing a tiny project for conference, which starts tomorrow. A few team members that I hadn't seen yet dropped by briefly so we got to talk a little, and those of us that are here will be eating lunch shortly.

Our concept of lunch which here is known as "Comida" is the main meal of the day and is served any time between 2:00 and 3:30.

Please pray for us all at conference. Pray for clear communication and for the Lord to guide us all in the decisions that need to be made. Pray for good times of fellowship as well. I should be able to update the blog tomorrow, Sunday, early Monday possibly, and maybe once during conference, which lasts til February 11th.

Blessings to you all!

video

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dentist Vocabulary Day

Hi Everyone,

Today was one of those "normal life errands" days. I haven't had a chance to set up a post office box yet--so thanks for your patience in that.

I helped at Fernando and Flor's school for about half an hour with a few kids in their English, and then made my way to my dentist appointment-which was in some ways pretty cool. I was trying to figure out who to go to and discovered that a few of my Mexican friends and several of my team members go to her because she does things RIGHT.

This lady (the dentist) had gone with me on a few Amigos Sin Frontera trips. We discovered through talking that it had been six years since we had seen each other. I got to share my testimony with her--in Spanish of course which she was amazed by. We discovered that we are one year and three months apart in age and she said that she wants to know my phone number and all when I get settled and get together to have a meal together and stuff. I am excited about that--a professional friend my own age!

In Mexico--it's WHO you know--or who your friends know that is important!

The appointment took two and a half hours---and I really have quite a good opinion of Mexican dentistry as long as you go to the right one. So $40 later, I was done and learned tons of new dental vocabulary in the process!

After the dentist I grabbed a light lunch and headed to a friend's house-literally dropping in unannounced before-hand. We all had a great time talking--and in the process I discovered they go to the same dentist I went to this morning as well---and recommend her to everyone.

So now I have a project to finish before going to my field leader's house tomorrow...so I better get to it!

Thanks for praying you all! God is so good!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's Culture!



Hi Everyone,

Today I learned something new! February 2nd is tamale day--where Mexicans eat Tamales. They are made out of a corn flower and then filled with a variety of yummy things...they can be sweet, spicy, or mild depending on what they are filled with and then they are wrapped with with corn husks or in some places banana leaves and then steamed to cook for an hour and a half to 2 hours.

I ate tamales twice today--once at my field leader's house for breakfast and then this evening at the women's Bible study with Fernando and Flor's church. I never knew there was a day where everyone eats them. I wish we had February 2nd every month! It was actually quite exciting because after those really good tacos last night---I was thinking, "I want to eat a tamale!"

I asked about why it is a tradition to eat them on February 2nd and no one really knows except that people do it. Really you can eat them whenever you want---but i have to admit I am more than excited that February 2nd is tamale day----and even more excited that I was HERE for it!

Encouragements This Morning

Hi Everyone,

I had to get up really early this morning to get to the sending base office. Right now where I am living it is about a 35 minute walk to catch the bus. On the way to catch the bus I stopped in an an Oxxo (which is like an American convenience store without a gas station attached to it.) I went in to pick up a small snack to eat on the way up to my field leader's house (which is currently being used as our sending base office.)

And while I was in the Oxxo deciding what to buy, I was surprised to hear CHRISTIAN MUSIC playing unashamedly over the loud speaker in the store. (That does not happen very often here)

I went to the counter to pay for my purchase and said "I like the music."

The guy at the counter said in a low quiet voice "it's Christan."

"I know," I replied

And then he whispered, "Are you a Christian?"

"Yes," I said, "Have a great day!"

That whole thing was really encouraging--and not a very common experience.

Here is a little video for you all to enjoy. I filmed it on the way to work. I'll try to do videos about two or three times a week.

video

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I Took The Wrong Bus......

Hi Everyone,

I went out to see a co-worker and Mexican friend for the day. It was really neat. On the way back home, I took the wrong bus. For a long time I didn't have a clue where I was (I hate that feeling when it is getting dark) until the bus drove by the new spot where I will be moving to after conference next week. It turns out it was great that I made that mistake because now I know how to get back to the new place from that spot I was at, but it did take me two and a half hours to get back to where I am staying.

When I got to my bus stop, I went to my favorite taco place---ordering tacos with a pork meat called "Tacos al pastor" garnished with cilantro, pineapple, lime juice, radishes, and salsa. Yum!

Please pray for strength as I have been already putting in long days getting up around 5:00 and going to bed around 11:00. And pray for protection especially on those occasional nights when things run a little later than usual.

Thank you all. Here is a picture of the delicious tacos you all missed tonight!