Greetings! Merry Christmas!
The clouds are rolling in and a cool rain is beginning to fall in the beautiful Andes Mountains of Ecuador. A gentle breeze is blowing in my window that smells so distinctly of a rainstorm. Although it is rare here, I can hear thunder clapping through the skies. It reminds me just a little of summer storms in Nebraska. However, it’s Christmas. There’s no snow falling and it’s hard to see too much that reminds me of Christmas as I know it. My spirit is finding it hard to believe that in six days we will be celebrating the famous birthday of the King.
This past year has been quite the year of both sorrows and victories. However, as Christians we believe that victory is always ours, even in moments when defeat seems eminent. I thank God for the full redemption that He promises when we give our lives completely to Him; for the redemption that I have seen in my own life. If I could give a theme word for this past year, I would say FREEDOM. I lived the majority of my life with so many chains – depression, secret addiction, oppression, and fear. I can now say that I am FREE because I am starting to understand for the first time what it means to truly be loved by God. I am simply enjoying every day that comes my way.
The church is doing great here in Ambato. Our leaders are being formed and our third entire class has now graduated from the leadership program. We have around 100 people coming to church, and many many more people throughout the city with whom we have strong connections and relationships. I have no doubt that the church will continue to grow and transform the city of Ambato. God’s hand has so clearly been on this church and on the leaders who are growing and maturing in their faith. It has been a wonderful thing to see and be a part of.
If you are waiting for the special gift, here is the information. Please submit a paragraph (no more than 100 words) to me about an experience that you have had this past year where God inspired you. I will choose a winner and send them the information about the gift. Send the story to the email address at the end of this email by January 5th.
It is hard to believe that when we come back from Christmas vacation that we will have around a month left here. That thought alone has been overwhelming to me. The thought of saying goodbye to my team is incredibly sad, though we have made the most of our time here and have truly invested in each other. I have been in South America for nearly two and a half years! A special thanks to everyone who has supported me financially, through encouragement, and in prayer. You have been super important to me and in my journey.
As this chapter is coming to a close, it is only logical that another chapter is beginning. In July of 2015, I will be moving to Boise, Idaho to begin a 2-year contract with Extreme in communications, working in my area of passion with writing, photography, and media. I am so thankful to God for the opportunity to learn from very talented people and to use my gifts to serve God in missions. I have to fundraise for this position, and because I will be stationed in the States, the amount is much higher.
The total amount that I must raise is $96,000 for Extreme, plus money for my student loans. I pay $400 per month on student loans, but I am praying that God would provide the sum total of around $26,000 that I still owe. I have received money through February, but I have an immediate need starting in March. I know that God has called me to missions full-time in the future, and I do not anticipate ever having a big paycheck. That is why I have decided to not claim financial hardship and to do what I can to pay on them as I serve on the mission field. To be honest, I have had complete peace in this whole process that God will provide. I have seen Him work countless miracles in these past two and a half years in South America and I have no doubt that He will come through. The plan is that I will be in Nebraska or somewhere in the United States March through June. If you would like me to come share about missions at your church, Bible Study, or group, I would love to talk to you about that! Also, I would love to meet individually with whomever desires! For more information on all of this and money stuff, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Facebook message me, and we will see about setting that up!
Thank you so much for being a part of my life and my story! God has used each and every one of you to touch me in an important way, and to know that you are praying for me and are standing behind me in all of this is a priceless wind in my sails. Each one of us at several different points in our lives must make some very brave decisions, and knowing that you are supporting me helps me to step forward and do what I do well. I sense that these next couple years are going to be super exciting and challenging, and I would like to invite you on the journey with me. May you have a Merry Christmas, and may Jesus receive all the attention, not only during the Christmas season, but all year ‘round.