The Land of My Affliction

“And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”-Genesis 41:52

There’s a pretty decent chance none of us will lose a mother to the childbirth of our younger brother, be sold into slavery by our other brothers, and be thrown into prison based on false accusations (only to have our one hope to get out completely forget we exist).

But we all will, I believe, at times find ourselves in a “land of affliction” just as Joseph did. A place we wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves, yet one that we can’t seem to escape.

Perhaps tonight you, too, are going through a dark period in your life. Let this verse encourage you and show you that God can make you fruitful regardless of where you are and what you are going through. Joseph maintained his testimony and his faith in God throughout, and in the end he was able to name his second child in such a way as to reflect the goodness of God in his life.

If you are passing through a time such as this, remember Joseph’s story, and remember that God may just use your “land of affliction” to do mighty things through you as well.

Happenings in Chile: Part Three

It’s hard to believe it’s been about a month since I last wrote about what’s going on in Chile. But wow, what a month it’s been!

“Happenings in Chile: Part Two” was written on December 21, which means Christmas was right after that. It was definitely different trying to get in the Christmas spirit, considering that I’m used to the Christmas season being cold in the States. Here in Chile, it’s summertime, so there wasn’t any chance of getting a “White Christmas” (and I’m pretty sure I didn’t even bother listening to that song, at least not intentionally, because it was completely out of the realm of possibility!). I did, however, put on some Christmas music and try my best, and even though it didn’t feel like the Christmases I’ve been used to, it was still an incredible experience spending it in Chile and I would rank it up there as one of the best. Also, in Chile, they celebrate more on the evening of the 24th than the 25th, which was a neat change.

On Christmas Eve, we had a morning service at Omega Baptist Church, with food and fellowship afterward. If you remember, in the last blog post, I mentioned how we went to the outdoor flea market and witnessed. One of the men we contacted came and visited as well for our Christmas Eve service!

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That evening, we didn’t have a service, so about 6 PM I went over to Francisco Nuñez’s house for the evening. We had a wonderful time of fellowship and great food. I also got to try ceviche, which is basically a raw fish with a heavy lemon taste, for the first time. It was pretty good! Sometime after midnight, we went outside and opened up gifts together under the stars. I have to say that was really neat.

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Ceviche

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We stayed up till about 2 in the morning or so. Then, the next day, I went over to the Holts’ house for a Christmas celebration with the Sparks and a few Chilean families. We had a blast! First we ate, then we spent the rest of the afternoon playing games together outside. It felt a little less like Christmas and a little more like 4th of July, but never in a million years would I have traded it for the cold! We had such a good time together.

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The missionaries usually have a Christmas get-together and White Elephant gift exchange, which we did on the 26th. That was a lot of fun. The next day, the 27th, it was back to normal.

That is, until New Year’s! I spent that evening as well with another Chilean family that I’m very close to here. We ate a meal together, then went outside to see the fireworks as we rang in the new year. By about 2 AM, I was pretty tired and went on home. But from what I understand, a lot of people stay up till 5 and 6 AM since the next day is a holiday. On the 1st, I did go over to another missionary’s house and we talked about a lot of things dealing with a missionary’s deputation, which was helpful.

Below are a couple of pictures from different church members on New Year’s.

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My favorite day so far in Chile might very well be January 13th, and it’s hard to imagine I’ll have another one like it before I leave. It was a Saturday, and Omega Baptist Church rented a parcela, which is a large area that somebody owns, and made a day of it. We had food and played games. But the most special part of the day, by far, was when five members followed our Savior Jesus Christ’s command of identifying with Him in baptism. It was a very special time in which a majority of the church was able to be there fellowshipping as brothers and sisters in Christ

A couple of times the past month, Jason Holt has taken a group of young men preparing for the ministry, Daniel Sparks and me around different Chilean cities, such as Santiago, Valparaiso, and Viña Del Mar. The purpose of these trips have been to show us where churches need to be planted and how we could go about doing that. It’s somewhat like a survey trip. The sheer amount of people who have never heard the pure gospel as told in the Bible is staggering and yet, I believe these cities can be reached. And not only these cities, but all of Chile and the world. Christ wouldn’t have given us a command to do something that couldn’t be done. And so, in His power, I believe we can!

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Speaking of reaching Santiago and the world, we’ve seen God doing some amazing things through 250Project! We were up against a major deadline to make a payment on the property and just weren’t seeing where the money was going to come from. God miraculously intervened through our Christian brethren and we not only made the 2nd payment, but were propelled way into the 3rd!

Of course, as always, I still get together with Jason and discuss a lot of different things related to ministry. I feel like I’ve learned so much just by being here and want to say thank you again to all of you who have helped me in that, whether prayerfully, financially, or both.

It’s hard to believe, but I have less than two months left before I head back to the States. I hope to make the most of those two months before I go!

Until next time!

Making the Most of 2018

“Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”-Ephesians 5:14-16

2018 is finally here! Wait, what am I saying? It seems we barely blinked and 2017 disappeared! But, even still, it’s 2018. A new year with new opportunities, and there is certainly hope in the air, isn’t there?

If you’re like me, every new year you get excited about all the things you want to do to improve your spiritual and personal life. January 1st has this magical appeal that can’t really be explained.

So let’s talk about that.

For 2018 to be your best year yet, I believe you shouldn’t make “New Year’s Resolutions” as much as you should set goals that can be broken down into small achievable steps. For example, “Lose weight” is not a good goal because it’s not specific and really has no start or end. “Lose twenty pounds” is more specific, but even that is a large statement that should be broken down into smaller steps like, “Lose ‘X’ amount of pounds per week”. And even then, that should be broken down into achievable ways to make that happen.

As a Christian, I hope your goals are something that will enhance your Christian life and advance the kingdom of God. After all, that’s the whole reason we’re here, really (For what it’s worth, losing weight really can be glorifying to God if it’s enabling you to serve Him physically and increasing your longevity on this earth)!

So set your goals, make them achievable and specific, and then plan out how they’re going to happen. I strongly encourage you to watch this video below (Watching at 1.5 speed works well here) and do what she says about the performance review and holiday letter. I did the holiday letter for this year and it really helped me define clearly who I wanted to be by the end of 2018. It also helps to state things as if they’ve already happened and see just how much really can be accomplished in a year.

When she breaks down the amount of hours we have in a week, it becomes pretty clear that we do have time for what we want to do, don’t we?

So what are your goals for this year? Here are just a few of mine:

I want to read through my Spanish Bible this year, which at this point, I should’ve already done. But this year, I plan to do it.

I also want to read an average of one book a week. One thing I started doing at the end of 2017 was setting a timer and reading an hour a day. I didn’t always do this, but I want to make it more of a habit this year. I actually love to read, so the timer isn’t so much about forcing myself to read as it is to keep me from distractions as I set aside a specific time to read. I know that if I read at least an hour a day, I can generally finish a book within four or five days, depending on the size of the book.

This next thing falls under my “stop doing” list and isn’t really as much of a goal as it is a matter of discipline, but I want to stop looking at social media until I’ve completed everything I really want to do for the day (unless social media has something to do with a task, of course). For me, going through social media always starts with an innocent intention of five minutes that soon turns into a thirty minute scroll through everybody else’s mind dump. And half of those minds belong in a dump, really.

And even then, I really want to plan the time I get on social media (“From 7-7:30 tonight I can get on social media”, for example. And, actually, if you add that up, thirty minutes a day would be 3.5 hours a week, or 182 hours a year, or about 7.5 days a year!! And that’s just with a measly thirty minutes a day, when I know we spend far more than that on average!). If you’ve ever looked at people when they’re eating, a vast majority of them are on their phones. This year, I want to eat without looking at my phone and just observe and enjoy what’s going on around me. The other day I went to McDonald’s overlooking Plaza Maipú and decided I wasn’t going to look at my phone the whole time I was eating. Instead, I just sat there, ate, and watched people. It was actually relaxing, believe it or not!

I also want to stand in lines without browsing my phone and just observe, which is actually an exercise that trains your mind against instant gratification and increases concentration, by the way.

I think what bothers me about social media, aside from the wasted time and scientifically proven shortened attention spans it brings, is that I used to be an avid reader. You couldn’t get me away from a good book. Social media took that away from me to an extent when I exchanged well-thought-out books for brief snippets of people’s minds or lives. This year, I’m taking back what was stolen from me.

Anyway, these are just three of my goals and plans. I have others as well, but I imagine that if I put these into practice, by the end of this year, I’ll be very happy with the result.

So what are your plans for the New Year? What do you hope to have accomplished by 2019? I’d love to hear it!