Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Decade of Marriage to Celebrate

Ten years of marriage. It doesn't feel like that long ago, but at the same time I can hardly remember what my life with Jake before being married was like.

Our wedding day August 20, 2005

10 years is a milestone, and we wanted to do something a little extra special to celebrate this year. We have had this idea for a long time, since before we ever knew we'd be living in Peru at this time; hence our wedding clothes being one of the few things we did not sell or give away when we moved to Peru. We're grateful to Jake's parents for the extra luggage they hauled with them here to get our wedding clothes to us when they came to visit this past July.
We thought, if the dress (and suit) still fits, why not put it on again? So the plan was to get dressed up in our wedding clothes for a fun photo shoot, and later have cake with our Casa de Paz family. I guess we should have known it would turn into much more than that, especially knowing how much Peruvians love to party. And when they party, they like to go all out. Well when the Casa de Paz staff heard about our simple idea to have "cake with the kids", it quickly turned into a full blown, fully decorated surprise party, with dinner and dancing, and even wine (not real wine). We even had some surprise guests. Everything turned out beautifully.  We got to celebrate our special day with so many of the family and friends God has blessed us with here, and the best part was that God used it to His glory. Jake and I have the great privilege of being an example of a godly marriage to the people of Peru. Our marriage isn't perfect, but it is strong and cannot be shaken, because of the firm foundation it is built upon, which is Jesus Christ. We both knew when we made our vows 10 years ago, we not only made them to one another, but more importantly we made a vow before our heavenly Father. And that is something to be taken seriously. But sadly this is something that the world does not take very seriously at all. Divorce rates are only going up, and nowadays almost as much among Christians as non believers. In Peru marriage is hardly existent. We have seen more separated and broken families here than ever before. Broken families is the reason for most of our Casa kids being in this orphanage. It seems to be the norm here for 5 siblings to have 3 different fathers. Jake and I were shocked when we got asked once by a stranger in town if our three children all belonged to both of us. We sure never thought we'd have to answer that question!
We realized soon after moving here that our marriage would play a big and important part of God's mission for us here. I look at all our girls and the young women they are becoming, and wonder what they will do with their lives when they move on from this orphanage. Will they go out and find their worth in a man who values them only for their body, get pregnant and when he leaves wait for the next man, or will they know that their true worth is in God alone, and wait for a godly man who loves her as Christ loves the church? And our young men. What will they become? Will they run and go their own way when things get tough, or will they stand up and be real men, working hard and doing whatever it takes to provide and care for their families. Our prayer is to break the vicious cycle by raising men and women of God who value marriage as God created it to be. Men who go to church with their wives, men who can lead the church. Men who love their wives as Christ loves the church. And women of God who support and work alongside their husbands, respecting and submitting to their husbands as the church submits to Christ. It is not as hard for a man to love and give up his life for his wife when his wife is respectful and submissive to him, and likewise it is not as hard for a wife to respect and submit to her husband when he is loving her as he loves himself.  It is when both do their part that it works out in beautiful harmony. God knew what he was doing when he gave us our roles. Of course, as humans, we still fail each other daily, and should never expect the other to love us perfectly.  Only God can do that. And only with God at the center can we even begin to love one another at all.

Our anniversary dinner turned out to be a great opportunity to speak about how important marriage is in God's eyes. So important that it represents Christ and his bride, the church.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Ephesians 5:22-33

"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:18-19

Our first photo shoot location was about a 20 minute drive to a small town called Puemape. The black rocks contrasting our white clothes made for some stunning photos. I'd say climbing up those rock mountains in high heels was well worth it. :)

Next, we drove back to Pacasmayo and walked all over town (still in my heels) stopping to take pictures in front of antique doors and buildings or whatever we thought might make a great picture, like this cool stone wall pictured above.  We must have been quite the sight. Some drivers by would stop their cars to watch, or take our picture... one lady asked if we were making a movie. Jake mentioned that rumors were probably being started that pastor Jake just got married, but we were sure to explain to anyone that asked, that this was an anniversary celebration and not our wedding.  We did kind of feel like newlyweds all over again though. :)

After the town photo shoot, we headed back to Casa de Paz to pick up our kids for family pictures at the beach.  We are grateful to Tammy and Avis' family for watching the kids for the first part of our photo shoot.

For the signs I used picture frames that I already had, construction paper and a sharpie! I got the idea from something similar I saw on pinterest awhile ago. Gotta love Pinterest!

Just thought I should mention that I made all the signs, except for the "IT" one; that one was all Jake, his idea of having a little fun. ;) One of the many reasons why I love this man, he makes me laugh <3

John and Eva had the important job of capturing the moments of this special day, and they did an awesome job as our photographers! Between Eva on our Canon and John on the iPhone, we got some pretty professional looking photos.

The Casa de Paz staff made us a beautiful scrapbook filled with photos of the kids.                


Chicken, potatoes and rice for dinner. Yummy!

Our lovely girls all dolled up.

Our volunteers, Sarah & Courtney. These ladies are to thank for my hair and makeup, which held up through a whole day of wind, sun, and dancing. I would say they're pros.

Hector was quite awestruck by my dress. lol


Girls love to get dressed up, and they all looked absolutely beautiful!


Theses boys clean up nice!
It was so great to have Avis and Fred and family with us.

Lots of dancing. So much fun!

And last but not least, CAKE.  We all know that Tammy makes the most amazing cakes, but she really outdid herself with this one. I mean look at it, it was almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.
It tasted as good as it looked. :) Also, the white roses on the cake are real. All the flowers were real. One of my my favorite things about Peru - flowers are cheap here! 6 soles, that's what I paid for my bouquet. That's about 2 dollars. I can't get over it.

What a full day! We were exhausted by the end of it, while some of our peruvian friends were just getting warmed up. I think Jake and I were one of the first to leave the party. But it was mostly because we were excited about our last surprise of the day. Yes, I know we got way too spoiled that day, but hey we can't help that people love us and want to do nice things for us, right? ;)
Our last gift of the day was from our wonderful neighbors John & Eva, who booked us a night away at La Estacion Hotel where we got to fall asleep to the sound of the ocean. Now we felt like we were  on a second honeymoon.

Altogether it was a very eventful, memorable day. It may seem like an awful lot for an anniversary, but keep in mind that it is hard to keep it simple in a culture who's motto is basically Go Big or Go Home.  I'm thankful for the family God has given us here who took the time to put all this together for us.

I pray that they all saw that the beautiful dress and flowers and decorations and dancing was not the most beautiful thing about the day, but rather the love covenant of oneness that is between Jake & I, and God, the real reason to celebrate.  I pray that our marriage would continue to be used as a shining example to the kids at Casa de Paz, and all those around us.  For His Glory.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Two are better than one

Ecc 4:9  Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
Ecc 4:10  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

I think we would all agree that this is a true saying, "pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up" there is something very awful about being alone. I believe this will be the single most horrifying thing about hell, above the scorching heat, the loneliness will be almost more than we can bare, to live in death, "live in death" can that even work, no it can't you won't be "living" in death you will be ever dying, ever alone, ever in darkness, the worst of all people I do not wish this on. Thank God of the gift of companionship, the presence of another gives courage and strength. The creak of a house, the bark of a dog, the silence of the woods, the thunder of the storm all do not strike a fear with a friend like they would, where you all alone. 

Many things here in our ministry are.... well, more fun with a companion. And we have some pretty wonderful people here right now, all of which I would rather they not go, one of which actually did just go, Analese came with Courtney and Sarah, the three girls have been more than awesome, I can tell you that taking care of a bunch of wild little kids that come from all types of different backgrounds can be.... challenging. But all three girls have stuck it out day after day, no doubt developing all kinds of bonds that will not be easy to break. 
Off course you know tia Tammy, everything from finger painting with the little ones, baking with the big ones, teaching in school, treating the owie of us all, movie night, Sunday school, busing people to and from church, to just cuddling with anyone. Tammy has been more than we could have asked for, but above all, Tammy takes care of our administrative stuff, if you thought that little list was here job, no that's her after hours stuff, administration is a full time job, and I can express my gratitude for her willing heart to serve God through serving Casa de Paz.

Last but certainly not least, The Schmitt family, John and Eva, like us, sold all they had to come and serve. John has all kinds of talents, from fixing computers to welding, to painting. Eva fits in perfectly in our big little family just loving on all the little babies, even our little Tahlia started calling her mama lol, Tahlia usually wants nothing to do with other women, she likes to hang with the guys, and don't get me wrong she loves John to peaces, but something about Eva just makes her feel right at home. Both John and Eva are in almost every way identical to us, we've run out of things to talk about because what ever one of us would say the other would already know lol, Above all I am grateful for a friend for Maggie, her and Eva hit it off from day one, being in the same shoe, both having three kids almost the same age, both quiet spirited, gentle, yet strong, like two peas in a pot they are best friends. O and I can't forget their kids, wow I don't even recognize my little boy anymore, Mateo is constantly playing, laughing and having fun, all of a sudden he's all "Mr Cool", He has three best friends, that are life changing to him. John and Eva and their kids are an answer to prayer, to have someone think like you do, as a companion, what could be better.

But there is a wrench in the gears, or should I say "there is a devil in the world" It seems the Peruvian government is making it impossible for missionaries to come into the country, this is bad news for us as you can imagine, my family got in just in time so we have our visas, but none else who is here has one, so once their visitor visa runs out they will have to leave, you used to be able to come in for six months at a time, leave for a day or two and re enter for another half a year, but that's no longer the case. Please pray for this, I ask you from my heart to plead for Gods intervention, not just for us but all the ministries in Peru will be and are already greatly effected. I know God has a plan in this, if He is allowing it it means He has a plan, pray that this plan would become clear to us. To keep this ministry going without anyone else working along side us looks very grim, who would help me up if I fell. Thank you so much to all who regularly pray for us, and who support us in any way, you can not imagine how much difference you are making. God bless you in Jesus name amen.