International Ministries

Robyn Smith Colombia Update March 2010

April 7, 2010 Journal
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Friends,

Happy St. Patrick´s Day.  No, we don´t celebrate that in Colombia, but I´m wearing green.  Spring is almost coming, so I hope you are enjoying the beauty around you with which God blesses  you.  Please write to let me know what is going on in your life and how I can pray for you.

I´ve been realizing lately that as scripture passages become familiar, I often skim over them and no longer expect them to hold fresh meaning.  But God´s word is powerful and never loses its realness.  Over the past few weeks, God has uses some well-known yet ever-profound Words to teach me about His character.  Two weekends ago, I chaperoned the high school students on their spring retreat, held at a camp outside the city (there´s a picture from one of the activities).  A high school pastor from Chicago also came and led us through four sessions on prayer and psalms, and in between, we enjoyed the warm weather, swimming pools, and games.  However, on Friday evening during a prayer time something happened that changed the tone of the retreat.  After most students had finished praying and gone outside, one of our sweetest, quietest freshmen girls started speaking in tongues- loudly.  A junior boy also still inside realized he could interpret, and after a few minutes they called all their classmates inside to share this spiritual experience with them.  I stayed outside the whole time with two students that were scared by or uncomfortable with what was happening, but those inside said the girl described heaven and God´s love for us.  Her experience lasted almost an hour and, whether the other students had witnessed tongues before or not, most all had questions: was this from God?  Why did that scare me?  Should we allow this at our school?  Though the teachers felt initially unprepared to help students wrestle with this particular issue, our school community has been benefiting from conversations about this spiritual gift since this happened.  Most agree that her experience and message was from God but also inevitably tainted by imperfect human vessels.

 In retrospect, I see how God had equipped me somewhat  a week before in a Bible study I am doing with other teachers at school.  We discussed the transfiguration, and it gave me some insights on supernatural experiences that I could share with the kids: for example, it´s okay to be scared by the presence of God, and God chooses certain individuals to witness supernatural events (I feel privileged that God allowed this to happen in our community).  This familiar story about Jesus transfigured before 3 disciples acquired new meaning and significance as I processed the event.   

Then the Monday after the retreat, all but 20 high school students and teachers were home sick- including yours truly.  We all shared a virus with each other, but by now, most, like me, are feeling better.  However, last week was stressful because it was the end of the quarter 3, and I was trying to manage lesson plans and turn in grades while still being exhausted and running at 50%.  I was reminded how much I need prayer, and how much I need Christ as my constant companion.  A friend reminded me that prayer takes on new meaning when we remember that the Creator of the universe is listening to us and acting.  When Jesus prays by Lazarus´ tomb, he says "Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” (John 11:41), so when I prayed for strength and help this week, I also tried to thank God for hearing me.  In another all too familiar verse, Matthew 28:19, Jesus calls us to “make disciples of all nations,” which seems like a daunting task until we read the verse that follows: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  God calls us to do difficult things, but He goes with us and hears us.  Be encouraged and talk to God as you go about your day- He wants to share life with you.

Now this past weekend, I had a wonderful time of rest with a friend from church that invited me to her dad´s house outside the city.  I remember before I left for Colombia that my pastor kept talking about finding places to get away and rest.  At the time I erroneously believed myself to be invincible, but after an emotionally stressful student retreat, being sick, and trying to finish the quarter, my friend´s invitation could not have had better timing- praise the Lord!  Even the 3 hour trip there was incredible- how often I forget I live in the beautiful Andes mountain range.  Her family paid for us to visit a park, where we rode horses to a forest where monkeys lived (so cute!), went zip lining, and went on a ropes course.  I returned to Bogota on Sunday night with new energy.  God knew just what I needed.  

So when you pray this week, remember that God hears you.  Let´s praise Him for what He´s done in our lives and what He teaches us in scripture.  Would you also pray for a missions trip I´m going on over holy week?  I am going with a group of students (the same I spend Thanksgiving with) to the Amazon region to work with YWAM (www.ywam.org) and the ministry they do in the jungle.  They´ve asked me to present some health talk that I learned in the Dominican Republic, so I am praying for time and wisdom to prepare those.  Also pray for our safety and logistics.  It should be an incredible experience to see a fantastic part of the world and participate in a different type of ministry.

                I miss you all, but I´ll be home on June 25 with the two Colombian boys (ages 8 and 11) that I live with.  We´re going to Camp Wightman for a week or two, and then we´ll spend two or three weeks in Suffield and visiting friends.  They can´t wait to meet you. J  Blessings, and keep in touch!  I miss you and love you all.

Robyn