3 weeks… a lifetime of change

Posted: April 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’m not sure where to start but I know I have to talk about what is happening in my life….because it’s a lot. How about at the beginning of our arrival here, Cali, Colombia.
We arrived on the 2nd of April. Thinking the first thing we would do is meet our contact and start looking for an apartment right away. Not the case. No contact, only three smiling faces of a mother, Nayib, and her two sons, Kike and Dani holding a cardboard sign made with love saying “Los Corks.” The six of us walked to the parking lot; as she led we took in the first sights of our new home, we were breathless at the abundance of the moisture and tree covered mountains… what a refreshing sight after 4 1/2 months of sandy, dry barrenness. Meanwhile, the attendant had been carefully maneuvering the overloaded baggage cart through the lot. In the distance I saw a little white car, it grew closer. Oh no…”how on earth???” The tiny white car had a tiny trunk to match; I watched in amazement as the experienced attendant without worries began to load the car. I, an annal packer and efficient space user, was thoroughly impressed as the space in the trunk combined with the front seat was enough for our baby stroller, 4 carry-ons and 5 maxed-out checked bags all weighing over 330 lbs. All that was left were the six people. Nayib went in front and us five crammed in back. During the snuggled car ride we discovered we were moving in with them and that Nayib was the cousin of our contact’s wife.
In the morning, Alyson went one way with our son and I went the other. I followed Jaime, our contact, all over the place…. an event here, a meeting there, church service here, and so on and so on and on. One of the stops was at Jaime’s new house in a countryside development where he and his bride of less than month just moved together. Having no furniture except 2 beds and a patio set, he showed me his favorite part of the house, the backyard. This is where he spent 2 hours a day in prayer and God’s word; he was dedicated to doing it early when it was the most peaceful- only the noises of God’s creatures stirring… no busyness of man- and as the dawn slowly revealed God’s majesty in the beauty of lush green exotic vegetation all around us. He admitted that some days he’s very tired but with his fresh Colombian coffee and the loop he paced during prayer he stays awake and focused on his communication with God. After only 15 days of living in his new house I saw a path being worn in the grass… evidence of his time of praise and petitioning of his closest Friend. I immediately felt challenged by his faithfulness. Was I giving adequate time to my Father? Am I willing to sacrifice time in my schedule for the same? I am here to serve Him, but do I really know what He wants? If I am not willing to spend time in prayer, how will I know? I had been faithful in my reading of His word, but not actually in prayer. The next morning prompted by the Spirit I got up at 4:30 to pray. I finally found the time to petition God with the requests that had been stacking up… the requests that I was only being partially faithful with.
I spent the third night in Colombia away from my family with Jaime, in his 1 of 3 pieces of furniture, so that we could get up at 3:30AM to go to morning prayer at the church- the second successful day of prayer for me. After this experience I realized how important it was. At least 700 people coming together to pray for their city, their church, their family, and their walk with the Lord. Life changing! I watched some fall prostrate to their knees next to me, some march around the sanctuary, and some stand with arms raised swaying in the invisible wind of the Spirit of God moved by His presence. I understand why this is the largest Nazarene church in the world and why it is called the ‘’Casa de Oracion”- House of Prayer. They took this seriously and they realize this is what God wants- communication and seeking of Him by His children… what any earthly father wants from his children.
I’ve continued with my discipline… no, my desire for almost 3 weeks now and it’s getting intense and changing my life. This combining with the overwhelming realization that “I can do nothing here without God’s strength and ability” is showing me that I am nothing by myself and have no purpose without my Father, for nothing I do for myself will last. For such a strong statement let me share some evidence, as I stated earlier we have been here 3 weeks; there has been some accomplishments, but not by my strength. Everything that has been done is due to God and He shall receive the glory.
•In Peru I was starting to feel comfortable with my Spanish training and at least able to get by and knew the city fairly well. Here they speak faster, use several different words have some different names of things, and a different accent. So everything I was starting to understand has now changed… its feels like I went backward with my training. We are the first people from Extreme Nazarene here so we continually need to break new ground, very difficult with a language barrier.
•We are staying with a wonderful woman, and her boys in a beautiful apartment… far away from anything we can walk to, so much for quick trips to store for the things we need. Nayib would love to help us more, but has to be gone all day, 7 days a week to support her family; so we are on our own if we stay at the apartment (don’t worry we can still work…she has internet).
•Cali is a city of 2.7 million and is safe if you know where to go and not to go… like any large city in the States. Being gringos, we stick out like a sore thumb and would be easy targets if we wandered into the wrong area…especially with a 1 ½ year old. We have been unsuccessful in finding a map of the city, as it’s not known for tourism. We want someone ID the dangerous spots on the map for us.
•They have lots of taxis and great public bus system…if you could find a map of the routes. There are maps at each station but only on a huge sign that I haven’t figured out how to get in my pocket. Transportation here is 3 times the cost of Arequipa but it is still cheap by American standards, assuming you’re not voluntary missionaries trying to be prudent with what you have been graciously given. Did I mention you can’t get on the bus without a special charge card, which is only sold at the bus stations, which we had to take a taxi to get to?
•Our contact runs a business and is a full-time volunteer pastor, needless to say he’s very busy, but he does all he can for us. If we choose to go with him we will spend 4-6 hours with him to do 30 mins of work as we have to adapt to his schedule. There’s been times we have had minutes to get ready and we end up staying at his house over night, because of the late hours and the distance between where we are staying, the church and his home. Once we had a feeling it was going to happen again, so we packed for a night. It turned out to be 2 nights; Alyson washed our underwear in the sink, remember this is the house without furniture. Did I mention this is all with Wellington, who eats often and a lot of food, needs 3 hour naps, 11 hours of sleep and to be played hard during the day so he’s a wonderful boy and doesn’t understand yet how to be patient and wait for things? Things aren’t pretty in these situations and adds to the overwhelming feeling we are terrible parents at times.
•We have been borrowing Dani’s, the nine-year old boy we are staying with, phone to communicate to some degree as it only receives calls and can’t make them. But don’t worry we now have cell plans that have been in place for a week… we just don’t have the phones to use the plans. The other day we found used phones, because they are very expensive even by American standards, but were sold before we had a chance to get them since it is such an ordeal for us to get anywhere.
•Holy Week is an observed holiday here, almost every business closed Thursday and Friday in recognition of it, and we aren’t allowed to move in on the original date. It has been pushed back hopefully only one day. Also due to the closings we can’t get our contract notarized, hopefully this won’t cause another delay.
•Oh, and the big thing…. the original plan was for us to begin constructing the short-term, volunteer housing as soon as we got here, since our first team arrives in the end of June. Well, there has been a decision not to build on the current site because the logistics of transportation to and from the location connected to the functionality of the building in its long-term future. So the church is looking at buying another lot next to the site of the new church.

Please know that I have not written this in a spirit of complaining, for I know God has called us here for a specific purpose. We are happy to be here and don’t doubt He’s with us. Thanks to your prayers we are able to find joy in these trials. This was all stated to show you how God is building evidence and proving to me He called me here for His purpose and He will do what He said His way in His timing. I am here to be a servant, a tool, a witness and a pupil.
During this morning’s prayer time God gave me an illustration as we lost power due to the heavy rains and the generator turned on to support the functioning of this 8 story apartment building. As I’ve gone through life my walk with Him has gone through stages… moving to better and better locations if you will. There have always been storms in my life and there will always be. At first when the storms came I would lose power and simply not function anymore and couldn’t until my power was restored, sometimes weeks after the storms passed. The next location was better; I had a generator. When the storms came and I lost my power I would start praying and receive power from the Father being able to function through the storm. Now God has given me the best place to live… it’s free from my power, detached from the grid! It has solar panels and absorbs the Son’s rays and stores extra energy during the good days so when the storms come I can draw from the reserves without interruption and without wavering.
You see it took me moving to Colombia to get the picture I now have, in the States there was always something I could do, some savings somewhere, someone I could call… not now, no more. I now realize in my life why the seat in church where I sat was called a “pew,” it had my rotting flesh in it with an odor of selfishness and pride that wouldn’t allow God’s Spirit to work. I had become a layman who was la-zy and wanted others to do the work or have another person hired… sure I helped but I always had my own things to do. God has slowly been burning a fire in me consuming the rotten flesh. After my time here in Cali, it is now a strong flame and almost all of me is gone. Praise the Lord for the more I am getting to know Jesus, the less I like the old Vincent. God is finally able to start using me for his purpose.
God has used the Cali Church of the Nazarene in three short weeks to already teach me to pray more and with greater intensity, it has exampled how to be an active layman willing to serve my church while working fulltime not being afraid of hard work, showing me patience for waiting on God’s plans not mine, and all this is causing my faith to grow leaps and bounds. To think this is only in 3 weeks, I wonder how much of the picture I will see after Aug of 2012.
Do I dare to dream how much the American church would be changed if all the Short Term Volunteer teams we have planned for Extreme Colombia were full? Even if they were only half full, and these people caught the fire and took it home?… think about it we are hosting these teams for two-week periods God started changing my life in 2 days!….I am getting goose bumps.

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Comments
  1. Rachael says:

    Thanks for sharing this Vince. It challenges me to also be more faithful in my prayer life. Thanks also for letting us know of some of the difficulties you are facing, it’s nice to know some specific areas to be praying for.

    Thankful for the updates, love you guys!

    • Riva Hevia says:

      You are amazing brother. I love you, your writing and your transparency in sharing your experiences with us. Thank you. I love you and miss you and pray for you. Riva

  2. John Kelley says:

    Hello, love to here what God is doing in you guys. Even if the church never gets built, the total dependence on God and his provision is worth all the sacrifice. Know we are always praying for you, please pray for us. We are at a couple of significant cross roads and desperately need Gods guidence. Love you and miss you all. Kelley Family

  3. Great connecting with you while I was in Cali last month. Thanks for all your help. I just read over a couple of your old blogs and was great moved. Awesome to see how God has “wrecked” you in such a good way. I am still coming to grips with how God has challenged and stirred me during my time at the Master’s Plan Conference and through the vitality of the Cali House of Prayer church and young people there. It’s overwhelming in a very good way!

    I know God has great plans for you guys! Thanks for allowing Him to use you for the kingdom!

    Blessings, Philip

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