Wow, what a month! It’s been filled with incredible highs and incredible lows. I think what stands out the most has been the concept of mortality. At the beginning of the month I had a young child, one whom I’ve been quite close to, reveal suicidal thoughts. My desire is to see them able to overcome their internal battle. Only a few short days later, I received news that my Gran had had a stroke. She’s doing well but recovering. Within 10 days, her husband and my Grandad was taken into hospital. The family was told not to expect him to come home. Three days later, he died. It has been a whirlwind of emotions. At the same time, I’ve seen how blessed I’ve been. God has been with me. He has provided people, both near and far, that have been more than supportive and understanding of the processes I've been going through.
Please Pray for my Family
A Growing Ministry & Snow Excursion
This past week I’ve been reflecting quite a lot on my friend Chelsea’s visit last year. I remember at one point she said to me, “Libby, I know that it’s tough right now but I firmly believe that you are going to see the biggest changes and blessings in this home.” At the time, it was a huge encouragement but seemingly impossible. Today, I must admit that she was right.
As we’ve finished up the first semester of ministry in the home, we have a lot to be grateful for. Relationships have been well built with the children’s direct carers, Tía’s. This is a huge step and has given us the opportunity of more personalised ministry. The Tía’s are expectant of our arrival. They feel enough trust to leave the children with us and have time for themselves. They are inviting us to cook with the children or feel confident to ask specific things from us. The “House of Prayer” has been reintroduced into the ministry. The children are invited to write prayers to God and ‘send’ them via the House of Prayer. They’ve been motivated to write to God which has been cool to see.
One of the most exciting aspects of the ministry this month has been the ability to reintroduce outings or excursions. As a ministry, we were blessed with the funds to be able to organise a trip to the snow. It took some preparation, travel arrangements, packing of snacks, hot chocolate and lunch as well as ensuring they all had snow clothes, but it was an incredible day. There were no fights. It was surprisingly a day filled with joy and a desire to make the most of the opportunity before them. I was really impacted and feel God has cemented another chapter within the story.
This next semester, I hope to be able to reintroduce praise & worship into the activities. I’m so grateful that we could play the exact same music on the bus to and from the snow fields. Each time the music stopped we heard a cry of disappointment followed by a request to keep playing it. Each time we play it, it’ll hopefully bring happy memories and experiences.
Pray For: the house of prayer, praise & worship introduction, finding a relationship in Christ, testimonies. Praise God: resources for doing an outing, established relationships, growth and development within the ministry.
During the month, I was given a rare opportunity. In all honesty, I didn’t understand what was being asked of me when the Princess’s social worker called me and asked to come into the home that Tuesday. When I arrived, he informed me that the children were being transferred to the home where their older brother was. I was asked to accompany them to the new home. They were being transferred to the same home that they’d run away from a year previously.
During this Tuesday afternoon visit, I witnessed their response to the news, the excitement, nerves, uncertainty and expectation. I also met their father and witnessed how he interacts with his children. I spent a good 40 minutes in the car sharing with and speaking through things with the Princess. I was there that first Thursday for visiting hours and witnessed the intensity of emotion that each child had, especially the disappointment that their father didn’t come to visit them. Some of the most heartbreaking conversations happened, where dark emotions and thoughts were revealed.
Now, the Princess has distanced herself. Instead, her youngest brother clings onto me. The two youngest siblings ask me to take them home. I’m in a position that I don’t understand, or what God desires from me. It has been a roller coaster. In my almost six years in Chile, this has been the first time that I’ve been so immersed in the process that a child goes through which was incredibly revealing.
Pray For: wisdom, good conflict resolution, an ability to speak into the pain, developing trust & love to remain in all circumstances. Praise God: an opportunity to share deeper moments with them, open doors & possibilities to walk with them.
Some Final Touches
This month has also been about celebrations and wonderful surprises. Since the first day that I arrived in Chile, I had been praying for snow to fall in the city centre. This past month, God answered a six year long pray of mine. At about 3am, snow started to fall in my backyard. It was one of the most spectacular things I have experienced to date about God’s creation.
I also received a wonderful gift from the Monday Morning Ladies group at my church in Australia. It had been filled with gifts and tokens that are very Australian. Each gift was thought of well. Even now, the crossword puzzles (which I fail at) is nice to have in the house. It reminds me of my grandfather who passed away this past Thursday. I’m so thankful for the church family that I have at home.
We also said goodbye to our finance officer of four years. The team decided to throw him a goodbye party which was a dress up theme and cards night, two things which he really enjoys. It was nice to be able to say goodbye to him in this way.
Pray For: God's blessing for my home church family. Praise God: The way in which he provides.
As the New Year commences, the majority of the OM Chile team has had a break and are recommencing within the ministries with renewed energy. For the past 10 days we've had two Canadian families with us. The men have been busy remodeling (fixing) the classroom and storage areas on the base while the ladies and their children have partaken in the children's ministry. This has meant extra amounts of co-ordination skills and activities to prepare for all involved. Some of the highlights have been how the children from the smallest children's home, Pléyades were able to spend an entire day with us on base. We cooked, played, had water activities, shared a meal together and sent them home with many of them requesting to live with us. We were also able to go to a petting zoo. It was much more than a petting zoo. It also had different styled tree houses, bridges to cross and a flying fox. It was very easy for the children to entertain themselves. They even got to milk a cow! One of the most enjoyable parts was to see how the children played and enjoyed one another without speaking each others language. It's also been a great blessing and very encouraging to have them become so involved, not spectators but very much active participants in all the events.
Meanwhile, as February approaches, we consider the EMI students that will shortly join the team. Their are 9 in total. We've got ministry afternoon visits planned, training days in store and I will be mentoring once again. All will be revealed!
The month of December was all about the closure of ministry and parties. This year, we had three different Christmas parties in one week. So much was involved. We needed to prepare presents for each child in two different homes, create a menu, buy the food and cook the meals, have water activities, a drama about the birth of Christ and even had a worship session in the home for older children, CJMC. It was intense. We officially closed everything with an end of year meal with all team members, bringing all of the workers in the children's ministry together. We specifically held this evening to show our appreciation of the Chilean volunteers working with us, a total of 8. In the midst of all the chaos, we were also trying to work out dates to restart the ministries in the New Year. Pléyades confirmed with us straight away and even asked for us to extend the work that we are doing. They very much appreciate how we are investing in them. CJMC has always been more complicated, however even they were extremely grateful and appreciate of the Christmas Party. We've been invited back for this year as well. We are mostly concerned about how to expand the ministries, develop leaders and to be able to invest in more Chilean volunteers. They are some of our biggest objectives coming into the new year.
The months of October and November were mainly about training and education. We were invited to UMICH (United Infants Ministries of Chile) where over 1000 children's workers attended. We were asked to share workshops about evangelizing children at risk. We were probably able to reach about 100 people in the workshops which was really cool. On top of that, we held the annual ministry training which is a part of our recruitment process. We are looking at receiving maybe 4+ new Chilean Volunteers because of this training. On both occasions I've been heavily involved in the organisational side to it, inviting speakers, working on promotion, guiding the teams and also sharing subjects myself. This has been on top of the normal routine of visiting the children's homes, preparing the programmes alongside the planning and prayer meetings.
I was also able to briefly touch base in Australia where I attended the wedding of my brother, met his now wife for the first time, and spent time with some friends. These months have been very busy and intense, good but intense.
Prayer & Praise:
The EMI Students starting in February The Canadian short term visit New Volunteers Development of Leaders Strength and Encouragement
Welcome to 2015
involvement in this ministry encourages me a lot!
Thank you for being consistent and faithful in
lifting me up as well as the ministry that I've been called
to before God in prayer. My sincerest apologies for the silence.
It's been some rough months which has made it difficult to write.
Please refer to this link, Serving in Chile, for
a more detailed journey of what these months have been like. In
the meantime, here is a current, official update!
Christmas Party in the home Cardenal José Maria Caro
In September 2014, the 6
year ministry in El Arca ended quite suddenly. It was expected but we
were all hopeful that they'd be able to pull through the challenges
that faced them. From one day to the next a ministry closed. In the
weeks that followed I asked for the transferal details of the
children. They have been divided into at least 8 different locations.
Each new home has a Catholic foundation to it with varying levels of
commitment to living out their faith or investing in the children. We
hoped, despite these challenges we'd be able to invest in one of
these new homes, maybe a few. We spent hours upon hours praying,
searching God's heart and asking for direction before we were finally
able to present a ministry plan. We have three new homes in mind. The
first is called, "Cardenal José Maria Caro." We'd like to
have the main ministry in this home. When we had the interview they
said that we had a 90% possibility of starting. We were able to work
briefly in the home doing follow up with the children from el Arca
and celebrating Christmas with the 40 children. Since, we've lost
contact with the home and it has become difficult to communicate. The
other home is called, "Fundación Koinomadelfia." Since
July,/August of last year me and a Chilean lady, Kika, have been
visiting the home on and off. It's been hard to develop consistent
visitation and we have had various setbacks during the time. We'd
like to be able to visit the children once a week, help with homework
and doing team building activities. We've been strictly told we can't
talk about God in this home. The last home is called,
"Pleyades." It's a home for smaller children, still within
an easily adoptable age bracket. During the past week we were able to
confirm with the home and implement an annual ministry plan with
them. I had hoped that by the time the students arrive in February
that we'd have a fully operating ministry. It's not quite there yet
which continues to be a discouraging part to my time in Chile. I sink
in and out of patience, gratitude, hopefulness and frustration as
well as despair. In the foreground of everything is a quiet
confidence that if I'm patient I will see great changes within the
A recent outing with the children from Pleyades
Last Wednesday my co-worker had the privilege of going
on an excursion with the children of Pleyades. It was our first
with them home bar the interviews and formal
communication needed to
start a ministry. The children went
to a place where they could
experience a variety of work;
cleaning cars, making pizza, shopping
etc. It was a great way
to start the ministry. This week my co-worker
and I will go into
the home, play on the water slide and then watch a
the children before we officially move into the regular
activities. We will also be needing to take the students
home, to train them and to start them in the ministry. This
be our focus within the next month. I'm also hopeful that we'll
have answers this week to the other possibilities brimming
An Evangelism event in the North of Chile, Calama
One of the greatest
blessings that I've had during this time was the ability to
participate in the Adventure Team Outreach. We travelled to the North
of Chile and worked with local churches and ministries before ending
our time getting to know the landscape a bit better. It was a
challenging time but also a time where God started to repair some of
the damage that had happened through the ministry this year. I was
able to work with immigrant children, go to jail, do street
evangelism and encourage the youth of the churches to become involved
in ministries and mission. I was encouraged greatly by God and how he
can use me to touch the lives of others, something that I had been
struggling to believe at that time. I put together some clips of my
time on the Adventure Team which you can view here.
It's not fantastic but I hope that you enjoy it!
Holidays in Australia
Last year I saved my
holidays to be able to fly home for my friend’s wedding. When I first heard that she
was getting married and wanted me to be her maid of honour I was
astounded. I didn't think it would be possible, it shouldn't have
been possible. However, through a very generous donation, I was able
to fly home and get to know her husband, spend some time catching up
in person, pretending to know how to help and signing her marriage
certificate. It was a blessing to be able to participate in some of those
moments with her and her husband.
Please continue to pray
and praise God with me:
* Praise for the ministry development in Pleyades
* The students’ arrival and nearing involvement in the ministry
* The Adventure Team
* Pray for encouragement
* The details in the homes of Fundación Koinomadelfia and Cardenal
José Maria Caro.
* Preparations for EMI (students)