Saturday, September 23, 2017

Lucifer Returns to Our Home

Last Saturday was a point of demarcation for our family. As one thing was dying, another was coming to life.

Our beloved Rottweiler, Coco, had been poisoned and was helplessly convulsing in Katelyn's arms.

Meanwhile Lucifer, the young man who stole my wedding ring, was settling into his space around the breakfast table as the group awaited yummy American pancakes. Little did we know, this would be the beginning of a real friendship.

After breakfast, I gave a talk on love and forgiveness. I optimistically hoped that Lucifer would see the error of his ways and decide to not steal anymore ~ at least not from us.  However, everyone knows that bad habits are hard to break. Shortly after my evangelistic talk I had to leave the room for a few minutes; at which point Lucifer went into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator to see if there was anything he wanted. A bottle of yogurt caught his attention and found its way into his hands. As he was considering options for concealment the others saw him and insisted he put it back; which he did.

It wasn't until the following day that the guys told me what happened. I was disappointed but not surprised. Knowing that Jesus desires us to walk with Lucifer, I sought His counsel. I prayed and prayed for this lost young man, but received no direction - only the assurance that Jesus desires mercy. The following morning, as I sat quietly in prayer, Jesus told me to take Lucifer the yogurt that he obviously wanted. At 6AM I left our house to find the "the guy with the pyramid tattoo on his hand".

I began on the street where he's often seen, but nobody would admit to knowing him. One person finally redirected me to the street by the cemetery.  Upon arriving, I questioned everyone I saw, but they claimed ignorance. I suppose people prefer to stay away from trouble.

After many failed attempts to find Lucifer's house, I stumbled upon someone willing to help after he learned that I only had a gift to share. At Lucifer's door I was greeted with apprehension by his family members. When Lucifer approached the door, he too was reluctant and confused. When I presented him with the bottle of yogurt, I simply said, "I have a present for you. I thought you might enjoy this for breakfast." He blushed and started laughing. "Yes, I would", he said with a huge smile. I pointed out that it was even cold from being in our refrigerator. Again, he laughed and held the yogurt to his chest like a prized possession. Before I left I reminded him to simply ask me if there is anything else he needs.

Later that day Lucifer arrived at our home asking if he could borrow a coloring book and some colored pencils because he wanted to color with his little sister. Could this possibly be the same kid who sat in our home days earlier sculpting drug paraphernalia and weapons out of clay?

A couple days later Lucifer came to our house again (without his marijuana hat on- yippee), accompanied by his younger brother William. They humbly asked if I might be able to help them out. William had no street shoes, only sandals and dress-shoes for school. Lucifer explained that there was something he'd really like, although admitted it wasn't a "need". Without further interrogation, I agreed to take them into town later in the week. Every day after that Lucifer arrived with "the guys" on their way to the soccer field. He has been cheerful and friendly. When he comes into our home he always "presents himself", which is a custom here. He shakes my hand, exchanges pleasantries and thanks me for having him. With each subsequent visit he has become more and more comfortable.

Lucifer   -   Javier   -   William (Lucifer's brother)
Last Tuesday he asked for a rosary for himself and then returned the following day wondering if he could have one for his little sister. Lucifer is one of 7 children. With Dad gone and his oldest brother married, it seems that he has assumed the role of caretaker.

Yesterday, I took the guys to Bellavista, which is the bigger town a bit south of us. We started with Williams' shoes. As he was trying on the few different styles available in his size, Lucifer quietly asked If I could possibly get him "chanpun". Unfamiliar with this slang term for soccer cleats, I had no idea what he desired. Thankfully, Javier was there to help. They explained that they both play soccer as a way to earn money for their families. Without cleats it's hard to compete against those that do. When I agreed, they both started giggling and eagerly asked the saleswoman which ones she had in their size. I'm not sure if either of them have ever had "real" soccer shoes, but they were awfully excited either way!!

Lucifer (in the red/white stripes) was excited to find a match.
Lucifer and his brother William chose to come to our house this morning for our Lost Sheep ministry. After having French Toast for the fist time (and TOTALLY loving it), the guys completed an activity whereby each team needed to match inspirational phrases with corresponding pictures. Each prayerful phrase described a different strategy for finding joy in the love of Jesus. We talked about the temptations that they all feel to use drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc to escape from their problems and why Jesus is a much better option. It was both fun and motivational. I thank God for the inspiration because I believe it was exactly what Lucifer needed. When our activity was done he sat alone reading the booklets from which I had made the copies. Each one has a different theme but collectively are meant to re-direct people's hearts and minds toward Jesus in times of trouble. Lucifer was totally engrossed and kept rereading the pages that stood out to him, which is more than I would have ever thought to pray for.

Before leaving town this evening for our ministry in Santa Rosillo, William stopped Anna and asked if we might possibly be able to buy their family some food.  Unable to help him that moment, she promised that we would stop by their house in the morning.

As I continue to pray for Lucifer, I am drawn to the image of Divine Mercy. As I recall my assumption that Lucifer stole my rings for drug money, I am acutely aware of my own sinfulness.

"...and forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us..."

I pray for the grace I need to be endlessly merciful to others, as God has been merciful to me.

In Matthew 18:22 Jesus tells us that we must forgive our brothers not seven times, but seventy-seven times. We will continue to invite Lucifer into our home. We will continue to love him, even if he steals from us again. We will continue to pray that he sees the love of Jesus in our simple acts of kindness and begins to desire that love from Jesus Himself.

Please join us in prayer ~ that we're able to keep our hearts open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, who will help us shepherd our new little Lost Sheep.


We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to support us financially, please visit:

www.carmodyfamily.familymissionscompany.com
or call Family Missions Company at
(337) 893-6111

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Coco Was Killed and Rings Were Stolen

The Shirelles - 1961
"Mamma said, 'There'll be days like this, 
there'll be days like this', my Mamma said...
Don't you worry, don't you worry now!"

In 1961, when the Shirelles released "Mama Said", their single flew to the top of the charts. This Motown hit has remained a favorite and can be heard all around the world.... but why? 

My guess is this ~ It captures a universal truth that every generation must learn to accept: No matter how great things are going, there will always be crummy days, filled with crummy things. 

In the book of Romans, St. Paul says, "afflictions produce  endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us."  Like the Shirelles, St. Paul advises us not to let the tough days get us down.

Although we've had a string of tough days, Our God remains faithful and continues to shower us with blessings. I can attest to FMC's claim that "the only way to remain in missions is to be steeped in fervent prayer...every single moment of every single day." Without intense prayer, we would be sunk!

My wedding ring is similar to these.
Earlier this week Lucifer, his brother and a couple others showed up at our house. What does one do when Lucifer arrives at his door? Invite him in, of course, and make him comfortable. Lucifer is a friend of our Lost Sheep that we haven't yet had the opportunity to meet. Although we've see him around, he typically keeps some distance. Several days ago, the guys were going to play soccer and stopped in at our house on the way. After some brief conversation we invited them to return when they finished, which they did. Hot, sweaty and really thirsty, the gang arrived a couple hours later for water and some shade. There was a lot of commotion as some flopped down in exhaustion, others raced to the kitchen for water, and they collectively recounted and reenacted the highlights of the game.  

My "Mommy" ring is very similar
to this one. The woven threads
have always reminded me of the
strength of  interdependence.
Shortly after they left, I realized that they had taken my rings with them; my wedding band as well as the ring I've worn for almost 15 years for my children. I thank and praise God for the peacefulness that He placed in my heart. As I stood at the kitchen sink and stared at the place where my rings had been, I prayed fervently for the person who took them. I asked the Lord to guide that person back to our house so that we could help him to know better...to do better. 

In Matthew 7:7 Jesus encourages us to ask and assures us that what we need will be given to us.  As such, Lucifer and his buddies arrived at our door the following day...to steal more stuff.



Entering prayer a bit discouraged, Jesus faithfully lifted my spirits as He placed on my heart exactly what I was to do next. I needed to invite Lucifer and his friends to our home on Saturday morning to have pancakes along with our other Lost Sheep. I needed to facilitate the activities which Jesus revealed to me and share my testimony. Fully confident that the voice I heard was His, I began planning our Saturday morning ministry. I prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed some more.

On Saturday morning the sky opened and rain poured down - for hours and hours. I fell to my knees and begged the Lord to remove every obstacle that would detour the thief from coming, including the storm.  I knew in my heart that the talk I had prepared was for him and that the activities would open the lines of communication. However, I also knew that Satan had a vested interest in keeping Lucifer away. His satanic tattoos give witness to whose voice he's been able to hear most clearly. I recognized the spiritual battle for what it was and "put on the armor of God so that [I could] stand firm against the tactics of the devil." (Ephesians 6:10). 

Coco and Katelyn shortly before she died.
As I was peacefully preparing pancakes there was a sudden outburst of emotion... 

...panic, yelling, crying, running about.... 

Our dog Coco had been poisoned. She stumbled about and then fell to the ground shaking violently as foam bubbled from her mouth.  We tried to console her, but she whimpered and cried. We called for a mototaxi who rushed Coco, Katelyn and a friend to the vet for an anti-venom shot. Three other large dogs on our street had been killed this week, so the prospect didn't seem favorable. When Katelyn returned Coco was visibly worse. The poison was overtaking her. As the kids laid her down in front of our house the neighbors rushed over. They had many suggestions for getting the poison out; all of which we followed. Between our sobs, Katelyn and Anna poured oil, sugar water and other anti-venom concoctions into her mouth trying to get her to vomit. They massaged her tummy and rubbed her shaking face. We cried, they cried....everyone cried as Coco helplessly convulsed. As our Lost Sheep arrived, they tearfully joined us in bidding our faithful friend good-bye. 

Not knowing what else to do, I returned to the kitchen to continue making pancakes. As I mindlessly poured and flipped, I realized that the Lord had answered my prayers ~ Lucifer was here. Despite my grief, I offered many prayers of thanksgiving and begged the Lord to send His Holy Spirit in power to deliver the talk that He had written. 

Although Javier always loves smiling for the camera,
Lucifer (in the gray marijuana hat) preferred anonymity. 
As prescribed by Jesus, the guys began by creating little people out of clay...everyone except Lucifer, who preferred to sculpt drug paraphernalia. We talked about the care with which a creator creates. I explained that they are each beautiful, perfect creations of God, who loves them immensely. I tried hard to stay out of the way so that the Holy Spirit could deliver the message Lucifer needed to hear; Jesus' unconditional love, the importance of forgiveness and a bold statement of truth - Jesus brought my family here to Peru for him. Although Lucifer was uninterested in making little clay people, he was very interested in everything that I had to say, especially as I shared my own testimony and informed them that I was not mad at the person who stole my stuff... whoever that might be. 

Motokar cross races are extremely popular here.
The guys go as often as they can afford and all dream
of being part of the races someday.
After my talk, I challenged the kids to make motokar cross motos out of clay - which was Jesus' next instruction. After they were done, we'd all vote and the winner would get a prize.  The room erupted in cheers as they smashed their little people and began making wheels and handlebars... everyone except for Lucifer who turned his pipes into pistols.  As I sat quietly, I petitioned the Lord for guidance. "Guns" I kept hearing him say, "You know about guns." A bit skeptical, I acquiesced to the inspiration and began talking with Lucifer about firearms. I've shot with my family since I was very young and enjoyed the knickname "Annie Oakley".  My family is filled with hunters and many shoot for sport. I told him about the competitions my brother has won where participants complete various courses. All praise be to God, Lucifer and I connected. As we made eye contact I felt him say, "Maybe your not so bad."  

Although Lucifer never admitted to stealing anything, he eyes revealed the truth. As such, I found the perfect opportunity to say to him in private, "I forgive you. I pray that you continue coming to my house because I believe it's the will of God that we're both here."  Although he remained silent, his non-verbals communicated a great deal about his possible willingness to let down his guard.

Anna   -   Eric   -   Katelyn   -   Omar
Given the pouring rain we were unable to bury Coco. So, we all headed down the street to play soccer in the mud.

To no surprise, Lucifer and I were on opposing teams. Several times we came head-to-head. My periodic defeats left him wondering, "Who is she and what is she all about?" 

In the book Forming Intentional Disciples, Sherry Weddell talks about the "curiosity stage" in which people who have historically been unaffiliated with Christianity begin to wonder. I think it's safe to say that Lucifer may have dipped his toe into that pool yesterday.  I ask for prayers as we continue following the Lord's lead and loving each and every person He sends our way...even Lucifer.

Still a muddy mess from soccer, we dug Coco's grave and put her to rest. This too was a blessed experience because Omar (who has become a good friend to Katelyn and Anna) lost his older brother several years ago to an infectious disease that took his life very quickly. Omar has been struggling ever since.  Although Coco is just a dog, it was therapeutic for Omar to be able to be on the supporting side of grief.  


Although the Bible is always my "go-to" for direction and comfort, I also appreciate the wisdom of the Shirelles:  

"Mamma said,
'There'll be days like this, 
there'll be days like this',
my Mamma said...
Don't you worry,
don't you worry now!"

To listen to their song, click here:
"Mama Said" by the Shirelles




I thank you for every prayer offered on our behalf. I ask specifically for the grace we need to bring Lucifer into the loving arms of Christ.


We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to support us financially, please visit:
www.carmodyfamily.familymissionscompany.com
or call Family Missions Company at
(337) 893-6111

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fútbol Evangelization


I dream that one day the people of our community will get this excited about Jesus...



During our formation at Family Missions Company there was an opportunity for us to spend time with FMC missionaries visiting from around the world; people living the life that we were preparing for. Although my mind raced with questions regarding health care, homeschooling, living expenses and many other "unknowns", what I really wanted to know was...
"What are your favorite ministries?" 

Some missionaries felt strongly about serving the imprisoned, others talked about their love for the home-bound. As I listened to each story I wondered, "What will be our favorite ministries?"

As we approach our two year anniversary, we're starting to get the hang of this whole missionary thing and have several favorite ministries. A personal favorite has been our fútbol fan club.

Javier


Let me say more...


There are countless teens in our community who are lost and alone; kids that have experienced way too much and yet know so little.  They need supervision, guidance, accurate information and support, but most of all they need the unconditional love of Jesus.  For us to choose one over the other would be impossible and unfair.  As such, we try really hard to let Jesus decide.  Our job is simply to listen and respond.



Last year the Holy Spirit sent us Javier, a relatively typical kid with relatively typical problems of drug abuse, failing grades, family dysfunction and sporadic participation in the local occult activities. Although we probably wouldn't have picked him out of a crowd, Jesus did.


Evangelization games at the Carmody house.
Along with Javier came his brother Jherson and their buddies.

Not knowing what exactly to do with the troubled teens, we followed the Spirit's lead and invited them to our home to hear the gospel.

We assume that the Holy Spirit has compensated for our inadequacies, because logic says these street kids should have no interest in hanging out with a bunch of missionaries.


They came and we preached, using games, friendly competitions and other fun activities.


Jherson   -   Javier  -   Coppo   -   Ibon

Little by little, the guys' hard outer shells softened and through anointed conversations we've learned bits and pieces of their stories. They've allowed us into their hearts and we've invited them into ours, making way for real friendships. We still share the gospel, but it's different now. We talk, as traveling companions, about the real challenges of life and how Jesus is always there for us. A friend once said that sharing the gospel is like one poor beggar telling another where he can get free food. As we come to know and love people like Javier we want nothing more than to share the Good News with them. From one beggar to another, we're simply telling them where to get the food that our souls need and crave.

When the game is being played all eyes are on the field!





So, what does all of this have to do with my favorite ministry 
~ the fútbol fan club???  








Many spectators bring home-made flags
to wave in support of their team. Unfortunately,
at this game all the flag poles were confiscated
by the police because of their potential use as
weapons if a brawl broke out.
Several months ago, during Javier's 40-day drug related school suspension, he shared with me his dream of playing professional soccer (fútbol). We talked at length about the league rules, which clearly state that up until the age of 17 only individuals attending school are eligible to play. Javier is an incredibly skilled player and has a real chance - if he can stay out of trouble. To make his dream more tangible and provide an incentive for staying in school, we offered to take Javier and the gang to the local play-off match. San Hilarion won and therefore advanced to the next round.  So, we took them to that game...and the next and the next!!  It just so happens that our community's soccer team is REALLY good this year.



Attending these play-off games and watching our team advance has helped Javier realize that his dream is attainable; which has given him a reason to stay in school.


San Hilarion has qualified for the Copa del Peru and is currently competing for the national title.

We've learned a lot these last several months about how seriously the people here take this sport.


Barbed wire fencing keeps the spectators at bay.





There is a gang squad about 40 strong at every match ready... for anything!!



Just last weekend the police had to apprehend an angry spectator who was chasing and threatening a referee.

Gang squad protecting the refs.


The gang squad completely surrounds the referees as they leave the field to ensure their safety.

They also protect the referees during half-time from individuals interested in bribing or threatening them.



Anna and Michael with Andy,
one of the local fútbol heroes.

Our participation in this community affair began with the desire to help one kid stay out of trouble.

When I originally felt the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart to take Javier to these games I had no idea that He would use these outings to build real friendships which would ultimately bring Javier and his buddies closer to Jesus.

The Spirit works in such complex ways.  As such, it's no surprise that attending these soccer matches has contributed to the overall effectiveness of our mission as well. The people in San Hilarion love us and consider us a real part of their community. Fútbol is very important to them and they greatly appreciate our enthusiasm and support.


Soon after the refs blew the whistle, announcing the end
of the game, the players from San Hilarion
gathered in the center of the field and fell to their knees
to offer prayers of thanksgiving for all that He has given.


At one game someone leaned over and said, "See, even the fútbol players have started praying since you got here."


It's hard to quantify the effectiveness of our mission, but we just keep-on keeping-on, trusting Jesus in all things.


We no longer worry about "finding ministries".  We have surrendered to the Spirit and trust that they will find us....which they do.

Our ministries are constantly changing along with people's needs and circumstances.  For example, even though our fútbol fan club has been my favorite these last couple months it is coming to an end as San Hilarion's team begins competing in other regions of the country. Unable to travel to these distant towns, we'll huddle around the TV instead.  Although I expected a little sadness when we could no longer attend the games, I am at peace knowing that this ministry served its purpose.  I have complete confidence that the Holy Spirit will bring us another ministry that will become my new favorite!!!  


We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to support us financially, please visit:

www.carmodyfamily.familymissionscompany.com
or call Family Missions Company at
(337) 893-6111