Archive for December, 2011

From Maria – in loving memory of Alvina my sister

December 26, 2011

My friend Albina Nini recently left this earth.

I met Albina more than 10 years ago at a time I was sad, confused, insecure, afraid and depressed. She helped me to put the pieces of my life together and her compassion and love gave me strength. We shared a lot…she used to say I was the sister she always wanted because as a Latina I had the heart, feelings and passion like an Italian. Albina was of Italian descent with reddish hair, deep brown eyes and an amazing sense of humour. I especially remember our gatherings, with other friends in a vegetarian restaurant in the market called “The Table”. We were so often there that it was like our office. We went for walks to the river, to the movies, to garage sales, to book sales; she loved to have all the flavours of gelatos and time was always short for all we had to share. We both needed to be accepted just as we were.

At that time Albina had had the courage to leave her secure government job and was seeking something more meaningful in life. She spoke perfect English, French and Italian and was eloquent and full of life. She had been working at healing a deep wound in her heart by writing and following a program with amazing discipline. The emotional pain had started to affect her health at that point. In my brokenness all I had to share was the Jesus I knew. We promised each other that no matter what would happen or change in our lives we would always be sisters and care for each other. I had started to go to Lift Jesus Higher and she came a few times with me. After that, many things changed and we grew apart for some time but I always missed her.

I met Albina again a few months ago; she was very fragile, with the same heart, and the same sad eyes. My dear sister, had become as I once was when I first met her. At this time I wasn’t able to be with her as she needed and as she had once been with me. My heart is broken, I am with you today Alvina and you will always be part of who I am now.

“My beloved speaks and says to me:

Arise my love, my beautiful one, and come away,

for behold the winter is past; the rain is over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come

and the voice of the turtledoves heard in our land.

The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom;

they give forth fragrance.

Arise my love, my beautiful one, and come away…” (Song of Songs 2:10-13)

Maria

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Living Nativity at Las Columnas – from Maria in PERU

December 24, 2011

There is no better way to learn about Jesus than to become Him. This is what happened at Las Columnas last night.

The kids were involved in a living nativity acting according to the Bible. They did all the preparation (readings and acting). They also sang carols and danced. I hardly helped in the preparation as I had to go to Huanuco for a few days last week.

This is the project where LJH with the help of SCIMP (an organization from England that combines the efforts of Catholics, Anglicans and Methodist to support a Third World project each year) and other contributors, changed the underground pipes and and replaced an old latrine in the first patio (there are two patios) with common washrooms and showers and a place to do hand washing of laundry.

For those of you who are interested, below is an article written before we started work. The humidity and smell is no longer there and the heart of people is progressively changing from low self esteem, disrespect, use of drugs and alcohol to people with hope, gratefulness and desire to know the Jesus that cares for them.

Maria

viernes 7 de agosto de 2009
La Casa de Las Columnas

Living in a historical house in Lima AD 2009
When you walk from the Plaza de Armas in Lima along the Jr. Conde de Superunda past the church and convent of Santo Domingo you pass the magnificent blue Casa de Osambela. Next to it is an entrance, number 316. Welcome to the Casa de Las Columnas. You enter a different world. It could be the nineteenth century, or earlier. It smells of humidity and urine. Laundry is drying everywhere. Women are busy doing the laundry by hand in the courtyard. This place was from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century the noviciado of the convent of Santo Domingo. Boys were learning to become monks.
Only 20 persons have a regular job.
Now 61 families live here in 53 rooms, divided over two patios. In total around 250 people have their home here, of which 50 are children. Only 20 persons have a regular job. A room is on average 30 square meters. They don´t have running water or toilets. Around the first patio live 43 families. They have to share two taps and one toilet. Two other toilets have broken down and have not been repaired. Only seven families use the toilet, the others use bedpans. The second patio has a bit better services for its 18 families; three taps and four toilets. Since the beginning of the nineties people don´t pay rent anymore, says Iván del Castillo Vélasquez. He moved here in 1984 when he was 17 years old from Cabana in Ancash. He came to study in Lima to become a teacher. Now he teaches Spanish at a secondary school and he is secretary of the Asociación de Vivienda Las Columnas. But he is moving out in December. Finally he is eligible for Techo Propio. He has a wife and a son of five. “This is no place for a child to grow up”, he says. Many people are drunk and play loud music at night. As they don´t pay rent, they also don´t care for the place. The way of living here is not a good example at all.

Part of the convent Santo Domingo
On August 5th Iván initiated a talk about the history of the house for the inhabitants. So they would know where they’re living. Around 30 people attended. The talk was to organize, together with the NGO Centro de Investigación, Documentación y Asesoria Poblacional (CIDAP), as part of their campaign Centro Histórico de Lima: centro vivo. First Deolinda Villa Esteves of the sub dirección de Investigación Histórica of the Dirección de Patrimonio Histórico Colonial y Republicano of the Instituto Nacional de Cultura (INC) explained the history of the building. Originally it was part of the convent of Santo Domingo. This convent has occupied since 1541 two whole blocks, with the church and tower on the lower right corner, the noviciado on the lower left corner and the refectorio on the upper left corner. In the book Tesoros Verdaderos de las Indias from 1681/83 the convent is described in detail.

Dwellings for people with little means.
The great earthquake of 1746 destroyed most of Lima, including the church and convent of Santo Domingo. They were rebuilt in the second half of the eighteenth century. To raise funds the Dominicans sold parts of their block; among others the refectorio and the right part of the noviciado. The latter was sold to Martín de Osambela, who built his mansion here. The remaining part of the noviciado became the refectorio. It was used as such in 1810. In the period 1830-1850 it was used as a police station. The present entrance was constructed in that time. As of 1852 a certain Nicolás Rodrigo started to buy and rent these parts from the Dominicans. He constructed dwellings here for people with little means and rented them out. These constructions are what we can see today. They are not very good; no direct light and bad ventilation.
I could find two references to a Nicolás Rodrigo. In El Comercio of November 14th 1840 he announced together with Domingo Elías the opening of the colegio Nuestra Señora de Guadelupe in the old building of the Estanco de Tabaco. Rodrigo and Elías had received this building from president Gamarra. And in the 1850s Nicolás Rodrigo was a partner of Manuel Pardo in his guano export business.

The original floor is still there
After the historical context of the building architect Antonio Coello of the Escuela Taller de Lima talked about his findings. Main objectives were to see how findings here would correspond with those in the convent and to see if a dating could be made for pottery from colonial times. The arches are eighteenth century as part of the rebuilding of the convent. Several excavations showed that the original red tiled floor of the sixteenth century convent is still present 1.20 meters below the present floor. Several seventeenth century tinajas, big earthenware jugs, were found as well in the soil, for keeping of oil and other liquids, and remains of pottery from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century.
La Casa de Las Columnas should be taken care of better. It would be great if the occupants of the house could do this in combination with professionals. Can 150 years of neglect be counteracted quick enough?

Publicado por Ronald Elward en 10:42 0 comentarios
Etiquetas: Casa de Las Columnas, Lima

Feliz Navidad from Maria in Peru

December 18, 2011

"Feliz Navidad" and lots of love from Peru to you!

God’s amazing love does not change but somehow, in my case, it is more evident every time I travel to Peru. I could share many things, Cesar taking me to the airport; Air Canada allowing me to take more luggage than regular at no extra cost; people giving me toys and funding to continue the mission work that LJH started some seven years ago in Peru etc, etc, etc. but I would never finish and you would get tired so I have chosen just a few stories here (hope it is not too long). I pray in this moment for the Holy Spirit to touch each one that reads this message with His light, peace and love and may all be for the glory of the living God.

All the pictures here are from Huanuco except for the one where I am with Ruth and another of Genoveba who is from Lima.

Here are some stories I hope will encourage your faith.

CEDRICK

This 24 year handsome fellow from Montreal, with the looks of Mel Gibson in the movie "Brave heart", lives in Toronto. He sat next to me in the eight hours flight Toronto-Lima. Somehow he ended up sharing his life with me. His mother could not keep him because she was in drugs and Cedrix was taken to various fosters homes since the age of six. Eventually, he ended in a place for juveniles. He escaped there to end up living in the streets of Montreal with his dog. At that point he learned a trade and now works in construction and sings in a band. Nothing especial with his story except that something a bit humorous changed his life. He met a Peruvian girl that invited him to eat some Peruvian food which he liked a lot (she was joining him in Peru a few days later). The extraordinary thing here is that his band had played to collect money and toys to bring to poor people in Peru and in spite of being so wounded from all his life experiences, Cedrick cared for the poor. There was a difference in age and background, but we had lots in common.

He was touched when I share about the ‘good samaritan’ and also I told him that the Dalai Lama had been asked which was the best religion in the world and the answer given by this wise man was "the one that makes you more compassionate". Well, I ended praying for Cedrick, he showed his compassion for me by lending me his neck pillow to sleep and carrying my luggage. (You can see him in YouTube: Punk Rock Hockey Promo 2012)

GENOVEBA

Genoveba came to see me the day I arrived. My mom was amazed as Genoveba had not showed up for months and did not know I was coming.

This woman of amazing faith never had the opportunity to learn to read or write and she is already in her 50s. Her faith and Bible knowledge comes from listening to the gospel when she goes to mass and from miracles in her daily life. Her circumstances and sufferings are terrible. In the middle of all that her faith has grown strong like a flower in the desert. She really knows the meaning of Matthew 16:24: "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me". If her faith would be based on experiences her circumstances would destroy it. Two of her children did not survive the age of 3 due to poverty. She came from the mountains during the time terrorism was strong in Peru and ended up living in a shanty town in Lima. Her alcoholic partner eventually abandoned her. The daughter that used to help her to cope with poverty passed away less than 2 years ago at the age of 24 (stomach cancer) leaving two small ones with Genoveba. She continues her walk in life selling matches and washing clothes, her hands are full of wounds (detergent, bad nutrition…) and she looks very fragile. What she makes barely helps with the poor diet she provides for her family in the shanty town where she lives.

Many would say, why is she in such condition if she has faith. Preachers of the "gospel of prosperity" don’t go to people like her neither "prophets" that think they are like movie stars going to "higher levels" and basing their faith in emotions. Genoveba’s faith is not based in circumstances but in the God that does not change and her personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Not many have faith as this woman but her poverty is a reality for near half of Peru. The hearts of many rich people have turned cold and indifferent in a place where anything is welcome by those born in poverty. They are poorer than the poor.

The poor and injustice will always exist. That is not an excuse to be indifferent. Can I just go to church, enjoy singing and not look at the naked or hungry around me? The true gospel is simple: share your bread, especially with those that can not pay you back, bless your enemies,…etc. Isaiah 58 talks about the true and false fasting. This is the Gospel scripture that started the LJH mission in Peru.

I have often experienced, when acting in obedience to serve others in the name of Jesus, God’s divine intervention and the natural becomes supernatural. No human effort or money can accomplish what the Spirit of God can produce in the hearts of people and that becomes the supernatural. That is the difference with human organizations that do good work and Christian Mission work. Sometimes our impulse and own desire can be confused with God’s will but God is merciful and if we keep on asking He reveals His truth. Jesus was always acting in obedience to His Father’s will and He is our model.

RUTH

Ruth phoned me from Huanuco the day I arrived in Lima and the next thing I knew an early phone call woke me up. She was at the bus station asking me to pick her up. She’s been with me since then until Friday when I took her back to Huanuco. It wasn’t in my plans to go to Huanuco (10 hours from Lima by bus). It is a long story that I might share another time.

The first time I saw Ruth, she was a six years old girl with no shoes playing near a garbage dump. She is now 12 years old and it is a joy to see how she has turned out. There is a depth in her prayer and also in the awareness of her reality. Since my arrival in Lima until we went to Huanuco, she shared different stories of the Bible in our home prayer group. It was so funny to hear from her, in her own words with her eyes full of amazement about Daniel, Samson or Solomon and God’s divine intervention. Other than that I think she learned more math in a week than what she had learned in the whole year. Her parents wanted her to stay with me but it is still not the time.

JOSE

Jose, this is the eight year old kid walking with me by the dusty road near the soup kitchen in the picture. He is the other child that comes always to my mind when praying for Huanuco. He sometimes goes to bed without eating. The shoes and sandals I bought in a garage sale for $2 were perfect for him. He showed me his head full of bumps from physical abuse. I hugged him for few minutes and watched cartoons with him at Myrna’s hostel where I was staying. For most of my time that I was in Huanuco, Jose was with me. Every time I have gone to Huanuco this little one follows me everywhere. Each time I write in his soul "Jesus loves you". He wanted to give me a little chick as a present but I couldn’t bring it so he gave me a little rock. This time I took him to the dentist and his tooth was saved. A charitable organization (Caritas) has made this very affordable, still difficult for people that has so many kids, no regular work and make so little.

It is a privilege for me to write in the little souls of children about Jesus love. The same way wounds and traumas that take place in childhood are so hard to heal or erase, the love of Jesus will make them strong in life. I did not visit any priest or bishop in Huanuco as I had gone unexpectedly and mainly to return Ruth. This time in Peru my priority was to take it easy with my own family, but I just have to "trust in the Lord with all my heart and not lean in my own understanding".

I’ll be with the kids at "Las Columnas" (downtown Lima) next Wednesday. We will be singing carrols and celebrating Christmas with a living nativity, hot chocolate and paneton (sweet bread with raisins). I haven’t gone to Huangascar but the work continues.

My heart was with all of you at the LJH Christmas celebration but especially with my dear Alvina.

Maria

Christmas Social 2011

December 18, 2011

How to Hear God?

December 16, 2011

December 15, 2011

Steve Varga

How to Hear God?

Hebrews 1:1-2 In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe.

How did God speak in the past?

Numbers 12: 6-8 God said, Now listen to the word of the Lord:

Should there be a prophet among you, in visions will I reveal myself to him, in dreams will I speak to him; Not so with my servant Moses! Throughout my house he bears my trust: face to face I speak to him, plainly and not in riddles. The presence of the Lord he beholds.

Note: Visions, dreams, riddles, some cases God will speak plainly and directly.

The Old Testament:

Abraham

Genesis 12:1-3 “The Lord SAID to Abram ….

Genesis 12:7 The Lord APPEARED to Abram and SAID…

Genesis 15:1 This word of the Lord came to Abram in a VISION.

Genesis 15:17-21 As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him. Then the Lord SAID to Abram ….

Joshua

Joshua 5:2 On this occasion the Lord SAID to Joshua – circumcision.

Joshua 5:13-15 VISION of an angel the captain of the host of the Lord.

Gideon

Judges 6:11-17 VISION of an angel – The Lord SAID

Samuel

Samuel 3:10-15 The Lord came and revealed his presence and SAID to Samuel – The lord spoke about the family of Eli – Samuel was afraid to tell the VISION to Eli.

Elijah

1 Kings 17:2-4 The Lord then SAID to Elijah….

Isaiah

Isaiah 1:1 the VISIONS of which Isaiah received regarding Judah and Jerusalem.

Jeremiah

Jeremiah 1:4 The WORD of the Lord came to me thus..

Ezekiel

Ezekiel 1:1 The heaven opened and I saw divine VISIONS…

Daniel

Daniel 2:19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a VISION.

Daniel 7:2 In the VISION I SAW…

Hosea

Hosea 1:1 The WORD of the Lord came to Hosea..

Joel

Joel 1:1 The WORD of the Lord came to Joel..

Amos

Amos 1:1 The words of Amos, which he received in VISION concerning Israel.

Obadiah

Obadiah 1:1 The VISION of Obadiah – Thus SAYS the Lord.

Jonah

Jonah 1:1 This is the WORD that came to Jonah…

Micah

Micah 1:1 The WORD of the Lord which came to Micah…

Nahum

Nahum 1:1 The book of VISION of Nahum..

Habakkuk

Habakkuk 1:1 The oracle which Habakkuk the prophet received in VISION.

Haggai

Haggai 1:1 .. The WORD of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai

Zechariah

Zachariah 1:1 .. The WORD of the Lord came to Zachariah..

Malachi

Malachi 1:1 An oracle. The WORD of the Lord to Israel through Malachi.

The New Testament

Zachariah (The father of Jon the Baptist)

Luke 1:11 The angel of the Lord appeared to him

1:13 But the angle said to him..

Mary

Luke 1:26 The angel Gabriel was sent from God to the virgin called Mary, and coming to her he said…

Joseph (the husband of Mary)

Matthew 1:20 behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a DREAM and said, Joseph son of David….

Magi

Matthew 2:12 and having been warned in a DREAM not to return to Herod…

Joseph (the husband of Mary)

Matthew 2:13 behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a DREAM and said go to Egypt..

Saul

Acts 9:3-6 Light and the voice of Jesus..

God up to the present still speaking in these various ways to people.

But if I may coin a phrase from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians 12:31

“But I shall show you a still more excellent way” and Paul proceeds to talk about the primacy of the greatest Spiritual Gift of Love.

Let me develop a case for this more excellent way that God is speaking to us.

Jesus’s testimony about us (you and I) his disciples:

Matthew 11:11 “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater then John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

God is Omnipresent – In Him we move and have our being. A very philosophical or theological description. If God is everywhere, then where do I look to hear him talking, to the left, or right, up or down, North, South, East, or West?

Let us exam the scripture, the word of God.

Luke 24:51 As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven.

Mark 16:19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.

Jesus is gone he is not here!

Matthew 28:20b And behold I am with you always, until the end of the age. (I am going, but I am staying)

The explanation we find in the Gospel of John and Paul’s letters.

John 14:15-18 If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

John 16:7 But I tell you the truth , it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

John 15:26 When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me.

John 16:12-14 I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine (that is Jesus’s) and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine;

Now how do we know that we have received the Holy Spirit?

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 But the one who gives us security with you in Christ and who anointed us is God; he has also put his seal upon us and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment. (Baptism and Confirmation)

Ephesians 1:13-14 In him (Christ) you also , who heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the first instalment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption.

How do we grieve the Holy Spirit? Eph. 4:31 All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.

How do we cheer up the Holy Spirit? Eph. 4:32 Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

We are the Temple of God (Collectively and individually)

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God which you are, is holy.

The Holy Spirit Helps us to pray: Romans 8:26-27 In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.

We are the children of God: Romans 8:14-15 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the spirit of adoption, through which we cry, Abba, Father (Daddy). See also Galatians 4:6-7

Spiritual Gifts, See: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

The Fruit of the Spirit, See: Galatians 5:22-23

Love, the greatest spiritual gift, See: 1 Corinthians 13

Testimonies

The Holy Spirit

-speaks to you (how?)

-will guide you to all truth (scriptures comes to life)

-will declare to you the things to come (testimonies)

-help you to pray

Why do you not hear God speaking?

Did you gave the Holy Spirit permission?

The Holy Spirit is a neglected person in our heart (playing solitaire).

Fan into flame! (Release of the power of the Holy Spirit) 2 Timothy 1:6-7 For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self control.

Conclusion:

Need for discernment whether God, Flesh, or the devil speaks.

Two lighthouse will guide a ship safely into harbor.

1) Alignment with Scripture (the word of God)

2) Alignment with the teaching of God’s church.

THE HOLY SPIRIT

– IS WITH YOU AND IN YOU

– COMES FROM THE FATHER

– SENT BY THE SON

– WILL GUIDE YOU TO ALL TRUTH

– WILL SPEAK TO YOU

– WILL DECLARE TO YOU THE THINGS

THAT ARE COMING

– WHEN HE SPEAKS JESUS SPEAKS

AND THE FATHER SPEAKS

– WHEN HE SPEAKS THE TRIUNE GOD SPEAKS

– IS IN YOUR HEART

– CAN BE GRIEVED

– CAN BE CHEERED UP

– PRESENCE IN YOU MAKE YOU THE TEMPLE OF GOD

– HELPS YOU TO PRAY

FAN INTO FLAME!

HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD

I BELIEVE YOU LIVE

WITHIN MY VERY BEING

LORD I GIVE YOU

PERMISSION

TO TEACH ME AND GUIDE ME

OPEN THE EARS AND EYES

OF MY HEART

SO THAT I MAY HEAR YOU

AND SEE YOU

PLEASE BAPTIZE ME

IN THE HOLY SPIRIT

First Communion and Baptism Dec 4, 2011

December 12, 2011