Thursday, February 28, 2008

We’ve arrived in Ecuador…9 down and 2 countries to go

Wednesday, February 20th
Early this morning, Don Efren's friends came to pick us up. It's a mother and a daughter who also make their living buying in Ecuador and selling in Colombia. Chris and I were so tired that we slept most of the way there. They dropped us off in Ipiales at immigration and then headed on to Ecuador. This was one of the most "modern" borders that we've crossed. They actually had computers and the stamp in our passport was done with a printer!! Thank God!! We didn't have any problems crossing today!!! After eating a little breakfast and calling our friends in Colombia one last time, we started walking!! (Something that made us smile...while we were eating breakfast, a man from Perú sat down beside us to eat his breakfast too! We're not very far now!!)

It is gorgeous...I love the mountains sooo much! The flowers are beautiful too!! Our camera is on its last leg though (so I could only take one picture of the flowers today) won't delete pictures anymore...I've figured out how to delete them on my Palm, but it takes a long time. Be praying that God will either hold this camera together from another couple of months or that God will provide a new one.

Something we weren't aware of...we thought that we were getting to South America in the dry season....we'll in Colombia, that's true, but as we get closer to the Equator the seasons reverse. So it's actually raining A LOT right now in Ecuador and it's pretty cold. We had walked about 3 hours today when it started sprinkling. I pulled out the umbrella and we made it a nearby gas station to wait out the rain. We were surprised to see soldiers at the gas of course we asked what that was all about. Gas in Ecuador is $1.48 per gallon and Diesel is $1.03 per gallon. (Ecuador has petrolium and they are also on the Dollar.) Gas in Colombia is $4.00 or more per gallon. So a lot of Colombians try to buy quantities of gas in Ecuador and sell it in Colombia. That's why the soldiers are help control the situation! Wow! So we talked to the soldiers for awhile...they were really nice! They also gave us some idea of where we should walk in Ecuador...they've served all over the country, so they talked to us about dangerous areas...for crime and for mudslides. We also talked quite a bit to Maria, the wife of the manager of the gas station. She's a really sweet lady too!

We waited and waited on the rain, but it didn't see that it was going to stop. Maria offered to get some lunch for us while we waited. It was in Colombia (and Perú according to Chris) they serve a soup and a second plate at lunch nearly every day. It's a ton of food...and your drink comes with you meal...all for $1.50. Things are really inexpensive in wonder there is so much business of people buying here and selling in Colombia. After lunch, the rain let up a bit so we decided to walk on...

After several hours, it was obvious that it was going to rain again. We were just praying for God to provide shelter, a town, or a ride. Finally around 5 pm, this car stopped to offer us a ride to Huaca. We'd walked more than 10 miles today, so we were ready for a break!! We hopped in, and just as Eliezer and Yolanda started driving again, it started pouring rain! Praise God for His right on time provision!! They took us to La Casa del Perigrino (The House of the Pilgrim) in Huaca. When they stopped there...I just smiled at the name!! We ended up staying the night there.

Thursday, February 21st
When we woke up this morning, I was sooo sore. The blisters on my feet were open again, so Chris said it was okay if we stayed one more night. We worked most of the day on journalling, erasing pictures that we didn't mean to take, and working on the spreadsheet of statistics. Pretty low key day. I did, however, lose my gloves. We figured out that I must have left them in Eliezer's truck. Thankfully, he works right next door, so I was able to get them back!! Praise God!!

Friday, February 22nd
Time to walk again...we walked about 6 miles and had arrived at a set of toll booths. We walked to the other side of them and sat down to drink water and rest. It started we made a bee line for the shelter where the toll booths were. While we were waiting there, this guy, Edgar, came up to us and started talking. He's seen all kinds of people walking, cycling, on mule, on horse, etc come through the toll booths! We talked to him for more than an hour while we waited for the rain. Spiritually, I'd say he's a bit confused, but he did say something profound when we were about to leave. "Allow the new person that God has been forming on this journey to shine forth as you finish your walk and return home. Don't be afraid." Wow! Apparently God can speak through even non-believers!

We walked on...probably 3 more miles...then it started sprinkling again! Aaaahhh! We saw a gas station in the distance and there was a restaurant right beside it. It was lunch time, so we decided to stop in. It appeared to be a family-owned restaurant. It looked like a dad, a mom, a teenage son, and a little daughter. The mom kept looking at us. She had to leave before we finished eating...she had on a green jacket just like Edgar...we figured she must work at the toll booth too. When we finished eating, it was still raining. We asked the owner if it was okay if we waited out the rain. He said that it would be fine.

After we'd been there about an hour more, the owner, Oscar, and his son, Francisco, started talking to us. Doménika, his daughter, was a little more shy. We shared with them what we were doing, and they asked a ton of questions. Eventually, Doménika started talking to us too. Before we knew it, it was dark and it was still raining. We learned that they had only opened their restuarant about 1 week ago. They are still in the fight just to survive as a business! We kept talking with Oscar and Francisco and playing with Doménika. We looked down again and it was 10 pm...Alexandra was coming in the door from work. She was soooo excited that we were still there. She told us that she hoped that we would still be there when she got home. She and Oscar started making supper for us. Then they were inviting us to stay with them. They explained that they didn't have any room in their house, but that we could make a bed on the floor of the restaurant. They would lock us in and we'd be safe. And so we saw God's hand of provision again!!!

Saturday, February 23rd
We slept really well and stayed warm despite how cold it is here! We packed up our stuff and put on our walking clothes again. We had all intentions of walking on today. Oscar and Alexandra told us that we could stay as long as we wanted as long as we slept okay...they really wanted us to stay on. So we did. Just praying that God would show us when it was time to continue on!

When we were reading our devotion this morning, we felt like the passage in Hebrews that talks about Jesus being the new high priest was for Alexandra. So we shared it with her. They are very open to the Bible and learning more about relationship with Jesus.

After breakfast, Chris and I went with Alexandra and Doménika up to the market to buy the things that they needed for today's lunch. Tons of fun! We helped in any way we could by cutting up veggies, washing dishes, etc. We also played with Doménika a ton today...Chris showed her how to make card houses, and I taught her how to play Slap Jack. We shared some more with Oscar and Francisco when Alexandra had to go back to work. It was a good day...they are such a sweet family! We are praying a ton for open doors to share with them!! God's got something big here!

Sunday, February 24th
We helped out again today around the restuarant...sweeping, washing dishes, going up to the market to buy veggies, etc. Then we helped a little serve lunch.

This afternoon, they decided that we should go to visit Tulcan. (The town we passed through and waited at the gas station on the day we came into Ecuador.) Both Oscar and Alexandra are from Tulcan and both the kids were born there...they only just moved to San Gabriel 3 years ago. There wasn't much work in Tulcan, so they decided to move. They had a Karoke Bar and were doing pretty good until Alexandra got really sick about 4 months ago. She wasn't able to go to work, and they weren't sure what was wrong with her. Finally, they discovered cysts on her ovaries. They've been treating it with pain medicine, but she needs to have surgery to have them removed. We are praying a ton for her!

We went to Tulcan to meet Alexandra's family. First we met her brother, Danilo, and his girlfriend, Sonia. Then we met her sister, Monica, and her 3 kids--Juliana, Esteban, and Lizeth. Then we went next door to meet her other sister, Andrea and her husband, Homero, and their kids--Pablo, Margarita, Paula, and Sebastian. While we were visiting with Andrea, their mom, Doña Miriam walked up. She had just arrived from Pasto, Colombia where she was taking care of her mother. Wow!! What a surprise...we were able to meet the whole family!!!

Homero and Andrea decided that we should see the cementary in Tulcan...supposedly it's one of the most beautiful cementaries in South America. When we got there, we could see why. An artist works there full time shaping all of the's truly a work of art! While we were there, Alexandra showed us where her father was buried and their second child was buried. Alexandra miscarried when she was about 8 months pregnant...she dropped into a horrible depression, but then God gave them Doménika and through her life, God has begun to bring healing to Alexandra.

We had a huge family supper!!! It was great to be with them and the food was extremely tasty! Then Homero and Andrea gave us a ride back to San Gabriel...what a great day!

Monday, February 25th
Today began our routine in San the morning after we had prayed and had devotion, we swept the restaurant and washed dishes. Then Oscar and Alexandra came up and we had breakfast together. Then we'd go up to the market to get the fruits and veggies for lunch. Next we'd walk to Doménika's school to pick her up and bring her home. We'd help with lunch and do homework and play with Doménika in the afternoon. When we had time, we'd run to the internet or work on journalling. Every time God opened the door, we'd share more from the Bible, answer their questions, and pray with them. God gave us a lot of time to share with Oscar, Alexandra, and Francisco.

Tuesday, February 26th
Today pretty much followed the same routine as yesterday. Chris did show Doménika how to make a quarter disappear today. She loves magic tricks!!

They are also trying to get their product providers in order. They had to change ice cream providers today. So we had to look all over San Gabriel tonight for a freezer to store the new ice cream. But we just prayed as we went, and God provided...a wonderful teachable moment as we try to share about having a relationship with the Living God!

Wednesday, February 27th
Not really anything different today. It was a really good day though! We've really fallen in love with this family!!

Thursday, February 28th
Today was pretty much like the rest of the days except we went back to Tulcan this afternoon! They had run out of ham, cheese, and yogurt, so it was time to run down's a much larger city than San it gives Alexandra the opportunity to see her family.

So we picked up the supplies and then headed over to Doña Miriam's house. Esteban's little knees were hurting him a lot, and they were thinking about taking him to the doctor. We asked if we could anoint him with oil and pray for him. They agreed that it was okay, so we shared with them out of James 5:14-15, and we prayed over him. We explained to him and to the other children that they could talk to God any time that they wanted to...He wanted to listen to them. We share about how Jesus fussed at His disciples when they tried to keep the children from Him. Juliana had a hard time believing that God would listen to her. She's so young...please pray for this family!!

Getting back to San Gabriel was quite an adventure...we missed the 9 pm bus, it was cold and the next bus (if they would take us) was at 10 pm. So we walked out to the main road and prayed and waited. All of the sudden this huge tractor trailor stopped. Alex ran to ask him if he could take us to San Gabriel. He could only take us as far as Huaca, but we climbed up any way. We'd at least be further down the road. (I smiled to think that this was the same route with the same stops that we took when we came into San Gabriel last Friday!!) Oh, and the other funny thing...counting the driver and the other man that he picked up, there were 7 adults and Doménika in the cab of that truck!! In Huaca, we waited and prayed again. God sent an empty truck to carry us the rest of the way to San Gabriel. We climbed up in the back and off we went!

What an adventure!! God is sooo good!! Well, it doesn't look like we are leaving San Gabriel anytime soon. God hasn't given us an open door to leave yet. We did, however, receive news that the Emblers--Dad, Mom, and Brett--will be flying in to Quito to spend their Spring Break with us!! Aaaaaahhhh! How exciting!! God bless you and keep you! Seek God first above all else!! We'll be in touch soon! We love you!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

San Gabriel, Ecuador!!!!

back to Our Walk of Faith

Hey...just to let you know...we are still working on catching up...I just posted another week. Be patient with us as we keep walking and work on the journal. God is absolutely amazing!! Through an incredible chain of events, we are now in San Gabriel, ECUADOR!! We are about 750 miles from the border of Peru!!! It's hard to believe how God has moved us for 512 days! Can't wait to share the story with you. Don't forget that the posts are in reverse order by date, so you'll have to go down from here to read the most recent journal entry.

Please be in prayer for Gabrielle and the O'melia family...she went 4 months without a seizure, but she had 2 about 2 weeks ago. Pray for discerment for Duff and Kelly (her parents). For more information, check their website

Also our pastor's wife, Lisa Austin, has breast cancer. They treated her and thought that she was going into remission, but in the last test they found more cancer. So they are starting over again on the treatments...much stronger this time. They have two little that is just months old that they adopted.

We are believing God for a miracle in both cases!!

We'll be in touch again soon!! God bless you and protect you! We love you tons and can't wait to see you!!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Going backwards to go forward...We're in Pasto, Colombia less than 60 miles from the border of Ecuador!!!

Saturday, February 16th
This morning we both woke up refreshed and ready to walk. Praise God for one more hot shower!! We ate and headed out. After walking for about 2 hours, we were on the outskirts of Pereira. I saw a couple selling watermelons, and since I was thristy, I asked Chris if I could get a slice. While we were eating, a man, Rigo, came up to Chris and asked him what his pack said. I began to expain to him that Chris's pack said the same thing as mine only in Spanish. (For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor 5:7) I guess from the accent, he could tell that we weren't from Colombia. So he asked Chris, now in English, where we were from! It turns out that Rigo and his mom, Doña Gloria (who was with him), lived in New York City for 20 plus years. They are both American citizens...and they LOVE the US!

As we were talking to them and explaining to them what we were up to, they got so excited. They invited us to stay with them the night and then we could continue on our way tomorrow. So we loaded up our packs in the back of his truck and off we went! They took us by the market on the way to the house...we tasted more fruits that we didn't even know existed!! Then we stopped by their favorite pizza place! What a treat!! From there we headed back to "The House that Cans Built." We had no idea what they meant by that, but Doña Gloria began to explain the story. She worked in the World Trade Center cleaning offices. As she took out the trash, she began to notice how many aluminum cans were being thrown away. She and her co-workers decided to start saving them and see how much they could make by selling the aluminum. Her portion tallied several hundred dollars each month!! So she started sending the money back to Colombia and little by little constructing an apartment building. She knew that she'd retire one day and need some where to live. After 7 years or so, the people who worked in those offices realized what was going on. They were worried about attracting roaches or mice, so they asked them to stop collecting the cans. But Doña Gloria told us, by that point it didn't matter, I had built "Mi Rancho de Lata." (My Ranch of Cans) We just laughed at her ingenuity!!

Rigo called his girlfriend, Vicky, when we got back to his apartment and invited her to come over. She came and brought her little girl, Jennifer! They were soooo sweet. Then Argemiro, another of Doña Gloria's sons, came home from work. He takes care of a farm that belongs to another of his brothers. They have milk cows and goats. He brought home some really good home-made choclo (similar to corn bread but it's not fried). Doña Gloria wanted us to taste several things that she had were so full. After talking for awhile, Chris and I were so tired, so we went to bed!!

Sunday, February 17th
When we woke of this morning, Doña Gloria wanted to fix a special breakfast for us...huevos perícos (eggs with peppers, tomato and onion) and a ton of other stuff. We ate on the terrace over looking the city and the country...a great view especially towards the country!! They really didn't want us to leave today...they wanted to show us around to some of their favorite spots. So off we went....first we drove out to a small community where Rigo is building his house. (It was gorgeous drive!) They have this plant there that if you touch it, it goes to looks like it's dead. Then about 15 minutes later, it recovers and looks completely alive again! Then we went to visit an indian village that is near by...some of the kids were playing on "El Burro"--similar to a see saw, but it also spins around like a mary-go-round. Another little boy was earning a little money by painting the trees actually discourages ants and other bugs from climbing on the tree...I'm not sure what it's called though.

From the indian village, we went to the farm where Argemiro oversees the operations. We were hoping to make it there in time to see them milk the cows, but we were too late. We did meet the guy who manages the dairy part of the farm and his family. They had fresh milk (from that day!) that they shared with us! It was soooo good! This was the first time that I've ever drank fresh milk!! Then he took us over to the place where they milk the cows (over 200 cows and they produce more than 250 gallons of milk every 2 days)!! I've always wanted to see them milk a cow...maybe one day! Then we went up to the main house and Rigo showed us around the house and the little chapel that his brother built. It's a really nice place. They have this game called "El Sapo" (The Frog) throw a ring and it either lands in the frog's mouth (maximum points) or in a little hole. The ring drops down into a drawer which tells you how many points you earned. The one with the most points at the end wins. Chris was really excited because he played that game when he lived in Perú. After a day filled with fun, it was time to go back to the house that cans built! What a great top it off...Chris was able to talk to his parents tonight!!

Monday, February 18th
This morning when we woke up, Doña Gloria wanted to fix us a tasty breakfast again!! After breakfast, Argemiro's son, Archie, came by...he's really messed up with some bad stuff. Argemiro wanted us to talk to him, but Archie could barely sit still. He was out of there in minutes when we mentioned the name of Jesus. We're praying for him...y'all pray for him too!

Then came the surprise for me...Vicky does peticures and manicures for a living...she offered to give me a peticure. I absolutely love to have my toe nails painted, but I haven't been able to in more than 10 months...a bottle of nail polish is unnecesary weight!! I was sooo excited to have her massage my feet and make my toe nails look nice!

We had lunch together, and then it was time for another surprise. Doña Gloria and Rigo wanted to buy a bus ticket for Ipiales...the border town with Ecuador. We were shocked...we had planned on several more weeks or possibly a month to get to it looks like we'll be there this week! We were speechless! On our way to buy the tickets, we stopped and had coffee...this guy serves coffee out of the back of his truck, but it is sooo good!

They got the tickets, and then they wanted us to see the overview of the city...beautiful. Then they wanted to see if they could find Don Efren...Doña Gloria's cousin's husband. We went to his house, but he wasn't there. We saw his son at a nearby store, so he took us to where his mother was. It turns out that her dad, Don Francisco, is really sick. Chris and I went in to pray with him for healing and to talk to him about the Lord. Then we learned that Don Efren isn't in town, he's in Pasto the last big town before reaching the border of Ecuador. He wanted to meet us...apparently his work is buying products in Ecuador and sellling them in Colombia. So it looks like we'll be stopping in Pasto instead of going on to Ipiales. All part of God's plan to be sure!!

Doña Gloria, Rigo, and Vicky took us to the bus...they waited with us for nearly an hour before the bus arrived. This will be our 2nd overnight bus. And off we went...

Tuesday, February 19th
We arrived in Pasto around 1 pm! Thirteen hours on the bus...that would have taken us forever on foot! We are really high up in the Andes now! They are definitely the biggest mountains I've ever seen. Don Efren was there waiting for us when we stepped off the bus. He took us straight to a hotel so that we could sleep a bit and we made plans to meet up for supper. His mother and several other members of his family live in Pasto, so he wanted us to meet them and to pray with them.

So we went to the internet and then took a little nap so that we would be ready to meet Don Efren's family. He came to pick us up around 6 and off we went. Doña Maria Luisa is his mom...she's in her 90s and doesn't hear very well. Ligia is his sister and Andrea and Maria de los Angeles are her daughters...they all live together. His brother, Clemente, who is a doctor also came over to visit with us. What a group!! We were able to share quite a bit of testimony with them...supper was delicious!! Then we were able to pray with them and Doña Maria Luisa wanted to pray too...such a sweet family. Don Efren isn't going to Ecuador tomorrow, but two of his friends are, so he arranged for them to take us in the morning.

Apparently God knows something that I don't because Don Efren gave me a pair of wool gloves, and Andrea gave me a thick jacket...hmm! It looks like we might be entering some cold places...We'll have to see what God has in store!! It won't be long and we'll be in touch again...hopefully from #10!! God bless you and keep you! We love you!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Going Turbo from Turbo...we're in Pereira, Colombia

Sunday, February 10th
We went to mass this morning with Cémida...the choice of texts was pretty powerful...Genesis 3--the fall of man and Romans 5--death through Adam, Life through Christ. I'll be reflecting on those passages for a while!!

We worked on the internet for about 5 hours this afternoon! We are still weeks behind...God knows though...He'll provide more time when it's His right time.

On our way back to the hotel, someone grabbed on to my daypack. It scared me at first, but when I turned around, I realized that it was Dennis! She was back from taking care of her mom in Tanela and was visiting a friend in Turbo! What a surprise!! We chatted with her for a little bit before we went back to the hotel to pack up.

Cémida, Aunt Leo, Erika, and Francisco all gathered around, and we prayed for each of them. Then Francisco walked down the street to wait with us for the bus.

Monday, February 11th
We got to Medellin about 7 am. We prayed over David, and he pointed us in the direction that we needed to go. Off we went...we walked for about an hour until we found a park where we could sit and have our morning devotion. The people were so kind there. Everyone greeted us, and some people even stopped to talk. We walked on...most of the time we walked by the river today. We saw sights that would break your heart. Tons of homeless people live beside the river. We saw one lady trying to cook in a tin can. Another man was laying in a hole that was dug out in the river bank...he had a tarp covering the "doorway." Several guys were getting high. We offered the food that we had to the ones who spoke to us and encouraged them to seek God. Lots of them didn't want to talk.

We kept walking...pretty close to the edge of the city, Julio Cesar stopped to give us a ride for about a mile. On we walked...a little while later, there was a traffic jam. We were walking by when Rodrigo, Irina, and Lucas called out to us. They were going to Caldas today and wanted to know if we wanted a ride. Sounds good!! They were working, so none of them actually lived in Caldas. We walked into town and found a place to eat a late lunch. From there we went into town to see if we could find a hotel. We were told that it would be about $25 which we had in pesos (Colombian money). Well was nearly $50 which we didn't have in pesos and they wouldn't take dollars. So we walked on. We sat in the park for awhile to read and pray. We decided that we would change some money and go from there. Ha! Well, in this town they don't change dollars to pesos in any of the banks! So God's got a plan. I wasn't sure what it was, but we were going to keep seeking Him.

We walked around some more. Still nothing...we found one other hotel, but it was for hourly rent, so we decided against that! We saw this older fellow who looked a little like Santa. We decided to ask him if he knew anywhere else we could stay. He didn't, but he took us to a store where the owner is a Christian. She didn't really know what to do with us...all of a sudden, school let out. We were surrounded by teenage boys asking a million questions. We enjoyed sharing testimony with them!! Oh, how we miss that age-group!!

While we were talking to them, an adult man, Elkin, started listening in and asking questions as well. After the kids left, Elkin stayed around. He wanted to hear some more...he also wanted us to come stay at his apartment, but his landlord wouldn't allow it. As it got a little later, his nephews--Robinson, Jhonathan, and Jarold came up. Elkin introduced them to us, and they went to ask their mom if we could stay with them. Not too long after that, their mom, Gladys came up. She was as sweet as she could be too! Then her sister, Mary, came over. All of us were just sitting out on the sidewalk in front of that lady's store. Gladys wanted to invite us to stay at her house, but she wasn't sure that it would be okay with her husband, Alfredo. He was the next person we met...he definitely did not want to talk to us and quickly walked away.

Before we realized it, we were completely alone again except for Mary. She shared that she was having some health problems. The reason that she was in Caldas was for a doctor's appointment. We prayed with her and talked with her a little more. Then we started saying our good-byes. We were exhausted from not having very much sleep, and it was really cold. We were going to see what else we could find. Just as we were about to leave, Alfredo and Gladys walked up. Alfredo invited us to stay the night at their house. We were shocked!!

We walked up to their house (Alfredo carried my pack for me.) and settled in to their living room. What a change. While Gladys and Mary were preparing supper, we had the opportunity to share a little with Alfredo. He's got some really mixed up beliefs...a lot of new age mumbo jumbo about opening up sensory levels in your brain and healing people with your good energy. Yikes! We were able to ask him where he found that information in the Bible and to encourage him to seek the answers that he was looking for in God's Word.

Tuesday, February 12th
We slept soooo good last night...we were exhausted! At breakfast, Alfredo asked if we wanted to stay another day! I honestly needed another day of rest, so we agreed to stay a little longer. We showed the boys the map and were able show them coins from other countries. They were intrigued. Then we played a game similar to Sorry! with them. Finally, Jhonathan and Robinson took us on a walking tour of their town. Its beautiful.

After the tour, we met up with Gladys and Elkin. They wanted us to meet their dad. So we walked over to his house...he sells bananas, mangos, and oranges to make his living. His little room was full of fruit!! Of course, he wanted us to sample some of it!! We prayed for him and his business, and we headed back to Alfredo and Gladys's house.

Wednesday, February 13th
We got an early start this morning. We understood that the majority of our walk would be uphill today. After walking about 2 hours, we ran into a family of 4--Rafael, Dellanira, Maria Estrella, and Jose. They were walking too...the story that they told us initially was that they were walking for the peace of Colombia. We walked with them for several hours. As we asked more questions their story changed. They told us that they were making a pilgrimage to a cathedral in Buga. Then they told us that they were going to visit family in Cali then in Pasto. We could really never get a good read about what they were doing or what they were after. We felt sad for Maria Estrella and Jose because they are children...their parents are responsible for the choices that they are making, but to drag their kids into it?? Plus the school year has begun and they aren't in school!

We ended up separating because their pace was a lot slower than ours. So many things didn't add up...I struggled to understand and put it all together. I prayed the entire time that we were walking. We stopped for lunch, and we kept praying for discernment for that family. We decided that if we saw them that we would get them lunch, but they never showed up.

We kept walking...about 1 mile from the next town, it started pouring down rain! Aaah! We were soaking wet, and it was freezing cold by the time that we made our way up to Altos de Mina. There was an open-air restuarant that we sat down in to wait out the rain. We ended up talking to Reynaldo (one of the guys who worked at the restaurant) for a while. At first, he didn't believe that we had walked there from the US. We kept talking to him and sharing a little more testimony, and eventually God convinced him that we were telling the truth. We changed clothes because the rain was not stopping! The manager, Alvaro, came over and started talking to us. He gave us supper, and we were just finishing up when he said, "Here comes a family that has been displaced by the guerrillas." We turned around and saw the family that we had been walking with except there was one other boy with them. We couldn't believe it. We explained that we had met them earlier today...but that the oldest boy hadn't been with them.

As the family came closer, the kids ran up to us, but the parents didn't speak to us at all. Apparently, the boy (about 13 years old) ran away from the home he was living in. He'd been walking with them a few hours. The family ended up getting a ride in a tractor trailor on down the road to the next town. The boy...well, we aren't exactly sure where he went. Chris gave him his gloves and I gave him the food that I had, but he didn't hang around.

Alvaro asked us if we wanted to stay the night in Caldas at a hotel...we would only be there just a few hours before we'd come back to the restaurant...Chris and I asked if we could just stay somewhere in Altos de Mina. He offered the floor of the restaurant. We told him that it would be fine...we had our sleeping bags, and we were pretty tired. That's when Alvaro started introducing us to the soldiers. This town has a military check point right on the road. About 40 soldiers live and work here to keep the guerillas under control. They would be patrolling the area all night (just like they do every night), but 2 of them would sleep at the restuarant with us. Another group patrols up above in the mountains and the last group sleeps so that they will be ready to take over tomorrow. Wow!! How exciting!! God has sent literal soldiers to encamp around us and protect us tonight!! We learned that the guerilla has planted mines everywhere up in the mountains around Medellin. They warned us to stay on the highway for our safety. Please be praying for Batallon Pedro Nel Ospina Compania Detonador. Here's the crew that was patrolling tonight. The other picture is of Soldier Escobar...he was one of the guys who slept in the restaurant to guard us.

Before Alvaro left, he put more coals in the stove to keep us warm all night. Reynaldo brought a mattress down for us to sleep on. We are going to be super warm tonight!

Thursday, February 14th--HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!
This morning, the soldiers told us that they were going to help us get down the road. They were going to stop someone at the checkpoint and keep asking until someone was willing to take us down the road a ways. And that's just what they did after Alvaro fixed us a tasty breakfast!

The first guy that they stopped was on his way to Pereira, and he said that he'd be willing to carry us. As it turns out, Arbey hauls tomatoes from a town near Pereira to Medellin several days a week. Last night, he got very little sleep and was really tired!! So it worked out perfectly for him to have some company on the trip. He took us about 5 would have taken us 15 days to go that distance on foot. Amazing! Thanks for the Valentine's gift, God!

When Arbey dropped us out, we went into a gas station. We planned to go to the bathroom and change clothes. It was time for a date night, so we were going to see if we could spend a little time together. The last time we've had date night was at the beginning of October...the whole time we were in Turbo we just worked and minstered to Cémida and her time for date night. But it's long over due!

Well, God had other the gas station, the guard, Jorge, came up to us. Chris explained to him what we were doing while I was in the bathroom. By the time I got back, Jorge was looking in the phone book for the number of a church. He was concerned about the route that we had chosen...apparently we have to pass through 2 cities that they guerillas are fighting for control of. He wanted us to meet this pastor and talk with him. We thanked Jorge for his concern and wrote down the church. We told him that if God opened the door we'd stop by there. We planned to walk on. Well, Jorge was adement that we needed to go to this church. Some of his buddies from the police department came by to get gas, and he introduced us to them. One of the guys was from El Chocó. He saw my t-shirt and asked me about it. We explained what we were doing, then he wanted to help us to. Before we knew what was going on, this guy and Jorge had flagged down a taxi and paid him to take us to this church.

The taxi driver has really been struggling with his faith, so Chris and I tried to encourage him. We told him that it's never too late to turn to long as we are living, He's standing there with open arms. We got to the church and got out, and it looked like they were possibly having service tonight. We thought we were coming to office hours. As we explained the situation, we could tell that this wasn't going very well. They invited us inside, but no one wanted to talk to us. There was a small coffee shop, but we went to sit down outside which was the back of the church. An older lady was sitting there, so I started talking to her. She told me about the pain that she was having in her knee...arthritis. I started talking to her about the healing power that God has.

Then this older guy came up to us and asked us some questions. When we explained what we were doing, he wanted us to meet the pastor's sister. When we walked us to her, she met us with the coldest look that I've ever seen a human give to another person. She barely offered her hand and mumbled a greeting. We walked away as quickly as possible. I was tired, but I initially thought we were supposed to be at this church. Her attitude shocked me. I started crying. I understand that what we are doing isn't "normal," but I never expected to be treated like that in a church. I just thought it was spiritual warfare...that God wanted to do something big tonight in this service, but the devil wanted us to miss it. After I prayed a bit, God got me under control. The older lady was still sitting next to me. I started talking to her again. It appears that her daughter brought her here because this pastor does healings...the lady is at her wits end and she doesn't know what else to do. I felt such a burden for this woman. She's here looking for a man, but the only one she needs is Jesus.

Finally, one of the ushers came up to us to talk with us some more. When he learned that we were staying, he asked if he could put our bags away for us. Wow...a nice gesture. When we said, "Sure." He said, "l'll need to search your bags." We felt like criminals.

We went to was completely off. The pastor did, however, open the Bible and read a passage about God being in the whisper. God's Word impacted my heart. The pastor went on some tirade after that about what he does isn't a show and that as he walked back and forth across the stage that Jehovah walked back and forth across the stage...but I had tuned him out by that point...I was just thanking God that He is always with us...we just have to listen to that still, small voice. He is there. It made me realize that when someone comes out of a church service where the Word of God has been read, and they say, "I didn't get anything out of the message today." The problem is really with them...I went into that service tonight seeking God, and His Word spoke to my heart...even though the man standing on stage was full of hot air. The pastor continued to put on a show of healing people, but you could clearly see the "invisible" ear piece in his ear and hear the way that they were distorting his voice.

I was glad that the service was over. When we were walking out, who did we see again, but the little old lady with her daughter and granddaughter. She was still in immense pain. I know now that we were probably at that church just to talk to her...maybe to pray for her, but I was too worried about the ushers going crazy on us for trying to pray for some one to even attempt to pray for her. I did tell her several passages of scripture to go home to read...and assured her that God did want to heal her. He just doesn't share His glory with anyone.

We had to wait for quite some time for someone to open the room where our bags were...then we made a bee-line out of there. We didn't know where to go, but we started wallking. I guess what I learned from tonight is that if someone comes to my church in the future...I hope I make them feel welcome. I understand that a lot of people try to take advantage of dad's a preacher...we heard all kinds of sob stories that may or may not have been true while I was growing up. The thing is, we weren't asking for anything. We were sent there, realized there was a service, and thought it would be an opportunity to worship the Lord.

While we were sitting in a bakery, my parents called. They wished us a happy Valentine's day and prayed for us. From there, a man pointed us to a hotel. It was pretty sketchy, but at that hour of night, we weren't sure what other option we had. After we had paid for the room and were getting ready for bed, we realized that this wasn't a place people came to sleep. I was upset, and Chris was frustrated. What else could we do? I was exhausted and cried myself to sleep. Before I drifted off, Chris said, "We're getting on a plane and flying home tomorrow." I really didn't care at that point.

Friday, February 15th
We prayed for a long time this morning. We realized that we've made some pretty poor choices in the last little bit. We had started making decisions based on how much money Chris had in his wallet instead of based on knowing that God will provide for us. We also have taken very little time for us as a couple. Chris is my best friend...we do everything together, but the focus is never on's always on how we can serve others. That's really important to serve others and to work together side by side, but we have to serve each other as least sometimes. We prayed some more and asked God to forgive us for doubting His ability to provide and for neglecting the first ministry He'd given us...our marriage.

We made some decisions today. We would do the things we'd normally a phone card, check e-mail, eat 3 meals a day, and when we had to stay in a hotel, only stay in ones that didn't have to worry about getting a disease while we were there. When the resources run out, we'll go home. If God wants us to make it to Peru, He'll provide. If he wants us to go home before that, the money will run out. Either way, we are in His will, and that's where we want to be. It's not our reputation that's on the line, it's His and we want Him to received ALL of the glory. Second decision, it was time for date day. We are going to eat lunch and supper together, play cards, and make each other laugh...enjoy being together without thinking about anything else. We walked until we found a hotel that had hot water...the first hot shower since October!! The lady even let us borrow the washer and dryer so that we could wash our clothes! What a great day! We were just and the Holy Spirit.

Now we are ready for whatever God has for us tomorrow...we just needed to readjust our grip on Him! I know He'll provide. We're going to make it to Peru...I'm not sure how, but He's big enough to do anything!! Bet you're excited to hear the rest of the story!! We'll be in touch again soon! God bless you and keep you! We love you! Keep walking for Jesus!