Tuesday, August 23, 2011


amiga = friend: one attached to another by affection

I had a friend go to Peru this June and visit the Sagrada Familia orphanage where Carmencita is.

Being fluent in Spanish, she talked to Carmencita and asked her if she remembered her friend, her "amiga" who had come to visit her a few months earlier.

Carmencita's face lit up. "Mi amiga!" she exclaimed. She insisted over and over that, yes, she most definitely remembered.

And when my friend left, Carmencita clung to the fence and looked after her asking, "Mi amiga?" She wanted to know if I was there, if I was coming. My friend insisted that I'd be there next time.

It is amazing the joy that this little story brought me today. It was so good for me to know that I had not imagined the recognition in Carmencita's eyes. Carmencita knows me. "Tori, she loves you," my friend had said.

But it also brought a great longing in my heart. How long before I see her again? At least a year. Will she still remember me? Her amiga?

Merriam Webster describes a friend as someone who is attached to someone else. If that is the truth, then I am most definitely Carmencita's amiga.

I firmly believe that we are attached, Carmencita and I. I believe that we were put into each other's lives for a reason. I believe there's a reason that the hour I spent with her has impacted my life infinitely. I believe that there is a reason that not an hour goes by that I don't think about her.

And I honestly think that God helps her to know that. Because I don't know how else a five-year-old child with special needs who spent one hour with someone, out of many people who visit that orphanage and that baby house, would remember that person so well. Would remember me so well that she would recognize me instantly after nine months.

Carmencita and I are attached. We are friends. We are amigas.

I pray with all of my being that Carmencita will know that I will always be her amiga. That I would fly to Peru in an instant if she needed me. That I love her with all of my heart.

And I pray that God will further our friendship, our attachment. Maybe we don't speak the same language. Maybe we don't live in the same country. Maybe we don't get to see each other very often. But we love each other. Deeply, fully.

Because we are amigas.

July 2010

March 2011

July 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

God's Little Girl

When Evan came home from the orphanage, it was clear that she had not been taken care of as she should have been.

She would carry around anything that she could call her own, even a baby wipe, and hold onto it fiercely as if she were afraid someone would take it.

She would cry when Mom was cooking dinner because she was afraid she wouldn't get to eat.

Most of the time, she wouldn't even chew before swallowing because she was scared her food would be taken away.

And she was so small. So tiny compared to Levi. In 24 month clothes and she was 4.

But she doesn't even compare to this little girl.

This is Liliana. From the picture, it is painfully obvious that she has not been cared for the way that she should. That she is not getting the nutrition or care that she needs. But Liliana is not 4 like Evan. No.

Liliana is 11. She weighs 10 pounds.

These pictures make me physically sick to my stomach. They make me so mad that I shake. Precious Liliana. That precious little girl. That could be Evan.

There is absolutely no difference between Liliana and Evan, except that Evan has a forever family. In fact, if we had given it 7 more years, Evan probably would have looked like that too.

And what I want to know is how they decide that Liliana is not worth it. That Liliana is not worth feeding, not worth pouring into, not worth being loved.

Is it because she looks different? Is it because she functions differently?

Honestly, the reasoning doesn't matter. A child is a child. And a child deserves to grow up knowing how much they are loved. Has Liliana ever even left her crib!?

My gosh, she is eleven!!!

She is eleven and she's no bigger than a baby.

And this is when I cry out to God. God, please!!! Please, save Liliana! Oh, how I wish I could fly to her country right this moment and grab her and scoop her up and look into those beautiful, big eyes and say, "Liliana, I love you! I will keep you safe. You are beautiful. You are precious. You are worth so much."

And, God speaks back. His heart is aching for her. Oh, how it pains him to see his daughter in such a manner as this! And it is then when the responsibility falls on us, His children.

Save her.

My God looks at me with tears in his eyes, begging, pleading, and says, "Will someone step up and save my daughter? My daughter who is suffering, who has done no wrong, will someone rescue her?"

The God I pledged my life to has a daughter who is dying in Eastern Europe. How can I call myself His follower and do nothing? How can I call myself a daughter of Christ, and not work to save my sister, His daughter?

Liliana has a family. A brave, brave family has stepped up to rescue this precious child of God. The money is provided for. And, so I ask God, but what can I do?

How can I help to save this child?

His answer: pray.

Pray that she will survive until her family can bring her home. Pray that she will not only survive, but thrive at home. Pray that she will grow and flourish in her new environment. Pray that she will know how much she is loved and how much she is worth.

But she is not the only one. There are seven other children like Liliana at her orphanage. And countless hundreds more all over the world that we will never know about. Will you join me in praying for her and for them?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Worthy to Suffer

My favorite book of the Bible is Acts, at least of those that I've read all the way through.

I'm drawn even to the title of the book. Acts. It implies action. It implies that you cannot remain in your faith, but rather you must act on it.

I love reading about how the church was started. About how a small group of people literally changed the world because they were so passionate about what they believed.

I love to read about the martyrs, about the many times Peter and John go to jail for preaching and doing miracles through Jesus' name. About the miraculous things that the disciples can do through the Holy Spirit.

I love reading about how Paul comes to know Christ. It amazes me that someone as "bad" as him can be placed in the Bible as one of our biggest role models today.

But my favorite part of Acts is their radical faith. Those men and women love Jesus. They believe in Jesus with every fiber of their being. And because of their love and their belief, they receive the Holy Spirit. And through the Holy Spirit they speak in different languages, they make paralyzed men walk, they lead thousands and thousands to the truth of the Gospel.

One of my favorite passages in Acts is chapter 7, verses 17-40.

It tells of the apostles being imprisoned for preaching in the name of Jesus. But during the night, an angel of the Lord came and freed them. Amazing as this is, it is not the most amazing part to me.

For the apostles are brought to the Council a second time, because in spite of their imprisonment, they are still preaching in Jesus' name.

And when asked why they had continued to preach in Jesus' name, the apostles even shared the Gospel with the Pharisees! The men who killed their Lord! The men who would sooner see them killed than convert to Christianity!

Finding no reason to condemn them to death, the Pharisees settled with whipping each of them, and ordering them not to preach in the name of Jesus.

And, this is the amazing part. When the apostles left, they still preached in the name of Jesus! They told everybody! They didn't move away, they didn't try and be more discreet about it, they just kept preaching the gospel!

And the best is verse 41.

"So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing because they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name."

The apostles rejoiced over the Pharisees scorn. They rejoiced over being sent to jail, over being flogged.

Because they were worthy to suffer for God.

How much our lives would change if we thought that way!

Levi is aggressive all the time. But, thank you God for considering us worthy to handle it!

I'm not in Peru. But, I praise you God, because you consider me worthy to be here instead of where I desire to be!

I don't want to go to school. But, O God, I am so grateful that you consider me worthy to deal with something I don't want to do.

It's backwards from today's thinking. Our world is completely focused on what we feel at the moment. This is what I want. This is how I feel. This is what I'm experiencing right now.

But if we look with God's eyes, we see that everything we suffer, everything we enjoy, every mundane detail of our lives is a gift from God.

Whether it be school, a glass of juice in the morning, or even doing chores, it is what God intended for us. I have a decision every morning. I can wake up and be upset that I have to get up for school, or I can understand that God thought I could handle this. God wants me to be here, and He wants me to be there for a reason.

I can walk through every day understanding that, yes, I do feel called to Peru. But God wants me here. God considers me to be strong enough to stand not being where I would rather be.

I am learning, slowly, to trust that everything I go through, I go through because God considers me worthy of it. Because God considers me strong enough to handle it.

Although, it's somewhat backwards. I, by myself, am able to handle nothing - no struggle, no temptation, no trial. But, if I lean on God's strength, I can handle anything.

When God measures our strength, He is not measuring any willpower of our own, but rather our tendency to lean fully and completely on His strength.

For me, I want to rejoice because I am worthy to suffer. Because the more I suffer, the more worthy He considers me, and the more I am learning to lean on His strength.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Devil's Plot

I told myself I wouldn't let this happen. That I wouldn't let myself become so focused on the past that I couldn't live in the present. That I would be strong. I would take what I had learned, and apply to life here.

How foolish I was to think that by preparing myself, I could just jump right back in.

There's an empty, achiness in my heart that refuses to go away. I constantly feel tears spring into my eyes at the thought of anything to do with Peru or Sagrada Familia. And I find myself being listless. There's plenty to do with school starting soon, but I don't want to do any of it.

The only thing I want is to go back to Peru.

It started earlier this year. Earlier than it ever has. I think because I wasn't sick. While that was a blessing, it has made the return much more difficult. I wasn't ready to leave. Before, I had been ready. I was ready to come back to the United States. I was tired and I was sick and I just wanted to get home.

But this time I felt fine. I felt like I could stay for much longer, and be fine. Honestly, I didn't even miss home very much.

I miss the smell of Peru. The feel of the cool wind whipping around the hills. The view of the majestic mountains that you get from anywhere. I miss driving past the hills and seeing shacks that are precariously built on the sides of mountains. I miss hearing everyone talk in Spanish, whether I can understand it or not. I miss my friends. I miss the raw emotions that are shared in Peru. I miss waking up every morning in the same room with girls who I love dearly and getting to spend all day doing what we all know is God's work together. I miss the deep friendships that are formed.

I miss Sagrada Familia. The place where God changed my life forever. The paintings on their walls. The joy in their faces. The way they all want you to hold their hands and look into their eyes. I miss having Carmencita's arms wrapped around my neck. I miss her touching my hair and then hers and saying, "pelo". I miss her saying my name. I miss seeing her smile, hearing her laugh.

And I just feel angry. I feel lost. I feel alone. Like no one quite gets it and the people that do don't want to talk about it. I feel like I'm trapped inside a tiny box and I'm pushing so hard to get out of it, but the iron bars don't budge.

I miss my Peru team. I miss having someone there every second of every day to hear and understand. To comfort you when you need comfort. To give you a hug when you really need a hug. To listen when you need someone to listen. And to encourage you when you need encouragement.

I seek solitude more than ever, which is not good. The only people I want to be with are people who have experienced the same or similar things that I have. I get so frustrated and beat down being at home surrounded by people who are younger than me, people that I have to pour into, that I just leave.

I went on a 4-mile walk and listened to angry Lecrae songs today in 90ยบ heat. I just feel out of sorts and angry and alone and worthless. Which is ironic because not even a full week ago, I was sharing with 900 orphans how much we're worth in Christ.

Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which you have broken rejoice.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
And grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
        - Psalm 51:8,12