Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sometimes Things Aren't What They Seem...

Hi, Friends! Greetings from the other side of the world!

Hmm... I'm not really sure how to begin this email. First, I just want to thank everyone who has been praying. Thank you for covering me! I know God heard your prayers... wait until you hear my story!!

One of the biggest lessons you learn in missions right away is that nothing is as it seems. And that it's best NOT to have expectations, because things are always subject to change. My teams always joked about that (although, sometimes I wondered if they were joking to cover up their frustration), that my co-leaders and I didn't tell them plans right away. But whenever we did, we'd have to come back and say, "there's been a change in plans", because inevitably, something would happen. Sometimes it's minor, like finding out that you'll be leaving an hour later. Sometimes it's a bit bigger, like finding out a specific ministry location isn't going to work, that your transportation has not come, or a variety of other things. Sometimes it's a lot bigger... massive, even. Whatever it is, it always drives us to pray. Because while it might be a big surprise to us, God knew about it before it happened. It's always an exercise in faith.

So... there's been a change of plans. :0) And it's pretty big... of international proportions, I would say.

My flights went really well, actually, better than they've gone in a while. I had a minor problem at JFK, but it was worked out. That was a long layover, but I got to meet some incredible people... like an american airlines employee named Winston who used to live in Ga. Or a woman behind the counter named Claudia who could have been the twin of one of my dearest friends, who not only helped me, but reassured me that it was all going to work out. Everyone I spoke with at JFK was kind and welcoming. That was so cool.

My flight to Brussels was nothing short of amazing. I had a great seat in coach. The seats leaned really far back. The food wasn't too terrible. And best of all, I got to sit next to a pastor/missionary who was on his way to india (he was connecting to a flight to southern india). It started simply, with me asking about his kindle and how he liked it when compared to "real" books. That's when he mentioned pastoring. Then he asked me what I did. I told him I was a writer and a missionary... and the conversation went from there. He asked me about what I did and we talked about his church. We had an awesome conversation about missions in general. It was so encouraging.

I was actually able to sleep a bit on my second flight, in sporadic bursts. And my seatmate was a kind Indian gentleman who was concerned as to if I was comfortable in my seat and why I wasn't eating all of my food (my stomach was a bit upset). When I got to Delhi, everything started smoothly. I went through all the official stops, got my luggage, and found the departures terminal. I went to check in.... and that's where everything fell apart.

In order to save money, we pieced a ticket for me the long way around the world. Instead of flying west from ATL, I flew East, over Europe and through india. Then I was supposed to fly to Thailand and then Cambodia. But... I guess the easiest way to put it, there were flight problems. It's a really long story that I haven't fully processed yet, but the end result was me spending the night in the Delhi airport, calling Cambodia and the States, trying to figure things out. It didn't work. At 7am yesterday morning, my Indian host, the Director of Asha House, picked me up from the airport and drove me to the Sixty1 house, where I was welcomed into the room with ac and fell asleep for three hours.

We spent all afternoon yesterday skyping India, the U.S., and Bangkok, trying to figure out a flight for me. It didn't work... I think it was impossible. Finally, at 7pm last night, we all reached the same conclusion. I was to stay in India. I'm not going to Cambodia.

Eish, that is hard to say.

If you have a lot of questions, I understand. I have them too. Right now I'm just thankful that this happened in Delhi and not anywhere else in the world. For me to be stranded in a foreign country, this is the best possible place I could be. I had someone I could call and a place to stay. Since I was flying through here anyway, I have a return flight that's set. Now it just seems that I'm here a bit longer than i'd originally planned. And while I don't understand why I couldn't go to Cambodia when I truly believed with all of my heart that God was sending me there, I can only conclude that there is a reason/purpose for what happened in the Delhi airport. Maybe I'll never know why exactly. Whatever it is, this wasn't a surprise to God. He has taken care of me every step of the way. And he won't stop doing so. There is a reason why I'm here. And I'm going to spend my time in India ministering as before, loving on orphans and lepers and whoever else comes into my path. Though I don't know why this happened, I'm not going to miss the time that i'm here.

I've been thinking a lot these past few days about Eph 6, where it says that our battle isn't against flesh and blood but against the rulers and principalities of this world. As you know, in the past few weeks, I have been under some pretty intense attack. Yet I got on the plane on Monday completely calm, wth the assurance that I was walking in the will of God. That hasn't changed, even though everything else did. I don't doubt getting on that plane. I don't doubt the decision to go overseas, even though it hasn't ended up the way I expected. God has not forgotten me and he is not unaware of where I am. I only have to think about how he has taken care of me every step of the way.

So... India. That's new.

It's Thursday morning right now. Thankfully, I was able to sleep a lot last night, so I feel almost human. That's a praise! Please, continue to be in prayer for me! Pray that I will have energy and will be able to pick up relationships where they left off. Pray that I will be open to being used by God whenever and wherever, that He will show me where to go and what to say. Sixty1 is in the process of moving houses, so that's what i'm going to do today. Right now we're sleeping in a house wihtout furniture or running water, just ac, internet, and electricity. Today is the final move, so we'll spend the day unpacking all of the stuff, setting up everything up. I think I'll be able to go to Asha House tomorrow.

Also, please pray that there will be no problems for my flight back to the States. Needless to say, I'm a bit nervous about walking back into that airport, even though I know that ticket is set. I have a really short layover in London on the way back, so I really need for that flight to leave on time and there to be absolutely no problems.

One of my biggest concerns with what I do is being a good steward of y'all, my supporters. It's so important to me that you know what's going on, not only with prayer but for accountability. The Body sends me out, not myself. I don't go on trips just because I like to travel or want good stories. When opportunities come my way, I seriously pray about them, often for many days. I do everything I can from my end to make sure that making the right decision, walking in the will of God, and not just going somewhere because there's a need. That is what happened with Cambodia. It was something that I prayed about a lot and truly felt that God said to go. Maybe it was all so I could be here. I don't know. Like I said, I have a lot of questions. But while I am here, I will be all here, no matter what.

That's it for now. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. I'll be in touch... we will probably be without internet for a while because of the move, but I will try to email at least one more time. Thank you! Have a great day!

-Kristen Torres-Toro

Monday, August 10, 2009

Off to Cambodia (and India!!)

Hey, Friends!

How are you?

Well, it's the night before I leave and I just wanted to email y'all. Tomorrow, I'll get up crazy early and begin the grand adventure. In all, I have five flights just on the way there! So please, pray that I make them all... that no delays affect the others!

Now that the time has come, I'm pretty excited! Thank you to all of you who have been praying for me! Thank you for all of your support and encouragement, especially these last few crazy weeks! Thanks for reminding me of the truth of the Word of God. I am getting on that plane tomorrow in faith, believing that God will supply everything that I need for this trip. I am so excited because to do what I love again, what God has called me to do. So excited to see what He is going to do; what conversations He is going to orchestrate, who will be placed in my path. Please, pray for energy for me! Pray that I will be able to go all day and only crash at night when it's time to sleep. Pray for ministry--for deep, eternal ministry that only the Holy Spirit can do. Pray that I will be able to minister out of a heart of compassion and surrender, even though the stories I'm about to hear (and will then share with you) are heartbreaking. And finally, please pray for the rest of my financial support. As of this week, I still needed $1400. Any contribution can be sent to Sixty1, PO Box 2046, Boone, NC 28607. Checks need to be made out to Sixty1 but need to have my name, Kristen Torres-Toro, in the memo.

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! I literally cannot go without you. Thank you so much for standing behind me; for going with me. Thank you for praying for me! I am so thankful for you!

Right now, I'm not sure as to how often (or if at all), I'll be able to get to the internet while I am there. But I will try to email out and let you know what's going on as soon as possible so you know how to be praying. If nothing else, you'll get a full report post-Aug 24, when I'm finally able to sit and type without falling asleep at the keyboard from jet lag. :0)

Love you all! Talk to you soon!

-Kristen Torres-Toro, excited missionary writer

P.S.... On the way back, my flights take me through Delhi once again. So I'm going to stop in and spend a few days there. This will be great because I'll be able to stop at Asha House and see my little ones there! WOOHOOO!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cambodia News and Prayer Requests

Hey, Friends!

How are you?

Hopefully this post finds you well. I'm so sorry for not writing sooner. It's really been a crazy few weeks. I came back from Guatemala pretty sick. It knocked me out for almost two weeks, actually. I've just started to get my strength back in the last week or so. There's been a lot going on, and once I wasn't as sick, there was a lot that needed to be done/worked out with Cambodia. It's been many days of calling overseas, once-a-day emails, and a lot of prayer. Things are finally figured out, praise God.

Because I was so sick, I was unable to speak anywhere, to meet with any of you and catch up on your lives, etc. I've just had to pray that God would bring it all in. Some have asked if I still need financial help, and last night I got a new update on my support. I wanted to send it to you so you know where I stand.

As of this week, I still need $1400.

Missions work is definitely difficult at times. There's a lot of spiritual warefare, a lot of stuff that happens overseas that can be stressful. It's what I love to do, it's what I know I'm called to do, and it can really be a lot of fun too. I don't do it because I love to travel or because I want an adventure. I do it because of Christ and his call on my life. I do it because there are people all over the world who do not know who He is and unless they are told, they will die without Him.

But one of the hardest parts for me is asking for financial support. It's something I've struggled with for years. I've wished so many times that I didn't have to ask for help because I know that all of you have financial burdens and responsibilities. I know y'all have families and bills and unexpected things come up, and that the economy stinks right now. I know the incredible sacrifice you have made to send me out so that all of us can minister overseas. I am so thankful for you--thankful beyond words at how you have given to me over the years. I don't take it lightly. Every time I write with a new trip or a new need, I have to just step back and pray that God will provide again. Ultimately, that's what He does. He provides it through y'all. And it's taught me a lot. First, it's taught me to rely on Him and walk by faith. Second, it's taught me how important it is for the Body of Christ to send me out.... that if I just had the money I needed and didn't need to ask for help, it would be a disservice. I'm not supposed to be a rogue minister, sent out to do this all by myself. We're doing this together. It's never been my ministry. It's been God's.... ours, through Him.

I just... I really need help. What happens if the money doesn't come in before Aug 10? That's okay! I can keep raising support for as long as I need to. My plane ticket is nonrefundable. It was booked with a credit card. And the truth is if it's not in before I leave, I'll need to keep raising it until it is in--even after the trip is long over. Honestly, I'm really nervous at the thought of leaving with this huge gap in support.

Please know that I am so thankful for the fact tht half of the trip has come in! I'm not belittling that or not grateful for those of you who have given towards it already. I know it was a quick thing... that though it was something I'd been praying about a lot so I almost felt it coming, y'all didn't know until mid-June. And then with working up in North Ga, I wasn't able to be in constant communication with y'all. Right now I just needed to let you know where I stand and that I still need your help. I am so thankful for all of you. I am so thankful for those of you who tell me that you pray for me often. Any support for me can be sent to Sixty1, P.O. Box 2046, Boone, N.C. 28607. Checks need to be made out to Sixty1 and have my name, Kristen Torres-Toro, in the memo line.

As for Cambodia itself, I feel like this trip is going to be huge as far as ministry is concerned. One reason why I believe that is the amount of warfare that I've been under concerning Cambodia itself, what with being sick and laid out for so long and all the other details. I have only been on a few trips where the attacks were this bad before I left, and looking back, I can say that those were always the trips that HAD to happen, the trips where INCREDIBLE things happened... like my gogo, Sarafina, getting up and walking after two years as a lame invalid. Like the AIDS patient being healed. Like my participant's knee injury, which the doctors said was only fixable by surgery, actually moved beneath my hand as we prayed, the joints came back together, and the pain was gone for the first time since she was a child... and then that student went out into the jungle and touched so many lives with the truth of Jesus Christ.

Cambodia is one of the darkest places in our world today. Children, from the time of their births, are sexually abused in the most horrific of ways--boys and girls. It's considered normal for them... "healthy," even. The organization that we are going with works to rescue and minister to these girls. While I am there, I'm going to be given an indepth view of this horrific situation, I'll be able to see how the organization is ministering to and working with these children. And I will spend my days doing that as well.

That's why I am going--to love on as many children as I can, to pray for them, and to tell them about Christ. I appreciate y'all so much.... Thank you for sending me out. Thank you for believing in what God has called me to do. Thank you for how you have given so freely so those on the other side of the world can hear about Christ and know Him. Thank you for how you have covered me in prayer, for your friendship. Thank you for your support--and I mean that in every way. Please, be praying for me as I go. Please pray for protection and that when the enemy attacks, that I will stand firm and be able to walk by faith. Please pray with me that God will continue to provide what I need. And if you would pray about helping me raise the rest of what I need, I would be really thankful. Happy Wednesday! I'll talk to you soon!

-Kristen Torres-Toro

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What God Did in Guatemala....



It's Sunday afternoon, and I can't believe that just a week ago I was still in Guatemala, walking through the beautiful city of Antigua. The adventure I never expected has become such a huge part of me. I miss it--and my team and co-leaders--a lot!

One of my tasks for this particular trip was to write about it. The Ambassador directors dreamed of being able to document it from training camp to debrief, using both photography and the written word. It took a few days for me to get my swirly thoughts straight enough to put them down on paper; after all, fevers often take a mind of their own. But my wonderful friends took what I wrote and put pictures to them. For that reason, I'm not going to re-post them on this blog. But please, go check them out. The link is http://09gu0630yi.myadventures.org/.

What I will write here is how much I loved Guatemala, how beautiful it was. Lake Atitlan (pictured below) literally sits in the heart of a volcano and it has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. The people who live nearby are so kind. But they carry great pain deep in their hearts. Many turn to drugs, while others turn to religion, the kind with ritual and statues, a lot of death and almost no life. It's a beautiful, colorful world, a place that shouts with the truth about God--but still, He is missed.

My team of 16 (that's us up above!) lived in a pueblo called San Pedro, but we visited several other villages while we were there. We were able to do children's ministry and also attend several local churches. We prayer walked and sang just about everywhere we went. We walked through the village and talked with people. We sat with vendors at their stands and played with their children. We spoke of Christ--and loved on those we met--with everything we did. Though it was difficult to leave, we know without a doubt that every person we met was able to hear the gospel. And that's a great thing!

So, what's happening now?

I came back from Guatemala sick, so I am resting and trying to get better. Though the trip was only two weeks, I'd been away for more than a month because I spent most of June working the training camps at AIM. So there's a lot of stuff that I need to do here in the States. And I need to get ready, because on August 10, I'm headed to Cambodia.

I'll post more about that in a couple of days, when I know more. But right now I just wanted to mention it and also a big praise. I got a phone call a few days ago with the news that I've raised $1000! Praise God! But I still need $2000 to go, so that's also a big prayer request. If you're interested in supporting me financially, you can send any contribution to Sixty1 at:
Sixty1
PO Box 2046
Boone, NC 28607

Please put "Kristen Torres-Toro" in the memo line.

Thank y'all for everything. Thank you for believing in this calling God has placed on my life, and for sending me out. Thank you for your trust, your prayers, your encouragement, and your friendship. I am so thankful for you!!!

Have a great day! Love ya!

-K






Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Adios, Guatemala!!!

Hi, Friends!!!

Just wanted to check in and say that I'm back from Guatemala. It was incredible and I cannot wait to share with you all that happened! Unfortunately, I woke up this morning sick and my fever is still rising. So it might be a few days before I can post anything. Thanks so much for praying! I love y'all!

-Kristen

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Guatemala!!!!

Hey, Friends!!!

This is going to be short because I don't have much time, but I wanted to post really quickly. I can't believe I'm going to Guatemala on Friday! I can't believe that I'm leading again!!!!

This has been a really short training camp due to many reasons, so it really has been a whirlwind. The teams arrived yesterday--and we leave tomorrow! Yebo! But I am getting really excited. I really enjoy my team! We are 13 girls and 3 leaders= 16 total. And we are so excited about taking the gospel to the nations!

Please pray for us as we go! This trip will fly by so fast. Please pray for safety in traveling and for good health, for solid ministry, and that the Lord will lead us where He wants us to go. Please pray for unity amongst this group--and that God will bring Spanish back to those of us who have studied it in the past!!!

I don't know if I'll be able to post from Guatemala, but I probably doubt it. Either way, I'll definitely come back afterwards with pictures and stories. Until then, adios! Vaya con Dios! And as they say in the jungle-- a su nombre, gloria a Dios!!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Come What May

God has an awesome way of putting things into perspective.

For the past few years, the state of Georgia has been in a serious drought. We've had such a grave problem that there were strict limitations on how people could use water in our state. Basically, many have gone several years without washing cars by hand, watering lawns, etc., simply because the window of opportunity for such activities was so small that we always missed it. As a kid, my parents used to put the sprinkler on and let my brother and I run around in on a hot day. For years, that wasn't possible. It's such a huge shame for children to miss out on the simple pleasure of running through wet grass, listening to the constant stream hit trees, bushes, and their own bodies, and feel the cold pins and needles of getting too close to the sprinkler.

Ah, summer.

But something interesting has happened this year. Here we are, in the midst of one of the worst financial crisises in our history. People are losing jobs right and left, stores are going out of business, budgets are getting tighter, and those applying for jobs simply can't find any. America is learning what it means to not consume constantly, to save and spend wisely instead of without thought. We're being drawn back to a much simpler life.

And God has brought the rain.

It started in the spring, with days upon days of storms. April showers made way for May thunderstorms and now the June sky is pregnant with more rain. The earth is green. The colors--when the sun does shine--are brilliant. Here we are, in a recession, with just what we need. With plenty, even. Because, you see, Georgia is no longer in a drought. After several years of thirst, we are entering a surplus. The dry and weary land is once again becoming a verdant, beautiful garden.

God doesn't depend on the economy. Neither does His timetable. It is as He says in Matthew--as He provides for the sparrow and the lily, so much more does He care and provide for us. We don't have to worry. Come what may--job loss, dwindling bank accounts, changes in lifestyle due to our nation's current situation--and we do not need worry. He will provide. He will bring abundance in a time of drought. He will bring that life-giving, beautiful rain.

And speaking of His timetable, I got a surprise last week. It's a bit of a long story that I will spare you, but the conclusion is that my summer is going to be even busier than I expected. I'm returning to AIM for a few weeks to help out there, and then off to Guatemala for two weeks in July! I'll be leading again, this time an Ambassador (high school) team. And then in August, I'm going to Cambodia with Sixty1.

I'll give more details about that in the future. I am still coming on staff with them this summer/fall, so details about that will be given as well at a later date. As to now, I just wanted to mention both trips and ask for prayer and support. Financially, Guatemala is taken care of. This is such a praise because I only had the chance to speak about it to a few people, but God gave me exactly what I needed! Cambodia, however, is a different story. I need $3000 by August 13, 2009. If you would like to support me financially, please send a check made out to Sixty1 to:
Sixty1
PO Box 2046
Boone, NC 28607

Please put "Kristen Torres-Toro" in the memo line.

Thank you so much!!!! I appreciate you, your encouragement, prayers, friendship, and support more than you can know. And though I was not expecting these two trips to come up, I am very excited about them! Please be praying for me this summer as I lead once more and then minister in a country that is heavily involved in sex trafficking.

And--though all of y'all know me and know how much I love the sunshine--may He continue to bring on the rain.