Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Please let me know if you are interested in receiving my prayer letters by email. Just send me an email with your name and email address. ChristineOlmeda@gmail.com
On another note: This is a picture I took of the BEAUTIFUL full moon a few days ago. It was incredibly bright and clear.
Monday, December 15, 2008
I am blessed to be a part of a church that loves missions.
- I went to wonderful missions dinner where I shared more about my call to Sudan and enjoyed a WONDERFUL meal.
- I shared in the joy of a young family being called to serve with World Harvest in London.
I am blessed by God's provision.
- God provided a young engaged couple from RUF who will be able to use the furniture that I won't be keeping.
- God provided opportunities to share my testimony. Even this past weekend I spoke at a local Brazilian church in my very rusty Portuguese.
I am blessed by amazing friends.
- I will be traveling to visit my family in Brazil with a dear friend that I have known for more than a decade.
- I spent a wonderful weekend in State College with my oldest friend from Penn State.
- My mom encouraged me and helped me prepare to speak in Portuguese about Sudan when my first draft was filled with words in Spanish and made-up words.
I have four weeks left in Richmond, and my preparations for Sudan continue. I am so thankful for the ways God has blessed the time I have left in the US as I spend time with the people I love.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
"The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc - the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect. "
Friday, November 28, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
It is hard for me to imagine what Sudan will be like since I have never been to Africa, but I am always excited to read their updates and look forward to the day that I will join them with all the other team members.
Also here is a quick update for those who do not get my prayer letters. God has provided 75% of my support! I will be in Richmond through the second week in January, and then I will be very transient until I leave for Sudan. I am so thankful for all your support and prayer!
I started running for first time in July. I would not have started running if it weren't for the women in my Bible study. We started running together twice a week, very slow at first with a lot of walking in between the running. As long as they were still running, I would try to keep running. With them by my side it was so much easier to overcome the mental battle in my head and not stop.
It was great running with these women twice a week for months, but on the day of the 8k, it was just me. No one else was there with me. Everyone was running their own race. We had met the night before to eat together and encourage each other, but most of the encouragement I got during the race was from people standing on the side of the road who didn't know me at all. With the finish in mind, I kept moving forward. Finishing the 8k was a great feeling, but there is another race that I am running with eternal significance.
Too often I start to walk in the race I am running for the sake of the gospel. Too often I want to be comfortable and not experience pain. In this race, it is not my own strength that will keep me running (believe me, I have tried). It is only by the strength of my savior that I can keep running. I am running this race by the grace of God and for His glory, and too often I don't strive to finish and win the prize. I say no to the difficult things God is asking me to do, and stop running the race in so many other ways. There is so much richness in the race metaphor!
And so my prayer is that I would run the race with perseverance, not growing weary or losing heart, with my eyes fixed on Jesus as described in Hebrews 12:1-3. I'm glad that running a race has brought me to consider the race metaphors in scripture prayerfully and understand it on a more personal level.
"Thus through him I may lay hold upon him in whom I am also laid hold upon; ... stretching forth not to what shall be and shall pass away but to those things that are before me. Not distractedly now, but intently, I follow on for the prize of my heavenly calling, ..." - Augustine, Confessions (emphasis mine)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
1) I have spent years taking classes in technical writing were the goal is to convey all the necessary information in as few words as possible. We were taught to write simply and clearly.
2) I often struggle to convey what I think and feel in words. I don't usually aim for eloquence. My aim is usually to be understood.
3) I appreciate eloquence in speakers and authors, but elegance in logic, argument, and design are far more appealing to me.
I don't think I had ever considered the benefits of eloquence (there are 5 that Piper discusses). I appreciated eloquence, but really hadn't thought much else about Christian eloquence. Eloquence isn't necessary. Christ is necessary.
But as I continue to study and practice engineering, my appreciation for beauty and elegance in design increases. In the same way I hope that as I continue to read and hear Christian speakers, my appreciation for eloquence will increase.
If you are going to read the article, you can skip the next paragraph. But if you weren't going read it, here is the conclusion.
"Yes, there is Christian eloquence. It is not the decisive factor in salvation or sanctification; God is. But faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word. That word in the Bible is pervasively eloquent—words are put together in a way to give great impact. And God invites us to create our own eloquent phrases for his name’s sake, not ours. And in the mystery of his sovereign grace, he will glorify himself in the hearts of others in spite of and because of the words we have chosen. In that way, he will keep us humble and get all the glory for himself. Amen." - John Piper
Sunday, October 12, 2008
The young adults retreat was blessed with BEAUTIFUL weather. I was really looking forward to a weekend of rest, fellowship, and teaching. We spent hours at the beach or playing games, and we spent hours in conversation.
The picture below captures a great moment during Catchphrase. =)
While I was on the retreat I got the chance to do a lot of reading. I hadn't gotten very far into Confessions by St. Augustine when I came across a sentence that really impacted me.
"So too let him rejoice and delight in finding you who are beyond discovery rather than fail to find you by supposing you to be discoverable." ~ St. Augustine, Confessions
It is kind of hard to explain what I was thinking, but I will give it a try.
I liked the statement and it reminded me of my personal testimony in a lot of ways, but I didn't really like the words "beyond discovery". The connotation seemed momentary, as if to say that God could not be discovered by a person, but looking at the larger context that is clearly not the meaning. I talked several people about the phrase and the knowabilitly of God. I consulted some other books when I got home and prayed for wisdom regarding the words of Augustine.
In the end I am able to rejoice in the fact that I am finite and God is infinite. I will never know everything there is to know about God, but I will continue to understand Him more as I worship and serve Him. It is by God's grace that I did not fail to find God because I wanted understand everything about God and the universe before having faith. I can know God but will never know everything about every aspect of God. These sorts of paradoxes fill the first chapters of the book. Augustine says about God that He is "deeply hidden yet most intimately present...immutable and yet changing all things". I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book and thinking about more of what Augustine had to say.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Last week there was a prayer meeting at church for the missionaries the church supports and specifically for Africa. Throughout the night I was listening to the men and women pray to our Lord with trust and faith. The prayers were bold and honest. It had been a difficult week for me leading up to the prayer meeting, but that time spent in prayer agreeing with my brothers and sisters in Christ was a beautiful time of fellowship with God. I was moved to tears several times by the prayers. The confidence I have in Christ and my love for Him should lead me to pray bold prayers, but I often don't pray this way.
Pray for Africa.
Pray that I would pray boldly and often.
Pray for the health of my grandfather (who I call Vovô Moa).
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
In a time of fear and lack of confidence for many Americans, I am thankful that I know Jesus, who I can call my Surety. I have confidence in my salvation. I am certain that I am loved by God.
Hebrews 7:22 "Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant."
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Every once in a while (especially in the summer), I consider going back to a short haircut like I had when I was a little girl. It would be so much easier.
Maybe I will consider it before I move to Sudan. =)
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Although I enjoy talking to people about these things, some days I am so tired of talking. For a person like me, spending most of my week with people and sharing with them can be exhausting. God continues to provide times of solitude or a good book to sit down and read. Even today I stopped by my favorite used book store with some friends from college who are visiting and picked up Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. As much as I love books, every time I buy a new book, I am now faced with the consideration that I may not be able to finish it before I leave for Sudan. I will miss being able to go to the library or used book store to find new books to read.
Now that my months in Richmond are winding down, I am starting to look for the things I will need to take with me to Sudan. Some things have proven to be more difficult to find than others. I have yet to find a good battery charger than runs on a 12V power source. I was able to find a good headlamp on sale though! I also finally found a few long cotton skirts. I didn't think about how long it would take to find the things I will need for Sudan. It is hard to plan for two years in a continent I have never been to, but I am lucky to have gotten a lot of direction from the other missionaries on the Sudan team.
Now that the fall is here, I am looking at the weekends that I have left and making plans to visit people who mean a lot to me. I have some wonderful friends visiting Richmond even now! Over the last few weeks I have talked to friends and come to the sad realization that I will not be able to see some of them before I leave. I will be working until January and then things will start moving very quickly. I will move the things I am keeping to my parent's house in Florida, visit my grandparents in Brazil, and attend cross-cultural and language acquisition training for several weeks in North Carolina. Then it will be time to start preparing to leave in April or May!
It is amazing to think that this time last year I had just started praying about engineering missions, and I am now over 50% supported and about 8 months away from leaving for Sudan!
For all of my friends who have loved me in different way over the last few years during my journey to Sudan, THANK YOU! I need and appreciate your prayer.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
On a particular Sunday over a year ago at church I was talking to a friend about how convicted we had been by the sermon. And then she said something I still remember. She said that the reason that every week she felt like the sermon spoke to her and applied to her life was because every week the gospel was preached.
After work last week I was getting ready to sit down and read, but instead I decided to look over my notes from the recent sermons at church. It was such a blessing to stop and reflect on the truth of the gospel and how the gospel changes everything. I love how God continually brings be back to these truths when I am far from Him.
My faith is like shifting sand
Changed by every wave
My faith is like shifting sand
So I stand on grace
~ Caedmon's Call
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
When I'm faithless, You are faithful
When I'm lonely, You surround me
And when I am empty, You drown me in your sweet embrace
And when I am broken, You come restore my joy again
~ Ten Shekel Shirt, "Sweet Embrace"
Monday, August 4, 2008
I work as an engineer in a job with nearly every resource available to me. If it exists, it can be shipped overnight and installed immediately. There are people with expertise in every practical area of engineering employed to answer questions and solve problems. Things will be very different working in Sudan.
You must learn to wrestle against the things that hinder your communication with God, and wrestle in prayer for other people; but to wrestle with God in prayer is unscriptural. If you ever do wrestle with God, you will be crippled for the rest of your life. If you grab hold of God and wrestle with Him, as Jacob did, simply because He is working in a way that doesn’t meet with your approval, you force Him to put you out of joint. Don’t become a cripple by wrestling with the ways of God, but be someone who wrestles before God with the things of this world, because "we are more than conquerors through Him ...." Wrestling before God makes an impact in His kingdom. If you ask me to pray for you, and I am not complete in Christ, my prayer accomplishes nothing. But if I am complete in Christ, my prayer brings victory all the time. Prayer is effective only when there is completeness— "take up the whole armor of God...."
Always make a distinction between God’s perfect will and His permissive will, which He uses to accomplish His divine purpose for our lives. God’s perfect will is unchangeable. It is with His permissive will, or the various things that He allows into our lives, that we must wrestle before Him. It is our reaction to these things allowed by His permissive will that enables us to come to the point of seeing His perfect will for us. "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God . . ." — to those who remain true to God’s perfect will— His calling in Christ Jesus. God’s permissive will is the testing He uses to reveal His true sons and daughters. We should not be spineless and automatically say, "Yes, it is the Lord’s will." We don’t have to fight or wrestle with God, but we must wrestle before God with things. Beware of lazily giving up. Instead, put up a glorious fight and you will find yourself empowered with His strength. ~ Oswald Chambers
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
My senior year of college I was taking a Portuguese class to improve my reading, grammar, and writing since I learned the language almost entirely orally from my mom. I had a Portuguese Bible that my uncle had given to me, so I started trying to read the same passage in English and Portuguese. The first thing I learned is that biblical language is difficult, but as I struggled through my Portuguese Bible, I was surprised by the things I had taken for granted when reading my Bible in English. Reading the same story in another language gave the text more depth and beauty. I had to slow down. I had to struggle through the words. I had to read the words deliberately, not just glancing over the words in expectation of the next familiar words.
I am looking forward to learning new languages in Sudan. I will make mistakes. I will be misunderstood. But that happens even when I speak English. I also hope that I will continue to be surprised by new perspectives.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
I don't want to minimize the actual studying of the Bible that happens at Bible study. If you come, you would find us reading and studying the visions of Daniel, the plagues in Exodus, a perfect love described in 1 John, the acts of the apostles, and so much more. You may think we are strange, laugh a lot, and don't always make sense, but that is our Bible study.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I was a mess that semester. I copied some lines below from my journal specifically relating to the anxiety I was experiencing at that time and my need to control my life.
Day 1 - "Sitting in my last class before leaving for Belize, I was nearly in tears. I didn't want to go to Belize. I needed to do homework, to sleep, and to have a week of personal reflection. Today I felt like a spectator. Things were happening but I wasn't really in it all. I was completely self-involved. I was concerned with how serving God this week would affect the things I have going on at Penn State. I still am not sure why I specifically am here."
Day 5 - "I think if I weren't so anxious about all the work I have to do when I get back, I wouldn't have panicked so much because of the lightning storm. It was a terrifying experience. I'm just not sure of a lot. I don't need to be sure because God has a perfect plan, but I want know and have some control."
Day 8 - "I don't want to leave yet, but I'm excited to tell people at school about my experience and how God showed up at the Burial Grounds in Belize."
Day 9 - "We got back to the dorms at midnight. I did my work and even got about two hours of sleep. When I was actually back and doing work, I wasn't anxious. I didn't do any of my kinetics homework, and I didn't turn it in, but I was okay with that. Belize was worth it."
For most people two hours or sleep and not turning in a homework assignment may not seem like trusting God, but that was a start for me. That semester went on to get much worse leading to staying awake for 50 hours straight, but God met me there at the point where I had lost total control, and I surrendered to Him.
I can hardly describe all the different ways that God loved me during that week in Belize City. That single week was an integral part of God’s sovereign plan to have me appointed as a missionary to Sudan.
I am still learning to trust God, and I will continue to learn to trust God and rely on Him. Good thing that missionaries are not all perfect people who have everything figured out. =)
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
It has been an interesting week. My phone collapsed due to exhaustion most likely. I had fixed it three times recently and this time I resorted to duct tape. I went to my service provider to review my contract and see if they would replace my phone. The best option they could give me was to buy a new phone (the cheapest one they had was $200). After asking some questions about my contract, praise God, I got a new phone for free! So now if I call you to talk to you about God and Sudan, hopefully the call won't be dropped.
This week was hard, and I am still somewhat in the middle of everything and processing. I have felt more under attack this week than I have a in a long time. But God has provided mercy, encouragement, and truth in the most beautiful ways including the words that many of you have shared in Bible study, in blogs, and by email about your trials and doubts and about God's grace and mercy.
I know I have been posting a lot recently. I hope that those of you that are a part of my life and ministry to southern Sudan are encouraged by these two stories of how God has met me in the midst of support raising. I pray that you will also see God at work in the found objects and free cellphones of your life.
And now for prayer requests. Pray for Sudan. Read the recent news online. Pray for me, that I would keep the truth of the gospel central in my life.
DISCLAIMER: Current posting frequency may not reflect future posting frequency. =)
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
If you have been reading the news the last few days you have undoubtedly read about the cyclone that hit Myanmar and the death and destruction that resulted.
The headline today read "Dead are thrown into rivers as the living wait for aid". The situation is complicated by a political situation which I don't pretend to know much about.
It hurts my heart to know that people are suffering, asking why, and waiting. It hurts my heart to know that people don't know where to turn.
Pray for the people of Myanmar.
Last year I attended a missions conference where one of the breakout sessions was specifically to discuss the role of engineers in missions. A lot of the conversations were focused on disaster relief. Many have a limited view of what engineering missions might look like, but the opportunity for engineers to serve in disaster relief is tremendous. Logistics, organization, and transportation are just a few of the areas that engineers would be able to serve an area after a natural disaster.
Friday, May 2, 2008
First of all, I have great friends. I have friends that tell me the truth. I have friends that love me even when I am at my worst. I have friends that listen to me when I am wrong. I have friends that encourage me. I have friends that know me well enough to not need words. I hope that I can be the kind of friend that my friends are to me.
Second, God has good plans for me. Those verses about waiting on God's timing are right. I have been praying about serving overseas for a lot of years, and God's timing is good. The path to this point may not have looked straight at the time, but in retrospect God has been working in my life in specific ways to lead to this place at this time.
The third thing is something that I am continually relearning. "O Lord, Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." ~ St. Augustine. I continually fail to rest in Christ, rest in the promises of scripture, and rest in my identity as a child of God. But the joy and hope that I have when I rest in Christ is one of the best evidences that God is real and that He loves me.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Last week at work we had several pump failures. So the troubleshooting began. One of the of the quick methods I have learned is the "5 Why" method. It is pretty simple. You ask the questions why five times to get to the root cause of the problem. Essentially you just have to act like a two year old.
The pump won't pump. Why?
The is no flow coming into the pump. Why?
The supply line is plugged. Why?
The polymer got cold. Why?
The heat tracing circuit is broken. Why?
Heat tracing is not on the preventative maintenance schedule.
We could have just replaced the pump...and then the problem would not have been solved. The pump would still not pump, and a pump that doesn't pump is just an expensive piece of metal.
During the week I decided to start using the method other broken things in my life. Some of the results were just ridiculous, and others were thought provoking. I decided to use the method with my "broken" Bible since for a few days the Bible had really become just a book in my life. Where I ended up really surprised me in a great way.
I will leave the details out, but the part I wanted to share is that I love how God can use the fact that I'm bored and can't get the "5 Why" method out of my head to show me something about His character and convict me.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Over the last few weeks I have really enjoyed writing, mostly because I am excited about the topics and it isn't being graded. Writing about what God has been doing in my life has been a great experience. I usually write in my journal weekly, but writing an essay and keeping to one page has forced me to thoughtfully consider what God has done in me, how He has been faithful, and what I learned about His character. Writing these things down will hopefully help me to remember these truths when I am in the middle of trails. It is astounding how quickly we forget, which is probably why God keeps telling us to remember.
As for my writing, I am not too concerned with the quality, but I hope that it communicates what God is doing in my life, in the lives of others, and in Southern Sudan.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Sudan is so beyond what I can even deceive myself into thinking that I could accomplish on my own. I have to rely on God. I am not enough, but Jesus is enough. And God will be glorified.
So here is where I ask you all for what I need. I NEED PRAYER.
Over the past few months the power of prayer has been so evident in my life. Not only has God been faithful and answered prayers in amazing ways, but so many times as I pray my heart is brought closer to the heart of my redeemer. Prayer is necessary, and too often there is not enough of it in my life.
Monday, March 17, 2008
WATER: I could write a lot here about the living water that comes from within or God's provision of water throughout the old testament. I could talk about how Jesus showed mercy during his ministry on Earth. These are all great to talk about, but instead here are a few statistics from UNICEF.
Lack of safe water and sanitation is the world’s single largest cause of illness.
In 2002 one in six people had no access to safe water.
About 4,500 children die each day from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation facilities.
NEW FRIENDS: My new friends are the staff of WHM and the six other new missionary appointees. I could not be more different than they are if I tried. In fact, the psychological tests we took proved that. =) As we left to go our own ways at the end of the week, I couldn't help but know that we will prayed for. It was a truly beautiful thing to hear how God has been at work and faithful and to just be real with each other. *this is where everyone says awwww*