6.23.2014

Update!

... Maybe?
So today, in Sunday school, I'm sitting next to this lady, and she leans over and asks, "Have you seen the movie, The Fault in Our Stars?"

"No," I reply, "Have you?"

"Oh yes! You know the protagonist? The main actress? She looks just like you!"

I did ask if it was because we both have short hair, and she immediately responded, "Yes! I sat through the whole movie, thinking she looks just like you!"

Anyway.

At the moment I'm sitting downstairs on the couch. I've been doing some homework, finally, and I've been talking to R, the lady who comes on Mondays to clean. She's really sweet. This morning I woke up much later than usual, because my class had been cancelled and I needed the sleep, so I ended up reading my Bible downstairs at the table, because I had stripped my bed and vacated my room so R could clean. She was with me, and she saw me looking very pensive while reading. I was able to talk to her about Isaiah and Ahaz and God's grace. It was a cool moment. This morning's reading just kind of killed me. I was reading about what the kings of Judah had been doing. Uzziah had reigned 52 years, some of them with Jotham as a regent, because Uzziah had been struck with leprosy. When Jotham became king, he prepared his ways to follow God, but the people stayed corrupt. Jotham experienced some beautiful blessings from God, because he chose to set his heart on Him. Jotham's son, Ahaz, however, returned to the gods of the peoples that God had cast out of Canaan 700 years earlier (Would he have had to do research to find out about them? How do you go back to something 700 years past? That would be like choosing to do something that people did in the 1300s. How would you even know, without a lot of effort? Tells you something about his determination to reject God). He put one of his sons through fire for those gods, built altars and high places, and sacrificed and burned incense on every high place and under every green tree.

Because Jotham lived like this, God raised up enemies against him--the kings of Israel and Syria. In one day they killed 120,000 men of Judah, and they took 200,000 people captive. In the middle of this, one man, the prophet Oded, confronted Israel's army and demanded that they return the captives, because God's wrath was on them. They did; they fed them, clothed them, put the weak on donkeys, and returned them to Jericho. One man faced an army and won.

Before this day, God had sent Isaiah to Jotham and told him not to be afraid of the kings of Israel and Syria. He promised doom to both kings, and He told Jotham, "If you will not believe, surely you will not be established" (Is. 7:9). Jotham's success was conditional on his trust. No dice. Jotham wrote to Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria, called himself Tiglath-Pileser's son, and sent him all the gold and silver from God's temple. Tiglath-Pileser invaded Syria and destroyed it, and ten years later Assyria would invade Israel and take the people captive. Sennacherib, the next king of Assyria, would destroy most of Judah and lay siege to Jerusalem before being defeated by God. This was the price of a refusal to trust God.

God also used Isaiah to instruct Jotham to ask Him for a sign. He replied, "I will not ask" (such a hard heart!), so God gave him a sign anyway--the promise of Isaiah 7:14. He promised Assyria's invasion of Judah, and He also sent Micah to warn that Assyria would destroy Samaria, would take Lachish, and would come up to the gates of Jerusalem.

What kills me in this is that all of the kings of Judah could have lived out their identity as David's children and inheritors of God's promise. God promised Jotham that He would deliver him, even though the kings of Israel and Syria intended to set a puppet king up on Judah's throne. God had promised David that his sons would sit on Judah's throne; nothing else was even possible. It's amazing to me that, with such an amazing heritage, king after king would reject God and choose to worship idols. And it cost their people so much when they did this. We never really know what consequences our sinful choices will have from generation to generation.

Prayer requests
  • Please pray for good sleep. I've been having trouble with this. Please also pray for relief from headaches. I had a headache this weekend, and it seems to have gotten better this morning, but it's really difficult to think when my head hurts so badly.
  • Please pray for insights into the culture and how to act with people. When I worked with Iranians, they had a system called ta'arouf that had some clear behavioral expectations. I think that expectations may be similar here, but they're not codified. I'm not normally flowery in my spoken English, so it's twice as difficult to try to be flowery and sweet and thoughtful in Spanish. I don't want people to think I'm being rude, when I'm simply direct. I definitely need help learning to communicate in a way that isn't offensive.
  • Please pray for some ability to find a routine here--even to get a grip on what food is available and what I like to eat, so I can plan and say, "I'd like to be able to make this this week, so let's buy these ingredients." It's simply getting a feel for living here.
  • I'm thinking about maybe checking out a gym close to the house, to try to start exercising. I haven't been looking forward to this, because I've been having a hard time scheduling myself, and this is just one more thing, but it may also be a good way to meet people in the neighborhood. Pray for wisdom for that?
Praises
  • Weirdest. Thing. Ever. So when I'm just sitting somewhere, and I overhear people talking, part of me keeps straining to hear Farsi. I told my friend that I would love to meet someone here from Iran, even if just for the Farsi. Well, last Thursday, after the English conversation class, my friend and I went to the Centro to buy some supplies for the upcoming VBS. We went to a restaurant in the Centro--one I had been to before. This man was walking around, supervising the waiters, and he ended up talking to me. He asked where I was from, what language I spoke, etc., and I said, "I'm from America." His face kind of changed, so I said, "I'm a nice American, not a mean American!" He ended up telling me he was Iranian/Canadian, and which point I totally flipped out. We spoke some in Farsi, and he ended up asking me to come talk with him sometime. Turns out he's a marathoner and goes to my friend's gym, which is really crazy. I don't know what's the best way to talk with him again, but he does see my friend at the gym a few times a week, so it's an interesting opening.
  • Got to go to a birthday party and a ballet this weekend, which was really cool. It was my first fiesta with a real piñata, and I was tremendously impressed by how many different songs they have for birthdays. I also got to talk with a lady from the English class on Thursday, and we were able to have a really good conversation as she practiced her English with me. I look forward to developing that relationship.
  • I'm meeting with a teenager from CPD on Wednesday at 1:30 to start learning the bus system with her. This is the girl that travels an hour and a half each way to church on Sundays. I don't know how that time will be, but I really look forward to spending time with her. I hope it's a good, encouraging time for her and that I can bless her while she blesses me. My friend says she really never gets any spoken encouragement, and when I was here before, I told her one day that I was proud of her, and I thought she was going to cry. She's really sweet. So please pray for that time as well. 
Thank you for praying!
-Jennifer

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