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Thankful

November has been a good month. So many things I can talk about or share with you but I think I will limit it to a couple. When I first moved here in August we started a women’s bible study with the missionary women here. We finished the first study and decided that we would ask some of the teachers here in the school if they would like to join, and a few did. In our first meeting one of the ladies didn’t say a word and I was wondering did she really want to be here with us. At the very end she broke down and shared her current situation and poured her heart out to us. I was so thankful that she shared and I had no idea that she was struggling like she was. I felt a little convicted about things I had been thinking about her. We have been praying for her and she came back one other time to the bible study and then missed another week. But on Saturday she came to my house and sat and talked with my roommate and I. We listened and I couldn’t help but think this was an appointment God made for us. After listening to her share what she is still going through, we shared with her God’s love for her and reminded her how important she is to Him. I am excited to see what God is going to do through her and glad God is using us to be apart of that. Pray for her!

One night shortly after I moved to the jungle I had walked outside for some reason and looked up at the sky. It was a really clear night and I saw the most stars I have ever seen in my life. When it’s clear I will sometimes go out and see if it is as clear as that night, but it hasn’t been, until last night. My roommate and I were walking home from church and looked up and it was clear so clear you could see all the stars, literally all of them! We stood there in awe for a minute and even saw a shooting star. Yesterday marked the first day for advent, I have a tradition of observing it, so I went and got my candle that I burn while I read a reading plan for advent and brought it outside. We stood outside under the stars…all the stars to be exact, and worshiped and praised the Lord. It was a surreal moment, in the middle of the Amazon Jungle, underneath all the stars God placed in the sky, in the middle of the school property God has placed in the community to use for His glory, celebrating His coming. There’s not much more I can say to describe that moment, but I am so thankful for this life God has given me.

What a life

Well I have now been living in the Jungle for about 2 months. Although it feels like I’ve been here a lot longer…in a good way! I have gotten settled into my new house here and have tried to seal it up as best as possible to keep bugs out. I had a week where I battled ants, large ants, it was not fun! But I really do enjoy living here, it’s quiet and peaceful and then during the week I get to see all the kids since I live on the school property. It’s fun to see their smiling faces everyday and go out and play with them on the playground! I had gotten pretty ill a few weeks ago from eating bad food while out with a team. I was sick for 12 days, I didn’t really eat that much and even had a hard time holding water down. First lesson learned is do not go to the free clinic! They did not give me the correct medication which prolonged me being sick. Second always pay for the good doctor! The doctor I went to see the second time was very kind and knew his stuff and gave me the correct medicine. He was even telling us about his son who is in Oklahoma as a foreign exchange student…small world! But thankfully I am much better now and I am super thankful to have a great community of missionaries that looked after me. A couple of the kids snuck into my house and saw me sitting on my bed and asked me what I was doing, I said I was laying there because I didn’t feel well. So they left and then I heard them come back in, they had went and gotten a cup of water and tylenol for me to take since I wasn’t well. It warmed my heart, and thankful that God gives me reminders like that of why I am here.

My responsibilities here are coordinating the child sponsor program and the short term teams. Both of these keep me extremely busy. The child sponsor program consists of getting info on children who need sponsorship, finding sponsors for them, keeping in contact with the current sponsors, and getting updates of the children to the sponsors. The short term team coordinating consists of planning out the teams and schedules for the next year. The schedules entail a lot…flights, work project, vbs project, travel, lodging, sightseeing, and much more. So far there are 10 groups coming and we are looking at more.  We also still have 3 more groups coming before the end of this year.

I had a group come last month, normally when we have groups we always take them up river to this zoo but we were also going to visit a local village to drop off some supplies. So we leave that morning and head to grab some canoes. We leave for the village first in the canoes but couldn’t pass because the river was too low. We decided to head on to the zoo. Needless to say the day didn’t go as planned, but the group still had a great time. A couple days later I took the ladies in the group to the village (leaving in a canoe in a different place this time). We made it but had to hike in through thick jungle to get to the school in the village. We were late arriving and the teacher and the students waited for us. This school only has about 10 kids and the teacher travels by bus and canoe everyday to get there.The teacher was very grateful to get the supplies that we took to her and the kids are just so precious and were excited about the candy! When we left and were heading back to town in the canoe all I could think of how privileged I am to lead the life that God has given to me. I got to take a group of women up river in a canoe on the Napo river in the Amazon Jungle to visit a village, pretty amazing to me.

 

 

 

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Here are some things you can be in prayer about for me and my ministry: My health and that my stomach would stop being so sensitive! You can pray for my family back home. Pray for Jungle Kids for Christ…the missionaries here, the students and teachers. We are also in the process of raising money for a new school building, please pray for that. Pray for God’s continued provision for me to be here serving. Pray for my supporters and their families.

 

Welcome to the Jungle

Go ahead and sing the song in your head because I am! Last week I moved to the jungle. After almost 7 months of living in Quito the main city, learning language and adjusting to the culture I have made it here. Crazy to think that a year and 5 months ago I decided to leave my comfortable life in the states and start preparing for this journey. But with living in Quito for 7 months it was so hard to say goodbye to my friends I have there and to the ministry I was working with (Dunamis Foundation). Most of the girls in that ministry have been there quite a while and we had developed friendships. Saying goodbye to them was one of the hardest things ever, they begged me to stay or to pack them in my bag so they could go with me. On my last day with them we took pictures together and they made me goodbye cards, I will treasure them forever. Although it was super hard to leave I know that they will continue to be loved on by other great volunteers and God will continue to guide their paths.

And now to start this new beginning in the jungle. I have gotten all my stuff moved in and kind of settled. Thanks to a team that came last week (a couple of my favorite people were in this team!) they helped me move and also cleaned up my house. My house got new screen and pretty trim around the screen, because we don’t have windows, oh and ceiling fans too! They also helped clean up the inside as there was construction going on the other side and it was a little messy. My job while I am working here will be short term team coordinator and child sponsor program coordinator. I am excited to have these jobs and have lots of ideas! I am thrilled about the community of missionaries that is starting here as well! There are 2 families onsite now, another single lady who is my roommate, and a family that will be moving down early next year! I love seeing all the great things the Lord is doing here. School will start this week and I can’t wait to see all the beautiful faces on the campus! If you want to see more of what the school looks like go to junglekidsforchrist.org.

Be in prayer for the teachers, students, staff, and their families as school starts and that God will continue to use this place to change the world! Pray for me as I adjust to living here in the jungle and take on my new responsibilities! Pray for my family and all the people who are praying and supporting me!

6 Months!

 

Wow, well it has been 6 months for me here in Ecuador! Time flies when you are having fun! I honestly can’t believe it has passed so quickly. God has been so good and faithful to me in this time and I have great peace knowing that He will continue. So for the last month and a half I have been super busy. I have been traveling back and forth with short term teams, picking them up from the airport taking them to the jungle, then taking them back to the airport. We (we as in, Jungle Kids for Christ) had 7 teams that came for a visit over June and July. I have to say I was a little nervous at the beginning of “team season,” one because my Spanish isn’t the best, and that is a lot of people to keep track of and get them safely to the jungle! But they all made it, not with out a few bumps in the road….literally. There are two ways you can travel from Quito to the jungle and one of the ways was closed all but one weekend. It was closed because they had so much rain it caused tons of landslides/mudslides, whatever you want to call them. The difference in driving time is about 5 hours or so, even the longer way was closed a couple of times due to landslides! I totaled up the time I spent traveling with the teams and it was a bunch……. I spent 12 hours in the airport, 14 hours in a taxi and 77 hours give or take in the bus! And with about 93 people in total from 6 teams! I bet your wondering if it was exhausting, and yes it was a little bit. But the drive is so beautiful and getting to talk with people from the teams is great too. Working with teams is a great job to have, and I loved being able to see the love and passion they have for the jungle and for Ecuador.

The next month and a halfish I will continue living in Quito, working with Dunamis, and working on my Spanish. Toward the end of August I will move to Misahualli, and move into a house on the school property. I am so excited and a little nervous to be moving. In Quito everything is at a fingertips length and in the jungle everything is further away. So please pray for me as I make this transition. My job once I move, will be coordinating the short term teams and the child sponsor program for the school. I think both these jobs will be a great fit for me!

I ask that you would pray for my supporters as they have been so persistent in praying for me and along with their monthly support. Please pray for both ministries I am working with Dunamis and Jungle Kids for Christ. Please pray for my family, as they have had some difficulties in the last couple months.

Thanks for reading!! Love y’all and praying for you!

Settling In

I would like to say that I am mostly settled in here in Ecuador. I am learning the bus routes and what time of the day is good to take the bus and which is not. If you ever get the feeling of being alone or need to be around people, being squeezed in on the bus is a great fix for that, and I mean literally squeezed in! This month has been a little difficult for me, not bad at all but difficult. I have been sick a few times which sucks all the life out of me. I hate being sick and hate having to miss Spanish class and hate missing time with the girls. Hopefully my body will start building up immunity to the food here. (Please pray for that!) It’s also been a hard few weeks with the girls. We have had 4 or 5 leave and new girls come in. It is extremely hard on me when the girls leave. We don’t know what kind of situation they are going back to. I want to just take all of them and keep them so they can be safe for forever. I know I can’t do that and I know that God has a plan for them. Sometimes I wish God would smack me up side the head and say, “Hey Ashley…..remember me??? Ya I got this!” Maybe I should write that on my hand or something! The second part of this is working with teenage girls! Man they are tough! There are 9 girls or so living with each other, constantly around each other with no break. Ya you catch my drift…..they can be difficult sometimes. (You can pray for that too!) I found a devo that deals with being a friend and why we should love and how we should love. Hopefully they are listening when we are sharing the devo, but I continue to pray that they will realize they are one big family and they need to make the best of it.

I got to visit Jungle Kids for Christ (the organization I am partnered with) last month. It was a nice visit and I was able to find out a little bit more of what my responsibilities will be when I move there. (Right now I live in Quito and work with Dunamis a sister foundation to JKC. I am working with them and learning Spanish so that when I move to the jungle I am better equipped with the language.) I will be working with the short terms teams that will be coming, help with all work that goes into that. I am extremely excited about being able to that. I also hope too that we will be able to open a child care center, as that will take some time.

God is showing me that I need to be totally dependent on him. Whether its being sick or frustrated with being squeezed in a backed bus or whatever it is. I am so thankful for His love for me and I ask quite often for Him to fill me up with His love I ask that you would pray for the girls I work with. Pray for both organizations that I work with; Dunamis and Jungle Kids for Christ. For my family back home, for my health and well being, my spiritual health and the provision I need.  Also pray for my awesome partners and their families!

Love and miss you all, thanks for reading. Also I was asked for a wish list in case you wanted to mail me goodies. I heard that you are not allowed to mail food anymore, Ecuador changed their laws. But I would love letters or pictures or cards! If you would like my mailing address please send me an email or a message and I will respond back with it.

Bienvenida Ecuador!

Hello from Ecuador! I have been in Ecuador a full month now! Sometimes it seems like I have been here forever and sometimes it feels like I just stepped off the plane. I am kind of starting to settle into a daily routine here. I have made my house and home and have gotten connected with a church and a singles group within the church. I have tackled the grocery store, somewhat, every time I go I discover something new….like cream cheese or whipped cream. Although,I have not seen enchilada sauce, thats okay I think I can make my own. My days usually consist of working with the girls, and by girls I mean girls that are live in a shelter in Quito. They either live there because some sort of abuse or neglect took place in their homes. The girls arrive at the foundation and we share a devotional each morning then they either work on jewelry or sewing or a computer class that I teach on Friday. Working with these girls is such a blessing, when we are not busy working they latch right on to me and want to be hugged and loved on. I love it and am super blessed that I get to share all the love that God has given me with them! In the afternoons there is a Spanish language tutor that comes to my house and teaches me Spanish. I initially had planned on going to an actual school, but that did not work out as it is pretty far from my house and costly for a taxi each day. So the tutor, Martha, is amazing and a great teacher and I really enjoy learning from her. Plus working the girls helps me to learn, as well and they correct me when I am wrong! I also teach them some English so it all works out. I am actually writing from the jungle right now. I came down to do a site visit and discuss what my future role with the Jungle Kids for Christ. In discussing with them their need in the foundation they need a person to handle and take over the short term teams that come. This position will oversee all that goes on with the teams before, during, and after their visit. Also being able to work on the child care center if that is the way God leads the organization. I am excited to work with teams, it was on a short term team that God showed me where He wanted me to be. And hopefully I will be able to share my testimony in that, and God can use that to recruit other missionaries!

God has been truly amazing in this last month. He has been right by my side and holding my hand tightly. I know that I live in a foreign country but so far it has not seemed like that to me. I really do not feel out of place and I feel at home. I think that in my past, growing up the way I did and always having to adapt to situations that children should not have to, has helped me to adapt in every situation good and bad…..this of course is a good one!

Some ways that you can pray for me are: my phyical health, I did get sick a couple weeks ago from parasites and I am sure that it will happen again. Pray that God will use everything that goes into my body as nurishment. Not sure if it counts when I eat chocolate or drink a coke….but hey you never know! Pray for my spiritual health. We had two girls leave the foundation, the government said it was time for them to go home. They usually do not go back into safe enviroments when they do. It is hard when they leave because we establish loving relationships with them, and more than likely not see them again. Also being away from my family is hard and I do miss them a ton and they miss me, please pray in that. Pray that God will keep the devil away from me and the organizations and my family.  You can pray for both organizations that I work with, Dunamis and Jungle Kids for Christ. Both are raising funds for the great things that God has going on for them, and that God will send more missionaries their way. Pray for the girls at Dunamis, that God will work in their hearts and that they will see how much He loves them. You can pray for my amazing partners that give each month either with prayer or by financial means. Pray that God will bless them and help them in what they need as they are a major blessing not only to me but to the organizations that I am with.

Thank you to my partners who do give each month as you have committed, you have no idea how thankful I am for you! It is one less thing to preoccupy my mind when I need to be focused on what God would has for me to do. I do have a mailing address so if you want to ship me some goodies either email me or facebook me and I will give you my address. Also check out my facebook page…..Ashley Murphy Missions as I regularly post pictures and quick updates!

It will never be the same again….

Well I am finishing up my last week here at CIT, Center for Intercultural Training. I have been here since September 13th and have loved every minute of it. I was quite nervous coming in and wondering what it was going to be like and nervous about spending all day in a classroom, but it has been really great. I have made wonderful friendships that will last forever,and even met some awesome people who will be in Ecuador as well! The training here is invaluable. We have learned so much from equipping in a new culture, to skills on learning a new language.

I think a few things really stuck out to me one is that I will never fit anywhere again…… Leaving home, relationships will change with my family, friends, and my church. They will all move on and go on about their lives without me. I will go to a country where I don’t know their language or their culture or how they do things and I won’t fit there. When I come home I won’t fit either because things will have changed and I will be a different person. But the more and more I think about it, I think I am okay with this. My blog is titled Ashley’s Not Normal and I believe that God made me not to fit and he will use that to His advantage. Another is how hard it is to be a missionary!!!! I knew that being a missionary was going to be hard but at training they make sure you know how hard it is!!!!!!! And give you a lot of tools to use, thankfully.

These 6 weeks here have been a difficult time to be away from home. One of my cousins past away, my sister was going through some trials, a couple of my family members have been very very ill (both like a mom to me), and one of my closest friends is ill and her son is very sick too, I am still recovering from my broken ankle and have a wisdom tooth coming in. I think these trials were to see how I was going to handle being away from home and not go run and be there for my family and friends. I realized I have to pray and give it to God, I can’t do anything else and I don’t need to. That should always be my first step and it wasn’t. I need to pray and put my faith in Him and let Him handle it.

At CIT spent every morning having a devotional time in our training. We also had small groups that we would brake out into based on the region of the world we were going to, and each shared our histories (sort of like testimonies) with one another. A few days before I shared my history I read an article that talked about God’s adoption of us. So many times I would say of how unworthy I am of God’s love for me. When I was reading this article I think God slapped me upside the head. I started thinking that when a parent adopts a child they pick that child and they already love them, or when parents have a child they love them automatically and unconditionally and they do not make their child earn their love. So why did I think I was unworthy of his love? He chose me, He adopted me, I am His daughter and He is my father, my dad……I am worthy of His love. And I am so thankful for it!!!!!!! God is sending me to a country and area where most kids have no idea who their dads are. How AMAZING is it that I get to go and share that I know their dad!!!! He chose them and has adopted them and is a father to the fatherless and He is my dad to and He has sooooooooooooooooooooooooo much love to give us!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH amazing and humbled I get to be God’s tool in this!

So I will be heading back to Oklahoma at the beginning of November and continue support raising and saying goodbyes….ehhh don’t want to think about that right now. We shall save that for next time! Thank you for your love and prayers and support! Leave me a message on how I can pray for you!

 

Time Fly’s…..

I can’t believe that training is already here, well on Saturday at least. It seems like just yesterday that I decided I was going to go to Ecuador and then I turn around and it’s 4 months later! When I think about the time it is bittersweet. I am excited about going to Ecuador but then I know I only have a short amount of time left here with my family and friends. People always count down the days to something big that is happening in their lives. I don’t want to count down any of my time, all of it is precious and needs to be spent meaningfully. Even when I am in Ecuador I think it would be stupid of me to count down the days to when I come back to the states. My time in the states is just as important as it is Ecuador. If we are rushing to get to a certain date or time, we are going to run right by something that God has for us. I don’t want to miss an appointment He has set for me. I know when the time comes to leave it will be hard and there will be tears but I know also God will be right next to me holding my hand all the way through. He did and so can I.

Cross cultural training will begin on Sept 13th and go until Oct 24th. This training will help to equip me in transitioning into a new culture and country. I have to say I am a little nervous about this because I don’t know everything about the bible and being in a new culture and all that comes with it……..I know that sounds stupid and I should NOT think that way at all, but I do know it’s the devil trying to knock me down and I can’t let that happen. This will be a great experience for me and I guess I should think of it like job training ( a real expensive job training) none the less very necessary!  I am so grateful to be able to go for six weeks and be given the skills to thrive and do great things for God.

I am super duper close to my financial goal for training, thank you to everyone who gave and who committed to giving monthly!!!! I ask that you would be in prayer about the financial goal needed by January which is $9,000.

Oh also I am just a couple days away from being out of the boot from breaking my ankle. WOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! God healed it quickly and thank you for all the prayers!!!!! I ask that you would continue to pray for me as I start training and continued great health!

 

Gearing Up

Ashley’s Not Normal is really about me, this Okie/country girl that is about to embark on the beginning of a journey that God has planned for me! I have never lived a normal life (thankfully) so why start now. I am definitely not your typical woman and probably not the typical Christian. I am stubborn and sometimes strong willed, and ready with everything that I have to serve the Lord.  This year my life has totally changed. In March I went on a short term mission trip to Ecuador, and spent time with a few different ministries. After being home a few weeks I felt God pulling on my heart more and more about mission work. I had been offered a great job and would have been able to take it and have a super comfortable life and really do comfortable ministry. I knew that this was too comfortable and that even living in the states would have been. So I sought guidance from my “wise counsel” (aka my pastors….I should really think of a name for them like the dream team or something), anyways after speaking with them what I felt God pulling on me about I sent a missionary application off to Jungle Kids for Christ. This ministry is a school in Puerto Misahualli, Ecuador, we spent time at this amazing school that is doing spectacular things for God. I heard back from them and we set up a skype interview. Now to show you just how amazing God is and how he works, most of all my work experience has been in child care and child care management. When we had the skype interview  they said they were going to be building a child care center on the school campus and that my knowledge in this would be beneficial to them. While we were on our trip I hadn’t heard of them speak of this, so when they said that this is where God was taking them, I knew 100% this is where God wanted me to be!

Since this interview in late April I have moved out of my house, sold almost all of my belongings, sold my car and I am living with an awesometacular family in my church. God has placed a great support system around me from one of my pastors who knows everything about networking and websites and computers (which I do not), someone who took pictures for free for my prayer cards, and other people that I am close with that have been in the mission field and share every bit of knowledge they have with me. I could keep on going for a while but you get the hint. When you say yes to God and ask him to use you, you better be ready to work! My pastor asked me why I wanted to go and serve and I said why not! I am young, I am able, I am not tied down so to speak…..I really believe that this is what God made me for. At church camp with the youth I am so blessed to serve, the pastor speaking said, “if you know you go,” EXACTLY!! I wanted to stand up and cheer but I refrained! This is exactly how I feel and how I want to live my life for God.

 

So my goal is to be in Ecuador in January of 2015. I will also attend a cross-cultural training in North Carolina from September to late October of 2014. Until then I am in school, taking classes online, and doing my best in preparing emotionally and spiritually. Oh and learning Spanish……I wish my spiritual gift had been speaking in tongues but it’s not! I ask that you would be in prayer for me for the financial support that I need, my physical and spiritual health, and for the great people I will get to serve and the other missionaries I will be serving with.