Hey, Friends! Happy Monday! It’s the most “romantic” week of the year!
Okay, so I’m a little surprised I wrote that. I’m not a romantic. GASP! Not in the way most people are, at least. Definitely not in February. It has nothing to do with being single. I’ve just always been allergic to Valentine’s Day in general. Maybe it’s because I feel the colors clash. Or the sappy clichés floating about (btw, hats off to all of you romance writers—it’s hard to write it well but you do it--and I love your blogs!). In college I wrote a satirical essay in the vein of Alexander Pope’s “A Modest Proposal” (if you’ve never read it, it’s a tongue-in-cheek proposition on how to regulate population control in Middle England. The key is to remember it’s satire, if not you won’t sleep well after you read it) about Valentine’s Day, citing Romeo and Juliet, Wesley in The Princess Bride, even Jesus and the actual St. Valentine—the reason the day was created. What do all of these people have in common? They literally died for love. I’ll let you draw your conclusions on the content of my essay. I had a lot of fun writing it and ended up getting a very cheeky “A”! :0)
Now, I do enjoy a good romance. There are romantic relationships in my stories. I don’t watch a lot of chick flicks, (and I seem to love moody romances most, like P.S. I Love You), but I have some tried-and-true ones I’ll watch over and over. It’s a genre read and appreciate. Just not where I spend most of my time writing. Can we still be friends? :0)
Of course, this day has one huge redeemable quality—chocolate! :0)
But in light of all the love in the air (ha!), we’re going to talk about the gooey subject. :0) I have one question for you: When did you—or your characters, if you want to make this literary—know? Know what? Well…
--you’d fallen for him/her
--he/she would be the love of your life
--you couldn’t imagine life without him/her?
You know that moment when everything changes… care to share it (for yourself or your characters)?
I had a moment like that a few years ago. It was July of 2007 and I lived in the sauna-like village of Mundial in the Amazon Jungle, Peru. I had another name for this village relating to the oven-infused heat, but I’ll refrain from typing it.
After a particularly difficult night of no sleep (hammocks are killer on the kidneys… thanks to gravity, sometimes you’re getting up every hour to wander to the outhouse and sometimes that’s a precarious situation) thanks to physical issues, the dogs/chickens/ducks living beneath our hut (all huts are on stilts because of the river and animals live under there) breaking out into violent altercations randomly, and encounters with the local wildlife (a spider whose torso was bigger/fatter than my big toe. Seriously, no spider ever needs to be that big), I was wiped out. As the fog faded and the sun rose over the jungle, I went down to the river to pray. Mundial sat on an inlet, so as the water swirled past and villagers waded in bathing and washing clothes, I began to relax. I ended up in the Psalms and found a verse I’d read before but never seen (only to find out later it was prayed over me as a child): Psalm 63, ending in verse 8: “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." I love this chapter. The love described in it is the greatest love I’ve ever known or felt for anyone. That’s where my relationship with God moved into the Song-of-Solomon, I-understand-what-it-means-to-be-the-Bride-of-Christ type love.
My life forever changed that day.
As a writer of inspirational fiction, this is the feeling I strive to depict in my stories. I suspect many inspirational writers will agree. My last MC, Brooke, has a moment like I described above, an exact experience where she knew her life had changed forever--even if she couldn't voice it then. It's a pivotal moment in the book, one I opened with as backstory originally and now have placed it farther back in my novel. It really pops now--and involves a homecoming game, a boy she'd just met, and strength she never knew existed. Like I said, my stories do have romance in them. :0)
So… I remember the Amazon with fondness because it was where I “fell in love”. It was the greatest adventure I ever lived. It was hard. It was beautiful. We saw God do so many incredible things. I’ve often thought I’d love to go back, but don’t know how that would work.
::Enter the coolest surprise ever::
My co-leader from that week was a wonderful woman named Crystal. She’s a great friend. After our trip, she returned to Peru and now lives in Nauta, a village deep in the jungle on the edge of the river, about 90 minutes’ drive from Iquitos, the “capital” of the Peruvian Jungle (which is only accessible by air or water). A picture is below, courtesy of her. She’s currently here in Georgia and will return to Peru February 16. And I’m going with her.
It’s important for our program to send staff to the locations before we send the students and do something called “set up”. We meet with pastors, check out local ministries, learn the area, find lodging, etc… basically anything you can imagine. That way our teams can jump right into ministry when they get there. We prepare the way, I guess. So I’m returning to Peru (though I will not go up river to Mundial or the other villages; just to Nauta) with Crystal and another Ambassador staff member/friend, February 16-21. I can’t believe it. We’ve been praying about it ever since the opportunity came up and already God has worked out so many details.
Will you pray about this with me? I know this is a fast turn-around and after this, I will not leave the country for a while, but I am really praying God will work it all out. I need $900 to go and can keep raising that after the trip if I need to. (The amount I am raising a month doesn't include overseas missions. Just rent, utilities, gas, food, etc.). For those of you who’ve prayed about/mentioned occasional one time gifts, this is a good time for that. Just go to http://www.adventures.org/give, click on the “AIM Staff” link, and type my name when asked. Or you can snail mail to: Adventures In Missions, Inc., P.O. Box 534470, Atlanta, Ga. 30353-4470. "Kristen Torres-Toro" needs to be on the memo line and all checks need to be made out to Adventures in Missions.
Thank you! I look forward to reading your "moments". Thank you for praying and for considering this. See you Wednesday!
4 hours ago