08 February 2010

When Did You (or Your Characters) Know?

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!


  1. Kristen, how exciting and wonderful for you! The excitement in your voice is clear. :) Say hello to our Compassion International child when you're there; she's Peruvian. ;) (I kid, I kid, I know there are a bazillion kiddos in Peru).

    May God bless your journey exceedingly. Take care!

  2. All the very best Kristen :)

    For me knowing I had met the man who was 'the one' was a real gradual thing. We were really young, so we kind of grew up together and grew into the love we now share. We have been married for 11 years this Sept and have 2 beautiful boys between us. :)

  3. Kristen, Wow, I'm so excited for you! Peru!!! Woohoo.
    I love your story about knowing Jesus in a deeper way. That's so beautiful. :-)
    For me, I was a teenager alone in my bed thinking deep and sad thoughts. But when I was laying there all depressed, I just emotionally cried out to God and my life did change after that. It's not even something I can explain, I just know it was Him and thinking about it is still amazing for me (even though I'm doing really bad at putting the experience into words. LOL)
    Gosh, I hope you have an amazing time in Peru!

  4. What a beautiful story! Thanks so much for sharing that!
    I met my husband when I moved to Houston right after I graduated. I had seen him before, and thought he was cute. Two weeks after I moved there, I had a birthday and he gave me a dozen roses. The look in his eyes when he gave them to me was all I needed to begin my "fall" into love. :)

  5. How exciting for you, dear. Yes, I will pray that God provides the money and leads you to your dream.

    I experienced "the moment" when my boyfriend and I discovered we'd written nearly identical poems to each other. This Valentine's Day is our 35th Anniversary, and I don't like the colors either. We chose blue and lavendar for our wedding.

  6. Wow, what an amazing opportunity for you. Peru!? How cool is that?

  7. Wow...Where do I even begin to respond?

    'The Moment'--My MC does not have that in this book, we'll see about future books. But I did. I saw my husband in Creative Writing class Senior year in high school and I knew I had to marry him. We didn't date until Junior year in college (three years later, English majors; and we went to different universities!). But I knew. I still know.

    Peru--fantastic. I had a similar moment in Jamaica in 1997. It was part of the summer high school mission trip through my church and we had a very special group. One boy's father died while we were down there, and we all joined around the campfire (cliche, I know, but that's where we were) and prayed, sang and loved each other and God. A different setting and he or we might have been angry with God. But we weren't. One of our leaders on the trip was the Christian singer Mark Schultz (heard of him?). This was before he hit it big. Some of his first songs were written for our group, one of them (Cloud of Witnesses) about this incident.

    I hope to give to your trip. But whatever my ability in that regard, I will definitely pray for you.

    God Bless,

  8. Great trip to Peru. Glad you are heading back there!

    Hope you'll join me for how "Cupid Shot Me" day at my bog www.dianeestrella.com :O)

  9. Praying for you, dear friend. I believe that God will open the doors that you need to complete the work He has called you to.

  10. Any kind of missions trip bring people closer to God. It's amazing how He works when we are willing to serve. :)

    I knew I needed to fall in love with my husband when we were neighbors, and he barely knew me. He used to get up. through out the winter, early in the morning, and scrape my car for me. I had no gloves, no icescraper. I used a tape cassette. And he didn't like me at the time. He was such a servant and a nice guy that I just knew he'd be a great husband. And fortunately, I did fall in love with him.

  11. I am so excited that you get to go back to Peru! And I'll keep you and the money situation in my prayers.

    It was definitely gradual, the way I fell in love with my hubby. We met when we were seventeen but didn't even start dating for another year and a half. After that, it passed so quick and we just couldn't be apart.

  12. What a wonderful post! My sister and her family were missionaries in Peru for several years, and adopted my nephew from there as well, so I have such a soft spot for that country.

    It's good to recognize those those moments when life changes for us. So many times we pass them by without hardly a glance.

    My main character in the last book had one of those as well, but it wasn't in the original draft. Only in revisions did I finally add it in because I realized she needed it. It "completed" the novel, even though it wasn't the end scene.

  13. So...I think you're sort of living my dream as far as missions is concerned. I think the moment my relationship with Christ deepended was when I realized the reason I'd been depressed for 3 months was because of spiritual oppression. My mentor led me through a prayer in which we bound Satan's power in the name of Jesus. I felt so literally free afterwards that I couldn't help but glorify my King. I've had similar experiences in Thailand and Ecuador - something about the mission field really makes you turn to God.

    Great post!!!

  14. Sounds like you're gearing up for a busy time at work! Will be praying for you!

  15. Wow. What a story. You're something else, kid, very inspiring.

    I like pink and red together. I heart chocolate.

  16. Praise God! Peru!!!!!*** Can you believe my daughter and son-in-law will be there in March???!!

    A little card is ambling your way...

    LOVED your story and pray that God will help you get that inspy on paper!!! What a wonderful goal!!!


  17. God is so amazing how he works out all those details, Kristen.

    By the way, I'm reading a book you recommended. My Hands Came Away Red. I'm liking it so far, but I'm not that far into it yet.

  18. Peru sounds amazing! How exciting!

    And I love the movie P.S. I Love You! I can watch that one over and over again...

  19. Will continue to pray for you!
    Hugs and blessings,

  20. I'm passing on an award to you tomorrow or today, depending on when you read this. Stop by and check out which one. :)

  21. I'm so glad the Lord is working out all the details for you. I trust him to lead you right where you will glorify him best! I love the zest you demonstrate to serve him. You really are an inspiration!

  22. What a nice story, and how exciting that you're going back! Have a wonderful trip! :)

  23. What a beautiful story, Kristen. You told it so well. It brought tears to my eyes and I loved looking at the wonderful photographs. So happy for you that you are going back!

  24. I actually wrote the line, "I didn't know when I fell in love with him..." Because I'm not sure it's a moment we can identify. There's the life-changing ones like you portrayed, but most of the time, it's a process and we're not conscious of it.

  25. Congrats on going on your trip!!!
    I fell in love the first night I met my husband-- in a bar--I know, I know. I wasn;t drunk, neither was he. We walked and talked about our goals and I knew so that next day I broke it off with a guy I'd planned to marry! Good thing my husband called me for a date:)

  26. Hi Kristen -

    Praying for your Peru trip.

    Beloved and I met on e.harmony.com and talked for a couple of months before meeting in person. When he returned home that night (4 hour drive), he called and asked if I wanted to pursue the relationship. When I responded in the affirmative, he announced he wanted to marry me. We were married a year later.

    Susan :)

  27. I so enjoyed reading about y'all's moments! Thanks so much for sharing! These were so great!