Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Packing and painting--a new Christmas tradition

Well, it is Christmas Eve, and we are once again packing and painting. This is our third time to be packing and moving between Christmas and the New Year since we came to Peru.
The first year it was because we just finished language school.
The second year because the landlady needed her house back because her sister decided to come back from Italy and needed the apartment that she was living in.
And this year because I had surgery and we had to postpone the move.
Not my favorite Christmas tradition!

Praise God that it's really about His amazing gift of Jesus Christ and the redeeming love that God has for us!
Praise Him for the provision and encouragement He keeps on providing for us!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Walking and leaping and praising God!

Well, not exactly leaping, yet, but certainly walking and praising!

I went to my weekly Dr. appointment and am released from the surgeon's care. I just have to keep using the elastic bandages until the end of January!

Wow! Now I am free to clean up the house. :) And pack!

In His Love,
Tammy

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thank you, Prayer Supporter Man

Yesterday, I wrote that we needed prayer--lots of expenses, money that didnt arrive, Christmas, a move, obstacles, and yes, (in my case) frustration at not being able to do anything. Everything seemed, from a human viewpoint, discouraging.

Thank you for praying!

We did a skit when we were deputating:
Melba Missionary is writing her prayer letter to supporters--
she tells about hair-raising taxi rides with cheating drivers who overcharge her,
how the officials in immigration deny her requests for the most trivial reasons (what kind of shoes she has on),
and her loud-mouthed neighbor who won't listen to gospel, puts her down, and borrows her stuff all the time.
Melba is coming unglued.
Her prayer letter arrives in the States:
Mild-mannered Clark Christian picks up the prayer letter, steps into his prayer closet, and becomes....
Prayer Supporter Man!
Melba receives money to buy a car,
Her visa is approved,
And her neighbor humbly asks her to talk to him and his wife about the Bible.
Melba thinks someone must be praying for her.

Really, that is so many times the way it is. We received both some money and a lot of encouragement--because y'all prayed.

Thank you, Prayer Supporter Man.

In Christ,
Tammy

Monday, December 15, 2008

Transparency

There is always a question of transparency in missions communication. How much should we tell? Do we report the problems in communication? The lack of money? The meal of rice and gravy? Will this "poormouthing" "let down the side?" But if it is relentless cheerful good news why read it?


I used to get a newsletter from an organization that evidently had a policy of "no bad news". So I got used to reading reports like this:


Praise God that Tina's broken arm has nearly healed (What? Broken arm? How did that happen?) This is a real blessing as we are working 24/7 and have nearly repaired all the storm damage (There was a storm?).


Eventually I started praying for whatever the missionaries needed without opening the newsletter--because I wouldn't find out there.


Then there are ministries that are always in a crisis! Must have money now or got to leave the field! Those leave an even sourer taste in the mouth... and a "please take my name off this mailing list."


But I think between the two extremes there is room for honesty. And one of my purposes in writing this blog is to let supporters, friends and prospective missionaries know what life really is like on the field. So transparency is necessary to accomplish that purpose.


Right now we are having a difficult time because of all the extra surgery expenses. Just as with anybody else, there are expenses that insurance doesn't pay and are not reimbursable. For example, I can't go anywhere by bus, and have to have a taxi take me to my weekly appointment. Mike and Colin can't cook as cheaply as I can. Also they don't know how to wash clothes by hand--so we have to send out to a laundry. Several churches said that they were sending money (without our asking--all their idea--praise God!) But so far, we haven't received it. But we HAVE received the expenses. And, for some reason, not the money. Usually we receive a few Christmas gifts from churches and supporters...and we haven't gotten those, either.


So here it is, time for the move, time for Christmas, and....


God IS faithful and he WILL provide. And ultimately we all don't depend on anyone but Him. So please just pray for us.


Love in Christ,

Tammy

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Good News!

Hi Everyone,

Mike blogging again, and on very little sleep, so I will keep it short and sweet :)
Tammy came through the surgery yesterday with flying colors and is now (still in the hospital until at least tomorrow) recovering. The surgery was long and complicated - it took 2 surgeons almost 6 hours. But praise God, even though she looks like a bloody mummy from the waist down, she is on the road to recovery. She can't get back to normal for at least a month, but all signs point to a complete recovery.
Thank you all for your prayers and support.
Tammy says carving the turkey on Thanksgiving will be different from now on, since she spent Thanksgiving being carved on ;).
God bless,
Mike

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The World Comes to Peru

Recently, the difference between Peru and the US was was very obvious
yet once again. Peru hosted the Apec (Asian Pacific Economic
Cooperation) summit here in Lima. Now it is a big event, many world
leaders were here from 21 countries - even President Bush and
Chairman Hu from China. But the different and surprising part was the
security. In order to try to keep order , the Federal government declared the whole four days - Thursday through Sunday a holiday. All schools were closed, banks were closed, factories were
closed - only small casual businesses were allowed to be open - outside of downtown. And in
the central City and surrounding areas many of the important streets
were closed.
Of course kids loved a 4-day weekend (and out here in the in the beach
town of San Bartolo, the partiers came by the hundred - and a few were
sober at times). It was hard on regular folks because, they just lost
4 days pay, I had to reschedule a Dr. appt, because the clinic was
closed. Only emergency services were available. I saw news shots of
the normally ultra-crowded streets of Lima, but they were blocked off
by police and/or the army and ghost-town vacant, paper-blowing-down-the-street vacant.
You see the difference - in New York, the United Nations meets all the
time and it is business as usual, international summits come and go - only the protesters and hotel/restaurant folks know, but here, we have a four day summit
of a few countries and we have to go into a practical lockdown.
They did this for 2 reasons. One was broadcast and kinda true - to
increase security for the leaders and one reason was on the quiet and
shushed up, but sadly true - the leaders here didn't want the world to see
just how poor Lima (and indeed all Peru ) really is. They wanted to hide the poor folk scrambling to make a living by selling stuff on the streets, the ill-dressed hordes working their 12 hour days for $6 a day, the scads of homeless and crazies that just wander the streets - often naked. They didn't want the world to see the real Peru. There isn't really One World.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Surgery and a 30 day delay

Definitely there is surgery in my future. The vascular surgeon and another cardiologist say that there is no other option for my problems with my legs. Yes, LEGS , I am going to have vein stripping (they really pull the veins out of your legs! eewww!) So next week I should get the bad veins removed (that sounds very creepy to me!) Unfortunately the doctor also said it would be four weeks before I could travel, so the move to Andahuaylas will have to be after Christmas.
I know that God has a plan in this happening at this time.
Please praise God for a good housing solution for the one month extra. The landlady yesterday suggested that we could stay where we are--which would be the best solution--but because it is beachfront and summer is beginning it would be way out of our price range if they charge the usual summer rate. Also they are very nice people and we don't want them to lose any income from the apartment by us staying here. However, today the Landlord said that we have been such good tenants, quiet, maintaining the house nice, paying on time and so he said we could stay here for the same price! God truly is in control and good to us.

In Christ,
Tammy

Friday, November 14, 2008

Health News Update

We went back to the cardiologist yesterday for all of the test results.

items for praise:
My blood pressure is normal and the heart arrhythmia has gone away!! Real answer to prayer.
Mike has lost 3 kilos and his diabetes is well under control.

items for prayer:

I am going to need surgery on my leg as my tests came back showing severe venous insufficiency. Pray that I can get this taken care of quickly as we are coming right up to time to move.

Pray that I have no further complications with this leg such as more infections and tissue damage.

Pray that Mike's blood pressure continues to come down. It is much better now, but not quite there, as they are still adjusting his medicine.

Pray for the strength and peace to deal with additional complications to the moving process.

Thanks for your prayers! They really work!

Tammy

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

If you have an abundant life, shouldn't you have an abundance mentality?

The idea of an abundance mentality is very popular in personal development literature. And with good reason-- a lot of personal development literature reads like Christian literature with the Bible, God, and Christ removed. In fact, that's exactly what it is. And this teaching is actually OUR teaching, with its essential spiritual parts removed.

As Christians we know that we have an abundant life--because Jesus said he came to give us one. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10b NIV) But sadly, that is sometimes the only way we know it.

Our problem is that to recognize the abundant life that we have in Christ, we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Rom. 12:2) While we look at things in the same old way, we miss the rich gifts that God has given us in Christ.

So, if we put the missing elements into the teaching of "abundance mentality" we come out with some teachings that are real and meaty, instead of the "encouraging" personal development teachings that lack REAL power to transform our lives.

For an example, let's look at the teaching about abundance mentality from http://www.wikihow.com/Create-an-Abundance-Mentality. The opening paragraph goes as follows:

"Much of society seems to be built on a scarcity mentality. It's a mentality that tells people that there is a lack in life, that opportunities are few and far between. This is, of course, useful for society because if people feel that there is a lack, then you can get them to buy stuff. And so the economy and society can continue to live and prosper by reinforcing a scarcity mentality in people."

So the mentality of abundance, or the perception of the abundant life (what we are really talking about) has an opposite--the mentality of scarcity, or the perception that our life is lacking, meager, shabby, and sad. Jesus tells us about this too, in the first part of John 10:10 (The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy) Jesus, however, comes that we may have life to the full--abundantly in the King James version. So one source of our perception of the shabby life is the thief. There are a lot of thieves in this world, but the ultimate thief is our enemy himself, the devil.

But he's not our only enemy. Even WikiHow recognizes that our other big adversary, the world, is in on this scam: "This is, of course, useful for society .... the economy and society can continue to live and prosper by reinforcing a scarcity mentality in people."

So.... looks like we need to stop conforming to society. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, says the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:2 (again).

So let's look at the WikiHow suggestions for perceiving the abundance of your life, beef them up and transform them with the light of Scripture, which reveals a true abundance beyond our best thoughts and wildest dreams:

Look for symptoms of a scarcity mentality. This usually shows by an exaggerated sense of your own importance. I have to succeed, if I fail, the consequences are--GRAVE.
Too often, we think like this--in my life I know that I get feeling this way about sharing the gospel, home schooling, cleaning house, teaching a bible study--even blogging! To feel this way puts all the focus on us and our efforts--and off of God.
Two antidotes:
  • "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". (Heb. 12:2) Not just a command to put our focus on Jesus, this verse gives us Jesus's example-- how he focused on the joy before him, not on the cross, and the result was triumph.
  • Remember that God is compassionate--he knows that you are dust (Ps. 103:13), so he is not expecting perfection, and if you are perfect now and then, it's not you, but him--girding you with strength, making your way perfect. (Ps. 18:32).
On the other hand, when we focus on our own strength and responsibility, we DO invite failure; Jesus said, Apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5) And nothing is--nothing.

Focus on the abundance, not on the lack. WikiHow says, "What you focus on, you will see in your world." Since you can’t take in everything around you, your reticular activation system – your focus system in the mind – will bring into focus what you focus your thoughts on.
And the scriptures say: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things". (Phil. 4:8).
And so thinking on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy will open our eyes to a world full of things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.
While we have our mind set to focus on what we don't have, we are like someone sitting in a beautiful room with a beautiful view, with a Christmas tree in the corner piled with gifts, doggedly staring at a sad black and white movie and crying. Turn off the tv and open the gifts!

Appreciate. Give thanks! ....give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Th. 5:18) Some ideas: give thanks for God's forgiveness, for his great sacrifice for our sins, what he has done for you in the past year, what he WILL do for you in the coming year, for the natural beauty of our world, for your church, for the individual people who have come to it this year, and for those who have loved you, taught you, reached out to you, discipled, or rebuked you, the pastor and leaders, Sunday School and other ministries, your family, your friends, your health, your trials, those in authority over you, your material blessings, etc. The sky isn't even the limit for someone who has been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm! Make a list of your blessings and thank God for them.

Get an abundance vibe from other people. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." (Prov. 27:17) Look for friends who lift you up, not who bring you down. Find what makes you wrongfully discontented with life, and what doesn't. DON'T hang out with people that make you feel jealous or discontented. DO hang out with those that infect you with optimism and gratitude.
And importantly "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited." (Rom. 12:15-16). Be happy for others' successes.

Share the wealth. One very good way to acknowledge how much you have is to share it. Do you feel like you're not making enough money? Give some away. Not enough love? Give some away. Not enough validation, appreciation, recognition? Give it all away. It's hard for something to feel scarce when you're giving it away. Did you really need WikiHow to tell you that?
How about, "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (2 Cor. 9:7-8)? Giving it away ensures that you will have all you need--or that you will notice that you already do.
"Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.. . . you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. . . . And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:14-19)

Create win-win situations. Don't think that it's you against "them." Especially in the church! If we are one body, this is the only option. Win-lose is like one hand cutting off the other! So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." (1 Cor. 12:25-26) Look for the good of the whole body, in the church, in your family, even in your work. As part of the body, it will benefit you!

Remind yourself. Monitor your thoughts to see if they pass the Philippians 4:8 test.
Post verses where you can see them. Meditate on them. Teach them to your kids. Talk about it. Witness. Go to Bible Study. Be as diligent in this as big-bucks companies are in getting their marketing before your eyes! "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." (Deut 6:6-7)

Finally, if you are starting to slip, remember the words of the Apostle Paul--who enjoyed a life of abundance even in prison--"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Phil. 4:11-13). It is Christ who gives us strength and a life of abundance. He is the secret.

Remember, this is not taking a worldly teaching and putting Christian clothes on it, this is reclaiming or retaking a Biblical truth that the World took from the word (stripping it of any of its true power) and putting it back in a Biblical context.

So transform your mind--have a real mentality of abundance and enjoy the abundant life that Christ has given you!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sondor

This picture is from the top of Sondor, the ancient Chanka ( the culture of the area) fortress. The Chankas rebelled against the Inca empire and were defeated at this place.
This is at the bottom, where you first arrive.
Chris is at the very, very top.
WE are a little bit lower, but the view is beautiful. I have a lot of pictures of other people here, so I was glat to get to go myself.
God bless you and have a great week!
Tammy
Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 7, 2008

Munay Wasi (new center of operations)





These are not my pictures--I still don't have a cable to get them off of my new phone :(
But I found these online from the people who built it. The pictures are: 1. The front gate, 2. The house--we will live on the second floor. The part in back is where the auditorum, guest rooms, and kitchen are. 3. The library, 4. The school,
Mike's office will be on the first floor of the house, next to the dentist's office across from the auditorium.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Prayer Request - Health

As part of getting ready for the move, we have scheduled checkups. This Tuesday we went to the cardiologist, Mike to check on his blood pressure and to change his medication because he found out it is linked to kidney stones, and me to check on my problem leg.
My problem leg is the one that I have had recurrent cellulitis in since a trip to Piura where a mosquito bite started the trouble.
It turned out that I have slightly high blood pressure too. Probably a result of the weight I picked up on the US trip!
Also that the recurrent infections are related to a circulation problem, so I will be having a test today to see how much of a problem that is.
Also that Mike's medication wasn't controlling his blood pressure well anymore, anyway, so definitely needed changed.

Please pray--
  • that our test results come out well
  • that Mike's new medicine takes effect right away (yesterday we could see that it was starting to work)
  • that my pressure comes down.
  • that we would lose enough weight to make the difference.

Thank you for your prayers,

Tammy

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A breakfast and a funeral

(Still posting from our trip.)

Tuesday morning was practically a day in itself. We had been invited to breakfast with Neli Salazar, and told to come to the main square in Talavera at 8:30. We arrived in the square at 8:30 on the dot, at least by the old clock tower that is the pride and symbol of Talavera.

Neli arrived and absolutely was the smilingest, friendliest person that we had ever met. We went to her house, where we breakfasted on boiled potatoes, soya, fresh cheese, honey, and bread.

We also were introduced to her mother and father. Her father had been a pastor, and was the first believer in his village. He is now very old, and sits bent over and covered with blankets. He doesn't hear or see well, and you have to give him your hand so he can feel your arm to know who you are. Chris told me afterward that he felt like it was meeting Isaac, and that now he understood how Jacob fooled him. The mother is more spry, wears her hair in the traditional two braids, and the traditional full skirts. She has recently been through a period of really poor health, but has recovered. However, tears come to her eyes when she talks about it. Fortunately for us, both the parents spoke Spanish, not only Quechua, as is common with many elderly people.

Tears also come to her eyes as she recounts the fate of Neli's husband. During the time of terrorism he and three other men set out for Pampachiri in a 4 wheel drive pickup truck. They were never seen again. After six years of marriage, Neli was left alone with their two children.

Neli tells us that she would like to marry again, but she wants to serve God, and she has not met a single man who wants to. Neli had served with Mision Suiza in the Amazon area of Peru until her parents became unable to care for themselves.

After visiting with her father, Neli told us that if we had time she would like us to go to a funeral with her. A prominent man in the community had died, and he was a man who had been a believer and faithful churchgoer, but for the last ten years of his life would not attend church. The family is mostly Catholic, but the son, an engineer and former mayor of Talavera, is a believer and very saddened by his father's dying apart from the evangelical church and the Catholic funeral planned.

So we went. We were dressed in jeans for a normal day around the town. We were introduced to the son, who asked if Mike would preach some words of comfort and present the gospel.

This was actually not the funeral itself, which would take place in the Catholic church. Here, however, the visitation is held in the house (if possible) and they sit up with the dead all the night before. During this time there are refreshments served, and evangelicals generally have preaching throughout the night and day leading up to the burial itself. The deceased is the center of all in his coffin.

This velorio was set up to be very Catholic--lots of candles and images of Christ as Senor de los Milagros, (who protects from earthquakes). Everyone was served a plate of steak, mote, (a type of corn that you peel to eat--it has very large kernels) and an onion relish. Obviously this was a wealthy man!

After eating, Mike took his place in front of the candles and preached. Immediately afterward the coffin was closed and we joined the procession to the Catholic church, marching behind the coffin as a small brass band played a repetitive dirge. At the church itself we took a taxi for home. The taxi driver, on hearing that Mike had preached at the funeral, only charged us half price.





Apartments

Even though the facility at Munay Wasi is available for s./100 a month to us, we thought that we should look at apartments to make a wise decision. Two came up available in our price range, around s./400-600.


The first is on the second floor of this building.
Actually it is still more of a concept, but the brother who would rent it would divide it into rooms and build a kitchen and bath, if we put down a deposit that would enable him to do so.

This one is on the third floor. It DOES have two bedrooms.











And a small kitchen.



















And a small living room.












It has a great view from the roof.


However, we decided after looking at these that Munay was the best option. It is not right downtown, as these are, but the rent difference makes up for the transportation costs.
Transportation is not as easy there, but there are combis (the 15 passenger vans that run a route), which are cheaper than the motos or taxis.
I will post pictures of Munay as soon as I get a cable for my new camera phone. My old phone got lost or stolen on the trip. :( Posted by Picasa

Monday and Tuesday in Anda

Mike Blogging again. Tammy has a lot of catching up to do with Chris's school and is trying to get us already to move as well as do a ton of washing (by hand).
Monday morning dawned bright and sunny as do most days there. We got to watch the kindergartners coming to school and meet their teacher. They are a cute bunch of kids! Then we went into town to breakfast at a great bakery/cafe - a huge mug of fresh cafe con leche cost about a US quarter! So, fully caffeinated we went to a meeting with the folks from Kawsay. We talked about health care in the area (there is a great German Mission hospital close in Abancay), transportation, office and working conditions, and in order to be sure we are making an informed decision about living at Munay Wasi, we discussed various other possibilities. Most of them ended up being considerably expensive - Andahuaylas is a landlocked valley, so land is high and rent is costly. We had lunch together and then Tammy, Chris and I went to a park and had some ice cream. That night, we went to Cayo Vargas church where I preached - again translated into Quechua from Spanish.
Tuesday, we went with Martin to check out 2 apartments that were for rent by Christians and had reasonable prices - only about 4-5 times higher than the rent at Munay! Tammy will be putting these picturs on soon as well. They were nice, but much smaller and in the center of town - comparatively noisy and dirty to Munay (although nicer than Lima!) Then we met a friend from Lima who has moved to Andahuylas and spent some time her and her family, bought some fresh Cheese and Bread and went home to Munay.
God bless,
Mike

Monday, October 27, 2008

Saturday & Sunday in Andahuaylas

Because we had a very slow internet and a very busy time in Andahuaylas last week, we are going to use this week to catch up. Saturday we checked out the facility of Munay Wasi, where we will be living. It is absolutely beautiful - soon Tammy will have some photos up - and went to town to pick up some stuff - breakfast foods, coffee (gotta have that!), etc. and I took Tammy and Chris all over town - The central market, various parks, bakeries, - sort of the 10 cent tour. We also visited with some friends and kind of lazed around after the 30 hour trip.

Sunday was a different story - I was invited to preach at a 9:30 service, after that I was invited to preach at an 11:00 service, both times to Quechua speakers through a translator. I preached in Spanish and was translated - I had forgotten how strange it is to work through a translator ;)! Had packed churches for both.

Then we went to lunch at a lunch place a few doors down from where we will be attending church and had a nice Sunday dinner - cost 2 Soles (about $.60 each)! After lunch I took Tammy and Chris to the big Feria Dominical or Sunday market fair. It is one of the biggest in the Andes and we were worn out before we saw half of what there was to see. It was also a a hot and sunny day, we all got a little burnt. We went back to Munay Wasi for a while and then went back to town to attend evening service in Spanish - I didn't have to preach! It was a very fun and tiring day and we came back home to Munay Wasi about 10:30 exhausted but content.

God bless,
Mike

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Encounters on the way

We had a great trip to Andahuaylas. Our internet was super slow there (we will have to fix that) so we will be posting it on a more or less one week delay basis :)
We really could see God at work on the trip up to Andahuaylas (we are back safely now), starting with when we left the house Thursday. We had several really interesting encounters along the way.
Encounter #1
We started out walking to the "downtown" of San Bartolo to catch a bus to Lurin, where we can usually get a taxi. A taxi pulled up and shouted "Lima! Lima!" We negotiated a price to go to the bus terminal, and set off. The driver turned out to be a neighbor of ours who had been recently given a Bible, by another passenger, an evangelical pastor from the US. This man had talked to Vittorio (the driver) and Vittorio told him he didn't know much about the Bible, because he had never had one. The pastor went to a Christian book store with Vittorio. Vittorio was looking at the cheap small Bibles, but the man bought him a study bible worth 240 soles. Then the pastor left. Instantly Vittorio was tempted to return the Bible and get the 240 soles. But he felt that if God wanted him to have a Bible, then there must be a reason for it, so he kept the Bible. When he found out that Mike is a Bible teacher, he asked him to meet with him to explain the Bible until we leave San Bartolo.
Encounter #2
We traveled all afternoon and night and arrived at the city of Abancay (alt. 7,900 ft. or 2400 meters.) We had breakfast and stopped in a drugstore for some ibuprofen. A man, seeing us, said "Hello, my friends, do you speak English?" with a very good American accent. He turned out to be the director of a school for heavy equipment operators and mechanics, who had lived in the US for fifteen years. He is also was a Christian and delighted to hear about the work we will be doing in Andahuaylas. He has also been dying for barbecue sauce, and so wants to come and visit us so he can learn how to make it.
Encounter #3
The bus to Andahuaylas from Abancay takes a dirt road through the mountains--a five hour trip. About halfway there a Peruvian medical doctor got up to preach "to shorten the trip." He was preaching without mentioning the gospel, mainly speaking of prophecy, and inviting participation from the passengers. Mike asked him to read several passages from Romans, and they wound up presenting the Gospel together, with several passengers accepting.
We arrived at Andahuaylas tired, but encouraged, and enjoyed some great pizza at Martin's pizzeria, at his invitation.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

looong bus trip!

Tammy, Chris & I are going to Andahuaylas for several days. We will be leaving on a 15-16 hour bus trip to the City of Abancay, where we will have to wait at the terminal for about 6 hours. Then we board the smaller, older, crowded, less comfortable bus and take the 5 hour (this time all on ridge top dirt roads - good and bumpy! - conversation is almost impossible =O).
While there we have several things to accomplish - we have to check out the housing, determine what we need to bring with us and what to have shipped (and how) and what to leave here or sell, meet with the Kawsay folks to plan the move and discuss living arrangements, price the stuff that we will need to buy (the Peruvian bare minimum), Tammy has to see how to all the hand laundry and drying at the altitude (it is different - I don't know why), We need to make sure that Chris has no problems being in high altitude for a longer period of time, and I need to show Tammy and Chris all around the area, etc., etc.
Please pray for our safety and protection during the the trip. The trip - while fun to talk about afterward - is arduous (and a surefire backache!) and if you have ever seen the dirt roads crawling along the Andes, you know that it is dangerous. And please pray that we accomplish all that we need to so that the move next month goes as smoothly as possible. Also, Colin will be staying here in San Bartolo by himself, pray for his safety and protection from danger and fear.
God bless,
Mike

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Political Turmoil

Many of you might have heard or read about the political crisis here. The governing cabinet (here we have a modified parliamentary system, sort of a cross between the U.S. and the U.K.) - with the exception of the president - has just been forced to resign en masse. This was due to the discovery of large scale corruption in the energy sector. There were secret recordings of cabinet members and representatives of foreign businesses, bribery, etc. The new Prime minister is a leftist, who has "served time in jail for alleged links to left-wing rebels" (BBC News). There is much unrest and inflation is on the rise.
This is a two edged sword. People now are more ready than ever to speak of spiritual things (!) but the increasing unrest has led to some violence. Including the first large-scale attack by remnants of the Shining Path that killed several police and innocent civilians.
Please pray that the situation calms down and that we can continue to work in peace here.
Blessings,
Mike

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fun with curriculum ;)

Sometimes, things that sound boring can be a lot of fun. I am working on a new course - a 2nd level Bible study methods that looks specifically at narrative accounts (you know things like the Gospel, Acts, the Old Testament Historical books). As I was working on this course, through an interesting and complex chain of events, I was given a book on how Historians sift through original source material and "look for evidence" - how they gain understanding of the context.
Now I have had courses in this from a Bible study perspective, but this takes a little different approach and I am really excited as to how it really helps to flesh out - to bring to life - the Bible narratives. I find myself not just preparing a course to teach, but learning again as well. I always learn from preparing a course (or a conference or a sermon, etc.) but this is "fresher" and is renewing my love for the historical books, that I confess I had come to undervalue in comparison to the more overtly doctrinal or didactic Prophets or Epistles.
Anyways, Like I said, "things that sound boring can be a lot of fun".
Mike

Friday, October 10, 2008

Prayer and praise this week

Praise God for:
  • The excellent response at the missions conference this last weekend. The Spirit really moved people to dedicate their lives to service.
  • Becky and Miguel's safe trip back and great honeymoon in Trujillo.
  • Mike being another year older!
  • An excellent discount on bus tickets for our trip next week to Andahuaylas.
Please pray for:
  • Safety for us on our trip, sensitivity to God's leading as we look at the options for housing, etc.
  • This will be Chris's first experience of Andahuaylas. Pray that the altitude doesn't bother him , etc.
  • Pray for Colin and his decisions regarding when to return to the US and what to do about his immigration status.
  • Iglesia Bautista Biblica Nuevo Amanecer and the believers who dedicated their lives. This church is on the front lines in a community filled with alcoholism and drugs, violence, and witchcraft.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mike!

We are planning to enjoy being in (or close to) the city by going to a mall for lunch (certainly no malls in Andahuaylas!) and coming back for Mike's Spanish lesson at the house. Cake at the house in the evening. (But we will buy it, because we don't have an oven here.)

Thank you God, for another year. A year that has brought new direction and a lot of changes. Trials, yes, but many blessings. Thank you, Lord.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Quick Riggs Family Update--where are the kids?

MANDY, is still working in Birmingham at the emergency vet clinic. Sadly, this week someone stole her and her roommate's computers--taking almost all of Mandy's writing projects and the other girl (an amateur photographer)'s photos.

TIM, is working and living in Opp, Alabama. He is working in latino ministries at the Baptist church in Samson. He and his fiance Brittney plan a wedding in Alabama in August 2009.

BECKY is back from her honeymoon. She and Miguel are still working at La Roca. She will return to teaching at the school soon.

COLIN is trying to sort out what to do now that he has lost his visa. He is planning to study at UAB and stay in Birmingham, but is still looking at his options.

CHRIS is doing his fifth grade studies, riding his bike around San Bartolo, and constructing rafts that he is floating in the ocean.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Do you love me more than these?

That's the question the Lord asked Peter. We usually ask what does it mean?
And the usual answers are, either it means more than these other guys love me, or more than you love these things around you?
I think if Jesus was asking it to us, 21st century Christians, interested in missions, surrounded with our stuff, he would mean:
Do you love me more than these things around you?
Ask any born again Christian their priorities. Their well-schooled answer would be
  1. God
  2. Family
  3. Church
  4. Work
But what are they really? Is God really priority one? How do we show that?
Sounds like our priorities oughta be: God, His Sheep, These
God didn't say, if you love me, have a family movie night, stay home, don't get too involved.
If you love me, read about me for an hour a day.
If you love me fast.
If you love me buy all the latest Christian books.
If you love me be socially and politically active.
He said, If you love me, FEED MY SHEEP.
Feeding sheep is a hard job. It means caring for his people (which ought to include our physical family). It means giving up time--maybe even money, maybe even fun. Why do it?
Because you love the Lord Jesus Christ more than these?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Great Missions Conference

This last weekend, October 3-5, Mike gave a Missions conference at a church in a suburb of Lima. The church is full of young people and the enthusiasm grew and grew. We had a wonderful time and they are setting up a Missions committee, are going to start Faith Promise giving and are committed to sending missionaries from their church. They are even planning on taking their first ever Missions trip (in country) within a year. God truly blessed!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Job 11:7-9


Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
8 They are higher than the heavens—what can you do?
They are deeper than the depths of the grave a—what can you know?
9 Their measure is longer than the earth
and wider than the sea.

a Hebrew than Sheol
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1984 (Job 11:7). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Nathan Bill & Chris Road Trip

Monday we headed out to the airport to meet Nathan Ingram, Bill Rowley, and Chris Pelham on their way from Andahuaylas to the US. We wanted to hear the details of the trip, have a semi-official meeting of Impact International, and give them their three suitcases that they left at our house (the little 18 passenger planes that fly to Andahuaylas don't allow much luggage).

Feeling like saving some money (remember--our daughter got married two weeks ago) we were walking down the street with their three suitcases, ready to take a bus across town (a three hour prospect) with the suitcases. Our neighbor Jorge Paz, who among other things drives a taxi, happened to spot us and saved us from the bus-suitcase adventure by offering an economical ride to where he was going and finding another inexpensive taxi to take us to the airport afterwards.

At the airport we met up with them after only a little bit of a runaround.

Chris was much better--he had been sick most of the time they were there--that was an answer to prayer.

They had a great time. They went out in the country to see how the people really live and stayed in Piscabamba, which is much more rural and higher altitude than Andahuaylas. They showed us a great video of a lady cooking pork skins in a pot and stirring them with a 2x4--and of some pig's teeth and other odd bits in the pot! (Wonder why Chris was sick?)

One of the airport security men came over to watch their videos. He had relatives in another part of the mountains, and I guess they reminded him of the home folks.

In their meetings with Kawsay to sign an official agreement as to our responsibilities and cooperation between Kawsay and Impact, everyone saw eye to eye in an almost unbelievable way. For example, Impact wants Mike's ministry to be concentrated in Andahuaylas, with students doing the traveling to rural areas around Andahuaylas. They were wondering how to best bring this up, when one of the Kawsay guys suggested it as a good plan.

We had a great time meeting with them, and then, without suitcases, took the economical three hour bus trip home, while they took off for Birmingham.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Prayer and praise this week

  • Praise that the wedding went beautifully and smoothly.
  • Praise that Mandy, Tim, and Dick (Mike's dad) all made it back to the US safely.
Please pray for:
  • Chris Pelham, a prospective missionary here visiting Andahuaylas. He is sick. Pray for a quick recovery as he has to travel from Andahuaylas to Lima and then to the US.
  • Mike is teaching at a conference this weekend in Villa El Salvador. Please pray: that he recovers from a stomach problem; that he has the right words to say, as he is teaching about creation and there are potentially hostile attendees--pray that they come to an understanding of the truth; and that travel to and from is safe. Travel even in the city of Lima can be quite a hassle and this is about an hour away. No fun with a stomach problem. Also pray for protection from thieves.
  • Pray for Bill Rowley, Nathan Ingram, Chris Pelham, and Paul Talley who have been travelling in Andahuaylas meeting with the Quechua and the Kawsay Association. Pray for safe travel and a fruitful trip.
  • Pray for Miguel and Becky (away on their honeymoon) and their new life together.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Becky and Miguel- Religious Ceremony

Here are the pictures from the religious wedding. As you can see, God provided a perfect day! Once again, the pictures will be in black square and take a while to load.
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Becky and Miguel Civil Wedding

In Peru two marriages are required, a civil wedding before a judge, and a religious wedding. We'll get the religious wedding photos up soon! (But we loaned Becky and Miguel the camera for their honeymoon. :) NOTE: this takes a few seconds to load--the pictures will be in the black square.
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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wedding Update--Good News!

Finally after months (literally months!) of paperwork hassles almost beyond belief, we got the news today that all is go! Becky and Miguel will have their Civil Wedding - it is the legal nature here that you can't get married religiously until you have been married legally and civilly. This assures that that the religious (real) wedding date of the 20th is good! There have been so many hold-ups, errors and assorted gibberish that we were becoming afraid that the civil wedding would not be done in time, but God is so faithful! They will have their civil wedding on Friday the 19th, two days before the religious wedding, which has been moved to the 21st!!
Thanks for all your prayers and support throughout this difficult and costly process! Whew! Now if we can nail down a location...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Prayer Update

  • Continue to pray about the Becky, Colin, and Chris's visas. Still no action there--they are hung up in the Department of Justice with those or other missionaries.
  • Pray for protection for Mike's health after his busy trip.
  • Pray for safe return of Becky and the group from the school that went to Arequipa.
  • Pray for God's provision for a vehicle for us in Andahuaylas. Where we will be living is not within walking distance of a market.
  • Pray for God's provision for the wedding: still needed--Becky's documents to be complete, Becky's medical exam (required here), a location (and money to rent it (the first choice has fallen through)), money for the dinner that is served, wedding clothing for our family (apart from Becky), invitations for Peruvians (the location problem has to be solved for this to happen), and the fabric to be available for the bridesmaid's dresses.
  • Wisdom for Mike and I as we write a grant request for Kausay to obtain funding for the vocational and educational projects--agricultural training, school, and orphanage.

Praise God:

  • For the provision of a place to live in Andahuaylas--and more than that-- a whole facility for teams and campaigns--and adjacent to the property of Kausay. The name of the property is Munay Wasi, and the contract for use of the land is already signed (amazing in Peru).
  • For the opportunity He has provided for Kausay to receive funding from a Christian organization looking for a way to aid educational and vocational institutions in the Andes.
  • For the progress that has been made on curriculum and plans for the Bible Institute programs.
  • For Mike and Colin's safe return and very successful trip.
  • For His incredible goodness and faithfulness.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Praise the Lord! We have our house in Andahuaylas. It adjoins the property of Kausay and is more than sufficient - to say the least! We can host teams of 40 or so and with medical teams, we already have a fully equipped dentists office. There is also an auditorium, library, my office is the size of our current apartment and the rent is low.

This was an French orphanage, but due to internal squabbles they deserted it to the care of a local dentist, who did the kids teeth. He is a Christian and he offered it to me for our residence.

Also, met some Christian ladies from Lima who represent a NGO and are looking for orphanages, schools, vocational training centers, etc. to fund. And they just happen to be going back to Lima the same day we are - in the same 2 buses we are arranging seats together.
God is really at work! I can´t wait to see what more develops on this trip!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Travel Mercies


Yesterday I posted prayer and praise with two requests for travel mercies, Mike and Colin's trip to Andahuaylas and Becky's trip to Arequipa.

These are not "form" requests. Travel in Peru, as on many mission fields, is far more dangerous than travel in the United States. This is why we really do want your prayers.

The dangers of travel have become alarmingly evident in the past few weeks here. The newspaper page reproduced here from the newspaper El Comercio shows the latest in a wave of fatal head on bus crashes that have shocked Peru and left the people demanding reform and accountability.

In the last 11 days 84 people have been killed in these crashes, and hundreds injured. So far this year 291 have died and 2,777 have been injured in 930 accidents. The main problem is excessive speed and recklessness on the part of the drivers as they try to stay on schedule. This is of course related to the lack of law enforcement on the highways, which are mainly traveled by bus, as few drive or have cars.

Most of these accidents have occurred on the Panamerican Highway, probably the best road in Peru, (comparable to US interstate) and certainly considered one of the safest to travel. These are places that we have been countless times, which of course makes it scarier than if it was buses falling off the road in isolated jungle areas.

In fact, I remember one time travelling down the Panamericana on a bus in the fog. It was just me and Chris, so I was feeling extra watchful. As we raced along the coastal cliffs, I thought that the driver must know the road very well, as he couldn't possibly see it. The other passengers were not alarmed, because as they don't drive, they don't understand the danger. I certainly prayed a lot!

So do please pray for safety in travel.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Prayer and Praise

Please pray for:
  • The renewal of the kids visas(Becky, Colin, and Chris). For some reason, they are hung up in the Department of Justice, along with those of other missionaries. As an additional complication, Becky needs hers to finish the legalities for the wedding.
  • Pray for Mike and Colin's upcoming trip to Andahuaylas. They are leaving this Sunday and coming back in the same week. Pray that they have safety in travel and accomplish all that they need to accomplish there.
  • Also pray for a trip that Becky is scheduled to make to Arequipa (south of Lima on the coast). Pray for wisdom, as she has a lot of wedding details to handle, but was already scheduled for this educational conference, and safety if she does go.
  • Pray for support for Miguel and Becky's ministry.
  • Pray for the town of San Bartolo where we are now living. This town has no evangelical church. Pray that we can help a work to begin here.
Praise God for:
  • The apologetics conferences that we had this month with Keith Loftin. People learned important truths about mormonism and the new age.
  • Opportunities that we have had to reconnect with old friends and new contacts that we are making.

Friday, July 11, 2008

No news is good news?

First, I would like to present 1000 apologies (as you would say in Spanish) for not posting anything, since---well, a long time ago. So here goes (actually there are only eight) . . .
  1. This year we have stayed in at least a dozen different places and I have been thinking I will get it going when we get settled down.
  2. The landlady sold our house (seriously) while we were in the US and so we have had to really start over in Peru and we still don't have internet in the house, but must go to a cabina.
  3. I wasn't able to get in touch with all the friends I wanted to in the US and I felt guilty about them reading that I was back in Peru without seeing them.
  4. Last year things were changing so often that I didn't know what to say.
  5. I think that it will look better with a picture and don't have one to post.
  6. I needed to set up a new blog account for Impact International, and I felt inhibited by it being an "official" blog.
  7. There was too much to write!
  8. My luggage was stolen with my notebook that had things I wanted to put on the blog.

Anyway, we ARE back in Peru, we are moderately settled down--going to move in November up to the mountains, but that's it.

I am really sorry I wasn't able to see everyone (yes Judy, especially you) but I have to say something sometime.

I am set up so I can email my blog from my cell phone, so I can put in some pictures and say something even from my house or on the road.

So that should put an end to excuses!