Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas in Peru

A friend, Victoria, was badly injured in an accident a couple of weeks ago. Tammy wrote about it. Tammy heard that she was still here in the regional hospital, so we decided to visit her. Tammy bought a little pre-decorated Christmas tree to take to her.
When we got to the hospital we found out that she had been transported to Lima due to the severity of her injuries. We asked the nurse if there was someone in the hospital who could use a little tree, because it is sad to spend Christmas in the hospital. She took us to a small ward (6 beds) with three elderly ladies. The ward is dismal and dim, with ugly green walls and no decoration.
The one in the middle is dying of kidney failure, one has pneumonia and one has a leprous skin disease. The nurse wanted to have us give the tree to the lady dying of kidney failure, but it was too late, she is no longer mentally there. But the one with pneumonia almost jumped out of bed to get the tree. Her eyes lit up!
So we gave it to her, but said it was for the whole ward. Then we prayed. The nurse had to translate because the ladies only understand Quechua. But, they knew what was up. They teared up and the leprous one wanted me to be sure and see her arms.
What a blessed way to spend Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Even paperwork can be an adventure in Peru

We are still working on getting authorization for the medical team from Beaumont Bible Church. It's interesting how in Peru this is an interesting and even adventurous thing.

This morning I went out with Dr. Alejandro Landas, the dentist who is helping me with this (he is head of the health department post by Munay Wasi and works with the NEW Munay association.)
I went to meet him at his office at 11 sharp, per his request, and had to wait for twenty minutes while he finished with a patient. When the drilling sound stopped, three VERY small nuns in large brown habits came out of his office. It seemed so much like a comedy sketch that I had to struggle a little to maintain a straight face as I set out with him to the Health Department, a complex maze of buildings, to pick up the document that certifies our doctors to work in the country.

When we got there we were informed that the document was still on its way (it's been coming for two days) and would arrive tomorrow.

Then we went to the Regional Hospital, a complex maze of blue buildings, to look for the Health Department Director for Apurimac, figuring that the mere existence of the document would be enough to allow us to plan the medical campaign. He wasn't there, but we did see dead bodies from a wreck over the weekend being loaded on a truck. I thought I was imagining the smell until I saw a group of nurses with their noses covered.

Now off to the Health Department again, but uphill this time, to look for the Director. He wasn't there, either, So Alec called him on his cell phone and found out he was at the coliseum. So off to the coliseum!

Arriving, we found nothing happening. Turns out that the balance had run out on Alec's prepaid phone, and he didn't hear WHICH coliseum. So off to the other coliseum!

This coliseum was a scene of pandemonium. It was the site of the municipal chocolatada, where the children were being given free chocolate and toys by the city. Mobs of children in their school uniforms were pounding on the closed doors, and mothers were grabbing the presents and trying to send their kids through again. Policemen were on hand to prevent this happening. We made our way through the crowd, the policemen letting Dr. Alec, a known health officer, through.
Inside we found the director, presumably on hand to watch out for injuries and have his picture taken for the paper. Also the Hospital Director. After a few minutes waiting, and watching the children come through for their presents, we met with them both. The Health Dept. thought we needed another document as well, the Hospital didn't think so, but the Health Dept had the final say. So tomorrow when we get the first document from the Colegio de Medicos we will use it to apply for a document from the Ministry of Health.

A guard let us out the back way, avoiding the crowd, and off back uphill to the dentist's office.

One item done on today's list. Next to the bank, where the ATM gobbled my card . . .

Friday, December 11, 2009

Uripa - part 2 and 2 Prayer Requests

Our conference in Uripa took a surprising turn Saturday. The first session of the morning was about how giving is more than just tithing to the church. We discussed giving your time to help others and even loaning tools! Then we took a break.

The break was cut short by a phone call that a church leader who had been on his way to the conference had been in an accident. Another call revealed that the man's wife was badly injured and on her way to the Health Department in Uripa.

A group of about 10 set out for the health department. Along the way we tried to figure out what had happened. Had they been coming by bus? By taxi? Was the whole family injured?

On arrival at the Health Department we found the 4 year old daughter of the family sitting calmly outside eating a yogurt. She told us that the whole family had been coming by motorcycle.

At first, everyone thought that all four were on one motorcycle, but it turned out that the little girl was on one with her father, and the teenage daughter had been driving the other with her mother as passenger. They came to a steep, pebbly downhill turn and the girl braked quickly because of a child who seemed ready to run into the road. The motorcycle flipped.

The mother's leg seemed to be crushed and she was in great pain. The daughter had cuts and bruises and could only cry. To make matters worse, the Health Department didn't even have x-ray or a driver for their ambulance. She needed to be taken to the hospital in Andahuaylas. An ambulance came from nearby Chincheros, but refused to take her because someone else might need the ambulance in the meantime. (You have to love this reasoning!) In the end the Health Department loaned a mattress so she could be sent in a taxi for the 2 hour trip.

The brothers from the church really put the conference teaching into action, staying and helping, giving the family money, and bringing chicken soup from the church (that was the luncheon that day). One of them drove the taxi.
And that comprised the morning and afternoon session of the conference.

The rest of the confernce went normally and we returned to Andahuaylas with gifts of a chicken, 2 bags of corn, a bag of mangos, and of course the avocadoes from the mayor!

Please pray for Victoria (the injured woman) and her family. Her kneecap was crushed and will need to be reconstructed. Right now the danger is infection and she has had several surgeries to drain the site.

Please also be in prayer for a friend of Chris. Twelve year old Alejandro was in a motorcycle accident the same weekend and yesterday needed emergency surgery on his foot. It seems that although the mother thought it was only sprained, infection had set in so badly that he was in danger of losing the foot. This family are not believers, and I had the chance to pray with the mother yesterday at the hospital. Please pray that the boy recovers well (and with two feet!) and that they come to Christ.

Thanks for your prayers!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Uripa and Chincheros

We spoke at the church last night on "Why Give?" and were very well received.
This morning we went sightseeing with Pastor Walter Ccoicca and his family and a brother named Carlos from the church. We went to nearby Chincheros, which has a warm, sunny climate. While we were there we were introduced to the alcalde of the province of Chincheros. We spoke to him about the possibility of medical mission trips. He was very interested and gave us all pins with the crest of the province and an envelope full of avocados. (Chris is demonstrating both in the picture.) Contacts like this are really important in a country where everything runs on word of mouth and "who do you know."
Tonight and tomorrow we will be continuing with the conference. Then Sunday afternoon back to Andahuaylas (and Mike will be on his way to Lima.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Weekend Conference

We had a great time at a Youth Conference yesterday. It was hosted by another local mission association like Kausay--this one aimed at training youth for Christian service.

There were about 40 kids in attendance (including Chris). They all had to read some material before the conference, take a test at the conference, and participate in the conference seminars. The plan is to have a conference every 3 months and then at the end of two years the kids can go on a trip to Cuzco if they have met all the requirements.

The goal of the association is to raise up the next generation of workers in ministry. It's the same goal that we have--only we are working with the kids when they graduate from high school. (and the current pastors as well.)

It was great to see all these young people attentive and learning. They also asked great questions in Q & A time that showed they had actually been sharing their faith and running into objections that they were now looking to answer.

The strangeness highlight was when the kitchen ran out of spoons for the supper soup, and two girls generously stuck their soup spoons that they had been using in our bowls! We thanked them and ate the soup. However, we washed the spoons before we passed them along to anyone else!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Prayer and Praise, November 27

Here are some prayers and praises that we would like to share:

Please pray for a peaceful, fair resolution to troubles between the cities of Abancay and Andahuaylas. One that doesn't give in to violence and craziness. Abancay didn't like the proposed regional budget from the national government that granted money for a hospital project that Andahuaylas had proposed. They preferred that this money, even though from a separate fund, be divided up between all the provinces of Apurimac. (No, it doesn't make sense!) So they went on a strike, paralyzing their city and electing the regional vice president as president. Several attempts at negotiation have fallen through, even though violence has stopped.

On a related note, praise God that Chris and Tammy got safely out of Abancay even though they arrived on the first day of the strike. And that two weeks later we got our suitcases shipped out of there and nothing was missing.

Please pray for the many couples who have been requesting discipleship since our return. Pray that we can find a way to encourage them, and a way to meet this need.

Pray for the group that is coming from Beaumont Bible Church at the end of the year. Pray for them individually and for the preparations on this side.

Pray that we would be faithful stewards of our time. There are many opportunities!

Pray for our daughter Becky and her husband Miguel. Becky is doing fine. Pray for their fundraising and support situation as well as health for her and the baby during the busy end of year time. (Remember, the school year ends at Christmas!)

Pray for the needs of the Bible Institute, on track to open this year.

Praise God for putting together teachers and curriculum for the Bible Institute.

Pray that our son Colin in Birmingham finds a stable job and more permanent living situation.

Praise God for friends and supporters who are helping him out. The family of God is wonderful!

Praise God for giving us all you wonderful friends and prayer supporters. We certainly are thanking Him for you!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Winding down the trip

Hard to believe,but we only have 7 more days in the US. So we are winding things down, buying gifts, giving away stuff we needed here, cleaning up the car, checking baggage policies, etc.
We've had a great time here and picked up several pledges of support. It was well worth the trip and it was great to see friends and family--though of course we didn't get to see all the people and churches we would have liked to see!
But now we are eager to get home!
Please pray for:
Safe travel--we are driving from Indinana to Pennsylvania, then flying to Tampa, driving (riding with Tammy's folks) to Ft. Lauderdale, and flying to Lima. After a week there we will be flying up to Andahuaylas.
Colin --still looking for a job in Birmingham and a more permanent place to stay.
Packing--that we are able to fit in all we need to and have wisdom to discard all we don't.
Goodbyes--always hard, and there are so many of them!


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Louisiana times and short term trips

We're in Louisiana now at Camp Pearl. The weather has mostly been hot and muggy or rainy with a lot of mosquitoes. However, the last few days have begun to feel like fall.

The churches here are planning a mission trip to Andahuaylas at the end of 2010. That will be exciting. There are lots of opportunities to help with teaching, construction, or medical campaigns.

Beaumont Bible Church ( from Beamont TX) is planning a trip for the end of this year. This will be our first time to host a team up there, so we will be making all the arrangements when we return the first of November. Everyone there in Andahuaylas has been praying for them to come down and we already have a lot of backup for the medical team that is coming.

It is a struggle not to get fat out here because there is just too much good food! We will try to post some pictures later this week. (of the churches--not of food or how fat we are :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

On to Texas

Early Friday morning we said goodbye to son Colin, who is staying behind in Birmingham and starting his first job.

We also swung by the animal clinic to say goodbye to daughter Mandy, who was still at work, and were off to Texas!

Saturday we caught some football on TV for the second time in 5 years!

Sunday we visited Faith Bible Church in LaMarque, Texas.

Chad Barrett, shown here as "El Gringo" is pastor.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Just a fly by...
We left Lima for the US on August 12, on a day complicated by a nerve-wracking run in with a corrupt immigration official in Lima and the birthday of Miguel's mother, Maria Navarro.
Arrival on the 13th (cheap tickets) was also a little complicated by the lack of rental cars in the airport in Fort Lauderdale, but friends at Missionary Resource Network in Fort Lauderdale graciously loaned us a van and we were on our way by afternoon.
We enjoyed a few days with my family in Tampa and then were on our way on Sunday to speak Sunday night in our son Tim's church in Samson, Alabama. Mike left early Monday to return the van and pickup the car that CMTS ministries in Pennsylvania had for us.
Tim Brittney WEdding
Saturday, the 22nd was the day of Tim's wedding to Miss Brittney Simpson, a fine young lady who hails from Florala. They honeymooned in Gatlinburg and will be living in Opp, where Brittney is a nurse at the hospital and Tim works in a grocery store and in the Latino ministry in his church in Samson. That Sunday we visited and Mike spoke at Paxton 1st Assembly of God, where Brittney's grandfather is the pastor. They are contributing Bibles for youth work in Andahuaylas.

Sunday the 30th we were at Salem Presbyterian close to Lake Logan Martin, where Dr. Bill Maynor is pastor. We have enjoyed visiting with our daughter Mandy in Birmingham, and also enjoyed the Mary and Martha Society luncheon with old friends from Brook Highland Community Church on Friday the 4th.
Mike enjoyed catching the football games on Saturday and Sunday found us at Chelsea Bible Church in the morning and Rock Mountain Lakes Baptist that night.
And... this Friday we head out to Louisiana and Texas.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Prayer / Praise Report & God's Provision

This poor man cried, and Jehovah heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.
(Psa 34:6)

Praises! God has been providing awesomely, in both big and small things.

We needed someone to watch our apartment in Andahuaylas. Our friends and co-workers, the Vargas family, received the bad news that their landlady was raising their rent, and needed somewhere to stay while they finish the house they have been building. They couldn't stay in the apartment they are now without renewing the lease. So they are staying in our apartment, caring for the dog, etc. Problem(s) solved!

Colin needed to pay a fine to leave the country--due to a governmental error he lost his resident status and technically has been in the country illegally. Peru doesn't care about this, but won't let you leave without paying. There is no problem with coming back! They just want their money. Two days ago we had no idea where this would come from, but a VBS class of kindergarteners gave enough to cover it! God is amazing!

Both Colin and Chris had to renew their passports, and they came through with no delays or errors!

We had been having trouble locating a car, but God has provided a car from a ministry in Pennsylvania that provides loaner cars to missionaries. Truly an answer to prayers.

Pray for these things still needing to be worked out:

We have to go to Migraciones tomorrow to get the seals transferred from their old to new passports, and pay for Colin to leave the country. Also there is some problem (hopefully minor) with the resident cards we renewed in March. Pray that all this can be accomplished with no problems, as we leave tomorrow night.

We need to get to Pennsylvania to collect the car, and coordinate that with our other scheduled events. And all the usual details of airport pickup, etc.

Thanks for praying!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pray for Peru

Today is Peruvian Independence Day and I thought I would post some prayer requests for the country of Peru.

Please pray:
That the government remains stable and is responsive to the needs of the poor and the provinces.

That the new law of Religious Toleration accomplishes its purpose of allowing all denominations to be chaplains and provide religious instructions in schools, etc. and is not twisted into causing more regulations and state control.

That the people of Peru develop a respect and love for their own culture, especially the indigenous peoples, and realize that they have potential and capacity to learn equal to North Americans and Europeans.

That many turn to Christ as the only answer, both for the country's problems and their personal problems.

For the pastors of the many small and struggling churches, and for revival in these churches.

And... just maybe, for a GOOD national soccer team.

Yours in Christ,

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Back from Youth Conference

We made it! Mike is no worse for the trip--he is on some hefty antibiotics and the Dr. said the climate in Umaca would make him better. And it would have been if it hadn't rained yesterday, probably.
Umaca is an hour away over the winding mountain roads. The trip there is full of breathtakingly beautiful mountain scenery, green checkerboard fields, snow-capped peaks, winding river vallies, the usual stuff. We went in a truck with several people and all the mattresses for the conference and took the dog along so he could enjoy some greenery and space (he lives on the roof here in Andahuaylas.) The pastor of the IEP church in Umaca drove the truck. We got to ride in the front with him, the boys and the rest rode in the back with the dog and the mattresses.
Umaca is in a sheltered valley, so it has tropical fruits, parrots, flies, hot days, and cold nights.
All of the schedules in the country have been changed because of swine flu, so events that were scheduled for the midwinter break from school have been moved up to go with the changed vacation schedule. This conference was moved up a week, like everything else, and so the location was moved to Umaca because the church there was having its anniversary on this date. Although we anticipated an attendance of 200 , the reality was only about 70 due to the general confusion generated by the flu. We also participated in the church anniversary, with Mike preaching twice with a Quechua translator. We also got to hear the many musical groups that came to sing for the anniversary, and enjoy the food provided for the anniversary. (Mostly soup, but Saturday there was fresh beef!)
We taught the youth an evangelism seminar that wound up with volunteers giving their testimonies. That was a moving experience!
We came back by taxi last night, as the rain was continuing. It was hard to get a taxi because they run up the mountain and back down, and at the end of the day they are usually going to their home (at the top or bottom). The last ones coming down are usually already full of people going back to Andahuaylas. Still, the boys found room in one and Mike and I in another. The pastor said that he would bring Bother with the mattresses.
The conference was fun, but it was great to be back home! Private rooms, private toilets, telephone, and email!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Catch up

The day after our last post we went on a trip to Lima to renew the boys' passports. Because Chris is a minor both of his parents have to be present with his birth certificate, so we all had to go. This was a good chance to visit Miguel and Becky.

For those who don't already know, Becky is expecting! Our trip came at a good time for them because Miguel was going to the north with a group from Anniston Bible Church, and so we could stay with Becky.

Passport renewal was complicated by a transportation strike that made it impossible to cross town for two days. But we got it done!

Our return to Lima was uneventful and rapid! We arrived at Abancay just in time to board a bus for Andahuaylas with no layover.

Once here we were back at work again on Bible Institute courses and a youth conference. The youth conference date was moved up to this weekend because the annual school vacations have been moved up two weeks because of the swine flu epidemic.

However, Mike has come down with the flu (not swine flu, just normal) and we are praying that we will be able to do the conference. Chris and Colin are sick too! Only Mom is well.

Please pray for the conference, our wisdom in knowing whether to do it, and that everyone gets better!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

As predictable as.... Peru?

Saturday morning I got up early to go give a devotional at a women's conference. Before I left I set out the garbage, because the garbage truck had gone by ringing its bell. (It goes by ringing its bell and then comes back and picks up the garbage sometime later.) Actually I set out the garbage, and then picked it up after a dog ripped into it. And actually, Mike took it back in the house later because the truck didn't come back. Just a harbinger!

I arrived at the church and found the door inside to the sanctuary locked and no one around. The church custodian arrived with a bag of oatmeal--and told me that the sisters were not there for the conference, but that there were problems--the enemy, she whispered always attacks at such times. And said that she had been there until 5 am for the prayer vigil. Then she let me into the sanctuary. I decided to pray as I waited for the ladies, but I kept hearing crying and shouting from a back room, so I decided to pray for the "problems." In a few minutes the custodian came back to say that I was needed in that room.

The problems were a mother and a daughter, who, it turns out have a long history of violence that no one in the church was aware of. After the prayer vigil they were sleeping in the room and broke out into a full-fledged brawl with kicks, punches and broken glasses. So instead of giving a devotional I spent the morning counseling along with Pastor Benjamin's wife Noemi. (Benjamin is the secretary of Kausay and was the speaker for the conference.)

Back to the house, and Mike and I decided to go out for a date. We decided to take some dessert home to Colin (Chris was at a weekend camp) wanted to find a bakery that is supposed to be on our street, but in the direction we usually don´t go (away from the main square and toward Munay Wasi). Upshot--we walked and walked in the blazing noonday sun--no bakery! At least I got my 10,000 steps in--and before 2 pm!

Well, back to the house, ready to kick back and relax because we have absolutely no commitments for the rest of the day! Maybe watch a DVD, who knows?

In about 10 minutes the phone rings. It is Cayo Vargas' (pres. of Kausay) wife Elizabeth. Can we be at her parents' house in 15 minutes. Sure, I say. So off walking again! It turns out it is her father's birthday, and they have made chicharron! Their kitchen is in back of the house and they cook with firewood. That is certainly the way to cook pork rinds! We enjoy some with boiled potatoes, then we talk with the family and another guest, a preacher and ex-policeman who is working closing down illegal taverns at the city's request.

Then we enjoy some soup. Then, as it gets dark and cold, (We go through summer and winter every day here.) we go sit around the fire in the dirt-floored kitchen, enjoying a new round of chicharron and potatoes, fresh from the fire, telling jokes and Mike answering questions about people who have visions, how God guides believers, etc.

Eventually it is time to go home. As we walk home in the dark, we find the bakery. It has no sign, so when it is closed, it is effectively not there! We pick up some yummy tajadas (rolls filled with elderberry) for breakfast.

Another, good, busy, unpredictable day.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Back to Normal (sigh of relief)

Things are back to normal here in Andahuaylas--garbage collection, buses, shopping all day, school in session. Everyone is breathing a sigh of relief.

Yesterday the garbage truck took the last of the eight bags of garbage that had accumulated during the 13 days of the strike.

The settlement came Tuesday when the Prime Minister Yehude Simon came to Andahuaylas, along with the Minister of Agriculture. Mike and a group of Kausay members and pastors met to pray during the negotiations, as did other Christians throughout the city.

The last night was tense as a group of criminals that had infiltrated into the ranks of the strikers went around the city breaking car windows and robbing drivers. However, 7 pickups with police sharpshooters came in the morning to maintain order and make sure that the rioters had all left. I never saw them on the streets after their arrival, but they were there just in case.

The government met the campesinos' demands to pave the highway and not privatize the airport or Laguna Pacucha, the large and beautiful lake, as well as provide tractors for the area. The strike is technically suspended until September, when the paving should start. If it doesn't .....

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Andahuaylas has been the scene of a 7-day strike now, and the rumors are that the strike will last until next Tuesday. Really strike is not the right word for it, although that is the translation. We would call it a riot or a demonstration.

What has happened is that 10,000 of the poor country farmers, the campesinos, have invaded Andahuaylas and are marching through the streets with sticks, whips, flags, and protest signs. If a business is open, they race at it to beat the owner for not demonstrating solidarity.

Mike was even beaten by one of them--a tiny little old lady who thought when he was unlocking the street door to the apartment he was unlocking a business. Fortunately, she didn't pack much of a punch! He thought someone was tapping him on the shoulder.

The city is paralyzed, with no buses or planes in or out. Several days ago a truce was declared that allows the market to be open from 6 am until 8 am.

So far there has been no major violence or looting. The only victims of the strike that we know of are a baby whose mother miscarried because she could not reach the hospital, and two youths who were nearly killed when they fell from bicycles onto streets covered with glass. (One was saved by the first vascular surgery performed in the hospital here.) Both sides, police and strikers, are trying to avoid bloodshed--but among the strikers are some bad elements who are out to extort money and break glass on the streets, etc.

The goal of the strike has changed several times. It began to show sympathy with the victims of the violence in Bagua, where rioting resulted in deaths both of policemen and tribespeople. Then it changed to an indefinite strike with the goal of forcing the president to resign. Now the Struggle Committee has published a list of demands, including the repeal of several laws and the completion of works projects in the native communities.

Among the strikers are campesinos compelled to participate by threats of violence and fines from local bosses of the communities. Christians are also caught up in this. One pastor friend was corralled into a group by the threat of violence and forced to walk to Andahuaylas, where he escaped when the group's attention was elsewhere.

We are doing okay--eating a lot of beans and tuna! We weren't able to go to church on Sunday because of trucks parked on our street with armed men, but we have been able to go to choir practice and pick up some food during the truce hours. Homeschooling goes on (sorry, Chris!)--the other kids are off school, but can't go out in the streets for most of the day to enjoy it, so some are studying at home to beat boredom.

Please pray for a peaceful end to the situation. For cool heads and wisdom on the part of the strikers and the government. For courage for the Christians caught up in the mob. For our safety. And for a solution to the underlying injustices and misinformation that have caused all this.

God bless!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Our First Pastors Conference

The conference that almost didn't happen, turned out to be a great success. From May 18 - 23 we hosted about 150 Pastors and other church leaders at Munay Wasi for a conference of the International Thompson Bible Institute. It was a great time, each of the pastors got a bonded Leather Thompson Bible, and we introduced the Instituto Bíblico y Teológico de Apurimac (the Biblical and Theological Institute of Apurimac.) This has opened the doors for us to work with many more churches. And it has encouraged them to participate in the construction of THEIR Bible Institute. Many churches are now planning on bringing bricks, sticks and manpower to help get the building up and to provide potatoes, corn and animals to feed the students. God has blessed wonderfully. From this has also come 2 satellite institutes.

But, right now, I want to tell you about something else…I want to tell you about God answering prayers, in a wonderful way, for the conference to even happen.

With our first conference we wanted to do several things: Make a good impression with a quality conference, introduce Kausay to pastors from all over the Department of Apurimac and from all denominations, and provide a useful resource for the pastors. The Thompson Bible Seminar was a perfect match. They have been around for a while providing a great Bible and an introduction to Bible Study Methods and Preaching while they teach how to use all the tools that The Thompson Bible has. There is no Bible that is quite as useful here, it has tons of helps in the back (not just the useful Chain references) - Archeological information, a little Manners and Customs type of material, surveys of the Bible in general and each book with outlines and more. It can become a whole library for the Campesino pastor (who usually has no other books).

We spoke to the Peruvian representative of the seminars, my good friend Paco Laos, several times beginning last year and in February we set the dates for the conference (actually 2 conferences running back to back) in this May. Then we began a vigorous publicity campaign. Most of Apurimac has no mail or phone service, so we printed up brochures and sign-up sheets and sent them with people as they were going around Apurimac - one brother from Incahuasi came to Andahuaylas to sell his coffee crop and we gave him several brochures to pass out in his zone, which you take the bus as far as you can then go by mule and then by foot to reach. He passed the brochures out in his area. In this way, we passed the voice (as we say here) throughout the entire Department. And by May 4th we had about 160 reservations - which are all that would fit in two 3-day seminars of 80.
Then on May 6 the Thompson people wrote me an email saying that we would have to cancel due to too many commitments, not enough Bibles and financial problems in the States. What a blow! We instantly communicated with the Kausay leadership and all of us prayed, then Tammy and I wrote an email explaining our situation here and asked if they could reconsider. We didn’t know how we could reach the dozens and dozens of pastors in the far reaches of Apurimac in less than 2 weeks. And we were so concerned that having to cancel our very first conference would send a very bad message. But, we suddenly felt very calm and I felt that I had to check my e-mail again. This was only 2 hours after we received the bad news. When I opened my e-mail there were two emails from the Thompson folks. They felt that they had no choice but to try to do the conferences here, and they would come – even though they weren’t sure where the Bibles would come from. While I was reading that, I got another e-mail with the wonderful news that they had several Bibles more than they at first thought. In fact, they had 160! In less than 2 hours we had a positive response! So the conference that almost wasn’t, happened and now about 150 pastors have a great Bible and know how to use it. Praise God for His working in and with His people!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Harvests of Grace

Wow! Sorry that we haven't written for a while, it has been like riding a whirlwind - in a good way! This has been a month of new work and watching ex-students succeed in exciting ways.
  • In March we had to go to Lima to renew our visas and while there, we got to watch an ex-student of mine (Antonio) leading a conference on forgiveness. He was great, and his church is growing, it was such a thrill to see him serving.
  • When we got back up here,we found the problems at Munay Wasi still unresolved. We decided to move out and had a dinner of reconciliation with the French side. Now, although the Munay members continue accusing one another, we are free to use the facility for conferences and events no matter who wins, and were able to get out with a good testimony. We started looking for an apartment and found a nice one in one day - it had just come open and we snapped it up, as we were signing, other people were coming to try to rent it, whew!
  • Then, we were invited to lead a youth conference at the church of another ex-student (Feliciano) about an hour out of town. When we got there, I was amazed and pleased to see all the youth and the growth of the church there in Nueva Esperanza. They now have a Radio Station, have been able to get a laptop and a projector, and there were over 60 youth there. And they were a great group! We taught about Restoration and the youth really soaked it in.
  • The next week, I taught a 3 day conference on the Holy Spirit for the 57th anniversary of the first Evangelical Church in the province. My old, used projector died, but the church had been given one by another missionary, so God came through at literally the last minute. The conference was exciting, with many visitors and several people accepted the Lord! I have been invited back to teach an apologetics conference on Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses.
  • That same week, we started a course for several current pastors, who lack Biblical training. We are holding this in our house, but the class is growing and we may have to seek out a bigger site.
  • A Christian Engineer has volunteered his services to design us a physical plant for the Kawsay Institute and the first plans are awesome, and just today, we had visitors from one of the larger denominations known for not working with others. They are asking to participate in the Institute as long as we respect their doctrinal distinctives, which is fine. They are Evangelical.
  • Finally, I am looking at a piece of Gold ore, This was brought to me today from another of my ex-students, Eusebio . He picked it up where he is ministering. Three months ago, he left his comfortable position in his established church to another pastor and went into a district that is about 8 hours from here, an isolated and idolatrous area where there are no churches. He wanted to let me know that yesterday he baptized 6 people, that added to the 13 last week is not a bad start. The mayor of the largest town in the district is paying Eusebio to teach the Bible on the radio, because they don't have enough programming. This has led some existing believers to him as well and as of yesterday, he has planted 2 new churches. By the way, he is 63 years young!
Thank you for your prayers and support! I wish that you all could see how the Lord is working here thanks to your partnership with us. As Antonio, Feliciano and Eusebio would say to you , "¡Muchissimas Gracias!"

God bless,

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Munay Wasi craziness continues--prayer update

Hi! Dear praying friends--just a quick update on how things are going.

Munay Wasi is once again a question mark. Actually, it was taken over
by the police and placed under a court appointed administrator the
last week of February. The district attorney came in with police in
riot gear, counted all of the inventory of Munay (we had to show what
was ours-- one overly zealous official tried to enter Mike's diplomas
as property of Munay)

Although this was a bit dramatic it has only resulted in
inconvenience--mainly because of the French volunteers that have been
quartered at the facility while the judicial proceedings go on. This
French Association is secular and the volunteers are very hard to work
with--they are always insinuating that we are doing something wrong.
Instead of sharing the kitchen they are always there cooking, eating,
or partying

Things seemed pretty bad for a while--guards watching our every move,
secular volunteers and their "security staff" getting falling down
drunk on the property, French female volunteers being less than
careful about being dressed. Most people think that this is an attempt
to run us off. An elected official even tried to threaten Cayo Vargas
(president of Kawsay) into annulling the official document that loans
Kawsay the property for the next five years by threatening to bring
criminal charges against him. (It doesn't matter that the charges are
false--this kind of extortion is all too common here because: 1. it is
almost never prosecuted here. 2. people are intimidated by the cost of
defending themselves, and 3. if there is judicial corruption they
could wind up in jail having done nothing wrong.)

Through it all Kawsay has stuck with what is legal and true, trying to
be a good testimony in the midst of a corrupt legal system.

Because of these problems the Central Peruvian Church in Andahuaylas
voted to let us live in their vacant pastoral apartment, rent free, if
need be.

However, all of the advice from Christians, Kawsay members and
Christian attorneys is to wait a little longer. The law is actually
on the side of Kawsay.

Now, we have received news that the judge is ready to overturn the
administration that illegally seized control of the facility and
return it to Kawsay. So we are waiting it out.

So we remain half packed--ready to move or stay all depending on the
will of our faithful and loving God. :)

We are making lots of contacts for the Bible Institute.We participated
in a Youth Conference over the weekend that was a real blessing.
God's answered our prayers about potential conflicts with the French
and the very real possibility that the administrator would decide at
the last minute that the conference (scheduled since early February!)
could not happen at Munay. However, God handled all of it--the French
went away for the weekend, and the security staff enjoyed the games
and the praise concert, one even brought his wife and baby!

We have also participated in a conference for leaders of the Peruvian
Evangelical Church. Mike already has courses of study planned for the
pastors that are already in churches - which will begin this
August/September, and the formal Bible Institute (which now has an
official- if maybe temporary - name - Instituto Biblico Theologico
Apurimac - or the Theological Bible Institute of Apurimac) when it
starts full time. (Projected for next year.) We will be receiving
input from the Peruvian Church Central Committee (representing 1,000s
of evangelical churches!), and are well on our way to an agreement
with them [recommending] [allowing] their pastors to receive training
at the Bible Institute. We have also recently been in contact with 2
American missionaries as potential and very interested (at least
part-time) faculty members for the Institute

That we would be patient and sensitive to God's will and leading as to
staying or moving.

That we would be a good testimony - even a blessing - to those who
have taken over the facility.

That Cayo Vargas and the other brothers of Kawsay can be a witness for
truth in midst of all the corruption.

Wisdom for all of us.

That the actions are handled by honest officials, and that God would
demonstrate the truth.

That the Bible Institute plans remain a focus and we don't get
distracted by the events surrounding Munay Wasi.

That God would send medical teams from the US. This kind of outreach
to the very needy community here will provide an opportunity to
witness to our neighbors and help to maintain the good relationship
that we have with the community around Munay Wasi.

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
Psalm 27:13-14

Tammy Riggs
Impact International

Monday, February 23, 2009

Prayers avert riot

Campesinos with sticks
It's not every day that starts off with an army of men with sticks in your yard, but that's how Thursday started. We had gotten up early, cleaned the house and swept the steps. We were just getting ready for our devotional when I looked out the window and saw about thirty campesinos--the Quechua farmers--some with big sticks and other ones cutting down trees to use as sticks. This is the Andahuaylas equivalent of an angry mob with pitchforks, so Mike went to find out what was going on.

At the foot of our outside stairs he encountered Dr. Julio Gonzales, president of the Munay Association, talking on the phone saying "we don't expect any violence." The men with sticks said that they were there to "keep the police from coming in." And more of them were arriving--until there were about forty.

A bitter disagreement
The reason for all this is a split between the members of the Munay Association. The Munay (Caring ) Association is a secular Peruvian non-profit that was founded by a French doctor to do social work in Peru with funds raised in France. Because of an administrative squabble the Association split and lost its French support--and therefore the ability to do any work beyond provide free lodging for the poor subsistence farmers when they have to travel to Andahuaylas (the Casa Campesina--or Farmer's house). This is the reason that the property was available for use by Kawsay (Life--the association that we are working with. ) on a per-event rental basis (and our apartment here as well).

Early this year the squabble became more serious and bitter. A lawsuit was brought against Dr. Julio to demand that he give the property over to the ex-members of the Association. This lawsuit contains several false allegations against him personally and is supported by a some local political figures who have their own interests in the property. An unscrupulous judge could use the lawsuit to close the operations, perhaps for years, and the property would sit vacant until someone could get enough influence to get it. Or an unscrupulous judge partnered with an equally unscrupulous mayor or other political figure could confiscate it for "city use."

Almost any outcome would result in the property and buildings not being use for the improvement of lives in the Quechua community--their original purpose.

Kawsay receives rights
To avoid this ,the board of directors of Munay decided to turn all rights to use and administration of the property over to Kawsay for five years, taking the property out of play and giving it to Kawsay for five years for Bible Institute, conferences, and medical campaigns. The only stipulations were that the Casa Campesina (Farmer's house) continue to provide free lodging to the poor farmers when they need to travel to Andahuaylas, and to honor the agreements to allow a public kindergarten to use the school building and the dentist who uses the office to provide free dental care to the army.

Legally, there was no problem with the transaction because both are Peruvian non-profits with the aim of aiding the Quechua communities. The reason Dr. Julio thought of doing it is that the medical missions that come from the US always treat everyone without discrimination--Evangelicals, Catholics, country people, city people, men, women, and children.

On Wednesday Feb. 18, the official papers came out and the property was transferred for five years to Kawsay.

Hostilities intensify
On Wednesday, an obviously nervous Dr. Julio met with the members of Kawsay to give them the papers. He had heard that the ex-associates were asking for a police action to remove the Munay association people from the property--and that might include us. He called Cayo Vargas, the president of Kawsay, to tell him to hire a group of men to defend the property. Cayo refused, and instead, called several churches to request prayer for the next day.

Prayer Support
On Thursday morning, shortly after our discovery of the mob, men, women, and teenagers began to arrive from area churches. Several pastors, Mike, and the other members of Kawsay met with Dr. Julio, to explain that the evangelicals (this is the word here for Christians who are not Catholics) were going to pray, and did not want any sort of confrontation. If God was in it, then the property would stay with Kawsay. If not, then we did not want to be there. Dr. Julio was very impressed by this testimony, and even expressed that he wanted the peace that the evangelicals have. He left and all we Evangelicals gathered in one of the classrooms to pray.

A turn for the worse
A short time later, Martin (the Kawsay treasurer) arrived on his motorcycle to say that the police in nearby Talavera were coming to evict everyone from the premises. This would actually be illegal, just as it would be in the US, but law enforcement in Peru is often at the command of the highest bidder. These illegal evictions usually produce violent confrontations.

Prayer and peace
All of us agreed that the most important thing was to avoid violence. A delegation went to talk to the campesinos while the rest stayed praying for justice from the legal officials and a peaceful and loving reception of the police. The men agreed to lay aside their sticks and remain only as a display of solidarity. In true Peruvian style they started to play soccer.

We decided to take the prayer meeting outside to meet the police. We gathered in a circle with the men and prayed. Several of the church members testified. We told them about our future plans for the property--Bible Institute for campesinos and medical campaigns. We sang some songs and the men hesitantly joined in. Several times we stopped for cars arriving, but the police did not come.

A surprising answer
Instead, Dr. Julio arrived again with the leader of an agricultural activist group, a man named Braulio. This group is well known for an agricultural strike that paralyzed the city for 6 days in 2006. They also had news--the police were not coming. Braulio had spoken to the police in Andahuaylas, telling them that his group was not in favor of any attempt to shut down the Casa Campesina. They in turn had communicated with the police in Talavera, who decided not to proceed with the eviction action.

Dr. Julio at this point gave the permanent control of the property to the campesinos. He enrolled the presidents of the agricultural association as members of Munay. This did not change Kawsay's rights for the five years, but it did refute any claim that he was trying to retain the property for himself.

It did, however, cause us some concern. The pastors and we met with the leaders of the association, praying with them and explaining that we did not want to retain the property by force, that our aims were to bring medical campaigns and other physical assistance, but also that our main aim was to have a Bible Institute for the campesino pastors. They promised to respect our stand and stated they were glad to have Kawsay involved, and were happy to have the Bible Institute as part of the facility. They promised to keep their political actions completely separate from the Munay association.

Lunch with the campesinos
In the meantime some of the women from the local churches had been preparing a lunch of soup and potatoes. And so we all sat down --about 40 Evangelicals, 40 campesinos, and a dozen or so campesino activists. We shared some of our precious supply of Tony Cachere's seasoning for the potatoes, explaining that it was American aji (pepper) from the state of Louisiana. The fact that we ate potatoes (as finger food) and soup with them was very important to the activist campesinos. Several of them commented on the fact that the other foreigners had not done so. A friendly, celebratory atmosphere prevailed. Some people from the local churches, a few of whom had known nothing of Kawsay and the Bible Institute before today, decided to walk up and see the land (it nearly adjoins Munay) where the future Bible Institute will be constructed. The campesinos, instead of rioting and confronting the police as they had expected, had an impromptu holiday from farm work and spent the afternoon relaxing and playing soccer.

Evening meeting--the Power of God!
That evening we had a meeting of Kawsay at Martin's pizzeria to plan the Thompson Bible Conference that was coming up. Dr. Julio unexpectedly arrived to let us know that he and Cayo had spoken that afternoon with the judge who was over all the proceedings, and that she had given them plenty of time. She had been told by the other parties that Kawsay had paid Dr. Julio for the administrative rights. When Cayo explained that no money had changed hands and explained the plans of Kawsay, the judge said that there would be no trouble with the transfer, which was 100% legal and aboveboard, and thanked them for taking the time to explain to her.
Dr. Julio was amazed, as she had never explained or listened before, only allowing a few short minutes at a time.
Martin asked him what he thought had brought about the change. Dr. Julio said, "Brothers, I really believe it was the power of God!"

Prayer requests
Dear friends, we ask for your continued prayer about this situation. Specifically:
Praise God for his peaceful resolution of a delicate situation.
Pray for Dr. Julio and his family, who are under a lot of stress. Pray also that Dr. Julio would accept Christ--who would provide the peace that he is seeking.
Pray for a peaceful agreement among the members and ex-members of Munay--that all would accept Christ.
Pray for medical teams--both that more come from the US (more difficult in the current economy) and that those that are planning to come are able to overcome obstacles and keep their commitment. They are badly needed in the rural areas and this opens many doors for the gospel.
Pray that the new campesino members of Munay would keep their political agenda separate from their membership in Munay.
Pray for the continued honesty of the law enforcement and civil officials involved.
Praise God for the opportunity to testify to these diverse groups.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another unavoidable rule of life

Most people are familiar with Murphy and his famous law, “whatever can go wrong, will.” It states clearly and concisely one of the little interesting facts of life on this planet. There have been books written about it, and other people have discovered other similar laws; we have Finagle's law, Godwin's law, Hanlon's Razor, and the Peter principle. I would like to propose a new one, that I have observed to be invariably true, and I would like to modestly suggest that it be called Riggs's Rule of Time and Events. It could be stated like this, “whenever there is too much to do in the time you have, there will be something else to do as well.” This law was operating at it's finest this last Monday.

Since moving from Lima, about a month ago, we have been waiting for our furniture, the bulk of our clothes, books, etc to get here. During this time, we have had many false alarms – the truck will be there on Friday, or Tuesday, but after we stayed home waiting, canceling meetings, missing church, basically prisoners in our apt.; the truck doesn't show up. The first truck – we were only supposed to have one truck, but that is another story – arrived 3 days after we were told it would. And it arrived when Munay had about 1,397 people from every pueblo in the region for a meeting about forming an agricultural cooperative. So, on the only day that there was no room for a truck in the property, we had a truck. Now that is merely classic Murphy, but the second truck is Riggs's Rule.

Last week we were repeatedly assured by the local manager of the trucking company that the truck would arrive Saturday morning. In the meantime, Cayo Vargas, brought a young couple out to meet us. You may remember them from the last blog. David is a Peruvian, who went to Brazil to study to be a church planter. While there, he met Leila, a Brazilian studying at the same Institute. As happens so frequently at Bible (Bridal) colleges and institutes, they fell in love and David proposed, she accepted. They wanted to have their civil wedding in Peru, because his family could not make it to Brazil. They had spent almost all their money just getting here and on the paperwork for an international wedding and needed an inexpensive place to have the wedding. It was discovered that, since we are not Peruvians, we couldn't be the Padrinos. So, we thought that we had dodged a bullet. Cayo suggested that they hold the ceremony here in the auditorium. We thought that this was a great idea and readily agreed to help with the decorations and clean-up. After all the wedding was to be on Monday, we had nothing else to do, because we would have finished not only unloading and hauling everything up to our second floor apt, but gotten a good start on putting it all away.

Since we are VIP's ( Visibly International People) they still wanted me to participate in the wedding, and who can say “no” to that honor and privilege. I would just have to dress up and read some scripture. Piece of cake, right? Who sees Riggs's Rule beginning to rear it's ugly head, hmmm? The trucking company called and said that the truck was running behind and would be here late on Saturday. We believed them, thus proving to anyone who still had a doubt, that yes, several of our screws are loose or even missing entirely. We waited all day Saturday – no truck. Sunday morning early we got a call, “the truck is in town, will be out there shortly.” We spent Sunday afternoon waiting for the truck and helping decorate the auditorium for the wedding, Chris got to do the high work. He climbed up a stool on a chair to stand on a table on a table. Still no truck. That night at 7 we went to church, where due to more interesting coincidences having to do with transportation, the guest preacher hadn't shown up. Guess who had to preach on 5 minutes notice = )

The wedding was scheduled for 11 in the morning. By 10 there still was no truck. We had been finishing decorating the auditorium all morning and were still in work clothes. We waited as long as possible, then went up to get dressed for the ceremony. Then the truck showed up. Right after the wedding guests had begun to arrive. Our dog, the aptly named Bother was on the truck and soooo excited to see us. It is amazing how aromatic a dog can get in a truck on a cross country trip in the summer. We quickly unloaded the truck and hauled everything up the stairs and did an astounding quick change. As we came down the stairs I was trying to fix my tie, which had decided to be either 3 inches long or hang to my knees. When Cayo brought over a man to meet me, I realized that I hadn't yet tied my shoes. Nice to meet you Mr. Mayor.

We somehow made it through the service, we got great seats – right in the back row - and were dazedly half listening to the mayor read all of the legal mumbo-jumbo of a Peruvian civil wedding - “paragraph 407 ... the husband may not prevent the wife from voting in any case, even if she will cancel his vote by voting for the opposing candidate, or even if it means that she can't cook lunch that day. The in-laws, as well may not …” and so on and on. Suddenly I heard the phrase, “honored national of the United States, Meekay, will now do the arglebarzh” (at least it sounded like arglebarzh). I looked around in sudden and sheer panic at the standing room only crowd in the auditorium. They were all staring at me expectantly. Not all prayers are answered “yes”, I know this because the earth did not open and swallow me. I stood and smiled tranquilly and hissed at Tammy, “what is an arglebargle? Wadda I do?” She smiled at me pleasantly and gave me a gentle shove. I thought wives were supposed to be Helpmeets.

As I gravely walked across to the mayor, with sweaty hair and smelling of dog and absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do, the phrase “dead man walking” kept running through my head. I had one chance, Cayo and his wife, Elizabeth, were the Padrinos (official witnesses) and she was standing where I would have to pass her to get to the mayor. Maybe a quick question and answer could pull my bacon out of the fire. “Eli”. I whispered, “what am I supposed to do?” She gave me a smile and said, “entregar” “Deliver?” Deliver what? How? The next thing I know the mayor is handing me a stiff piece of parchment paper with signatures and seals and stamps and smiling and shaking my hand. I wisely stand there holding the paper, a statue couldn't have done better. After a couple of seconds that sped by like eons, the mayor nods toward the couple. I smile stupidly and stick the paper at the couple, they won't take it. Cayo catches my eye and whispers, “say something”. I wonder how the Gettysburg address would sound. Instead, I beam proudly at the young couple, just as if they were my idea and thank the mayor for the opportunity, mention how happy I am to be there (not entirely the truth, all in all I would rather have been somewhere - anywhere else) and ask God's blessing on the young couple, encourage them and say a brief prayer. Then I hold the document out again and (sigh of relief) Leila takes it. After shaking the mayors hand, I stride back to my seat. Or I try to, Tammy is being brought up front and we are placed in the front row on the side in full view of everyone.

For it is time for Lunch, in no time at all we find ourselves with huge platters containing a half of a fried chicken, 2 massive boiled potatoes, 2 cups of mote' (kind of like hominy on steroids) and ocopa sauce. This is accompanied by a fork, a plastic fork. Do you know how hard it is to eat a half of a fried chicken with only a fork (can't use your fingers in the front row) or peel mote' when you have to keep one hand on your plate. I smoothly threw half of my first potato on the floor, where it rolled over to the bride and groom...

At 6 P.M. We got back upstairs to our apartment, and were greeted effusively by Bother. We fixed coffee for Cayo and Elizabeth and introduced them to Bother (who greeted them effusively as well).We were tired, sweaty, smelled like dog and we had to assemble our beds before we could sleep. And we were happy. Even though, Riggs's Rule was fully operational, we spent the day with our friends here, we had participated in the marriage of a wonderful young couple, we met some wonderful new friends, had a great lunch and didn't need supper. All was at peace, we were cozy and content – then the phone rang.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"The Case of the Missing Finger" or "Money, Medical, and Matrimony

We are really immersed in Andahuaylas now. We have gotten started
with the Bible Institute work, joined a church (the Iglesia Evangelica
Peruana Central) in Andahuaylas, and we are really seeing all of the
Challenges here - including ones that we hadn't expected. That's what
I want to share with you.
One new challenge is managing our money - but not in the way that is
usually meant. Since we have been in Peru, we have been using ATM
machines to withdraw our salary. It is deposited once a month, and we
are used to taking out a little as we need it and leaving the rest in
our U.S. bank account to avoid carrying much or having much money
stored in our apartment. That worked great in Lima, but it is a
different story here. Monday we went into town, the ONLY ATM machine
in the city to withdraw money for this week - but it was down for
service. We decided to wait on Chris's Birthday present until the
next day - which was his birthday. But, the ATM was still down, we
asked the manager, what was going on, and he told us that it should be
fixed that day, the technical service guy was on his way. So, we
decided to mostly postpone Chris's Birthday and come back to town the
next day. But, you guessed it, the ATM still was down, and the
manager told us, "Sorry, but he is a long way away and he's taking a
while getting here." In the meantime, we are wondering how we can pay
for the rest of our freight, eat and have a birthday for a 12 year
old. And we have learned a valuable lesson. When the ATM works
withdraw everything at as soon as possible and deposit it in our new
bank account at the local bank.

The second challenge is to be "testigos", official witnesses at a
wedding. Here in Peru you have to have a Civil wedding to be
officially married. A religious wedding is important for Christians,
but without the Civil, there is no official wedding. Another local
custom is that the "Testigos" play hard to get and demand payment,
meals, bribes, etc. to sign on the line. Well, there is a young
couple, a Peruvian who went to Brazil to be trained a as a pastor and
his betrothed, a Brazilian. Now we know from experience that it is
hard for a foreigner to marry a Peruvian - since we just went through
this with Becky. So we understand they are in the middle of a lot of
complicated paperwork - and a lot of costs. This young couple are
coming here to work, he has accepted a call to serve as a pastor here
and she is happy to come here as well. However, they don't have
anything to pay the "testigos" - without them there is no legal
wedding. To make a long story short, someone suggested to them that
Tammy and I would be perfect to be "testigos" and that in the US no
one pays witnesses for a wedding and we wouldn't ask for anything. So
we agreed, now we find out if there is a second shoe to drop. Because
one of our capacities here is Marriage counselor, we were also asked
to counsel them. Oh, and we have to fit it all in in 5 days.

Our third new challenge is medical. Where we live, Munay Wasi, has in
the past had regular medical teams from France, and the locals assume
that anytime there is a foreign group living at Munay, they can come
here and get medical attention, we have been asked to do eye exams and
cataract surgery, to set a broken leg, and to treat a child who has
some sort of crippling disease. But the most memorable happened this
last Saturday morning there was a big meeting of local farmers at
Munay Wasi. We were eating breakfast when there came a knock at the
door, I went to answer it and there were 2 men, some of the farmers,
one who had a rather dirty gauze pad on his hand. In broken Spanish,
because they were Quechua speakers they asked if we could "do a cure "
on his cut finger. Now, we have two boys, and so we always have
bandaids, and antiseptic and antibacterial ointment on hand, and we
are pretty competent to handle a cut finger - we thought! Tammy had
come to the door by this time and she asked him to remove the bandage
so we could get a look at his finger. He unwrapped the gauze and
showed his cut finger - only it wasn't a cut on his finger, it was a
CUT OFF FINGER! It looked like something only sort of sharp but heavy
or forceful had cut/mashed the first joint and a half of his finger
(probably a machete) - I didn't faint (but the world did become a
little blurry for a moment. We had to tell him that we couldn't help
him with this, and asked if he had gone to the medical post. He had,
but didn't have enough money to stitch him up. God intervened in that
Drs. Julio & Maria Elena happened to come out for a visit shortly
thereafter, and the man was still here for the farmers meeting. They
were able to get him treatment.

Whatever else it may be Missionary life is never dull.

God bless,

Friday, January 9, 2009

Acostumbrarse - getting used to our new home

Remember the fable about the country mouse and the city mouse? Neither one fitted in in their new environment. They had a lot to learn if they were to swap places. Aesop's story about those 2 mice has always amused me, it is funny to see someone so out of place. Many TV shows have milked this theme for plots - from Green Acres (showing my age) to Perfect Strangers to Survivor, etc. It is always funny to see the confused and befuddled actions of the person put in a different setting - unless you are that person.
We have been living in a massive city of over 10,000,000 with all of the amenities and problems, activities and danger, hurried and frantic pace for over 4 years. Now we are in the beautiful little provincial capital of Apurimac, Andahuaylas. And - BOY! - have we got a lot to learn (and unlearn). Little things like, where can you buy large containers of safe drinking water, a 2-6 week wait for a telephone, or even how to cook beans.
The people here will tell you, with a straight face that we "aren't at a high altitude" - but they mean something different than that means in the States. We are at about 10,000' above sea level. Just about twice as high as Denver. But here in the Peruvian Andes, people live at higher altitudes than anywhere else in the world. So to them 10,000 is not high 15,000 - 16,000 is pretty high. But you know something? 10,000' is high when you are used to sea level. Yesterday Tammy tried to cook some beans. She soaked them a good long while and then put them on the stove as she has done for years. We were all waiting on those beans for a good lunch, but oddly they were still like gravel at lunch time, so we decided to eat something else and have the beans for supper. Wrong! They were still little rock hard pellets. Then we thought to look up cooking at high altitude online. So Tammy did a search about high altitude bean cooking. After clicking and going away for a while (like the old commercial where the guy is waiting on a download and bakes a cake, etc - that is something else different here, real s-l-o-w internet) she found out that, ha ha, guess what? Gotta do it all differently! No one told us that - of course for our friends here, this is normal, so why would they tell us?
I could go on, but, if I write to much it might not send :-/, so I will leave it with this. It is beautiful here, the work is exciting and fulfilling, the people are great, but we gotta go through the adaptation to a new culture, climate, and altitude. Fortunately, we serve a great God who is helping us up when we fall and helping us keep perspective and a sense of humor!


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Prayer and Praise

Please pray:
  • For Tammy's mom, Annette Meeker, who is recovering from a heart attack. She has had two stents placed, and if all goes well will leave the hospital Saturday.
  • For our (Mike, Tammy, Colin, and Chris's) adjustment here in a new environment. We are having to re-learn how to shop, cook, etc.
  • For safe transfer of our books and other things, as well as our pets. This is complicated because the buses, that until recently carried livestock such as goats in the passenger compartment, now will not even permit cats in cargo. Everything is going by the truck that delivers to the hardware store.
  • For Tim and his fiancee Brittney as they look for God's direction for training and a mission board.
  • For Becky and Miguel as they struggle with the hardships of serving in Lima.
  • For Association Kawsay as we will be meeting to chart our course for 2009.
Praise God for:
  • A wonderful prayerful first meeting.
  • The loan of a motor scooter from one of the brothers here in Andahuaylas to help with transportation.
  • Finding a church home here at the Central Peruvian church.
  • The warm welcome we have received here in Munay Wasi and in Andahuaylas.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

In Andahuaylas for 2009

We arrived in Andahuaylas Tuesday night, December 30, after an uneventful (but looong and boring - 30 hrs.) trip.

All of our things that we are moving are still in Lima, including the pets, to be sent along later (the rates were exorbitant for the time between Christmas and New Years.) Our good friend Paco Laos is coordinating the move of the stuff.

Most people in Peru do not move, and there are no moving companies or truck rentals. In addition you have to have police permission for a move. And boxes are next to impossible to find. We have everything packed in the big raffia bags (see picture) that serve for most of the luggage and business transport here and a few plastic containers for fragile items. And cages for the animals.

We passed a very quiet New Years, as Chris and Mike were sick. They both had eggs over(ly) easy for breakfast on the trip.

Please pray for Chris and Mike to continue to get better quickly. Also pray for the smooth arrangement and safe transport of our goods and pets.

We begin our work here on Saturday, with a day of meetings, fasting and prayer with the members of Kawsay.