Thursday, November 29, 2012

TOP TEN UNEXPECTED THINGS ON OUR TRIP



1.       Visas are calculated in calendar days, not business days, as we had been told. Thank you, God, that we decided to go early.
2.       A bus from a respected company can run out of gas before it reaches its destination, even in the middle of the Atacama Desert at noon.
3.       If you chomp on a dead bee in your dessert on the bus, you are just supposed to consider it proof that it was made with real honey.
4.       "Ladies of the evening" sometimes travel . . . and work . . . on buses.
5.       Even though you have relied on a bus company for years, it might turn out to be incredibly, incredibly bad.
6.       Celebrating Thanksgiving with other missionaries can be a wonderful experience, even if it wasn't what you had planned.
7.       Thunderstorms look awesome from above.
8.       The dish called Picante Tacneña is more or less chitlins in hot sauce.
9.       Two cats can completely cover a corduroy sofa cushion with cat hair in about a week if no one is there to clean up.
Coming home is probably the best part of traveling.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Prayer Request - Walter's Family

Walter Ccoicca's father is now with the Lord.  He passed away from congestive heart failure oh Friday of this week.  Theirs is generally a very long lived family and his passing away in his 70s is a real blow to them as they expected 20 some more years of life with him.  Although the end has been a while in coming they were all still hoping he would snap out of it.  Please pray for the family as they deal with this loss.

Walter, for those of you who don't know about him, is one of the Quechua teachers in the seminary.  He also teaches in various church institutes and conferences in the country.  

If you would like email Walter or send an eCard, his email address is:sebastian_rut@hotmail.com.  Keep in mind that Walter speaks and reads Spanish and Quechua.  He does not know English, but any encouragement, even in English, would be an encouragement to him.

Walter will have to cover some funeral expenses, since life insurance is not common among the Quechua Indians.  If you would like to make a donation to assist Walter during this time, gifts may be given via mail or PayPal.

Make checks payable to:
Believer's Bridge

Mail to:
Believer's Bridge
For Walter
PO Box 1233
Pelham, AL 35124
Give now via PayPal:


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Problem Provides Big Opportunity


The Andahuaylas Central IEP church, which is our Peruvian church home,  has long had a problem of allowing anyone who said that they were a preacher to preach, without checking their credentials or doctrine.  Allowing many people to preach is a hallmark of many Latino churches and often allows young men to hone their skills.  So  it is not uncommon for a church to have 20 or more people preach at various services during a year.  However, these are usually qualified church members.

Although Mike has taught doctrine classes, at the church’s request, with great attendance from the church members, many church officers did not attend .

All this came to a head when they let a university professor; unknown and new to town, preach several times.  He claimed to have several special revelations from God.  He was good at fundraising, and the church was building a new building and the costs turned out to be much greater than budgeted. Additionally, the church, with its majority Quechua membership, has always been looked down upon by upper class “whiter,  more Spanish” Catholics. The church officers were eager for the status that a university professor preacher might bring.

We told several of you about this man, who made up cards with the denominational logo that said he was a pastor who did miracles, healings, weddings, and baptisms.

His wild preaching was the last straw for several conservative church members. Some of these demanded that he be stopped from preaching. Others left and just joined other churches.

The loss of membership was what it took for church officers and even the local denominational officers to sit up and take notice - and to think that sound doctrine might matter more than slick talking and good fundraising skills. Their response was to limit who could preach in the church, as well as who could be invited as guest speakers. Now only local pastors, denominational officials, and Believers Bridge missionaries are allowed to preach in the Peruvian Evangelical churches.

This is great!  because It cuts out a lot of the so-called apostles and prosperity gospel teachers.

In the meantime, our invitations from other denominations have also increased!
Cayo Cardenas’s brother Zosimo who holds a degree from the seminary of Lima, is now helping out as a part-time (unsupported) missionary. He subscribes to our statement of faith, and is accepted by the churches that work with us.  He is applying to work with us as a full-time missionary.

But sadly, it’s more than we can cover.

Please pray for more missionaries, either from Peru, or the US, who can preach and teach sound, Biblical doctrine biblically.
Also pray for wisdom for us as we decide which invitations to accept and which we have to decline.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Worldview class at the Seminary

One of the students, a professional psychologist, came into the class with a totally compartmentalized mind.  As he told me afterwards;  he had placed his Biblical Christianity and his scientific work in 2 compartments in his mind.  As he worked in therapy and counseling, he would think of people as mere assemblages of blood, nerves, chemical reactions, etc, but then he would go to church where he is a youth leaders and he would try to treat the youth as if they were made in the image of God.

But it didn't work and he was getting frustrated at work and at church.  He said when I explained worldviews and showed the different ones, he began to understand that what he was doing was totally influenced by a mixture of secular humanism and post-modernism.

When we looked at the inherent weaknesses and the destinations of those world views he got more stressed and dis-satisfied , then when we looked at the reasonable, logical bases and processes of a Biblical Christian world view, everything suddenly made sense to him.  Then when we looked at creationism, it all finally and fully made sense.

He is now doing better work at the hospital where he works as a clinical Psychologist and I have heard from his youth how much better he is.  They say that it used to be like he was always psychoanalyzing them, but now he listens and has Biblical responses.

In Christ,
Mike

Monday, August 20, 2012

Andahuaylas - Talavera Landscapes


These pictures set to local music were taken quite close to our home.  One house on a hill is directly behind our house!  And many could have been taken from our upstairs window.  It really is a beautiful place to live.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Worth the Trip

"The road is closed" said the flagman, "You will have to park and climb" As I looked up the muddy and steep mountainside to the village of Manchaybamba alta, I regretted not having boots and a walking stick. We were only about an hour outside of Andahuaylas, but I had never been here before.

 Brother Martin Leon drove us there in a new minivan that he bought to take missionaries into the country. As we neared Manchaybamba Alta, we passed through the largest town in the area, Pacucha. It is named after the lovely lake it nestles beside. I was invited to speak to a denominational pastor's conference and was dressed in nice khakis, dress shoes, and a nice sweater. The view up the slope showed a muddy, slippery mess.

 I had second and third thoughts. Maybe the pastors couldn't get here because of the road, maybe they could all come down here and I could speak in the field. Maybe I could say that my heart couldn't do this, after all we were close to 13,000' up and a steep climb at that altitude could be dangerous. Maybe I could just slip and fall and hurt myself (just a little!)and I could just go home. But despite my misgivings, I climbed all the way up. Maybe I should say I slithered, was pulled, crawled and gasped and puffed up to the top.

The view was magnificent, glaciers off to one side, the big, beautiful lake Pacucha on the other and the jagged peaks of the Andes all around. The church was totally full, there were not just pastors but most of the congregations of the several churches in this area. We were late. That climb took some time! And we took seats and listened to one of the pastors preaching the book of James. I don't mean FROM the book of James, I mean the entire book. It only took about 4 1/2 hours! Then the musical guests played for an hour. Both the preaching and the singing were all in Quechua - I caught about 1/3 of what was said or sung. Then they turned the pulpit over to me.

 I was going to preach a sermon to encourage the pastors, but I felt strongly led to preach Missions. So, I preached from Matthew 9:35-38, and the Great Commission and Acts 1:8. I had a translator, but the people said that my Spanish was simple enough (I think that was a compliment!) that they didn't need to have me translated. As I spoke, several folk began taking notes, and some began to cry.

 When I was through preaching and about to close in prayer, one of the men stood up and asked me if he could speak before we prayed. Sure, why not? He basically reiterated what I had preached. Then he asked the folks, "why can't we send a missionary?" at least one to an area close. Another pastor stood up and said that the village of Pacucha desperately needed a church. Then they asked me to pray and after the prayer, one of the pastors asked everyone to remain seated.

 They held a meeting right then and there. The churches decided that they could support a missionary/church planter to go to Pacucha and plant a church. There was a young couple in the front row who had been crying just about since I began to preach. The man Cerillo stood up and said that he needed training, but that he and his wife felt called to leave their home and go to Pacucha to plant a church, but they didn't know how they could live. Another pastor said that the churches needed to support their missionary and they voted then to pay the young couple enough to live on.

Another pastor asked, but where can we plant a church there. We have no land or building in Pacucha. The young couple need somewhere to live and hold meetings. There was silence and stillness filled the church. Until an older man stood up and said that he had a building - house and store front - in Pacucha that he had been trying to sell. He said he understood now why he hadn't been able to sell it. He gave the use of the building for 2 years to the churches.

 Now I am invited back later this month to preach the inaugural sermon of a new church plant. In one afternoon these poor, country churches, heard the call, joined together to send out a worker, gave sacrificially, got a missionary couple and a location! My legs hurt from the climb, and I had a small fall on the way down, but I wouldn't have missed this experience for anything. Oh, and Cerillo and his wife will be attending the seminary to get the training that they need.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Prayer request - Tim

Please pray for our son Tim.  He was diagnosed earlier this year with Crohn's disease and is currently at home recuperating from a surgery to remove an intestinal obstruction.  He and his wife Brittney are expecting another addition to the family at the end of this month, so this is a particularly stressful time for them.  They are blessed with a very supportive church and nearby relatives who can care for Elizabeth during times like these.  Pray for us, too.  It's difficult to be in another continent when things like these are happening

Friday, June 29, 2012

We're back!


After 7 months of visiting churches in the U.S., we are back home and at work in Andahuaylas, Peru.  We flew from Miami May 16 and arrived in Lima that night.  Changing seasons from late spring to late fall was a bit of a shock, but it was good to be back in Peru. 

On the road to the Miami Airport
We stayed with Becky and Miguel for 4 weeks while we took care of some things that we can only do in Lima.  I got to teach the doctrine of the Holy Spirit at a high school, and got to meet with some folks about Christian bookstores about the possibility of somehow getting access to Christian books in Andahuaylas, and Tammy met with the directors of a language school about opening one in the mountains.  I also managed to get a nasty cold and cough, which sidelined me for a couple of weeks – that kind of put a crimp in our vacation time.  But we did get to spend a lot of time with Miguel, Becky, and Abigail.  My word, she has grown!  She is not a baby anymore.

Abby with her grandparents
Then we took the long bus trip from Lima to Andahuaylas.  There is a new bus that goes direct all the way, no need to change buses.  It is supposed to be only about 15 hours – great, huh?  However, the terminal has an outside waiting area, it was “raining” (in Lima that means a very wet fog with drizzle) and the bus was an hour late to pick us up.
Chris waiting in rain with luggage

 We found out then that the clerk had sold Tammy one set of seats on the seat selection picture and written a different set.  So we got on the bus very damp, and were confronted with folks in (what we thought were) our seats.  The bus never could seem to get the DVD player to work correctly and there was no water in the bathroom, but the seats (we ended up with the seats we wanted thanks to some nice folks) were comfortable.  The bus driver, although we were already late, was in no hurry and we sauntered down the coast.  On the best roads of the trip we made a kind of pomp and ceremony progress.  We stopped for supper after 9 pm and had a lukewarm bowl of rather foul (fowl?) tasting chicken soup for only twice the regular price. 

We crossed the cordillera of the western Andes (about 15,000’) at about 3 in the morning and it was very cold in the bus.  Outside there was more snow on and by the road than I have ever seen in Peru.  The driver, they must have changed, hurtled us through the night with reckless abandon, everything was falling and rolling around the bus – it made for some good prayer time!  About 10 am we stopped for breakfast.  Chris chanced the chicken soup again and got a good one, Tammy and I tried omelets and they were nice and greasy – shudder!  You don’t want to eat a bunch of grease when you are on twisting, winding Andean roads!  We were a little behind schedule at this time.  We were originally supposed to arrive at Andahuaylas around 9 am, but now they said we would get there around noon.

Back on the bus, now with a very hot sun beating in the windows and no air conditioning, we dashed forth once more.  It appeared that the driver was determined to make up the time.  But it was not to be.  We were stopped by police at a junction and we waited for almost an hour, no one on the bus knew why.  Speculation was rampant, maybe there is a bridge out, terrorists are on the road, there has been a wreck up ahead, the cops want a bribe – no one knew but we all had theories.

We got started again this time on a dirt road.  It is the dry season and the dust rose like a cloud of tear gas.  The sun was burning in the windows - remember that even though we are at a chilly altitude, we are still close to the equator – and the bus was HOT inside.  If we kept the windows closed, we were roasting, but if we opened them you had to put something over your mouth and nose, and even then you soon got grit on your teeth.  During this time we passed Kishuara, the highest point on the road between Abancay and Andahuyalas.  Tammy, for the first time ever got soroche (altitude sickness).

Thankfully, after a couple of hours of this, we hit pavement and knew that we were getting close, at least in distance.  That is when we hit the (what are they doing?!) road construction.  We would sit for a half an hour and crawl forward for a bit.  We finally hit the Andauaylas terminal about 4 pm - a trip about 22 hours long.  That is much quicker than the old way of two buses and around 30 hours, but it is not the 14 or 15 hours we had expected. 
But, we are home safe and sound.  It is so nice to be in our own little house!





Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Seminary starts second year!


This month, SEA, the Seminario Evangélico de Apurimac (Evangelical Seminary of Apurimac) started its second year.  Cayo Cardenas and Walter Ccoicca are teaching the first and second year students in 3 different locations.  There are 16 second year students starting the year with some others to join them after the present course and there are 40 first year students - there was no more room for them!  The students are coming from 9 different denominations and a few independent churches and they represent all ages. There are students from 18 years old up to a couple in their 70s.  

It is exciting to see how the school is growing and even more so when we see that Mike has not been there since November.  God is doing a great thing!


With all of this taking place it is sobering to note that Walter still has less than $130 per month support.  We are excited to see the plans that we hope to develop this year with the SEA and the Bible Institutes, but the reality is that Walter can't continue with so little money.  He is only able to do so now because his family is living in the Riggs house while they are the States.  Unless more support comes in for Walter soon, SEA will have to go to just two locations and will have to drop some students.  Please pray that Walter can get enough support to enable him to keep preparing pastors and church leaders for the Andes.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bible study in Leesville

This great Bible Study group of mainly military folks meets at the home of David and Renee Klann home in Leesville, LA.  It was great to meet with a group of committed Christians like these!
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Friday, March 23, 2012

Prayer and PRAISE 3-23-12

Praises:
An anonymous donor volunteered to buy plane tickets and the prices dropped, so we now have a departure date.  May 16 we are going back to Peru!

God protected us during another spell of severe weather.

Our daughter Becky and granddaughter Abby (both in Lima) had been quite ill and have recovered.

Prayer items:
Several students for the seminary in Apurimac are in need of scholarships.

Walter Ccoicca, who teaches at the seminary, is still in need of most of his monthly support.  When we come back, he will need to be able to move out of our house with his family so he will need to be able to pay rent, etc.

Travel safety--as always.

Thank you for your faithful prayers!
Tammy

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I an going to try out blogging from my phone because it has been so hard to blog on the road.

Severe weather night in Louisiana

When we heard that we were in for a night of severe weather Tuesday here at Camp Pearl in Reeves, Louisiana, I subscribed to weather alerts on my cell phone.  It was beeping every few minutes from around 8 pm to 2 am.  Flash flood alert!  Tornado watch!

At midnight we got a tornado warning and moved to a sturdier building about 100 yards away.  We got soaked getting there!

Normally dry area now a mini-lake.
Thanks be to God, no tornado touched down near here.  Everything is just waterlogged.  Even today on Thursday I am still getting flood alerts from all the rain that fell.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Peruvian Roads

"Oh man! Look at that backup!", Tammy was pointing to the long line of crawling cars and trucks on I-70 west of St. Louis. We were on our way from Alabama to Nebraska when we ran into (not literally) this big slow-down. We hadn't seen anything like that for years. The roads in Peru don't have traffic back-ups, but they sure have their own share of interesting and fun diversions. There is a TV show,"IRT: Deadliest Roads", that has featured Peruvian roads this year. Many folk have asked us if we have ever been on those roads.
The answer is, "yes"! If we didn't ride on those roads, we couldn't be here. Andahuaylas is in the middle of the Andes and there is no way to get out of there, get around in the region or even GET there (unless you fly) without riding on those roads for several hours at least. The roads are narrow, dirt roads and they criss-cross the Andes all over Peru. Many of the roads are way over the tree line and can be snowy and icy all year round. Others are more temperate; but the steep drop-offs, unimproved surfaces and frequent rock or mud-slides keep them from being boring.
One of the most notable features of these roads, that stands out riding a narrow old bus for 18 to 30 plus hours over them, is that they aren't straight for more than 2 or 300 yards at a time. The effect of all the constant turns is a kind of land-based seasickness. When that hits along with the altitude (very often well over 10,000') the resulting nausea is a blast! (sometimes literally!) The dirt surface is full of bumps and humps and holes, that also contribute to make the experience unforgettable, "Oh my aching back!".
One common occurrence is the "trasbordo". This happens when the bus that you are on can't go any further, the road is closed because of rock or mudslide, water pouring over the surface or maybe the road has just gone away (maybe fallen off the side of the mountain). Everyone gets out of the warm(ish) and smelly bus, grabs their luggage and hoofs it across the rocks, mud, yawning chasm - whatever - and tries to find a bus on the other side that can execute a 3 point turn (that will give you some white knuckles) and take you where it came from. That will at least be closer to where you are trying to go.

And I could go on and talk about highway robbers, icy roads, wrecks, spending hours in a small uncomfortable seat, roadside food and restrooms, etc. but I will save those for another time.
Just remembering the roads back home made the St. Louis traffic jam seem to be no problem!