I have said many times that “I’m starving”. After starting our kids Bible lesson and feeding program, I’m not sure I’ll use this saying again. The word starving in our community and many communities around the world is literal. There are many children in our neighborhood that don’t receive breakfast, have very little for lunch and no dinner. Some don’t even attend school because they have to work making bricks. We have been feeling God pull us toward them. It is a huge undertaking to start a feeding program for these kids, not only a financial undertaking, but also the logistics and the physical part of it were a concern. As we found out again, God is in charge and nothing is too big for him. We had a meeting with our Peruvian team and discussed this. They were very excited; we prayed and decided this can be done if we work together. The logistics part was taken care of by one of our team members who lives in this area, he said we can use their home and kitchen. The rest of the team was ready to cook, teach and serve. We are trusting in the Lord that the financial part will be taken care of also. As of now the program will be every Saturday and more if financially able. Being hungry for food is just part of it, they are also hungry for Christ. Mahatma Gandhi said “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread”. It’s been proven that hungry children have a hard time learning.
On our first day we fed over 50 kids. They had a good size piece of fish, cooked carrots, rice and a drink. They learned about and saw who God is and knew there was hope. Some came with sad faces but when they left, they were smiling. One family has 10 children. I know, I think the same thing, why keep having kids you can’t afford to feed. The thing is, the kids are here and that’s where we come in. On the day we started this program we went to their home to invite them and the mom was already out begging for food for the kids. When I say this family has nothing, that’s exactly what I mean. They have four walls and a partial roof, no beds or mattresses and sleep on a dirt floor. Victor who is 8 years old is one of the children and at the feeding program he had no idea how to use a fork. When you help someone’s children, it puts you in a different light with the parents and we could see this happen that day. Who knows where this will lead.
God has many different names:
Protector of the poor (Psalm 12:5)
Rescuer of the poor (1 Sam 2:8, Psalm 35:10, Jeremiah 20:13)
Provider of the poor (Psalm 68:10, Isaiah 41:17)
Savior of the poor (Psalm 34:6)
Refuge of the poor (Psalm 14:6, Isaiah 25:4)
When people who have nothing hear the Gospel they don’t take it as a threat, they take it as great news and respond readily.
A great quote I heard was “There is no poverty greater than to be without Christ”
The pastor from the community that our team will be serving traveled to Huancayo in order to ride back with the material for the church we’re building. After the material was paid for and loaded, I noticed tears running down his cheek. I was a little surprised because he never seemed to be the emotional type. We were told that the pastor and the people in the community never really believed that people would actually pay for the material and travel to Peru just to help them. All the buildings here are adobe, and they say this is their first modern building because it’s brick. This project cost more money than they would ever make. You also have to keep in mind that we are the first foreigners to travel to this area in 70 years, and for many it is their first experience with North Americans, so it wasn’t until we actually bought the first load of material that they all believed we were going to do what we said we would do. I also found out that the pastor is nervous about speaking in front of our team. I said there is no reason to be nervous, and he then responded, “but I don’t have any formal training. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Acts 1:8 says “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” He is doing exactly what the Lord wants us to do. This pastor has stepped up and is sharing Christ in his community with no formal training. I won’t tell the pastor this, but I feel a little like he does. Nervous. Who am I to guide these people? It is not “I”, it is the LORD. It is true, if you think your not qualified, but are willing, God will qualify you.
There are about 20 churches within a few hours of this location, and none of the leaders have had training. The reason for building this church is not so they can have a building to worship in, because we all know you don’t need a building for this, but it is to build relationships. We mentioned to someone that we would like to start up a discipleship group in this area, and he said it would be a good idea. Pastors would come and many people in the community also. We will need to raise money in order to purchase the materials for this ministry, so if you feel led to help with the purchase of this material, please let us know. This is something that God could use to multiply and grow His church in spectacular ways.
2Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.
Some of you have heard about when Katherine, our dog Codie and I went on a hike on the mountain behind us. We were about an 1 1/2 hours into the hike when we saw and heard a big dog about 30 yards away rushing down the mountain toward us growling and snarling. Our dog Codie, who is normally very gentle took off toward the dog. I truly believe he was trying to protect us. There was a dip in the terrain above us and both dogs disappeared in it. The next thing we heard was a ferocious dog fight break out. Our hearts sank. With Katherine screaming and the dogs fighting I ran as hard as I could to get to Codie. When I got to the peak of the dip I saw the other dog yelping and running into the trees. I looked down and Codie turned toward me, started waging his tail and began running to me ready to play. I searched him from head to toe and back again and couldn’t find a scratch on him. We then decided to head home, and as we were hiking across the mountain we noticed the other dog following above us. This dog continued to follow us most of the way back growling and slobbering but he never came any closer. I watched Codie as he kept an eye on the other dog. Even with the dog following us, I had a peace about me, knowing all was OK.
I’m not sure what was wrong or what provoked this dog, but I am sure the Lord was watching over us. When you have the Holy Spirit living in you, you experience a peace that can’t be compared with anything else. I think of Daniel in the Lion’s den, Moses standing at the edge of the Red Sea, David standing before Goliath and so many more. The peace and comfort they had to have. Psalms says “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.” This peace and comfort is for all of us, and we are blessed to have it. The number one protection we have is the army of prayer warriors we have praying. Please continue to pray, it is very powerful. And please let us know your prayer request, we would be honored to pray for your specific needs.
Matthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
We are very excited about the opportunity to start a kid’s club on Sunday afternoons at the orphanage. We approached a young woman by the name of Rut, to help lead the kids club. I met Rut in 2009 on a short term mission trip to Peru, and have often thought about her and prayed for her over the years. She is just one of those people you can’t get out of your mind. When I told her what we wanted to do at the orphanage her response was,” When do we start?” So together we translated the Bible study I wanted to begin with, and gathered some music and crafts. The week following, she invited us to her church to a kid’s celebration. What we saw confirmed that she was the right person for the job. The format for the day was exactly what we had envisioned for the orphanage. Our first kids club is the Sunday after Easter. Please pray that it is successful and the children are receptive to the teachings of Christ.
Also, I was finally approved to enter the women’s prison in Jauja Peru. It took nearly three months, but I’m in. I must say your patience is definitely tested when you are on the mission field. This prison is about an hour ride from our home, and we have to change vehicles several times along the way. It would take half the time if we had a vehicle, but again, I am learning to have more and more patience. The facility was not what I expected. There are two big rooms that sleep about forty women each, and a “courtyard” area in which the women hang laundry, knit, and visit with each other. This is also where we gather for the weekly Bible study. About fifteen women attend the class each week. Their ages range from early twenties to sixties. They are very attentive, and some have the courage to ask questions. My first week there two of the women said they did not want to go back to their old lives and that they wanted to leave the prison as changed women living for Christ. What a blessing it was to hear them say that! The Bible studies are very basic and repetitive. I have been told it is because of such an abundant lack of education that things need to be repeated in several different ways several times. Again it takes a lot of patience.
I also learned that two of the women in this group have children at the orphanage where we are working. Both of these boys, ages three and four, were in the prison with their mother until the age of three and are now at the orphanage with us. I have not mentioned to the mothers that I know their children, but when the time is right I will let them know that they are doing well. It is kind of bittersweet knowing the mothers of these two boys. Part of me is sad to see such young children separated from their mothers and yet part of me is hopeful that these women will allow the Lord to work in their lives so that when they leave the prison they will be good examples for their children. I ask that you keep the women in this Bible study in your prayers.
We’ve been digesting everything that has been happening in just over a month since we’ve returned from the states. Doors are opening and we ask that you join us in prayer to discern which ones the Lord is leading us through. When I say leading us, this means you and us. We need to make sure we are listening to His voice only. As of now we have prison ministry opportunities, discipleship opportunities in our communities, opportunity to join with a group of Peruvians praying with prostitutes in Huancayo, continued opportunities at the orphanage, a possible opportunity of working with another orphanage of mentally handicapped children, opportunities to open up areas to the gospel through short term mission teams from the states and much more. We can’t do them all, even though we want to, so we need to listen and follow.
We continue to be amazed, and probably will always be, at how God can use us. That’s when I realized, again, that together we can make a difference. We are so thankful that you’ve listened. Jesus’s command to the early church was to carry the good news to other places. In 2 Thessalonians 3 Paul says “Brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it is with you.” When Paul says pray for us, he is talking about you and I. God is not willing that any perish, as it says in 2 Peter 3:9. His plan is for you and I to share the gospel with the people around us, where ever that might be. He could have chosen any means He wanted at sharing the gospel, but He chose you and I. How AWESOME is that! We just need to listen. I, which is singular, can’t do much, but you and I are the Body of Christ, which is plural, with all our resources together can spread the gospel throughout the world. I know with all the evil and persecution going on in the world now, it’s easy to become discouraged and give up. We need to stay focused on the Lord. This is all about Him and not us. This is His story. Deuteronomy 31: 8 says “The Lord is indeed going before you, He will not fail or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” We need to put all things in His hands, then listen and trust. His ways are always the best ways and correct. He will always supply us with what we need, we’ve learned this here in Peru. Some of the last words Jesus spoke in Matthew 28: 18—20 were “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
So from the bottom of my heart, I as well as several Peruvians that we are working with, want to thank you for your obedience and listening to the Lord and being a part of God’s Great Commission. Again, please be in prayer that we choose God’s will and not ours.
And He will reign forever and ever. Amen
As a lot of you may know one of those concerns was about the orphanage. We knew that when we left for the States the assistant director, Norma, was going to retire. This orphanage is not real easy to work with or get into and the assistant director was a big reason we were able to be there. The primary director was never very open or friendly, but he went along with Norma. Therefore, we were worried we would not be able to continue ministry there. A day after we returned to Peru, we were walking past the orphanage when some of the kids saw us through the bars and came running to the gate. The guard immediately opened the gate and let the kids out to greet us. Our hearts melted. They started going on about Norma (the former assistant director) leaving. Then they also told us the director and the rest of the staff were no longer there either, we were surprised at this news. We were told that Norma, the guards, the house moms and all the kids told the new staff about us. Again, our hearts melted. We set up a time to meet with the new director a couple days later. Needless to say we were a little apprehensive. The guard took us to the new assistant director and she took us to the new director. He was very receptive and said he heard about us and that we would have no restrictions at the orphanage as long as we helped the kids feel at peace. Words can’t describe how we felt at that moment. The kids were so excited when we showed up the following Saturday for English class.
There is no doubt in our minds that if we never shared this prayer concern while in the States and had so many praying about it, the outcome would be different. The power of prayer is the most powerful weapon we have against the enemy. We covet your prayers, so please keep them coming.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Over the years, we’ve made it a habit to go out to eat for our birthdays. We continued this in Costa Rica & we’ll continue in Peru. On my birthday we went to eat at a restaurant in the center of Huancayo. This was Easter weekend and there was a lot going on in the streets. One street in particular was outside the window of the restaurant we were eating at. This street had tents set with small tables to eat at. I saw something that I didn’t share with my family. I don’t know why, it just seemed private. I saw a man sitting on a curb watching people eat, and when a group of young people finished their meal, they left food behind on their plates. He jumped up, sat at their table, and quickly ate what was left over. He even checked their cups to see if there was any drink left. I’m not sure if he ate so fast because he was afraid he’d be chased off, which he wasn’t, or because he was just that hungry. I have to tell you, I thought about the tradition we have of eating out on our birthdays, and then deciding if we want desert, and I was very humbled. Don’t take me wrong, I don’t think it’s wrong to have small luxuries, but I need to keep things in perspective.
Living here we have just started to see the poverty. Children around our neighborhood are certainly malnourished. They might not be skinny, but you can tell by the color of their cheeks. This problem is not unique to Peru either. Not a day goes by when we don’t see someone begging on the street. This is usually a very old person or a young child. For some reason, watching this man touched me in a different way. I realized once again that I need to be more thankful for every blessing that I have in my life, and I need to use these blessings to bless the Lord. I pray that my heart will never grow hard to the people in need.
God knows exactly what will take place in our lives. He knows every detail and He works out the details for His glory and our good. We just need to look to our Father for help. At this point in time our lives feel like a very challenging puzzle. More importantly, we’re learning that we need to stop more often and just look to our Father for guidance along the way.
“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” (Proverbs 19:17)
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
“For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11)
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)
This has been a good month. We are in a groove, making friends, meeting others in ministry and being a part of the neighborhood. The transition has been smooth, yet, I feel like who I am has somehow gotten lost in this transition phase. I have been so busy doing and not being. So busy homeschooling Katie, setting up home, preparing lessons for three different English classes, learning Spanish, reading Spanish discipleship books and just learning my way around town that I have forgotten about me. Going through the motions of transition and feeling like “who I am” has disappeared along the way.
I have realized that we need to be more intentional about who we are and what makes us feel alive with purpose. We will have to prioritize, give up things we thought we needed but are really just clutter and distractions. Change is hard, habits difficult to break and stepping out of our comfort zone can be scary. Sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation, but, if we change what is holding us back or stalling our journey and exchange the clutter for what we really need we will find Him waiting, showing us who we were meant to be.
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.-Maya Angelou
It is difficult, sometimes impossible, to be still and listen to God and to really discover what fills you with purpose and peace. The word Selah means to “pause and reflect” During the chaos of our lives, when things don’t make sense, when we can’t find our purpose, when we no longer know who we are or have no idea what tomorrow may look like, when we are drowning in life, we need Selah.
This can look like so many things; reading to our children, sitting on the front porch watching the sunset, going for a walk with our husband, simply letting go and enjoying the moment we are in. This is something I know is difficult, especially for mothers with so many responsibilities and people to take care of. We tend to feel responsible for everything and everyone don’t we?
Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.
Be aware of what the Holy Spirit is saying and feeling. Don’t dismiss the whispers because there are too many things to do. Take your time and make the changes you need to be who you are meant to be.
When peace eludes us we replace it with doubt. We doubt ourselves, our relationships, our God.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trust in thee. Isaiah 26:3
Daniel and I had the privilege of participating in a medical and dental campaign in the jungle of Peru in June. We boarded the bus on a Friday morning at 7am. It was difficult to leave, especially my little girl. I got teary as did she and I did not look back once we walked out the gate. It was a 9 hour bus ride with nearly a 2 hour live infomercial, magic in a bottle as Daniel called it. We arrived late to the hostel, had a cold dinner and one last even colder shower before getting up at 4am, for a 2 hour, “hold on to the seat of your pants” taxi ride to the boat. The boat ride was good, peaceful, so beautiful with green mountains and the sky so close you could touch the clouds. When we stopped, we were told at the 3rd and final military check point after about 9 hours on the river that we could not proceed around the bend to the Ashaninka village. We didn’t have permission is what the lieutenant claimed even though we had all the necessary paperwork. Everyone began to pray.
We spent the night in Puerto Anapati. I was a bit nervous about spending the night in this town. The hostel was a building of gapped wood boards on stilts with about a 2 feet opening between the top of the walls and the roof. I watched as the rats scurried along the rafters, amazed I was not completely freaked out. Daniel was protective of his mom. The men and women were to sleep in separate buildings unless married but he refused to leave me and we bunked with a young married couple. Praise God we slept good.
Dr. Ron, the dentist on the team that I had the pleasure to work with, had a conversation with the soldier that told us we could not proceed that night. He too was a Marine. They shared stories and then Dr. Ron said to him that he knew he was a courageous man and an honorable man, but was he a faithful man. The soldier responded that he hoped he was. Dr. Ron said that he would pray for him and his family. We were told in the morning that we could proceed to the village. God is good.
So around the bend we sailed, unloaded the boat and walked about a half mile to the village. I was a little apprehensive considering the state of the village we had just come from but when we came to the end of the trail there was the village; it looked like paradise, clean, well kept, simple, so beautiful I actually got teary. I don’t know if it was because it was so beautiful or just the relief that it was nothing like the previous town. Probably a little of both. It was a good few days, even without electricity, water, showers, toilets or beds. Those of you who know me know I am not the camping type and this was a bit more roughing it than camping, but God was in control and kept me unaffected by the situation.
One day a witchdoctor paid us a visit and told the people in the village that there were demons in the river. He said that if they paid him he would remove the demons. The Ashaninka were not intimidated by him because they know they are protected by Jesus Christ. The next day, eight people from the village were baptized in that very river. Also, the soldier who initially said we could not proceed came by the village and gave Dr. Ron a marine medallion. Evidently, this medallion is given from one marine to another out of respect and Dr. Ron was very touched by the gesture. I believe that God was working on this man through Dr. Ron.
There were about 280 people seen by our team, not as many as we hoped because some other villages were told the campaign was cancelled due to the previous day’s incident. But, we were pleased nonetheless and excited that there were 32 professions of faith.
When we arrived home I cried. I’m not sure why? Just overwhelmed with so many emotions I guess. So glad to see my family and not only feeling blessed but knowing I am blessed. Thankful and looking forward to the next campaign. Yes, I’d do it again.
I’ve worked with medical campaigns twice before, so I knew what to expect and I thought I would be ready for anything, but I was mistaken. I wasn’t ready for much of anything. I wasn’t ready for our first patient to be a little girl with a leg infection so bad that if she didn’t get the leg amputated she would die (a procedure her family could most likely not afford). I wasn’t ready for our third patient, a 37 year old mother of five, to be carried in on a blanket by four guys because her breast cancer was so far advanced that she was too weak to walk. I wasn’t ready for dozens of abused women to come in needing help, but us not being able to do anything for them…at least not physically. I wasn’t ready for a woman who was being beaten and abused to come in and break down in front of us, and then the very next patient to be her husband who was responsible for most of the abuse. Talk about having to control ones emotions. Only God’s grace allowed me to be able to translate for the man. And I definitely wasn’t ready for 6 and 7 year old girls to come in with STDs, many of which came from their own fathers. Did I expect these things? Yes. Was I ready for these things? Certainly not.
A lot of people don’t understand why we live where we live and do what we do. The simple answer is that God has called us here. He set a pretty easy-to-understand example of what we are to do, and His word is very clear on the matter. We are to love one another, just as Christ has loved us. There are lots of passages in the Bible that show us that we are to love and serve one another, and one such passage I read recently is Romans 12:6-21
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us…if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality…. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
The week we spent up (further) in the mountains was tough both physically and emotionally, but that’s what God calls us to do. He calls us to serve others, to encourage and teach them, to help those who are in need, and above all to love. That’s what we try to do every day. As difficult as it is to tell a father that his daughter needs treatment/surgery or she could die, knowing the whole time that they can’t afford to go to a hospital, is very difficult, but God hasn’t called us to do what is easy. We went, we helped as much as we could, we prayed hard and now we leave it up to God. Hundreds of people were exposed to the Gospel in that week. That is the main purpose for going. Those few days in that town have allowed for the discipleship to grow in that area. By us going there we were able to help physically and more importantly spiritually, all the while showing the love of Christ to the people there. As it says in 1 John 4:7 Daniel
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”