Peru 2016 Week 1:
Sunday: Sunday was such a blessing. First, my Life Group prayed over me and gave me letters to open (it looks like one per day while I’m in Peru). Barbara shared from Romans 10 (references Isa. 52) about “how beautiful are the feet of those who share the Gospel.” She shared that the word beautiful actually means home and how she knows that I am at home in Peru. Then, she started to cry – not good. I was so on the verge of tears already! Then, at the close of our worship service at church, Pastor Jon had me go to the center and folks from all over came and prayed over me. I couldn’t hold back the tears then! The rest of the day was full of packing and repacking to get my luggage under the necessary 50 pounds! We did it!! I finally went to bed about 12:30 and had my alarm set for 3:30 am. Oy!
Monday: Actually got up when the alarm went off! I was so afraid I’d miss it! Made it to the airport and got checked in. American Airlines had given me a 3rd bag free, which is HUGE! I was able to bring many supplies with me! Made it through security with little trouble – just couldn’t get my carry-on to zip back up – LOL. Plane boarded almost immediately. Uneventful flight. Made it to Washington DC just in time to switch planes. Got on the 2nd plane and the flight attendant asked if I wanted the back row to myself (my knee acts up when I fly) – YES!! Wrote quite a bit of one of the lessons for this weekend. That’s a huge load off! Last leg of the flight was delayed, but that gave me time to eat (got empanada and papa rellana – not as good as Charo’s, but at least it was similar) and stretch a little. Asked if there were any two seats vacant so I could stretch out my knee again and so I could spread out the teaching materials to study more. The Lord is so good! There were, and I took them. Checked the larger carry-on to Lima so I wouldn’t have to fight with it in the overhead. Although this plane was bigger than the DC to Miami plane, the space between the seats is less, so I needed the extra seat to be able to study. Slept a little and then wrote some of the “Armor of God” lesson for this week. Uneventful flight. Landed and got assistance (my knee was HUGE by the time we landed) with my bags. Passport stamped and given 100 days in Peru!! BOY HOW I WISH THAT WERE THE CASE!! I got stopped this year in customs – I was afraid it was for the knives I brought in for Rosa and Charo. Candy had told me it shouldn’t be a problem, but I couldn’t think what else it might be. Then I remembered the computer parts that Jonathan and Rocio asked for, and I figured that was it. No, no problem there. I knew it wouldn’t be the peanut butter, because I brought in more than that last year. It was the TRACTS!! They saw two suitcases lined with “books” so they thought I was bringing something in to sell. I’m sure via the x-ray machine, it did look suspicious! So, they opened both bags, pulled out a few of the gallon sized bags of tracts, read the outside of a few, and asked what they were for. When I said, “por la iglesia.” He said, “All of these are for the church?” I smiled, a little nervously I’m sure, and said, “Sí. Todo.” He smiled and closed the bag. He went back to the lady at the scanner and said, “Todo por la iglesia.” She waved, smiled, and said, “You are ok. No problem.” Whew! Pastor Julio and Rosa were waiting for me with a lady from their church who has a car. Traffic was horrible, but we only nearly died twice, so it wasn’t too bad. Made it to the church and brought the suitcases up. They tried to feed me (keep in mind it is almost 11pm by now) and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Pollo a la brassa – YUM, but I could only eat a little. I unloaded the items that are for San Carlos and shifted a few things. I was looking for my toothbrush. Nope. Didn’t make it in any of the 5 pieces of luggage. I’ll be going to the market tomorrow. Rosa and I talked for a bit about the weekend themes. She seems pleased with them. One of the older ladies in their church passed away in her sleep last night, so the other ladies in the church that were planning to be here when I got here tonight (How sweet is that?!?!) were caring for her family. The lady in charge of the music for this weekend wanted to talk with me tonight, but that’s why she wasn’t here. Sometimes I forget how much they put into conferences before I come and then how much they do to prepare once I’m here. Rosa loved all of the mesh I brought down for her to use for decorating! And, she clapped over and over for the boxes of crayons! In July this year, the church here at San Carlos is hosting a group of 100 missionaries from China! (I have NO idea where they’re all staying, but Rosa and the other women of the church are responsible for feeding them twice a day for 6 days!! That’s why Candy and I bought knives and vegetable peelers for them! I remember peeling and cutting potatoes for one meal for the group in San Ramón last year (25-40) and how blistered my hand was! I cannot imagine cooking for 100. I do feel badly, though, that I won’t be here to help. If I weren’t scheduled to be teaching, I would have rearranged my plans. So, I guess my eyes kept closing. Rosa sent me to bed. She won’t let me have the small room with the bunk beds this year. I know it’s out of respect, but she should have the large room. *sigh* And, she may be trying to keep me from giving myself another concussion like last year – ha!
Tuesday: Today was a bit uneventful while being eventful all at once, if that makes any sense. Because no one is actually staying in the apartment right now, there is no WiFi here. Normally, I would say, ‘No problema,’ but that means I have no connection for studying or no connection to let Mom know I’m ok. She worries. One of my Peruvian cousins was supposed to have a USB waiting for me, but when she went to purchase it, they were out. So, Rosa and I decided to go look for one after we ate the amazing pancake breakfast she cooked for us (10 am). We walked through the market here in San Carlos, but no one sold anything similar. So, off to Plaza Norte we went. We took the big bus that only makes stops every 3 blocks instead of the one that stops every block. (haha) We got there, found a place, got all the way to the end of the purchase process, and the young man told Rosa she had the wrong ID with her (the one she had showed an expiration date, she needed the one without an expiration date). She tried to reason with him that the number was exactly the same, but he would have none of it. That meant we had to go to her apartment in Lima to get it and come back. Several blocks of walking, 2 short bus rides, and another mile of walking, we made it to her apartment, got the ID and headed back – made the mile, the 2 short bus rides, and a couple of blocks of walking when I realized my sugar was bottoming out, and I didn’t have anything with me. (By now, it’s 4pm, and I haven’t eaten since around 10.) The first thing I thought of was Lisa telling me before I left, “No bottoming out over there!” (hahahaha) Now, keep in mind, when my sugar bottoms, I have a difficult time thinking in English. I’m with Rosa, who knows very little English, and my Spanish isn’t that great for something like this. I finally get out enough that she understands I need to eat. I had already turned clammy, so it was TIME. We quickly found a “safe” place to eat, according to Rosa. After eating a bit, I was able to think again. I think I scared Rosa. I didn’t mean to. I have to remember that I need to eat on a fairly regular schedule, even if they do not. Anyway, we made our way back to the kiosk, bought the USB, and headed back to San Carlos. I worked a little on Friday’s lesson, checked in on Merlyna and Mom (and others and Facebook – ha), and then we went for Chifa (Chinese). Peru has spoiled me toward Chinese. I can’t explain it, but it’s better here. Tomorrow, we’re going into Lima to pass out tracts and to do my souvenir shopping.
Wednesday: Got up early and headed out to Lima. We took the quick bus again. Rosa doesn’t like taking taxis because they’re not as safe, she says. I guess because the bus has more people on it, but sometimes, these buses have 50 seated passengers and another 30 or so standing. That makes me nervous – lol. I didn’t want to shop until we’d passed out the tracts. Rosa thought that was funny, but she obliged. She never ceases to amaze me. The folks I would be afraid to hand a tract to (policemen, bank security), she walks right up to and starts telling them that Jesus is the Truth, the Life, and the Way. They listen to her, too! At one point, we passed a long line of folks waiting to go into the bank. People wait outside until someone is available inside to help you. I counted at least 30 people in line. Perfect for Rosa! She starts down the line telling them about Jesus and handing them a tract. They have no where to go in a hurry, so why not read! That’s what she said! It was great! And the thing is, they stood there and read the tract! I wanted to get a picture, but because of bank security, I thought it best not to. And, yes, while she was doing that, I was handing out tracts to folks who passed by and to those sitting on benches. We went down to the center of the city where the large Catholic church is. We went in for a few minutes – a morning mass was going on. It was sad to see the people “worshiping” without knowing Jesus. When we got out into the center area again, I started passing out tracts, when I heard someone say, “Well, it’s Stephanie Crawford!” At first, I thought maybe the sun was getting to me – ha. But, I looked up and saw a friend from college who is serving with her husband in Lima!! We hugged and talked for several minutes. I mentioned that I am really frustrated with my lack of knowledge of the language and how just the simple words (days of the week, who/what/when/where) trip me up. She was an English teacher, too, so I knew she’d get why the format gives me fits. She told me that she had struggled, too, until she had to do it by herself. She said when her husband was with her, she would rely on him. But when he began taking trips to other areas with folks that visit and for outreach, she had no choice but to learn. I said, “Yeah, but y’all have been here a long time.” She said, “No, Steph. We didn’t come to Peru until I was 42! We’ve only been here 5 years!” There’s hope for me!! I can still learn. While it was great seeing her, I know that the Lord placed her there at that time to encourage me that when He opens the door for me to be in Peru full time, He’ll also help me learn the language in His time. We handed out over 300 tracts today!! The Bible tells us that His Word will not return to Him void. We may never know until eternity who read the tracts and prayed the prayer of salvation. But, God knows. Oh, yeah, I did the shopping I needed to do. And, I found clear stones to use for the white stone lesson. It’s not really what I wanted, but it was cheap and easy to find. When we got home, I finished the English part of the lesson. This lesson on Friday is taking me much longer than I anticipated.
Thursday: Went with Rosa to the market this morning. She wants to cook in the apartment the next few days so that we aren’t wasting so much time going out. I’m perfectly fine with that. Her cooking is amazing! I just hate that she is working so hard to ‘pamper’ me. I would be just fine with rice and chicken. She’s going all out, though! When I tried to tell her not to fuss so much, she shh’d me! Lol Of course, I did not complain when she said she was making me yucca! YUMMY Got back and began working on the PowerPoint and the fill-in-the-blank for the ladies. I’m having to rely on Google Translate, and that makes me nervous! It works, but many times, it doesn’t use the most up-to-date words. I’m sure praying that my translator can fix any mistakes as we go. In the afternoon, one of the ladies from the church here, Mariela, (the one who picked me up at the airport) came over. Rosa and Pastor Julio have asked her to translate for me. I’m a bit concerned, because she asked to use Google to translate the English to the Spanish. Her English is about as good as my Spanish. But, God knows. He will provide. It’s His lesson anyway. A little bit later, Charo came!!! My friend is here!! (Yes, Rosa is my friend, too, but Charo and I are much closer – in age, in mannerisms, and in heart.) She told me that she and her mother-in-law and sister-in-law are coming on Friday night. NO PRESSURE! I think she is concerned about the translator as well. After Mariela left, she asked Rosa about Kimberly (I’m not sure who she is, but a couple of people have mentioned her now). Rosa said they haven’t been able to get her to answer. Charo’s son came in while we were talking about that. When it was time for prayer meeting, Charo and Samuel left. Rosa and I went downstairs. Prayer meeting always amazes me here. There’s a short devotional (tonight’s was on honoring the king – Peru just had their elections, and the president that the Christians wanted in office was not elected), and then they pray. And, they pray the old fashioned way, kneeling on the floor. Three people prayed tonight, and we knelt for over an hour! While I couldn’t really understand everything that was being said, I could hear their hearts. I wept. How often do I find it difficult to stay focused enough to pray for 10 minutes?! After prayer meeting, Pastor Julio met with Rosa, the youth pastor, Mariela, and me. I think he is beginning to worry about the translating as well. He kept asking Mariela if she was prepared. He wanted to see my PowerPoint. That’s a bit difficult, since it’s not gotten that far. But, it will be finished. After Rosa and I were back upstairs, Rosa got a phone call from Charo. Samuel has called his friend from seminary Zabdi about translating tomorrow. Candy and I were chatting on Facebook for a few about tomorrow. She also mentioned Zabdi and has messaged her. I met Zabdi last year when I taught in La Pascana. I remember thinking that I was nervous that she knew so much English – ha. She’s a really sweet girl. We’ll see what the Lord does. My legs are itching like crazy! I think I have 37 bites, if I counted correctly (some of them are running together now). Rosa has 2. *sigh* I am definitely praying for relief! It’s difficult to sleep, study, focus or anything when I’m constantly scratching. That sounds like I’m complaining, and I guess I am just a little. Forgive me, Lord, for not rejoicing. Time for bed.
Friday: Actually set my alarm today – YUCK! But, there’s much to finish before tonight’s lesson. Zabdi called. She will be here this afternoon! Praise the Lord! I feel badly, though, for Mariela. She truly has a servant’s heart. She was willing to help. She sent over flan by her kiddos today – YUM! She will still come tonight. Rosa has made me stop working twice today to eat. I tried to tell her that I don’t eat much when I teach because it upsets my stomach. She will have none of it. Finished the PowerPoint and fill-in-the-blank at 2. Rosa went to get copies. Just as I started to get ready, Zabdi came. We talked for a few about the lesson so that she would know where it’s going and to see if she can understand my accent. She had no trouble whatsoever. She said she would look at the PowerPoint and fix anything that needed to be fixed while I got ready. Such a blessing!! She did find a few errors, but I expected that with Google. She also found one verse where I’d copied the wrong one – thankful she found that, because the one I used had zero to do with what I was saying at the time. We started about 5:15, taught the first part of the lesson (Who is our enemy? How does he attack us?), and then we had a snack break. Afterwards, we finished the lesson. It is so hard to read faces. Most everyone was taking notes, so that’s good, I suppose. There were a couple of times that I moved from behind the computer to illustrate or demonstrate parts of the armor. I realized that when I can move around and talk (instead of being tied to the paper), I am more relaxed. Again, if I just knew the language so that I could teach, I could do that! In His time. I gave the plan of salvation clearly. I never take for granted that everyone who comes is saved, because, well, I wasn’t for a long time. And, I always share that part. It’s important for me to share that going to church and being involved in church does not get us to heaven. I handed out sheets with “Who I am in Christ” with verses for the ladies. I think it’s important for us to remember who we are in Him, especially when we’re having a tough time. Many of the ladies here tonight have young children – they’re tired. They need the encouragement. Others are the grandmothers, helping to take care of the children while still working. They’re frazzled. There were a couple of single moms here tonight, too. We had about 30 ladies, 18 children, and 1 man (he comes whenever the doors to the church are open – he’s mentally disabled, but he loves the Lord, so he comes). At the end, I gave out the stones with names on them – loved, forgiven, His daughter, His trophy, holy, jewel, valuable, princess, precious. I really have no idea how the lesson went. Three different ladies came up to me afterward and (through Zabdi) told me that it was very practical and was exactly what they needed. Rosa said others told her different parts that spoke to them. Any and all glory goes to Him. Zabdi will be here tomorrow around 5 to look at the PowerPoint for tomorrow. Much of it will be the same, but some will be different. I’m too tired tonight to even look at the lesson for tomorrow. Thankfully, I didn’t itch today until right before bed. Thank You, Lord!
Saturday: Slept very late this morning (of course, I was up between 3-5, wide awake – partially because of the bites and partially because my mind was going full blast – spent some time in prayer). As soon as we ate breakfast, I got back to work on the PowerPoint for the teens. I thought it would be easy, just copy and paste, but that wasn’t working well. Thankfully, much of it was just reformatting, so that is good. Worked on it almost all day. Zabdi came back to translate again, which is HUGE. Three of the teens picked a song out to sing for me. As I listened to them sing and as I read the words on the screen, my heart was overcome with emotion! The song talked about the love of Christ and how He loves us unconditionally. I had never heard the song before, but it will not be the last time I hear it! (I need to make a note to ask Zabdi what the name of it was.) One of those teens was one of the girls I met my first summer here. Her name is also Stephanie. That first summer, she would barely make eye contact with us. Tonight, she was SINGING in front of the whole group of teens! The Lord has made changes in her heart! It was so wonderful to see. Several others sang specials, too. They had a Bible memorization challenge and a Bible question challenge. The boys did better than the girls. It was neat to see them challenge each other. There were 24 in the teen service, with 7 visitors!! Of the 7, I was told 2 heard the Gospel for the first time. A seed was planted.