Sunday: There was only one service this morning as it was Father’s Day (no Sunday School or evening service). Jonathan spoke from Galatians 4:3-7 and Romans 8:9-15 about how we can have confidence in our Abba, Father. I was challenged in my relationship with Him, to trust Him in all things. This hit me hard, especially in light of the flash drive issues. We had a large lunch together as a church. The ladies cooked pork, potatoes, rice, onions, and chicha morada (that’s the drink that I like so much from the purple corn). My stomach was still in knots, so I didn’t eat all of the pork. I did eat rice, potatoes, onions and drank chicha. After everyone left, I got on Tech Support with Norton Security, since that’s who protects my computer. They were able to find the files, but they were attached to the virus. Once we deleted the virus, the files were gone again. The tech support person tried for 4 hours to get everything back. (Juan Carlos was busy with his family for Father’s Day and wasn’t able to assist at the time.) Candy contacted her brother Jeff in South Carolina who remotely took over my computer and had it fixed in less than 20 minutes! He added an additional malware program, backed up my files, and cleaned everything up! I literally had tears streaming down my face. I learned several things from the experience: 1) God is concerned about the little things, 2) God is totally in control of everything, 3) Back files up in different places, 4) I have a large prayer support group (I already knew this one). And, as I write this on Monday, I’m adding another one: 5) The enemy is attacking me in the area of anxiety BIG time this summer. He CANNOT have the victory! In the evening, we practiced our choir piece again for Pichanaki. I think I have the soprano part down for the first 2 verses and the majority of the chorus, but the last verse is a half-step higher, and I can’t “hear” it. There is only written music parts for the first verse. I’m going to try to find it for the others. Tamara made carrot cake cupcakes – YUM! I couldn’t help but think, “I will sleep MUCH better tonight – mas tranquillo.” Shouldn’t we always sleep tranquilly in Him? Another OUCH for me.
Monday: In my devotions this morning, I read 1 Corinthians 4:16. Paul told the Corinthians to imitate him because he lived out his faith so well. Could I say the same to someone else, to imitate me? OUCH! At breakfast, we talked about a couple of things – first, it’s Samuel’s birthday, turning 18. He wants a tattoo. Pastor Jorge asked me my thoughts. Well….since I have 2, that’s difficult to answer. I know how he wants me to answer. The thing is, I got both of mine before I truly had a relationship with the Lord, and I got both of mine during very dark times in my life. I sometimes regret having them. So, that’s what I said. I did tell Samuel that as a young person, they seem glamorous, but later on, they won’t. They change shape, etc. I reminded him that they are permanent. Then, Pastor Jorge told me he wants to change the agenda for Sunday a little this next week. Rocio and Jonathan will be out of town, so Samuel will translate for me with the children for Sunday School (we will practice this week). Then, he said he wants me in the main service, because he wants to formally introduce me to the church and have a question and answer time. He wants me to share my heart for the ministry here, why I believe God wants me here, and what my “vision” for ministry is. I’m already nervous. (Sensing a theme of attack here? I am. Satan is really working overtime on my anxiety! “What time I am afraid, I will trust in You.”) He said we would look at the questions together that he will ask me and we can practice the answers. Then, he will have the church ask questions that they may have. That’s the part that makes me a bit more nervous, since I will have to think on my feet in Spanish – translate to English, answer in my head in English, and give it back in Spanish. I may need my translator on my phone – lol. I know the Lord has prepared me for this, and I know He will get me through it. I’m not “really” worried…. *gulp*. Pastor Jorge and I talked today about the churches in the area. He said most folks here are “culture” Catholics. That means, they believe as Catholics, but they are not in church. Most folks who go to church go to one of the Pentecostal churches in the area. The ONLY Baptist church in San Ramon is this one. Talked to Charo for a bit about where the people in the area work. She said if they can afford to own a bodega, that’s what they do. If not, they may work in one. Others farm and sell their produce or coffee beans. Others set up on the side of the roads. Most, she said, work in La Merced, about half an hour away in the mines. They work 14 days on and 7 off. She said it’s really hard work. For some reason tonight, I lost the “peace” I had about what I’m supposed to teach the women on Saturday in Naranjal. It’s to be an evangelistic meeting. I’m actually leaning away from using the wordless book and leaning toward using the story with the woman touching His hem. Dunno. Going to keep praying. He’ll show me.
Tuesday: Restless night. Not sure why. It rained overnight. Not enough that I had to close the windows, but enough that there was no dust in the air all day. Woke earlier than usual and had my devotions. I read my letter for the day from my Life Group. Today’s was on resting in His strength and not my own. That’s something I definitely needed today as I am really tired. The “neat” thing about that – I pulled two different letters out of the ziplock bag of letters. I asked the Lord which one I should read today, and He directed me to that one. Charo wasn’t feeling well (the change in altitude and climate in Tarma messed with her ears and throat), so she slept in. After we ate breakfast, she and I went to the market for the few things she needed to make Aji de pollo (my FAVORITE meal) and to buy more water for me. I can’t believe I’ve already gone through the 7L water in under a week! I helped get the purple corn ready for Chicha when we got back and then worked on updating “The Hem of His Garment” lesson for the other churches (Tarma wanted 2 lessons, so the lesson wasn’t quite “finished” for church teaching). As Christians, we need the faith that the woman had – a bold faith to step out and do what seems impossible. Too many times we trust Him with our salvation and then forget the need for childlike faith in other areas, at least until a “tragedy” occurs. Yes, I was teaching to myself as I was updating the lesson. Charo is helping David’s teacher with the letters for her bulletin board. Here, instead of just running down to School Aids or some place similar, they trace the letters onto “plastic felt,” for lack of a better description and then cut them out. I cut out about 100 letters today. (Even in Peru, I can’t get away from bulletin boards – lol). At lunch, Tamara mentioned that she wants a professor to teach her English, not the internet. Then, Nico said she wants to learn more English, too. I don’t think either one of them said anything to get me to help them, but in my spirit, I felt the Holy Spirit tell me that that is something I can help with. I mean, I do have an English teaching degree. I told Nico later that I would help her. I haven’t said anything to Tamara yet. I wanted to talk to Pastor Jorge and Charo first. I could even possible teach her via Skype once I’m not here. We’ll see. When Charo and I went out in the evening to walk to pick up a few things, we talked about her family and the struggles that they have. Samuel really wants to be in Lima, not here, but he has not shown maturity to return to Lima. Tamara is coming out of her shell but is still trying to find her place. David is still young – lol. Skyped with Merlyna in the evening. That was great! I know she’s fine at PCC. I just miss her.
Wednesday: As soon as I had my devotions this morning, I took my shower. I actually sort of look forward to the cold water now. 🙂 My Life Group is reading and studying through 2 Peter. I am absolutely loving the nuggets that God is giving me as I read 2 Peter each day. I’ll share some of those in the next few days. Pastor Jorge woke this morning “sad” and discouraged. When Charo asked him why, he said he didn’t know. She and I talked about it on the way to the market this morning. I shared that it’s an attack of the enemy because he doesn’t like it when we are doing God’s work. She agreed. We prayed for him. It was a HUGE reminder to me to pray specifically for their encouragement in the Lord (for theirs, as well as for my pastor and his staff at CWBC). After the market, their cat was waiting for its chicken head (yeah, it doesn’t bother me now, although I still can’t bring myself to touch the chicken head to give to the cat). As soon as it finished eating, it came around the corner meowing for more. I thought about how we as Christians are like that. When we’re enticed by the world just a little bit, and we give in to the temptation put before us, we want “more” of the world. It reminded me that we desperately need to guard ourselves from those enticements. Yes, I’m speaking to myself here, too. In the afternoon, I worked on this Sunday’s lesson for the kiddos. I’m teaching on the Armor of God, but taking each piece for a week. This week is the Belt of Truth, since it’s the first piece mentioned. And without the foundation of the Truth, the other pieces will not fit properly. Samuel will be translating for me. We’ll be practicing later. Charo and I walked into town again in the evening to get meds for my fever blisters and to get bread. The night air is so relaxing. There’s almost a ‘nip’ in the air. I think it feels good, but Charo thinks it’s cold. I think it’s because she’s really getting sick. 🙁 We talked at length tonight about the future ministry here in San Ramón. Again, Experiencing God folks – see where God is working and join Him in the work…. She said it’s discouraging at times to not have help from within the church. Pastor Jorge, Charo, the kids, Nico, and Jonathan and Rocio basically do everything. There are a few helpers that help when they’re not otherwise busy or occupied, but for the most part, it’s them. There’s one faithful worker, who will do anything asked of her, but her husband doesn’t like to work. So, it puts strain on her to do everything. The future “vision” here is to build Christians first and then disciples in the church. When I shared my heart for a future women’s home (shelter of sorts) with a separate part for teen girls, she was excited. She said that they would love that, but right now, it isn’t practical (financially, plus no one to run it). I didn’t share but should have, that I believe the Lord wants me to continue teaching in surrounding areas (discipleship type classes). Nico’s heart is more toward Naranjal. I enjoy helping her there, too. The Sipions work in Naranjal, too, but their primary ministry is here in San Ramón. Once the church is built in Naranjal, Pastor Jorge and Jonathan will take turns preaching there until it’s large enough to call a preacher there. Charo and I also discussed this Saturday’s evangelistic meeting in Naranjal for the women. I told her I was torn between two lessons, and she confirmed what my heart was telling me to teach. I’ll use “The Hem of His Garment” – a different lesson than the others I’ve taught using it. She did say we would have access to use a PowerPoint, so I will be updating the one I’ve already done. I’m thankful for “Save As” so that I don’t have to start all over. The peace is back on teaching for this Saturday! Thank y’all who prayed with me for that. I’ll still be using the Wordless Book via soccer ball (thank you CWBC!!) for the kiddos.
Thursday: Today has been another day of “attacks,” so to speak. Charo is worse today. She definitely has an infection, and I think it’s moving into her lungs. Just before we left for the market, I got a message from Merlyna’s aunt Marcella that Merlyna had gone back to her room this morning with seizure like symptoms. Of course, my mind was then focused on my daughter…. Marcella will keep an eye out on her today and will let me know of anything major. I know Merlyna is in God’s hands, and He has her seizures under control. It’s just difficult at times to not be able to fix them. I did chat with Merlyna for a few minutes. She said it’s the “normal” bad headache that comes before a seizure. She’s going to take her medicine and sleep. We walked to the market but took a moto-taxi back. I helped prepare a few things for lunch, but Nico was here today to do more of it. I also worked on the “Hem” lesson for Saturday. A few things are the same, but there are some major changes to it, since this will be for those who haven’t heard the Gospel. Updated the PowerPoint, too. Made small Wordless Books to hand out to the kids at Naranjal. I’ll be using the soccer ball that CWBC gave me to teach their lesson (also salvation), and then will give each child his own small Wordless Book. My fever blisters are TONS better today! Two doses of the medicine and the new cream have worked wonders! In the afternoon, we went back to the market to buy the things we need for Naranjal this weekend. It will be a “festival” of sorts for the children – snacks, drinks, candy – along with games and prizes. Thank you to everyone that gave toward my trip – this is part of what the “ministry” money went toward. Samuel and I practiced for Saturday’s lesson. He reads English well. I don’t know if it’s my southern accent that trips him up, or if I’m talking too fast, but he needed to read most every line after I spoke. He did well, for a first practice. Tomorrow, we will practice again. Update on Merlyna: her headache is mostly contained; she still has weakness, but that’s normal. Still trying to learn the song we’re singing in Pichanaki “Corazones Siempre Alegres.” Had choir practice in the evening. Practiced two songs and listened to “El Rey Ya Viene” (“The King is Coming”) for another song the church will sing. I “wish” I were going to be here for their Anniversary Service in August. “In Your Time, Lord, in Your Time – You make all things beautiful in Your Time. Lord, please show me every day, as You’re teaching me Your way, and I’ll do just what You say, in Your time.” After choir practice and refreshments, Pastor Jorge and I sat at the table and talked for about an hour and a half or more – about my teaching in a public school and the restrictions about sharing my faith (it’s different here), about my desire to be here and why (God has called me here. It doesn’t really make sense, and I can’t explain it beyond that, but He’s called me here. I have no doubt about it.), about my church and if they are supportive of my coming to San Ramón as a missionary (what say you Country Woods and Pastor Jon and Brother Mark??), and about the amount of work to do here. He shared with me His calling here and how many pastors and missionaries do not want to work or live in the Junin province. When I asked him why, he and Charo both said because there are no conveniences here that are in Lima (think of being out in the middle of no where without a WalMart or Kroger, basically) and because the people here are poorer than in Lima. It was a good talk. And, he talked to me in English, and I answered him in Spanish. 🙂
Friday: The morning was much the same – devotions, breakfast, and then market. Charo is feeling better today. I’m thankful for that. My fever blisters have nearly dried up, too, which is a blessing! Merlyna is still dealing with the “after” of seizures, from what I hear. 🙁 I helped peel potatoes for Lomo today. Instead of beef steak, we’re having it with chicken. I’m perfectly ok with that! 🙂 I think I peeled about 30 large potatoes. This year, though, there was a peeler, which was MUCH better…no blisters. *giggle* A neighbor’s chicken flew into the yard this morning. One of the Sipion’s dog ate it. I thought of how our enemy, Satan, is just waiting for us to fly into his yard so that he can attack and destroy us. We must daily put on our armor. If we don’t, we don’t stand a chance. Pastor Jorge had the questions ready for me to read that he plans to ask me for Sunday. We discussed the questions and the answers: 1) When and how did you meet the Lord? (He wants me to share my testimony – that for years I pretended to be a Christian. I knew about the Lord – had plenty of knowledge about Him – but it wasn’t personal, it wasn’t in my heart. He said that that is a HUGE issue here. Many people know about Jesus, but they do not KNOW HIM. I was that person for nearly 30 years.) 2) What is your job? (He wants me to share what I do – teaching in a public school, special needs.) 3) Why do you want to be a missionary in San Ramón? (God has called me here. He wants me to share about the different trips I’ve made to Peru and how I know the Lord has called me here. I have enjoyed teaching in every city that the Lord has opened for me, but it is different in San Ramón. It is “home.” I also shared with him my verse 2 Corinthians 4:3, “But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.” There are many lost people here – again, they have knowledge about God, but no relationship with Him.) 4) What is the spiritual reality where you work/live? (He wants the people here to see that the US is not really that much different than Peru, that many people go to church or say that they know God, but that the relationship isn’t really a belief in salvation.) 5) What kind of work do you want to do when you get to San Ramón? (First, I want to help with evangelism, as all people need to hear about the salvation of Jesus Christ. I also want to help with discipleship with the women and young adults. I will serve in any that is needed. In the future, I would like to have a home for women and girls who need the love and salvation of Jesus. I also would like to teach English to those in the church that would like to learn. I will add that I would still like to teach in surrounding cities, as a special speaker, but that this will be my home.) I hadn’t really “planned” to return next year, as I thought I would need to work to help Merlyna with her PCC costs. But, the Lord has PCC under control. He will provide. I am to listen, trust, and obey Him. So…We talked about his sermon for this week – spiritual blindness. He had no idea that I would share about being spiritually blind for years, or about the verse the Lord has given me for ministry. I had to smile at how God works. I shared with him how our church has RPO (Read, Pray, Obey) that we read each day. I showed him my copy of June’s RPO. I explained that we read the passage, and then use the SPACE principal (Is there a… SIN for me to confess, PROMISE for me to claim, ATTITUDE for me to change, COMMAND for me to obey, or EXAMPLE for me to follow?). He liked the idea, and I think he may incorporate something similar here. Then, he told me that next year, he wants me to teach in the public schools to the upper teen girls about life issues: sexual promiscuity, single moms, drugs and alcohol, and looking for future vocation! Again, I say, Experiencing God folks….look for where He is working and join Him there. Finished the PowerPoint for Naranjal. Made brownies again for the family. I only brought two boxes of mix, so that’s it. I’m sure I could make them from scratch, if I can find everything here. May have to look into that. We had prayer meeting in the evening. Twelve people came. Pastor Jorge gave a short devotional before prayer. I didn’t take my English Bible with me (I didn’t know ahead of time about the prayer meeting), so I looked on with Charo. He read from Philippians 1: 19-30, but he focused on the first part of verse 27, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” It hit me like a ton of bricks – How I act reflects on Jesus. When I worry or fear, I’m saying I don’t trust Him enough. When I don’t spend time with Him in prayer or in His Word, I’m saying He’s not worth my time. When I don’t share the Gospel with others, I’m saying it doesn’t matter that He died on the cross to save sinners and that the person isn’t worth saving. Yeah, I got my toes stepped on. The prayer time was sweet, as usual. Pastor asked 4 people to pray for the requests, and then he closed in prayer. Before I leave, I’m going to volunteer to be one of the four (of course, it will have to be in English – ha). They again prayed for me – for the different times I will be teaching AND that I could quickly learn Spanish to be able to both speak and teach but also so that I could better teach them in English. It looks like I could easily have a full class to teach English to when that door opens.
Saturday: I got up earlier than everyone else and had my devotions. I love sitting by the window, seeing the mountains, and reading His Word. It prepares my heart and my head for the day. During the school year, sometimes it’s the middle of the day before I take my time with Him. I’ve got to figure out a way to read in the mornings…. Breakfast, then market, then prepare lunch. We laughed at lunch that, if I leave some of my things here (which I’m planning to do), I can bring more black pepper, cereal, brownie mix, etc. haha After lunch, Charo and I got ready to leave for Naranjal. Because of the mosquitoes (and thus the fear of malaria), we all wore jeans. Jonathan took us. The road in was more difficult to travel this year than last. But, that’s partially due to the water and electric lines being placed in Naranjal. When we got there, Nico and Liz had already gathered the children and had already played games with them. We had 23 children today. There are more in the village, but they were playing soccer. They were finishing the last of the songs when we all got there. I used the soccer ball to give the plan of salvation. The children did really well remembering what the colors stood for. One of the older girls listened very intently and said, “Sí” when I asked if anyone needed to ask Jesus in their heart, as did a couple of the boys. Nico talked to the group after my lesson and told them anyone who needed to ask Jesus to save them should talk to her or Charo. Praying for the seeds that were planted. When we started the women’s lesson, the ladies seemed shocked to hear my testimony. But, I noticed that they listened closer after I shared my testimony. At first, they were chatting a little among themselves and sort of seemed uninterested. I clearly gave the plan of salvation, using the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’s garment. I explained that the woman received physical and spiritual healing. I told them that I was that woman – I had needed Jesus to save me. I explained that only Jesus can save us. When I was done, I gave the plan of salvation in step by step and asked the women to bow their heads and close their eyes. I asked if anyone needed salvation. Two women opened their eyes and looked at me, but neither raised her hand. I prayed specifically for anyone who needed Jesus to know that she needed Him tonight. A seed was planted. Trusting the Lord to water the seed. After teaching, we barely made the last bus out of Naranjal, but we made it! And, the Lord protected us all from mosquitoes!! It was quite warm in jeans, but the Lord provided a nice cool breeze the whole time I taught! I love how He cares about the little things! When we got back from Naranjal, Nico asked me if I liked it and if I would help her more. I told her I would love to. Of course, the issue is the language barrier. But, I can go and love on kiddos and ladies!