Sunday: Anna and I were responsible for teaching the children’s classes this morning. Anna taught the older children, with Samuel translating, on the four men who lowered their friend through the roof. We taught them their memory verse, and then both groups of children (the 6 and older children and the 5 and under children) recited their memory verses in front of the church. It was such a joy to hear them say verses by memory! Then, I taught the younger children the same lesson, with Samuel translating. Both groups of children were able to answer questions following the lesson. As a family (the Sipions, Nico, Anna, Brad, and I), we went for lunch out – pollo a la brasa. It was very good. In the afternoon, Brad asked if I would write in the front of the Bibles that he has to give those who studied James with him. Samuel had translated for him, but he didn’t think anyone could read his writing. As I read his words, tears came to my eyes, seeing how much he has been impacted by the wonderful folks in the San Ramón church. We had church in the evening. Pastor Jorge spoke from 2 Timothy on the importance of family. A problem that they are seeing in Peru is the breakdown of the family unit – there is no consistency, there is arguing, and there is a lack of teaching the family about the Lord. Pastor Jorge has been teaching on the family on Sunday nights for some time now, he said. One family (a man and woman who have lived together for years and who have 2 children) are now saying that they know they need to get married and have plans to do so by the end of this year. Hearts are being changed in San Ramón, although it is a slow process. After Pastor Jorge finished preaching, Brad presented the Bibles to those who were there. It was heart warming to see the folks so thankful to receive new Bibles! Then the church presented Brad with “going away” gifts. He was visibly touched by the sentiment. It was also great seeing one of the teen young men from last year still attending church! (He’s the one who was kicked out of his church because he questioned his pastor’s preaching on salvation – his pastor said you could lose your salvation, and this young man had read the Bible for himself and found that his pastor was not preaching the Word correctly.) After we had supper, we read 1 John together as a family (2 verses at a time). Brad and Anna read in English, and the rest of us read in Spanish. Now, before that sounds all pious on my end, I truly struggled to read fluidly. Several words tripped me up. It frustrated me several times, and I nearly broke down. Each time that it came back around to me, I read a little bit better. I know it will come, but I must get busy!!
Monday: At breakfast, we talked some about future ministry needs in San Ramón. Brad sees, as I do, that the field is ready but the workers are needed. Pastor Jorge and I also talked about what my future ministry would be here. He and Charo both agree that for the first two years, I would be doing much of what I am doing right now – building relationships while I learn the language well enough to communicate without the need of a translator. I would still have Bible studies with women, teens, and children, and I would teach classes afterschool in the schools on abstinence. I would work with single moms, discipling and mentoring them. I would also continue the conferences in other cities as I do now. And, I would help Charo with the monthly Bible studies here in San Ramón. For an evangelism outreach only, I would offer English classes. Anna and I have talked about the “plan” quite a bit, too. It’s really refreshing to have her “young” input on what she sees and what she thinks could be accomplished. She is already talking about what she plans to tell others about her time here. There is much to do, but a plan needs to be in place. Pastor Jorge said we would get things on paper in the next few weeks. In the late afternoon, Pastor Jorge and Charo took Anna, David, Brad, and me to La Merced to walk up to the Cross overlook. They took me last year, and it was breathtaking. But, I have to admit, it was even better in the twilight time! The whole city below was lit up! And, we were there when the lights on the cross came on! WOW! Afterwards, we walked down the cobbled streets into La Merced. Brad needed to find a couple of things for souvenirs, and Anna wanted to buy some coffee. We stopped in a little coffee shop for OJ (David, Pastor Jorge, and Anna) and coffee (Charo, Brad, and me) – YUM! Once we got back to San Ramón, we met up with Samuel and Tamara and had pizza. It was good. It’s not like pizza in the US, but I think I liked it better. I’m not a big fan of lots of red sauce. Once we got back to the house, we read 1 John together again. I read a little “faster” in Spanish tonight, and I understood what was being read, for the most part. I’m sure it helps that I’m reading 1 John daily in English, too. Haha. Just as we finished reading, Charo got a phone call from her sister-in-law that their 2 year old niece had pulled a kettle of scalding hot water down on herself and was being rushed to the hospital. I’ve never felt so helpless in all of my life – knowing that they need to be in Lima with their families, but not being able to go because of their responsibilities here. With Jonathan and Rocio on furlough, there’s no one here to handle the responsibilities of the church. Samuel is going with Brad on Thursday to Lima, and he won’t be back by Sunday. At least if I were established here, I could open the church and make sure everything was closed up. Brad, Anna, and I had a time of prayer for the baby (Melina) and her family.
Tuesday: At breakfast, we talked about Melina and what they know so far. Her stomach area, her chest, and her arm received the burns. Some are 2nd degree burns. She needs to be transported to the burn hospital for surgery, but there are no beds. So, until then, we wait and pray. Anna and I have told Charo if we need to go back to Lima early, we understand. If Pastor Jorge decides to go, I want to pay for his tickets. He has said he may go Monday or Tuesday. I hurt for them. After breakfast, I spent some time reading and studying for one of the future lessons. Anna and I went with Samuel to the school where he teaches. He’s teaching 4-5 year olds English. It was cute to hear the kiddos say “Good morning!” and “Good night!” I noticed 3 special needs students in his class. It’s “funny,” I guess, that I can spot students with disabilities now. Not that I am labeling kids or anything like that – just that I can see specific characteristics, such as the kids that I teach. In the afternoon, we went to Naranjal. We had about 15 kids. It was a little disheartening, as I remember the first year having about 60, and even last year having about 40. Charo said that lately, the kids are more interested in gambling than in hearing the Bible and that the women are more interested in playing volleyball, saying they don’t have time for Bible study. Pastor Jorge and Jonathan have said that they want to pull out of Naranjal, since they’ve been working there for so many years without any evidence of fruit. Nico is discouraged about that, since she’s the one that has invested so much time there. There are other close villages that they want to explore. We played games with the kids when they first got there. Anna taught the Bible lesson on Heaven, and I “translated” – in other words, I read the script in Spanish. It was not fluid, and some of my words were not pronounced correctly, but it was an effort. The kids were able to answer questions at the end, and they got them all right. I have to admit, I was a bit surprised. After supper, we read 1 John again. I’m really enjoying the “family time” of the reading. Oh, some time today, we got our tickets back to Lima. It’s hard to believe that it’s almost time for Anna to go back. I will miss her.
Wednesday: After breakfast, Anna and I repacked our things. She’s taking my duffel bag and carryon back, since I can’t take all the luggage back with me. And, I need a few things while I’m in Lima for the next few days. Then, Charo and David took us to one of the waterfalls here. We probably hiked for 2 miles to get to it. We encountered a not-so-friendly mama dog along the way. They were all quite impressed with my ability to pass the dog without trembling and my ability to tell it to stop (as in, I yelled “NO!” at it when it would try to follow us while barking at us). On the outside, I was firm. On the inside, I was trembling as much as they were! Haha. Anna agreed that the hike was worth it, once we got to the waterfall. I had never seen this one! It was simply amazing! Back at the house, two of the church members had come over to join us for a farewell dinner for Brad. The meat was amazing – they call it BBQ, but it’s not like our BBQ. It’s basically marinated steak that is cooked on the grill. I ate way too much! In the afternoon, Anna and I talked more about her thoughts on San Ramón. I think she’s enjoyed her time here. We left for the bus station about 9:45 (bus leaves at 10). At the bus station, we ran into the director of the Special Needs school here. She asked when I was coming to share with them. Pastor Jorge told her we would visit next week to make a plan and to find out what they want me to teach them. Loaded the bus – we have the rear seats. I watched the ending of the film that was playing and then slept on and off. About an hour into the trip, we had a tire blow. It was LOUD! They fixed it without us having to get off the bus. The trip took much longer than usual. Some of the roads are still rough after all of the flooding, only passable one way.
Thursday: The taxi driver was waiting on us when we got to the bus station. We quickly got our things, bought our return tickets, and made it to Candy’s apartment. Anna slept for a bit, and I helped do a few things – went to the market for onions and then back for carrots. I knew the word for onions but not for carrots. Charo left almost immediately to go be with the family. We’re still waiting to hear if Melina needs surgery or not. The translator on my phone isn’t working unless I’m on wifi. Thankfully, when I typed in the word carrot, a picture showed up. We are packing Candy’s things up since they are leaving next week. I helped some, and then I needed to lie down for a bit. I’d planned to rest for half an hour. It turned out being almost 2 hours! After lunch, Anna and I repacked her luggage so it wouldn’t be as heavy for her. Candy had several visitors throughout the day – some for her Bible study and some to help pack and clean. One of the visitors is Susie. She is a missionary in Iquitos. She used to be in Candy’s parents’ church. She is really wanting me to visit Iquitos and teach there. I told her that once my Spanish is better, I will come. Then, Candy tells me of the “trials” of getting there – taking a boat through snake infested water, walking over a log over said snake infested water, no electricity or running water. Oh my! Lord, only in You will I be able to keep my word to her! Charo got back with the taxi driver for us to take Anna to the airport. Anna opened up about some of the lessons she learned while here. She challenged me, even if she doesn’t know it by what she said the Lord showed her. (I’m not going to share what she told me, as I think that is for her to do.) I stayed with her through check in and walked her up to security. She wanted to eat something before going through. Charo and I went back to the apartment. When we got there (10pm), several other folks were there helping to pack and clean. The movers are to be here around 3pm tomorrow. I helped until after midnight and then couldn’t function any further.
Friday: The movers that were to be here around 3 got here at 8:30. Candy told them to return at 11. They were promptly back. They started moving all of the big things out and downstairs. We packed more, and they moved. Then, the actual truck got here around 3. We loaded and headed to San Carlos. It was quickly unloaded. About 10 men from different churches showed up. I know Candy was thrilled with that! Candy and Susie took a hot shower in San Carlos (there’s no hot water in Candy’s apartment since she’s renting and now no stove to heat water on). I washed my hair in the sink. I can handle the cold water for a shower but not for my hair in Lima. It’s COLD here. When we got back to the apartment, we quickly changed and headed out for a few errands. We’re going to the seminary tomorrow to watch the opening games of the annual soccer tournament between the different churches. Susie and I need camp chairs to sit in. I am buying them and giving them to her. I don’t need it after tomorrow, and I don’t really have a way to store it right now. She and her husband need them in Iquitos. It’s such a blessing to have a little extra this year to use for this type of “ministry.” Thank you to everyone who gave for me to come to Peru this year! When I told Susie that the chairs were for her, she hugged me so tightly that I couldn’t breathe! She was in tears! Once we got back to the apartment, Charo was there. She said Melina did not have to have a skin graft, only a cleaning of the stomach wound (it is a 3rd degree burn). They will reevaluate next week to see if more is needed. She said Pastor Jorge definitely needs to come next week for his mom. Charo, Candy, and I had a “slumber party” of sorts in the living room on air mattresses (all of the beds have been moved to San Carlos), although we all quickly fell asleep after working all day.
Saturday: Candy, Susie, and I left at 8:30 to get to the seminary. We were able to see San Carlos (Pastor Julio and Rosa’s church) play Los Sureños (Pastor Javier and Marnol’s church – Susie’s son Kevin plays for them) almost as soon as we got there. Throughout the morning, different folks came by to speak to us. It’s still amazing to me how relationships can be built with such a language barrier, but a hug is a hug in any language! The pastor’s wife from Pachacutec came by and hugged me so tightly. (I hate to admit that I can’t remember her name at the moment – I haven’t seen her in 2 years.) She showed me the kids she had with her from their orphanage. WOW have they grown since our first year here! They have 10-12 kids that they take care of. Some of them have parents that they visit from time to time. Others do not. Once Wilma, Dave, and Brad got there, we had a constant stream of folks stopping by. I love seeing the fruit of their labor through the folks they’ve influenced over the years. I was able to talk to Aunt Gloria for a bit before I left, too. She is always such an encouragement! As we were leaving, I was able to see Marnol for about 5 minutes. She hugged me tightly, too. She is so busy. I know they want me to teach there and visit with them, but their schedules are just too crazy. Plus, I leave tonight to return to where my heart is – San Ramón. Alina and her kids, Susie, Candy, and I left to return to the apartment and then to run a few errands for me before I get on the bus. We got back from the errands, and Charo was there. I quickly showered (COLD water – did NOT wash my hair) and finished packing up the last few things. Candy and her parents were having a prayer meeting in the apartment at 7. We were there for part of it, while we waited on the taxi. We’re dropping Brad off at the airport before we head to the bus station. Brad and I talked for a little bit in the car. He’s glad to be going home. (We had to literally drop him at the airport door so that we could make it to the bus station.) He’s been an encouragement to me this week, as we’ve been able to talk about how we see the ministry here can grow. San Ramón has about 20,000 people and most do not go to church. The majority are Catholic in name but atheist in belief. (Lord, please open the hearts of the people! Send workers to help! Provide my support so that I can be here full time. Lord, help me learn this language that frustrates me at times. Help me to get over myself!) Charo and I made it to the bus station just as they began boarding. Hopefully, we’ll both sleep.
Until All Shall Hear,
2 Corinthians 4:3, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.”