Feb 04 2009

A Fried Rice and Cranberry Sauce Christmas

Maybe it was finally taking down the Christmas tree that finally inspired me to write a little about my first Peruvian Christmas.  And what I mean by "taking down the Christmas tree" is really, "let my roommate take it down.  She's such a blessing!"

I wasn't sure what to expect in my first Christmas away from my family, and truth be told, when it came time to watch White Christmas and decorate, I certainly missed them.  It really is the time of year we most appreciate family.  Even though the weeks preceding were very busy with the mission trip and end of San Marcos classes, there wasn't a day that went by without missing all those I care about back in the U.S.

But sometimes it's through these perceived losses that we are given something we never imagined we'd find.  As Christy (the amazing roomie) and I were both spending our first Christmas away from the U.S., we decided to spend it with those other "loners," the youth who help us all year, yet at Christmastime have no family to spend it with, most often through neglect and abandonment.

Here in Peru, they have a huge meal the night before (the meal doesn't even start until midnight!), and Christy and I were invited to celebrate with the Arimborgos, the other pastors and missionaries at the church.  At the beginning of the meal, each person shared what they were grateful for, and when it came my turn to share, I looked around the table and realized that though I was far from family, I was still close to people who love me.  We spent several hours eating, laughing, talking, and celebrating the love of Christ, and went home to sleep just a few hours before Christmas morning...

After a quiet morning, Christy and I spent all day cooking and preparing to serve dinner for these youth.  Unfortunately, we forgot to go shopping the day before!! And all the grocery stores were closed.  So we quickly scrambled through out kitchen and found what food we could (thanks to my parents for sending stuffing!), and searched all over the city for anything open.  This really required our most creative cooking skills.

Finally, the youth showed up, very excited to be sharing Christmas with each other, and most importantly-not alone.  After our fabulous, if not somewhat random meal (fried rice with cranberry sauce?), we enjoyed each other's company by exchanging gifts and watching Elf in Spanish, which I highly recommend!

All in all, I was privileged to experience the provision of God in a completely new way.  Although far from family, I never felt so clearly that we are part of a larger family, and when a community is really moving in God-relationships, you can't help but feel loved!

Jan 04 2009

Yurimaguas Recap

Please enjoy this little video I put together with more photos from Yurimaguas:

Dec 30 2008

No Place Like Home!

What an amazing trip!  We got back to Iquitos the 14th of December from our mission trip to Yurimaguas.

As many of the mission school students have family living in Yurimaguas, arriving in the church for the first time felt much like coming home.  Many were the mothers and sisters and brothers of the students, and were missing their family terribly.  And being professors at the school, Christy and I found that our reputations had already preceded us (fortunately in a positive way! J)  One young man greeted us saying, "I had heard from my brother that I could trust you, that you were someone I could talk to."

Through this some-what established relationship, we were able to connect more deeply than I would have imagined.  Not just spiritually, but through fellowship, laughter, tears, food, and everything else that friendship entails!  We were able to serve side by side with them, an honor after being given the opportunity to teach their kids at the mission school.  And several of these same mothers and fathers experienced inner healing and spiritual renewal through the course of the week.  And how wonderful to come home and share the exciting news with the students here!  There were tears in one student's eyes as he heard of the unbelievable changes occurring in his family back in Yurimaguas.

Dec 29 2008

What's the catch?

As the primary means of transportation in the jungle region of Peru is motorcycle, we decided to include a free wash as part of our daily outreaches.  And by this point we were in the full swing of things, having hosted a family festival for about 500 kids and moms and visited the local hospital to pray for people and pass out food.  For the motocarro wash, we divided into two teams in different parts of town.

As we began to work, having a lot of fun and trying to keep the soaking of friends to a minimum Smile, the owners of the motorcycles and motocarros began to approach me and ask why we do what we do.  This is one of my favorite questions, because I find the answer never ceases to surprise the inquiring person.  And I love the answer-"Because we're here to show you we love you, and so does God.  We're doing this to serve you.  No catch.  We don't want anything."  And where you'd think the conversation would end, somehow the knowledge that nothing is obligatory often provides the security to begin a real and honest conversation.  And as I talked with Rosita for the next half hour about her family, her faith, and her history, I became amazed at the power of-"I'm doing this to show you that I love you, and so does God."

So today, do something to show someone you love them as our Lord does. No catch.

Nov 27 2008

Yurimaguas, here we come!

Only 9 more days left until we head out for Yurimaguas!  I am helping Christy Simons, another missionary serving here, lead a team from the church here in Iquitos to a city four days down-river called Yurimaguas.  While still a city, Yurimaguas is much smaller than Iquitos and the church there is pastored by one of our very own mission school graduates!

The team is comprised of seven individuals, from 19 to 50 years old, who have been saving their soles (Peruvian currency) and selling ceviche (food) for months to go on this mission trip.  It’s our desire to bless the community there and show them God’s love in a real and tangible way.  Pray with us that God will do amazing things in and through this team and the church in Yurimaguas.

Keep an eye out for praise reports!

Nov 21 2008

Returning to Peru

Here's the YouTube video about my decision to work in full-time ministry as a missionary to Peru.  Enjoy!


Thanks go out to Bob Horn for doing such a great job putting together this video!