Jeyachandran Family

Why we can be optimistic?

07 Feb 2012

I am excited that every people group in Peru will be reached for Gospel. Though we may play only a tiny part in God's plan, I am confident that hundreds of thousands of people in Peru who currently do not know Jesus will one day worship Him as Lord and Savior. Am I just a silly optimist? Is this just a crazy dream?

There are a couple of very good reasons why we can be confident. Patrick Johnstone, editor of Operation World, explains this in detail. He gives two reasons why not just Peru but the world will be reached by the gospel.

Firstly, Jesus promises it. The job he gave us to do will be completed. In Matthew 24 Jesus promises that the gospel will be preached through the whole world. Also in Revelation 7:9 we read about "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb".

Secondly, the statistics demonstrate that this is actually happening. While the church in Europe and other parts of the west have been in decline, in Latin America, Africa & parts of Asia the church has been growing strongly. Globally there was a hard patch in the mid 20th century where we had 60 years of stagnation but in 1950/60 something dramatic happened. This continued in the 1970's with massive growth in Latin America. In the 1980's it was China and now it continues in India.

Patrick says that while he is optimistic there are still dangers and challenges. He sees the main danger being the fragmentation of the evangelical church over secondary issues. A challenge is that we need to have a long term perspective. Anything that is done quickly is not necessarily going to get quick results - let alone the long-term transformation of a culture.

See the full interview with Patrick Johnstone here. 

Patrick Johnstone Part 1 of 2 from U.S. Center for World Mission on Vimeo.

So bringing this back to Peru - we're seeing the church continuing to grow. We also see so much potential. In our ministry area with university students there is currently only a single full-time Christian staff worker for all of southern Peru - which is a massive area. What would happen if we could have a staff worker for each city and even each University? We also see an openness to the Gospel and people are willing to discuss Spiritual issues.

Here in Peru there are dangers and challenges too. The danger I see is with rapidly growing churches that teach that the Bible promises prosperity and health. The subtle message they promote is that God solely exists to fulfill our needs rather than our need to submit to Him. The challenge on the other hand is to have Bible based churches working together and supporting each other. These are exciting times and also times for prayer.

Taking Christmas to the Community

28 Dec 2011

Christmas is a great opportunity to give and to reach out to the community. 

Here are photos from two events in the lead up to Christmas. The first was an event for handicapped kids. It began with a little play from the group of university students that I'm now getting to know better. It told the story of a girl who didn't want a present from Santa. She's dragged by the ear by her grandma to Santa who cannot believe that a girl doesn't want a present. The girl explains that Santa's gifts are fine but she has already been given a gift that is amazingly precious, will never break, will never get lost and will not just bring joy for a couple a couple of days but for all time. Santa (and the kids) press her to reveal this gift which she finally shares is her Lord Jesus.

We all celebrated with hot chocolate and paneton. Paneton is a light fruit cake which is yummy and traditional at Christmas. Each of the kids then received gifts - thanks to the generosity of the church.

The parents of handicapped kids have a hard life - even from just the physical point of view. Very few can afford a car and many cannot even afford a wheelchair. Without wheelchairs many of these kids spend most of the life inside their homes. Our pastor is a coordinator with the charity Joni and friends and slowly more people are getting access to wheelchairs and support. He sees this very much as a mission to an often unreached part of our community.

The following day we visited "El Mirador" which is a new neighbourhood a bit of a distance out of town. It lived up to its name which means "The View". 

El Mirador

El Mirador

Here we had a similar events with lots of kids. Here we are again enjoying hot chocolate and paneton.

David with Kids

The crowd really engaged with the Christmas play.

El Mirador Crowd

Please pray

  • thank God for Christians who are passionate about reaching their community
  • that we can work towards addressing some of the huge needs we see
  • that those who have heard the message will experience God's amazingly precious gift

Our Pre-schoolers

21 Dec 2011

The girls have been attending a wonderful preschool here in Peru which they just love. It is run by two wonderful ladies Lula and Sandra. We were recommended this preschool by our fellow missionaries for several reasons - it is a Christian pre-school and they are used to having new missionary kids. Also Sandra speaks fluent English which has been a huge help for me, more than the girls. Each morning the bus arrives to take them.

The girls can’t wait till next year because as Annabelle says  “I get to go to Lula’s class because I’m bigger!”. They do the usual preschool things (learn numbers and letters) but there are a few big differences to Australia. For example they don’t have a lot of free play time and receive homework each day – usually colouring, tracing letters and numbers, cutting and gluing.  Another one is that when Annabelle was naughty her lovely teacher told me she threatened her with a cold shower and she quickly fell into line. You gotta see the funny side of this and laugh! 

On Saturday we attended the final concert for the preschool. It was amazing! It included three carols belted out by the 2-6 years olds. They did well and looks like they knew most of the words in Spanish. 

Then traditional dances from each age group. 

Finally there was a Nativity pageant. There was one 6 year old who had the lead role who knew a huge number of lines and at least 3 solos by heart. Incredible! Annabelle and Amelia were shepherds and had lines too.  Annabelle was very interested in tending to baby Jesus (a doll) much to the annoyance of ‘Mary’ and ‘Joseph’. J  It was great to see the kids having fun up on stage.  

Praise God for Lula and Sandra and the blessing it is to have a place for the kids to enjoy and learn Spanish.

The picture below is of the girls after their ballet concert which we enjoyed on Sunday. Once their performance was over we sat the girls on our laps so they could be inspired by the older performers. They can’t wait to return.  

Presenting in Spanish

14 Dec 2011

David gave a presentation on the weekend to about 30 people at a web developers conference in Lima. Most were full-time developers and some were university students. The aim was to invite people to volunteer to assist with the MissionsHub.org project - something David has been working on in his spare time. The challenge for David was to give this 45min presentation in Spanish. Here's the story...

I woke up on the morning of the presentation feeling anxious. I had slept about 4.5hrs - I had stayed up until 2am going over the talk. My Bible reading that morning was a huge encouragement - it felt like a miracle. The passage that came up was Exodus 4:10-12 where Moses was explaining to God that he wasn't good with words. God tells Moses "Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say". This was exactly what I needed to hear.

I was relaxed when I gave the talk. I had Fernando standing next to me, ready to clarify when my Spanish was confusing. The great news is that after the talk 6 people wanted to join the team and 16 wanted more info. They are a talented group and we look forward to demonstrating what this community of Peruvian developers can do.

In my intro I mentioned that as a Christian, a follower of Jesus, I was willing to go where God wanted me to go. This was the reason I left my job and came to Peru to serve with University Students. I was very encouraged by another Christian who took up on this in his presentation and shared the forgiveness he had in Jesus.

Here's one thing we've already achieved - a quick win. Fernando, who heads this community of developers, helped to configure a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for the MissionsHub.org site. So images and other large files from the website are copied to servers in key locations around the world using a free service. This helps to make the website to load faster - whereever you are in the world. [Update 22/12/2011 - The CDN is improving performance in most countries but it has actually slowed the performance in Australia. We will investigate our options].

Please pray:

  • thank God for those who have helped - especially my team from my previous work who helped get this started
  • thank God for this opportunity to make friendships
  • thank God for the opportunity to work in Spanish
  • that this project will bring this web developer community closer together and that it will give glory to God
     

Students taking the Initiative

01 Dec 2011

It was a huge privilege to be part of a Student Conference for AGEUP (evangelical university student movement in Peru). Students leaders from around southern Peru came together for four days in Cusco.


Students from Arequipa

My Spanish skills are at the point where it's easy to get around and do things and to have simple conversations. Phone calls are still a challenge. I wasn't surprised that even though I thought I had spelt my name carefully on the phone, my name on my bus ticket was "David Yiewayacf".

I met the group of students heading to the conference at the bus terminal. They were a welcoming group and I felt at home immediately. These student knew how to find a good bargain. It was about a 12-hour overnight bus trip to Cusco & they got a ticket for 30 soles (11AUD). It's easy to spent triple that amount on the same trip. The bus was quite comfortable. Several non-essential items didn't work like the reading light and the air vents but the only issue was that our leader ended up getting wet when it rained as the bus leaked a bit.

Arequipa Bus Terminal

I chatted a lot with a student named Erick who is studying Engineering and had a whole stack of English questions. What's the difference between "see" and "look"? What's the difference between "talk" and "speak"? Since coming I've realized what a huge task it is to learn a language. Several students had spent many years learning English but without people to practice with, no matter how many hours you spend with a book, it's very difficult to speak. Teaching English is a real opening to connect with students at University. If you're considering doing a short-term mission in Peru, without knowing Spanish, I would highly recommend teaching English. When teaching English is connected with a local church it is a powerful outreach.

At the conference, concentrating in the morning talks was sometimes hard. I had a few things working against me - lack of sleep, lack of coffee, the altitude (3400m) and what many of us would consider long talks (1.5+hrs) and in Spanish. No one told me that coffee is not a drink common with students in Peru. Fortunately we had some highly engaging speakers like Alex Chan who spoke about Sexuality and God's plan. He had the audience in hysterics. It was also good to hear talks about Christianity and Politics. In South America it can be dangerous for Christians to get involved in politics but often it is much more dangerous not to be involved. The political climate seems prone to extremes and Christians need to be a light in this arena.

It's exciting to see a group of students who are passionate about serving Jesus and meeting together. The students also take the initiative in running the ministry. This is important here because there are so few full time staff. Currently they have just one staff worker who looks after all of southern Peru - an area spanning hundreds of kilometers and several major cities including Arequipa.

Please pray:

  • thank God for the staff workers that do an amazing job with limited resources
  • thank God for the students who are passionate about serving God
  • that I can make a valuable contribution as this becomes the focus of my ministry next year

How do we get home?

10 Nov 2011

If you need help - an entire bus load of people may have a (loud) discussion about the best way for you to get home.

Arequipa CombiOur local buses

Samuel and I needed to catch a bus home. We are slowly working out how to get about on the buses. There is no website that you can go to and find bus routes and I'm not aware of a map either. Good thing it's not hard to just ask for help. I flagged down several buses till I found one that said they were going near our home. The conductor let us know that the bus would get us much closer to our place but we'd probably have to catch a second bus to get to home.

Someone, seeing I was carrying a baby, offered a seat to me. As we got close to where I'd have to hop off the conductor called to the driver and asked about the best way for me to get home. On hearing this, the bus began to bustle with energetic conversation. Several offered their ideas - from this intersection you can catch this bus that takes you close to home. There were disagreements and few more ideas were thrown around loudly. I couldn't follow everything with my limited Spanish but I could see that they were trying to help me. Soon they agreed I could get off near a particular shop where it would be quicker to just walk home - it would be just 5 blocks. I knew where I was and it was really quite a quick walk home from here. I said gracias to everyone and hopped off. What a great trip!

Easy to carry Samuel around in what Peruvians call a "kangaroo". Normally he's in front of me so this makes more sense. This photos was taken a long way from home.

Have you had an experience where a group of strangers helped you?

Preparing for Earthquakes

16 Oct 2011

Living in a highly seismically active area means we play some unusual games. This one is called "Sismo" (tremor in Spanish). In the game we have to quickly get to an earthquake safe spot. The kids play this in their kindergarten regularly too. It's fun but there's also a serious side to it. Every few weeks a (gentle) tremor reminds us of this.

Stories from last major earthquake

The last major earthquake hit Arequipa in 2001 with a magnitude of 8.4. It was devastating, destroying about 17,000 homes. 2,500 people were injured and 75 people lost their lives including 26 with the Tsunami that hit the coast.

AnaLou, a teacher at our language school, was in the upper part of Arequipa when the earthquake struck. She described it as terrifying. They could see over the town and as the dust rose from the shaking it looked like the city was sinking into the earth which caused even more panic. Mobile phones wouldn't work - the networks were saturated. Public transport came to a stand-still. Everyone just wanted to get home to get together with their families and make sure everyone was okay.

Julio, our grammar teacher, was outside when it happened. He said the ground had waves running through it, like someone lifted a carpet and shook it. Pipes had broken spraying water into the air. Cars were bouncing in the streets. When he looked towards the volcano that towers over the city, it had disappeared in a cloud of dust from what he later realized must have been caused by avalanches. Julio described the most terrifying thing about an earthquake was the incredible noise. In his home cupboards had opened and cutlery smashed on the floor, his fridge had fallen over but the important thing was that no one was hurt.

A week after the earthquake a team of doctors arrived from Germany and were staying close to Julio's home. Some of these doctors, after seeing the effects of the earthquake, spoke about wishing they had experienced it first hand. Julio couldn't understand why anyone would want to experience an earthquake. But anyway, these doctors got what they wished for! After a major earthquake, there are often serious after-shocks. At around 3 am one morning an earthquake with an magnitude of over 7 struck. As the doctors fled the house, many were still in their underwear, standing outside in the cold. A couple of them were so shaken by the experience they wanted to fly home immediately. They'd changed their minds evidently. 

How we stay prepared?

We have regular drills at home and in our language school. In an earthquake the power is automatically cut so we keep torches and candles handy. We also need some emergency water, a few cans of food and a radio with batteries.

When an earthquake strikes, it's important to react quickly and find a safe spot close to where you are. Under a table or in a safe zone away from glass windows or objects that can fall. People's natural reaction is often to run out of the building. This is generally dangerous and many injuries have occurred when people have tried to run down stairs. Most of the buildings in Arequipa are built to withstand earthquakes so it is best to find a safe spot within a couple of seconds of where you are standing. Once the quake is over it is time to go outside being careful of broken power lines.

Earthquake Secure Zone Safe zones that are marked in all public buildings

Should we be worried?

We trust that God has things under control. Wherever we live he is in control of when we live and when we die. We will take all the precautions necessary and keep in perspective that while the risk of an earthquake is high, the risk to our lives is extremely low. I feel that it's easier here in Arequipa to understand that we are every day in the hands of our Creator.

When is it okay to keep people waiting?

07 Oct 2011

If you are a salesperson in a shop and there is a queue of people waiting to be served, what do you do when a friends pops around to say hi? In Peru it's perfectly acceptable to now have a conversation with that friend. The people in the queue will wait patiently while you have a good chat.

Vegetable Shop

I (David) was in our local market the other day purchasing some vegetables. I handed over the money to the lady for the vegetables. Midway while getting my change a friend of this lady came by to say hello. They began to have a great conversation while I waited patiently for a small amount of change (less than 10c). Soon I began to suspect that I had just made a miscalculation and had already actually been given all my change. Why else would this lady launch into a conversation? So I headed off and to a different part of the market. About a minute later the lady from the shop came running. She'd left her shop to find me and give me the rest of the change.

Friendships are more important than time, here in Peru. We've now gotten to know this lady in the vegetable stall and she stops to say hi to us even if she's in the middle of a transaction with someone else.

Unexpected answer to Prayer

29 Sep 2011

Christine: Well God has answered a prayer in an unexpected way.  We were looking for a gymnastics class for the girls but could not find one. We ended up finding a ballet school 20 minutes walk down the road.  I never imagined taking the girls to ballet but they love it. And how is it an answer to prayer?

I have been unable to connect with local mums or find friends to practice Spanish with because of the time needed for language study and just managing the kids. Also they don’t seem to have playgroups or mothers groups like we have at home. But what I have found at the ballet school is a captive audience of mothers who wait the whole hour for their girls twice a week in a small room. We are not allowed to watch the class so we are forced to chat with each other.  How nice! So today I wrote down a few of their names. I met a teacher, dentist, accountant and, of course, stay home mum’s like me (well, excluding language study ). Of course some topics are universal for mothers: breastfeeding, how you fared in your pregnancy and what cute thing your kid did yesterday. To my surprise I can understand a lot of what they are saying. Sometimes the lady closest to me kindly repeats the key information more slowly and simply for me, but none the less, it is all in Spanish. They have encouraged me and say I am doing well for such a short time in the country. This is great to hear as in the language school I am reminded constantly of my mistakes. I cannot use all the tenses we have learnt yet but slowly and with practice I am sure I will get there.  The ladies said they are happy to help me and I am more relaxed in this situation of immersion. 

I am going to look forward to Monday and Friday afternoons sitting around with other mothers of little ballerinas. Who knows where God will lead our conversations in the future. Please pray for opportunities and praise God for answered prayer.  The ballerinas get a lollie at the end of each class – to which Annabelle asks ‘Why did I get a lollie?’ It’s definitely a win win for everyone (though maybe not their teeth).  

Why we're looking forward to working with University Student?

21 Sep 2011

Latin America is an exciting place to be with so many opportunities to serve.

Students at a youth conference in Arequipa

We look forward to serving in a University, discipling and empowering students to follow Jesus. Students are the future leaders of the nation and are an incredibly strategic group of people to work along side. Our vision is that many students will be inspired to serve God and will go proclaiming and living out the message of Jesus. Arequipa, the city we work in, has several major universities. Some students come to Arequipa to study from different parts of southern Peru. If we can reach these students, they are able to take the gospel back to their communities in their own language. We met two students who did exactly this. In their holidays they went back to their incredibly remote village high in the Andes and they taught the Bible in their native language Quechua. Read the amazing story of how this remote village turned to Jesus.

Our prayer is that Peru will not only send missionaries within the country but also beyond. This is already starting to happen. SIM has spent many years preparing the church in Peru for this. A couple of months ago SIM Peru sent its first missionary to Asia. Latin American missionaries are able to go into countries in Asia and the Middle East that may not be open to western missionaries. They are also able to blend in more easily in these countries with their darker complexion. There is a SIM team that is working hard to put together documentation and training that will help to mobilise the Latin American church for missions. A lot of work is still to be done and a lot of prayer is needed. We look forward to seeing what God will do.

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