The Continuing Tree Saga

19 Mar 2018

This afternoon I looked down the street to see how the tree I had transplanted was doing and saw a ton of bricks (okay, probably a lot more than a ton) piled up where the tree had been.  Clearly they had decided not to let this little tree obstruct their task at hand.


It wasn't until I went up to take a closer look that I saw that they had spared the tree!  It likes like it will be hard to water it now, but it made me smile to see they had stacked the bricks around it without crushing it!


16 Mar 2018

Last Friday, Mary Beth biked while I ran a long run in training for the Lima Marathon in May.  It was long enough of a run that when we returned, someone from the municipality had planted a tree in our front yard!  We've had bushes there before, but tore them out because they make it hard to get in and out of the truck.  I applaud their efforts to make the dessert we live in greener, but there are less inconvenient ways. 

Four houses down, they are building what looks like a new apartment building.  They need a tree.  So in the night, I dug up the tree in front of our house and planted it in front of theirs!  I think the construction workers felt like Wall-E in the movie of the same name and took a liking to it.  This morning I noticed that someone had even watered it!  

Horse Camp

03 Mar 2018

Nehemiah, one of the counsellors (you can tell Mary Beth is writing this post as she uses the Canadian-preferred double 'l'!) at Equestrian Camp this year, regaled his campers with stories of how he had grown up without parents, started working at 6 years old and joined the gangs in Lima.  He told how he then committed his life 100% to the Lord because of a brain operation he had that was supposed to leave him paralyzed and with limited mental capacity.  Now he dreams of returning to university and becoming a missionary.  During one of our Bible Study lessons I asked the campers to give an example of someone who had learned perseverance, character and hope through suffering (Rom. 5:2-5), one of them said ‘Nehemiah’.  I asked, ‘Nehemiah from the Bible?’  ‘No,’ she replied, ‘Nehemiah the counsellor’.   I thought she had given a very good example.

The campers, counsellors and their horses (Mary Beth in orange)

Nehemiah also encouraged his campers to learn the art of fire-making from scratch by hacking up a big old tree and using it to cook a 'Huatia', a traditional Peruvian highland dish where food (generally meat and potatoes) is laid over very hot coals and covered in a pile of dirt.  It is left to cook for an hour (in our case half an hour because we had less meat and more veggies) and then unburied and eaten for supper.  Ours was delicious and devoured very quickly. 

We just came for a haircut and my kids vanished!

16 Feb 2018

Today was the fourth day of our VBS.  When it was done, I went to the doorway to hand out fliers inviting the parents to come tomorrow for the finale.  A mom was waiting at the door wondering if her son was there and I had to coax her to go into the church and look.  She found her son, but he was having such a good time he didn't want to leave so she stayed a bit and Mary Beth started talking to her.  The mom explained that she had been in the neighborhood to get a haircut and the next thing she knew, her son was gone, attracted to the music and kids at our church!  But she seemed happy that he was there and indicated they'd return tomorrow.

Each child gets to have his picture taken in our rocket and take home a printed copy on the last day.

Today we had 40 kids for the 3rd day in a row.  I had 14 in my class of 10-14 year-olds.  They have been really well behaved and attentive in my classes each day.  


How many kids?

13 Feb 2018

We asked people to pray for 40 kids to come to our church's VBS that started today.  I had 10 in my class, Mariela had 12 in her class and Elizabeth had 13 in her class.  That's 35.  Julio announced in our meeting that there were 5 toddlers present too, to put us at 40, but I think that would be cheating!  Elizabeth remarked, "Allen said he had asked people to pray for 40 kids to come.  Let's pray for 60 now!"  "No!  We can't handle that many!" I half-joked. 

Praise God for the great first day of VBS and that we can handle however many show up tomorrow!

VBS starts tomorrow

12 Feb 2018

Tomorrow, Vacation Bible School (VBS) begins at our little church.  Our theme is 'Galactic Observers' and the church members have worked hard decorating the church for the event as you can see in the picture.  I think everyone is pretty excited about the event and last night we had the largest attendance without free food that we've seen since we started attending here.  45 people!  We had to scramble to bring out more chairs during the middle of the service. 

Pray that we have a lot of children attend this week.  I have been praying for 40+ kids to attend, which would be a huge number of kids.  We walked through the neighborhood handing out invitations today.  Pray that the teachers prepare well.  I (Allen) have been assigned the 11-13 year-olds and Mary Beth is in charge of telling the story of Amy Carmichael, missionary to India.  VBS is each day from 3 to 5 pm until Saturday.

Ladies Conference and Ministry Update

18 Jan 2018

The ladies conference went very well and we had about 45 people attend which is a big jump from the 15 who attend the weekly meetings. The theme was “Loved by God” and we certainly think they got the message. We also found they loved the ‘Pineapple story’ which is a challenging story and they could relate to it. A picture tells a thousand stories so below are some photos. 


I made a silly face to make them smile and they did.

We still have a slight generational difference, especially in terms of education but God is slowly breaking down barriers. At the last meeting I asked everyone to comment about what they were learning from God and 95% were confident enough to respond which is a big step forward and an encouragement. Some of the ladies went up to the kids club (at church plant) yesterday to serve Christmas treats and give a small gift. How wonderful is that? They’re serving others.

This is where the seed was first planted in my heart last Mother’s day-  the idea of teaching women about God’s love and empowering them to serve. It is almost full circle… So join me in praying that by Mother’s day 2018 (May) we can see the women’s group leaders teaching the kids club mothers. Now that is my dream… Let us see what God has planned.

Many ladies are from the Quechua speaking highlands. Very different to student ministry with modern youth.

Janet spoke about liberating your soul from past hurts and Nica helped organise the conference.

We presented each lady with a rose to bless them and help them feel loved. Gift giving is not as common as in the west.

We provided lunch and a craft for the ladies.

Ana is a faithful servant with good questions and willingness to learn. Rosa is a great spiritual leader who is now using her own examples in teaching the ladies. Pray for them.

Amanda - a beloved friend, talked about God's love for us and how we can love our spouses and families.


As long as I'm married by the end of the day, it was a successful wedding.

04 Jan 2018

"You haven't written much in your blog lately!"  Let's just say, "I've been busy."  I won't bore you with details of the busy time leading up to the wedding, but instead tell you about the event.

Friday morning the 29th, I woke up at  6 am for the big day.  'Woke up' isn't exactly true.  That would imply that I had slept some, which I'm not sure that I had.  I quickly fell back on my experiences as a marathon runner to get me through.  I've run several marathons without sleeping hardly a wink the night before and I don't feel that it made much difference in my performance, so my wedding day could be the same.   The wedding dinner team was already clanging about the kitchen and setting up tables when  the 37 North Americans and our pastor and his family were eating breakfast.  After breakfast, my groomsmen, Erik Tullberg, Keelan Kaiser, and Jerry Busselman, tried to help me put my clothes on properly while the girls did their hair in the other bathroom.  Too bad they didn't remind me to put sunscreen on my head.  At 9:00am the photographer started lining us up for the requisite shots.  By 10:30 we done, with enough time to wait in the wedding tent for the mayor.  She arrived exactly at 11 am as scheduled.  A week before I had asked the municipality secretary if the mayor was punctual and she only would say, "The mayor gets there when she gets there," with the same air as the Queen in Princess Diaries saying, "The queen is never late.  Everyone else is simply early."  The buses full of guests from Arequipa had just arrived and after they unloaded, we started the civil wedding.  The civil wedding is quite sterile.  No pomp.  No fluff.  I didn't even get to kiss the bride!  The mayor read the legal articles pertaining to marriage, had us sign the forms and put our fingerprints on them (how do you wipe off the ink on your finger while wearing a white wedding dress?).  She did say some nice things about what a wonderful woman Mary Beth was and then that was it.  But we were married!  I said several times the week before that as long as I'm married by the end of the day it is a successful wedding.  Everything from this point on are bonus points!  Mary Beth and I disappeared for 15 minutes while the waiters served fruit kebabs and drinks and then at noon we started the religious ceremony.  

The religious ceremony was a fusion of American, Canadian and Peruvian customs.  Everything went as planned, except the sunflowers on stage were already starting to wilt having been cut 6 hours before and not put in water soon enough.  We did parts of the wedding in Spanish and parts in English, only translating the question, "Who gives this woman to be wed?"  as we felt Jim and Linda should know exactly what they were answering when he said, "Her mother and I."  The sermon was in Spanish.  Our vows were in English as that is our heart language despite years in Peru.  After getting to kiss the bride, we jumped off the front of the stage and ran out the back appearing at the reception dinner 15 minutes later.  

The wedding was held in a tent for 400 people on the camp soccer field.  We had about 275 guests.  During the reception, a gust of wind carried away the tent.  Providentially, it was after the wedding and the only damage we suffered was our piano getting smashed.  Peruvian custom is for the newlyweds to go from table to table during the dinner and greet everyone and get pictures taken with them.  We did this during the meal and then handed out the sunflower-shaped cupcakes that my sister Carolyn had made.  Peruvian tradition is to toss the boquet and an exagerratedly big bowtie matching my already silly-sized bowtie to the unmarrieds and then have a mock wedding for the winners.  My brother-in-law Keith performed the 'Mawage' ceremony in a bishop attire similar to that from the Princess Bride movie, which was a hit.  Ben caught the bowtie!

By 4:30 pm the buses were loading to head back to Arequipa and Mary Beth and I escaped shortly thereafter to begin our Happily Ever After.

As an interesting note, my parents were married on the same date, December 29th, 1954.  My sister put this picture up on the cake table of them and brought the candle that is pictured from 63 years ago!

6 Tips for Peruvian Christmas

21 Dec 2017
  1. Don't try and to sleep before 11:30 and 12:30 as you will be woken by the continuous noise at surprisingly close proximity - fireworks - they love them here.
  2. Most evangelical churches don't have services Christmas eve or on the 25th. We miss this tradition. This year was an exception because Christmas eve was on Sunday.
  3. You have to learn to love Panetón (fruit bread) and hot chocolate as everywhere you go you will get it or give it. If you have an employee you buy them one.
    Kids with Panetón
  4. Peruvians celebrate on the 24th evening with their families and open presents at midnight, and eat at midnight but each family differs slightly - some eat early, some eat at midnight and some wait for the morning and food varies too between chicken or turkey.
  5. Great tip from a taxi driver - buy your turkey live (though many Peruvians eat chicken) - get the turkey drunk on Pisco (like wine) so it tastes better when you kill it and cook it. (We didn't follow this tip).
  6. Churches and other Christian groups often do charity events at Christmas. This may be a Christmas outreach or play, a gift for children or a hamper basket and of course chocolatada - hot chocolate and Panetón.
    Church Outreach

Merry Christmas from our family


Coming to Christ through Scripture (Acercando a Cristo a través de las Escrituras)

04 Dec 2017

(Español abajo).

Recently I met a man here in Ethiopia, from a different country, though with an incredible testimony. He is from a nomadic tribe, and (years ago) because of the war in his country, he fled to a refugee camp. At the camp, some Christians (from a different ethnic group) came to show the Jesus film. The showing was without incident, until the scene of the crucifixion. The nomadic tribesmen felt that the violence depicted on the screen reflected the real motive of the ethnic group showing the film. They fear for their safety, so began to throw rocks at the screen, and began to mobilize to defend themselves. The film crew quickly packed up. As their vehicles were pulling away, the nomadic tribesmen were throwing things off the vehicles, and in the process threw a number of Bibles on the ground—that were supposed to be delivered after the film showing. They then proceeded to rip the pages from the Bibles, and throw the pages into the air. This man, some time later, found one of the pages. It was Matthew chapter 1—its contents are almost wholly ignored by those of us from the West. But this man was intrigued. In his culture, they had memorized their ancestors for the past 30 generations! As nomads, no father could give a son land as an inheritance, but he could give him a good name—and a legacy left by past generations (as well as animals obviously). When a nomad would meet an unknown person in the desert, they would hear each other’s genealogy to see if they were related. If they were, they were bound to help each other, if needed. Thus, this man, upon seeing the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew was intrigued, and secretly kept the paper in his pocket. Soon after, as he was listening to his radio, instead of BBC, he came upon some preacher—in his language—preaching on the very passage of Matthew 1. Soon after, while visiting a friend, he noticed his friend listening to his radio with headphones. When asked what he was listening to, the reply was simply: “BBC.” But when his friend got up to relieve himself, the man picked up the radio and headphones—and discovered that his friend was listening to the same message on the genealogy of Matthew 1! They both eventually gave their lives to Christ. This man I met is now a church leader. Stunning story! No “Roman’s Road” was used by our Sovereign Lord to bring this man to salvation—rather, the genealogy of Jesus (a passage rarely preached on and seldom discussed in the West)!

Recientemente conocí a un hombre aquí en Etiopía, de un país diferente, aunque con un testimonio increíble. Él es de una tribu nómada, y hace años—debido a la guerra en su país, huyó a un campo de refugiados. En el campamento, algunos cristianos (de un grupo étnico diferente) vinieron a mostrar la “Película de Jesús.” La muestra fue sin incidentes, hasta la escena de la crucifixión. Los miembros de la tribu nómada sintieron que la violencia representada en la pantalla reflejaba el motivo real del grupo étnico que mostraba la película. Temen por su seguridad, así que comenzaron a tirar piedras a la pantalla y comenzaron a movilizarse para defenderse. El equipo de filmación empacó rápidamente. Mientras sus vehículos se alejaban, los miembros de la tribu nómada arrojaban cosas de los vehículos, y en el proceso arrojaron una serie de Biblias en el suelo, que iban a ser entregadas después de la proyección de la película. Luego procedieron a rasgar las páginas de las Biblias y tirar las páginas al aire. Este hombre, un tiempo después, encontró una de las páginas. Fue el capítulo 1 de Mateo: sus contenidos son casi totalmente ignorados por aquellos de nosotros de Occidente. Pero este hombre estaba intrigado y impactado. En su cultura, ¡habían memorizado a sus antepasados ​​durante las últimas 30 generaciones! Como nómadas, ningún padre podía darle a un hijo tierra como herencia, pero podía darle un buen nombre, y un legado dejado por las generaciones pasadas (al igual que los animales, obviamente). Cuando un nómada se encontraba con una persona desconocida en el desierto, se escuchaban la genealogía del otro para ver si estaban relacionados. Si lo fueran, estaban obligados a ayudarse entre ellos, si era necesario. Por lo tanto, este hombre, al ver la genealogía de Jesús en Mateo estaba intrigado, y secretamente guardó el papel en su bolsillo. Un tiempito después, mientras escuchaba su radio, en lugar de BBC, se encontró con un predicador, en su idioma, predicando en el mismo pasaje de Mateo 1. Poco después, mientras visitaba a un amigo, notó que su amigo escuchaba su radio con auriculares. Cuando se le preguntó qué estaba escuchando, la respuesta fue simplemente: "BBC". Pero cuando su amigo se levantó para hacer sus necesidades, el hombre recogió la radio y los auriculares, y descubrió que su amigo estaba escuchando el mismo mensaje en la genealogía. de Mateo 1! Ambos finalmente entregaron sus vidas a Cristo. Este hombre que conocí ahora es un líder de una iglesia. ¡Impresionante historia! Ningún "Camino Romano" fue usado por nuestro Señor Soberano para llevar a este hombre a la salvación, sino más bien, la genealogía de Jesús (¡un pasaje que raramente es predicado y rara vez es mencionado en el Occidente)!


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