Monday was the first day of summer camp. Forty-three kids loaded the bus going to camp for a week of fun. The first day was completely normal, with swimming, archery, horsebackriding, Bible studies and other camp activities. SIM's camp is located in a valley in the desert about an hour from Arequipa. It is so dry that without irrigation even cacti wouldn't grow. There are places on the drive out to camp where one can't see any plants at all. It looks like moonscape. This makes it a great environment for planning events. One doesn't have to have a contingency plan for rain. When Mary Beth and I got married, we didn't even consider what we might do if it rained. I was told that in the early 2000's the camp went almost 10 years without it raining! So we were all a bit surprised when Monday night we could hear sprinkles on the roof of our cabins! And the rain kept going off and on the rest of the week. Mary Beth and her team did a great job changing plans to keep the kids occupied. We almost canceled our mud games because everyone thought they'd be too cold to do while raining, but the rain stopped and it warmed up enough to play in the mud. When we planned the camp we thought it would be a lot of effort to prepare the mud. It clearly wasn't!
Last week was SIM Peru's Spiritual Life Conference near Lima. Our fantastic speakers were Bob and Kamrin Evans from the Bay Area in California. SIM Peru missionaries come from 9-12 different countries (depends on if you count where they were born or where their passports say they are from) so we pick English for presentations since we have new people that don't speak Spanish yet and our Swiss and German missionaries speak excellent English. But some words are new to them. During one of the talks Bob used the word 'vicarious' and was asked what it meant. It means to experience through another person's actions.
Wednesday, was the tenth edition of the Race to the Rocks, a 7.2 km race on the beach. I've reached that stage in life when my kids are beating me in about everything, including foot races. I have chosen to vicariously claim their victories as my own, as was the case in Paul's victory in the race!
Last night, I was preaching at a church for the first time. I asked for a volunteer to read a verse and one woman raised her hand but then declined when she realized that she didn't have her reading glasses, so someone else read the verse. A bit later, I asked for another volunteer to read a three-verse passage and the woman without her glasses volunteered again. She stood up, looked straight ahead and without her bible recited all three verses word-perfectly from memory! I was amazed until I realized that the guy running the projector was putting up all the verses on the screen behind me!
Today was the CONREDE track meet. It pits the doctors, lawyers, engineers, nurses, accountants, etc. against each other on the track and field. I went into the 1500m planning on winning the event since I can usually run it 10 or 15 seconds faster than last year's winning time. Unfortunately, I got an asthma attack about half way into the event and didn't even finish. How embarrassing! For the last two months I've been forced to quit really hard runs because I can't breathe. I've seen a lung doctor and even did a treadmill test with a cardiologist and it appears to be exercise-induced asthma. I guess I'll have to stick with the longer, slower runs or the really short ones (100m to 400m) that don't give the asthma time to close my bronchii. Our team coach had been encouraging me to throw the shotput at the event, so I was signed up for it. I've only thrown the shotput once before in my life at a school 'Parents Olympics', so I don't really know what I'm doing. All the other competitors signing up for the event were bigger than me (not a very common occurance in Peru). I was chatting with a team mate before the event who looked like an olympic shotputter. "I'm not very good, he said. It's all technique." I was dubious. He looked like he could throw me 10 meters and a shotput probably much further. God has a sense of humor. I won the event. I'm not convinced it was due to my great technique, as you can see below:
I make a lot more house calls in Peru than I would in the USA. I don't have set clinic hours, so I'm able to go to a patient's house if needed. I've had to hike to some places, like once when I went to see a patient with Huntington's Chorea, who couldn't walk. Today was my first 'car call'. Pastor Simón asked me if I would see a patient in Clínica Arequipa with multiple leg fractures from a car accident to see if she would qualify for financial assistance from our Medical Assistance Project. After I saw her, Pastor Simón asked if I would see another lady from his church who had been told that she had pancreatitis and sent home. "Okay. Where is she?" I asked. "In my car!" Simón said. He's a taxi driver and had brought her to see me and had her wait in his car while I saw the first patient.
Pray both patients recover.
A number of decades ago, evangelist Birhanu (in southern Ethiopia, in the Omo River Valley) was walking home late from sharing Scripture stories in another village. It was dark, and he didn't like being out late for fear of attacks (animals or enemies). Yet he heard a cry from the bushes. At first he thought it was be a trap or ambush. But he investigated, and found an abandoned, naked girl. He knew immediately why she was there. A tradition passed on for generations stipulated that a child with a first tooth appearing in the top gum was cursed--and must be killed. (The elders of a village would take the child from the mother's arms, and leave it in the wilderness--if not, it was believed that the whole village would be cursed). So this particular night, Birhanu arrived home to his wife and 6 kids (2 of which were girls similarly rescued, but now thriving) with a new child! Birhanu's wife named her "Tuti" which means "precious." Thanks to the Gospel taking root all across the Omo River Valley, such traditions have rapidly lost their force (See Dick McLellan, Warriors of Ethiopia (UK: Lost Coin Books, 2013), 187-190).
Hace varias décadas, el evangelista Birhanu (en el sur de Etiopía, en el valle del río Omo) caminaba a casa después de compartir historias de las Escrituras en otra aldea. Estaba oscuro y no le gustaba salir tarde por miedo a los ataques (animales o enemigos). Sin embargo, escuchó un grito desde los arbustos. Al principio pensó que era una trampa o emboscada. Pero investigó y encontró a una niña abandonada y desnuda. Él supo de inmediato por qué ella estaba allí. Una tradición transmitida por generaciones estipuló que un niño con un primer diente que aparece en la encía superior fue maldecido y debe ser asesinado. (Los ancianos de un pueblo tomarían al niño de los brazos de la madre y lo dejarían en los arbustos; de lo contrario, se creía que todo el pueblo estaría maldito). Entonces, esta noche en particular, Birhanu llegó a casa a su esposa y 6 hijos (2 de los cuales eran niñas rescatadas de manera similar, pero que ahora prosperaban) con una hija nueva! La esposa de Birhanu la llamó "Tuti", que significa "preciosa". Gracias al crecimiento tremendo del Evangelio en todo el valle del río Omo, tales tradiciones han perdido rápidamente su fuerza (ver Dick McLellan, Warriors of Ethiopia (UK: Lost Coin Books, 2013), 187-190).
As Ezra recounted "church history" in Nehemiah 9, so too we need to frequently retell "our" story.
Last week we celebrated "Reformation Day." Two years I gave a lecture on Martin Luther (for the 500th anniversary). Last year it was on John Calvin. This year it was on "Women of the Reformation." Here is a link to the audio (focusing on Katharina von Bora, Katherine Parr, and Lady Jane Grey): https://www.dropbox.com/s/pj2bynyax6k091x/Women%20of%20the%20Reformation%2C%20Oct%2019.mp3?dl=0
May we know the stories of those who have gone before us!
We believe that praying makes a difference. When we work, we work but when we pray God works! We got together with our students and asked the question “How do we make praying for our university friends a part of our daily life?” We had tried before with only limited success. How we could make praying a daily habit, one that we would never forget?
All of us brush our teeth every single day and we never forget. Could we make praying for our friends a new habit by connecting it with an existing habit (brushing teeth)? We started with 3 students and we now have 16 students praying daily. We hope to keep expanding this.
What do we do?
When we start brushing our teeth we smile and give thanks to God for the many things he has blessed us. We then pray for 3 university friends - the same three friends everyday. We pray that:
- God will open their heart
- God will create opportunities for us to listen to our friends and share how Jesus has impacted our life
We keep each other accountable by posting in a WhatsApp group and each student has another student who reminds them if they forget to brush their teeth.
We look forward to seeing what God will do through prayer.
I could post a picture of yesterday's baptismal service in a river that would almost make you think it was the Jordan. But you've seen lots of those photos. You've not seen a Fast Foog stand. Unfortunately, it was closed, so I can't tell you what fast foog tastes like. Probably tastes like chicken.