- Praise God that language learning with Grace is going ok.
- Please pray that I will be able to make some Malawian friends.
- Praise God that I managed to get a dog (Moya). She is a cross local dog and Rottweiler and a very loyal guard dog.
- Please pray that I will have no problems getting hold of the medications I need. They do have some in stock in Malawi but please pray they will have a regular supply.
- Please pray that the diesel shortage will be over so that HOPE for AIDS can continue to work in the villages.
"You see, just at the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us".
Recently I have been thinking a lot about the fact that Jesus died for the sins I commit every day and though I continue to sin, I am still forgiven. This amazes me and I am so thankful. There is reason for joy every day because my sins are not counted against me.
I was thinking about this passage as I went to visit one of the home based care programs for the distribution of goods. Each patient received soap, milk powder, sugar and Likuni Phala (vitamin fortified maize porridge). Though the patients are not well, they sang and praised God. It was a delight to see and hear. Many seemed to understand that they were forgiven and had a joy despite the sufferings they endure.
It used to be when Peruvians asked us where we were from and we said, "Nebraska", they would reply, "It's really cold there, right?" mistaking Nebraska for Alaska. That all changed about 2 weeks ago. Now they say, "Like Peru, Nebraska?!" This should strike you as odd, as Peru, Nebraska has 569 inhabitants, and is one of only 3 towns in Nebraska that I haven't personally visited. But a month ago, Marca Perú, a promotional company decided to send a group of big name celebrities to Peru, Nebraska to make a video of them teaching the Peru locals how to act more Peruvian. It's quite entertaining, at least to us. While visiting a fellow missionary's church in Lima on Sunday, I was even introduced as being from Nebraska to give me some automatic cachet.
After dropping the kids off at school, and my morning swim, I started digging through the paperwork that piled up on my desk in the week I was in the USA. I had Skype conferences with a nurse in Florida, who will be coming in June for a medical campaign, and with the SIM International Personnel director, (former Peru missionary Helen Heron) about a Swiss couple applying to come to Peru. E***, a Peruvian planning to return to ministry in Asia, came for a meeting to discuss how SIM can help her logistically, and stayed for lunch. The afternoon included orthodontist appointments, buying school uniforms (We love school uniforms! No arguments about what to wear), and helping with German homework.
Friday, while I was in the States, Dámaris, our secretary, had gone to the bus station to pick up a package. In it were the passports and official Peruvian ID cards for one of our families that is going on home assignment soon. In a rough part of town, 4 young men reached into the taxi and grabbed the parcel. "Oh no! The passports!" she thought, and got out of the taxi and chased after them yelling, "Please! In the name of God, give me back the passports!" She followed them around a city block enclosing a market full of stalls, which they ducked into. Another woman started running after them as well, and they gave her back the package, including Dámaris' camera, about $150 in cash and the passports! She only lost her coin purse that contained about $10. If she hadn't gotten the passports back, the missionaries would probably have missed their flight getting their paperwork all in order. We agreed that she will always keep passports in a special case hidden under her clothes from now on, and not chase down thugs!
For Carlos, a taxi driver who recently accepted Christ. He gave me a ride home yesterday and asked about baptism, but more out of curiosity than a desire to do it himself. He seemed interested when I offered to study what the Bible says about baptism with him, but didn't give me a definite date to do so.
Actually, this is true. Don Wunderink was our mission bookkeeper, but he and his family are going to the States for home-assignment next month, so Amy has graciously agreed to take on his duties until he returns in January. It has been a challenge to learn a new system, and to use a Windows-based computer, but it has been a good challenge for her, as it is the first big project she's tackled where she has had to learn a lot of new things since her brain tumor in 2004.
There is currently a huge need in Peru. Peru, as with many other South American countries, has had times of political instability. In 1983 a Maoist group called the Shining Path attempted to take over the country and establish a communist state. There were numerous masacres and public killings. What this meant was the people lived in fear! God still used this time and in the ten years that the Shining Path operated, thousands, actually over a million people joined the Evangelical church.
So the evangelical church doubled in size going from 7% to almost 14% of population. As a result of this explosive growth there is a great need for training and discipleship, especially of young people. There are hundreds of young pastors that have only been a Christian for a short time themselves and have had no chance to do any training.
photo by Lisa Fitzgerald
Though the country is 85% Roman Catholic, the beliefs of people are often interwined with old animistic religions. At times it is very ritualistic and given that Spanish Conquerers brought this religion by force - it's sometimes just a thin veneer over what people have always believed.
After spending two months on a short-term mission in Peru we saw the huge needs and felt that God could really use us in Peru.
When we got married we decided to do a short-term mission? Christine was happy to go anywhere. I immediately suggested Bolivia in South America. I had been to Bolivia on holiday twice before. I felt a connection with the people and thought that this was one of the most beautiful countries in the world with the Amazon jungles and the Andes mountains. I had also sponsored a child named Junior in Bolivia through Compassion.
We approached the mission organisation SIM (Serving in Mission) with our plans for spending a couple of months in Bolivia on a short-term mission. Most of the contacts that SIM Australia had were in Peru and we were asked if we'd be happy to go to Peru instead. Peru borders Bolivia and is similar in many ways. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America and Peru comes next. We said we were happy to go to Peru.
While in Peru, we stayed with missionaries in a small village called Cotahuasi (pronounced coat-ah-wah-see). It is here that we saw the huge needs in Peru. We felt that working in a University ministry would address some of these needs. Peru is also a country of great opportunity for the good news of Jesus. There is now an incredible openess to the gospel and the church in Peru seeks to make a difference in their community. It is a time of political stability. The village where we spent two months during our short-term mission was just fifteen years ago out of bounds for foreigners because of the Shining Path who operated in the area.
These are a few of the reasons we've decided to head to Peru. We are also glad that Spanish is a relatively easy language for English speakers to pick up. I have some basic Spanish having spent about five months in South America over three trips. Christine has had about two months of exposure to Spanish. We are looking forward to when our children can correct our Spanish.
It has been great that some of our long time friends have been missionaries to Peru. Phillip and Diane Marshall were sent from Blakehurst Baptist which was my home church for about 20 years. In the last few years we've learnt much from them personally and also in lectures. Phillip is a lecturer at Morling Bible College and has great cultural insights. Christine's Sunday School teacher also ended up being a missionary in Peru and she too has been the source of much wisdom (and laughter). Recently we've got to know Edwin and Diane Porter who have given us our most up to date information on Peru along with lots of very practical tips. Their love for the Peruvian people has inspired us.