Today, Mary Beth and I were going over to Alejandro's house to paint another wall. Someone had visited him after we painted one of his walls last week and was so impressed by how improved it looked that they gave him $15 to buy another bucket of paint to continue the job! On the way there we encountered a bit of a traffic jam at a railroad crossing. A small truck was stopped on the tracks! It was 10:30 and the 11 o'clock train was certainly on its way. The back wheels were stuck between the rails, inextricable to the two women trying to push it out. "Can we help?" We tied on the tow rope I always keep in my truck and pulled their truck about 10 meters forward to get it out of the way of the 11 o'clock. "How much do we owe you?" "Just thanks. The Bible tells the story of the good Samaritan and we should do the same." "We just learned something!" they replied as we headed off singing "Bill Grogan's Goat". We painted one more of Alejandro's walls just in time to get Mary Beth to the school she was teaching at at 11:30.
Our home just went through a milestone event. Paul beat me in a fair-and-square game with 15 minutes on the chess clock for each player! Here's the final position and the moves for the chess geeks out there:
1. e4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 Be7 6. Bd3 O-O 7. O-O Re8 8. Re1 Bg4 9. Bf4 c6 10. Be2 Bd6 11. Bxd6 Qxd6 12. h3 Bh5 13. Ng5 Bxe2 14. Rxe2 Nbd7 15. Rxe8+ Rxe8 16. Qd2 h6 17. Nf3 Ne4 18. Nxe4 Rxe4 19. Re1 f5 20. Rxe4 dxe4 21. Nh4 Qe6 22. Qf4 g5 23. Qxf5 Qe8 24. Ng6 Kg7 25. Ne5 Nxe5 26. dxe5 Qg6 27. Qd7+ Kf8 28. Qxb7 Qe8 29. Qb4+ Kg7 30. Qd6 Kh7 31. Qf6 Qd7 32. e6 Qd1+ 33. Kh2 Qd6+ 34. Kh1 Qd1+ 35. Kh2 Qd6+ 36. g3 g4 37. Qf7+ Kh8 38. e7 Qd7 39. e8=Q+ Qxe8 40. Qxe8+ Kh7 41. Qe6 gxh3 42. Kxh3 a5 43. Kg4 a4 44. Qf7+ Kh8 45. Kf5 a3 46. Kg6 axb2 47. Qg7#
Just yesterday, the kids and I were talking about how different our childhoods are. I grew up on a farm in Nebraska. Everyone spoke English and most people we knew were involved in agriculture. They are growing up in Arequipa, Peru and speak English at home and German and Spanish at school raised by their widowed doctor father who sees patients in our living room on many days of the week.
As a poignant reminder of how different our childhoods are, while hanging laundry on the roof of our house this morning, I pointed to the northwest, "Look the Volcano Sabancaya is errupting!" No worries, it is about 50 miles from our house and we aren't among the unfortunate living downwind from it.
The view from our rooftop this morning.
Alejandro lives in a difficult situation. Crippled, 84 years old and without work, he depends on his $80/month pension and the compassion of others to survive. I visit him weekly to talk, bring him food and water (his room has no running water) and again to take him to church. His room is cluttered and noticeably dark because of the dark walls and the lone light bulb (his landlord nephew won't allow him to have more than one bulb because of the cost of electricity!) Mary Beth went with me to visit him a couple of weeks ago and remarked, "You know what would make his room better? A new paint job!" "I was given the wrong color of paint a few months ago when I was painting my bedroom, so I've got some nice ivory-colored paint to use!" I noted. So today we painted the back wall of his room, making it much brighter and him happy. Sometimes it helps to have some new eyes look at a situation.
"Dad I need a pig heart! It's for biology class. We're going to dissect it."
"Sorry, I'm fresh out!" But that's not a problem in Peru! I went to the market and asked for pig hearts. For about $1.50 a pound one can buy pig hearts in bulk. This lady was a bit disappointed that I only wanted one.
I hope you had a good Easter! I was the special speaker at a men's retreat on Saturday out at our camp and then Easter morning Mary Beth and I went out for a run/bike ride during the sunrise and the kids slept in. The church near camp (where Mary Beth attends) had a baptism service Easter morning and the pastor from my church officiated it!
The mayor of one of the districts in Lima is a Christian. SIM Peru partnered with several local churches and the mayor to provide relief to people affected by the flooding in an area of Lima called Paramonga. SIM helped with the purchase of blankets, cans of tuna, diapers and insect repellent for these efforts. You can see a video of relief efforts here. Thanks for your donations and prayers! Pray that people are introduced to our Savior Jesus during this difficult time! I accidentally posted this on my blog instead of the flooding blog which you can see here.
I'm in Lima for the regional meeting for the SIM Americas directors (the field directors for countries like Peru, the US, Uruguay, etc.). One of the Lima missionaries has had an annoying cyst on her back for a couple of years and last year went to a Peruvian clinic to ask to have it taken out. They told her they'd need to do it in an operating room in case there was a lot of bleeding! So I threw a laceration kit into my luggage and her husband picked me up at the airport. It took me about 10 minutes to remove the cyst (I could look up the exact time since they filmed it so she could watch her own surgery later!) and there was less than 1 ml of blood. Clearly the 'too much blood' excuse was a ploy to be able to charge a lot more money than I did (which was a ride from the airport)!
Peru is currently experiencing some of the worst flooding in years. Riverbeds that are often dry are spilling over their banks in the capital city of Lima. Many people, including missionaries, are ironically without water as the canals have been damaged. The death count is currently (18MAR17) at 62. Please pray for opportunities to use this crisis to share about the Living Water that Jesus provides and to show compassion to our fellow man. I am currently helping coordinate funds for relief efforts in Lima to help provide food and water to those that have lost their homes.
Please pray for those who have lost everything. Give praise that our water came back last night after being cut off since Tuesday (except for a couple of hours Thursday morning). Pray for wisdom in knowing how we can help most in this crisis.
Tuesday night I had the pleasure of teaching a basic medicine course at the Bible Institute that SIM partners with here in Arequipa. The main subject was, "How to stay healthy and productive in the ministries God has called us" We were discussing all sorts of subjects from filtering one's drinking water to immunizations. I like to keep my classes interactive, so I let the students ask any questions that they might have. Sometimes I have a hard time hearing because they are so timid and soft spoken and other times, despite 17 years in Peru, I just don't understand some Spanish words that they choose. One question in particular left me baffled as to what he was asking, "I'm a welder. Why do I get sick when I heat of leftovers in plastic containers?" His question was kind of out of the blue and it didn't seem to make sense. "I'm sorry. Could you repeat your question?" I asked as I moved closer to hear better and maybe get some clues from his body language what his question really was. He repeated the question. That really was his question. I briefly discussed the lack of studies on microwaving food in tupperware and told him to use glass or ceramic in the microwave before surrendering with, "I don't know."
I guess they weren't too disappointed with my lack of knowlege about leftover food as they invited me back in two weeks for a course on first aid!
Yesterday, Mary Beth and I went to a funeral/burial of Elizabeth's mother who died in a freak auto accident on Thursday. Mary Beth was Elizabeth's camp counselor in the past, so they have grown close over the years. I was amazed at Elizabeth's dad who directed a lot of the funeral himself without a tear or quivering voice. I think people here get so used to tragedy they become hardened to it.
This year we have had an unusual amount of rain for the desert and yesterday it continued. We got rained on at the cemetery and were thankful that another friend loaned us her umbrella. Since the city isn't prepared for rain, the streets become rivers and on our way home the traffic was so bad that at one point it took over 30 minutes to go half a mile. Since we were sitting in traffic we decided it was a good time to change our 'relationship status' on Facebook. We had initially thought we would do it on Valentine's Day, shortly after we started going out, but there were a few people that we needed to tell in person, and Elizabeth was one of the last ones.
So yes, it's true! I have an 'enamorada' now. Mary Beth is a fellow SIM missionary from Canada, whom I have known for about 12 years. Over the years she has spent a lot of time with my family, working with the horses with Sarah out at camp and coming over after youth events. She puts Christ first in her life, has a servant's heart (at yesterday's funeral she got up to help serve drinks), is sincere and genuine, and funloving. I feel so fortunate and think often of James 1:17: Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
I feel even more blessed than usual!