The Georges in Peru

The Reports of my Death are Greatly Exaggerated - Mark Twain

22 Apr 2019

I haven't posted for a while.  But I have a good reason.  It seems I've been dead!  I've been feeling surprisingly normal all things considered.  It came to light when I tried to electronically file my taxes and it was rejected.  


So I skyped the Social Security Administration's 800-number where, after three 50-minute waits on hold I was told various things, such as, "You need to go to Costa Rica to the Federal Benefits Unit there."  (As humorist/columnist Dave Barry would say, 'I'm not making this up!').  I checked my social security online account and found that the money I paid to SS in 2017 appeared as $0.  I called SS again to be told that a trip to the Costa Rica unit was my best chance for sorting things out.

I called the IRS 800-number and a very helpful employee (as if the 'S' in IRS really stands for Service) finally found the problem.  When Amy died, they turned the death indicator on for me instead of for her!  And since I didn't owe anything on my 2017 return they just 'discarded' it!  Though it isn't really discarded.  It is still in the system, but I still have to refile a paper copy.  Her manager is supposed to call me back to explain why I have to refile when they have it on file and it was their fault.  

You may have heard that Alan Garcia, one of Peru's former presidents, killed himself last week to avoid a tribunal that was investigating him for bribery and misuse of public funds.  Many Peruvians feel that he faked his death, paid off the appropriate people and escaped to Argentina.  That doesn't seem so impossible to me anymore, just unnecessarily complicated. 

This could not possibly have passed inspection

29 Mar 2019

I was in Lima this week to renew my passport.  While there, I visited the print shop that is making 5000 copies of a book based on Proverbs that is being taught in some Peruvian schools.  After my visit I rode in a public transport van that was the most beat up that I have ever seen.  The side window was gone.  All of the linings in the door and roof were gone as were half of the dashboard components.  In the 9-block trip to the bus station we had two near accidents.  Peru has a vehicle-inspection law, but evidently this van slipped through the system.

What's your superpower?

17 Mar 2019

Mine is Quechua.  I speak a teeny bit of it and it has magical powers here (okay, theologically I know it's not magic, just go along with the literary device!).  This morning we gave a ride to three girls that recently started attending our church.  When we were dropping them off at their house a filthy drunk with a shovel approached the car, yelling and waving the shovel agressively.  Paul and I thought he might start hitting our truck.  "Girls, get out on the other side of the car!"  While they got out I distracted the drunk on my side of the car.  "Allillanchu, papay!" (How are you, my daddy?) I asked him in Quechua, not sure that he even spoke Quechua.  I figured if he didn't understand Quechua he'd just assume I was speaking in English and it wouldn't make any difference.  He suddenly looked a bit less violent.  "Iman sutiki?" (What's your name?) I asked.  The angry shovel-wielding man was suddenly smiling.  I told him to watch out for a bus coming by and he said jokingly, "Those buses don't kill, I do!"  We continued exchanging pleasantries (okay, I guess he wasn't really pleasant!) and he mentioned how much Paul has grown while the girls escaped to their home.  "Tupananchiskama!" (see you later!) I said as I drove off marveling at the power of language.

Back in Line

07 Mar 2019

Thankfully, we didn't have to wait in this line today!  This is the office where Peruvians have to go to get their government IDs.  Schools start up in early March (Paul returned to school on Monday) and many people wait until the last minute to get their kids' IDs renewed when they expire.  You don't have to wait in line if you have money.  Many people go and wait in line and sell their spot for $1-3 when they get near the door.  Tomorrow, I have to go to the immigrations office and then the driver's license office, so I'll probably get my share of waiting in line then!

Where have the blog posts been?  We've been traveling!  After about 6000 miles of driving and 10,000 miles of flying, we are back in Peru!  Since we last wrote, we zig-zagged down through the States to visit churches and people on our way to Texas (sorry if we missed you!  We'll have much more time to see people in 2021!).  We took Mia to visit universities (Go Azusa!) in Los Angeles before leaving her with her Aunt Julie and Uncle Erik in San Antonio.

We were very encouraged back in Peru to see our church thriving despite our absence.  That was one of our top prayer requests while in North America.  God answered your prayers with nearly 90 people attending on Sunday!  (That's about twice as many as were attending when we left in December!)

Open House January 27th

17 Jan 2019

If you are in the Omaha area on January 27th, please stop by Christ Community Church for an open house!  Feel free to drop in anytime from 12:15 pm to 2 pm in the accordian-door rooms off of the kitchen (D126/D127) to meet Mary Beth, hear about our ministries in Peru and get a couple of bocaditos (snacks).

Yesterday, we crossed back into the USA from Manitoba after lengthy questioning from the border-control agent.  We think because there was no line and he was bored, an American and Canadian with Peruvian kids was the most interesting thing he had seen that afternoon.  After confiscating our lone clementine orange he let us in.  

We had a great visit with the Talleys (residency classmate) in Grand Forks before heading on to Fargo to stay with Amy's brother's family.  The temperatures are already warmer, though it didn't feel like it today when we toured NDSU campus where Mike (Amy's brother) is the dean of the engineering department. 

In front of the Bison.  Pronounced, "Bye-zin".  Don't call it a 'Buffalo'!

It will take about an hour...

06 Dec 2018

A missionary couple here in Arequipa is returning to England and their Christian-materials ministry had a lot of books left over.  SIM is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year and we are hosting a big event next Wednesday.  We decided to give each person attending a box of books!  After today's team meeting, I coaxed our missionaries to help redistribute approximately 12,000 books and an equal number of tracts between 80 boxes.  "If we have 10 people and each person packs 8 boxes in an hour, we'll be done in an hour, and I'll buy everyone lunch!"  Unfortunately, because of Peruvian law governing donations, we had to make a list of what each box contained.  That made a lot of extra work, despite printing out the packing list for each box before we even started working.  Even then it took us 3 hours!  But it will be worth it.  Each person will be getting a really nice set of books to further the Gospel here in Arequipa!

Quick Teamwork

26 Nov 2018

I (Mary Beth) heaved a sigh of relief when I saw my friend Cinthya come to meet me at the door of the Christian school where I was supposed to give my missions talk Saturday afternoon.  Running a bit late, I hoped I was early enough to get the needed materials onto the tables before the event started in 10 minutes.  She led me past a few parked cars into a gym buzzing with life as people put a last-minute coat of paint on the railings and walls.  There was a pick-up truck in the middle of the space where I expected to see tables and chairs, and people were swarming everywhere trying to scramble the event together.  Hmm, not quite what I had anticipated, but I rolled up my sleeves and got ready to help.  In half-an-hour the place was transformed.  Desks had been taken out of classrooms and grouped together.  Fancy flag center-pieces had been strategically placed.  The scaffolding had been put back onto the truck, which was successfully (after a few tries) started and manoeuvred out of the gym area.  Flag banners appeared from nowhere and a world map was stuck on the wall behind the stage.  The last thing to get working was, of course, the technology.  The projector didn’t have a cable to hook it up with the sound system.  In spite of this slight delay, they started the event only 1 hour late and it went very well. 

Afterwards, one of the church leaders said “I never gave much thought to missions before.  In all truth, I didn’t think it was very important, but you have opened my eyes.” Another person asked, “Do you really think it’s possible for us Latinos to be involved in missions?”, “For sure!” I answered.  “We have several Peruvian missionaries with SIM as we speak!”  What a great opportunity.  Thank you, God.

The venue at 2:37 pm.  It was scheduled to start at 2:30 pm!

Ready to go at 3:14 pm!

Four-legged Turkey

23 Nov 2018

Yesterday, we invited our missionary team to our home for Thanksgiving Dinner.  It was our first time as a couple to host a big dinner and our marriage survived.  It must have looked tenuous for a moment as one missionary even asked us how we dealt with conflict as she watched us work together getting broth out of the turkey bag to make gravy.  (Good Gravy, Batman!)  Actually, we were a good team getting dinner on the table.   We bought an 8.0 kg turkey (they're about $25, if you were wondering) which was enough for the 21 people that were present.  We would have had more leftovers if more of the 8.0 kg had been meat and less had been feet (or head)!  This one came with 4 of them!  We still have so much to be thankful to God for!

Architect for building

07 Nov 2018

This summer, Medical Ministries International of Peru bought a property to build a clinic for their physical therapy, optical and dental ministries.  I sit on their board of directors.  Before we can build the clinic, we need to design one that will have room for everything we desire and fit it in a 470 square-meter lot.  On October 10th, I was reading the Christian Medical and Dental Association's E-Pistle newsletter and there was a notice that a semi-retired architect named Ken Gray was offering his services to ministries around the world.  I quickly wrote him and told him the general characteristics of the project and he said he'd like to help us!  Monday he arrived and since then has toured our current rented facilities and seen our new property.  He has been making lots of measurements and looking at how similar projects have been done in Arequipa.  Today, we went to a physical therapy clinic for disabled children that had an exercise pool, but they don't use it because the plumbing doesn't work.  The person who built it designed it poorly and it can't be drained without calling the fire department to bring in their water pumps.  Story is, the builder took the money he was paid and disappeared! 

I guess we don't have to worry about Ken taking the money and disappearing, since he is doing this project for free as a ministry!  Pray that the final design will fit in space for all of the ministries we want in the land area that we have.

Women's Retreat

02 Nov 2018

Many of you have been praying for the women's retreat that Mary Beth organized and directed yesterday and the day before.  She chose the date because it is a holiday and several women assured her that it wouldn't hurt the turn out.  But a few days before the event, the woman in charge of promoting the event told Mary Beth that there was only one woman signed up!   Yesterday was November 1st, which is the Day of the Dead, a holiday seriously observed by people in latin cultures, so many decided that they wouldn't be able to come to the retreat.   Mary Beth requested prayer and by the end, 29 women attended, if one includes the couselors and speakers.  I could tell watching from the sidelines that they had had a great time!

They had a knitting workshop.

And dress-up time!


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