The Georges in Peru

Thankful for car alarms

08 Jun 2018

Here in Arequipa, it seems like crime has gone down since when we arrived in 2000.  My informal poll of taxi drivers reveals a similar sentiment.  One of our missionary colleagues that has had his spare tire stolen three times would probably disagree.   I assume it is because the economy is better and there are less desperate people stealing things.  The situation in Venezuela would back my hypothesis as an article on CNN just today said that 47% of Venezuelans were robbed during 2017.  There are lots of desperate people there.  Around 2 or 3 am on Tuesday morning our recently-installed car alarm went off.  Car alarms in Peru are like robins chirping in Nebraska:  They are a bit annoying early in the morning but don't really mean much.  Mary Beth said, "That's our car!"  I shut off the alarm with my key fob and looked out the window and didn't see (0r hear) anything and went back to bed.  Yesterday, I noticed that the passenger door wouldn't lock and unlock properly and I realized that someone had destroyed the keyhole with some sort of tool.  I mentioned it on our neighborhood chat group and our neighbor said that they hadn't been so lucky and the thief had gotten into their car and stolen their radio that same morning. 

So for now, I'll go back to parking our truck in the garage.  It's a bit annoying to do that since our cats like to hide in the engine compartment and I have fears of replicating the cold winter day from my childhood when 9 cats were trying to keep warm in the pickup and...wait you don't want to hear that story!

I'll just say that I'm thankful for our car alarm.  We can't lock or unlock the passenger door with a key now, but that seems pretty minor. (we still can lock/unlock it with the fob)

Do you take these Women to be your Wedded Wives??

03 Jun 2018

Well, the priest didn't actually say that, but he could have. 

Mary Beth's friend Elisabeth invited us to her wedding yesterday.  She didn't tell us that there were actually 103 couples getting married at the same time in a mass wedding organized by the mayor of the district Elisabeth lives in.  Or that one of the other couples was her sister and her boyfriend.  We were told it was starting at 10 am, but we didn't arrive until 10:15.  When we got there, couples were taking turns walking into a white tent to Mendelssohn's 'Wedding March' being played over and over.   Elisabeth and Harvey weren't even there yet.  "Are you two getting married?" several asked us, despite Mary Beth not even wearing a white dress.  I guess we just look nuptial.  By 10:40, they started the wedding with a few words from the mayor, but Elisabeth still hadn't arrived!  Did they get 'cold feet'?  Were they already sitting down and we couldn't find a dark-haired girl in a white dress sitting with 102 others?  I asked a man who had a clipboard with a bunch of names if they had arrived.  "Not yet," he confirmed after checking with the corresponding check-in table.  "Is that her?"  I asked Mary Beth at 10:50, when yet another late bride was showing up.  "Yes!  That's her!"  One of the aides handed Elisabeth a bouquet and pinned a boutonniere on Harvey.  They signed the paperwork and took their seats.   

After a few more words from the mayor and a priest and the presentation of special couples (e.g. The oldest groom was 89 years old!) they declared them married and raffled off some appliances, the grand prize being an oven.    Thankfully, they didn't read off all of their names, or it would have taken several hours.  We were impressed by all the perks the municipality gave the couples:  flowers, presents, a photo booth and they even had groomsmen and bridesmaids!

Passing on the Baton

01 Jun 2018

What do you see in this picture?

This is a picture taken of our families playing volleyball at SIM's camp a couple of days before our wedding.  Missionaries started this camp about 20 years ago with some Peruvians who also dreamed of a Christian camp in southern Peru.  They worked hard to build it into what it is today.  Over the years, several missionary couples have directed the activities at the camp, including constructing the cabins, pools and pavillions.  An even more difficult task of building up Christian men and women in the community has occurred over the years as well. 

Almost all good mission projects have as a goal  to see the local believers take over the ministry.  The current camp directors, Scott and Tami Wade (who also happen to be from Christ Community Church), believe we are nearly there.  So on Monday, the four of us (Scott, Tami, Allen and Mary Beth) met with key camp workers to tell them that we think that they are ready to run the camp without foreign input.  The Wades plan on continuing to live part-time at the camp for the next 6 months to help the workers adjust to managing things on their own.  A lot of different emotions were seen in our Peruvian friends, from fear to excitement to sadness.  One said that the Wades couldn't possibly be leaving, but if they were, someone must come to replace them.  Another had already drawn up an organogram of who would be in charge of what parts of the camp!  We feel optimistic that this is God's plan for the camp to move forward so it can be a truly Peruvian ministry.  Pray for a good transition.

Sarah and Zach's wedding

15 May 2018

Saturday, my little girl Sarah married my wonderful new son-in-law, Zach Davis, in Wheaton, IL where they go to school.  Since Paul and Mia had a one-week break from school, we were able to fly to Chicago and spend the preceding week helping with the wedding preparations, visiting auntie Sandi and meeting Zach's parents, Dale and Jody.  After hours of bantering on the fair number of cows to be given as a bride price the wedding was allowed to proceed. 

photo by Michelle Kessler


03 May 2018

'Faena' in Spanish means 'church work day'.  Well, actually it means any work day where a group of people get together to do some large task for the general good.  We've participated in faenas in the past to dig water canals in villages and to do repairs at our children's schools.  On Sunday's faena, we expanded our roof to cover our newly-enlarged sanctuary.  We recently increased the number of walls in our church 50%!  (from two to three) and by doing so, widened our sanctuary, so we extended the tin roof to cover the new gap.  

If you don't have a step ladder, you can just pile up chairs to the height you want!

Carlos Saves the Day

02 Apr 2018

On Monday mornings, Mary Beth goes out to SIM's camp to play horse wrangler in the morning and kid wrangler in the afternoon.  (Neighbor kids visit her apartment in the parsonage to play games and learn how to apply to the Bible to their lives.)  It takes about two hours to get there if the buses go well.  Today they didn't go so well.  A little over halfway to camp her bus stopped and sat hardly moving for an hour.  It turns out there were strikers protesting (we don't know what they were protesting against, so clearly not a helpful strike to convey their dissatisfaction) and blocking the road.  After her patience ran out, Mary Beth got off the bus and started looking for a vehicle heading back to Arequipa with an available seat.  Thankfully, her prayers were answered by a taxi being driven by Carlos, the man who does maintenance work at the camp, who also felt waiting for the road to open would be futile.  On the way back they came across a truck that had just recently tipped over on a curve, blocking the road again.  Carlos and his brother saved the day by helping a group of men tip it back up onto its wheels so everyone could continue on their way!

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.  



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