The ladies conference went very well and we had about 45 people attend which is a big jump from the 15 who attend the weekly meetings. The theme was “Loved by God” and we certainly think they got the message. We also found they loved the ‘Pineapple story’ which is a challenging story and they could relate to it. A picture tells a thousand stories so below are some photos.
I made a silly face to make them smile and they did.
We still have a slight generational difference, especially in terms of education but God is slowly breaking down barriers. At the last meeting I asked everyone to comment about what they were learning from God and 95% were confident enough to respond which is a big step forward and an encouragement. Some of the ladies went up to the kids club (at church plant) yesterday to serve Christmas treats and give a small gift. How wonderful is that? They’re serving others.
This is where the seed was first planted in my heart last Mother’s day- the idea of teaching women about God’s love and empowering them to serve. It is almost full circle… So join me in praying that by Mother’s day 2018 (May) we can see the women’s group leaders teaching the kids club mothers. Now that is my dream… Let us see what God has planned.
Many ladies are from the Quechua speaking highlands. Very different to student ministry with modern youth.
We provided lunch and a craft for the ladies.
Ana is a faithful servant with good questions and willingness to learn. Rosa is a great spiritual leader who is now using her own examples in teaching the ladies. Pray for them.
Amanda - a beloved friend, talked about God's love for us and how we can love our spouses and families.
- Don't try and to sleep before 11:30 and 12:30 as you will be woken by the continuous noise at surprisingly close proximity - fireworks - they love them here.
- Most evangelical churches don't have services Christmas eve or on the 25th. We miss this tradition. This year was an exception because Christmas eve was on Sunday.
- You have to learn to love Panetón (fruit bread) and hot chocolate as everywhere you go you will get it or give it. If you have an employee you buy them one.
- Peruvians celebrate on the 24th evening with their families and open presents at midnight, and eat at midnight but each family differs slightly - some eat early, some eat at midnight and some wait for the morning and food varies too between chicken or turkey.
- Great tip from a taxi driver - buy your turkey live (though many Peruvians eat chicken) - get the turkey drunk on Pisco (like wine) so it tastes better when you kill it and cook it. (We didn't follow this tip).
- Churches and other Christian groups often do charity events at Christmas. This may be a Christmas outreach or play, a gift for children or a hamper basket and of course chocolatada - hot chocolate and Panetón.
Merry Christmas from our family
In Peru, expect the unexpected. At the moment, we’re visiting lots of churches to share our about the University ministry and invite students to join. On Saturday night, we visited a church youth group and peering in the front door, it was completely dark inside. I looked back out on the street and there were no street lights on. I looked back into the church and I could vaguely see a small group of young people at the front.
We enjoyed a Bible study from Exodus, led by the pastor. He had someone standing behind him with his phone, slightly illuminating the Bible so that he could teach from it. At the end we shared about our university ministry called "Comunidad Bíblica Universitaria” and I showed a short video from my laptop. After the meeting we chatted with students who were applying to enter university and got their details. Several had their entrance exam the following day so we took the opportunity to pray with them.
Here are two photos I took that night with my phone in the darkness. For the second photo we used the light of a mobile phone.
Please pray as we visit churches and connect with students, that many will be keen to study the Bible on campus. Pray that Christian students will be bold and not be afraid to identify with Jesus, in universities where many are embarrassed to stand out, especially with their faith.
Presenting an adorable new addition to our family. Her name is “Dusky" and she was given to us by a friend. Christine is happy to finally to have a member of the family that takes after her blue eyes :).
Our kids enjoying their new little friend
Javier is a graduate of Computer Science in Arequipa. He volunteers his time to encourage and help students to serve Jesus on campus. Several times a year he travels to other cities in the south of Peru to do the same.
Javier and I catching up at a Cafe after a long time.
Javier is now somewhere I never expected. He’s in the Amazon jungle in the neighbouring country of Bolivia where he will work for a month. He’s helping to create a translation of the Jesus movie in an indigenous jungle language. This will enable people to see the Jesus movie in their heart language - reaching many who may have never heard the name of Jesus before.
This is a huge operation with several specialised teams - voice actors, editors, and linguistics experts. Javier is part of the technical team who work on editing the audio and synchronising it with the video. He got involved in this ministry, following his passion in missions and then doing a course in this type of work. Last year he helped complete a translation into a Peruvian jungle language.
So thank you for praying for the work with students in Arequipa. It’s exciting to see the University ministry having such a strategic impact. Please pray that more graduates from Arequipa, like Javier, will go on to help reach the unreached for Jesus.
Sometimes you need to go to extraordinary lengths to get something you want. I know friends who have camped overnight to get tickets to their favourite band, but I never expected to have to sleep on the street to get my residency visa.
When moving to Peru we need to do lots of paperwork to get our residence in the country including checks at the Interpol office. We get ourselves fingerprinted and provide a bunch of personal information so that the Peruvian government can give us permission to live here after confirming that we don’t have a criminal record anywhere else. Normally this is a simple process that takes a few hours. However, today was no ordinary day.
Damaris, a lady from our mission, who helps us with the paperwork, arrived at 6:30am to what was already a massive line of people waiting. This was 2 hours before the Interpol opening hours and there were more people than could possibly be processed in a single day. Damaris called us and we got there as soon as we could with just our son Samuel. Damaris was able to get Christine on the preferential queue which is reserved for people with young kids, disabilities or older people. No amount of pleading would get me to be processed along with Christine. It was obvious with the huge lines at 7:30am that there was no way I would get processed today.
It wasn’t hard to work out why there were so many people because basically everyone waiting was from Venezuela. Thousands are leaving Venezuela, a country in crisis, where it’s now impossible to buy the basics like food, medicine and toilet paper. Peru is allowing Venezuelans to stay and unfortunately the systems are not setup to handle such volumes of foreigners entering the country at once. To the credit of the Interpol office, they had increased the number of people they were processing from 60 per day to 100 and some staff were working 12-hour days to cope with the influx.
I was told to come back at 4am the next morning and join the queue. Doing some simple maths it was clear that coming at 4am wouldn’t be enough - given the number of people who missed out today. So Damaris went to the Interpol office at 7pm and held a place for me. I arrived at 10pm with warm clothes, pillow, food and water for the night. Unfortunately the police wouldn’t let me into the Interpol office complex. A police officer told us that if we wanted to wait overnight we couldn’t come into the complex, we had to wait in the street. There were a lot of people already waiting on the street.
I sat down on my pillow for awhile and later curled up on the pavement sleeping as best as I could. I kept waking from dreams where I had missed the line in the morning. I was afraid to drink water as there were no toilets around. The only toilets in the Interpol office were broken. At about 6am there was movement in the queue. No one wanted to lose their place. At 7am some officials arrived and handed us paperwork to fill out.
I was 10th out of 100 people they saw so by 8:30am I had been fingerprinted, someone had checked my teeth and made some notes and we started the process to confirm that I had no criminal record. After the long wait, I asked twice to be sure it was all over and I could go home.
Praise God that our family's residency in Peru is progressing. Thank God for people like Damaris who can help us navigate the complex paperwork required in countries like Peru. Please pray for the people left in Venezuela in a terrible situation.
We are here in Australia for 6 months and we have less than two months to go. We have been encouraged to meet many new people and visit many different churches. It is amazing and humbling to meet prayer warriors we have never met before who are praying for us daily.
Christine with Meg
We have reached about 90% of our monthly support but need 100% by December 5th to get the all clear to head back on the 9th of January. Here's a link if you'd like to support us financially.
Our final event will be our commissioning on Sunday 18th December at Concord Baptist. This will be our last chance to see people before leaving (assuming God's provision). If you would like a prayer card for your fridge please contact us.
Our kids having fun with friends Avi and Steph