Jeyachandran Family

Rain in the desert

09 Apr 2012

It never rains here in Arequipa. We're living in a desert. Well, that's true except in the wet season - late December, January, February and a little in March.

We've just been through the most severe wet season in 30 years. This meant lots of broken pipes, flooding in the streets and frequent water cuts.

Storing water

Christine with the many containers we use to store water

We had one really difficult day without water. I made the assumption that if the water stopped, we still had 120 litters of water in the hot water system. I was wrong! When the water stopped, so did the hot water. Someone explained that when the water is cut, there is no pressure to drive the water through the hot water system. It was a frustrating day not being able to flush toilets or wash dishes and fortunately it only lasted a day.

I went out and bought several large containers to hold our water backup. So when the later water cuts came we were fine.

Christine is under our make-shift rain water catcher. We purchased this to protect the washing machine from the sun but accidentally discovered that in heavy rain the water funnels to one point where we can catch it in a barrel. It's ironic that the water cuts are during times of heavy rain so it's great to be able to catch the precious rain water.


All the containers you can see (above) were used for storing (a ridiculous amount of) drinking water.


Water purification technology has come a long way. Previously missionaries had to import an expensive water filtration systems from Europe. The local people boil their water, which in the long run is also expensive. Now it's easy to purchase here these inexpensive two phase filter system. The first (black) unit is a paper filter that removes all the particles. The second (white) unit is a carbon filter that kills the bacteria.

We've learnt a few simple lessons that have made life so much easier. I think that both in Australia and here in Peru we are very aware of how precious water is. 

Photo Tour of our Home

02 Apr 2012

Here are a few photos of our home plus the kids. We live on the second floor of a Peruvian family's home.


Kids bedroom

 


Annabelle posing - who does she get that from? Styrofoam can be a lot of fun. This is our little balcony where we have our washing machine and we dry our clothes.

 


When taking photos I sometimes ask them not to smile and this is what happens.

 


Annabelle enjoying dancing! This is our study and possibly where we can have students stay.

 


Living and dining area

 


Ours and Samuel's room

 


The view of El Misti (the volcano) from the study window

 

Thank God for our home. We love the place - it's close to markets, shops and the university where David hopes to work. It's also convenient because there are lots of buses from here into the city.

In our next post we'll share what it's like when it rains in the desert  - water shortages and flooding at the same time.
 

Can how we work together make a difference?

14 Mar 2012

I'm in the office of "Corazones Unidos" ("United Hearts"). This is an organisation which supports people with disabilities, providing practical help with wheelchairs and also helping to bring this community together. It is a partner organisation of Joni Eareckson Tada's "Joni and friends". Our church here, Calvary Chapel Arequipa, works with this organisation - our pastor Efrain manages the office and coordinates events along with his wife.

Efrain and Dorkas

I'm currently doing something really simple - backing up several years of computer records that had never been backed up and setting up a boot password. In a place where computers are often a target for theft, this is a good idea.

David at the computer

Our pastor is currently working on a much more pressing need. Their lease on this current office is running out and they need to move out of this building. So how do we find space with an incredibly tight budget?

Efrain has been speaking with businesses, churches and individuals in the area to see if someone is willing to rent space at a highly subsidised rate. It involves knocking on doors of business that seem to have a spare room and explaining the work of Corazones Unidos and seeing if they are willing to negotiate a price. It also involves visiting other local churches and seeing if we can work with them. Often rooms may only be used once or twice a week and there is the potential to somehow share the space. I'm learning a lot of about how things work here. It's so important to have of a strong network of friends/contacts and it is also so important for churches to work together.

Maybe the love of Christ can be shown just as much in the way that we Christians work together as in what we do.

Dog Bite

06 Mar 2012

I knew the run on Saturday was going to be hard but I got a surprise I didn't expect. I ran with Allen, our team director and fitness fanatic, and another friend. Both these guys are in training for a marathon in Lima. About half way into the run a little dog chased us, along with a bunch of other street dogs. Normally they get close but not too close but this one bit my ankle. I stopped and shouted at it and it scuttled away. It was a small bite which hardly broke the skin. We stopped and washed the bite area and then we continued our run - another 6 km home.

Later we decided that even though the risk of rabies from such a superficial bite was incredibly low it would be safest to get the rabies vaccines. My cousin Deepa also pointed out that the consequences of rabies are so severe that it is never worth the risk. Someone in her family had a horrible death 30 years ago when bitten by a someone's pet dog.

Hospital Visit

6am on Sunday morning I headed to a hospital nearby to get the vaccine. At first they wanted a referral from a doctor but eventually agreed to let me see a doctor. The doctor told me that here they had only limited amount of the anti-rabies vaccine and this was reserved for people who had been bitten on the face or on the arms where the risk of contracting the disease was high. He said that there was a private clinic I could go to but this was open only Monday to Friday. I began to explain that I really needed my first injection within 24 hours of getting bitten but I could see that was not going to get me anywhere. With the limited resources they had, I was a very low risk case and was not a priority.

This was my first experience in a large Peruvian hospital and the place made me uncomfortable. The bed that I saw had dried blood stains on the foam where the plastic cover had worn off. I was glad I wasn't sick. As I walked out a nurse ran out after me. She explained that there was another hospital at Goyeneche, not too far away, that could probably help. She spoke to reception and they made a phone call for me. The reply was that they couldn't help me today. The lady at reception suggested that I just turn up in person at the hospital and see what they say. So I hopped on a bus to Goyeneche hospital.

Second Try

This was a beautiful 100 year old hospital. It was a bit run down on the outside but was a clean and friendly hospital. I found the anti-rabial centre and had a great chat with the doctor here. Apart from rabies he also has a specialisation in venomous bites. We talked how dangerous it is to live in Australia with so many venomous snakes and spiders.

Back on the topic of my bite we discussed the 8 injections I would need. Ideally if we could find the dog that bit me, they could check if it had rabies and save me a lot of pain. In my case that was not possible. The doctor warned me of possibly allergic reactions and side effects of the injection. He said I had to abstain from alcohol and smoking - not hard for me to do. He continued with a list of other things I had to avoid for the week:

  1. spicy food
  2. exercise
  3. sex
  4. getting too hot or cold
  5. coffee
  6. eating too much cold stuff eg. ice-cream
  7. pork

 

Allen, our team director and doctor, found this list was quite amusing and has had fun suggesting ways I could break many of these rules at the same time. I've tried to be a good patient and I've only broken two rules. No they're not the ones you're thinking!

So everyday I go in for an injection and it's all free thanks to the Peruvian government. Apart from an aching arm I have had no adverse side-effects. Thank God that we've got good medical help in Arequipa. Also, thank you for those who have prayed for me.

What have I learnt from this?

Several people have suggested I stay away from stray dogs. Running seems to attract dogs that want to bite so requires caution. I normally carry a couple of stones to scare these dogs.

As for keeping away from stray dogs generally... Some of them are just so cute and they're happy to come up say "Hi!" (actually "Hola!" because they're Peruvian). Here are two pictures of dogs on the street that did just that.

Do I really need to keep away from the friendly stray dogs?

Why we can be optimistic?

07 Feb 2012

I am excited that every people group in Peru will be reached for Gospel. Though we may play only a tiny part in God's plan, I am confident that hundreds of thousands of people in Peru who currently do not know Jesus will one day worship Him as Lord and Savior. Am I just a silly optimist? Is this just a crazy dream?

There are a couple of very good reasons why we can be confident. Patrick Johnstone, editor of Operation World, explains this in detail. He gives two reasons why not just Peru but the world will be reached by the gospel.

Firstly, Jesus promises it. The job he gave us to do will be completed. In Matthew 24 Jesus promises that the gospel will be preached through the whole world. Also in Revelation 7:9 we read about "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb".

Secondly, the statistics demonstrate that this is actually happening. While the church in Europe and other parts of the west have been in decline, in Latin America, Africa & parts of Asia the church has been growing strongly. Globally there was a hard patch in the mid 20th century where we had 60 years of stagnation but in 1950/60 something dramatic happened. This continued in the 1970's with massive growth in Latin America. In the 1980's it was China and now it continues in India.

Patrick says that while he is optimistic there are still dangers and challenges. He sees the main danger being the fragmentation of the evangelical church over secondary issues. A challenge is that we need to have a long term perspective. Anything that is done quickly is not necessarily going to get quick results - let alone the long-term transformation of a culture.

See the full interview with Patrick Johnstone here. 

Patrick Johnstone Part 1 of 2 from U.S. Center for World Mission on Vimeo.

So bringing this back to Peru - we're seeing the church continuing to grow. We also see so much potential. In our ministry area with university students there is currently only a single full-time Christian staff worker for all of southern Peru - which is a massive area. What would happen if we could have a staff worker for each city and even each University? We also see an openness to the Gospel and people are willing to discuss Spiritual issues.

Here in Peru there are dangers and challenges too. The danger I see is with rapidly growing churches that teach that the Bible promises prosperity and health. The subtle message they promote is that God solely exists to fulfill our needs rather than our need to submit to Him. The challenge on the other hand is to have Bible based churches working together and supporting each other. These are exciting times and also times for prayer.

Taking Christmas to the Community

28 Dec 2011

Christmas is a great opportunity to give and to reach out to the community. 

Here are photos from two events in the lead up to Christmas. The first was an event for handicapped kids. It began with a little play from the group of university students that I'm now getting to know better. It told the story of a girl who didn't want a present from Santa. She's dragged by the ear by her grandma to Santa who cannot believe that a girl doesn't want a present. The girl explains that Santa's gifts are fine but she has already been given a gift that is amazingly precious, will never break, will never get lost and will not just bring joy for a couple a couple of days but for all time. Santa (and the kids) press her to reveal this gift which she finally shares is her Lord Jesus.

We all celebrated with hot chocolate and paneton. Paneton is a light fruit cake which is yummy and traditional at Christmas. Each of the kids then received gifts - thanks to the generosity of the church.

The parents of handicapped kids have a hard life - even from just the physical point of view. Very few can afford a car and many cannot even afford a wheelchair. Without wheelchairs many of these kids spend most of the life inside their homes. Our pastor is a coordinator with the charity Joni and friends and slowly more people are getting access to wheelchairs and support. He sees this very much as a mission to an often unreached part of our community.

The following day we visited "El Mirador" which is a new neighbourhood a bit of a distance out of town. It lived up to its name which means "The View". 

El Mirador

El Mirador

Here we had a similar events with lots of kids. Here we are again enjoying hot chocolate and paneton.

David with Kids

The crowd really engaged with the Christmas play.

El Mirador Crowd

Please pray

  • thank God for Christians who are passionate about reaching their community
  • that we can work towards addressing some of the huge needs we see
  • that those who have heard the message will experience God's amazingly precious gift

Our Pre-schoolers

21 Dec 2011

The girls have been attending a wonderful preschool here in Peru which they just love. It is run by two wonderful ladies Lula and Sandra. We were recommended this preschool by our fellow missionaries for several reasons - it is a Christian pre-school and they are used to having new missionary kids. Also Sandra speaks fluent English which has been a huge help for me, more than the girls. Each morning the bus arrives to take them.

The girls can’t wait till next year because as Annabelle says  “I get to go to Lula’s class because I’m bigger!”. They do the usual preschool things (learn numbers and letters) but there are a few big differences to Australia. For example they don’t have a lot of free play time and receive homework each day – usually colouring, tracing letters and numbers, cutting and gluing.  Another one is that when Annabelle was naughty her lovely teacher told me she threatened her with a cold shower and she quickly fell into line. You gotta see the funny side of this and laugh! 

On Saturday we attended the final concert for the preschool. It was amazing! It included three carols belted out by the 2-6 years olds. They did well and looks like they knew most of the words in Spanish. 

Then traditional dances from each age group. 

Finally there was a Nativity pageant. There was one 6 year old who had the lead role who knew a huge number of lines and at least 3 solos by heart. Incredible! Annabelle and Amelia were shepherds and had lines too.  Annabelle was very interested in tending to baby Jesus (a doll) much to the annoyance of ‘Mary’ and ‘Joseph’. J  It was great to see the kids having fun up on stage.  

Praise God for Lula and Sandra and the blessing it is to have a place for the kids to enjoy and learn Spanish.

The picture below is of the girls after their ballet concert which we enjoyed on Sunday. Once their performance was over we sat the girls on our laps so they could be inspired by the older performers. They can’t wait to return.  

Presenting in Spanish

14 Dec 2011

David gave a presentation on the weekend to about 30 people at a web developers conference in Lima. Most were full-time developers and some were university students. The aim was to invite people to volunteer to assist with the MissionsHub.org project - something David has been working on in his spare time. The challenge for David was to give this 45min presentation in Spanish. Here's the story...

I woke up on the morning of the presentation feeling anxious. I had slept about 4.5hrs - I had stayed up until 2am going over the talk. My Bible reading that morning was a huge encouragement - it felt like a miracle. The passage that came up was Exodus 4:10-12 where Moses was explaining to God that he wasn't good with words. God tells Moses "Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say". This was exactly what I needed to hear.

I was relaxed when I gave the talk. I had Fernando standing next to me, ready to clarify when my Spanish was confusing. The great news is that after the talk 6 people wanted to join the team and 16 wanted more info. They are a talented group and we look forward to demonstrating what this community of Peruvian developers can do.

In my intro I mentioned that as a Christian, a follower of Jesus, I was willing to go where God wanted me to go. This was the reason I left my job and came to Peru to serve with University Students. I was very encouraged by another Christian who took up on this in his presentation and shared the forgiveness he had in Jesus.

Here's one thing we've already achieved - a quick win. Fernando, who heads this community of developers, helped to configure a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for the MissionsHub.org site. So images and other large files from the website are copied to servers in key locations around the world using a free service. This helps to make the website to load faster - whereever you are in the world. [Update 22/12/2011 - The CDN is improving performance in most countries but it has actually slowed the performance in Australia. We will investigate our options].

Please pray:

  • thank God for those who have helped - especially my team from my previous work who helped get this started
  • thank God for this opportunity to make friendships
  • thank God for the opportunity to work in Spanish
  • that this project will bring this web developer community closer together and that it will give glory to God
     

Students taking the Initiative

01 Dec 2011

It was a huge privilege to be part of a Student Conference for AGEUP (evangelical university student movement in Peru). Students leaders from around southern Peru came together for four days in Cusco.


Students from Arequipa

My Spanish skills are at the point where it's easy to get around and do things and to have simple conversations. Phone calls are still a challenge. I wasn't surprised that even though I thought I had spelt my name carefully on the phone, my name on my bus ticket was "David Yiewayacf".

I met the group of students heading to the conference at the bus terminal. They were a welcoming group and I felt at home immediately. These student knew how to find a good bargain. It was about a 12-hour overnight bus trip to Cusco & they got a ticket for 30 soles (11AUD). It's easy to spent triple that amount on the same trip. The bus was quite comfortable. Several non-essential items didn't work like the reading light and the air vents but the only issue was that our leader ended up getting wet when it rained as the bus leaked a bit.

Arequipa Bus Terminal

I chatted a lot with a student named Erick who is studying Engineering and had a whole stack of English questions. What's the difference between "see" and "look"? What's the difference between "talk" and "speak"? Since coming I've realized what a huge task it is to learn a language. Several students had spent many years learning English but without people to practice with, no matter how many hours you spend with a book, it's very difficult to speak. Teaching English is a real opening to connect with students at University. If you're considering doing a short-term mission in Peru, without knowing Spanish, I would highly recommend teaching English. When teaching English is connected with a local church it is a powerful outreach.

At the conference, concentrating in the morning talks was sometimes hard. I had a few things working against me - lack of sleep, lack of coffee, the altitude (3400m) and what many of us would consider long talks (1.5+hrs) and in Spanish. No one told me that coffee is not a drink common with students in Peru. Fortunately we had some highly engaging speakers like Alex Chan who spoke about Sexuality and God's plan. He had the audience in hysterics. It was also good to hear talks about Christianity and Politics. In South America it can be dangerous for Christians to get involved in politics but often it is much more dangerous not to be involved. The political climate seems prone to extremes and Christians need to be a light in this arena.

It's exciting to see a group of students who are passionate about serving Jesus and meeting together. The students also take the initiative in running the ministry. This is important here because there are so few full time staff. Currently they have just one staff worker who looks after all of southern Peru - an area spanning hundreds of kilometers and several major cities including Arequipa.

Please pray:

  • thank God for the staff workers that do an amazing job with limited resources
  • thank God for the students who are passionate about serving God
  • that I can make a valuable contribution as this becomes the focus of my ministry next year

How do we get home?

10 Nov 2011

If you need help - an entire bus load of people may have a (loud) discussion about the best way for you to get home.

Arequipa CombiOur local buses

Samuel and I needed to catch a bus home. We are slowly working out how to get about on the buses. There is no website that you can go to and find bus routes and I'm not aware of a map either. Good thing it's not hard to just ask for help. I flagged down several buses till I found one that said they were going near our home. The conductor let us know that the bus would get us much closer to our place but we'd probably have to catch a second bus to get to home.

Someone, seeing I was carrying a baby, offered a seat to me. As we got close to where I'd have to hop off the conductor called to the driver and asked about the best way for me to get home. On hearing this, the bus began to bustle with energetic conversation. Several offered their ideas - from this intersection you can catch this bus that takes you close to home. There were disagreements and few more ideas were thrown around loudly. I couldn't follow everything with my limited Spanish but I could see that they were trying to help me. Soon they agreed I could get off near a particular shop where it would be quicker to just walk home - it would be just 5 blocks. I knew where I was and it was really quite a quick walk home from here. I said gracias to everyone and hopped off. What a great trip!

Easy to carry Samuel around in what Peruvians call a "kangaroo". Normally he's in front of me so this makes more sense. This photos was taken a long way from home.

Have you had an experience where a group of strangers helped you?

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