Jeyachandran Family

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?

Preparing for Earthquakes

16 Oct 2011

Living in a highly seismically active area means we play some unusual games. This one is called "Sismo" (tremor in Spanish). In the game we have to quickly get to an earthquake safe spot. The kids play this in their kindergarten regularly too. It's fun but there's also a serious side to it. Every few weeks a (gentle) tremor reminds us of this.

Stories from last major earthquake

The last major earthquake hit Arequipa in 2001 with a magnitude of 8.4. It was devastating, destroying about 17,000 homes. 2,500 people were injured and 75 people lost their lives including 26 with the Tsunami that hit the coast.

AnaLou, a teacher at our language school, was in the upper part of Arequipa when the earthquake struck. She described it as terrifying. They could see over the town and as the dust rose from the shaking it looked like the city was sinking into the earth which caused even more panic. Mobile phones wouldn't work - the networks were saturated. Public transport came to a stand-still. Everyone just wanted to get home to get together with their families and make sure everyone was okay.

Julio, our grammar teacher, was outside when it happened. He said the ground had waves running through it, like someone lifted a carpet and shook it. Pipes had broken spraying water into the air. Cars were bouncing in the streets. When he looked towards the volcano that towers over the city, it had disappeared in a cloud of dust from what he later realized must have been caused by avalanches. Julio described the most terrifying thing about an earthquake was the incredible noise. In his home cupboards had opened and cutlery smashed on the floor, his fridge had fallen over but the important thing was that no one was hurt.

A week after the earthquake a team of doctors arrived from Germany and were staying close to Julio's home. Some of these doctors, after seeing the effects of the earthquake, spoke about wishing they had experienced it first hand. Julio couldn't understand why anyone would want to experience an earthquake. But anyway, these doctors got what they wished for! After a major earthquake, there are often serious after-shocks. At around 3 am one morning an earthquake with an magnitude of over 7 struck. As the doctors fled the house, many were still in their underwear, standing outside in the cold. A couple of them were so shaken by the experience they wanted to fly home immediately. They'd changed their minds evidently. 

How we stay prepared?

We have regular drills at home and in our language school. In an earthquake the power is automatically cut so we keep torches and candles handy. We also need some emergency water, a few cans of food and a radio with batteries.

When an earthquake strikes, it's important to react quickly and find a safe spot close to where you are. Under a table or in a safe zone away from glass windows or objects that can fall. People's natural reaction is often to run out of the building. This is generally dangerous and many injuries have occurred when people have tried to run down stairs. Most of the buildings in Arequipa are built to withstand earthquakes so it is best to find a safe spot within a couple of seconds of where you are standing. Once the quake is over it is time to go outside being careful of broken power lines.

Earthquake Secure Zone Safe zones that are marked in all public buildings

Should we be worried?

We trust that God has things under control. Wherever we live he is in control of when we live and when we die. We will take all the precautions necessary and keep in perspective that while the risk of an earthquake is high, the risk to our lives is extremely low. I feel that it's easier here in Arequipa to understand that we are every day in the hands of our Creator.

When is it okay to keep people waiting?

07 Oct 2011

If you are a salesperson in a shop and there is a queue of people waiting to be served, what do you do when a friends pops around to say hi? In Peru it's perfectly acceptable to now have a conversation with that friend. The people in the queue will wait patiently while you have a good chat.

Vegetable Shop

I (David) was in our local market the other day purchasing some vegetables. I handed over the money to the lady for the vegetables. Midway while getting my change a friend of this lady came by to say hello. They began to have a great conversation while I waited patiently for a small amount of change (less than 10c). Soon I began to suspect that I had just made a miscalculation and had already actually been given all my change. Why else would this lady launch into a conversation? So I headed off and to a different part of the market. About a minute later the lady from the shop came running. She'd left her shop to find me and give me the rest of the change.

Friendships are more important than time, here in Peru. We've now gotten to know this lady in the vegetable stall and she stops to say hi to us even if she's in the middle of a transaction with someone else.

Unexpected answer to Prayer

29 Sep 2011

Christine: Well God has answered a prayer in an unexpected way.  We were looking for a gymnastics class for the girls but could not find one. We ended up finding a ballet school 20 minutes walk down the road.  I never imagined taking the girls to ballet but they love it. And how is it an answer to prayer?

I have been unable to connect with local mums or find friends to practice Spanish with because of the time needed for language study and just managing the kids. Also they don’t seem to have playgroups or mothers groups like we have at home. But what I have found at the ballet school is a captive audience of mothers who wait the whole hour for their girls twice a week in a small room. We are not allowed to watch the class so we are forced to chat with each other.  How nice! So today I wrote down a few of their names. I met a teacher, dentist, accountant and, of course, stay home mum’s like me (well, excluding language study ). Of course some topics are universal for mothers: breastfeeding, how you fared in your pregnancy and what cute thing your kid did yesterday. To my surprise I can understand a lot of what they are saying. Sometimes the lady closest to me kindly repeats the key information more slowly and simply for me, but none the less, it is all in Spanish. They have encouraged me and say I am doing well for such a short time in the country. This is great to hear as in the language school I am reminded constantly of my mistakes. I cannot use all the tenses we have learnt yet but slowly and with practice I am sure I will get there.  The ladies said they are happy to help me and I am more relaxed in this situation of immersion. 

I am going to look forward to Monday and Friday afternoons sitting around with other mothers of little ballerinas. Who knows where God will lead our conversations in the future. Please pray for opportunities and praise God for answered prayer.  The ballerinas get a lollie at the end of each class – to which Annabelle asks ‘Why did I get a lollie?’ It’s definitely a win win for everyone (though maybe not their teeth).  

Why we're looking forward to working with University Student?

21 Sep 2011

Latin America is an exciting place to be with so many opportunities to serve.

Students at a youth conference in Arequipa

We look forward to serving in a University, discipling and empowering students to follow Jesus. Students are the future leaders of the nation and are an incredibly strategic group of people to work along side. Our vision is that many students will be inspired to serve God and will go proclaiming and living out the message of Jesus. Arequipa, the city we work in, has several major universities. Some students come to Arequipa to study from different parts of southern Peru. If we can reach these students, they are able to take the gospel back to their communities in their own language. We met two students who did exactly this. In their holidays they went back to their incredibly remote village high in the Andes and they taught the Bible in their native language Quechua. Read the amazing story of how this remote village turned to Jesus.

Our prayer is that Peru will not only send missionaries within the country but also beyond. This is already starting to happen. SIM has spent many years preparing the church in Peru for this. A couple of months ago SIM Peru sent its first missionary to Asia. Latin American missionaries are able to go into countries in Asia and the Middle East that may not be open to western missionaries. They are also able to blend in more easily in these countries with their darker complexion. There is a SIM team that is working hard to put together documentation and training that will help to mobilise the Latin American church for missions. A lot of work is still to be done and a lot of prayer is needed. We look forward to seeing what God will do.

Read More...

Enjoying Church in Arequipa

29 Aug 2011

Have you been tempted to buy a lucky charm or to make an offering to the “mother god”? The average person in Peru may face quite different temptations but we are all tempted at times to compromise our devotion to God. The Bible speaks to us where ever we are. Pastor Efrain, from our church, is currently preaching through the book of 2 Kings. This book has many practical applications for us today as we look at the people of Israel during the time of syncretism when Israel worshipped the Living God, as well as followed other gods. Even with my limited Spanish I've been enjoying these talks.

Efrain and our family
Pastor Efrain from Calvary Chapel Arequipa with us

We hope to record these talks and make them available on the Internet (thanks to a few tips from friends in Concord Baptist). We feel that this systematic Bible teaching will be a valuable resource for Latin America.

I meet with pastor Efrain once a week and we practice Spanish and talk about life in Peru. This church is very relevant to our future work in Arequipa because of the excellent work they are doing among University students. I've enjoyed learning about the challenges of sharing the gospel in Peru. It is also a great encouragement.

I don't feel so bad making blunders in Spanish after hearing a mistake that Efrain made in English. Efrain was born in Peru and had the opportunity to study at a Bible college in the UK. Here he said farewell to a fellow female student with the words “See you later. We will touch!”. She seemed surprised! He of course meant to “keep in touch!”

Please Pray

  • thank God for Calvary Chapel in Arequipa and their teaching of God's Word.
  • thank God for their growth – last week we almost ran out of room
  • pray for more leaders who will impact Arequipa and beyond

More Photos

Dried alpacas that can be purchased in the markets and buried in the ground as a sacrifice to the Pachamama (Mother god)

Lucky charms that some believe will bring wealth. The teaching in 2 Kings is very relevant.

"Hasta Luego" (see you later).

The Internet and Missions

27 Aug 2011

Can technology help to better connect Churches with missions? I couldn't help but ask the question, especially since I used to work with computers. So after chatting with missionaries, several mission agencies and with people who supported missions the concept of a website called MissionsHub.org has developed.

So now we have a platform where potentially hundreds of missionaries can quickly setup their own site (a “blog”) and share what God is doing. You can get updates from particular missionaries or you can choose to get updates based on a particular criteria (coming soon) eg., updates from missionaries in “Europe” involved in “Church Planting”.

I am really grateful to several people who helped to guide this project including Sean Boucher from WEC, Glenyss Barnham from SIM and Tim Silberman from SMBC. One surprise was a friend, James Henley, from my language school here who happened to be skilled in video production. See the video he created to introduce MissionsHub.org to mission reps at the ReachOut conference.

I also need to thank my team back in Australia (at a bank I worked at) that helped to get this project started. In a single day we built the prototype that is the basis of MissionsHub.org. Thanks to Kiran Kumar my team leader, Madhan Mohan, David Doyle, Chuong Vu and Daniel Jeffries. This team build some amazing websites and I couldn't have got this off the ground without their help. For example Madhan wrote code that pulls a map of the selected country from Wikipedia.

A website like this needs a team to develop and maintain it. It has been great to connect with developers here in Arequipa too to get their input. Last night we had two developers over for dinner and we looked at how we can make MissionsHub.org available on mobile phones (if you've got a smart-phone try it now - www.missionshub.org/jeyachandran-family). Pray that I learn Spanish quickly because I currently understand about 50% of the conversation. I have also connected with the person who heads the community of Peruvian developers (for this particular web technology). By God's providence he is a passionate Christian and has suggested ways that this could be made into a community project.

Fernando (who heads the Drupal web developers community in Peru) and his wife Nancy

Please pray:

  • that this will be a valuable resource for missions that will bring glory to God
  • that more web developers here in Peru will be involved
  • that I will be able to use computers to connect with students at the University

Holiday in the Canyon

06 Aug 2011

Here's some photos from a three day break we had in the Colca Canyon. At a depth of over 4000m, the canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. It is also famous for it condors. 

Family on the Road The long road to the Canyon (we actually took the bus)

 

Amazing views of the distant mountains

 

The girls loved the baby alpacas - so cute and soft

 

We're ready for the cold

 

We visited a spot where the famous Condors love to hangout

 

Condor lookout perched on the edge of the Canyon

 

Condors - amazing birds!

 

 

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