Thursday, December 30, 2010


I ask you to pray for my partner Ester. She has gastritis that causes her constant pain and discomfort. She will be home in Lima for six weeks receiving treatment and hopefully getting answers about her condition. Pray, pray, pray for her.

And pray for me, as I do ministry during this time without my partner. I am nervous about this, because I rely on her a lot when I don’t have answers. But I know that God has been preparing me for this.

Pray, pray pray, for our team as a whole. We are actually down two people, as Jorge is also home most of January recovering and seeking God. We need prayer, every moment of every day. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas to all!

We have had a great time celebrating here in Cusco:
hot chocolate nights,
cookie decorating parties,
watching movies,
singing carols,
lighting fireworks,
cooking a big brunch,
and thinking about the amazing God-made-flesh that we serve.

I have to admit, listening to "I'll Be Home For Christmas" was a little depressing this year. I was only "home" in my dreams, but we have made a pretty great home here. It was fun and special, and God was with us. And we were in the center of God's will, so there was no place better to be.

There are some lyrics that have been really important for me this year:

1. My favorite Christmas song, "I Celebrate the Day" by Relient K, which says, "And the first time that You opened Your eyes did You realize that You would be my Savior? And the first breath that left Your lips, did You know that it would change this world forever? I celebrate the day that You were born to die, so I could one day pray for You to save my life."

2. "Spirit" by Switchfoot. I'm not really sure if this is technically a Christmas song, but I think it is a perfect reminder at Christmas. It says, "Spirit, come be my joy. Be my song, fill my lungs. I wont need anything but You. I found all that I want, all that I longed for in You. Wasted time, is when I'm far from Your truth. I've found all that I want, all that I long for in You." Most of the time, we get caught up in "wants" at Christmas time. Our Christmas lists. But the truth of the matter is, all that we want and all we long for is already found in Jesus Christ. I need to be reminded of that, and not just at Christmas.

3. Point of Grace "Emmanuel, God With Us." "Oh Emmanuel, God with us, Spirit revealed in us that we may be your hope to the world. Oh Emmanuel, God with us, with a light to break the darkness that we may show your hope to the world. Emmanuel, God with us." God is with us. God is in us. Why? Because we are blessed to be a blessing. We can't just keep what we have received; we must offer it to the world around us. That is the message of Jesus Christ this holiday season. As we reflect on our blessings, let's also become a blessing to others.

God bless you, and may the coming year be filled with joy, love, and grace!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Desires of My Heart

As kids, we all have dreams. As a matter of fact, a typical question posed to children is, “What are you going to be when you grow up?”

I, like all other children, had my answer. By the age of three, I wanted to be an airplane pilot. I would get super excited every time I would see an airplane flying high in the sky. I knew that I had discovered what I wanted to do as a job. As a career. As a life.

When I was seven years old, I felt God calling me to be a missionary. This time, I had truly found what I was supposed to do with my life, what God had called me to do for the rest of my life. I don’t remember a booming voice or a special stirring in my spirit; I have often described it as a knowing, and a contentment in that knowing.

This goal has been one that I have reached for during all the following years of my life. Everything I did, studied, read, was somehow related to this future I had in mind for myself. But along the way, other dreams crept in.

For example, in middle school, it became my grand ambition to be a singer. I wanted to worship God and share about him through music. I wanted to be a famous singer, travelling, performing, the dream life. I almost wanted to be a singer more than a missionary.

By high school, I realized that this dream of mine was a tad unrealistic, seeing as how I am not really that talented and had no chance of being “discovered.” And I refocused on being a missionary, serving God cross-culturally someday.

Heading into my one-year anniversary on the mission field, I started thinking about all the things I have wanted to be or do in my life. As a somewhat achievement-minded person, this list is quite long. And the funny thing is, I am living out nearly every one of my ambitions. Or should I say, God is allowing all of my dreams to come true as I submit to his will.

I remember wanting to be a teacher when I was very young. My friends and I would play school, taking turns teaching our dolls and toys. Nowadays, however, I don’t have to set down a collection of stuffed animals to be a teacher. I teach English as an outreach to my neighbors here in Cusco. There is also a woman I am discipling that asked me to teach her how to read and write. I am teaching people here in Cusco, seeing that dream from once-upon-a-time come true. I also love kids, and now playing with them is part of my job.

When I was in high school, I discovered my affinity for baking. Cupcakes, cookies, pies, whatever. If it had sugar and went in the oven, I enjoyed making it. And I thought it would be so cool to have my own bakery someday. I knew about coffee shop ministry, and wanted to have my own bakery ministry. This Christmas season, though, I utilized this desire and baked about eight dozen cookies for the people I am discipling or my contacts around Cusco. Another checkmark on my life goals list.

It has always been natural for me to speak in public. This thing which terrifies many is exciting and exhilarating to me. And a couple of times a month, I get to stand up in front of crowds in public plazas and share of God’s amazing grace.

I wanted to be a pastor. I wanted to plant churches. I wanted to be an artist. All these things, I get to do now.

My dream was to be a singer, and when we do events in public plazas, we often use music to draw a crowd. This means I sing in front of crowds. I worship God through music. I am a singer. God answered the desire of my heart. I am finally a missionary, fulfilling my life-long dream, living in the center of his will. And not only am I a missionary, I am doing every other thing I have ever wanted to do. (Except being a pilot, but there is still time for that.)

“Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Several weeks ago, I left a comment on a blog about my three favorite things about my home to enter a contest. I didn't win, but here's what I wrote:

Home is kind of a funny word to me. See, for three months at the beginning of this year, I called home a house where I lived with a Peruvian family while I was in Spanish language training in Arequipa, Peru. Then I moved into a church/training center/home where I lived in the same room with 15 other girls on bunk beds three high. We never had hot water, we never had privacy, we never had quiet, we never had good food. But all this is kind of expected when I tell you that I am a missionary in Cusco, Peru. At the end of October though, we moved into our OWN HOME. I now live with only five other people, share a room with only one person, and the best part, WE HAVE HOT WATER!

So that’s my number one: Hot water. Never will I take it for granted again. Of course, we are still missionaries on a super tight budget, so we can’t take hot showers every day, but they are there waiting for us every other day!

Number two: Most of us have lived with roommates at some point in our lives, and sure there are some down sides. But COMMUNITY is something you can’t trade for anything. It’s often messy, because we are people, but I live with five other young, single missionaries who have given up their lives to follow God’s call and see Cusco changed for the glory of God. We get to sit around talking about what we read in our devotional. We get to hang out and chat about the doors that got slammed in our faces. We get to jump up and down with each other when we share that people came to Christ. We get to have worship nights, and occasionally get to lift up three voices singing praise to God in English, since our home is the only place we can do that. We are a family, brought together by God to do his will here, and I wouldn’t trade that community for anything.

Number three: Privacy. Quiet. Good food. It is essentially the opposite of the last place we lived for six months. The OPPOSITE. Praise God for that! And it is home. I am finally home. And it wouldn’t matter if I had hot water, privacy, quiet, or good food. That isn’t what makes it home. I am in the center of God’s will, and so I am finally home.

Friday, December 10, 2010


The life of a missionary is really glamorous.

I'm sorry, could you hear me laughing from the Southern Hemisphere?

Because seriously, there is pretty much nothing glamorous about our lives as missionaries.

The power goes out--often.
Part of our living room is occupied by suitcases full of ministry supplies. We love the ministry. We love the resources. But they're pretty much an eye-sore.
None of our clothes fit.
We are too poor to buy new clothes.
We are too poor for almost anything really.
Hot water is scarce, or it was before moving to Cusco. (Now we only don't have hot water when the power is out.)
I could go on and on, about stray dogs, dirt roads, and all kinds of things, but I won't.

Just don't believe that the life of a missionary is glamorous.

But I do have one pretty funny example for you.

Ester and I have been visiting people in San Jeronimo. This is the town where we live, so we know the roads fairly well. Ideally, we call the people to set up a visit, but there was an entire stack of contacts in San Jeronimo that didn't have phone numbers. So we set off to find these people and visit them or set up a time where we could come back and visit.

Here's the thing about San Jeronimo though: many, if not most, of the houses do not have numbers. Why? No idea, but tons of people tell us, "Calle tal, sin número." Whatever street, without a number. That's always fun to find. So we often wander around asking where such-and-such lives.

Or even better, they do have a number. So we start at the top of the street and work our way down looking for said house number.

And the numbers go 80, 78, 75, 166, 73, 65.

Or 6, 8, 10, 14, 16 while we are searching for number twelve, and it is missing! And then after we have given up on finding it, two blocks later, there's number twelve between 35 and 37!

Or on some of these streets will have two or three house number 21!


It is enough to drive anyone crazy!!

So if you ever long for the adventure and glamor of living in another country as a missionary, just picture Ester and I wondering through San Jeronimo looking for Calle Lima 55, unable to find the people who went to a medical campaign months ago so that we can share the gospel with them.

Would I want any other job? No. Is it exciting and glamorous? Not always. Is God always faithful? Yes!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What is This Gringa Doing?

Let me start off with a quick vocabulary lesson:

"Gringo" is the word used for a white man or foreigner. "Gringa"= white girl. "Gringuito"=Little white guy. "Gringuita"=little white girl.

In Mexico, this word is usually offensive or used in a derogatory way. Here, not so much, depending on the context. Supposedly, the origin of the word comes from foreign (American) armies in their green uniforms whom the Mexicans did not want occupying their land, so they would chant "Green, go," as in "green, go home."

Some people are surprised of my use of this word, because of its possible origins, (which Wikipedia denies, by the way) but for me, it is just a way to identify myself and my friends form the States. I have lighter skin. As much as I would like to tell you that I am so tan now, I practically look Peruvian, it is not true. I stand out. So, I call myself a gringa.

And other people call me gringa too. I went to Huacsapata with the pastor's wife from my church in Arequipa, and while she was paying for me on the combi, she said, "This is for the gringuita, too." I thought it was hilarious.

And generally speaking, as gringos, we get funny looks quite often. Near the center of town, there are lots of tourists; this is Cusco, Peru after all. And there are certain tourist places around Cusco where they expect to see blonds, tall people, and other foreigners. Pisaq is one such tourist destination. So on the busses we take to go to Lamay and Coya, they are generally accustomed to a handful of tourists/gringos frequenting their busses.

But to stop in Pisaq.

Not Coya.

Definitely not Lamay.

So last week on one such bus, the cobrador (Another vocabulary lesson! The combrador is the guy on the combi or bus who lets people on and off and collects the money or bus tickets.) was collecting our tickets, purchased at the bus terminal before we left. He was a young guy, about thirteen or fourteen years old.

He took my ticket, looked at it, and then looked at me with the strangest, most confused look. He stared at me while I just sat there for one straight minute, just looking completely confused.

You could tell he was thinking, "What is this gringa doing? Does she know she bought a ticket to Lamay? Doesn't she want to get off at Pisaq? What is there to see in Lamay, corn fields? Don't they have corn fields where she comes from? What is she doing???" 

But he said nothing. Just stared at me, completely confused, and slightly perplexed.

And when he left, Ester and I just laughed.

Oh the life of a gringa on the mission field...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Preaching in the Street

(Just so you know, in my head, the title of this blog is sung to the tune of "Dancing in the Streets.")

Life has been really busy. That is my apology for my lack of blogging. Because in case you haven't noticed, I really love blogging. But it is more important for me to be out in the field working than to be in front of my computer blogging. 

We are six weeks in to living in Cusco. 
And Cusco is different. 
Cusco is amazing. 
Cusco is rainy. 
Cusco is hot. 
Sometimes Cusco is cold. 
Cusco is perfect with hot showers and yummy food. 
Cusco is hard work, with doors that won't open to the gospel. 
Cusco is beautiful with its green mountains and hills. 
Cusco is ready to receive the gospel.

And I am blessed to be a part of sharing the gospel here.

The most exciting part of sharing the gospel in Cusco at the moment is what is taking place in Lamay and Coya, two towns in the Sacred Valley.

We now have five discipleship classes going on in these small towns, and of course, we don't do things like everyone else. We have classes in chicha bars or corn fields.

Or we sit in the street and talk about Jesus. That's normal, right? 

Now don't get scared; we are not standing on boxes preaching at people. But we are discipling a couple of girls who are live-in maids in town, and the woman they work for is not a Christian and doesn't really approve, so we do the lessons on the sidewalk near the house. 

This is a prayer request for you guys: we want to be able to share the saving grace of Jesus Christ with this woman, who even has family who are evangelicals, we just need an open door and open ears. But we especially don't want to get Isabel, Marleny, or Mariela into trouble, so please be praying for the whole situation.

We also do a discipleship class with two other teenage girls on Sunday afternoons. The girls work during the week, so Sunday is the only day they can do it. And we haven't been accepted by their families yet, so we do the lesson in the street with them as well. One of the girls, Sonia, has an aunt she lives with who is Jehovah's Witness, and wanted nothing to do with us. (The Mormans and Jehovah's Witnesses here are well trained to say, essentially "Leave me alone" before we start sharing the gospel.) Pray for open doors with these girls' families also.

But something that gets me excited is that people in town are starting to recognize us. They see us walking down the street, knocking on doors, eating lunch in the Plaza, talking to girls and even praying in the streets three or more times a week. They are starting to recognize us. They are curious about us. And they will start to soften up to us.

Because the fact of the matter is, part of the culture of Cusco is a tendency towards distrust. They don't trust outsiders. We have had MULTIPLE people pretend not to speak Spanish, pretend that they only know Quechua. They don't want to talk to us because they don't know us. But bit by bit, we are breaking down their defenses, and by God's grace they will eventually let us in.

We are showing a Jesus film and having a couple kids festivals in these towns next week, so begin to pray for their openness. Pray for good weather, since we will be outside for both. Pray that people will show up. And pray that the light of Christ will flood into their hearts. 

(December 15, we will have a kid's festival in an orphanage outside of Lamay, and a Jesus film in Coya. December 18 we will have both a festival and Jesus film in the Plaza of Lamay.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

¡Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Cusco group!

We celebrated on Monday, our day off. It was a fantastic day, mostly because I got to cook, but also because we got to give thanks and celebrate together as a family, my Cusco family.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Yeah, We had Church in a Corn Field

What is it about Ester and I that we ALWAYS have cell groups in the strangest places?

One of the most popular markets in Arequipa.
A tienda where people interrupt discipleship class to buy toilet paper.

And now, a "chicha bar" and a corn field!

Not even exaggerating, because, we have already started a cell group in Lamay with three adults. This family sells chicha de jora, which is the liquor of the Incas, and the first class took place in the room where they sell the chicha. This is the equivalent of having church in a bar. And that is just what we are doing!

Then this past Saturday, we went and no one was there; Felipa was out in one of her friend's fields watering it. Now without sprinklers, this means she has to watch to make sure the water flows where it is supposed to, and if it breaks or something, to fix it so that all of the crops get water.

So we ended up walking with the other woman from the group, Eufemia, to the corn field to find Felipa. I'm pretty sure that Eufemia did not think we would actually go to the field. But about ten minutes down the road, we found Felipa, and decided to chat a little bit.

So we went out to the middle of the field which hadn't been watered yet, which involved jumping over a ditch and walking through rows and rows of corn.

Then, we didn't exactly have your typical discipleship lesson, but we read the Bible and talked about the person of Jesus, and at the end, Eufemia and Felipa both gave their lives to Christ!

Another interesting fact about this cell group is that Felipa asked us to teach her how to read and write. So we made a notebook for her with the letters and pictures, so she is learning. At our very first cell group, we handed her the paper and a Bible, and she told us she couldn't read, but would like us to teach her. We then visited someone in a completely different district who was an elementary school teacher. She told us how to go about teaching a mother of three to read.  I think Felipa has not just a hunger to learn, but a hunger for God's word.

But in these two towns in the Sacred Valley, the people truly do have a hunger for God's Word, and a hunger for truth. There is not a single church (apart from the one Catholic church, which is central to every town but usually not central to life) in either Lamay or Coya.

No baptist church,
no Morman church,
no Jehovah's Witness temple,
no Methodist church,

We will have the very first! And that gets me excited!

And you know what else gets me excited? The fact that we've had fifteen new people come to Christ in these two places! They are ready to receive his Word!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What Do I Have to Say?

Remember what I said about pounding the dirt roads?

Yeah the hard work has definitely begun. We are doing a ton of visits, but only about 30% of them even work out.

But this week, we went to visit Zefarina at her house/store. We talked and she began to tell us about how she lost her baby a few years ago. Ester was trying to comfort her, but there is still so much brokenness there.

I wondered, "What do I have to say to a woman who knows so much pain from losing a child."

I have nothing to say, but I can bring here to a God who lost his Son for love. He knows the exact same pain. And he felt it for her.

That is what we shared, and she invited Christ into her heart and life.

This week, we also visited the San Jeronimo's Municipaldad (City Hall) to get a map and to learn a little more about this district. We found out that although domestic violence exists here, their main problem is psychological abuse, and these are also the cases that remain largely unresolved. I'm not sure what we are going to do with that information yet, but be in prayer. God is the only one who makes all things new, and we are clinging to him.

Monday, November 15, 2010

We are the Israelites

I got really into Jeremiah today. I mean, I was already passed the initial fall of Jerusalem and captivity, but I kept reading today and it just hit me how completely stupid the Israelites are. Seriously, they have just seen everything Jeremiah prophesied come true, everyone they ever knew either killed or carried off to exile. 

And they're like, "We're thinking of going to Egypt, but we want you to ask God what he thinks first" (Jeremiah 42:2-3). Well, Jeremiah does, but since they don't like God's answer, they say he's lying, and a false prophet!

Seriously? Everything he prophesied just came true! They have NO REASON to doubt his word.

But they decide it is better to go back to Egypt, despite their pending destruction there, and decide that things were better when they were worshipping idols, so they're going to go back to that too. 

They are trading in beauty and glory and wholeness and truth for ashes and ugliness and brokenness and destruction and CRAP.

(Sorry, I just totally lost any eloquence I may have had.)

And God is sad and grieved (Jeremiah 42:10) and broken and hurt that he had to pour out his justice in the first place. All he wants is their love and faithfulness.

But they are so stupid.

(Now in Spanish, the word stupid is really strong, so I have been really trying to replace it with a less-strong word, but in this case, they really are STUPID in the fullest sense of the word in Spanish or English. Just read Jeremiah 42-44 if you don't believe me.)

No wonder Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. If everyone I ever knew, not to mention the people I was called to minister to, was stupid, refused to listen, would not learn, and refused to turn to God, I'd cry all the time too!

But we are not any different from the Israelites. Our whoring hearts (Ezekiel 6:9) go after every shiny thing that captures our fancy. We aren't any more faithful than they are; we just have seen the greatest act of love in history: that God became man and died on our cross. And we haven't faced the punishment yet, as they did in the last resort of love.

When will we ever learn? God is still giving us a choice: life and prosperity or death and destruction (Deut. 30, Jer. 21)? His marvelous grace will justify us so that we can enter into his presence and spend eternity with him as our reward and our inheritance (Joshua 13:33). He still just wants our love, and therefore our obedience (1 John 5:3).

When will we stop playing the harlot in our marriage to Christ? When will we take our wedding vows seriously?

I, sinner, take Thee, Jesus, to be my Saviour. . . And I do promise and covenant before God and these witnesses to be Thy loving and faithful Bride; in sickness and in health, in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, for time and for eternity.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

You Never Know

Hopefully most of you already know this, but I have some new blogs, one for each of the areas where Ester and I are planting churches:
Pisaq (Lamay and Coya)
San Sebastian and Wanchaq
San Jeronimo

Follow these blogs to stay up to date on these areas. Because I'm pretty excited, not just about having new blogs to write  (because I'm pretty much a blogging freak), but also about what God is doing already in these areas, and what he will continue to do.

But here's the thing:

some stories just don't fit into those blogs.

That's why I'll still be keeping up with this one.

Like this story...

Ester and I have been working hard to follow up on contacts that were made during many short-term trips before we got here. There are so many medical campaign forms, and we are working on visiting all of these people, or at least the ones who will let us.

Well we called up a woman who attended a medical campaign at the church several months ago, and made an appointment to visit her. When we confirmed her address, we found out that she actually lives in Huasao, which is a town in the middle of two of Alex and Jorge's church plant sites. So we decided to go with the boys to visit her.

Well, we eventually found the house (most houses here don't have numbers! Very annoying, not to mention difficult!), and she was incredibly sweet. She made us tea, and we chatted with her, and with her father-in-law. He apparently has some nerve damage in his leg, so he can barely walk anymore, and is in a lot of pain. So we shared with them about Jesus' healing of many people, and also prayed for them. Well, they both accepted Christ while we were there, and so we left them with Bibles, and they wanted to start reading right then and there!

Now the interesting thing about visiting people in their homes is that you never know what you are going to find.

Cement building?
Dirt floors?
Rotting food?
Will they offer you tea?
Will their be so many flies that the ground actually looks like it is moving, like at this house?
Will they treat you like the queen?
Will they end up slamming the door in your face?
Will the Holy Spirit put words in your mouth?
Will the presence of God enter the house with you?

You never know, but it sure is amazing to find out.

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Member of the Family

Meet Beck!

Here's the story:

The pastor's daughter was given a puppy by her teacher. Awesome, the pastor likes animals, and the daughter is glad to have a puppy, especially cause this puppy is tiny and adorable.

Problem: the family has just moved into a new apartment, and the owner will not allow any pets.

Solution: Tyler and Amy and some of the 40/40s have been talking about getting a dog. So Pastor brought Princessa over here yesterday, and we all willingly agreed to take her in.

The name, of course, had to go.

So now, she is Beck, and we think she is about four weeks old, and a Springer Spaniel, maybe.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Al Infinito y Más Allá

The title of this post is “To infinity and beyond.”

Why, you ask?

Well, not only did the Cusco family watch Toy Story 3 this past week (and I cried!), but this is our favorite quote for our work.

That’s right, we have finished our first week as full-time missionaries planting churches.

And we have gone to infinity and beyond.

The hard work has begun. Pounding the pavement. Except in this case it is more like pounding the dirt and gravel roads.

It is hard, but it is amazing.

Like we visited the pueblos of Lamay and Coya on Wednesday and walked miles on dirt roads by a river in the middle of nowhere, checking out Lamay and its surrounding communities. We stumbled upon an NGO-run orphanage where we want to do a kid’s festival, and found out a little more about these two pueblos that are almost completely lacking any Christian presence.

On our second trip to Lamay, we were praying for God to guide our steps, and I believe he did. We met a woman in the small community that is about a twenty minute walk from the center of town, and began to talk to her about the gospel. She told us that in the small community, they do have a Christian church meeting in a house, and that she attends. She started crying when she told us about how she and her husband have fought because he doesn’t want her to go to the church. The people in her town treat her like an outcast for going to the Christian church.

Modern-day persecution in one of our church plant sites.

But we were able to pray with her and give her encouragement.

So from there we went to a different community in Lamay, and the first house we went to we started to share the gospel again after a bit of conversation, and the man started asking us about the Trinity, if God was a monster with three heads or what? He really just wanted to distract us, but he said we could come back and share more. Later on we were told that there is one Jehovah’s Witness family in the community, presumably this man and his family, and they don’t have a very good reputation in the community.

In this same community, most of the people make Chicha de Jora, which is the alcohol of the Incas. They say it isn’t very strong, and that it isn’t for getting drunk, but at the quantities that they drink it, alcoholism is definitely a problem. But we found some open doors in the VERY Catholic community. And we will continue visiting the families we have made contact with.

Now these first few weeks, or possibly the whole month of November, is set aside for getting familiar with the communities and planning what we will do to plant three churches during our eighteen months in Cusco. So that’s what we did last week.

In San Jeronimo, which is where we live, we have explored and followed up on contacts. Back in June during the Love Extreme project, we had a medical clinic in the church, and have dozens of contacts from that. So we have been calling them, setting up dates to come see them, and visiting their houses. We have had the opportunity to go to several houses already, and pray with people and share about Christ’s love.

One family we visited was really nice, and the visit was going really well. We prayed and shared about Jesus, and asked if we could come back and visit. They were hesitant, and asked us to please not be offended. Then they began to share with us their “religious history,” if you will: how they have been Jehovah’s Witnesses, Adventists, Catholics, and they are currently attending a Mormon church. They were afraid to tell us that! But we just gave them an invitation to come visit the church sometime, and they were very kind.

Keep praying for our visits, that we will have open doors to begin cell groups to disciple new believers.

Our final church plant site is the very large area of San Sebastian and Wanchaq. Just to give you a little history, several decades ago, there was a Nazarene church in Wanchaq, but for some reason, it died out. So we have combined the district of Wanchaq with the district of San Sebastian.

However, we weren’t really familiar with Wanchaq, so we went to check it out on Thursday of last week. There was something going on in the Plaza, and scores of people had gathered to celebrate something. We later found out that it was the anniversary of Tupac Amaru’s death, the last Incan emperor before the fall of the empire to the Spanish. Ester gave me a little history lesson!

And so we had a perfect opportunity to just hang out in the Plaza and talk to people. We met a woman who works in the tourist industry (just about everyone does), and she wants us to call her and come visit her some time.

One step at a time. That’s kind of the theme for us right now. One bus ride at a time. One phone call at a time. One contact at a time. One open door at a time. One convert at a time. One cell group at a time. One  discipleship lesson at a time. And finally, one new church at a time.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No Substitute

I’m studying Jeremiah these days, and read something the other day that I can’t get out of my head, especially since moving to Cusco.

Chapter 10:

1 Hear what the LORD says to you, people of Israel. 2 This is what the LORD says:

 “Do not learn the ways of the nations
   or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
   though the nations are terrified by them.
3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
   they cut a tree out of the forest,
   and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
   they fasten it with hammer and nails
   so it will not totter.
5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field,
   their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried
   because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
   they can do no harm
   nor can they do any good.”
 6 No one is like you, LORD;
   you are great,
   and your name is mighty in power.
7 Who should not fear you,
   King of the nations?
   This is your due.
Among all the wise leaders of the nations
   and in all their kingdoms,
   there is no one like you.
 8 They are all senseless and foolish;
   they are taught by worthless wooden idols.
9 Hammered silver is brought from Tarshish
   and gold from Uphaz.
What the craftsman and goldsmith have made
   is then dressed in blue and purple—
   all made by skilled workers.
10 But the LORD is the true God;
   he is the living God, the eternal King.
When he is angry, the earth trembles;
   the nations cannot endure his wrath.
 11 “Tell them this: ‘These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’”[a]
 12 But God made the earth by his power;
   he founded the world by his wisdom
   and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
13 When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar;
   he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.
He sends lightning with the rain
   and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
 14 Everyone is senseless and without knowledge;
   every goldsmith is shamed by his idols.
The images he makes are a fraud;
   they have no breath in them.
15 They are worthless, the objects of mockery;
   when their judgment comes, they will perish.
16 He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these,
   for he is the Maker of all things,
including Israel, the people of his inheritance—
   the LORD Almighty is his name.

Now idols, in the typical sense, have not every been something I’ve ever needed to think about in my comfortable life in the United States. But since moving to Peru, I have thought about idolatry. I have seen idolatry. And I have seen that the line is very thin, easy to cross, and that there are reasons why religions avoid any images.

In Arequipa, Catholicism is HUGE. For example, this month is the month of “Señor de los Milagros” or “Cristo Morado.” Purple Jesus. And some women will wear a purple dress with a white rope around their waste for the entire month. It’s actually a really common site in Arequipa. And I can’t tell you how many religious processionals I have seen.

But I have learned that there is a huge difference between religiosity and Christianity.

Here in Cusco, there is a different type of idolatry as the ancient Incan religion and gods have blended in with Catholicism.

This is the view from my front door:

And in three places on this house, they have this mini shrine that is supposed to be for protection.

But here’s the thing: these Incan gods, these Saints and shrines, cannot speak. They cannot walk. They can do no harm, nor can they do any good.

But our God is mighty, all-powerful, all-knowing, Creator, Cosmic God of the universe! He’s the one we will fall to our knees worshipping. There is no substitute.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Beginning of Something

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 is our official first day of church planting work.

Now you may be asking, where do we start?

Well, Ester and I asked the same question. Where do we start in our three/four church plant areas (San Jeronimo, San Sebastian, Wanchaq, and Pisaq)?

And since we were completely unfamiliar with Pisaq, we went and visited on Friday.

Pisaq is a town in the Sacred Valley, which is located about and hour and a half from where we live.

Now let me just tell you, it is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life. Alex said it best when he said, “It kind of takes my breath away.”


And on the way there, we missed our stop, and went to the last town in the Sacred Valley, Calca, which would have been a church plant site too. And there are three or four other towns in between.

We checked out the town of Pisaq, which is a major tourist attraction. There are Incan ruins in the mountains above Pisaq, and I’ve heard that it is the site where one of the Incan emperors retired. The Plaza is a tourist market, and pretty much the whole town caters to tourists. But like my cluster mom Amy says, “Everyone needs Jesus, tourists too.”

So in our walking around and chatting with people, we found out that there are a few Christian churches in Pisaq, and we found the home of the leader of a nondenominational church called La Vid. His name is Mario, and he has been a missionary in Columbia and Brazil before God brought him back to do ministry in his hometown, Pisaq.

He has a vision for reaching the whole town, and then the whole valley with the saving message of Jesus Christ. And he is really open to working with us. We spent about forty-five minutes talking to him at his house. It was amazing, a God-ordained appointment for sure.

Hermano Mario also told us that two of the other towns in the valley (which we had “accidentally” driven through) do not have ANY Christian churches. So Ester and I feel like we will focus our ministry throughout the valley, especially in the areas that don’t have any access to the gospel.

Because one of my life verses is Romans 15:20-21, which says, “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”

Paul wrote those words about 2000 years ago, and yet there are sill places where Christ is not known. So that is our vision for Cusco and it’s surrounding areas, that “those who have not heard will understand.”

Friday, October 29, 2010


Sitting at our dining room table in Cusco, and it feels good to be home.


That word is so weird.

I have lived in Peru for almost nine months, but most of that time, I didn’t have a home. The house I lived in for the first three months was always “my host family’s house.” And Zamacola was never home, that’s for sure. But I did have family there. And it was incredibly hard to say goodbye to them Saturday night.

Friday night was our graduation. Everybody got dressed up, we marched in, and then we had the whole ceremony where we received our diplomas and they prayed for us and our ministry, and basically sent us out.

Saturday morning we had to wake up early and pack. Once I saw my stuff all packed up and put in the moving truck, it became real to me that we were leaving.

And Saturday night we had to say goodbye to our Arequipa family whom we have been with since L.A. and also the Puno group, who we have been on this journey with since they got here in May and moved in with us in August. And Cailyn Stevens, the girl who never cries, was an absolute squallbag. Because as Jen (the cluster mom for the Arequipa group) said, it is not natural to rip a family apart like that.

But Sunday morning we arrived in Cusco. We cleaned and shopped, which is actually what we’ve done everyday in Cusco. Monday, are stuff arrived, and on time! This was a huge step toward homey-ness, since the night before we slept on the cold, hard floor of a very empty house. But we were still without toilet seats until Tuesday night.

And Tuesday night, we had a family meal together, and it really did feel like home!

Monday, October 25, 2010

His GREAT Name

Lost are saved; find their way; at the sound of your great name
All condemned; feel no shame, at the sound of your great name
Every fear; has no place; at the sound of your great name
The enemy; he has to leave; at the sound of your great name

Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and Man
You are high and lifted up; that all the world will praise your great name
All the weak; find their strength; at the sound of your great name
Hungry souls; receive grace; at the sound of your great name
The fatherless; they find their rest; at the sound of your great name
Sick are healed; and the dead are raised; at the sound of your great name
Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and Man
You are high and lifted up; that all the world will praise your great name
Redeemer, My Healer, Almighty
My savior, Defender, You are My King
Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and Man
You are high and lifted up; that all the world will praise your great name

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Second Spanish Sermon

Gálatas 2:21-3:5
“No desecho la gracia de Dios; pues si por la ley fuese la justicia, entonces por demás murió Cristo. !Oh gálatas insensatos! ¿quién os fascinó para no obedecer a la verdad, a vosotros ante cuyos ojos Jesucristo fue ya presentado claramente entre vosotros como crucificado? Esto solo quiero saber de vosotros: ¿Recibisteis el Espíritu por las obras de la ley, o por el oír con fe? ¿Tan necios sois? ¿Habiendo comenzado por el Espíritu, ahora vais a acabar por la carne? ¿Tantas cosas habéis padecido en vano? si es que realmente fue en vano. Aquel, pues, que os suministra el Espíritu, y hace maravillas entre vosotros, ¿lo hace por las obras de la ley, o por el oír con fe?”

¿Qué está sucediendo en este pasaje? Porque, no sé si ustedes anotaron, pero Pablo usa palabras fuertes para hablar con la iglesia en Galacia. Porque Pablo mismo predicó el evangelio en Galacia, y estuvo muy decepcionado cuando se dio cuenta de lo que había pasado.

Vinieron maestros falsos enseñándoles a los Gálatas un evangelio falso, y un controversia  se levantó. Algunos cristianos judíos insistían en que los cristianos no judíos tenían que seguir las leyes judías y rituales para ser miembros verdaderos de la iglesia. Pablo vio a los Gálatas como personas que se volvieron a sus tradiciones legalistas anteriores.

Habían dos grupos heréticos en Galacia: los Judaizadores, quienes predicaban la circuncisión para los creyentes, y los gnósticos, quienes les convencían de la importancia de ganar el favor de Dios a través del conocimiento superior. Los dos son sustitutos heréticos para la suficiencia de fe en Cristo.

Los Gálatas luchaban con una pregunta básica: ¿Qué nos hace justificados ante Dios? ¿Cuál es nuestra reputación ante Él? Y por las malas enseñanzas, las contestaban equivocadamente. Ellos creían, “Somos justificados ante Dios por lo que Jesús hizo por nosotros, más lo que hacemos por él, bajo la ley de Moisés.”

Pero Pablo, quien empezó la iglesia allá, les escribió para advertir en contra de la mezcla del legalismo y rituales religiosas y el evangelio de Dios de gracia. Les dijo que no pueden ser salvados a través de guardar leyes ni rituales, sino encontramos la salvación solamente en Jesucristo.

En realidad, Pablo estaba asombrado que los Gálatas no veían las consecuencias de su experiencia con el Espíritu. El está tan serio que usa palabras bien fuertes. Se puede traducir sus palabras a los Gálatas, “Ustedes idiotas de Galacia.” Para él, era obvio que la salvación proviniera de fe, y cualquier cosa más era ridícula. Una persona es dada el Espíritu Santo con la base de la fe, sin merecer este regalo, por eso el Cristianismo es basado en la fe, y no hay lugar de las obras en lo que se refiere a la salvación.

Después, Pablo comentará que los cristianos deberían portarse como respuesta del amor y sacrificio de Cristo, pero acá lo hace claro que la salvación está en la fundación de la fe en lo que Cristo ha hecho. Nuestra meta no puede ser alcanzada por el esfuerzo humano, y por eso murió Cristo en la cruz. Cualquier obra que tenía que ser hecho, él la hizo en la cruz, y eso es nuestra fundación.

También Pablo veía con los Gálatas una tendencia de creer que le podían obligar a Dios darles lo que querían por obedecerlo. Pero Pablo nos dice que el Espíritu no es dado porque trabajamos por su favor. No merecemos sus regalos preciosos. Esto es lo que significa la gracia de Dios.

Ya hemos escuchado la situación histórica y la predicación de Pablo, y hay que preguntar, “¿Cuáles son la implicaciones para nosotros actualmente?”

Este pasaje muestra una de las diferencias fundamentales entre el principio de ley y el principio de gracia. A bajo de la ley, estamos bendecidos y crecemos espiritualmente por medio de merecer y ganar. Pero a bajo de la gracia, estamos bendecidos y crecemos espiritualmente por medio de creer y recibir. Dios trata con usted a bajo del pacto de gracia; ¿está tratando de tratar con Dios por medio del principio de la ley? ¿Cree que Dios le quiere bendecir? ¿Cómo? ¿Por las obras de la ley o por la fe?

Dice el versículo 13, “Cristo nos redimió de la maldición de la ley, hecho por nosotros maldición.” Cristo nos rescató de la maldición de la ley, pero somos tan rápidos de cambiar nuestra bendición por la maldición de nuevo, y por tanto,  anulamos el sacrificio de Jesús en la cruz. Queremos cambiar el regalo gratis por nuestro propio esfuerzo humano, pero nunca podemos alcanzar la salvación por esta manera.

Realmente, nunca podemos ser salvos solamente por obedecer la ley. ¿Pero significa que podemos pecar sin consecuencia? ¿Qué dice Pablo en Romanos 6:1-2? “¿Qué, pues, diremos? ¿Perseveraremos en el pecado para que la gracia abunde? En ninguna manera. Porque los que hemos muerto al pecado, ¿cómo viviremos aún en él?”

No. Empezamos una nueva vida en el Espíritu. Y podemos realmente disfrutar a Dios. Un teólogo dijo, “La libertad cristiana es la libertad de volverte todo lo que puedes en Cristo Jesús; no es una licencia para hacer cualquier cosa que te gusta…Cristo no nos liberó para ser nuestros propios; nos liberó para ser de él y solamente suyo.”

En el verso uno, dice, “!Oh gálatas insensatos! ¿quién os fascinó para no obedecer a la verdad, a vosotros ante cuyos ojos Jesucristo fue ya presentado claramente entre vosotros como crucificado?” La palabra fascinar puede ser traducida como, “embrujar,” “hechizar,” o “poner el ojo malo.” Los griegos antiguos estaban acostumbrados a y tenían miedo de la idea de que un hechizo podía ser lanzado sobre ellos por un ojo malo.

Creían que el ojo malo funcionaba como una serpiente podía hipnotizar a su presa con sus ojos. Cuando el victima miró al ojo malo,  podía ser embrujado. Por lo tanto, la manara para evitar el ojo malo era simplemente no mirarlo. Por eso, con esta metáfora, Pablo estaba animándoles para siempre y firmemente guardarse los ojos en Jesucristo.

¡Pero cuan fácilmente puede ser la iglesia embrujada hoy! Durante los siglos, muchos errores surgen, y nosotros los podemos ver usualmente, pero muchos están ciegos a los errores de hoy. Estamos asombrados con Pablo: ¿Quién les ha hechizado para que no obedezcan la verdad? Aun los grandes hombres y mujeres de Dios luchan con esto.

¿Qué tenemos que hacer para curarnos de nuestras maldiciones? Bueno, ¿cómo empieza Pablo en este pasaje? , “a vosotros ante cuyos ojos Jesucristo fue ya presentado claramente entre vosotros como crucificado.” Les hace recordar a Cristo en la cruz. Y tenemos que volver a la cruz, y acordarnos del sacrificio de Jesús y la gracia que lo puso allá. Nada más nos puede cambiar las vidas, y liberarnos del esclavitud y de las maldiciones.

Dice Gálatas 2:21, “Si la justicia se obtuviera mediante la ley, Cristo habría muerto en vano.” Si fuera por la ley que somos justificados, Cristo murió en vano. Por gusto. Por las puras. Como dice otra versión, “Si el derecho de estar con Dios depende de la forma en que a la altura de la ley, entonces el sacrificio del Rey Libertador en la cruz fue el más trágico de residuos en toda la historia!” Hay que volver a la cruz.