Friday, January 28, 2011

Life Goes On

Contrary to what my progress in this blog might suggest, since I haven't posted anything in several weeks, life is still going on in Cusco.

Since Christmas break, I have had to make headway without my partner, Ester, which has slowed things down a bit. But I am continuing our work in Lamay; I have started a couple new discipleship classes, visited new contacts, and even started a children's Sunday school in the Plaza.

I had quite the excitement last Saturday when Amy and I went to Nazaria's house last Saturday. The very first time Ester and I went out door-to-door in Lamay, we met Nazaria, but she was really busy and didn't have time to talk with us. But she said we seemed special, so she would really like us to come back. But every time we went back, there was no one home. Some people would probably write her off, but we didn't do that, and kept trying to go back.

And last Saturday, on our way to find a bathroom (Side note about the glamourous life of a missionary, most of the people in this area don't have indoor plumbing. They have a hole in the ground. As often as I can, I avoid using a hole in the ground. So we usually go to the municipality building and use their bathroom. No toilet seats, toilets that don't flush, and some nice drawings on the wall. The epitome of glamour.) and Nazaria and some other people with her were just arriving at her house. So after our expedition to the bathroom, we went back to her house. She told us she was really busy cooking, but we were allowed in anyway.

Amy and I offered to help her with whatever she was doing, but she led us into the kitchen and gave us coffee and a plate called soltero.

What is soltero, you ask? Just your typical veggies and PIG SKIN! Yes, I ate pig skin. Probably one of the worst things I've ever eaten. At one point, after gagging (unnoticeably) I was just putting it in my mouth and swallowing it whole with coffee. The texture, as well as the thought of eating pig skin, really did me in. But we ate it and didn't offend!

Then we chatted about the jam she was making, how to make it, and how to make other Peruvian dishes. She also helped me with my Quechua (I am making progress, and have 8 or so phrases memorized!) and I got to practice with her. Nazaria is an elementary school teacher, so she was a big help. Her friends from Puno joined us, and so did her husband, and the conversation naturally turned to religion.

But it wasn't exactly light-hearted religious talk, it got intense. They started hitting me with the kinds of questions I usually turn to Ester to answer, This time though, Amy was looking at me to answer them.

They wanted to know what we had to say about every controversial difference between Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity. But I didn't flinch. With their questions about the Virgin Mary, Catholic saints, the Bible, faith, us as volunteer missionaries, everything, I really feel like the Holy Spirit gave me the answers I needed. I pointed to what the Bible says, and the things we can all agree on, and they did end up agreeing with me on pretty much all accounts! I even got to share about Jewish marriage customs, and how our relationship with Christ should be like that of a husband and wife. At the end of it. They told me how impressed they were with my knowledge of the Bible. And then we got invited back to try some jam when it was finished.

Life does keep going. We have a  routine to our days. Talking to strangers is routine. Leading people to Christ is routine. It shouldn't be, but at this point, it is normal. I kind of wish it weren't, because it means we forget to literally REJOICE when someone comes to the foot of the cross. There are parties going on in heaven, like yesterday when a woman and her teenage daughter came to Christ in Oropesa, but we walk out of her house with a bag of bread she gave us out of gratitude, and say "Hey that's awesome, " and move on to the next house. But it is AMAZING. It should be celebrated. As incredible it is that it is part of our routine (a dream come true, really) it should never become so routine that we forget to celebrate.

Another part of life going on is that our pastor is going on vacation for the whole month of February, and he has asked us to take over his responsibilities during this time. I will be leading his cell group on Wednesday nights and am pretty much officially in charge of the church services on Sunday afternoons. Preaching, worship, offering, the whole shebang. So I would appreciate your prayers!

One final thing. Pray for Ester and her Dad. Ester is still receiving treatment for gastritis and a vitamin deficiency, and this week her Dad has had some extremely serious health problems,  maybe even a stroke. He is facing a lot more tests, and the whole family is pretty shaken up. Please be praying.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2010 Year in Review

It's a new year, which I welcomed in Lima, Peru with my partner and her family.

And I know this is completely cliche, but I can't believe 2010 is over. But it was a pretty incredible year.

January: I finished off my life in the United States. Raised the majority of my support for Peru in a couple weeks. I spent time with friends and family, packed my entire life into two suitcases, got rid of a ton of stuff, and on the 31st said goodbye and went to Los Angeles for orientation.

February: Had orientation in LA and met the people who would be my family for the next two years. Left for Peru. Had incredibly swollen ankles from the travel. Moved in with a Peruvian family. Tried frog juice. Started Spanish school. Went to Alpaca World. Learned what spiritual warfare really is. Learned to trust God more.

March: Continued learning Spanish. Hit a wall with learning Spanish. Visited Cusco for the first time, and helped with a short-term trip. Tried to enjoy God more. Got through Deuteronomy in my study of the Bible straight through.

April: Visited a slum outside of Arequipa. Continued learning Spanish. Thought I was going blind. Had many conversations about religion in Spanish. Celebrated Easter, my first holiday in Peru. Had communion with my team as we thought about Jesus' marriage proposal to us.

May: Continued learning Spanish. Lost my English. Graduated from Spanish school. Moved to my new home in Peru. Met my Peruvian partner, my other half. Started Bible training 5 hours a day every day. Began learning about how to plant churches.

June: My mom came to visit me. Went to Cusco for the Love Extreme 1 project. Back to Arequipa for the Love Extreme Mega Event. Saw thousands of people come to Christ. Worked to consolidate all these new believers. Pulled two all-nighters working my tail off in consolidation. Attended the first spiritual retreat for new believers.

July: Finished the intense time of initial consolidation of new believers. Went to the beach for a time of rest during the Extreme Nazarene staff retreat. Became a resident of Peru. Continued with school. Led people to Christ in a market next to fruit.

August: Started discipleship classes with new believers. Helped with another spiritual retreat. Went to Cusco to help with another short-term trip.  Continued school. Continued getting spiritually attacked. Continued seeing God move.

September: More school. Another spiritual retreat. More discipleship classes. More people won to ChristWorshipped in the street. Made the devil mad some more.

October: Went to Lima to help with a youth retreat. Turned twenty-one! Got my first parasite. Continued with our cell group. Showed a movie at our cell group to make new contacts. Said goodbye to the cell group we had worked with for four months. Graduated from Missionary Training. Moved to Cusco. Got to know my new home.

November: Started work in Cusco. Got a puppy. Visited a lot of people. Started a couple discipleship classes. Led two women to Christ in the middle of a corn field. Celebrated Thanksgiving on a Monday. Visited Arequipa. Let God lead me.

December: Had discipleship classes in the street. Preached in multiple plazas. Saw 50 people come to Christ after I preached in Urcos. Had multiple kids festivals. Got many funny looks going to Lamay. Got a little homesick. Celebrated Christ's birth. Almost killed a goat with a bottle rocket on Christmas eve. Went to Lima to celebrate the new year.

These are the highlights--mostly good, some bad, and a few in between. And looking back, only one word comes to mind to describe my life:


I am living the dream. No, it isn't glamorous, or easy, or even always exciting. But it is my dream. And I am so glad I get to share it with you all.

Keep me in your prayers during 2011.

**Oh, that reminds me...I want to ask you once again how I can pray for you. Leave a comment below so that I can keep you in my prayers as well.**

Ok, to finish off, here's my "Best of"...My 10 favorite blogs of 2010:

1. A Story of Trust

2. Enjoying God

3. Grace Makes Life Not Fair

4. The Sanctuary of God

5. Countdowns

6. Comfort

7. Grace is Hard

8. A Call

9. All Things NEW

10. The Desires of My Heart