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.
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.