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Archive for the tag “camino de vida”

Commander of Tens

Deuteronomy 1:15 – “So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and experienced men, and appointed them heads over you, leaders of thousands and of hundreds, of fifties and of tens, and officers for your tribes.

I was recently given an opportunity to spend time with a couple people I love.

Paige and Stalin Solis came from Peru, where they lead ministries and missions, to the states to get some much needed rest and fundraise. When they came to visit Maryland, where my family and I live, they were at 34% of their monthly giving need. When they left they were at 53%!!!

I would ask that you all support them.

While they were in town we ate some great food (American and Peruvian), went sightseeing in Washington D.C. and spent a lot of time discussing and contemplating the Word of God and sharing life stories.

During their time here, we found out that Free Wheelchair Mission, the primary mission ministry that Paige & Stalin work with, was sharing a documentary on the distribution of their ONE MILLIONTH WHEELCHAIR! This documentary was filmed in Peru, with the church people and the church that Paige and Stalin belong. Paige, as a matter of fact, was one of the people in the video!!!

As we were watching the video my eyes filled with tears. I saw many people I know: Clever and Lisa Sobrino, leaders of a ministry that works with developmentally and mentally disabled people, Robert Barriger, the Senior Pastor of the church that sponsors the wheelchair mission in Peru, Miguel Chiang, one of the leaders of the wheelchair mission on the Peru side, and Nick Balcombe, leader of the missions groups that come to Peru to distribute the wheelchairs.

I’ve been to Peru 5 times in with my church, Chesapeake Christian Fellowship. Every year we take down a very small team to Peru to do service projects, including building and distributing wheelchairs. As I was watching the Free Wheelchair Mission video, I was thinking to myself that we have done so little in Peru.

Then I started adding up the numbers.

Exodus 18:19-22 – Listen to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness, and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you.

In 5 years, our church has distributed 441 wheelchairs.

That is .05% of Free Wheelchair Mission’s worldwide total! That is also 2.1% of all of the wheelchairs distributed in Peru during that time frame!!!

I started thinking about the Old Testament Bible verses about the commanders of the armies of Israel. They were broken in several different command groups. There were those who led the armies of thousands, those who led the armies of hundreds, those who led the armies of fifties, and those who led the armies of tens.

In the Old Testament times the armies were physical armies that fought physical battles with enemies of the kingdom. Today Christians fight an invisible enemy, one who has attacked every fabric of life in the world. In this fight, the command structure is still the same.

Our enemy is fighting us in a physical way. He is attacking our friends, our families, and people we don’t know with sicknesses and ailments. It is up to the church to lead the charge to provide support for those who have been injured during the battle.

In this segment of the battle, Free Wheelchair Mission is the “commander of thousands.” They mobilize teams and people internationally to take wheelchairs where they are needed most.

Then there are the churches and organizations like Camino de Vida, where Paige and Stalin serve. These are the “commanders of hundreds.” They mobilize teams inside of Peru. Paige leads 30 missions teams from all around the world every year. Each team has about 10+ people in them and distribute thousands of wheelchairs a year.

Then there are the sending churches, like Chesapeake Christian Fellowship, my home church. They are the “commander of fifties.” Over the past 5 years we have sent about 40 people to Peru, close to 100 people to Haiti, and close to 75 people to Navajo Nation.

Finally, God showed me that I am a “commander of tens.” Each year I lead a team of up to 10 people to Peru.

I have always wanted to lead God’s church. I’ve wanted to be a pastor. I’ve wanted to call my “job” pastor. I desire to wake up and drive to church and call that my place of employment.

But when I realized that God has made me a “commander of tens” for doing a mission to Peru I came to the conclusion that if God never uses me for another thing in this life that I have been used to make a difference for Him. God could never call me to full-time ministry and I would be content in knowing that God’s glory has been seen through my leadership.

I don’t say that to boast.

I say that knowing full well that this opportunity can go away at any moment and it is only by the grace of God that I was given this opportunity. I pray I never take that lightly. And I pray that the commanders of thousands, commanders of hundreds, commanders of fifties, and commanders of tens never take their position lightly. God granted it, God can take it away if we don’t treat it as He would desire.

But in the meantime, I am going to enjoy my time as a “commander of tens” and lead as God would have me lead.

I may never lead thousands.

I may never lead hundreds.

I may not even lead fifties.

But I am leading tens. And that is enough.

Peru 2017 Day 4 – More Relationships

Today brought about a lot of amazing things. Yesterday we went to many places I have been before. Today we went to places I have never been before. And on top of that, we ended with a party that turned into church.

We started our day going to a refuge that takes care of mothers and children with HIV. We made 20 gift bags for the mothers and had a lot of care packages for the kids. As soon as we got there, we were able to hand one out but then found out the house mother was understaffed. We started right in doing the day to day tasks that need to get done. We cleaned rooms, swept the hallways, prepared lunch, checked in the produce order, and whatever else needed to happen.

It was great. The relationships we made were not with the moms and kids as much as it was the team at the refuge. We were able to connect with Carol, the house mother, and some of the seminary students she had with her.

 

We were there for a long time and realized we were on a time schedule. The Peru/Colombia game was tonight and we had to be back before dinner or we would be stuck on the streets for hours. Lima is a city of almost 10 million people, so having a game like a World Cup Qualifier round 2 blocks from where we are staying means that the roads will get congested.

We went back to the Dream Center, picked up lunch, and headed to our next destination. This would be a short stop before moving to our final destination, but it was well worth it. We stopped by a church that Camino de Vida, the church we support in Peru, is getting ready to open in December. It was an old theatre where plays and musicals would happen. They are leasing the property and totally renovating it to fit their needs. It will seat about 900 people. We met up with Nick Balcombe, one of the pastors, and he gave us the tour. They need $250,000 more to get the place renovated and opened. If you are interested in supporting the vision God has given Camino de Vida for the new church, please check out their website at www.caminodevida.com

After the tour, we went to a place that was extremely special. When we were coming down, we were asked to bring down some feeding tubes. I laughed when I said “some” because I was expecting maybe a small case of them. No, we received 6 cases which turned into 2.5 suitcases of feeding tubes. We went in and got a short orientation and then went to visit the kids. Those kids are beautiful! If no other reason, the purpose for those children on this earth was to show us gringos just how to love. They have so much love in their hearts!

I really enjoyed spending time with Augusto. He is blind and has several developmental disabilities. The way to interact with him is to rub his back. Every time I did and said his name he would smile and laugh. A few times he would reach out and hold my arm as best as he could.

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Nate, on our team, fell in love with this one kid. He is musically inclined and that gave Nate an opportunity to love this kid with the gift of music.

We left there in order to get back before the traffic got too bad. When we arrived, we starting making blankets our project on Thursday. We grabbed two very large bolts of fabric and cut the blankets. Altogether I would say we made about 60 blankets. Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to make more.

Then the night really started. Tonight was the Peru/Colombia World Cup qualifier match. Peru needed to win or tie. They tied.

A few of the women who live in the house we are staying and their friends came over and we watched the game together and afterward we partied.

Then after we were all partied out, we ended the night in worship.

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This day couldn’t be any better.

The goal of missions is relationships. We may never be able to end all the hunger or homelessness in the world. But we can feed people the Word and end the homelessness in their hearts. We might never be able to provide clean water to everyone but we can provide people with the new wine of the Spirit.

We built long lasting relationships with people today and I love that!

Tomorrow we will be doing one of my favorite projects here in Peru, a wheelchair distribution.

Peru 2017 Day 3 – Relationships

We got a late start to the day today.

Praise Jesus!

After yesterday’s 15 hour day, it was nice to start a little later in the morning.

We started with our devotional that focused on God’s purpose for our lives and that we don’t need to be in Peru to be in mission. It is important to understand that fact because God blessed us with being in a great country with decent incomes and a lack of persecution for our faith. You don’t have to feel guilty for living in America. God is sovereign. He has a purpose for placing you where you are.

After making sandwiches for lunch we headed off for the hour and half journey to Grace House, a home for women who are broken and have addictions or disorders.

This is a very safe, walled house that is lush and green. It is a partnership between Camino de Vida and Hillsong. It is a home that holds 20 women and they are mentored to find their identity in Christ. As they find that, they realize their hang-ups and their brokenness become their testimony and they have the power to overcome what they are struggling with.

In the pictures below you can see several of the testimonies and the motivational words that are used for healing in these women.

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After spending the morning at Grace House, we got in the bus and headed almost 2 hours to Hogar de Ninos, a children’s home. Now the children here are not very young. They range in age of up to 20 years old. Once they reach 18 they have the option to go into the leadership program or they can leave.

As we got there, we got the tour and the chance to meet the kids. Then the guys started up a soccer (football) game. Let’s just say that even with the kids going easy on us gringos we were outmatched. I was sweating and breathing heavily and the kids were just moving from one side of the ball to the next with no effort.

We then played several other games and just decided to hang out with the kids until the tutors walked in with a cake for one of the kids named Milargo, whose birthday it was today. We enjoyed cake and singing Happy Birthday and then got on the bus to head back to La Victoria.

When we returned, the place was quiet. Our dinners had been made by the team there and left for us to eat. Lomo Saltado, one of our team’s favorites! Then, in one of the back rooms, there were a whole bunch of materials for us to put together gift bags of food and personal hygiene items for women at the HIV refuge.

Tomorrow we leave early in the morning to head to the HIV refuge and then to an orphanage for children with special needs and developmental disabilities.

Since it is only 7:30 at night right now, I am going to take this opportunity to finish this post and head to bed early. Tomorrow night is the qualifying round for Peru in the World Cup. The stadium, which seats 60,000 people, is 2 blocks from our sleeping area. If Peru wins, Peruvians will be partying in the streets for 24 hours straight, so that will mean no sleep for any of us.

So good night and pray for us to get some sleep.

Peru 2017 Day 2 – The Tourist

Every time we come to Peru, and this is my fifth time here, we spend one day as a tourist. It is always on Sunday because that is the easiest day to do it.

Last night was rough. The city was awake and extremely loud last night. I slept perhaps 3 hours the entire night. At one point I got up and stared out the windows and watched a drug deal happening. I also watched what looked like some prostitution going on.

But I didn’t sleep.

It was a rough night.  And I am sitting here at the table in the living area at midnight writing this.

The morning came and we got together and started our day at La Victoria. We ate breakfast, did our devotional and then talked among our group. This group has been amazing because we have had a lot more deep discussions about faith, hope, theology, and our purpose.

We sat around in our group this morning and discussed, for about a 30 minutes death, dying, and the purpose of spirituality. Then a couple of the interns came in to talk to our team about the internship program. We have a couple young 20-somethings and I wanted them to get an idea of what it would be to take a 6 month long-term ministry in Peru.

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After that, we went downstairs for church at the chapel. This place has 350 attending regularly. We enjoyed listening to a visiting pastor from Chile who was up for a conference.

From there, we went to the city to be tourists for the day. We went to a hamburger place and were there for a quite a while. One reason is that we were simply enjoying each other’s company. But secondly, it was Stalin’s birthday.

We then went to the market to get some souvenirs to take home to friends and family.

After that we went to church and enjoyed an amazing service at their main campus. This church is on fire!

I wish that my own church, and honestly all the churches in America, would take a lesson from Camino de Vida in Peru. They have locked down the way to reach young adults. In the videos and pictures I will share below, I hope you see the amount of young adults.

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Camino de Vida video 2

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After church, at 9 pm, we headed to dinner to get crepes and then off to the Dream Center to head to bed (or blog, in my case).

Tomorrow will be a great day. We will be visiting the Grace House (a home for women battling addictions and brokenness) and Hogar de Ninos, the children’s home, where we will be sharing dinner together.

Peru Mission 2017 Day 1 – Fluid

So Mimi and I are taking another team to Peru this year. We left on Friday morning and arrived late Friday night.

We had our schedules and itinerary in hand and we headed out the door.

The first flight to our layover in Miami was bumpy but uneventful. I sat in the back of the plane while the rest of our group sat in the middle and front. In the back with me were 13 women heading from Baltimore to Miami to have girls weekend away. They all had really flashy shirts and were very loud, but fun. I also had about a 4 or 5 year old child sitting behind me, kicking my seat much of the flight.

Mimi sat on her own in the middle of the flight and, since she doesn’t travel well, fell right to sleep and woke up in Miami.

We get to Miami and were to meet up with a woman I had met a few years earlier at a church planting conference. While we had a few glitches there, it was pretty easy to get together and we headed off for some lunch and our first devotion of the journey.

When we got to Lima, we located Paige and Stalin, our guides, and they took us to La Victoria, the area of the place we would be staying.

La Victoria is a very different area than where we have stayed in years past. It is the inner city. Smells of marijuana and prostitution are done in the open here. There are gangs in this area and random packs of dogs roam the streets.

This section of the city is up almost 24 hours a day.

As I sit here right now typing this, I hear about 5 different songs playing throughout the city, someone is shooting off fireworks, and car alarms go off quite frequently.

The place we are staying is a chapel. It is 5 stories and in the middle of the city. The outside is black and white and all of the windows have bars. There is a man who sits just inside the door and opens it for people who are allowed in. Every Sunday, this chapel, the smallest of the 5 campuses of Camino de Vida, has 350 regular attenders.

The first level of the chapel is the church. It is really just a big black box style. They can transform the room into whatever they want it to be for the day. It can be church on Sunday and then on Monday turn into a wheelchair build site.

The second level of the chapel is a kitchen and offices. The missions offices are housed on the second level of the place. There is also an occupational therapy facility on this level.

The third level has a sewing ministry where they make all the shirts for their missions program. They also have a meeting room and a place where people can come and get clothes for free.

The fourth level is where short-term missions teams like ours stay. There are bedrooms for the women and bedrooms for the men. They also have a “living room” where short-term teams can hang out and unwind.

The fifth level is storage. All of the maintenance equipment and paints are kept up here. They also have a small outside living room that overlooks the city. I am hoping to get to use that a lot more later this week.

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We arrived about 1 AM and went straight to bed. I couldn’t sleep and spent the majority of the cold night laying there in prayer, thought, and yawning.

The next morning came and we ate breakfast and had a quick devotion before we gathered together for orientation. We learned that a few days ago someone had come and sprayed graffiti on much of the building.

I have to say that my heart sank a little when I saw it. 2 years ago my team painted the building, the sidewalk and the bricks. It was a long couple of days, but we did a really nice job. Seeing it tagged with graffiti was a little upsetting.

We were told that we would be spending the day painting the building again.

We gathered all the materials and started in at painting at about 11 AM.

We finished the outside of the building by 12:30 and sat down to eat lunch.

It was a little late to do our original plan of evangelism, so we decided to help Paige get the chapel ready for church tomorrow. This meant a lot more painting. She wanted a few levels of the steps painted as well as one of the offices so that they could move furniture out of another larger office to use for kids ministry in the morning.

We broke up our group and started going to town on the painting.

We finished about 5:30, got cleaned up and headed off to dinner.

It is now 10:30.

The city is alive and very, very loud. Many people are sleeping with ear plugs or ear buds in to drown out the noise. While I am exhausted, I want to take in the sounds of the city. I might not sleep, but I want to experience what the people of La Victoria experience daily.

Tomorrow we will be tourists. We are going to start our day at the chapel and attending church and then heading off to enjoy the touristy side of Lima.

More on that tomorrow.

Heroes

My kids and I watch and wait.

When Marvel or DC Comics has a new movie coming out, we immediately try to get tickets.

There is something about heroes, and especially superheroes, that makes us feel as though we can be much more than our drab, ordinary, everyday life. It adds excitement and wonder.

But those superheroes aren’t real.

Superheroes are not the people who gain special abilities by getting bitten by a spider or consuming radiation. There are many other kinds of heroes and superheroes that really need celebrating.

Last week my wife and I led a mission journey to Peru. Our church works directly with another church there. It is this trip that I would like to highlight the many heroes and superheroes.

Let’s start with the heroes.

Camino de Vida is a church in the center of Lima Peru. It was founded by Pastor Robert Barriger. He has followed a very American church model and brought in elements of Dream Center International and Servolution. The church has grown to multiple thousands of people. As it has grown, they have streamlined operations and built programs around serving the city.

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Our first set of heroes are those who plan the mission journeys to Lima. We worked through Paige Solis. She works with groups and churches. She wasn’t there when we went because she was back in the United States for a friend’s wedding, but her husband was there. We met Stalin last year. This year we got to spend a great deal of time with him and learn about his heart for the people of Peru. They both have amazing gifts that they use for God and the people of Peru. Paige has a strong gift for keeping the program organized, even when she has a lot going on. She has an amazing gift for hospitality and making sure that everyone is doing well. Stalin has a huge heart and love of good coffee. We talked for a very long time about coffee. He showed us all amazing hospitality and love while we were in Peru.

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Then there were our guides, Kennedy and Maressa. Kennedy is Canadian and will be leaving Peru to go back to school at the end of the year. For being 19, she is mature way beyond her years. She has a heart for missions and hopes to see a better missions program coming out of Canada. She always had a smile on her face, even if something didn’t go quite as planned. Maressa is from the United States. She is a southern belle with a New York attitude. Strong but gentle. We were her first group that she ever hosted. As one of the interns, her tour of duty ends in December and she heads home for a few months while she determines what her future looks like. She has a fun sense of humor and really loves children.

Then there is Moises. He is currently a student but spends more time at the church than anywhere. He is strong as an ox but gentle as a dove. He left a very good job years ago to be able to spend time doing church work.

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Next we have Toby. He was our driver and could fit the van into some of the smallest places ever. Toby has 4 kids and a wife and lives about an hour outside the city. Every morning Toby was at our mission house to pick us up by very early and ever night we didn’t return until about 8 or 9 pm. Then Toby would have to drop off the van and drive home. Even when he got his hand stuck in a closing door, he didn’t miss a beat! He kept going and refused to leave our sides.

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Then there is Daniel and Stephanie. They put us up in their house for the week and made sure we had breakfast every morning. They made sure we had a safe place to stay, clean sheets and towels, and comfort.  They also train the interns. They spend time with them and make sure they are discipled.

In years past we met many other heroes that we saw last week as well. Adam and Paolo who went from being guides to planting a church. Bernie, the woman who helped us to get checked in one our plane home from Peru. Miguel, the man who we saw every year for the past 5 that spends much of his time doing mass wheelchair distributions.

And there are so many more that I can’t even think of right now.

But now I want to move away from the heroes and talk about the superheroes.

First there is Antuane.

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This woman! She has overcome some amazing hurdles in her life and she just keeps on smiling! At one point in her life, she was so strung out, homeless, and eating food off the street. She met with the church in La Victoria and came to know Christ. It was at that moment, she turned her life around. She got cleaned up and off the streets. The heroes above organized building her a house on the third floor of someone’s building. It is a 1-room place with a shared bathroom. But it has a door.

Antuane is a superhero! She survived the street. She overcame adversities that no one should have to endure and came out with joy in her heart.

Then there is Milargo. Her name literally means “miracle.” Her husband was in the hospital in Lima the morning we served breakfast. He was diagnosed with Leukemia and she was concerned because she was worried he was going to die. We prayed for God to provide a miracle to Miracle. She has overcome several hurdles. She is a superhero because she saw the church coming and she begged us to pray for her husband. She stood at God’s door and knocked loudly. She refused to let go until God moved.

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Then we have Frank. But even more so, Frank’s family. Frank has CP. His family lives at the top of a very steep dirt hill. They take him out for walks regularly, but in order to do so, the dad would carry his wheelchair down the hill while his mom carries Frank. We met up with them because he outgrew the wheelchair he was given a few years ago. Moises, one of our heroes, carried the new chair to the top of the hill while the mom carried Frank. It was so dangerous to climb up and down that we went in groups of 2 holding on to each other in some cases. And his mother carries him by herself up and down the hill daily! SHE is a superhero!

And I could continue with the stories of heroes and superheroes, but I would need to write a book about each. Every story in Peru was a blessing to our hearts.

Just like Jesus rolling the stone away and bursting from the grave, Christ rolled away our hearts of stone when we met these people and burst forth from the grave, giving hope to hero and superhero alike.

The superheroes of Peru are beautiful people. But it is the heroes in Peru that truly have my heart. They care so deeply for Peru and Peruvians while very few people care about them. Please keep them all in prayer, hero and superhero.

Below are the links to support these heroes financially so they can continue to help the superheroes. Please consider sending your support to them.

Paige & Stalin: http://stalinandpaigesolis.squarespace.com/

Maressa: http://www.modernday.org/field-workers/maressa-gentri/

Daniel & Stephanie: https://www.modernday.org/field-workers/danny-and-stephanie-gutierrez/

Bringing Peru to a Close

The final day in Peru was easily the most emotional, the most beautiful, and the most terrible. When we got to the distribution site, we had to take the chairs from the build site of the upper level of a building to a nearby soccer field. No picture can fully capture the experience. The smell was horrible. By the end of the day we were used to it, but many of our group described to me that they felt nauseous from the stench.

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Once we got the chairs in place, we opened our doors. Early on, we thought we wouldn’t have a lot of people. But by noon, we knew that we had our hands full (literally and figuratively).

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We broke into several groups. One group was responsible for moving people. Mostly, that consisted of us guys. My wife followed a few of the local missionaries who were bilingual and they went from person to person, listening to their stories and praying for them. A couple more people were put with the gospel station where they prayed with the people before they got their chair. A few more were put on the adjustment station where they would make the chair fit the person who received it.

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In the end, we made some amazing friends, both in Peru and in the group we took from Chesapeake Christian Fellowship.

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I want to leave you with a call to action. Each of the indigenous missionaries are fully funded by the support they receive from people who will send them money. Being a missionary is a hard job. You don’t receive a salary as a missionary. There is no retirement plan. There are no health or dental benefits. Everything you make you get from supporters who believe in the ministry.

I want to give you a couple of options for supporting some Peruvian missionaries:

Paige Wingfield – She was our guide for this journey and was amazing. Her heart for the Peruvian people is beyond belief! She cares so deeply, loves so intentionally, and puts herself out there for all to see. Please support her. Her support page is found here:  http://www.modernday.org/field-workers/paige-wingfield/

Adam Gordon – Adam was our guide 2 years ago and I still keep in touch with him and have been watching his incredible journey over the past 2 years. If you would like to learn more and support him, you can do so here: https://www.eservicepayments.com/cgi-bin/Vanco_ver3.vps?appver3=tYgT1GfNxRUldiimjHMvOaq0Z2hL9h9qN9kOABqK4KdskSODEa-Up5lt373GHnco2evTpo0mld6BrVzd2nG0pyxB2TQzMw67nz3We9lhz84=&ver=3

Danny and Stephanie Gutierrez – They own the mission house that supplied our housing needs while we were in Peru. They are a beautiful family that has a heart for supporting missionaries from the field. To equip missionaries from the field takes money and they are just such beautiful people. Please consider supporting his family: https://www.eservicepayments.com/cgi-bin/Vanco_ver3.vps?appver3=tYgT1GfNxRUldiimjHMvOaq0Z2hL9h9qN9kOABqK4KdskSODEa-Up5lt373GHnco2evTpo0mld6BrVzd2nG0pyxB2TQzMw67nz3We9lhz84=&ver=3

Mimi and I thank everyone who supported us to go on this journey. Without the money from others we would not have been able to make this trip happen. So I thank you all.

Peru, the 6th Day

Today was a great day. We loaded the bus and drove to the build site where we spent over 6 hours putting together 100 wheelchairs with a group from the church we are doing this mission through, Camino de Vida.

When we arrived, we had to pull the boxes from the third floor and take them to the second floor where we built them. My wife, the beautiful Mimi, and I were a team. We belted out about 10 or 11 wheelchairs!

It was great.

It was one of those times where I listen to my wife and do everything she tells me. She is very mechanically inclined. I am not. She created the plan of attack for the wheelchairs and it was the perfect one!

We were able to get a chair done almost every 30 minutes.

Here is a video of the build.

Finally, here are a few pictures of the day.

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Tomorrow is our last day in Peru. We will leave the mission house at 7 AM and head to the build site where we will get together with the government, the doctors, and the church to distribute the wheelchairs.

We were asked by our guide to pick one of 4 areas that we want to be placed in:

  • Carrying people
  • Prayer
  • Testimonies
  • Adjustments

When tomorrow comes we will be finding out what each of those entail, but I guarantee that it will be well worth it.

Peru, Days 4 & 5

Days 4 and 5 were intense.

We spent much of day 4 waiting. We waited for the truck with the container of 550 wheelchairs to be delivered. Unfortunately, we arrived about noon and the container was delayed. We were told 1. Then when 1:30 rolled around, that was changed to 5. We finally saw the container at about 4:30.

The container arrived and we started unloading it and filling the warehouse. It was tough. With a team of only 11, we realized we had some holes in our “bucket line.” We occasionally got backed up at various points along the process.

Late that night we finished unloading and organizing. We were so exhausted that we went back to the mission house, ordered pizza, and fell asleep.

Today we did quite a lot. We went back to the warehouse to fill a truck and take to the build site. Unfortunately, that truck was very late. We took this opportunity to learn how to build a wheelchair. We broke into two groups and started working on a chair. It took us about 30 minutes to get a full chair done with a group of 5 people per chair. Tomorrow we will have 2 people per chair and 20 minutes to complete it.

We then split the group into two. The women got on the bus, went back to the outreach house, and started making 125 box dinners with stir fry in them. The men waited for the truck, loaded it, and drove it to the build site.

Let me tell you, I was wishing I had gone with the women.

When we arrived, we found the build site. It was at the top of a 3-story building. We had to carry all 100 chairs to the top of the 3rd floor. By the end, my back, legs, and arms were done.

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The area is just filled with abject poverty. It was amazing to see the number of houses that were on the dirt hills behind the build site. The photos and video doesn’t do it justice!

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After unloading, we met up with the women and took the box dinners they made to a local cancer hospital. We had the opportunity to break into groups and speak with people who were waiting on their loved ones. I wish I could show pictures of the scene but we were not allowed to take them. My words, and even if I did show pictures, I would not completely explain the desperation, the sadness, the frustration, and the sheer insanity of the health care system of Peru.

The first man we approached said he was from the northern area of Peru near the Ecuador border. He is required to stay outside in the cold and wait. There are no real waiting rooms. The lawn outside is the waiting room. He left his 7 and 13 year old boys in his village and traveled weeks to get there with his wife, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He has been waiting for 10 months, sleeping on the grass, for the day when they come to him and say he can either see her, take her home, or she is dead.

The next man we spoke to said that his only baby is in the hospital with a cancerous tumor in his head. His wife, while waiting there, has been rushed inside to the emergency area because she has a sickness she couldn’t get rid of.

So he waits.

Alone.

His spirit was so crushed that I could barely even say the words to the prayer. My mind kept racing to his family and how separated they were. His mind must be thinking how naïve we are for coming from America with a hollow prayer and that people would be healed.

But let me talk about that for a minute. We are not necessarily here praying for healing. Yes, that is part of it. But we are here to simply be the hands and feet of Christ. We brought a hot meal and a smile, probably something they have been without for a long time now.

And we maybe brought a little hope.

The final 2 girls we spoke to were both under 18 and their babies were in the cancer ward. One woman was wearing a spaghetti strap tank top and it was low 60s for the temperature. They have been there for a few weeks.

My wife gave her sweatshirt on her back to the girl.

I almost started crying because of my wife’s generosity.

The look on the girl’s face was priceless.

So we finished that, went to dinner, and back to the mission house by 11pm to fall asleep. A 14-hour day in the field, but one that is filled with glimmers of grace.

Tomorrow, we will begin building the 100 wheelchairs we were sent to build.

Peru Mission Journey, Days 1 & 2

Well, we are beginning another adventure in Peru. This year we have a team of 11 going down from our church. Many of the people I know and a couple I only know by name only, not really getting to know them well in life outside of church.

We sat in the airport and did a devotion. Intentionally I wanted to get everyone together before we left to see begin the relationship and to start the hunger in everyone’s belly for living a life on mission.

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We left BWI airport at 10:30 AM and, by the time we cleared customs in Peru, it was 11:30 PM and almost 1AM by the time we crawled in bed. We had to be up at 6 AM to be ready for a very full day of getting acclimated to Peru.

The first day, our local guide trief to get us to understand a little about Peru, after we went to church.

This includes a lot of just touristy type things. We went down by the water in Mira Flores, took a bus tour of the city, visited the catacombs, and ate at one of our favorite crepe places.

We also had one of the couples in our group renew their vows! It was awesome!

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We ended the night back at church, the main campus of the church we are here with.

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The night was a late night, but very well worth it. We really bonded as a team. We met a couple that live in the town we are getting ready to move to and we really clicked with them.

The next day we woke up a little later, which was a true blessing, and headed to Camino de Vida in La Victoria. Our plan was to paint the outside of the church. When we arrived, we spent over an hour simply praying for the church. We went room by room and prayed over the room, the future function of the church, and the present/future workers.

After that, we jumped right in on painting the walls outside.

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As we ended the night, we went to a Peruvian chicken restaurant and then back to the hotel early where I fell asleep upon hitting the pillow for a short nap.

Tomorrow we will head back to La Victoria to paint the sidewalks, bike lane, and bricks. This church is going to be beautiful! It will be the most beautiful building in La Victoria and it was all done with very minimal cost.

I look forward to this week and ask for prayers for our entire team.

I’ll keep you all updated throughout the week.

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