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Archive for the tag “Lima”

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 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/

Getting Ready for Peru Again

Acts 13:47 – For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'”

In a little over a week my wife and I will be leaving for Peru. I have gone to Peru almost every year for the past 5. This journey has been both eye-opening and heart-changing for us.

Five years ago my senior pastor came to me ask if I would consider leading a trip to Peru. Tentatively I said yes. I wasn’t sure how I would be able to afford the trip. It was expensive. I remember telling him that I would love to but that I needed to pray about it. Just so you know, “I’ll pray about it” is Christianese for “I don’t want to but I am going to blame God for it.”

But something happened. I told my boss at the time that I was looking at going to Peru on a mission trip and wanted to see if it would be possible to get the days off work, thinking he would tell me no since it was a short turn around. Well, he said yes. Then almost immediately, someone from work offered to donate to the trip.

Well, God told me, eh?

I guess I was going to Peru.

The rest of the money was pretty easy to raise. I went on the trip and it was very eye-opening. It was in Peru that I made the decision that church planting was going to be my focus. I needed to see God move throughout neighborhoods and shanty towns. I desired to see community in places that seemed discommunitized (is that a real word?).  I told the man who was our guide over and over again that I saw a spot for a church to be planted and would like to help. By the end of the trip, he had told me there was already a church planted there and that they meet regularly.

The next year, we went to Peru and I was blessed to have one of our pastors go with me on this trip. It was also the first year that Mimi went with me. At the time, she was still my girlfriend, not wife, so we had separate accommodations.

For me, though, this trip was about those who had never been to Peru. Our guide, Adam, was awesome. His heart for God is so immense! And he is extremely approachable and humble. The big moment that happened during this trip was about one of the guys who was on the trip with us. His name is Steve. When I had asked everyone at the beginning of the trip what they wanted to get out of it, his reply was that he didn’t know why God had woken him in the middle of the night to tell him to go to Peru.

Fast forward through almost the entire week. Steve had been having a good time, but he told me a few times he still didn’t know why he was there.

Micah 6:8 – He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Our guide, Adam, asked if we would like to take a detour to see a family that their church supports. How could we say no! This was truly a time of blessing. We went to a local market, got food, and headed toward the shantytown. The woman we were going to see lost use of one of her legs when she was younger, he previous living place was destroyed in a landslide, and she had her family living with her in a 2-room, dirt-floor house. In one room was a child who could not walk, talk, move, see, hear or really anything. She was taking care of him.

We asked her if we could pray with her. She grabbed our hands and said yes and immediately started praying. She started with, “Thank you, God, for all the blessings you have given me…”

Adam’s voice broke as he was translating for us. He was choking back the tears as he told us what she just said.

After we were finished, we headed back to where we were sleeping. The bus was quiet. About 20 minutes into the ride, I heard soft sobbing from right behind my seat. It was Steve. Through his sobbing he kept saying over and over “I know why I am here…I know why I am here…”

I never truly heard exactly what it was that God had just shown him, but he clearly was driven to fall deeper in love with God.

The next year, we had planned a trip to Peru but God had other plans. I think God wanted me to learn humility. We had hoped to take a team down for the 3rd year in a row but no one signed up. The only ones who would have gone were me and one other. We made the choice to cancel.

I was heartbroken. But the reason I was heartbroken was not because of the mission of God. I was heartbroken because I was unable to go back to Peru. It was selfish. I wanted to go to Peru and I didn’t want anything or anyone to get in my way, including God.

I spent a lot of time in confession. I remember talking to Mimi about it and telling her that I felt bad that I was taking God’s mission and making it my own. I learned a lot that year.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Last year we had the opportunity to go back. During this trip, Paige was our guide. She was awesome as well, especially with everything that she had going on at the time. She was planning her wedding at the same time we were down there!

This time, Mimi was my wife, so I was blessed to see this from a completely different view with her as my wife. During this trip, there was so much that warmed my heart. First, a couple from our church had their vows renewed in Peru. That was such a tender and sweet moment. Next, I watched my wife do what she is best at, blessing people with her infectious smile and laugh. She may not have understood the language, but she was able to make others smile and laugh with her.

But the big moment came when I watched one girl on our trip, Caillie, go deeper in her walk with God. Her dad was on this trip with her and they had a lot of great father/daughter moments. But I believe God broke through some of those layers of her heart that we tend to put up that prevent us from being vulnerable. It was amazing to see her heart break for the people of Peru.

Caillie has fallen in love so much with people in Peru that she is heading to Haiti in about 2 weeks. She already went once this year and she is finding that her heart for missions just keeps expanding.

So now we are at this year. What is going to happen? I don’t know.

But I do know this, I expect God to do great things. That’s right, EXPECT.

God does great things. It should be our expectation that God will do great things!

This year, again, my wife will be going with me. I can’t wait to share this experience with her again.

Philippians 2:2 – Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

Some of the places we will go next week include: Hope House (for abused women), an orphanage, deliver wheelchairs house to house, La Victoria campus of the main church, and serving breakfast to a hospital there.

This is a journey.

Anyone who knows me knows I hate the term “mission trip.”  Even though this is a specific trip, the word trip denotes a specific beginning and ending. A journey continues.

When we do missions, whether long-term or short-term, the goal should be to continue the change the God does in our hearts during the trip throughout the rest of our lives.

My prayer is that you will have the opportunity to either support a missionary or be one. You learn that you are not the hero of the story. You are simply a character that is written into the story for a couple of pages. The main characters are those who live in need daily and survive. They are the heroes. They are the ones who deserve the credit, not us. And the writer of the story is God. He creates the opportunities for us to connect.

Isaiah 6:8 – Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Peru, Day 6

Hebrews 13:16 – Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Today was a bittersweet day.  It is our last full day in Peru as our flight leaves at 2 AM for the states.  Before we leave, however, we were to distribute over 100 wheelchairs.  We showed up at the distribution site and immediately started right in.

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The buses and taxis would pull up to the site and drop people off.  We had a team of 4 people standing outside with wheelchairs to get people out of transportation, into a wheelchair and then wheel them inside and transfer them to a stationary chair.  From there, the people would wait until called.  We would then pick up their stationary chair, carry it, with them on it, back to the registration table followed by the medical table followed by the “soul clinic” table followed by “chair pick up.”  It was very physically intense as we had to pick up people and carry them from place to place.

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As they went from station to station, the team was able to get some one-on-one time with the people receiving the chairs and some great relationships were built.

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One story that touched almost all of our hearts was about one man who walked in off the streets with a woman and claimed there was no God and that God was not present in this place.  As he walked around, there were a group of people laying hands on the woman in need of a chair.  Afterward, she yelled out this man’s name.  According to the family and the man, this woman had not said a word in years.  Once that happened, he came up to me and asked me if he could get this in another town near by.  We put him in touch with one of the people from CdV.  GOD WAS THERE!  GOD MADE THAT WOMAN SPEAK!  I believe in miracles!  I have seen God perform them!

After most of the people had been through the line and were waiting on their chairs, Camino de Vida asked us if we wanted to deliver some wheelchairs house to house.  Of course we said yes!  We were able to deliver 2 chairs to various people.  The first is a woman who is clearly a miracle of God!  She was in a coma for 3 months and should not have even been alive.  Her tears showed us just how grateful she was.

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The next man was bedridden and lived in a house that was as big as my bedroom.  I am still very unclear as to how he will use the chair, but once we deliver it, it is up to the family to ensure its use.

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As we were leaving, Bob remembered that our devotion today was on grace.  Would grace simply tell someone where something is or show them where it is?  As we were leaving the second house, Bob noticed that some men were unloading a truck filled with 100 pound bags of cement.  It would have taken them most of the day, so Bob offered our services.  Clearly my arms are not made for lifting 100 pound bags of cement, but God sustained us as we unloaded them into this small corner store.

We pulled back up to the distribution site and got everyone together for one final photo before we head off to dinner and then to the airport.  We need to send a very special thanks to Liliana, Miguelito and Adam for showing us Christ through their hospitality.  They are the true missionaries in this journey as they live and breathe this every day of their life and work countless hours, tirelessly and with joy, to make sure gringos like us are not only given an experience of a lifetime, but are also taken well care of.

We also need to thank Camino de Vida, Robert Barriger, Nick Balcombe, and all of the people who have lived in Lima for over 30 years bringing Christ to the city.

Finally, Christ is who truly led this journey.  It is Christ who created the revival in the heart of the CdV team.  It is Christ who created the passion in the CCF team.  It is Christ who brought both teams together to perform miracles on the streets of Lima.

James 2:14-17 – What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

 

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