boyradd

Forgiven…Loved…..Transformed!

Archive for the tag “Mission Trip”

Peru 2017 – Key Learnings and a Call to Action

I’ve been thinking over the past week in Peru as I have been sharing the journey with you that I haven’t been posting a lot of Scripture. It can easily make one think that I wanted to show off what we were doing and not draw it back to God.

That isn’t the case at all.

I’ve wanted to share Scripture with you but, honestly, I simply haven’t had the time to research it a lot and when I share the Word I want to make sure it is done in the proper context.

Now that I am on a flight home, I have a lot more time to think about the past week and how God moved throughout it.

And that is the first thing I realized, time is rare. In the States, we don’t have enough time because we tend to fill it all with stuff that isn’t Jesus focused. Not that any of it is necessarily bad, but as a missionary, you are at the whim of the country’s or city’s needs. You could get a call at any moment that a flood has destroyed a large section of the city or a fire is raging through the downtown of the city and won’t be put out in over a week.

Most of our days were 14-15 hours. When we got home, we had very little left to give to anything else but sleep.

I understand why full-time missionaries have a tough time communicating with their sponsors or family back home.

The next thing I noticed this year is how much God has grown me as a leader and as a Christian. I remember my first year going to Peru and we were building a house for someone and I looked down and saw an area and told our host, pastor Nick from Camino de Vida, that someone should plant a church there. He said that sounds like a great idea, simply trying to placate the mission tourist. But I wouldn’t let it go. I continued. I was saying it over and over, trying to get anyone to listen to me and finally Nick told me to calm down. I felt a little dejected. But after seeing the church in action that week and in others, I now realize that he was simply trying to help me to look honestly at the situation and focus on bringing God to the moment we were in, not to the potential future. The time I wasted trying to be heard could have been spent doing actual evangelizing that would have more of a lasting kingdom effect.

Since then, I have started looking through the eyes of our hosts, Camino de Vida. I still have my “gringo eyes” and until I immerse myself into the culture those won’t go away, but I can honestly say that God is showing me much of what the team at Camino de Vida is seeing and giving me a burden for the people of Peru.

I know I am not called to Peru, as much as I would love to be. But I have a serious burden for the people of Peru. I now know more about more people in Peru than I do people in America. My job is to bring people to Peru and let them get a taste (of the food) of the people of Peru and the highly developed third world country that really has a large part of my heart.

There are so many people that when I think of them, I start to smile.

People like Stalin and Paige Solis. She is from Arkansas and he is from Peru. She met him on mission and they fell in love and started serving at Camino de Vida. Now Paige leads the groups at the church and he teaches Spanish lessons to the church interns.

I met Paige and Stalin a couple years ago when I was in Peru and they have become good international friends, people I trust implicitly who I can talk to from time to time. They don’t take a salary from the church in Peru at all other than the money Stalin makes from teaching the interns Spanish (which he makes $10/hour to do it).

They are without healthcare insurance and are missing some things to help them do ministry better. I hope to help them get funded for at least their healthcare insurance. They need $300/month for insurance, $3,600/year.

I am going to ask my followers to support Paige and Stalin. When I think of the people in Peru whom I truly love, Paige and Stalin are at the top of the list. They have been amazing with the groups I have brought down there and have taught us all a lot about missions in Peru.

They go through an organization called Modern Day for their funding. Modern Day is an organization that connects missionaries to those who are supporting them.

From their website:

Our Vision is to help thousands of people, young and old, pursue their dreams of reaching the world for Jesus; one person, one city and one nation at a time. Our desire is to form partnerships that pave the way for people to serve in another country for both short and long term periods. We are currently working with over 250 missionaries. Since the summer of 2008, Modern Day has facilitated endeavors in 50 countries and new ones are being added on a regular basis.

I am looking for 36 people to offer up a ONE-TIME commitment of $100 to Paige and Stalin. With that money, they can afford healthcare insurance, something I think is very important in this world. If you would like to support them more than that, please do.

Please, people, prayerfully consider supporting them. Because of the work they are doing in Peru, hundreds are coming to know Christ! For a Christian, you can’t ask for a better return on your investment.

Here is the link to support Stalin and Paige:

http://stalinandpaigesolis.squarespace.com/

If you do decide to send them a gift, please drop me a line at coffeeguy777@hotmail.com. I would love to send them a note about the people who supported them.

Thanks everyone.

Peru 2017 Day 6 – The Final Ministry

We woke up REALLLY early today, 4:30 AM. Our job was to go downstairs at the Dream Center and make 2,000 sandwiches so that we could make 1,000 bags of food (2 sandwiches per bag) for the people of the hospital we went to last night. We were also making them cups of oatmeal to have with their sandwiches.

The bread came around 5:15 and we started in by breaking into 4 groups of people. The first group would cut the bread. Group two would butter the bread. Group three put on the jelly. And group 4, my group, would package the sandwiches and place them in the containers for shipping.

It took us until about 8:30 to get all the sandwiches made and packaged.

After that we loaded everything into the bus and truck and headed to the hospital.

We set up in 3 different areas. The hospital was definitely much more busy than it was last night! In my area, we gave away about 425 sandwiches and cups of oatmeal.

After we were done, we had an opportunity to pray with people.

Now this next story I simply need to share. Last night, one of our group went off on his own and ended up in a hospital room that had about 50 beds in it. In one of the beds was a 17 year old girl and her dad was sitting next to her. The man, trying to get his daughter to smile, was telling her about the “white angel” who came from America to see her and pray with her.

The girl was brought in and hadn’t eaten in almost 2 weeks. She had severe stomach issues and was simply sick. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. She has been bedridden for much of that two weeks!

Fast forward to this morning. I went with our group member who prayed with her last night. We were going to try and give her some of the breakfast we made with hopes she would eat it. When we got there, she was sitting in her chair. She was smiling and joking around and told us that she was better and was going home soon!

Yesterday she was unable to eat and was confined to bed and today she is scheduled to go home!

I know that my agnostic and atheist friends will look at this differently, but that was all God!

Our God heals!

We prayed with her and started to leave.

But then Mimi happened.

I had forgotten that my wife had brought a suitcase filled with toys and games for the kids in the pediatric unit. I followed her over there and watched my beautiful wife in action. She was so happy making children happy!

I love watching her with that big smile across her face and seeing children flock to her, hugging her, and loving her.

After this was done we went back to the Dream Center to relax, eat lunch, and get ready to leave tomorrow. Tonight we head to church one more time before heading out and then we leave for America at 3 in the morning.

In my next post I want to share a little of my heart about the people I have met over the past 5 trips here and what I would like to see happen for my friends. I’ll also share a little about how I’ve grown and how I hope to grow in the future.

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Peru 2017 Day 5 – Wheelchairs and hospitals

This morning we were able to spend the morning doing the wheelchair ministry. This was the first ministry I did when I came to Peru in 2012 and I fell in love with Peru at that moment. Last year  we didn’t get a chance to do a large wheelchair ministry, but we did house to house.

When we learned our schedule for this week, we were told we would be doing house to house wheelchair ministry. When we arrived, we were told we would be doing a mini distribution at a central site. That’s the best of both worlds! We get to hand out a lot of wheelchairs but not so many that we lose sight of the personal touch.

We transported the boxes of wheelchairs from the Dream Center to the build/distribution site and we started building.

As the morning progressed, we met the people and started handing out chairs. It started with a man named Clever, he is part of the wheelchair ministry in Peru and was leading this outreach today. Clever spent about 15 minutes explaining the chair they would receive.

After that, I had an opportunity to get up and, through an amazing translator, was able to present the gospel message to them. I saw quite a few people raise their hand for accepting the gospel, but as I went around the room later, almost everyone told me that they knew Christ already.

Then we handed out their chairs and modified them for their specific needs.

Once that was done, everyone wanted pictures. The people who received their chair would get their phone out and ask someone to take our picture. We spent the next 30-45 minutes just getting our pictures taken by everyone (and, of course, taking their picture with us as well).

Afterward, we helped people get into their tuk-tuk or taxi, loaded the bus and headed back to the Dream Center for lunch.

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One of the amazing things I heard Clever explain to the people is that the wheelchair is a gift from God. As I was talking to people later, I heard one person explain that the wheelchair is a physical explanation of God. God gave His gift to us in the form of His Son. Unfortunately, we can’t see the physical form of God right now, but we can provide a glimpse of Him through the work that we do.

To many people, God is seen in the form of a wheelchair when we go to them.

Of course God is not a wheelchair, but that is a physical example, something they can touch and feel, that will remind them of the gift that is God.

Once the wheelchair distribution was complete, we headed back to the Dream Center to prepare for tonight’s ministry. Our plan was to prepare over 300 dinners to take to the hospital here. The first thing we needed to do was sift through the quinoa and make sure there were no stones or stalks in it.

After that, we had time before the food was cooked to do some work around the Dream Center. In order to keep us busy, we went through all the toys for the children’s ministry and separated them by gender and age.

Once the food was cooked, we placed it into take-out containers and then into large transporting bins. We got into the bus about 7pm and headed to the pediatric hospital.

Let me explain this. Hospitals here are nothing like hospitals in the states. The sanitary conditions are significantly worse and there is no desire to make the person, or their family, comfortable as they wait. Some people come and wait outside in the courtyards waiting for their family member to be healed or to die. Many have come from far away and have no source of income. Since Peru is a “pay to heal” environment, those family members either need to go home and continue to work or they need to find work in Lima during the time they are there.

It is all very heartbreaking.

We provided meals and took time to spend with the people there.

As it is almost 10 pm here in Peru right now, I am heading to bed as we are going back to children’s hospital tomorrow to serve over 1,000 breakfasts and have to be up at 4 AM.

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.

Camino de Vida video 1

Camino de Vida video 2

Camino de Vida video 3

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/

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!”

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