Today is our last day in Peru. We woke up, organized our rooms, brought the sheets down and had breakfast one last time at Pat's Place. We were supposed to leave at 9 AM but true to our Peruvian culture we left around 9:30 AM. Our trip into Lima took roughly 45 minutes, and once we got there, we walked around downtown Lima, seeing the Square, the Presidential Palace, visiting a chocolate museum (i.e. a store with only chocolate made in Peru) and even stopping at Dunkin’ Donuts to get some coffee.
After touring downtown Lima, we took a short bus ride to an outdoor Indian Market to shop. The market is set up similar to a flea market but better organized - it is still full of tourist traps and prizes. Alison knows the market well, so she and I went and negotiated some good prices for alpaca blankets which are gorgeous, soft and will make great gifts for those who gave substantial financial support to my mission trip. Stephanie scored some good deals on coffee mugs, Taylor got a bracelet and some other small things, and a few others grabbed some items while we were there.
After the Indian market, we went to another location to eat. Alison, Laura, Gaby, Luis, Luis’s wife, Nancy went to Chili’s to celebrate Nancy's birthday. Stephanie, Taylor, Dana, and I definitely wanted Peruvian food, so we picked a restaurant called “Popular” that overlooked the Pacific ocean. The restaurant was gorgeous and the food was delicious. One of the dishes Stephanie and I shared was a Peruvian Sushi speciality roll and it may have been my favorite food item of the trip. I definitely gained weight while I was here, which I did not expect!
We left our late lunch and headed back to Pat’s Place, where we settled in with a quick nap, cleaning our rooms, bringing our luggage down the stairs, and then we got ready to hang out with the women and children at Pat’s Place one last time.
The children had a special dance and song for us that was so fun! Next, we played with balloons for an hour and everybody was sweaty and tired but it was a lot of fun and a great way to say goodbye to the women and the children at Pat’s Place. This is the special place, and I feel so blessed to have spent time here with Alison, the other missionaries as well as all of the people at Pats Place. Laura is a special person and she takes care of this place in a very Godly way. I’m looking forward to someday returning but for now it’s off to the airport to eat Papa John's Pizza in the airport. Adios Peru! And as Chuck would say, "Hasta la vista baby!"
Waking up today felt a little different, because it was. I am now alone in the men’s bunk here in Peru. We were able to get a quick FaceTime in with Chuck on our way to visit two women who used to live at Pats Place and live in the mountains in Peru. Alas, the journey must continue without Chuck ...
By the way for anyone keeping score at home, the jackhammer is still going on behind me and my ankle is about 90% and has been since Tuesday. I’m doing voice to text and I’m actually surprised you don’t hear “dddddDDdddddDdddDDDdd” in the background.
When we got to the house in the mountains, the first place we went was to visit a beautiful woman named Laura. She was welcoming but a little apprehensive and we learned that after a big fire that she has been discouraged. These women are supported really well when they’re at Pat’s Place; however, when they get out on their own, they tend to have distractions that can sometimes lead them away from going to church and their faith.
After we left Laura’s house and on our way to the next spot, we ran into two of Laura’s kids; Alison and Jonathan. Laura (director of Pat’s Place who was with us) spoke with Jonathan and I could tell it was an emotional embrace. Earlier we learned that Jonathan was spending a lot of time just playing on the Internet. However, Laura reminded Jonathan that while he was at Pats Place was diligent worker, a man after God’s own heart, and needs to help his mom around the house and step up. Little Alison was shy at first but quickly warmed to the group and even met us over at the next women’s house.
At the next house, we chatted with the family for a while. The woman mentioned she wasn’t going to church, so before her boys and daughter left to go to school we gathered the family and prayed for them. Alison added specific prayers for each person and while it may not have seemed like the kids gave it much attention, it is something they will remember. Finally, Allison, Taylor and Dana all prayed specifically for the mother while Laura and I kept little Alison occupied.
Before we left and climbed down a the rocky, slick and dusty set of stairs built into the side of the mountain (as expected, nothing built here would pass any “codes” in the US) we went to go visit Laura one last time. This time we spent almost 30 to 45 minutes with her family, took a tour of their spacious and nice house considering the area, played with bubbles with the kids and ultimately prayed for the family to draw closer to God. The mother said Little Alison prays every night! Also, that little 6 year old girl is OCD ... in a good way and she took the gifts we brought to her room and lined them up on her dresser perfectly. Little Alison is adorable and a light in that desolate rock where thousands of families live.
We headed back to the van everybody made it safely (a minor miracle considering the dangerous climb up and down to those houses ... keep in mind these kids have that climb down and up every day to go to school - That being said, we watched little Alison do it at full speed, with seemingly no regard for how unsafe the terrain is and we were in complete awe. I guess when you don’t know any better it feels normal). We made and polished off our lunch (peanut butter sandwiches) and got back to the house around 3:15 PM.
Tonight was another very special night. We visited one of the interpreters who helped us earlier in the week (Keila) at her house. The Huara family made us a delicious, fall off the bone, chicken dinner and afterwards we had a church service on their second floor with a number of people from the community. Not only was the food amazing but they celebrated Chuck and Alison’s anniversary with the best ever homemade Tres Leches cake. Which if you have not had, is a delicacy here and very delicious.
The church service was around 25 people and had a number of kids did a little song for us to start the evening. Keila’s father, who is also the pastor, led an intimate worship. Dana shared her testimony and Alison delivered an anointing sermon on renewing our old wineskins so the Holy Spirit could fill us anew with wine of the Holy Spirit. Even the interpreter was emotional as she translated the message. Alison has a powerful gift from God and her sermons are inspiring - I can see why everyone she comes in contact with down here wants her to return to their church services as soon as possible!
To end the service we laid hands on people and prayed for healings and a renewed spirit in their hearts. Stephanie actually took the guitar and played worship music while the rest of us were ministering and praying to those who came forward.
The night was very intimate as most of it including spending time with Keila’s family. It was really fun to see another authentic Peruvian house and how they use it for a church service.
While we are all tired, it is somewhat sad that tonight is our last night of serving, visiting with the people of Peru and attending church here. I knew it would go by quickly, but somehow I can’t believe the end is essentially here. Tomorrow we will be going into this main part of Lima, seeing the ocean, doing some shopping, visiting the Presidential Palace and generally being touristy for the day. It just feels kind of weird to think about shifting back into being a tourist and eventually going back to America and our “normal” lives.
While I’ve been here it’s been a refreshing week to get away from the noise of America and settle into the fabric of Peru. Seeing the people here and how happy they can be with so little gives me energy to go back home and live my life with a renewed spirit and love for God. The thing that stands out the most to me, is that everywhere we go (including the homes of those in Peru) the children run at full speed to complete strangers, for hugs, to be held, for words of encouragement and just generally for the attention that they so desperately need. I don’t know how to describe it other than it must be what God feels like when we run to him for an embrace we know we won’t get elsewhere.
It’s amazing that even the poor of Peru seem so much happier with significantly less then the poor in America. They are so generous with what they do have and grateful for every single thing, moment, hug and investment in time we have poured into them this week. I know without a shadow of a doubt, that many lives were saved this week, many people were healed, marriages restored and new faith brought to life.
I feel like I should end here, but there’s something about sitting on this bed in the men’s dorm that just feels like I’m at home. It’s almost as if I expect to wake up tomorrow eat a delicious breakfast made by Laura and continue the mission, but I know we won’t. The mission for me needs to continue when I go back to America and spend time with my friends, invest more deeply into service at my church and really live a life that glorifies the Lord. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that with God anything is possible. I’m excited for the next phase of my life, as I move through the rest of my personal fast and venture into what feels like a new skin, a new spirit, a new beginning and a life that will be forever changed by my experiences this week. I would love to someday come back to Peru and it would be a blessing to do it with this ministry. God willing, maybe even next year.
This post is sponsored by the jackhammer outside of the window at the Pats Place where we are staying. In fact, this post is sponsored by all of the jackhammers across all of Peru. 90% of all jackhammers sold in the world have to be sold in Lima, Peru. They are everywhere. Maybe this means their building up the infrastructure of the country?
Anyway, today we started with worship experience which I was in charge of because Stephanie is feeling ill. That’s a lot of pressure because Stephanie was doing a phenomenal job. I believe I ushered in the presence of the Lord before we moved into a prayer circle for each other.
We prayed for around 45 minutes to an hour as we laid hands on each other and prayed for the person in the middle of the circle, called the "hot seat!". It’s hard to describe what this is like other than to say the amount of energy and movement from God spirit was palpable. We had our morning trip to the University canceled so it was a blessing to be able to spend this time together lifting each other up and loving on each other. We have been on the run since we got here so it was really nice to have a more relaxing morning where we could pour into each other and grow closer. Doing life with these people the last few days has been amazing. I feel like I’m getting a small glimpse into what heaven will be like surrounded by believers and praising the Lord at all times. That being said, hopefully heaven has fewer speed bumps and jackhammers than Peru.
We have moved into our personal quiet time and after this we will be visiting our second orphanage of the trip. Later this evening we have another church service to attend. I really enjoy the fact that we go to church every single day. It really helps stir up the spirit of God in me in the morning during our team worship experience and we pour out the anointing at each of the churches we visit.
This one is tough. Not exactly sure what to say after our recent experience at Centro Sharma orphanage. On one hand the kids are so happy to see you and grateful for you to be there it feels like you’re a superhero when you walk through the door. The bigger kids all enjoyed hugging us and speaking what little English they knew to us. Taylor even mentioned one of the older boys asked her for her phone number. I guess he also confessed that he loved her so she out here in Peru breaking hearts. Hopefully that young man will recover once he learns she’s left this country.
Next we spent time with the babies and they were just getting ready to eat their lunch at 2:30 PM. This is where the interesting experience starts. When we showed up the entire room was crying. These kids we all under two years old at the oldest and most of them probably under the age of one. They were brought what looked to be adult sized portions of chicken, rice and beans. A few of them had to be fed by us since they could not feed themselves. Alison asked one of the workers if this was the babies only meal of the day or if they got dinner? The worker responded that this is their lunch and they would get dinner later - which we would learn was a small bowl of soup just before their bedtime at 5PM.
While we were having conversations with the workers we noticed that nearly every single child needed to have their diaper changed. In fact, I was holding one of the young girls when Taylor told me not to move because there was poop so close to my arm that if I moved it I would’ve gotten it on my arm. I had to follow Alison back to the babies room to give the child to the worker so she could change her diaper and grab her without any feces hitting my body. It was as if we didn’t show up, those kids would’ve never got a clean diaper.
Fortunately, after lunch we were able to go into the yard and play with the children. I was tackled from all angles by about five of the older children - which was hilarious but also added to ankle injury I turned on the second day. As a sidenote I also have a stye on my left eye which I’ve never had before. Peru is taking its lashes at me but I know that God is here and these are temporary bumps for His ultimate glory.
The toys that the babies were playing with were for kids much older than them. We held and loved and hugged on these babies as if they’ve never been held and loved and hugged before. You could see in their eyes that all they wanted was to feel loved, be touched and encouraged. It was a little weird because the worker was working very hard and seemingly doing a good job but I also wondered if she worked like this all the time or just because we were here with them today.
As we went to leave, we brought the babies back inside and Allison and Taylor noticed that there was a bruise on the back of one of the young girls. I was holding the little girl and we pulled her shirt up to see huge bruises in the shape of an adult handprint over her little back. Taylor and I went outside to take a picture of what looked like a an abuse situation and to have it as evidence in case we needed to use it.
It was very difficult to leave those kids after knowing that there may be some abuse at an orphanage for these children are already struggling with self-esteem issues from having no family. It was even more frustrating to hear that someone had seen Taylor and I taking the pictures and ran to the director of the orphanage to let her know. The director then told Alison that when she comes back next time that she will not be allowed to take pictures.
As I write this blog we’re still trying to decide what to do with the pictures and consulting with the woman who runs Pat’s house here (Laura)on next steps. When we arrived back at Pat’s Place I had to run upstairs to keep from breaking down in front of the whole group. Without a doubt, this was the most painful emotion I have felt while here.
Not only are those little babies orphans, but they can’t take naps (the workers make them stay awake until bed time at 5PM), eat one giant meal a day (these little ones ate like their lives depended on that meal) and are subject to abuse from those working there. I pray that Jesus shows up there to change hearts and we were able to provide at least some kind of wake up call for the Director and best of all, we provided a lot of love for those little ones.
9:41AM (the next day)
This blog post today in arrears because we did not get home last night until 1 AM. We were at the same church as our Sunday morning service and when we walked in right when the service was about to start they were 3 to 4 people in the audience. However, true the Peruvian form, by the time Chuck started his sermon the place was full. Unfortunately, Stephanie felt sick all day and did not join us at the church service and Dana stayed back as well.
Chuck’s sermon was about relentless faith and he used 3 stories from the Bible to prove that relentless faith works. He spoke of the paraplegic who was lowered down into Jesus’ home (the faith of friends healing someone), the healing of a woman who touched Jesus garments to heal her daughter (the faith of a mother healing her daughter) and then finally a woman who had been bleeding for three years and touched Jesus it was healed of her disease (the faith of a woman healing her ailment). The final story was acted out as the congregation stood around Chuck while Taylor acted as that woman who crawled through the crowd just to get a touch of Jesus so that she could be healed.
Since everyone was already standing, Chuck asked them all to come to the altar and remain standing. We then went into a time of prayer for the healing of physical pain and prayers for our hearts to be healed and wounds given over to Jesus. Chuck did a wonderful job displaying what a father’s voice and attention sounds like when you say the name of Jesus. He gave an example of when his granddaughter called his name in an unexpected situation while walking down the street in Peru and he stopped in his tracks, turned to her, smiled and asked “what do you want?”. He mentioned that Jesus does the same thing for us every time we call his name. Jesus stops to pay attention to us and we have his undivided attention. Much like Chuck wants to help give whatever his granddaughter asked for Jesus wants to give us our desires so that we can use them to glorify God. Chuck did a great job in many people raise their hands that they had received their healing.
After the service Edgar drove Chuck to the airport and we all rode along. The highlight of the evening was getting Papa John’s pizza from the airport while Chuck went through security and we waited for him. You could see Edgar (our driver) and Luis were especially excited about the pizza as they essentially sprinted towards the Papa John’s station when we got there. All in all, it was nice to see Chuck off before he got on the airplane. The rest of us are staying back for a couple of days to continue doing God’s work before we leave here on Friday night. I cannot believe we are only a day away from that. This trip has been incredible and a blessing. Part of me doesn’t want it to end anytime soon.
Side note: On the trip back to Pat’s place from the airport, it was interesting to see how many people were still out on the streets. In fact we drove by a soccer field with its lights on at 12:30 AM and two teams out there playing a match. I didn’t realize Lima, Peru was as big as it is. Luis, our translator, mentioned that Lima has 10 million people in it. If feels like we’re always in the city regardless of how long we drive which is been up to an hour or more sometimes. Peru is an amazing country that seems to never sleep.
Today started off as every day with breakfast, personal quiet time, worship experience and a devotional. I was fortunate to be giving the devotional today, and I talked about the book of Nehemiah. Specifically about staying on track and focusing on the work that God has asked you to do versus being distracted by opposition and others who are not part of God’s plan for you.
After the devotional we took the hour long bus ride to Villa La Paz. Villa La Paz is the location where children who are pre-op or post-op with cleft lips or other significant physical ailments go to get treated by Dr. Lazarra- a pediatrician from Atlanta who gave up his practice to come here and serve the poor. As an example, one beautiful little girl who is four years old fell from the second-story of her house two years ago and fractured her skull significantly. She is amazing and doing incredibly well all things considered. Being around her was a highlight of the trip for sure, and she just brought light to the room whenever anybody walked into it. Another girl in the same room was 13 years old and in a body cast from her waist down. She was reading a book about cats and I sat on the floor next to her to go over her favorite counts and just talk about the animals with her for 10 minutes or so. Since she’s a little older it seems like she gets a little less attention and I wanted to make sure that she knew that she was loved by God and all of us there.
We also got to spend time holding the babies, and it was magnificent. These little children are just so adorable and it was a pleasure to play with them hold them and help the workers who are with him every single day get a little bit of a break. Per usual, Taylor was holding all of the babies and glowing. Dana and Stephanie were also holding the babies and just thoroughly enjoying the experience. It was great to see their faces and the faces of the kids as they interacted with them. Also Chuck played catch with a young boy named Brandon and they kept referring to each other as “Chuky Loco” and “Brandon Loco” as they tossed the football back and forth. Brandon, who is 5 years old was laying back down in his crib. Brandon has brittle bone syndrome and both of his legs were in casts. However, the casts didn’t rob Brandon of the joy of playing catch with Chuck and you could tell that it brought great joy for him to see Chuck again. The football was originally intended for kids later in the trip but Brandon loved it so much, we couldn’t take it away from him so it stayed there as his gift.
After playing with the kids, we went downstairs to enjoy an authentically Peruvian lunch. Pasta with pesto sauce and a side soup and salad was the selection for lunch and it was incredible. We also took the opportunity to leave out handprints on the walls. Every person who volunteers or visits the hospital, as well as the children, put their handprints on the walls as a reminder of everyone who is been there and blast that location. It was humbling it to be a part of that hospital and what they are doing for these children.
On the way back to Pat’s place we stopped at our driver, Edgar 's house. At Edgar's house, we gave his three little boys (ages 8, 6 and 3) gifts. While Alison took Edgar’s wife to a room to talk in private, the rest of us stayed in the living room area and played with the little boys. They wanted me to lift them up towards the ceiling, play with the Mickey Mouse doll we bought for them, play with their new soccer balls (that we purchased on the way to Edgar’s), play with their new racing cars and play with their new dinosaurs and overall just roughhouse with Chuck and me. Edgar and his wife, Yumi, have a beautiful family. Chuck and Alison talked about replacing Edgar’s ten year old couch which is now worn and difficult to sit on with any comfort. Chuck and Alison have been such a blessing for this family as they also helped them build the house they live in. It’s inspiring to me to see how much Chuck and Alison care about Edgar and that he is not just their driver, he is a dear friend.
As we left Edgar’s house, Alison mentioned the kids would likely cry. However, I think we filled them with so much joy that they were still smiling ear to ear as we left and were waving goodbye to them.
As an extra note: driving around Peru is literally insane. I don’t know how they don’t crash into each other - we have seen maybe one accident in all the traveling we have done. There is what seems to be an unwritten rule that you pull into an intersection and just make sure the person driving towards you is slowing down before you go in front of them. Additionally even the places that don’t feel as poor as some other places and Peru are still very very poor. I feel like I have dust everywhere. Anytime we leave the house there’s dust and it gets into all of your clothes, in your eyes, mouth. It is so dusty here because it doesn’t rain here. The mountains are beautiful but with the lack of rain, the dust just gets everywhere.
Tonight we had an amazing church service. It is the longest service I’ve ever been to at almost 3 hours. But that is not a complaint. Tonight was a very special night. The pastor of the church was promoted and will be spending the next four years leading that church which is a significant deal here in Peru. We celebrated with songs of worship to God, watched a few special and very beautiful dances that the girls of the church put on and leaned into a short message from Alison.
Alison prepared a full sermon and Dana was going to share her testimony as well, but since we were short on time, Alison shared a powerful summary of her planned message instead. A message that focused on promotion + King David chasing after God’s heart. She spoke about how David wasn’t perfect but he was forgiven and you can be as well. She also left the group with seven questions to see if we are in the process of becoming a person after God's heart like David. It was really powerful and everyone was impacted by the message.
After Alison shared her message, Chuck asked the men to come to the front so that he could pray for them. Chuck spoke directly to the men and mentioned that it was time for them to “Rise Up” - noting that we always here “my mother prayed for me” or my “grandmother prayed for me” and he said it is time that somebody said my father prayed for me. He challenge the men to be the leaders of their homes, the prayer warriors for their women and children, and to draw closer to God for his guidance. Alison then asked the women to join the men and we all prayed for the families for healing, for growth closer to God, and for the love of Christ to flow through them and into their homes.
Next, to celebrate Pastor Caleb, a number of his closer friends and pastors shared moving stories about Pastor Caleb. While I couldn’t understand any of the Spanish they were speaking, it was evident that the words were heartfelt and really special to Caleb. At the end of the service we all sat together and had one big meal. The night lasted longer than expected; however, it was well worth it. I’m very honored to have experienced that ceremony in this awesome Peruvian church. Plus, Alison is letting us sleep in tomorrow! God is indeed good!
Monday night was very special. We spent the evening getting to know the women in Pat’s house and meeting their beautiful children. We spent some time getting to know each other better and gave the women and children gifts!! Our team was able to do something really special for the women rarely get to do- we took them to a restaurant for a delicious dinner! The restaurant had a ball pit in it and Taylor even got into the ball pit with most of the kids and since all of the balls were spilling out anyway, I took one of the balls and played with a little one year old boy named Sebastian. He is the cutest little guy you could ever find and his mom was very grateful that I engaged with him the last 20 minutes or so of our evening. One of the young ladies turned 15 on Sunday and we celebrated that birthday with her at the restaurant. We sang happy birthday, enjoyed tres leches cake and spent time playing with all of the kids! Turning 15 is a significant deal in Peru as it marks when a girl becomes a woman. We also went shopping with her to let her pick out some clothes and she was so very happy about that. These are special women and it was an honor to spend the evening with them and their children and to be a demonstration of God's amazing love for each of them!
Edgar (our bus driver) is a saint. He has not only driven us around every where we have gone, but he also managed to drive a bus with 10 women and 20 kids to and from dinner tonight. Which is something he does with a great big smile. In fact, the only time we have even been close to an accident in these crazy streets was when we had to take a taxi! Edgar and Chuck had gone to the airport to get our final piece of lost luggage. It seems like no one follows any rules of the road that I can see - they pretty much just do what they want to, but somehow most of the time they aren’t barging into each other. Red traffic lights in the area are only suggestions.
We have a great crew of people here representing Jesus and the people we have interacted with in Peru couldn’t be nicer or more welcoming. I am excited to see what tomorrow has in store. God is good.
Hello Peru! Just being next to 5 other believers to start this trip is so invigorating. Imagine eternity surrounded by believers! It will be so epic ... My name is Chris and I will be writing most of the blog this week.
Now that the sun is shining, we can really see the poverty of Peru. The kids in the house are taking great pride in mopping the floor - something we would moan and complain about they really seem to enjoy.
The house has a few really nice places to breathe God in. There is a serene porch area with a small water fountain that resembles something you might see at a resort or spa (although if placed in one of these locations it would not be “good enough” for public consumption in the states)
Breakfast has been scrambled eggs, cheese and bread. Chuck informed us to drink and eat all of the food we take on our pates because the people in the house are always watching and marvel at the “waste” when we don’t drink or eat all of what we are served.
The house we are staying in is considered very nice for this part of Peru. It is 5 stories high. The first floor houses the kitchen and gathering area with a dinning table and chairs, an area with a sofa and the back porch with a water fountain. We are staying on the 4th floor with missionary style bunks, showers and toilets. The running water is weak today; the showers weren’t working so I washed my face and other areas out of the sink.
We start each day with a team breakfast and meeting about the day. Next is a personal quiet time, group worship, devotion and then we head out to our daily activities where we show love to all the people we come in contact with. It feels a little weird for me to do that since it isn’t something I do regularly. I will pray that God opens up my heart to receive everything and everyone with open arms and a smile.
The morning worship experience today was emotional and amazing. Think about ministering TO Jesus, not just FOR Jesus.
Today we visited Hope House girls orphanage and wow. What an incredible place. There were 11 girls there. After going around in a circle and sharing their ages and how long they have been in the house (we shared our jobs, names and how many times we have been to Peru), Dana shared a fun example of making a cross and then Chuck prayed over them and told them all they were masterpieces and to give God their loneliness, abandonment, etc and trade it in for Jesus’ love. The girls then did a few songs for us and we toured the campus and their rooms- which are so nice! Two share a room with bunk beds and these girls are so beautiful - they just want to spend time with you.
We also played volleyball on their dirt court (where two colored clothes pins are moved down the net each time a point is scored) for 20 minutes and as that was going on, a few others, got the main room ready for the girls to do a free shopping spree! I carried a beautiful young girl named Fernanada up the stairs with me. What is wild is she is also the one who wrote me such a thoughtful note. They were so happy to see us and it was super tough to leave.
Also today, we visited a playground in the city and played with the neighborhood kids before joining them in a worship service. It is crazy to see them just light up when complete strangers just show up. They are so trusting and enjoy just a ball in an open area. They seemingly want for nothing. While the country all around us is very monetarily poor, these kids and adults are so grateful to just be loved on by us and Jesus.
After we got back Chuck, Taylor and I went for a walk with the hopes to find a Llama and see the city we are staying in. We saw a very cool park with a state of the art soccer field. Clearly soccer is incredibly important here. We also went to a market close by and saw all the live animals (including little chicks and guinnea pigs). This market is clearly the epicenter of the city and you can buy anything from suits to freshly dead chicken (with a few flies on them). Once we got home, I took my first shower and even tho it was quick - it felt so amazing. I forget how much of a luxury warm running water with pressure is and how refreshing is a shower after a long hot and dusty day.
Dinner was so delicious. We had rice, french fries and some kind of meat/onion/pepper melody called Lomo salted This delicious meal was so needed after a peanut butter sandwich and chip lunch. We will definitely need the energy from our food to keep serving the people of this country! I even washed all of our dishes after dinner - then I went upstairs to drop a contact list off and on the way back down, I decided now would be a good time to miss a step and sprain my right ankle - The women on this trip are so amazing and immediately helped me ice it, elevate it and applied healing oils. But the big healing would come from the prayers they rallied to. I might have gone to bed with a bum ankle, but I felt confident I would wake up with the health I needed for the next day’s mission.
November 11, 2018 - The Healing Power of Jesus Christ
I woke up today feeling very unworthy be used by God, but as soon as I came downstairs the amor of God started to surround me. The devil really does want to isolate me so he can try to get to work. I am realizing just how incredibly important it is to continue to surround myself with Christians and strengthen on each other. Also, ankle update: We are operating with a limp and about 60% health.
We will be going to 3 church services today and I am really excited for it! I am a little nervous about the one on one praying/salvation at the altar, but I also know I am anointed and God will provide the power/words for me to represent him.
Worship time with this group is my favorite. I have cried every day so far. And so have many others. To feel this close to God and my brothers and sisters is too overwhelming to not become emotionally involved. Always serve from your overflow so you don’t become empty. Make sure to fill up into that overflow before you go! The morning worship experience is a glimpse into what Heaven will be like. Leaving that moment to go into Peru is a cold reminder of the broken world we live in and amount of work still required to do for God’s kingdom here on Earth.
After the first service we went back to Pats Place (the abused women and children's shelter where we are staying). Here we gathered to eat lunch and talked about the experience from the first church service. Alison gave a very powerful message about love and over 15 people received the Lord! Also, half of the church came up for healing and prayer. It was my first time ever that the healing power of Jesus Christ flowed through me like that, and it felt weird at first but then I realized it was God working through me and a new power started flowing thru me! God used us to pray for healing for their physical ailments and encouragement for their futures. There was one mother in particular her needed healing for her stomach and requested that we pray for her daughter. After Chuck and I prayed for healing, I prayed for the little girl and just felt like God was telling me to let her know that she is beautiful and He is going to use her in an amazing way as she grows up. The energy (anointing) I felt after praying for these people was one I’ve never had and it helped me feel closer to God than I’ve ever felt in my life.
The team talked about the next service and that it would be mostly children and in the poorest of the poor places in Peru. Alison and Chuck helped build this church that is up the mountains where no one else wants to go and minister to these people.
On the ride up to the mountains it felt like we were close to the girls orphanage from the day before. In the mountains they have these lots cut out by chalk where future residents will go. And these lots are 100% rock. They are lots that in America we would never purchase or even consider. But for these people they are their future homes and where they will likely live for the rest of their lives.
We were supposed to have service in the church that Chuck and Alison helped build. However, we ended up walking around part of the mountain to find the kids next to a taxi with a speaker strapped to the top of it and one of the women talking to the kids about Jesus Christ. After the woman finished, she gave Alison the mic to speak to the children for a little bit and then Chuck shared a message with them and the adults as well. Once again it was amazing to see the joy someone can have with so little. Passing out the candy is always the highlight and you could just see the gracious and thankfulness on everyone’s face. Up in the mountains water has to be delivered and costs more money because of this. The community is gated but unlike American gated communities, these gates lead to the least desirable houses and living conditions.
As we left the mountains, I couldn’t help but wonder if what we are doing is helping or just a tease. I know Jesus is working through us and the experience these kids and adults have are amazing. I guess I just wish we could do more. While these people live in a non-fertile area the views of the mountains and the sunsets are captivating and beautiful beyond description!
Once we get home from the mountains everybody was very dusty as there are no trees or anything to keep the dust from your shoes, clothes, hair, face, etc. it just gets everywhere!!
We had another amazing dinner. And then quickly headed to the final church for the night where Dana would preach and Chris and Stephanie would give their testimonies. This church had incredible worship energy and we saw a lot of the same people on the mountain worshiping Jesus in this church. After the first warship experience the pastor introduce Chuck and Alison who gave a word of encouragement and then introduced me to give my testimony. My testimony lasted about five minutes it was the first time I’ve ever given one. It was a little tricky with the interpreter the first time, but I hope that God used me to reach at least one person in that audience. I spoke about how knowing God isn’t enough to fight the devil and that you have to obediently engage with God to put on the armor you need to fight him. When you do this God’s love also shows thru you in supernatural way.
Next, Stephanie gave her testimony and it was really awesome to hear her story and encouragement to the people in that room. Finally, Dana preached a sermon about love and returning to your first love she did a wonderful job, and I know many people in that room felt the energy that she brought. As the service concluded we asked anyone if they needed prayers for healing or specifically shoulder and back pain. At least 10 people needed some kind of healing for shoulders and back and came to the front where we prayed and saw almost every one of them healed. Additional people came up afterwards where we laid hands on them prayed and saw God heal them as well. With this being the second location, the blood of Jesus was healing people and it felt a little easier to pray for them. It is so cool to think about the same power flowing through me from God to the people who had enough faith to believe they would receive healing from the Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t know how to describe that feeling other than it is supernatural.
Right before leaving the final church service for the day, we could not find Chuck’s cell phone and searched for about 15 to 20 minutes with no luck. We ended up leaving the church service without Chuck’s phone and headed home for the evening. It was a long but amazing day and we all were tired and headed to bed almost immediately after returning home. Ankle update: about 75% health
November 12, 2018 - “Life is a mission trip”
Chuck went for a walk this AM and I stayed in the room to do a push-up routine. God also needs us to keep the physical temple our bodies in peak shape so we can be strong enough to live a life that honors Him in every way. Also, Alison had Chuck’s phone in her bag this AM so that problem found a quick resolution. She contacted the pastor from the church last night and to his utmost delight, he praised God for the news.
This morning during team worship and devotion, we had a great conversation about “denying” ourselves for God’s kingdom and glory. Chuck and Alison were open and raw with their battles and what had to die in order for God to work thru their individual pride and re-learn how to give love and respect to save their marriage. You never really know someone’s story until you let them talk and just listen. What people see is only what someone chooses to show us. When you get to peek in the doors if someone’s soul/past/present and understand that nothing is given, not even an “easy” marriage for two God fearing people. Hearing their story helps me realize who you chose to fight the devil with is of the utmost importance. Alison also said today that "life is a mission trip" and to continue to serve God like this when we return home as well. Everyday is an opportunity to minister to the lost and broken people around us.
As we head out the door, there is a spirit in the group of accomplishment and eagerness to engage deeply with the people of Peru again today. Our first stop is a school in Paradise. Because it almost never rains here and everyone is very poor, everything happens outside. There is no school “building” but more of an area with multiple levels that have classrooms.
We started at the bottom with the very little ones. These are the most adorable little kids and hugs abound everywhere. Alison noticed one child in particular looked like she was showing signs of abuse and spoke a word of God to her for healing, not just for her but for the little girls parents. Per usual, the candy is the highlight. We pass it out, give more hugs and move to the next location.
We repeat this process for 4-5 classrooms and learn what jobs the kids want when they grow up, Alison teaches them to bring Jesus into their homes, we do group hugs and pass out candy. I could get used to this ...
After visiting most of the classrooms, we head back downstairs where Alison brought a message to the mothers of the children and Dana did a cross demonstration with a piece of paper. We then passed out toothbrushes and tooth paste. Both of which were received by the adults with the same enthusiasm as as the kids who received the candy. I suppose the candy keeps the tooth brushes and paste in high demand. Again, such a simple thing we take for granted is an unheard of gift to these people. Think about that for a moment ... when was the last time getting a toothbrush made you smile from ear to ear and give someone a warm hug?
We left the school and hit a local market for items for the house - then we treated ourselves to McDonalds while Chuck went to the airport to get one bag of lost luggage.
Tonight we will be spending time with the women of Pat’s Place. We will be helping them get dolled up to take them out for dinner at a restaurant - something they rarely do. One last said it was her first time to eat out! We also will celebrate the 15th birthday of one of the girls who lives at Pat's Place. I am excited to share this experience with them and love on them and their kids! I will write more tomorrow. Stay tuned...