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...