Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Hello and Greetings from Peru:
We would like to wish all of you a wonderful and blessed Christmas and New Year. This past year has been full of amazing adventures, good times, difficult situations, as well as many other events that have given us an experience of a lifetime. We want to extend a deep heartfelt thank you to all of you that have been supporting us throughout this past year with your prayer and financial support.
We look forward to another year of craziness. Our ministry has been very successful in our attempts to reach people. We have our first set of 40/40 missionaries on the ground going a hundred miles an hour trying to plant their first churches. It is exciting to hear of their daily stories. God is at work in Puerto Maldonado for sure.
Our second group of 40/40 missionaries is in Iquitos Peru right now training for their church planting work that will begin in June of 2010. In February, the next batch of 40/40 missionaries is arriving in Arequipa for their language school. There is a lot of stuff taking place here. This project is enormous and will have an eternal impact on thousands of people.
You have probably been getting our updates. We trust that you feel part of what is going on here on the bottom half of the planet. Know that with your support of financial resources as well as continual prayer, you are allowing the ball to keep rolling. We could not be here without you. If you are not currently a financial partner with us, please consider our ministry if you would like to invest in what we are doing. If interested, give us a call at 208-850-1851 or please contact Crowne One Network to sign up as a financial partner. We would be honored to have you join with us in our ministry.
The info for Crowne One Network is below:
Idaho : (208) 287.2494
New Clients: (Toll Free): (800) 733.3186
Client Service: (Toll Free): (800) 733.4862
Customer Service email: Service@CrowneOne.com
Mailing: P.O. Box 9285 Boise, ID 83707
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
On December 2nd, there was a big day in Peru for a sweet little 10 year old girl. Kayle had her long awaited for birthday in which she could get her ears pierced. What an exciting day that was. It went something like this; we started with the ear piercing. It was a not so sophisticated way of plunging a steel rod through the cartilage of a sweet innocent little princess’s ears. However, it was what she wanted. She was given all the options, and this was the best one. She endured like a 100 pound woman giving birth to a 10 pound baby (Teri says that is not the case, but I can only imagine). Without tears and only a few squeals, the ears were finished and oh how beautiful!
The next thing was to get Kayle all fancied up for a special date with Daddy. Off to the dress shop. There she picked out the most dashing and elegant of all the dresses. It was beautiful!
Then it was off to the shoe store to find just the right shoes to match the fancy dress. After many options and different stores, we found the right ones.
At this point, she was ready to take on the world! She was a princess in all senses of the word. It was now time for a fancy dinner date with Daddy. So, it was off to the restaurant I had in mind. It was closed. That was just my luck. However, that led us to the second option, which was by far better than the first. It was a first class dining experience that neither of us will forget. Not only was the service fantastic, but the time with Kayle was just what the two of us needed. The waiters (yeah there was a whole crew of them just for us) found out that it was Kayle’s birthday and they put together a special dessert and song for her. Birthdays are big in Peru. They were going to give her a taste of their culture. So with an unrehearsed rendition of Feliz Cumpleaños, they put another smile on her precious face. And the dessert they gave her was worth writing home about.
So after the dinner and dessert, we went and had ice cream at our favorite place. We don’t know the name, but we both knew where it was at. It was there that we ended our evening. What a wonderful birthday for Kayle and for me, well, it was as if I was king for a day to be able to escort such a sweet princess around town. A treat for us both!
Another thing that has recently happened is that Teri and I were asked to be Padrinos for a young couple who recently got married here in Arequipa. Padrinos are not something that is a North American thing. It is somewhat of a lifelong life/marriage mentors/friends. David and Susanna have grown to be good friends. Susanna is the daughter of our pastor. David is a music teacher at Kayle and Emma’s school. We had an interesting time trying to figure out where to stand in the procession at the wedding as well as figure out what our responsibilities include. We made it through. What an honor! It makes us feel like we are connecting with the local people.
We had a wonderful American Thanksgiving dinner at our house. We invited the entire office; Peruvians and Americans. It was a wonderful time of fellowship with food and friends. Hard to beat that. We even went around the table and shared things that we were thankful for. It is pretty easy to come up with things to be thankful for. God is Good!
Stitches for Kayle
We had an incident with Kayle trying to walk on a roof of glass roofing tiles. It was sort of a challenge with her sister I think. They use glass for roofing materials in some applications here in Peru. Kayle and Emma were climbing around on the glass. Of course, Emma had no problems as she has a lot less weight on her bones. Not that Kayle is very heavy, but apparently heavy enough to break through. She sliced her foot up and had to have stitches. She is fine now, but it was a painful learning experience.
School is out!!!
With regards to Kayle and Emma, they are finishing their first year of school next week. It is exciting to see them finish and have a break from the education system they have here. One thing to note it that they have passed up Mom and Dad on their Spanish. Nothing delights a father more than to listen to them chatting with their Peruvian friends in a foreign language. What a blessing that they have endured the tough part.
10,000 guinea pigs
One interesting thing I have been doing these past few days is trying to negotiate the price of 10,000 guinea pigs (cuyes). I am having quite a time trying to decide between buying an existing farm, renting and existing farm, buying the cuyes ready to cook, buying them ready to butcher, or just banging my head against the wall till I forget what I am trying to do. It is exciting to be at this critical point in our planning, but it is a bit stressful as the total bill for the cuyes is about 37K US dollars. I have to make sure the price is as good as we can get. Keep us in your prayers as we will soon have to figure out how in the world we are going to cook all of these in a short period of time. Based on our research, we will need about 500 people to cook these little rodents. That will be another project altogether.
I just got back from Iquitos. We have a project coming up in January where we are going to have a number of medical clinics and impact/evangelism events spanning across 13 days in the jungle. This will be an awesome project. Much of the ground work has been set up. We are finishing the final touches on this as it will be here before we know it.
Final Message from the Englund’s
We have been blessed to be able to serve here in Peru for the past year. What an adventure! This has been a life altering experience that we will not soon forget. We will be spending our first Christmas outside of the US. We look forward to the change, but will miss our family and friends back in the US. God bless all of you! We pray that you are overwhelmed with the fullness of God’s joy. There is plenty of it to be had. Grab a little, smile a lot, and know that you choose to make it great.
In His care,
The Englund Family
Sunday, November 8, 2009
After a nice 22 hour bus ride which included all seasons in their extremes, we arrived back home with bloodshot eyes and sore hineys. I hope I can soon forget the pains of the bus ride. It could be worse, although I am not so sure how.
I have been very antsy to get my fingers pecking away at what I think to be some extraordinary stories of the jungle. The problem I have is where to start. I guess a general overview is in order to wet your whistle, and then I will give you a few of the specific stories. Hang in there- The stories at the end are pretty amazing!
Our project in Puerto Maldonado officially started on Friday the 23rd. The group exited the airplane to find that the weather was a bit different than the cool temps when they boarded. They were in the jungle. Humidity that would make a cotton ball ooze with moisture and temperature hot enough to make your cat want to jump into the pool, they got off the plane and gathered luggage. While it was a relatively easy process, we only had a few items that got held up in customs. We got those taken care of and got everyone settled into the beautiful 5 star accommodations. Too bad they were falling stars! The hotel was functional, but left a lot to be desired. There are not a lot of options in Puerto. In fact, there are only a few hotels that even have AC. This was not one of them. It wasn’t so bad as long as the fans were on, but the nightly power outages would really set one back as the sweat made it difficult to sleep.
The building project was a major part of the job at Puerto. In fact, the amount of work to be done was way more than this group could possibly get done considering the time, energy, and resource constraints that were in place. Being on the field for almost a year, I have learned that surprises are not that easy to come by anymore. This crew put out more work than was ever possible. They worked themselves into the ground trying to get the building to a point where the 40/40 missionaries would be able to move in on the night of our inauguration, the 3rd of November.
They got it done! The missionary housing was ready, although not totally tested. There were a couple of items that needed to be fixed to be 100% functional, but it was livable. Praise God for willing and committed people that were able to grind themselves into the ground with immense amounts of physical labor in spite of the sweltering heat and humidity. These guys were troopers. Thanks go to the Bethel, MacNaz, Lompoc, OroNaz, Emmett, and Creswell churches. Bless you guys!
As far as the impact goes, this is where the stories begin. During our impact events, we were able to reach numerous kids,
parents, prostitutes, concert goers, athletes, and many others. We held English classes taught by two of our long term volunteers, Leanne and Alyssa. We had a day of prison ministry to the local women’s prison. We had a door to door ministry where the testimonies of some of our volunteers were used to reach people in the community. We ministered to a local school by painting their kitchen facilities and running a faith based art contest.
We held a community wide sports tournament. We reached another school with a drama presentation. We had a big concert in the main plaza in Puerto. Then there
was the day of fasting and prayer followed up with a healing service in which the community was invited. During the fast, we annointed the new church plant communities by pouring oil and praying over each of the areas. We showed the Jesus film, and held kids events. Then to top it all off, we had an inauguration service at the end of everything and invited the whole community. There was no shortage of things to do while in Puerto. What was so exciting to see was the results. The English classes were well received and had over 30 people in some of the classes. We held two kids festivals in two separate locations. Each drew solid crowds of 75-80 people each. Both events also yielded great results. We had a combined total of new decisions for Christ at 55 during these two events. That was just the beginning.
One of the evenings, we sent out a small group to a number of the brothel/bars. Their goal was to just connect with some of the prostitutes and invite them to a small intimate time of sharing during the next day. They handed out all of our invitations within just a short time. I think most of our group thought it would be a futile effort. I sure did. In fact, we made a backup plan in case none of the ladies showed up to the event. I was wrong. We had 3 ladies and a baby show up the next day. It was a miracle! We gave them bibles and shared Gods love with them. Although I was not present, I heard the stories and was blown away at the results.
We were also able to do a hard hitting skit inside one of the local schools. We thought that the best case scenario would be to do our skit to a couple of the classes of 30 or so students. When we arrived we were in
for something else. Pastor Freddy grabbed me by the arm and said “I need your help!” So I went with him. He walked me through a courtyard of about 800 students. He pulled me up on the stage and proceeded to introduce me. Then he did what I was hoping that he would not do: he handed me the microphone. I stood there trying to figure out what to say. In English it would have been easy. In Spanish, it was a different story. I caught a little bit of whit and whipped out a few funny things in my messed up Spanish. They enjoyed a good laugh at my expense, but they got the message. We gave them a flawless performance of a wordless skit. We combined that with a salvation message from Pastor Freddy and a number of kids made decisions for Christ right there on the spot. Pastor Freddy had a bunch of us write down contact info so that our missionaries can follow up with a discipleship program and tie these young people and their families into one of our new church plants. We had many of the students and faculty participate in another one of our events which was a very encouraging. This was a public school in case you all were wondering.
Another one of our events was a community wide soccer/volleyball tournament. It was set up as a tournament that would evolve into a concert and evangelism event. However, with the Peruvian culture the way it is, we changed midstream and turned the one event into two. The tournament went really well. We had 17 teams sign up. The prizes were great and the competition was fierce. Great times were had by all. There were a good 200 people present.
As far as the concert part, this is a long story. The concert was changed to the main square in the city. That was a blessing! However, there was a very large gap in the planning of the main event. Our event was going to join the existing event. However, they forgot to order a sound system. We had one, but it was not large enough for the venue. We made it work by the grace of God. The concert portion of the event was put on by the local
Christian pastors. However, it was our sound system, so we took full advantage of that. We did our tournament prize ceremony, had our band play some songs, then at the end, we put another promo piece together that announced our inauguration of our new church and missionary facility. In the end, the 5000 people that showed up thought it was the Nazarene church that put on the event. We got our money’s worth on that one. It also included another incident with Freddy handing me the microphone in front of a large crowd and asking me to say a few words. I gotta stay away from that guy when he gets a microphone in his hands. That is some scary stuff! Did I forget to mention that during the salvation message 300-400 people came forward? It was a great night of God guided work that could have only been made successful by His grace. And it was on Halloween night! How about that?
Now for the big story. It was a day of planned kids festivals and Jesus Film in an area called Guacamayo(sounds kind of like guacamole). This event turned out nothing like we had planned, but again we are not the ones in charge. God had this whole thing figured out, little did we know.
After about an hour and a half bus ride out to the gold mining area of Guacamayo, we came to a spot in the road that was crowded with the bustling of a number of people, motorcycles, chainsaws, fires, and filthy malnourished dogs running rampant around the area. What was it? We were all asking the question. It was an area where gold had been discovered just a few weeks before we arrived. In fact, the trail had not been cut all the way. The town was beginning to take shape as the new businesses were moving in to support the new industry.
The trail was being built, which would allow more supplies, people, and services to inhabit the area and provide a place to support the miners.
Our information about the new community was that most of them lived in another area just down the road at KM marker 104 and the area called Lamal. We knew, because one of our guides was very knowledgeable about the area and the industry. She described how the miners would take a break at a certain time of the day. We needed to be ready to give the message at the time when they were taking a break. Otherwise, we would be wasting our time. So off the bus we went, down a nasty path riddled with logs, puddles, elephant sized mosquitoes, and mud that would peel your boots off if you stepped into it. It should have been a good clue when Laura, our guide, suggested that we all buy rubber boots at the market before we left. How bad could it possibly be? Well, it was not an easy place to keep your new kicks clean; that is for sure. We trounced through the jungle trial with the speed of a disabled turtle only to find ourselves piling up in the middle of a clear cut piece of jungle. Why there? Well that is where the fun began.
Our group of white Americans as well as a few of our Peruvian counterparts, were stopped on the trail by a number of machete toting locals that were concerned with us being there. Why would they care that we were there? It became known to us that the whole community was being developed illegally. The people that were there did not own the land nor were they supposed to be mining, cutting jungle, or participating in commercial activity. They were squatters that were raping and pillaging the resources that were on the ground of the government. Not an above board operation to say the least. They were concerned that we were sent by the government to pose as missionaries to gather information about the activity and to take pictures of the illegal people that were working there. As we continued to take pictures, they continued to get more and more skiddish. They demanded that we put our cameras away and would not let us through. They asked for our credentials, of which we had very little to show; Just an Extreme Nazarene name badge from one of our volunteers. As they asked Pastor Freddy for his credentials, he quickly seized the opportunity. He asked if anyone had a bible. He raised up the bible, and in his sarcastically funny way said to the skeptical crowd, “here are my credentials!”
Then with the courage that can only come from God above, he fired off a salvation message that captured many hearts and made believers out of many. There was a crowd of about 40 people, and by the end of the ordeal, the angels in heaven were rejoicing for the 9 new believers who made a decision in the center of a clear cut in the middle of the Amazon jungle on the outskirts of nowhere. What an amazing thing to watch unfold. The machetes were a bit intimidating, the crowd never let us pass, and the lack of shade made it tough to enjoy. Nonetheless, it was an ordeal worth talking about.
Well, it ain’t over! We turned back towards the bus and hiked back out wondering how God could have put this plan together. It was not planned from our end, but it worked out better than any of us could have imagined.
We got back to the bus much earlier than planned. So instead of calling it a day, we decided that we were going to hit another area just up the road. It was an area called Lamal. This place scared me just by listening to the description from our guide. She described the place as a town of about 800-1000 people. She also pointed out that the town had 56 prostibars(brothels). Do the math. That isn’t a good place to raise a family. It is a terrible old west town straight out of a Hollywood movie. This is the wild west that we have all learned about in US history classes. We headed towards this God forsaken place in a hot and airless bus in the sweltering heat.
Low and behold, there was a swimming hole on the main road. With hardly any arm twisting at all, the group was influenced to stop for a few minutes to enjoy the crocodile infested waters. And enjoy we did. It was a refreshing treat. The crocs only come out at night, or so we were told. Everybody was accounted for after we loaded the bus. The crocs didn’t bother us.
Down the road we went a few more miles to KM 104. This is where we would get off the bus and start our hike to Lamal. We reached the location, piled out of the bus, dispersed all of our equipment, and began the second jungle adventure of the day. There were a couple items that we were able to strap to a motorcycle and have Rosa, Pastor Freddy’s wife, take to the final destination. The rest of us, loaded with many pounds of gear, trudged down the single track trail through the jungle to the little community of Lamal. We arrived about an hour and a half later with wet sticky clothes, bug bites, and crippling hunger pains . We ate lunch at a marginal restaurant while plans were made as to where we were going to set up our Jesus Film.
Just like everything else throughout the week, changes were inevitable. We had agreed on the location and started promoting to the neighborhood. The setup crew had about ¾ of the screen set up when Pastor Freddy shows up and says, “we gotta move!”
No surprise to me. That is how the whole week had been. Told one thing and something else would happen. It builds character, or at least I am trying to believe that. So off to another location we went. The new location was, and I’ll admit, a much better place. It was in the heart of the little city. We set up our film screen in front of two brothels. Now this was not hard to do as we could set up anywhere in the town and would most likely be in front of a brothel or two. The miracle of that ordeal is that there was a mix up with the original Jesus Film screen and it got left back at the office in Arequipa. We were able to purchase a piece of regular canvas so that we could at least show the film on the one side of the canvas. The other screen allowed us to show the movie on both sides, but because of cost, we could not get the material for a two sided screen. One side would have to work.
God worked out the screen for us. Not only for us, but for the prostitutes that were watching the movie from the back of the screen. It worked on both sides. They watched the whole thing! Sight and sound for the ladies on the front porch of the prostibar! Praise God, they got the message.
There were a couple of other things that I need to point out. The generator died during the middle of the film. Gas was the issue. No worries for Pastor Freddy. When the movie stopped, he jumped up and started the first part of a salvation message. By the time he was finished we had the generator back up and running, the movie cued up to the life of Christ right before they hung Him on the cross, and the crowd of 140 people ready for the end of the movie. When the movie ended, Pastor Elvin jumped in and closed the deal on those hearts that were ready to surrender. In the end, we had 44 more names written down in the book of life. It could not have been planned that way. It could not have been any more perfect. It was only Gods presence in the middle of Lamal. What else can I say?
Well to finish off the evening, we needed to get out of town. Lamal is a lawless, wild beast that comes alive after dark. It was time to leave. We gathered our things as fast as we could, gathered all the necessary info from the new believers, rounded up enough motos to carry our group, and we readied to head out. It was 1 ½ hours by foot. Not a safe bet for our group. Motos was a better option. However, we had many that had never sat on a motorcycle let alone one in which they were going with two other people on board; the driver and another passenger. In addition they had to carry out the stuff that was brought in. No easy job for a short term volunteer that actually paid money to do this.
We all loaded up in an ordeal that must have mimicked pit row at a NASCAR event. Bikes coming in, people hopping on and racing away into the unknown darkness of the jungle single track trail that awaited our people, and the rumble of an awaking evil beast of a city were all happening simultaneously in the main square.
We all managed to board our motos with all things accounted for. It was then a mad dash for the bus which was patiently waiting for us at KM104; just a treacherous, uncomfortable, and downright crazy run through the jungle and nothing less.
Everyone got out. No wrecks. No incidence; Just a bunch of transformed lives and a great story to tell. I cannot wait to see what will happen to those people that made decisions that night. Our 40/40 church plant missionaries will be following up on the leads. God is good! Where He guides, He provides!
I am running a bit long here, but I wanted to share some of the adventures so that you know what is going on down here. It is exciting to be part of this. There is much more where that came from. The stories are piling up. If you want to be part of some of these stories, come down and join us. We are trying to fill up our projects right now. If you have any interest in what is taking place down here and want to join us on one of our projects, please let me know. I would love to share some of it with you.
We continue our thanks for those of you that are praying for us and supporting us with finances. We know that God is protecting us as is evidenced by the story above. Know that you are in our prayers as well. We cannot do this without you. May God richly bless you and your lives in every possible way.
If you are getting this message without pictures or video, please sign up as a blog follower at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be able to see pictures that pertain to our projects here in Peru. Another option is to use Facebook. Just add Teri or I as a Facebook friend and you will be able to see our full blog post.
I hope you enjoy the stories. God bless you all!
In His hands,
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Once again the speed of life has begun to wreak havoc on the amounts of sleep that I am able to obtain each night. With our next project coming up this week, our entire team is feeling the crunch of making sure the details are done. It is exciting, but also can be very tiresome. God does have everything under control and I cannot wait to see the outcome of our next project in Puerto Maldonado. As the group from the US arrives in Peru on Thursday, our family will be traveling by bus to the remote jungle city location. Along with a handful of others from our group, we will be partaking in an epic adventure. This adventure is nothing less than a bus ride through the mountains and jungle of Peru. The road is riddled with all sorts of unknowns. Mostly unknowns for us, but this will be our first type of bus ride of this sort. The girls, or at least the children, are excited. Teri for some reason has not bought off on the idea that this will be an fun adventure. There is supposedly a bathroom on the bus! To me, I am wondering if the trip will be 15 hours or 24+ hours. Depending on which Peruvian you ask, the trip could be a piece of cake, or it could be your last. Hopefully when they used the terminology about being the last, it was in reference to the comfort of the bus being so bad that I would not ever do it again. The other alternative is worse, so I’ll opt for life and discomfort. Like I said, it will be an adventure. Please pray for us as we are planning at the moment to return via the same bus. Hopefully it won’t be so bad and we can endure two journeys, to and fro.
These pictures are from our first project just a few weeks ago.We will be finishing up a housing building that is designed to house our 40/40 missionary pairs as well as the missionary support family. In addition, there will be work to complete the church building as well. On November 3rd, the people are moving in. We had better get it finished.
As far as impact goes, there are a ton of things going on. Just yesterday, we were working on some plans to do a big push into one of the darkest and most evil places in the area. The name is Lamal. It sits about 2 hours drive out of the small city of Puerto Maldonado. I have yet to visit, but it sounds like there is a little spot in the road that they drop you off at, and then you have to walk for about 20 minutes to get to the town. There is a little moto trail, but not big enough for anything but a motorcycle. Well this town apparently h
as 56 prostitute bars. That may seem like a lot, but if you consider the population of the town to be at about 1000 people, it really puts it into perspective how terrible this place is. We are excited to do some work there and possibly plant a church. The pastor is excited about it and so are the church people.
With this project, there are some very special people coming down. First of all, my parents are making the journey to Puerto. I cannot wait to see them. We are taking our entire family for a couple of reasons, but one is to spend more time with the folks and give our daughters the opportunity to see G
randma and Grandpa. The other is that I have promised that I would take Kayle and Emma to the jungle. I can’t wait until they see a real live monkey. Better yet, maybe we can eat one. That would make it a real adventure. Either way, the folks and the kids are sure to have a good time. My wife, well that might be a different story. I think she will like it. However, it is up to her. Not sure which way she will go on this one. Someone please pray for Teri! She is a tough woman and I am sure she will survive; I just want her to have a good time as well.
Some other people that are coming to Puerto Maldonado are the Moen family. Jerry and Debbie are old friends of ours from my younger days as a youth in the Oroville Nazarene Church. Jerry was our youth pastor for a number of years. In fact, he took me on my first mission trip. He planted seeds in me that after a couple of decades started to sprout and now I am a full time missionary in Peru. How amazing is that?
The other thing about Jerry Moen is that he was the pastor the conducted our wedding. Jerry has always held a place in our hearts as he was a great example of Christian living. He was never one that made Christianity boring. I gotta love examples like that. It is partly his fault that I like to have so much fun. I learned it from
my old youth pastor!
Here is a picture of our old youth group on a trip to Yosemite! Good times with Jerry!
The other people that are going to be there are the Smith family and the 40/40 missionaries that left Arequipa about 6 months ago. We have had contact with them while they have been in their intense training in Iquitos, but it will be great to see them in person.
So there you have a quick rundown of what’s coming. If you want to keep track of the project, check into our website as we will have updates with pics and possibly video of the things that are taking place. Just go to www.extremenazarene.org and there you will find all sorts of good stuff. I gotta get packing so I better sign off.
Love you guys,
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I just got back from the jungle city of Puerto Maldonado. Now that is a different world than most of us are used to! We are in the middle of our first Puerto Construction Project. This project is focused on construction and will only have a small amount of impact and evangelism. The goal for this project is to get the building to a point where the second team coming will be able to have it ready for our 40/40 missionaries(Andrew, Callie, Olivia, and Wendy) and their support family(the Smiths) to move into on the 3rd of November. How exciting it is to see the progress that is being made. Things are happening in the jungle folks! I was able to help greet the group in Lima and help escort them to the site in the Puerto. Then the work began.
Those guys are some hard working fellows. During the first day of work, there were numerous buckets of concrete poured, blocks laid, rebar tied for columns, holes dug, mountains of dirt moved, as well as many a drop of sweat hit the heavy clay soil. At the end of the first work day, the crew realized that they were too anxious to get working and all forgot to pace themselves. They were ready for a day off. Good thing the first work day was Saturday! They had a Sabbath to recuperate. In fact they did. Monday, they were off to work, going like mad.
In the Jungle, there are some crazy weather patterns. It can be 100 degrees one second, then cloud up and rain and get cool all in the same day. We experienced the heat at first, then on Tuesday, the rain came and proved to us that we were merely mortal sun worshippers. Everybody piled into the tool shed to wait out the two hour shower only to return to the stickiest clay based mud you could ever imagine. I managed to walk around the job site and added a good inch or two to my height. This mud is crazy! I got used to it quickly. You must, or you might lose your sanity. It sticks to everything.
I left the project in the capable hands of Dennis Linnell of Alaska as I needed to head back to prepare for our next project. Dennis had already started the process of connecting with the crew on a deep level of love and encouragement. They were having a blast, getting a lot accomplished, and all the while, serving the Lord with their strengths and talents. What an opportunity.
I first must tell you about one of the stories that I was able to extract from my short time at Puerto Maldonado. After our Saturday Night service, Brian Tibbs and Martin from Creswell Oregon, were going to go into one of the many prostitution areas of town. Brian wanted to show these guys how rampant this problem really was. They went in search of a willing girl to interview. It is a powerful experience and rather humbling experience to sit face to face with one of these ladies. They all seem to have similar stories about how they came into the business. It is shocking, appalling, and most disturbing to say the least.
During the interview with a young lady, there was a commotion that began to take place. The national police showed up at the Prosti-Bar and started going through the numbers of people. What were they doing? They were looking for illegal workers and immigrants that might have come from Brazil or other areas. The problem was that there were a couple of white guys, one of which did not have any ID on him. Poor Martin! I bet his heart was racing like it was the last lap of a long race. They asked for ID and of course, he could not produce it. Brian and Martin proceeded to tell the story that they were just "pastors.”
That went about as far as a boat with no water. They continued to work on the police until they finally either started to believe them, or just felt sorry for their pitiful story. In either case, they ended up getting out of there with an amazing story of a young lady that had only been two days on the job. She had just started down a brutal path of abuse and self neglect, trashing the riches that God had blessed her with at birth. It is not a very uplifting feeling to know that this town is riddled with red, blue, and green lights which represent some of the darkest areas I have ever encountered. It is hard to understand. It is even more difficult to figure out how to tackle the problem. God is good! I have confidence that God will provide us a way to reach this area and transform a few more.
So there is a rundown of what is happening right now. There is no shortage of stories. I wish I had the time and the fingers to write them all. For now, just know that God is using our ministry to transform people, poco a poco(little by little)!
In the middle of the battle in good hands,