Wednesday, July 29, 2009

One project down...many more to go!


Here is the story!
To recap that last two weeks in one phrase, I would have to say that the first Arequipa project was a huge success with 175 decisions for Christ, hundreds of seeds planted and contacts made, tons of fun had by all, the most rockin concert that the Peruvian Nazarene Church has ever seen, nobody got lost, injuries were minimal, and people had a great experience! Wow, what a crazy last 2 weeks! We made it through our first short term project. Only a dozen or so left to go!
Not sure where I should start, so I will just go chronologically. We started on the 16th with our group arriving in Lima. They spent the night there and then flew the next AM to Arequipa on two separate flights. Everyone arrived on time and with puffy eyes. Travelin’ ain’t for sissies! We got everyone registered, orientated, and checked into their rooms at Santa Luisa. Nicest digs one could imagine for a mission project. We were not looking for comfort, but we got a really nice facility at a price that fit within the budget.
The first day of stuff really started out with a bang. The construction guys began working on the Larry and Addie Garman Missionary Training Facility and church location for the district center church of the Nazarene. A job that was way too big for the time and crew that was to be working on it.
While the construction crew was working on building the building, the impact crew was busy working on changing people lives. Groups were separated into a couple of locations. Each group had a bag of tricks that was to be used in the communities in which the local church leadership wanted us to work. We connected with hundreds of kids with promotion, face painting, puppets, parachutes, jump ropes, games, music, and a bunch of crazy white faces willing to join in the fun. During our fun, the message was clearly brought forth by way of color coded bracelets which represent biblical principles or by way of the Evangicube. Both modes seemed to stir the hearts of people in a way that I could not understand without actually seeing it for myself. Praise God! What an exciting time to see people change their hearts and grab onto the true promises of the Bible.
The day before the group arrived, the government made a strong recommendation to discontinue all public gatherings. In fact, schools were all closed, many people roamed the streets with masks on, and the threat of a mandatory ban on all public gatherings was lingering in the air. One of our days in a location called Hunter, the local city government, really jumped in to make our time there really productive. Not sure why, but they were very helpful. In fact, one of the employees escorted us throughout the area to help with promotion. Not only did she help with promotion, but they provided us with the use of their civic auditorium, free of charge. So, during our promotion, the police stopped and began conversing with our city guide. For me, I thought this was the end of our day. I just kept my head down so as not to make eye contact with the police. I was the leader of the group and the one with the best Spanish abilities. Sure enough, I heard my name called. I looked up and the guide was waving me over to talk with the police. Oh great! This is not going to be fun!
Well, I heard something from the police that I never expected. In fact, I was so sure that I must not have heard it correctly that I had it repeated. They wanted to put our whole group, including Rico into the back of the police truck. Rico is the mascot guinea pig that represents our Love Extreme Event in 2010(check out the pics on the website) They wanted us all to get into the back of the truck. Was this a good idea! Heck yeah! They wanted to drive us throughout the neighborhood with sirens blaring so as to help us with our promotion. How bout that? Sirens blaring, Rico waving at the people walking by, and an 11 year old Peruvian girl on the megaphone letting the neighborhood know that there is a Festival of Life taking place in the municipal auditorium were all items that were taking place while in the back of the truck. I do believe in miracles!
That day we had a number of people that made decision for Christ. What an exciting time! We had 150 people show up to participate in our event. How could it get better? Well the city decided to provide drinks and snacks for our event. Nobody asked, they just did it. Yeah, I do believe in miracles! On top of all that, the municipality of Hunter decreed that they would mandate the recommendation by the federal government to ban all public gatherings of more than 10 people because of the swine flu. So, on that note, we could not do our afternoon event. So we stayed in the auditorium for a couple of extra hours. What a miracle that turned out to be!
Day after day, lives were transformed. We had events in the other municipalities in spite of the strong recommendation by the government. Our events took place in parks, middle of streets, on soccer fields, and anywhere else we could set up our event. The local pastors were amazed at how we were able to provide them a crowd in such short order. They absolutely loved it.
Another event that was, for me, the highlight of the project, was the concert that we put on at one of our local churches. Our goal was to draw the nightclub crowd to our event. Not an easy task, but we had a good plan. The church is surrounded by night clubs. Each night there are hundreds that pour into the clubs. We concocted a plan to have an enticing event taking place in the new Nazarene Discotec(a sanctuary transformed into a nightclub for a night-complete with video projection, smoke, and sound sensored lighting). We promoted the event by sending groups of our volunteers into the club areas during the few days before the concert as well as hitting the streets for the few hours before the concert began. We also served free drinks and snacks(unlike the other clubs). We had a lot more people than the clubs which generated a lot of buzz around the area, and then to top it all off, we had a bigger sound system than any of the clubs. We turned it up with a group of 5 solid Christian bands to peal the paint off the walls of the church. It was complete with a Nazarene style mosh pit, rowdy youth clapping and singing, some older adults in the back shaking their heads, and a short Peruvian pastor grinning ear to ear because he could see hands go up when the salvation message was presented. Not an easy crowd to reach, but we reached em!
I have so many stories to tell you about this first project. It would take me pages upon pages to tell you of all the miracles God worked for us in order to minister to this city of Arequipa. Just know that God is at work here in south Peru. Our next group arrives in 7 days. That is exciting, but also creates a lot of stress and pressure. Our team really came together to make this a fantastic event. I am surrounded by some amazing people. We put it all together in just a short time. Complete with government mandates to shut down the schools, which is where the majority of our planned activities were going to take place, location changes while on the bus to the planned location, and typical cultural things that made it nearly impossible to execute any of the planned events. We were able to flex with the changes and present the Gospel to hundreds of people throughout the project. Many lives were changed. Praise God!
For more info and photos of this project, please check out our project website at www.extremenazarene.org/arequipa0
I want to thank those of you that are continually praying for our family, our other volunteers, our projects, and for the success of Extreme Peru. It is definitely needed! Many objects have been thrown into our paths. Thank God for His grace and love.
I cannot wait to give you the next update. I trust that there will be more lives changed. Until next time….Hasta Luego!
Scott Englund

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Batter up!!!






Well, here it is, the night before our first of many groups arrive. It has been a crazy last few days, but I have a peace that can only be divine. With so much on my mind, I am wondering why I am not more stressed out. That is not to say that life is not stressful right about now. I am confident that we are doing exactly what God wants us to be doing. There are so many confirmations! I just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know that we are ready to begin. I like to use baseball analogies so here please try to understand what I am saying.
We have done our warm ups, the national anthem has just finished. We are now waiting for the first pitch to cross the plate. In the morning, we have about 35 anxious, willing, tired, and foreign people arriving in Peru. Many have never stepped outside of the US. Many have never been on a mission project. Many have no idea what they are getting themselves into. With that being said, I am excited about their arrival. God has chosen them to build His kingdom. What better thing to do with your time than to give it away to help those that need it more than you. God bless the short term missionaries.
We have a lot of innings to play. Some will be filled with lots of action; Home runs, strike outs, base hits, double plays, triple plays, errors, as well as some amazing plays. We are ready for this game. Its batter up- better be prayed up! I am confident that our team is going to knock it out of the park. We have assembled the best team in the league. What an honor it is to lead such a group of talented people.
So, I would like to provide you with a little bit of info about what is taking place down here. Many of you are praying for us. We can feel your prayers. Satan has shot many arrows at us. There is nothing better than taking what seems to be impossibility, and turning it into something better than what we originally planned. God is so good!
I want to ask for your continued prayer. We are all under an immense amount of pressure. People are investing thousands of dollars to come and serve. We have the responsibility to make this a good experience for them as well as make a positive difference in the Church here in Peru. Please pray specifically for our team. There are a handful of dedicated and spirited people that are ready to serve like no other. Satan is not making it easy. Please pray for energy, clarity of mind in decisions, safety of all involved, effectiveness in our ministry, logistics to go smoothly, and that every participant has the time of their life. I am confident that our project will lift up the name of Christ. I just want to do it as good as we possibly can. Please pray for us during the next two weeks. Then after that we have another 11 months of projects, one right after another. We need all the support that is available.
Know that you are appreciated. You are a vital part of this ministry. Without the support of every partner on this team, the game will not be won. We are sincerely thankful for your prayers and financial support. I better get myself to bed so that I can be ready for the game tomorrow.
Have a blessed night!
Scott Englund
The pictures above were taken over the past few days from our mapping crew that is out documenting some of the areas in which we are going to be working in the next few months...These are pictures of the jungle city of Iquitos. The first pic is a bit ironic-Notice the land for sale sign in the bottom right hand corner. Not what I would call a nice beachfront lot...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Calm Before the Storm

I would say this is the calm before the storm, but it ain’t that calm! During the past few weeks the pace here in Arequipa has sped up to something like the feeling of a drag racer when they punch the gas pedal. The green light is on for sure. For the next 12 months, there will be an enormous amount of planning and execution. Our team is doing great. The productivity level has increased and people are really stepping up and taking care of business. It is really exciting to see how our team is working together to accomplish huge things.
I figured I better get this communication to you now, as our first group of short term volunteers will be arriving in one week. My time constraints are becoming more and more apparent.
A couple of very interesting things have happened that make for entertaining literature. The first is a run down of our mapping team. We have a couple of young men that are tackling a huge project for us here in Peru. Their job is to go to go to each of the 120 church plant communities and shoot video, take photos, conduct interviews, and gather information. Due to the nature of the areas that these communities are located, there are a number of obstacles that stand between them and the communities. For one, there is a jungle out there. In order to get to the jungle, they had to endure road blocks because of protesters, numerous hours waiting for the busses to become available, people with guns jumping on the bus in the middle of the night, the bus leaving the mappers and a bundle of other passengers on the side of the road during the nightlong bus ride, as well as some other crazy stuff. All of that seems pretty crazy until I tell you the rest of the story.
Their plan was to bus to Lima to get around the protest near Cusco. They arrived there on a day when a huge riot broke out in Lima. This caused a little bit of stress, but they were OK with it. They jumped on a bus the next morning to go to Pucallpa. I think it was about a 23 hour bus ride. No worries! It was a reputable bus company…During the ride, they were awakened in the wee hours of the morning by a couple of “armed security guards.” The mappers quickly noticed that the other passengers were giving money to the guards, so they joined in the action. Not a good feeling right about this point. However, after it happened the second time, they started getting used to the protocol with the “security guards.”
The bus ride was not over! Somewhere on the journey, the bus pulled over in what looked to be a random spot in the road. It was pitch black outside with only the lights of the bus present. The masculine group of passengers that needed to relieve the pressure within their urinary tracts quickly deboarded the bus. While our mappers were joining the local Peruvians in this seemingly normal ritual, the bus took off. The other passengers seemed fine with the bus leaving, but it created a little anxiety with our mappers, to say the least. With a sigh of relief, the bus quickly returned with a full tank of fuel. Missing an announcement seems like a simple little problem, however, in the middle of a foreign country, that problem compounded to a good sized dilemma.
They finally made it to their destination. They got their job done in Pucallpa and readied themselves for a journey by boat up to Iquitos. No more than just a couple days is what “the guy” said.
The boat was scheduled to leave at a disclosed time. However, the captain said that the boat would leave as soon as it was all loaded up. That meant that the mappers needed to spend the night on the boat so that if it got loaded during the night, it would not leave them stranded. So the boat adventure began.
Each night on the river, the boat had to moor on the edge of the water where the jungle foliage, mud, and humid atmosphere created a breeding ground for every type of bloodsucking insect and creepy crawly things. The nights were long and miserable and not much sleep was had by the boys. They endured their hardships and finally got to Iquitos several days after the expected arrival date.
The fun really began there. I had asked the boys to film a special section of town where a potential project will be located. The area is a place called Belen. It is an entire community above the water which is built on stilts anchored in the mud below. The people live there because they are so poor that they cannot afford to buy ground, so they essentially grab their own piece of the river and build a shanty stilted house that sits just above the water line. This area is riddled with disease as well as thievery of every sort.
While Ryan was fulfilling his job duties, he was quickly caught off guard by a young Peruvian man running by on a full sprint, only to snatch the fancy video device from his hands. With camera rolling, the culprit sprinted through the mud riddled area leaping over canoes and creeks, trash and people trying to establish a safe distance between him and the young irritated and adrenalin filled college kid that wanted his camera back. Well, that never happened. As soon as the camera was gone, based on eye witness testimony and video to prove it, the two boys tore off after the thief. Yard after yard they pursued. In a short chase, the thief was run down by none other than a couple of gringos who had a lot of valuable footage on that camera that they really did not want to lose. I could have possibly meant enduring another one of those horrible 5 day boat rides. The thief was cornered with no place to go. He was outwitted! So, like any good criminal, he just handed the camera back to the boys and went home. A miracle if you ask me. The great thing about it is that the whole thing was on camera. Granted, not the best videography, but something that will not soon be forgotten. Please keep the Mappers in your prayers as they have only just begun. They have a lot more communities to visit.
Enough with the literary accounts of the mappers, lets talk about the project. Last Sunday night, I had the opportunity to go to a 2 year anniversary of the Huacshapata Church of the Nazarene. It is a mission daughter church of Umacolllo Nazarene. Only 2 years ago, they started working in the area. No contacts, no other churches, and a passion as big as Texas. Well, two years later, the other night, there were 95 people that showed up for the evening service. It was unbelievable to see how that church has blossomed into what it is today. What a celebration! That is exactly what is going to happen with our 120 new church plants. I cannot wait to see what they look like after 2 years. That will surely create some emotions. That is what many of you have partnered with us to do! Thank you for your faithfulness.




Our first group of volunteers is coming in a week! We are doing a lot of last minute details to make sure we are ready. I am not sure if ready will ever get here, but we will be as close as we can.
The Englund family is doing well. We had a holiday on Monday and two days off for strikes that shut down the schools. Would I be a bad parent if I said it was a good thing for my kids to have a break from school? Well I was happy about it and so were the girls. They are back at it today. We are adjusting well. Life is good, God is better! Please pray for us as these projects start. Our lives are going to be so hectic.
Please pray for the projects that they go smoothly. Pray for safe travels for the volunteers as well as our staff on the ground. Please pray for the families that have ditched their lives in the US to volunteer with us here in Peru. Please pray for our 40/40 missionaries that are currently going through training right now. Please pray for the next batch of 40/40’s that are arriving next month. Please pray for the impact that we might have on the areas in which we are working. Please continue to pray for our mega event in June of 2010. Thank God for the blessings that we have received. We have had two motorcycles donated and about 2/3 of the last one that we needed. We are now trying to figure out how God is going to pull off coming up with 10,000 guinea pigs so that we can set a world record. I am anxious to see how He will provide. We have also just purchased a piece of property for our cluster support housing in Cusco. The price was very affordable. Praise God for his provisions.
We want to extend our sincere thanks for all of you that are supporting our family and projects. Thank you for partnering in this ministry. You are a blessing!

Standing on the promises,
The Englund Family