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

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