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

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