Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Poco a Poco

Poco a Poco
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,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gearing Up for Puerto Maldonado Projects

It has been an amazing last few days. Our team here has been blessed to have Sheli Gartman come and do a workshop with our group. She specializes in bringing people together and showing them their value to a team. Wow! It was just what we needed.

In an environment where Satan is using every tactic to destroy our esteem, Sheli was able to sit us down and remind us of the reason that we are all here. God did not accidentally put all the miracles together that allowed each and every one of us to be here in Peru. HE has a purpose for each of us. We have heard this message thousands of times over the course of our lives, but how easy it is to forget as Satan is constantly distracting us.

I am not much on the emotional string pulling of such conferences, but I must say that this was exactly what our team needed. I have gone through many of these types of sessions in the past, and have never walked away with such a WOW factor as this. There were many tears, hugs, spoken words that have been held back for way too long, and an overwhelming sense of God’s presence for sure. In the end, our team became equipped to tackle the rest of our enormous schedule that is laid before us.

Here are some pics of a team building exercise after the conference-Daring to drink Frog Juice-Way to take one for the team.

The conference was held at the Larry and Addie Garman Missionary Training Facility in Arequipa. Just to remind you, this is the building that was built during our last two projects here in Arequipa. There are a few more things to do for absolute completion, but it is being used and was a blessing to have good meeting space. What a miracle that has been!

On the project side of things, I must tell you all about our upcoming projects that we have in Puerto Maldonado. Our PM1 project starts at the end of this week. It is a small group of professionals that are equipped to serve with their talents and knowledge to get a large portion of the missionary housing facility completed. We have a full schedule of work and ministry planned out for them. They will surely make a difference in that community. We have 4 of our staff heading up this project. Dennis and Denise Linnell as well as Brad and Michelle Hunt will be running this one. They have been preparing for this for many weeks and now is the time to begin. They are heading out today in advance of the short term volunteer group so that they can be ready for the group to arrive on Friday AM. There will be a few more of us that will be supporting the leadership effort, but this group is ready to handle the task. Please keep the Linnell’s and the Hunt’s in your prayers as they will be up to their ears in work. Pray that God will cause a stir in the hearts of those volunteers coming down. Our goal is to help others mobilize into full time Kingdom expansion work. These projects are designed to help foster this.

About a week and a half after PM1, the second PM project will begin. During that project, there will be completion of the missionary housing, as well as a large amount of impact within the community. There are still a lot of details that need to be worked out with the local pastor and leadership on the specifics, but it is going to be big. I love being involved in big things!

Our 40/40 missionaries are neck deep in learning Spanish, getting to know each other, and trying to gain a better perspective on this culture. It is so exciting to see them developing such strong friendships. These are the types of bonds that will last a lifetime. It is so imperative that they connect personally. It will help them as they dive into the enormous task of planting 120 new churches. By the way, our first group of 40/40’s will be joining us on the PM2 project as they will be finished with their training. They are finishing up their process and are all chomping at the bit to get to work. They are anxious to start the work that God has put before them. All of our impact will be assisted and directed by these ambitious young missionaries. I get all excited just thinking about it!

On a personal note, we have had some house guests over the past few days. Teri’s Mom and two little brothers (not so little anymore) have been here taking in the sites and helping us to take a few days away from the office. It has been exciting to run around and see different parts of the area that we have not been able to see up to this point.

Machu Pichu was amazing. Not much sleep, but we got it done. Many of you have seen pictures, and I can assure you that they do it very little justice. It is beautiful. God knows how to amaze us, no doubt!

They will be heading back to the US at the end of the week. It has been good for our family to have family around. We miss the togetherness that comes from parents, siblings, and other relatives. I sure don’t take that for granted anymore. Please keep our family in your prayers as we tackle these next two projects. They are very stressful and taxing on us. Our kids are doing better in school, although it is not easy. Little by little we are making progress. It sure is sweet to listen to my little princesses talking in Spanish. Talk about warming a Daddy’s heart!

I cannot tell you how wonderful of an experience this is. Living here, working to enhance God’s kingdom, making friendships with other committed people, and tackling such a huge project are all part of this life that we are living. Your partnership in our ministry here has been such a blessing to us. We are able to live without having to work in a secular environment to support our ministry. We feel your prayers. We are constantly reminded and confirmed through the miracles that God provides on a daily basis. I wish I could write a description of the feelings I have in my heart for the gratitude I have for those of you that are supporting our work here in Peru. Thank you! Know that God is here making this all work out for His good.

We love you!

The Englund Family