Sunday, March 28, 2010

Final Report of Rumble in the Jungle

The Last Rumble

This morning I am finding myself packing up to leave Puerto Maldonado. This project has been one of the most impactful with regards to numbers of days versus the number of decisions for Christ. That gets me excited. Let me give you a rundown of the week since last time I wrote.
Each day was filled with constant activity. We originally asked the 40/40 missionaries working in Puerto to put together a schedule of events that would help them in their church planting efforts. They had big expectations for sure. No problem; this group of anxious young people were ready to tackle anything we threw at them.
The schedule itself was full of children’s festivals, sports events, community events, prayer events, as well as many other activities that would not be considered normal in the realm of ministry. That is what I like-Outside of normal. Let me share one of the events with you.
It was Friday morning and off to Triunfo to visit a school. Triunfo is actually a boat ride across the river in a rickety boat with only enough life jackets to keep our backpacks afloat for a few minutes. In addition to the passengers, there were other things on the boat such as bicycles and motorcycles. Not a harbor cruise for sure, but it was an exciting adventure none the less. We arrived after about 30 minutes of trying to forge upstream along the bank to get to the port. We exited the boat from a large plank of wood which was embedded in the mud. Now it was time to walk to the school.
Up the hot and dusty road we travelled. No shade! Regardless, we reached the school location and entered the yard where the administration was anxiously awaiting our arrival. Our plan was to cut and wash the students hair which was ridden with head lice. They desperately needed the help. There were about 150 students in all. We washed many a head of hair that day! In all we washed the hair, then we combed out the lice and eggs, then we managed to do about 30 haircuts, some of which actually looked pretty stylish.
Also during the day, we spent time teaching the kids about personal hygiene. In a funny little lesson about a toothless kid named Jacob, the idea was given to the kids that if they did not take care of their teeth, they might end up like Jacob who had to eat everything through a straw. It was a good story and kind of funny too. They got the message. We handed out toothbrushes afterwards and all was good. The school is letting our 40/40 missionaries teach religion classes to the kids. Our event was designed to seal the relationship with the school. They really love to have our people working with the kids. God blesses!
Another impactful thing we did was send our groups out into the red light areas of town to pray over the areas that we are trying to reach. Prostitution is a terrible problem here in this area. It was an eye opening experience for our group to realize what is taking place in our world. We did not take them into the prosti-bars, but we exposed them to the problem. I think it stirred some of them up a little. The prayer time was amazing. Sometimes as they prayed, many times within eyeshot of the bars, they could hear the noise and know the evil that was suffocating the people of this town. It is sad to see the destruction that is causes, but there is no better place to start than with prayer. The 40/40’s will continue to work these areas and over time will be able to make an impact. It will not be an easy battle, but will sure be awesome to see some people’s names added to the Book of Life. With God, all things are possible.
This morning we had a final sharing time and devotion with some music. It was a great time for the group to reflect on the experience as well as share some of their experiences. I think that many of the group was touched by any number of things. What really impressed me was the amount of people that we were able to directly impact. We counted up the attendance to our number of people at our events. It was 2800 in total. We had 26 different events. We reached all segments of the community, but were able to really reach a lot of children and youth. One area that had not been reached by our 40/40’s was the male youth crowd. We reached them this time. We played a lot of soccer and had a lot of interaction with this group. Many sore muscles and joints can account for the hours that we spent attempting to kick a little white ball through a goal. In the end, the results were fantastic. The big statistic that I want to share is that we had 279 decisions for Christ. Praise God for his willing servants! Much work was done through the efforts of this group. Lives have been changed.
It is just a few minutes until the group leaves for the airport. What an adventure it was. They will go back home exhausted and on fire for more work in the future. Thank you all for praying and supporting our mission here in Peru. It is because of you that we can accomplish these things. Keep up the good work. May God bless you abundantly!
The Englund Family

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Here is what is happening in Puerto Maldonado...Rumble in the Jungle

Here is a rundown of our project up to this point. This is a little different than normal, but it gives you more of a play by play of the project this way. I hope you enjoy. I will try to tell you a bit about each day and then if there are any special stories that need to be told, I will give it a shot. Sorry that there are no pictures. The Internet speed here really stinks.So here goes my best shot...

First day-the team arrived and they were only about an hour late getting into Puerto. The problem is that they had some problems getting into Lima which pushed back their sleep time. We had plans for them when they got to Puerto. So it was off the plane to do a quick orientation and then it was off to work. We split the group into two and one group went to promote for an event tomorrow. This included game after game of soccer with the locals in the sweltering heat. Good times though. We have some talent on the Extreme Team! I was impressed. Even without sleep. There are many more games to come. This is going to be a great week.

As for the other part of the group, they went to a new church plant area and did a kids festival complete with a whole bag of tricks. Parachutes, balls, jump rope, skits, face painting, and many other things. From the sounds of it they had a blast. This is just the first day. I wonder if we can keep up this pace. We have so much work to do, but so little time.

Signing out for now. Until next time…

OK, so it has been a couple of days now. It is now Tuesday night and wow what a journey this has been. We have been going strong since this group of willing and able bodied teenagers got off the plane. They have got to be tired. And so it goes! It is my job to make sure that all are pushed outside of their comfort zones. If they come to Peru and all they got was another day in their normal lives, I have not done what I set out to do.

So to run down the days activities-It started with an early morning breakfast, a quick meeting about the days events, and a devotional from yours truly. Shortly thereafter, we all headed to a local community where our church plant missionaries/4040’s are currently planting a church. The name of the community is 7th of June(7 de Junio). In this community, the local president of the town has given the keys to the local community hall to our missionaries to use anytime they want. This is a big blessing! So, we decided to put some paint on the walls and clean up the outside as well. It looks great. We still have some work to do, but it is a huge improvement.

After that, lunch was scarfed down so we could get ready for our Kids Festival in La Jolla while the other half of our group was preparing for another painting project /promo for Jesus Film/Making gift bags for the women’s prison.

I was part of the Kids Festival and it was huge! We had about 200 kids show up for our jam packed schedule of games, puppet shows, and other activities. It is amazing to see how these kids just show up. With just a little promotion, they come in droves. We had just shown the Magdelena Film( Jesus Film from a woman’s perspective)last night with a good crowd. There were about 100 present with about 28 people giving their lives to Christ! Amen Brothers and Sisters! That is exciting stuff!

So today we did the Kids Festival and helped draw a large crowd of kids. Our purpose in all of this is to help our 40/40’s with their church planting efforts. I think we made a solid impact with this little community of La Jolla. Praise God!

Tonight is an exciting time for us. Tonight we are going to lead two groups of our volunteers into the Red light areas to pray over the people, the prosti-bars, and ask God to prepare the way for our missionaries. This will be an eye opening experience for our volunteers. It is hard to imagine that this stuff exists in our world, but it does. Here in Puerto it is right in your face. Expect some reflection to come from this activity. If this area needs anything, it is prayer. So that is what we are going to do.

Since the group hit the ground, our days have been very long, very hot, and have included a lot of activity; the makings for a bunch of crabby people. Not this group! They are going strong. They came down with the right attitude. Thank God!

We have another full day tomorrow, but at least there is a little chance for a break in the AM. Tomorrow will be an impactful day at the women’s prison. Only the females are going to this event. The guys will be doing another Kids festival in another church plant area with a Jesus Film to follow.

Crazy thing happened today-We were painting the community building at 7 de Junio, and a lady showed up wanting to help. We quickly put a brush in her hand and let her go to work. She was working side by side with Ana, one of our 40/40’s. After a short while, Ana had discussed with the lady that Jesus was the way to real peace. She accepted Jesus into her heart right there in the middle of our dusty mess. The crazy thing is that she was from Cusco and was in town visiting her family. She told us she was bored and decided to go for a walk. She walked in front of the community building where we had a bunch of young Americans swinging machetes to cut the grass and she wondered what was going on. Her questions led her to Ana who then led her in a salvation prayer. What an amazing story of God putting people in the right place. Thank God for our 40/40 missionaries. They are so good at what they do.

So that wraps up the project to this point. I will try to write some more in a day or two. Signing off…

Sunday, March 7, 2010

more happenings in Cusco...

I was walking with my friend Juan on our way to the dining hall at the hotel, when I noticed a loud roar of rushing water. Juan was in the middle of telling me his testimony, when we both realized that there was a river flowing down the street that leads from our hotel to the main thoroughfare that runs through most of the city of Cusco.

The water had, just a few days before, washed truckloads of gravel, mud, and water into some of the homes that we walk by on a daily basis. The little shop owners have become our source for a late night snack or a refreshing bottle of water. It was a bit early for our construction crew to return, but as I saw how much water and debris was flowing down the road, I knew the bus would not be able to get to the hotel. That will teach them to work late!

What I saw were three young guys; one with a pick and two with shovels. They were frantically trying to free the swollen drainage ditch from the mud and gravel that was slowly accumulating. The drainage ditch was a gutter about 2 feet deep by 1 foot wide. This drain was designed to carry a lot of water. Well, this was more than a lot of water. Also, as the water was coming through, it was leaving tons of mud and rocks to clog the drain and reroute the water towards the dozens of houses in its growing path.

What I saw was something that stirred my heart. I saw people coming home to their endangered homes wishing there was a way to hold back the waters so that they could return to their normal lives. It was not going to happen this night.

I had no choice but to pitch in and help. I had shorts and tennis shoes on, was not ready to get cold and wet, but that really did not matter. I was able to help. Into the muddy I went. I grabbed a shovel and started clearing gravel, filling sand bags, and moving rocks. This craziness went on for about two hours.

After a while the water started to recede. And I was able to take a break and do what I started out to do; eat dinner. Praise God! This was just another story of life on the mission field.

So I have actually written this over the course of a few days. While finishing one story, I find that there are many other emerging stories. I will tell you a bit more about our time here in Cusco.

The rain and mud have somewhat subsided, but still threaten us a bit each night. This project has been an amazing experience. The volunteer group that is here is solid. They came down to change lives. That is exactly what they are doing.

We have had event after event that reaches out to either kids, women, adults, mothers, prisoners, local townspeople, and anybody else that happens to be present. Let me tell you about our festival in the market.

It was Saturday morning and we had scoped out a large market in the district of San Jeronimo. To the market we went with all of our stuff. We had two large suitcases, Rico the Cuy, a sound system, puppet stage, and many other things that needed to be carried into the market. It was quite a commotion when the locals saw the mountain of things that the Gringos were toting into the market. What was going on? With our sound system cranked up to the point of distortion, the announcements were made that we were going to have a kid’s festival. The kids started piling in, and so did the police.

I have learned the lesson that permission is harder to get than forgiveness. It works in Peru as well. The police showed up and tried to tell us that because we did not have permission, that we could not be there. No problem. Maybe the two police women could just stare into the eyes of the hundreds of kids that were waiting for the puppet show to start. Maybe they could tell them that the festival that we had just advertised was not going to happen because the proper paperwork had not been filed.

The pressure was too much. They had to let us continue or face the flogging of a bunch of disheartened children bent on seeing a puppet show and getting a cross painted on their cheeks. It was not an option. Too many eyes, too many people involved at this point, and just plain pressure. They nodded their heads in support of our work and thus we continued.

The day went on with numerous activities. The parents normally would leave their kids hanging out in the market while they sold their vegetables. This gave us a large audience of kids as well as the parents that could see the activity from their little booths in the market. In all we had about 200 kids and about 50 adults involved in our festival. The exciting part is the 40 decisions for Christ! We were able to pray and visit with numbers of people at the end of our time there in the market. It was an awesome day of ministry. It is definitely worth writing about.

This is just part of the action. We have had numerous events such as Jesus Films and plaza evangelism/prayer, as well as a memorable time for our women volunteers at the Women’s prison. They handed out toothbrushes, shampoo, soaps, lotions, and many other personal care items. They also spent time massaging hands, doing manicures, and praying with the various ladies in the prison. They also showed the Magdelena film. In all, they really impacted the prison; not just the prisoners, but the guards and administration as well. The women also had a chance to visit a single women’s home. This is a grave situation, but the mothers that are there are between the ages of 11 and 14. As you can imagine, there are some difficult stories from these young ladies; Stories of abuse, exploitation, and violence. Our ladies had a wonderful experience showering these young girls with basic care items. This was a memorable time for sure.

The construction project went very well. Despite the rain each day at 4pm, the crew was able to get a lot of things done on the building. This crew was full of hard working folks with great attitudes. The building went from a foundation too having the first floor walls and floor in, with the bond beams ready to pour. Much of the plumbing has been connected and is ready for the local work crew to continue laboring. It is exciting to see the progress.

Another memorable thing that took place on Saturday through Monday was that our group of 40/40’s that are training in Arequipa came up and joined us for a few days in Cusco. Our group of volunteers got to meet them, work beside them, and minister alongside. It was a real eye opener for the 40/40’s to see what we are doing to prepare the way for their work. There was a mutual blessing to have them on the project. They were blessed to see their future home being built, we were blessed to see the people that were going to receive the benefit of the new home. What an awesome group of young people! I think that they are going home with a new excitement about their mission. God is great!

We are winding down on our Cusco project. The volunteer group went on a tour of the Sacred Valley today. This allows for our family to take a day of rest. We will have a celebration banquet tonight and then we will be heading home tomorrow. In just over a week, we have another group coming to Peru. I cannot wait as it will be a group that is coming down to Puerto Maldonado for our Rumble in the Jungle youth project. Many of the volunteers are friend s of ours from our youth group at our home church, Karcher Nazarene in Nampa, ID. Next time I write, it will be from the jungle. Pretty exciting!

We appreciate your prayers and support. It is making it possible to change a lot of lives here in Peru. I hope all is well with all of you. May God shower you with blessings.

You are in our prayers,

The Englund Family

Friday, March 5, 2010

Its a wet project in Cusco!

The rain is relentless! We are in Cusco, which is a state in the country of Peru. Cusco City is inside the state of Cusco. Many have heard about the closure of Machu Pichu, but many are unaware of the destruction and devastation that the rains have had on this area. The streets are full of mud as the rain runoff has weakened hillsides and has caused rocks gravel and mud to enter the drainage system in the towns. The drainage systems cannot handle the quantity of water so it backs up, plugs up, and fills up the streets, alleys, and many houses inside the city.

On the outside of the city, the rivers are swollen to the point where the thousands of acres of farmland is currently being scraped clear of any crops. What is left are piles of garbage that has been washed down with the torrents of water. It is an amazing thing to see, but what I have not explained is the amount of houses and buildings that have been folded into the water. The primary construction is built with adobe. This is in itself a mud and straw type material that when in contact with large amounts of water, disintegrates and becomes part of the muddy river. Hundreds, if not thousands, of houses have been crumbled into silt and then washed out into to cornfields and roads that run along the river’s edge.

The tent city that has been set up at a local school and police station leaves one with the impression that the storm will impact the local people for a long time to come. There are hundreds of government issued shelters lined up on the hillsides along one of the main highways that lead to the south of Peru. This is only assisting the local people that live close. The problem is widespread throughout the region. What I have seen is unbelievable. It is hard to imagine the destruction.

We are in the middle of an amazing project that combines hard hitting impact and mud riddled construction. The project team that we have here at this site is really doing a fantastic job at being flexible as the forces that are against us are unfathomable. We are working with a new pastor, David, who recently answered the call to move his family to Cusco, sight unseen. What an incredible step of faith. We are committed to helping him jumpstart this tiny little congregation. Our goal is to plant 18 new churches in the next 2 years. Pastor David is excited about what is taking place.

We have had some enthralling experiences in our impact events. Prayer has been the backbone of our work here in Cusco. We have gone to 7 of the new church plant locations and have anointed them with oil and prayed over the sites. This has been a lively and successful journey for us. We have showed the Jesus film one time and had 26 people come forward and make decisions for Christ. We have 3 more Jesus Film showings scheduled. Pray that God will allow the film to be showed. The rains generally come in about 4 in the afternoon.

One story about our Jesus film that we showed last night, is that one of the local people came up and asked if we would be interested in building a church in the small community of Saylla. This gentleman has some property that he wants to donate in order to construct a church. We will see if the details can be worked out, but what a miracle. I cannot wait to see how God finishes this plan.

We have also had a few days of our bible school. Kids and parents are being reached. It is exciting to see how God uses people who do not speak the language to reach kids and parents for Christ. In all, we have had about 50 decisions for Christ and still have a long way to go. Continue to pray for us and this project. I will give you a full project update in a week or so.