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