We just sent off the group of short term volunteers to Machu Pichu for a little R & R as they have been hard at work over the past 11 days. We have had a wonderful project here in Cusco. Let me highlight a few of the projects activities and then give you a few stories in hopes that you will feel that you were actually here.
The group got here on a Friday morning ready to get to work. We ran everyone through an orientation where we were got to know about the local culture, church, and what we were going to be doing throughout our time here in Cusco.
Saturday was our first day of ministry. We held a soccer tournament which was coupled with a poll
ada( a chicken lunch fundraiser), a concert complete with a group of talented musicians and our very own Elvis, or better known as Pastor Elvin. The local Pastor here calls him Elvis and for some reason cannot seem to get his name right. There was also volleyball and other impact events taking place simultaneously. We had an airbrush setup where we were giving tattoos to the locals, both young and old. It was a huge hit complete with balloons and magic that would dare to dazzle any crowd.
That was what our project was like. Dazzling! We spent many hours in plazas and markets reaching people with fun. I would estimate that there were over 2000 balloons inflated during this project. They were
shaped into any number of things such as snails, swords, pistols, magic wands, dogs, monkeys, and of course the crown.
Fun was had by all as well as many worn out fingers and sunburns. It was so worth it. We left a trail of smiling faces wherever we went. Not only was it fun, but from an evangelistic standpoint, very powerful. We combined the fun during the day at strategic locations with a Jesus film in the evening. What happened was amazing. Hearts were changed. We had over 300 new decisions for Christ during this project. God is good!
One major event that took place was a medical clinic. This was managed by my lovely wife Teri, and was a huge success in bringing people into the fold of our church here in and around Cusco. We treated about 350 patients and provided medicine, vitamins, and a lot of compassion and love.
The clinic was instrumental in tying our short term volunteers into meaningful ministry. We had a handful of nurses and a doctor that created a great team.
I must say that during this project, I was emotionally grabbed by a young face that was brought before me at a state run hospital burn ward. There, a young mother carried her precious little 7 week old baby which was hardly recognizable. Its flesh was charred and its lips were burned so bad that you could not tell where they started and the other facial skin continued.
The mother who had nothing as far as resources to care for this baby, was excited to see us. However, this is just another story. We cannot fix every one of these problems by sending money or giving resources. That was what was so disturbing. We helped out how we could, but this will be a long process for this little girl. God has a plan. It just does not seem right that this little girl is suffering like this, but God, who is beyond all of my understanding, has a plan. He made her for a purpose. God has not messed up yet, and I have no reason to believe that he would start anytime soon. Understand or not, God has it under control. I am sure of that.
This group brought down a batch of talented musical artist that continued to dazzle us throughout the project. They purchased sound equipment so that they could do big concerts as well as played random music throughout our times of other impact. It was great to have them draw people in with the universal language of music. They did three main concerts, and played hundreds of songs throughout their time here. How cool is it to see that God can use our talents and skills to complete a team of His people. Again, it was no mistake that God made these guitarists and singers. They have a purpose and we found it for sure.
One other notable thing was the sense of team that this group had. They came from different parts of the US and Canada. How amazing was it to see that people, when they all have the same purpose, can accomplish great things. We had 33 people and we accomplished huge amounts of ministry. There was a construction team that worked tirelessly to get the third floor of the missionary housing and church complex to the point of being ready to put the trusses on, there was the medical team that was able to reach the physical needs of hundreds of people, and then there was the impact team that reached out into the community to change hearts for His kingdom through their numerous modes of entertainment and fun.
What a rush! This project was uplifting. Lives were changed both for the people that live here in Peru, but for those that came down to serve. That is what we are doing. We are working to expand Gods kingdom by moving people into kingdom expansion work. This group, as well as our staff, has been blessed by these people. Only a few more projects to go! Time for us to head back to Arequipa now. I sure miss my bed…