Saturday, March 26, 2011

Drama in Cusco

We have had a little bit of drama in Cusco as of late. Some of you may have heard that Emma’s little bunny Oreo had given up the ghost and went home to the little carrot field in the sky. What I am about to write is a touching story of the heart, where the precious little hearts of a couple of young missionary girls have been broken. The story is much more than that, but I will get started.

A few days ago, while my wife was in the US, the drama started. It was early in the morning when Kayle, our oldest daughter, ran upstairs to check on the bunnies. She frantically screamed, ran downstairs from the roof and began to exclaim the words, “Oreo is dead. He’s all stiff.”

Those words were not softened; just raw words like a spear into Emma’s heart (my youngest daughter). She quickly ran upstairs to check on her bunny to find, just as Kayle described, a stiff bunny, dead as can be. Emma immediately fell to her knees, both hands covering her sobbing face. It was total and utter devastation. She was crushed.

I quickly joined in and comforted my precious princess, but at that point, I am not sure there was anything that could relieve the deep hurt and pain that Emma was feeling. It also hurt me as a parent to see my little angel hurting so deeply. What was I to do?

Well, we needed to do something with the little stiff corpse of a rabbit. I cautiously asked the girls about what we should do. They suggested that we bury her. As I looked around the concrete jungle in which we are living, I saw no place that would work as a burial plot. So the wheels continued to spin. One place came to mind. It was a place that we like to go as a family to do picnics and hike around and climb around on the rocks and ruins. It is a place called The Temple of the Moon.

With a stiff bunny in a plastic grocery bag, where everyone can see that we were carrying a dead bunny, we hailed a taxi and up to the Temple of the Moon we went. This area is a pretty location with lots of green grass and a wonderful view of the valley. What a great place to lie to rest a precious little bunny.

Many of you know my little Emma. She hardly ever chooses the simple way. Typically it is the opposite of what you want. With that being said, she decided that she wanted to bury her little Oreo in the middle of some farmer’s field on the route to the Temple of the Moon. I did my best to influence her to choose a different spot as I was sure that tilling up poor Oreo each time the farmer came by with his implements, would be a tough place to lay and rest for eternity. She conceded and we continued down the path which led us to the Temple of the Moon. We ascended the huge granite rock structure via trail. It was right there in the middle of the trial that Emma wanted to lay her bunny to rest: Right in the middle of the trail where thousands of feet have trampled and packed down the dirt to create a sort of concrete walkway. Yep, this is where Emma wanted to bury her sweet Oreo. Impossible, but her desire none the less.

Once again, I danced around the issue of burying the bunny on the impermeable hard pack path. I suggested everything easy. Emma was not about to do easy. It was an eternity, or so it seemed, until we were able to agree on another spot. It was here that the final resting place for Oreo was to be.

It was a small crag in the rock, just wide enough to insert a stiff bunny. So I did the honors. I placed the little critter in the crack, with a bit of force to make sure she was down far enough. Then I asked the girls to gather rocks with which we piled over the top of the grave. Job complete!

Just as we finished the grave, my oldest, Kayle, asked, “Dad, can I say a few words?”

It was right out of an old cowboy movie. Of course I would let her say a few words. As I stood behind my little ladies, I found myself holding back tears and utter gut busting belly laugh. It was the cutest thing one could imagine; my two daughters standing side by side; Big sister holding hands and comforting her little sister. Dad standing behind, tears in his eyes, feeling the pain of his hurting daughters. It was emotional for sure.

Kayle proceeded to say a few words. As she spoke to her sister’s bunny as if Oreo was a person standing in front of us, she began pointing out some accomplishments of Oreo’s life. “Oreo, you were a great bunny. You brought so much joy to our family. We loved you so much…” on an on it went. With each statement, I melted down bit by bit. It was a moment to capture.

The service continued, with the final statements from Kayle. It was beautiful to watch her saying such wonderful words about Oreo while reaching over to put her arm around her grieving sister’s waist. Then it was on to the closing prayer. The three of us gathered in a group hug type of formation. I called on God to heal the broken hearts of my daughters, to help us focus on the good that Oreo had brought to our lives, and for mommy to get back soon.

After the “amens” were said, it was over. The closure had taken place. The girls were ready to get on with the day. It was a relief, but it was not an easy day.

Something incredible happened shortly thereafter. It was something that had been brewing inside my oldest princess Kayle. She told me she had an idea. I was not sure what that might entail, probably something about McDonalds and ice cream. I asked her to elaborate. It was at that moment that one of my proudest Daddy moments came to pass.

She timidly spoke up and asked, “ Dad, can I give Cookie(Kayle’s bunny) to Emma? She can have her completely. She really needs a bunny right now.”

In a matter of seconds my daughter brought me to a point where I could hardly stand the emotions that had started stirring inside my proud father’s heart. What is this kind of daughter which blesses me so? It was pure unselfishness, unlike so many things that surround our lives. Pure love! Pure sacrifice. It was a moment that I will not soon forget. Gotta love em!

It was that event that made me reflect on the love and sacrifice that God has for each of us. He was willing to give His son in place of our sins and our death. Kayle was willing to let her beloved bunny go to repair the damage of the lost and beloved Oreo. How simple a story: how powerful a message. It is just like God to use a silly story of a dead bunny to stir us up in a way that helps us ponder His greatness and His great sacrifice. Don’t take those little stories for granted. When you get a chance, say a prayer for my little Emma.

Friday, March 25, 2011

She Was a He!

So it was a rainy night in Cusco as I anxiously awaited the morning. Each Tuesday, a few of my comrades and I trek up to a small community that sits in the mountains just outside of Cusco to join some of the local kids in a friendly game of soccer. This time, something really strange happened.

Normally, the day starts out with us joining our Peruvian lead from Project CORASON and a couple of other volunteers at the common bus stop at the bottom of the hill. From there, we negotiate a taxi to take us up the muddy rock filled road to the pueblo of Huilkarpay. It is a small community of wonderful people. They are mostly involved with agriculture, whether to sell, or to use for their own family or some combination of both.

We arrive, exit the car, compile our things, and then head up the main and only road through town to gather up the kids that are available for a time of connection. The girls do crafts, color, paint, and play a number of things with the female volunteers. They guys, well, we always play soccer-only soccer. That is what young boys in Peru are all about, soccer.

As we were heading up the road to gather the kids, we arrived to the last home in the town. There lives my little buddy Jason. This is a rambunctious young kid with some sort of blood disorder. Not sure what it is, but they almost lost him a few months back. He seems fine, but his history is always in the back of my mind. Jason has a couple of siblings. This is where the story begins.

During the previous week, as we were rounding up the kids, Liz, our Peruvian leader, was visiting with this particular family, and they asked her to check out one of their children as this child had an infection on the childs cheeks and chin. It was very painful and this child was miserable.

While Liz was checking it out, I suggested we take a picture and try to find out if we could get one of the missionary doctors to figure out the diagnosis. So Liz took a picture.

Fast forward to this morning. We arrived the same way: A taxi full of people. We walked up the road to round up kids. We ended up at the final house, and there we ran across this same little child. However, this time, the child was looking great. The infection had cleared up and there was a smile to go along with the cute little face.

The little face was a child by the name of Antaurio. I never caught on that he was a she. In fact, the father had asked if I would be the padrino of the boy. This is an honorable proposition: not to be taken lightly. Part of my responsibility as a padrino is to cut the boys hair. Now to put it into perspective, I am a father of two beautiful daughters, both with long hair. This father asked me to cut his little ones hair. I was scared. What was he thinking? He has a beautiful little girl with long black hair. She is just darling. I couldn’t cut the hair of this beautiful princess.

As I continued with my interaction, I was invited to join them next week in a special meal complete with a token guinea pig. I do not know what I am getting into, but I am sure it will be worthy of another blogpost.

So as we headed back to the soccer field, I continued in my fallible ways as I kept interacting with this little kid as if he was a girl. Princess this, princess that. Finally, Jason, Antaurio’s older brother lifts his little stubby finger, and while waiving it from side to side, said in a stern voice, “no es princessa, es varon!”-Translation-He is not a princess, he is a boy!

So there I was feeling totally inadequate. I am supposed to be a padrino. I do not even know the gender of my godchild. What an experience! I guess the moral of this story is, the only assumption that is for sure is the assumption that as long as one continues to assume, there is a high probability that those assumptions will eventually be wrong. Be careful not to assume too much!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Are there gun laws in Peru?

Today, I was able to bring back a tacit of my childhood. It was a thing that has etched its way into the adventuresome side of my life. A simple toy: A long piece of wood, craftily shaped into a pistol with a clothes pin to hold a rubber band stretched to capacity. A rubber band gun!

A simple thing, but one that holds a lot of fond memories of my dad sneaking through the house in a stealth like stalk walk trying to find the enemy(me and my brother) who just happened to be lurking behind the couch that was flipped over to make a barrier in the living room. For years, rubber band gun wars in the Englund household had held a deep and special place in the hearts of many of my friends and certainly myself. Some of you that are reading this will know what I mean.

It was just the other day that I was able to pick up an old friend of mine that has recently joined us here in our ministry for a few weeks. He arrived at the airport and it has been nonstop since. One of our projects was to take the boys from Project CORASON, an afterschool program for underprivileged kids, and help them with a wood project. It was a beautiful memory of those silly rubber band wars that came into my mind as we were trying to figure out what to do with these boys.

So off to the hardware store we went. We got the supplies all lined up, made a beautiful example for the boys to see and get them excited, and then it was all over. The first day, Wednesday, our task was to get the guns cut out, sanded and get the clothes pins glued on the handle. We returned on Friday to finish off the deed.

Friday was the day for decorating and customizing our guns. The Peruvian kids are quite creative. They filed designs in their handles, painted with various colors, and used markers to name their pistolas. It was a great experience to help these youngsters build something with their hands as well as provide them a fun and enjoyable toy that will last a long time.

My buddy Chris and I were blessed to be able to do this two day project with these kids. We were able to interact with them, help them do something with their hands, and then, when it was all done, have a huge battle. What more could we ask for?

The experiences on the mission field are filled with a variety of adventures, activities, disappointments and challenges. It is exactly what God wants to use to stretch us and mold us into what He wants for our lives.

Our family wants to ask that you continue to keep us in prayer for a couple of key items. Please pray for our family. Teri is in the US for a few more days as we have recently lost a dear friend to cancer. Pray that Teri will have safe travel and be able to return without any problems. Also, pray for me and the girls as we are missing the cornerstone of our family.

Please pray for our 5 volunteers from Idaho, as they are still working through language school, various projects of volunteerism, and just maintaining their spiritual wellbeing.

Our ministry is going great right now. The cafe is growing really fast. This is great, but also causes a number of staffing constraints. We are in need of more volunteers. If any of you are interested in joining us for a couple of weeks up to a couple of years, please pray that God would guide you. Please also pray for the viability of the café and its effect on the local missions that we support.

We are also looking for a café manager; someone that could commit to a long term (2 or more years) mission here in Cusco. Preferably a business minded person with a desire for missions. A family or a single person. This would be a wonderful opportunity for an individual right out of college, or someone wanting to gain experience in international business/tourism/food service. Please pray that we would find someone soon in order to free up my time to start additional missional enterprises

That pretty much sums it up for the moment. We are blessed each and every day as God provides everything we need through his people. If you would like to join us in our ministry by blessing us with a financial gift, it would be so much appreciated. One time donations and or monthly are both needed. You can connect via the following link or by contacting Commission to Every Nation at (800) 872-5404, or by sending a check(include”the Englund family” on the memo line) to CTEN-PO Box 291307 Kerrville, TX 78029-1307 :

http://tinyurl.com/cuscoscott

On another note, if anyone of you are interested in having some great Peruvian coffee, we are sending a an order back to the US. The suggested donation per bag(1.1 pounds) is $20. This is 100% Arabica grown in the high altitude region of Quillabamba. It is the same coffee we use in The Meeting Place Café. Shoot me an email if you are interested and we can work out the details.

Blessings on all of you!

Scott Englund