Monday, August 22, 2011

Too Busy Being a Missionary to Pray!

One thing for sure, this missionary stuff is not as easy as it sounded in the beginning. I have never been so busy in my life! Missionary work is draining. In fact, sometimes I think I am too busy to stop and take time to pray. I know it sounds crazy, but I bet I am not the only one that is reading this that has felt the same way. It is not a good place to be. Needless to say, we are tired! I want to be honest with you all, so that you know how to pray for us. I am including a specific prayer request list in order that you can specifically ask God to place His hands on our ministry and everything that surrounds it. Our family is doing fine. We have just been feeling the burden of long hours and high pressure from all the angles that Satan wants to highlight for us. I am asking for your petitions. The last thing God needs is another burned out missionary. Please join us in lifting up our family and mission.

Our spiritual health-there are a lot of pressures that we have never experienced before (Why should I pray and read my bible, I am a missionary! Satan tries to make us believe that our lives are enough devotion and why bother with God-A terrible lie!)

Our business mission-I love what I do! The problem is that it takes too much of me. There is an ideal balance that needs to be met between ministry and family and personal. Pray that I can find that balance (I am too busy being a missionary to pray!).

Financial-because of the nature of our ministry, there is an additional pressure of making sure that the business is profitable. Like a CEO keeping tabs on his company’s stock price, I am constantly working to make sure we make a profit at The Meeting Place. If we don’t, the monies that we live on need to cover the expenses. Because we are faith based missionaries, we are reliant upon the faithfulness of our support team to provide for our family expenses. As we have been on the field for a while now, and have not returned to specifically raise more support, we have seen a drop in our overall support. These items all put together, create a large amount of pressure for us. We know God will provide. Please pray and ask God if He would have you join our support team. You may already be supporting our family. Give thanks to Him that you have the financial blessing to be able to do so.
This is an area that Satan can use to discourage us and wear us down.

Our Residency process-We are currently trying to process our residency paperwork for our family. There are a number of items at work, but they all seem to be going nowhere. We are currently exploring another option in hopes to get our residency status up to date. This process is costly, and takes a lot of time and will require travel back and forth to Lima. This is a 24 hour bus journey, which leaves an already understaffed café ministry. The other option is flight. The cost is about $220 per person and for our family of four, to go back and forth a few times gets expensive. Pray that God will work out all the details.

Volunteer help-We are currently talking to a number of folks that are considering coming down to join our ministry. They all seem to be waiting on the Lord to make it happen. Pray that people would step forward and help these families and individuals financially so they would be able to join us. This would relieve much stress and pressure on our current team and family.

Future business missions-As other families join us and begin to take over the operation of the Café, this will allow me to start additional businesses. We currently have the next business ready to start. It is an adventure tourism company that will operate in Southern Peru. This business is designed to provide a higher profit margin, while using much less time. In other words it will be much more efficient than the restaurant business. Ideally, more profit for less work, which allows me that balance of family/work/ministry that I believe God wants me to get in line. The business model is in place. The funds need to be raised. Please pray for volunteers as well as the initial capital to start this new ministry. With more profits coming in we will be able to expand our support to local projects in the area.

Transportation-We have been using taxis and busses for the past year since we moved to Cusco. While it is functional, it often creates issues with not being able to do certain things. Each Tuesday, a group of 5-8 people go to a small village outside of Cusco to minister and work with the children and youth in the town. The cost of the taxi is high. Often, we can only fit 4-5 in a taxi and need to pay for two taxis. The cost is high because we are going to the outskirts of nowhere. The Taxi cannot get a fare to return, so we essential are paying for his return as well. When we are done, we walk back to town. The walk is not the problem (although after playing soccer for a couple of hours with the young boys, the walk back to town is often grueling), it is the time. It is about a 3 mile walk. With kids, it takes a long time to get back. This is just one instance, but having reliable transportation would be a huge blessing to the ministry, and would make us more efficient with our precious time. Pray that we would be able to afford and find a good vehicle that will meet our needs.

Culture-Being here in Cusco has opened our eyes to a number of things. One, the culture and environment of business is one of the most frustrating things. To me, it seems really inefficient, corrupt, and full of discrimination of class, gender, and race. These items coupled with the fact that this is our second culture, we are still trying to understand why things are the way they are. I am not here to change it all, but there are some things that even the locals cannot stand. This creates a difficult and frustrating place to operate a business/mission as well as just live. Please pray that we can have patience and meekness to be able to deal with the differences in culture.

These are the main items. We constantly have little things that need prayer. I know that many of you have been praying and seeking God’s will for our lives and ministry. We truly appreciate your faithfulness. Many of you are also supporting us financially. We cannot thank you enough for giving our family the opportunity to serve in this capacity. Our lives have been changed and our eyes have been opened to a whole new side of the world. Thank you dearly!

Know that we pray for you supporters as part of our team. We would not be here if it were not for the dozens of people that are partnered with our family. Thank you again!

We are looking forward in great anticipation to the answered prayers and petitions. Blessings on all of you!

The Englund Family

Monday, August 8, 2011

It's Good to be Blessed!

Sometimes when things happen that we perceive to be bad, we often are so blinded by the negative aspects of the occurrence that we fail to enjoy the benefits of the event. For instance, the other day, we had an event take place at The Meeting Place Café, our ministry here in Cusco. We are forever fighting with the municipality about signage and what is allowed and what is not allowed. All the shop owners in our plaza have to contend with the municipality on a daily basis. Also, our plaza is riddled with street vendors who are not licensed to sell their wares. That rarely stops them. What happens is that the vendors have their paintings in portable leather cases that they can carry. For the rest of us, we gamble. We lean our white board signs on the outside by the entrance. It gives the potential customer a little bit of info about our business. It mentions that we have amazing waffles, organic coffee, free wifi, and that our profits go to support local projects. It is a vital part of our business.

And so, the municipalidad, armed with a number of foot soldiers, came running through the plaza tearing down all the unattached signs that were not in compliance with the flexible code in which the most intellectual man would struggle to understand.

They grab and run. Like thieves in the night…

As I entered this lovely game of cat and mouse, I chose to have 3 of these signs made. I knew the municipalidad would have their way with me, so I have additional signs to replace the ones that they take.

The crazy thing is, just this morning, a couple of local ladies poked into the café to tell me that my sign had been taken by the municipalidad. With a little bit of frustration, and no surprise, I smiled and told them I have more where that came from. They laughed, but I was serious. You see, the signs cost about 20 soles each, the equivalent of about 8 US dollars. It cost me 35 soles to get my sign back from the municipalidad.(that is mostly bribe money, so I am told). If I start paying to get my signs back, the problem will only get worse as I become a cash cow for the person who grabs the signs. So, my signs are considered disposable.

As I was licking my wounds and brewing on the fact that the municipalidad was faster than I , into the café walked a group of four people. They sat down and we proceeded to serve them a whopping breakfast consisting of piles of bananas and chocolate which were smothering their enormous Belgian waffles. While they were enjoying their calorie filled platters, they heard some commotion outside.

It was another attack from the municipalidad. Thank goodness this time they did not get my sign. The clients asked what was going on and I proceeded to tell them about the municipalidad taking our sign that morning. They laughed and began telling me their side of the story.

They were walking up the hill looking for a place to eat and they happened to see our sign in the back of the municipalidad truck. The little bit about the waffles caught their eyes and thus, they searched for The Meeting Place and quickly found us.

Shortly thereafter, we had another group of two join us as well. A similar story! They saw the police running with the sign towards the truck. They were able to read the name on the sign and decided that they were going to eat at a place without a sign. We were the one they chose.

When things happen, they happen! They are just events…We are the ones that choose to make them good or bad. So, a total of 6 customers, $50 of sales, loss of a $8 sign, and a great story to tell! What a wonderful thing to have our sign taken. It’s good to be blessed!