Presbyterian Missions Weblog


Peru #5 – Between the Mountains and the Sea

Posted in Peru by lenpine on July 14, 2008

Well, we were able to catch an earlier flight, and so left Iquitos on Tuesday evening instead of Wednesday morning. Good thing, since we heard that the roads in Iquitos were closed as of midnight last night in an attempt to prevent violence from occurring in the area, and we would have had a very difficult time getting to or into the airport this morning. As our airplane descended into Lima, we could see the orange street lights stretching out in front of us like a huge carpet. Lima is a city of about 10 million people packed between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes. Stepping out into the evening air from the airplane was a terrific feeling – the coolness of the ocean breezes refreshed us after the heat of the jungle, though Roldan was cold and put on a jacket! Our taxi driver had to stop to ask for directions a few times to get us to our destination, but we finally arrived at the home of our host for the next 24 hours, Rev. Daniel Cueva. He is the pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church here, in the Callao province, La Perla district of the city. He and his family live in apartments above church.  

In the providence of God, the Cuevas had another visitor last night as well, a police officer who is a friend of Daniel’s. This man is spiritually tender and searching for peace with God. It happened that he was here from an outlying area, staying with the Cueva’s, as he took part in the police efforts to control the strike situation! Roldan spoke at length with him about faith, the Word, the gospel, and he took it all in very thoughtfully. No accidents with God – if we had come to Lima this morning as originally planned, we would have missed this man.

We also talked with him about the strike, and we now understand that the leftists plan to target only certain areas with their activities, and that the general flow of life here will be uninterrupted (unlike in Iquitos, which is much smaller, of course). It was as if the Lord sent us this man to assure us that we need not fear what men can do, and that the Lord’s work will not be hindered by the rage of men however misdirected. We’re even going to take a bus over to Roldan’s house here later today, so that I can meet his wife and other family members, and see a bit more of the city.

I’ll also be talking at length with Daniel today about his ministry here, and together explore how the Lord will lead in any future work or relationship together. In the little time that I have known him, he strikes me as a fervent and warm-hearted man. He and his young family are a delight. If nothing else, my own life and ministry are blessed for their entrance into my circle of friends and co-laborers. I trust that I shall be the same to them.

It’s official – I have a cold. Not a great way to start off a Team Timothy ministry, but I trust the Lord’s timing to accomplish his purposes. I’d sure appreciate your prayers that it wouldn’t last long, or keep me down. So far it hasn’t wiped me out too badly – just the typical head and chest kind of cold. I really will be working hard not to lose my voice! I’ve got a lot of singing and preaching to do over the next two weeks!

I wasn’t much company at Roldan’s house – slept most of the time, and ate! Still, his wife and daughter and grandkids are terrific, and very understanding. A very pleasant, light and open house. They rent the upper story out to another family, and so the place is like a very homey and welcoming Grand Central Station. It was a long, long bus ride to the other side of the city to get there, and we took a taxi back to save time. The only evidence we saw of the strike, by the way, was one parade over on Roldan’s side of town, very peaceful and orderly, and not very long. Praise the Lord for his protection and ordering of all things.

Hoped to have a chance to get online at the airport tonight, but it didn’t happen. Just not enough time. We’re all squared away for our flight tonight, though, and all is ticking right along.

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Peru #4 – Lots of Music

Posted in Peru by lenpine on July 14, 2008

Well, the service last night at El Semblador was a blessed one. All of the other churches in the city (six in all) came to together on my last night of formal ministry with them, even from Picuro Yacu village. These are very dear people, and I’ve formed some wonderful friendships here.

The internet was not functioning this morning at the house, so I’m still stuck offline. It gave me a chance this morning to rest and write, and to rehearse for the concerts on the radio stations today. One of the pastors here, Juan Luis Guerra, is a young man with an excellent baritone singing voice, and I roped him into coming over and preparing some songs to sing together on the radio. I didn’t have to work too hard to convince him! We ended up putting together about five duets, and a trio, too, with another brother, and we had a great time. The broadcast at noon was a blessing to do, and we’re doing another one tonight on another station from 9-10 pm. That’s after a home “thanksgiving” service that we’ll do about 7 pm in one of the homes of a member from the El Semblador church.

Big rainstorm today, drenched everything and left that wonderful after rain smell around and cooled everything off considerably. The humidity still gets to me, though, and I end up after every activity drenched with sweat. I’d love to say that I’m losing some pounds down here, but they are feeding me so well that I really doubt I’ve lost anything. Fried bananas (platas fritas), lots of chicken prepared different ways, rice and beans and yucca, great bread, fruit, and usually polished off with coffee. Nope, not starving here at all.

Will sign off for the present. Tomorrow is the strike I mentioned earlier, and we’re going to try to stay out of the way. May even try to catch an earlier flight if we can. We could end up stuck in Lima at the airport – I understand it’s not a good time to be out on the streets. Pray for the Lord’s protection and overriding of the purposes of men in getting us united with our team in Bolivia on time. Thanks!

Peru #3 – Days of Service

Posted in Peru by lenpine on July 14, 2008

 

The next morning (today, Saturday), Charles gave us a ride to the river to catch a boat on his motorcycle. Pretty wild over the dirt roads through the jungle on a 125cc street bike. He had to make two trips, of course. Saved us about an hour and a half walk, and we were grateful. We caught another boat and headed back to Iquitos.

The day was pretty busy today – the concert this morning went well, but I was sweating all over the harp, it was so humid and warm. People really like the autoharp here, and the Lord helped me not to butcher the Spanish too badly. We had a great time of worship together, even though we had to compete with the traffic just outside in the noise department. We enjoyed the hospitality of one of the Herman Mera family from Roldan’s church, True Peace Church, and once again I found a hammock and crashed for awhile. I’m really getting into this siesta thing. The 3 pm meeting with many of the local leadership was a time when they just wanted me to share my heart on missions churches and growing the work. They are doing such a wonderful job that I don’t know why they really wanted me to say anything, and I was humbled by the honor of it. These folks are passionate about reaching this area for Christ, that’s for sure.

Roldan took over the controls of the moto again, and has been driving me all over. It’s pretty entertaining  to see me with the autoharp on my back, a satchel in my hands, perched up on the back of this little motorcycle towering over Roldan in front. There are more motos here, and moto taxis, than cars – a very noisy swarm everywhere you go. It’s fun to be part of the noise.

The evening  service at the Jordan church closing the day went very well, the building filled and voices raised in song with full hearts behind them. It was great to be awash in the sound of praise, and to join in with them. I’ve been playing and singing my ‘harp every service, and am now running out of songs that I know in Spanish! But people are requesting some repeats, so that’s good. The one that they particularly like is Vision Pastoral, which is about the shepherd that searches for the one lost sheep. It’s a great song, and I’m going to have to come up with an English version. After the service was over, we headed out for dinner (about 9:30 – remember that night owl thing?) to, of all things, a Chinese restaurant here in town. Sure didn’t expect that, but they tell me that there are restaurants like it all over town. It’s wild ordering Chinese in Spanish. Good stuff, though.

Today, the Lord’s Day, has been pretty busy, starting out at Roldan’s church for Sunday school, and then going to El Semblador church for worship and to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. This time, I sang an Aymara song in Spanish to do something different, and it went pretty well. I’ll have to do more of them that way, since I already have the translations in my Aymara hymnal. It was a blessing to partake of communion with the brethren here. Resting up this afternoon, and then another service tonight at El Semblador.

I just found out that my hosts have installed high speed internet here in the house as of yesterday! So I hope to spend some time online Monday morning. It will be good to get this blog uploaded and get everyone caught up.

Peru #2 – A Walk in the Park…

Posted in Peru by lenpine on July 12, 2008

 

Well, when Roldan told me there were hills on the way to Picuro Yaco, he wasn’t kidding. I had no idea this region was so hilly. Lots of up and downs, with deep ravines that disappear into the darkness of the jungle. Then, you top out on a ridge and hit a clear cut where the land has been cleared for farming or logging. Still lots of jungle out there, though. We were joined in our trip on Saturday by two other pastors, and the four of us had a great time trekking through hills to Picuro Yaco. The village sits on top of a hill, and is famous for its fariña, reputed to be the best in the area. This fariña is made of  yucca, which is soaked, pressed, screened, and roasted. It looks like grits or cream of wheat, maybe a little coarser. It is good, filling, and neutral enough in taste that it gets thrown in everything to add texture and body to the food. Good stuff. We arrived in time to take a nice rest in the morning, enjoying the hospitality of the pastor and his family. They offered us fresh coconut milk, freshly roasted farina, and some good conversation as we sat around and cooled off under the shade of a tree. I then passed out in a nearby hammock for awhile, just sinking into the sounds of a farming community with almost no motorized anything. It was absolutely relaxing.

After rest and a light lunch, Roldan and I went visiting. With no phones in the village, the only way to let people know there’s a meeting is go visit them. We stopped by several homes, were fed wonderful fruits native to the area like bananas, some grape-like (in appearance) fruit that had insides like the leche fruit we had in Thailand – really good and sticky to eat, fresh sugar cane, and some great new fruits that Roldan had bought earlier in the day, too. Walking around in the heat of the day up and down the ridges pretty much wore us out, and we got back in time for prepping some for the service that evening. We gathered at the front of the church, sat on the porch and visited and sang, and drew a crowd of children and others. That helped to spread the word about the service, too.

We had a great service that was attended by 50 or 60 people. This is the only church in town except for the Catholic church down the road. It’s been there about 26 years, and has a wonderful testimony for Christ here. I was welcomed like I belonged there, and I made some lasting friendships there. They were already talking about the next time I came, so I hope the Lord lets me go again. We also met an American ex-patriot who married a Peruvian lady and has lived there for about 30 years now. They have an incredible farm on the outskirts of the village. Charles invited us to stay there overnight. It’s a rustic but first-rate two-story place they built themselves. The best part — No mosquitoes! And a terrific time of getting to know Charles, who made it clear that he’d like to have us come again anytime. Roldan will plan on staying with him again the next time he goes, for sure. Oh, I should say that the night sky was amazing, with no city lights to deal with. The Milky Way was close enough to touch almost, and we’re far enough south to see the Southern Cross, which I can never see from New York, of course. It was breathtaking.

Peru #1 – On My Way…Again!

Posted in Peru by lenpine on July 12, 2008

The flight out of Miami was delayed. Surprised, anyone? But this was delayed even more than usual, due to unusually heavy rain that shut down the airport for a couple of hours. That meant that I didn’t arrive in Lima until after midnight. Great little airport, by the way, with a lot of upscale shops and western food outlets everywhere. I was surprised that all the shops were open, and that people were eating full meals and generally acting like we do around, say, 7 pm in the States. I had read recently that Peruvians are night owls, and it’s really true. My flight for Iquitos boarded on time and landed on time, about 6:30 in the morning. That meant my whole trip took just shy of 24 hours, without a lot of sleep. That’s just about as much time as it takes to get to Delhi! Oh well. Met some nice people on the way, including a group from a church in Pennsylvania who were going to Iquitos as well to help build a church in a remote village.

Iquitos is a city of about half a million, much bigger than I realized. I spent the first day either stretched out on my bed or on a motorcycle. All in all, just about the perfect day! My host, Roldan, has a cool little 125cc moto (he calls it “Blue Thunder”!) that he let me drive him around on. Traffic wasn’t too bad, with only a few moments when it reminded me of Phnom Penh. We got caught in a sprinkle, which actually felt good in the heat of the day. The weather is running about 34 C for a high (upper 80s), with fairly substantial humidity. The city itself is booming with population, but I didn’t see much in the way of construction in the city core. Didn’t see a lot of tall buildings, either, but may have just missed them as we criss-crossed our way back and forth to visit all the churches of the Evangelical Union Church of Peru, my hosts for my time here.

I’ve been put up in a very nice home owned by a member of one of the churches who is working out of town for awhile. Other church members are seeing to my care and maintenance, and in general I feel pretty spoiled. The Peruvians are a typically happy group, and all have been exceedingly friendly, even the ones I’ve run into (figuratively, not literally) on the street.

My hosts have prepared a nice full itinerary for me while I’m here. Tomorrow we get in a boat to go to a village about 20 minutes downriver. We get out and then take a one hour hike through the jungle, climbing a couple of hills on the way, to get to the village of Picuro Yacu, where I’m to preach in the evening. We’ll spend the night there, and then return on Saturday to do a concert at another church here in Iquitos, meet with some of the leadership for some fellowship, and then preach at yet another church that evening. Sunday I’ll be at two churches, Monday do two radio concert broadcasts, preach a communion meditation, and attend a fellowship at a home to finish off the day.

We’ve just learned that there is be a regional strike by the leftist camp here in the country on the 8th, and a national strike on the 9th, the day we’re supposed to head to La Paz. We’ll move to a place closer to the airport, and be out of the city on the 8th to keep out of the way. That day we’ll take the 26’ dugout canoe and spend the day on the river, which should be awesome. All in all, the brethren here are marvelous hosts. My dear friend Roldan met me at the airport this morning, and then after arriving at the house a group of pastors came by to welcome me, including Rev. Juan Hoyos, who presides over the Evangelical Union Church of Peru (and hence, is Roldan’s boss). Marvelous men.

I don’t have internet access here at the house, and doubt that that I’ll be able to get to a café to send this out before I arrive in Bolivia. Maybe Monday. At least, this will give me a chance to get some good pictures together.

Well, it’s only about 8:30, but feels like midnight to my body. Signing out for now. Thanks for your prayers.