Friday, September 2, 2011

Peru Journey Day 3

We started the day(Friday, August 19) by delivering school supplies sent by FRESH Fellowship to three different schools.  This shot was with the teacher in charge for the day at the local high school.

As we left the high school I stopped to pose with some of the boys who really were not interested in posing for a picture.

As we drove into the town of Chaquicoche we saw a field where lambs were being slaughtered.  Apparently that is standard procedure for market day.

The market had plenty of fresh produce that was as good or better than it looked.  Robin on our team wanted to find a way to take some of the produce home with her.  Of course vegetables would have been confiscated as we returned to the US, but it was a nice thought.

This market was much larger than the one we attended the day before in Usibamba.  Robin said it was the super Walmart of markets with almost anything available.  One of the unique items we found for sale were ribbons for your cow.  I suppose it is a way to identify your cows.
This gentleman was one of the local church leaders whom we found working in his yard.  He was actually digging to find sand that would be suitable for making the mud bricks for a building.  We talked at length about his church and his ministry and finished with a word of prayer.
As we drove away from the pastor's home we ran across this celebration that included music and dancing.  It is a celebration in honor of St Santiago that is widely celebrated in the mountains.  This lady was coming over to invite us to join in the celebration.
I am appreciative of Amber Smith Uruchi for taking many of these pictures.  On many ocassions, I simply handed her the camera while I tried to talk to people.  She did a great job!

We spent the day trying to locate local pastors in Chaquicoche, Independencia and San Jose de Quero.  Some we were able to talk to, others we were not able to find.  There were several times we asked about a pastor and the reply was, he was just here!  We did spend a lot of time trying to build bridges with pastors from many different evangelical traditions.  Impressions are that there is a lot of competition.  Many churches have been started with splits from other churches.  Most of them are small and struggling.  I feel that continued efforts will bear some fruit and will break down some barriers.  If we can encourage them and train all the pastors then perhaps the message of salvation will be preached across the valley.

Philippians 1

15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Peru Journey sights

While we were trying to contact different church leaders we saw some fascinating sights.

This man was driving a small group of cows down the road.
This man was simply traveling down the road

During market day, there were a number of booths that offered a variety of fast foods.

This man was enjoying fried seafood.
We were needing some veggies for supper and this lady provided some wonderful fresh carrots and broccoli.

These girls had just enjoyed an ice cream cone when we found them.

This picture overlooks the town of San Roque de Huarmita.  It gives you a hint of the majestic beauty in the area.
The Andes Mountain range runs north and south through the middle of Peru.  At this point there are two distinct mountain ranges with a valley in between.  The valley is the Cuna Valley.  On this trip I learned the official altitude was 12,600 ft.  Most of the people are descendants of the pre-Incan culture called Huanca.  From what I have heard, they were never really conquered by the Incas.

Revelation 7
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
   “Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

Peru Journey Review Day 2

Our primary objective on Thursday and Friday was to make contact with as many local pastors as possible.  We wanted to invite them to participate in a training conference on Saturday.  In San Roque we found this pastor who seemed to be fairly open to participating in the session.   
This pastor also seemed to be interested in what we were planning to do.  What we are learning is that there are several small struggling Evangelical churches in the area.  Some are Pentecostal, others call themselves an Apocalyptic Church, others are a part of the Peruvian Church. 

The pastor in the picture above was also taking care of their little girl who continued to playfully hang on to her father's leg while we talked.
Pastor Rolando de la Cruz has been pastor of the Pentecostal church in Usibamba.  He has a powerful testimony and has worked closely with our teams whenever possible.

When we arrived to talk with Rolando he and a friend were busy working on an expansion to his home using the adobe brick construction that is common in the area.      

Our plan was to invite as many pastors in the area as possible to participate in a training conference scheduled for Saturday.  We knew it would be a challenge, simply because there tends to be some tension or perhaps competition between pastors.  We did our best to break down the barriers as much as possible but we knew it would be an uphill battle.
In visiting with these men I have become convinced that they love the Lord but they struggle with the lack of training.  I often feel that since our theologies are often different, we spend time fighting each other and not focusing on the mission that God has given us.  My thinking this week has been if God's name is glorified in the ministry of these men and we can strengthen them then we are all doing what God has called us to do. That is when I try to remember what Jesus prayed  the night before he was crucified.

John 17
I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of[b] your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by[c] that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Peru Journey Review Day 1

After traveling to Lima on Tuesday, we joined up with our driver, Oscar (on top) and our translators. Some other members of the local team were there to send us off!

As we drove out of Lima we found this truck with 'Charlotte' on it. It turns out to be a restaurant chain that sells sandwiches and desserts. Of course my wife Charlotte would like to know that she is famous in Peru!

Mijael and Amber Uruchi were our translators. Mijael has been to San Jose de Quero several times and seems to know everyone in town. Mijael and Amber were married just a few weeks ago.

Kevin and Robin Larson were the other members of the team. Kevin works in IT at Capitol One. Robin is a Latin teacher and has home schooled their six children.

After driving for about an hour we Oscar said we had a problem. You can see a bolt that is hanging down just below and to the right of the center of the picture. It should be upright and attached to the stabilizer bar. We found a man who made a new nut to fit so we could continue on the journey.

The road was a one lane road that could provide some surprises. In this case we met the truck coming around a bend so we backed up until we could find a spot to pull off and let him by.

The road we traveled followed a narrow canyon with a river running through it. You can see how the road was cut out of the canyon wall. The river is about a hundred yards below us.

On this day I was reminded of one of my favorite scripture promises. It certainly applied on this day. It is found in Proverbs 3: 5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

South American Journey - Epilogue

It has been two months since we returned from our South American Journey. Regrettably, I have neglected to finish the story.
This is the only group picture I managed to get. From left to right are Susan, John, Sarah, Van, Charlotte and me.

After leaving the ship we spent several days in Santiago. Santiago was by far the most progressive city we visited on the journey. The presidential palace, La Moneda, is a grand building with a storied past.
In the past, I never imagined that we would be able to pose for pictures beside the presidential guards.
In the late 1970's, Chile elected a socialist president, Salvador Allende. After several years of Socialist/Communist leadership he was deposed by a military junta led by Agusto Pinochet. In the process Allende committed suicide. As a result Allende has become somewhat of a mythical hero to many.
Santiago is a beautiful city with many parks, flowers, etc.
Chile loves seafood and we managed to enjoy some King Crab, a real treat!
Chile has a national police force known as the Carabineros. Growing up I always had a healthy respect for them. In recent years they have made an effort to relax their stern image. One other change has been the addition of women to their ranks.
As mentioned earlier, Santiago is a city of parks, monuments and modern buildings.

On our last day in Santiago we visited a large shopping mall that was larger than any I have ever visited in the United States. Charlotte and I found this burger place that was one of many restaurants. By the way, we shared the burger!

I was impressed with Santiago. It is a large, prosperous, bustling city with a strong infrastructure. I was also surprised at how expensive things were. It is a city that I would love to visit again. By the way, being in the southern hemisphere, their summer is during our winter. So if you want to find a nice warm climate to visit in January or February, Chile is the place to go.

Reflecting on our journey, last week while talking with my brother, I told him, it was an incredible treat! We were able to visit some fascinating places; I was able to connect with a lot of my heritage; being on the cruise ship we were well taken care of; of course the food was awesome; and being able to share that experience with a special group of family and friends simply made it special.

I will always be thankful for the incredible blessing of being able to take that 'South American Journey'.

"But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me."
Psalm 13: 5-6

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

South American Journey - Valparaiso

On Sunday we landed in Valparaiso, Chile the main port city in Chile.

This marked the end of our fourteen day journey on the Celebrity Infinity that carried us about 3,400 miles from Buenos Aires around the tip of South America to Valparaiso.

Valparaiso is a city built on thirty-four hills. If you are not near the port, you will have to go either up or down hill.

From a mountain overlook we could see for miles. Just beyond the first point you can see twin city of Vina del Mar, Chile's premier beach city and playground for the wealthy.

Everybody in Valparaiso lives on a hill.

Many of the houses are painted in contrasting pastel colors which makes for a dramatic effect.

This part of Chile is also known for its fruit. The peaches are priced at $200 peso per kilo which is about forty-five cents in US dollars. Most of us have purchased Chilean grapes at some point.

Valparaiso is a city of several hundred thousand. It is a major shipping port. There has been significant unemployment in the city. Shipping used to provide a lot of employment. Now with container shipping and automation, not a lot of labor is needed. There are efforts to strengthen the economy in the city.
In scripture, the city often represents a collection of people. During Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He saw the city and wept, because they did not know what would bring them peace. I wonder how many people in Valparaiso and Vina del Mar do not know what will bring them peace?
"As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city He wept over it." Luke 19:41

Sunday, March 13, 2011

South American Journey - Puerto Mont

On Friday we stopped in Puerto Mont, a city of of about 80,000 in the southern part of Chile. Charlotte and I took a tour up from there into the lake district about twenty-five miles from there.

Our first stop was in the Frutillar which is named for the plentiful strawberries. It is right on the shores of lake Llanquihue, the third largest lake in South America.

A huge snow capped volcano, Osorno overlooks the lake.

The next town was Puerto Varas I found an empanada, which is common in most of South America. This variety of empanada is filled with chopped beef, onions, a boiled egg, a couple of raisins and a sauce. It was wonderful.

I continue to be fascinated with the young people that I see everywhere. It turns out that in Puerto Mont, the high school students go to class until 4 PM Monday through Thursday and on Friday they get out at ome PM. They enjoy hanging out around the square.

As we left Puerto Mont and headed west toward the Pacific the sun was playing hide and seek, creating some awesome views.
"Sing praises to the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name;
for his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
Weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:4-5

Thursday, March 10, 2011

South American Journey - Punta Arenas

Tuesday we stopped in Punta Arenas, Chile a city of about 80,000 located right on the Straight of Magellan. The contrast with Ushuaiah, which is a tourist town, was striking. Punta Arenas is very much a place to work and raise your family.
The central plaza is dominated by this statue of Ferdinand Magellan. The Plaza is surrounded by banks, businesses, the Cape Horn Hotel and some restaurants. It was busy all day.

This little five year old posed for me. We ran into her in a candy shop in a mall just off of the square. She was ready to pose even though her little sister was afraid of me.
There were high school students all over the place. They start school at 8 AM and go to class until 12:15. Then most of them go home for lunch and return to school at 3 PM and go until 6:15. They are now in the second week of the school year that started on February 28. Their school year will run through mid December.
Our main interest in Punta Arenas was to see the town where our parents lived and served for ten years as missionaries. This church was an existing Anglican Church when my parents arrived, but they had not had a pastor in ten years because they did not have someone who could preach in English. The asked my dad to pastor and asked for special permission from the Anglican Bishop to allow him to do that.
Of course their primary purpose for being in Punta Arenas was church planting and they did that all over Patagonia. One church they started was the Playa Norte Baptist Church (North Beach). From all appearances the church has grown and added a significant building in recent years.

To me the legacy my parents left behind after thirty-six years of ministry in South America is churches all over Colombia and Chile. Those churches are filled with people who hear the word preached and souls are being added to the kingdom of God. Most of them have not even heard of Gerald and Virgie Riddell, but they do know the Saviour. The legacy that is important is the souls that are added to the kingdom.
"The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom listens for him and waits for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegrooms voice. That joy is mine and is now complete, He must become greater, I must become less."
John 3: 29-30