Friday, February 25, 2011

Impacto Numero Uno.....

Franci and I sat atop the stairs of the Condor (600+ stair steps up a little mountain to a statue of a condor, bird, and a beautiful view of the city) a few weeks ago and planned out the next few weeks and months with goals and objectives. One goal, ‘meta’ in Spanish, was to have a kids festival in Huascar in February after all the hoop-la of the Festival of the Candelaria.

Planning things like this festival is one of the hardest things to do together. We come from different cultures, have different strengths, and different ways of doing things. But after getting frustrated a few times, on my end, Franci rarely gets upset or frustrated….we finally got the plan together in agreement, with a few compromises.

Over the span of a few days we passed out flyers and invited kids, parents and grandparents to the festival. We told everyone we will be teaching English and valores (good values) along with candy and balloons, all for free. We woke up Friday morning, the day of the festival, to rain. Which is normal and frequent this time of year. But there wasn’t a hint of sun or blue sky on the horizon. I was praying for God to clear up the rain as our festival was to be held in a park. We went along and prepared as though the rain would clear up. I called my Dadda and vented to him, asking him for prayer too. Finally, the rain cleared up! Praise God! We were ready to get all the stuff out of our “storage” room and when I turned the handle, nothing. The door was locked and no one was inside. Everything we needed, the speakers, the generator, the cuy costumes, were all in this room! But Micah worked hard and with the use of Trevor’s old Visa, they picked the lock and got the door open for us. Finally, we were ready to leave. Franci and I along with all of our brothers, went to the park in Huascar and set up for the festival.

When we got to the park, Franci and I read Psalm 20 together (as we read one Psalm per day) and prayed. Psalm 20 was perfect, a gift from God this day! It said in verse 1, “May the Lord answer you when you are in distress.” Then in verses 4-5, “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests.” But even after we read such a promising word, as we were setting up, and it was time to start with no kids in sight, I was frustrated. I asked God, ‘Why clear up the rain, why unlock the door, why get us all the way here and not provide us with any kids? What is your plan?’ I asked God to give us the desire of our hearts, to complete the plan.

We started with two kids and they played with the parachute in the street. We had the cuies dancing and the kids music blaring. Finally, a few more kids came and we stopped the parachute game to start the English lesson. We just went ahead and began with the few kids we had. But the entire hour and a half we were teaching the kids, singing, watching puppets and coloring….more and more kids kept arriving. At the end, we ran out of coloring sheets there were so many kids! By the end we probably had about 30 kids with 7 or more mothers sitting with us, listening and interacting.

This festival provided us with four contacts, and a friendship with the president of the park. Also, we have invited everyone to join us again each Friday afternoon for more lessons on English and the Bible. God truly blessed our first impact event! We are grateful for all He did to clear the path and provide for us during this afternoon.

Psalm 20:5a We will shout for joy when you are victorious and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

His Purpose......

What does a day in Huascar look like? Every day is completely different. When we don't have visits set up, we try to let the Spirit lead us when we're not sure what to do or who to talk to. And other times we have visits set up with people to talk in their houses or normally on the sidewalk in front of their house.


Today Franci and I left at 9:30am after waking up, getting ready and our morning prayer meetings. We walk about 25 minutes to "Alto Huascar", it’s called 'alto' (high) because Huascar goes from one mountain to another, with houses up the mountain side and in the valley. We were in Alto Huascar looking for an address of a guy we met last week. We met Jose, about a 20ish year old kid in a tienda. He spoke some English to me and I asked him if he would like to practice his English. English is a great way to open doors here, it’s such a great opportunity to begin conversations and relationships with people. But I didn't want to "bait and switch" him. So I told him we normally teach some English and then some of the Bible too. He was okay with that and we got his info and set up a visit for 10am on Sunday morning.


We were looking for the address: Circunvalacion Norte 1522. We found 1492, 1501, 1555, 1574, but there was no 1522. After over an hour of asking around, wandering, asking some more, knocking on a few doors, and praying, we still couldn't find the house! I even had to buy some credit on my phone to call him and his phone number was not working. Finally, we sat down on the sidewalk. There we just talked about what to do and discussed how frustrated and sad we were as this guy really seemed like a good lead. (It's amazing sometimes how similar this job is to my old job, it’s just a different product I'm offering!)


As we sat on the curb with busses whizzing past and people walking by, a drunk guy passed us on the road. He walked past and then about 10 minutes later he returned to talk to us. He asked me "Que tal?" and we chatted for a moment. Then Franci jumped in and told him it’s not cool to be drunk, especially at 11am. She talked about how not only does drinking wear on your pocket and health, its displeasing to God. Overall, Jorge, seemed like a guy with a good head on his shoulders. He's studying mineral engineering, 20 years old, and lives by himself most of the time while his mom spends much of the week at her boyfriend's house in Juliaca. While chatting with buzzed Jorge, I thanked God for using us despite the fact that we missed our first appointment. How cool that we sat down right where we needed to in order to meet Jorge! And now we have an appointment with Jorge next Sunday at 1pm to talk with him more about his struggles and the Bible!


From there we walked toward the center of Huascar and went into a restaurant we wanted to try. There was a plate called Seiscito that we were both interested in trying but as it was 9 soles and we normally only spend 3.50 - 4 soles on lunch, we ordered one and shared it. Lunches basically always come with soup. Today the soup was Caldo de Cabeza, it’s a soup made from ram head and potatoes. I let Franci eat the soup; what a sacrifice! Finally we got our food and it was ground beef, some veggies, sauce, and potatoes. Hungrily, I cut up all the potatoes then started eating only to find out they were not potatoes but chuño. Chuño is a potato that's been buried for a year to dry out, yuck! They are more expensive than regular potatoes but gross! Franci and I ended up eating the meat then buying ice cream after because we were still hungry!


After our chuño lunch, we walked by the park and sat down next to a lady making a sweater. Franci talked to her for about an hour. And I literally do mean talked 'to' her. I was frustrated as this lady, Rosa, didn't seem interested at all. The hour passed by, I prayed for strength as I was incredibly tired and for patience as I was completely frustrated with Franci. At the end, Rosa did seem a little more interested but had excuses on why she couldn't give us her address and how she doesn't have a phone. So we have no way to contact her, only her name and face to pray for her and possibly someday run into her again.


It was 2:30ish at this point and we had an appointment with Janet at 3pm but her house was only about 5 minutes away. We walked down a road we hadn't been down before and halfway down the block we saw 5 men carrying something up the stairs. It wasn't a couch or any type of furniture. I asked them what they were doing and one guy told me they were bringing the virgin of the Candelaria home and told us to come up and look. Franci and I looked at each other and decided to climb the stairs and check it out. We walked into a smoky room with the virgin on the table in the center of the room. About 4 men were working to set up her pedestal to move her from the table to the hideously decorated pedestal. We watched an older gal say a prayer to the virgin. It was quite eerie to be in the room at that time. Franci and I were both praying silently for these people. I thought about how sad it is that they waste all this time and effort for something that's not real. It astounded me that these people can devote their lives to something and yet they will still be deprived of an eternal life with the One and Only. If nothing else, Franci and I agreed that going up to that room was worth it to bathe the place in prayer.

Finally, it was 3pm and we walked up the street to Janet's house. Janet is a hairdresser and we've stopped in to talk to her a few times but today was our first scheduled appointment. We knocked on the door and waited but there was no answer. We remembered I have credit on my phone so Franci called her cell number. Janet had forgotten about the appointment and wouldn't be home until 7pm. Franci confirmed we could come back next week at the same time.


About six hours after we had left the house in the morning, I felt like very little had been accomplished. We were unable to get in contact with our two appointments for the day. But, I remembered and was comforted by a verse that says, "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21 Everything I had planned for today was a bust, but I have faith and confidence that God's plan prevailed today. Maybe God had us set up the appointment with Jose only to be lost and not find the house and to sit down and meet Jorge. Maybe God had us spend an hour with Rosa in the park in order to be walking down the street at the right time to find the men brining the virgin home so we could pray in that place. Please pray with me that on a daily basis Franci and I will be able to follow the Spirit and allow God's plan and purpose to be fulfilled rather than ours.