Saturday, June 30, 2012

Anniversary…..

Over a year ago, when my parents were in town visiting me, Carmen told Franci and I that she had found a place for us to rent so we could start to gather all our contacts in one place.  With Mom and Dad in tow, we followed Carmen to a little house, number C-3, we walked in and I started crying out of joy and relief.  Franci and I had been praying for a place to meet with contacts, we had been praying for a place exactly like this and there it was, right in front of my eyes. 

Within the following days and weeks, we talked to the owner, signed a contract and got the keys.  Then, on June 26th, 2011, we held our first service in Yanamayo, El Mirador C-3.  We find ourselves here a year later and we wanted to celebrate and thank God for a year of meeting in Yanamayo.  In that little house, which was a Habitat for Humanity project in the 80’s, we’ve prayed and cried, we’ve taught and sang, we’ve ate and played games, we’ve laughed and joked.  We have had lots of good times in that little house over the past year.  We’ve also had sad times, frustrating times.  But as one of my favorite songs says, “When I’m losing, when I’m broken, when I’m sinking like a stone and it feels like I’m alone, I will worship You.  When I’m dancing, when I’m hopeful, when I’m feeling mercy’s hand, and I’m living life again, I will worship You.”  This was a time to worship Him, to praise Him, to glorify Him for the past year in Yanamayo, through the good and the bad, we are to worship Him.

So, that’s what we did last Sunday, June 24th.  We figured we wouldn’t all fit into the little house since we had invited people from Hu├íscar, Salcedo and the central church.  So, ironically, we celebrated the anniversary out on the nearby soccer platform.  This actually posed a big problem as there was a community meeting right next to the platform at the same time we were trying to start our service.  To show patience and compassion, we agreed to wait for the meeting to finish before we started our service.  We ended up waiting about an hour.  But, it turned out good because some of the people we know that were in the meeting came over after the meeting and celebrated with us while others stayed right where they were but listened in.

Things in Yanamayo have been tough lately.  It’s actually discouraging every time we are up there.  I’m saddened that we saw so much progress, so many lives changed and now many of those have fallen away, back to focusing on the world, focusing on this life on earth instead of a heavenward focus.  This is spiritual battle.  And there is some serious spiritual battle going on in Yanamayo.  But what that tells me, is that God has great plans for this place and the devil is fighting because he knows it. 

Pray for Yanamayo.

DSC_0043  DSC_0044 DSC_0047 DSC_0090 DSC_0061 DSC_0064 DSC_0067

Monday, March 26, 2012

Update….

Here’s a little update on Yanamayo…..

Carmen seemed to be avoiding Franci and I for a few weeks.  Franci and I sat down and discussed the fact that we need to spend more time with Carmen like we had in the past but the problem is, Carmen is always busy, busy with her kids and her store and life.  So, trying to spend more time with her is difficult.  But Franci had a great idea, Franci said, why don’t we help her do her weekly shopping at the market on Saturday morning.  I loved the idea so the next day, we saw Carmen, she came to prayer service.  At the end of the service, I told her I missed chatting with her and spending time with her.  Then I asked if we could go shopping with her on Saturday, of course she said yes!  Then she finally became transparent with us and I finally feel like I know why she was distancing herself, Carmen said she’s worried that the next few months, our last months here are going to go by too fast and she’s not going to know what to do without us.  I almost cried right then and there.  I’m so excited to be done and go home, but at the same time, my heart breaks at the thought of leaving these relationships and friendships we’ve built.  But, I need to focus on the here and now, focus on helping people reinforce their relationship with God, not with me.

Franci and I spent last Saturday morning at the street market with Carmen.  We bought food and supplies for her family and store for the week.  Which means we bought over 15 pounds of potatoes, 11 pounds of lentils, 11 pounds of onion, 100 bananas  (for $5 by the way).  Pens, stickers, shampoo, eggs, and an entire lamb which some lady chopped up with an ax and put into bags for us, were among some of the other things we purchased and hauled along this half mile street market.  Along the way, we were able to share conversation and time with Carmen, much needed time with this special lady.  Franci and I hope to go back to the market with Carmen every few weeks to help her with the giant task of purchasing a truckload of food and supplies as well as spend some time together, making the most of our time left here.

Our other very strong disciples in Yanamayo are Guillermo, Petronila, their grandson Elvis and their friend, Felipe who used to work with Guillermo.  Lately, there has been a love triangle going on between these three, Guillermo, Petronila and Felipe.  Petronila is spending an absurd amount of time with Felipe and she frequently nags Guillermo, she doesn’t wash his clothes and she won’t cook him food, a bit deal in this traditional role culture.  Guillermo’s heart is broken which has lead him to begin drinking again after 5 months without a drop.  This situation has been very difficult for Franci and I to handle.  Things are improving but minutely, we are asking for help from Pastor Herman to council this couple.  And poor Elvis gets stuck in the middle of the fighting, hearing both sides, hearing the arguments and nagging, seeing the pain and destruction.  Actually, tomorrow we are going to meet with Guillermo, Petronila and Pastor Herman to council and discuss this situation and pray over this couple.  Please help us in prayer for them, especially tomorrow.

There’s another lady very special to my heart in Yanamayo, her name is Florentina.  She speaks with a stutter, she struggles with health problems, she works hard to provide money and she takes care of her three year old grandson while her daughter studies and works.  Her husband is a drunk.  All the money he makes, is spent on beer.  I sat down with her in her house two weeks ago and she told me with tears in her eyes that her husband had been on a five day binge and that he was there, in the room below us, continuing to get himself drunk and drown the emptiness that must consume his being.  This is a reality many, many women live here in Puno.  Their husbands work, but only to satisfy their drinking habit.  It’s not a marriage, it’s not even a friendship, it’s so saddening to see Florentina’s heart break over her emotionally unfaithful husband.  But, Florentina continues on, she prays to God for her husband, Fortunato and she prays for the strength to show him God’s love and compassion despite the fact he is completely undeserving.

Overall, things are going good in Yanamayo.  What is my ultimate goal in this community?  I want to leave in July knowing I gave more time and effort than I could on my own to this place.  I want to leave a family of God, a group of people passionate about God, passionate about lifting each other up, passionate about telling others about Christ.  What does this group of people look like?  It looks like Carmen, Petronila, Guillermo, Felipe, Ines, Florentina, Euleterio and more.  It looks like a bunch of messed up lives, a bunch of messed up people coming together and allowing God to complete them, to fill in their holes.   

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Merry Prayer…..

We had a big week in Yanamayo last week……..

Merry Christmas

On Sunday we had the opportunity to bless a family with a basket of food staples like sugar, yogurt, milk, laundry detergent and more.  Chad and Amanda had an idea to make a basket for each of us to give to one special contact of our choice.  So, we brainstormed and remembered our friend Elena in Yanamayo who is working an extra job, a construction job on a new road in Yanamayo for extra money.  We see her out on the street hauling wooden planks, pushing wheel barrels of cement and more.  We both felt lead to bless this family and their efforts to provide for their family.  We walked in the rain over to Elena’s house on Christmas Day and presented her with the basket.  She was excited in her own way.  She’s not one to show emotions, she’s very reserved and timid.  But, despite her hatred toward camera’s, she let us snap a few photos with her, the kids and the basket.

DSC_0329

After having a special moment with Elena, Franci and I walked back in the rain to our church in Yanamayo to get ready for the Christmas Day service. Franci got the clothes ready; we were given a large donation of used clothes from the States to give out.  Franci laid out and organized the clothes while I got the sound equipment all set up.   We blasted some Trans-Siberian Orchestra out the front door of the house and waited for all our contacts to come along with the many people we invited on the street over the week.  Well, nobody new came.  But, our most faithful contacts all showed up.  We sang Christmas hymns, prayed and watched a clip from It’s a Wonderful Life.  Then, Franci and I opened the door to the next room and family by family, we allowed those present to pick out clothes and bedding to take home.  Their faces were priceless.  Since it was a small attendance that night, those who did show up, left with large bags of clothes.    It was a great Christmas, it was wonderful to spend a few hours with our most faithful contacts, it was awesome to be able to bless these families.

DSC_0337 DSC_0363 DSC_0364

DSC_0371 DSC_0398 DSC_0405   DSC_0461DSC_0417

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_0509 DSC_0369

 

 

Prayer Vigil

Then on Thursday night, we held a prayer vigil in Yanamayo.  The purpose was to get together and thank God for all He has done in 2011 and ask for His guidance, wisdom, discernment and help in 2012.  We met up in the church at 8pm on Thursday night.  Thanks to Garren and Geremias for their help, we sang songs of gratitude to our Lord while laughing, jumping up and down and spinning around.   Everyone loved the fun songs and the music, Garren on the drum and tambourine, Geremias playing the guitar.  Franci and I are both musically challenged so the church in Yanamayo loves it when the guys come to visit and help us out with the worship music. 

After singing and worship together, we split up into families, at this point in the night four families were there and there were four of us (Franci, Geremias, Garren and myself).  Each of us went off into a corner of the room with a family and we prayed with them and for them.  I had the opportunity to pray with Ines and her daughter Karolina.  I love, love, love Ines.  We have a special connection and it was a special time to pray for her and with her for her family in the new year. 

We sang more, read from The Word, prayed more and shared a special time together.  Around 10 – 10:30pm we stopped for a break and Carmen went to her house to get the hot chocolate warmed up.   We drank hot chocolate, ate the traditional panettone bread and watched Its A Wonderful Life.  During the movie people were laughing and joking around, they were enjoying the food, the hot chocolate and the fellowship.  We watched the movie and at midnight we finished our prayer/movie/fellowship night.  By midnight, we had had 14 people come to the vigil.  Ines and her daughter had to leave early because Ines told me around 11pm that her husband was drinking and was going to be mad that she was still out.  Other than those two, everyone stayed until midnight, in the house of God in Yanamayo.  Franci and I were blown away by the turn out.  Especially by the presence of Godofredo, Carmen’s husband and her middle child, Siro.  Those two are not interested in church, Siro is not even convinced there is a God, yet they were there, fellowshipping and praying with their neighbors.    Have I mentioned lately that God is faithful?  Because HE IS!

DSC_0521 Franci giving a short Bible study.

DSC_0525 Dancing, singing and giving thanks.DSC_0527 More dancing, more praise.

 DSCF0832 Not a seat left in the house, literally.DSCF0836 With Ines and Karolina as they left.DSCF0839 The whole group at midnight.