A breakfast and a funeral

(Still posting from our trip.)

Tuesday morning was practically a day in itself. We had been invited to breakfast with Neli Salazar, and told to come to the main square in Talavera at 8:30. We arrived in the square at 8:30 on the dot, at least by the old clock tower that is the pride and symbol of Talavera.

Neli arrived and absolutely was the smilingest, friendliest person that we had ever met. We went to her house, where we breakfasted on boiled potatoes, soya, fresh cheese, honey, and bread.

We also were introduced to her mother and father. Her father had been a pastor, and was the first believer in his village. He is now very old, and sits bent over and covered with blankets. He doesn't hear or see well, and you have to give him your hand so he can feel your arm to know who you are. Chris told me afterward that he felt like it was meeting Isaac, and that now he understood how Jacob fooled him. The mother is more spry, wears her hair in the traditional two braids, and the traditional full skirts. She has recently been through a period of really poor health, but has recovered. However, tears come to her eyes when she talks about it. Fortunately for us, both the parents spoke Spanish, not only Quechua, as is common with many elderly people.

Tears also come to her eyes as she recounts the fate of Neli's husband. During the time of terrorism he and three other men set out for Pampachiri in a 4 wheel drive pickup truck. They were never seen again. After six years of marriage, Neli was left alone with their two children.

Neli tells us that she would like to marry again, but she wants to serve God, and she has not met a single man who wants to. Neli had served with Mision Suiza in the Amazon area of Peru until her parents became unable to care for themselves.

After visiting with her father, Neli told us that if we had time she would like us to go to a funeral with her. A prominent man in the community had died, and he was a man who had been a believer and faithful churchgoer, but for the last ten years of his life would not attend church. The family is mostly Catholic, but the son, an engineer and former mayor of Talavera, is a believer and very saddened by his father's dying apart from the evangelical church and the Catholic funeral planned.

So we went. We were dressed in jeans for a normal day around the town. We were introduced to the son, who asked if Mike would preach some words of comfort and present the gospel.

This was actually not the funeral itself, which would take place in the Catholic church. Here, however, the visitation is held in the house (if possible) and they sit up with the dead all the night before. During this time there are refreshments served, and evangelicals generally have preaching throughout the night and day leading up to the burial itself. The deceased is the center of all in his coffin.

This velorio was set up to be very Catholic--lots of candles and images of Christ as Senor de los Milagros, (who protects from earthquakes). Everyone was served a plate of steak, mote, (a type of corn that you peel to eat--it has very large kernels) and an onion relish. Obviously this was a wealthy man!

After eating, Mike took his place in front of the candles and preached. Immediately afterward the coffin was closed and we joined the procession to the Catholic church, marching behind the coffin as a small brass band played a repetitive dirge. At the church itself we took a taxi for home. The taxi driver, on hearing that Mike had preached at the funeral, only charged us half price.


Even though the facility at Munay Wasi is available for s./100 a month to us, we thought that we should look at apartments to make a wise decision. Two came up available in our price range, around s./400-600.

The first is on the second floor of this building.
Actually it is still more of a concept, but the brother who would rent it would divide it into rooms and build a kitchen and bath, if we put down a deposit that would enable him to do so.

This one is on the third floor. It DOES have two bedrooms.

And a small kitchen.

And a small living room.

It has a great view from the roof.

However, we decided after looking at these that Munay was the best option. It is not right downtown, as these are, but the rent difference makes up for the transportation costs.
Transportation is not as easy there, but there are combis (the 15 passenger vans that run a route), which are cheaper than the motos or taxis.
I will post pictures of Munay as soon as I get a cable for my new camera phone. My old phone got lost or stolen on the trip. :( Posted by Picasa

Monday and Tuesday in Anda

Mike Blogging again. Tammy has a lot of catching up to do with Chris's school and is trying to get us already to move as well as do a ton of washing (by hand).
Monday morning dawned bright and sunny as do most days there. We got to watch the kindergartners coming to school and meet their teacher. They are a cute bunch of kids! Then we went into town to breakfast at a great bakery/cafe - a huge mug of fresh cafe con leche cost about a US quarter! So, fully caffeinated we went to a meeting with the folks from Kawsay. We talked about health care in the area (there is a great German Mission hospital close in Abancay), transportation, office and working conditions, and in order to be sure we are making an informed decision about living at Munay Wasi, we discussed various other possibilities. Most of them ended up being considerably expensive - Andahuaylas is a landlocked valley, so land is high and rent is costly. We had lunch together and then Tammy, Chris and I went to a park and had some ice cream. That night, we went to Cayo Vargas church where I preached - again translated into Quechua from Spanish.
Tuesday, we went with Martin to check out 2 apartments that were for rent by Christians and had reasonable prices - only about 4-5 times higher than the rent at Munay! Tammy will be putting these picturs on soon as well. They were nice, but much smaller and in the center of town - comparatively noisy and dirty to Munay (although nicer than Lima!) Then we met a friend from Lima who has moved to Andahuylas and spent some time her and her family, bought some fresh Cheese and Bread and went home to Munay.
God bless,

Saturday & Sunday in Andahuaylas

Because we had a very slow internet and a very busy time in Andahuaylas last week, we are going to use this week to catch up. Saturday we checked out the facility of Munay Wasi, where we will be living. It is absolutely beautiful - soon Tammy will have some photos up - and went to town to pick up some stuff - breakfast foods, coffee (gotta have that!), etc. and I took Tammy and Chris all over town - The central market, various parks, bakeries, - sort of the 10 cent tour. We also visited with some friends and kind of lazed around after the 30 hour trip.

Sunday was a different story - I was invited to preach at a 9:30 service, after that I was invited to preach at an 11:00 service, both times to Quechua speakers through a translator. I preached in Spanish and was translated - I had forgotten how strange it is to work through a translator ;)! Had packed churches for both.

Then we went to lunch at a lunch place a few doors down from where we will be attending church and had a nice Sunday dinner - cost 2 Soles (about $.60 each)! After lunch I took Tammy and Chris to the big Feria Dominical or Sunday market fair. It is one of the biggest in the Andes and we were worn out before we saw half of what there was to see. It was also a a hot and sunny day, we all got a little burnt. We went back to Munay Wasi for a while and then went back to town to attend evening service in Spanish - I didn't have to preach! It was a very fun and tiring day and we came back home to Munay Wasi about 10:30 exhausted but content.

God bless,

Encounters on the way

We had a great trip to Andahuaylas. Our internet was super slow there (we will have to fix that) so we will be posting it on a more or less one week delay basis :)
We really could see God at work on the trip up to Andahuaylas (we are back safely now), starting with when we left the house Thursday. We had several really interesting encounters along the way.
Encounter #1
We started out walking to the "downtown" of San Bartolo to catch a bus to Lurin, where we can usually get a taxi. A taxi pulled up and shouted "Lima! Lima!" We negotiated a price to go to the bus terminal, and set off. The driver turned out to be a neighbor of ours who had been recently given a Bible, by another passenger, an evangelical pastor from the US. This man had talked to Vittorio (the driver) and Vittorio told him he didn't know much about the Bible, because he had never had one. The pastor went to a Christian book store with Vittorio. Vittorio was looking at the cheap small Bibles, but the man bought him a study bible worth 240 soles. Then the pastor left. Instantly Vittorio was tempted to return the Bible and get the 240 soles. But he felt that if God wanted him to have a Bible, then there must be a reason for it, so he kept the Bible. When he found out that Mike is a Bible teacher, he asked him to meet with him to explain the Bible until we leave San Bartolo.
Encounter #2
We traveled all afternoon and night and arrived at the city of Abancay (alt. 7,900 ft. or 2400 meters.) We had breakfast and stopped in a drugstore for some ibuprofen. A man, seeing us, said "Hello, my friends, do you speak English?" with a very good American accent. He turned out to be the director of a school for heavy equipment operators and mechanics, who had lived in the US for fifteen years. He is also was a Christian and delighted to hear about the work we will be doing in Andahuaylas. He has also been dying for barbecue sauce, and so wants to come and visit us so he can learn how to make it.
Encounter #3
The bus to Andahuaylas from Abancay takes a dirt road through the mountains--a five hour trip. About halfway there a Peruvian medical doctor got up to preach "to shorten the trip." He was preaching without mentioning the gospel, mainly speaking of prophecy, and inviting participation from the passengers. Mike asked him to read several passages from Romans, and they wound up presenting the Gospel together, with several passengers accepting.
We arrived at Andahuaylas tired, but encouraged, and enjoyed some great pizza at Martin's pizzeria, at his invitation.

looong bus trip!

Tammy, Chris & I are going to Andahuaylas for several days. We will be leaving on a 15-16 hour bus trip to the City of Abancay, where we will have to wait at the terminal for about 6 hours. Then we board the smaller, older, crowded, less comfortable bus and take the 5 hour (this time all on ridge top dirt roads - good and bumpy! - conversation is almost impossible =O).
While there we have several things to accomplish - we have to check out the housing, determine what we need to bring with us and what to have shipped (and how) and what to leave here or sell, meet with the Kawsay folks to plan the move and discuss living arrangements, price the stuff that we will need to buy (the Peruvian bare minimum), Tammy has to see how to all the hand laundry and drying at the altitude (it is different - I don't know why), We need to make sure that Chris has no problems being in high altitude for a longer period of time, and I need to show Tammy and Chris all around the area, etc., etc.
Please pray for our safety and protection during the the trip. The trip - while fun to talk about afterward - is arduous (and a surefire backache!) and if you have ever seen the dirt roads crawling along the Andes, you know that it is dangerous. And please pray that we accomplish all that we need to so that the move next month goes as smoothly as possible. Also, Colin will be staying here in San Bartolo by himself, pray for his safety and protection from danger and fear.
God bless,

Political Turmoil

Many of you might have heard or read about the political crisis here. The governing cabinet (here we have a modified parliamentary system, sort of a cross between the U.S. and the U.K.) - with the exception of the president - has just been forced to resign en masse. This was due to the discovery of large scale corruption in the energy sector. There were secret recordings of cabinet members and representatives of foreign businesses, bribery, etc. The new Prime minister is a leftist, who has "served time in jail for alleged links to left-wing rebels" (BBC News). There is much unrest and inflation is on the rise.
This is a two edged sword. People now are more ready than ever to speak of spiritual things (!) but the increasing unrest has led to some violence. Including the first large-scale attack by remnants of the Shining Path that killed several police and innocent civilians.
Please pray that the situation calms down and that we can continue to work in peace here.

Fun with curriculum ;)

Sometimes, things that sound boring can be a lot of fun. I am working on a new course - a 2nd level Bible study methods that looks specifically at narrative accounts (you know things like the Gospel, Acts, the Old Testament Historical books). As I was working on this course, through an interesting and complex chain of events, I was given a book on how Historians sift through original source material and "look for evidence" - how they gain understanding of the context.
Now I have had courses in this from a Bible study perspective, but this takes a little different approach and I am really excited as to how it really helps to flesh out - to bring to life - the Bible narratives. I find myself not just preparing a course to teach, but learning again as well. I always learn from preparing a course (or a conference or a sermon, etc.) but this is "fresher" and is renewing my love for the historical books, that I confess I had come to undervalue in comparison to the more overtly doctrinal or didactic Prophets or Epistles.
Anyways, Like I said, "things that sound boring can be a lot of fun".

Prayer and praise this week

Praise God for:
  • The excellent response at the missions conference this last weekend. The Spirit really moved people to dedicate their lives to service.
  • Becky and Miguel's safe trip back and great honeymoon in Trujillo.
  • Mike being another year older!
  • An excellent discount on bus tickets for our trip next week to Andahuaylas.
Please pray for:
  • Safety for us on our trip, sensitivity to God's leading as we look at the options for housing, etc.
  • This will be Chris's first experience of Andahuaylas. Pray that the altitude doesn't bother him , etc.
  • Pray for Colin and his decisions regarding when to return to the US and what to do about his immigration status.
  • Iglesia Bautista Biblica Nuevo Amanecer and the believers who dedicated their lives. This church is on the front lines in a community filled with alcoholism and drugs, violence, and witchcraft.

Happy Birthday, Mike!

We are planning to enjoy being in (or close to) the city by going to a mall for lunch (certainly no malls in Andahuaylas!) and coming back for Mike's Spanish lesson at the house. Cake at the house in the evening. (But we will buy it, because we don't have an oven here.)

Thank you God, for another year. A year that has brought new direction and a lot of changes. Trials, yes, but many blessings. Thank you, Lord.

Quick Riggs Family Update--where are the kids?

MANDY, is still working in Birmingham at the emergency vet clinic. Sadly, this week someone stole her and her roommate's computers--taking almost all of Mandy's writing projects and the other girl (an amateur photographer)'s photos.

TIM, is working and living in Opp, Alabama. He is working in latino ministries at the Baptist church in Samson. He and his fiance Brittney plan a wedding in Alabama in August 2009.

BECKY is back from her honeymoon. She and Miguel are still working at La Roca. She will return to teaching at the school soon.

COLIN is trying to sort out what to do now that he has lost his visa. He is planning to study at UAB and stay in Birmingham, but is still looking at his options.

CHRIS is doing his fifth grade studies, riding his bike around San Bartolo, and constructing rafts that he is floating in the ocean.

Do you love me more than these?

That's the question the Lord asked Peter. We usually ask what does it mean?
And the usual answers are, either it means more than these other guys love me, or more than you love these things around you?
I think if Jesus was asking it to us, 21st century Christians, interested in missions, surrounded with our stuff, he would mean:
Do you love me more than these things around you?
Ask any born again Christian their priorities. Their well-schooled answer would be
  1. God
  2. Family
  3. Church
  4. Work
But what are they really? Is God really priority one? How do we show that?
Sounds like our priorities oughta be: God, His Sheep, These
God didn't say, if you love me, have a family movie night, stay home, don't get too involved.
If you love me, read about me for an hour a day.
If you love me fast.
If you love me buy all the latest Christian books.
If you love me be socially and politically active.
He said, If you love me, FEED MY SHEEP.
Feeding sheep is a hard job. It means caring for his people (which ought to include our physical family). It means giving up time--maybe even money, maybe even fun. Why do it?
Because you love the Lord Jesus Christ more than these?

Great Missions Conference

This last weekend, October 3-5, Mike gave a Missions conference at a church in a suburb of Lima. The church is full of young people and the enthusiasm grew and grew. We had a wonderful time and they are setting up a Missions committee, are going to start Faith Promise giving and are committed to sending missionaries from their church. They are even planning on taking their first ever Missions trip (in country) within a year. God truly blessed!

Job 11:7-9

Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
8 They are higher than the heavens—what can you do?
They are deeper than the depths of the grave a—what can you know?
9 Their measure is longer than the earth
and wider than the sea.

a Hebrew than Sheol
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1984 (Job 11:7). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Nathan Bill & Chris Road Trip

Monday we headed out to the airport to meet Nathan Ingram, Bill Rowley, and Chris Pelham on their way from Andahuaylas to the US. We wanted to hear the details of the trip, have a semi-official meeting of Impact International, and give them their three suitcases that they left at our house (the little 18 passenger planes that fly to Andahuaylas don't allow much luggage).

Feeling like saving some money (remember--our daughter got married two weeks ago) we were walking down the street with their three suitcases, ready to take a bus across town (a three hour prospect) with the suitcases. Our neighbor Jorge Paz, who among other things drives a taxi, happened to spot us and saved us from the bus-suitcase adventure by offering an economical ride to where he was going and finding another inexpensive taxi to take us to the airport afterwards.

At the airport we met up with them after only a little bit of a runaround.

Chris was much better--he had been sick most of the time they were there--that was an answer to prayer.

They had a great time. They went out in the country to see how the people really live and stayed in Piscabamba, which is much more rural and higher altitude than Andahuaylas. They showed us a great video of a lady cooking pork skins in a pot and stirring them with a 2x4--and of some pig's teeth and other odd bits in the pot! (Wonder why Chris was sick?)

One of the airport security men came over to watch their videos. He had relatives in another part of the mountains, and I guess they reminded him of the home folks.

In their meetings with Kawsay to sign an official agreement as to our responsibilities and cooperation between Kawsay and Impact, everyone saw eye to eye in an almost unbelievable way. For example, Impact wants Mike's ministry to be concentrated in Andahuaylas, with students doing the traveling to rural areas around Andahuaylas. They were wondering how to best bring this up, when one of the Kawsay guys suggested it as a good plan.

We had a great time meeting with them, and then, without suitcases, took the economical three hour bus trip home, while they took off for Birmingham.