A Classic Gag

Mike has been having trouble hearing for the past week.  He went to the drugstore and bought ear drops but with no result.  So yesterday he decided to go to the Dr. right before he taught doctrine class at the Central Church.  The doctor said that his ears were blocked and that he needed to take some drops to loosen up the wax.  She insisted that he needed to take some drops before he taught that night.  We bought the drops and went to the church, where Mike stretched out on a pew, to the amusement of some early-arriving young people. I started to administer the drops, and realized that I was not sure how many to put in.  I took a paper out of my pocket and shouted (because of his ears), "Read it to me!"

Mike boomed out, "2 ears of corn, 50 cents worth of peas..." amusing the young people still more.

Blushing, I shouted, "Wrong list!  And in English added "That's about the oldest joke in book..."

Oh well, pray for his ears to get better.  He's going to the Doctor this afternoon.

And the resurrection?

In Andahuaylas today, you can’t buy meat, most of the stores are closed.  Many streets are closed as processions go by.  They carry a figure of Jesus and/or Mary as they slowly walk up and down, weeping and mourning.  The Cathedral is full of people, some sobbing.  There is no joy here, no sound of business or of children playing – there is just profound sorrow.  It is Friday – Good Friday (Viernes Santo) and joy is prohibited.
In two days it will be Easter – the Day of Resurrection!  But on that day, every closed store will be open, every restaurant bustling.  The city will be her usual hurry-scurry self.  Street vendors calling out, side streets will be impromptu soccer fields or closed for volleyball.  Children will be running and playing, and even the evangelical churches will be only partially attended.  Resurrection Day is the last day of our fall Holidays and everyone wants to take advantage of it, before the grind of the normal 7 days a week, twelve (or more) hours per day work schedule returns.
The most important day in the history of the world goes by with little or no notice.  Everyone weeps at the crucifixion, but very few worship joyfully, few celebrate the sign that God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus.  Here we mourn the loss of the Lamb of God, but ignore His risen presence.  As you go to church on Easter Sunday and do your family traditions and remember the glorious fact of the resurrection; don’t forget to give thanks that this one special day, shows us that we are accepted in the Beloved.

A Strategic Alliance

Saturday afternoon started a new chapter for the country Bible Institutes. We signed an agreement with the Christian organization Paz y Esperanza (Peace and Hope) for cooperation in what will be called Comprehensive Rural Bible Institutes. In these Institutes, we will be teaching Bible, Doctrine, and Ministry classes, while Paz y Esperanza will provide the pastors, who are usually the leaders of their communities, with occupational training, classes in civil rights and responsibilities, and training in how to request Peruvian government funding for a project.

One of our goals has always been to help the whole person in the Quechua society. Last November we were putting together our goals for this year as a mission team. Miguel Gomez, Cayo Cardenas, Mike, and I were brainstorming goals related to our primary goals. One of these goals is to help improve the quality of life in the poor communities. Cayo related how the young women in one of the communities he had visited did not know how to grow a vegetable garden or make preserves, so that the diet of the people there was mainly potatoes--and only as a result of ignorance.

I had also experienced this. At one medical campaign a woman came who had had an apparent broken ankle for six months. Peru has free public health insurance that would have taken care of this. But the woman was ignorant of the program or how to applcommunityy. Although I had a Quechua speaking nurse explain it to her, I wondered how many others in the pueblos were in a similar condition.

The truth is that Peru has programs and projects to help the very poor communities, but the people remain ignorant of what is available or how to get help.

We thought of many ways that we could help the communities, but when we came to actually considering who could do it, we were stuck. We were all already too busy to look for people to give seminars to help them garden, know their legal rights, etc.

Paz y Esperanza, on the other hand, saw the crying spiritual need. Ana Jauregui, who works in education here in Apurimac, related to us what she saw.

"When you are faced with the enormous need in the communities--the domestic violence, the sexual abuse of children, the drunken and chaotic lives that the people lead--you see that there are animals leading healthier lives. We could see that we needed to work with the church, that we needed a way to train the pastors to work with this enormous spiritual need, but we didn't have a way to do it."

The pastors here, often only selected by the congregation because they can read, or are more committed than the average person, feel the burden of caring for the people. But most of them don't have the slightest idea where to begin. They have no biblical training and often only a grade school education, yet they are faced with difficult congregational problems --incest, idol worship, witchcraft, domestic violence, drug trafficking, you name it. The community looks to them as well to help with legal and medical problems, because they are generally literate. The pastors typically feel frustrated in their efforts to help, because they just don't know how. The new rural institutes will provide training for their unique role that God has given them.

The agreement is not only limited to the institutes. Other programs will include training for Christian elected officials as well as conferences for the entire community, addressing both the spiritual and physical needs of the people. It additionally provides more opportunities for short term teams. A team of Christians is currently helping to build a house for a pastor whose home was destroyed by a mudslide, and in the relocation of other families who live in a high risk zone.

Very busy weekend--or maybe not (ambiguity in the Andes)

Mike is gearing up for a busy weekend...or at least he probably is.

About a month ago a pastor from the community of Piscobamba came to talk to him about being the speaker for the church anniversary.  The church anniversary here is like homecoming in Alabama.  Everyone remotely connected with the church comes to the fiesta--featuring food, guest speakers, singing groups from other churches.  In many communities it is THE special event.

The pastor from Piscobamba is an extremely soft-spoken man with a very high voice.  Spanish is his second language.  He invited Mike to the anniversary and gave him a date for it.  Then he went next door to talk to the neighbor.  On his way back out, he reminded Mike not to forget the anniversary, and seemed to say a different date.

Since then, he has not contacted Mike.  Other leaders in the denomination have said that the first date had to be wrong, because it was during the national election, when it is illegal to have a public meeting.  So we are guessing that it is this weekend, but we haven't gotten any confirmation.  (As usual, there is no way to contact the community.)

So Mike is prepared to go.  Tomorrow morning he teaches the seminary class in Andahuaylas, and he hopes to get some solid information from one of the students, several of whom come from outlying communities and should know if an anniversary celebration is planned.

If he goes, he will have to grab lunch and go to Piscobamba to be there in time to preach Saturday night and Sunday.  Then he will come back Sunday afternoon.

Please pray that he finds out if he is supposed to be there.  ( and if not WHEN he is supposed to be there) and for a safe trip, as we are still having torrential rains that can wash out the roads.

Prayer request- pigs and witches

Please pray for our friend Vicky. A neighbor's pig was stolen and the neighbor went to a witch who told them that Vicky and another neighbor had stolen it. Now the man is threatening her that something worse will happen to her and entering her property. The police told her that it was her job to make sure that people respect her, not theirs. Pray that God changes this man's heart, that Vicky has peace, and that she can find someone concerned with upholding the law.

Busy times--Evangelical Seminary of Apurimac opens

The Seminario Evangélico de Apurimac (SEA) opened the 2nd of April and the first class is well underway. This is the first evangelical training center in the area to offer a bachelors' degree and one of few in the country. Local restaurateur (and maker of some of the best pizza in the world) Martin Leon is loaning us the classroom location that is right off the plaza in Andahuaylas. The students, most of whom have graduated from World Reach Mobile Bible Institute or secular universities, are very excited to actually have a chance to study for ministry at a university level! Classes are offered every Saturday with extensive assignments to complete during the week.
Thanks for all your prayers, and please keep praying for:
The students, that their enthusiasm doesn't wane.
The facility--it is in the process of being improved.
Mike-He's writing many of the initial courses and teaching half of the courses.
Visiting professors-keep their commitments, safety in travel, good understanding with the students (also a need for more :)
Cayo Cardenas- He is still quite ill and unable to help with the seminary or teach.
Provision- the students are paying a minimal amount, and some can't really afford that. Pray for provision for books for the library, computers, and scholarships.

Praise God for bringing us this far!