Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Drowning In The Desert

Many of you may already know that Lima is located in a desert. Despite this fact, and with considerable irony, the most common problem we have had in Lima, of late, has involved too much water. Since moving to Lima, we have struggled to understand, use, and protect the fragile system that directs and delivers this valuable resource to our apartment. Problems ranging from broken drainage pipes to a lack of hot water have become part of our new "normal" here in Lima. But the latest series of H2O difficulties have us considering whether we need to build a miniature ark to protect us from drowning in our new desert home.

Recently, I was hanging up a chart for the kids with a small nail (see picture above). After the third strike of the hammer, water began spraying out of the small nail hole like a fire-hydrant. I immediately screamed for Geoff to turn off the water. He ran into the kitchen to see water dousing the entire contents of one of the smallest rooms in our house. While after only about 3 minutes we had managed to decrease the water pressure from geyser like force to a small brook, it was around 15 minutes before we could stop the water completely. Our victory was short lived though, as we were soon to discover that the cost of stopping the leak was that we had lost water pressure to the rest of the house - the toilets, sinks, showers, nada!

It was a bit of an inconvenience for a day, but we had someone over to the house to repair the problem the next day. All water was restored in the house, and I am now much more cautious about where I hang things. Lesson learned.

About two weeks later, I was having a lesson with my Spanish tutor when I noticed water seeping onto the floor from the bottom of the wall...IN OUR LIVING ROOM! I sopped up the water to notice more water flowing out from the same place between the floor and baseboard. Our landlord was remodeling the upstairs, and the men were working directly above the leak. Our Peruvian friend went upstairs to explain the situation, and, after some incredulous squabbling over whose fault it was, our owner came over and told the workmen they were responsible and had to repair the leak. They immediately tore a hole in the wall and spent the next couple of days repairing the leak and the wall.

I got several odd looks when I told them that I could paint over the repaired spot. I politely told them that I liked to paint, I had the color, and I would happily finish the job. Secretly, I did not want them in my house anymore. There had been enough mayhem and I was more than happy to put an end to that. We are now more flexible and less surprised by the inconceivable - especially when it involves too much water in the desert. Lesson learned.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

This past Thursday we went to visit two of our friends. We (Word Made Flesh) met Linsey and Pedro when they lived on the street. They and their three children now live with her (Linsey's) brother, his family, and her mother in two small shacks built on the side of a steep hill in one of the poorest districts in Lima.

The visit was surreal. As we entered their barrio (neighborhood), I felt as though I had been instantly transported out of the mega-city in which I live into a rural village several miles outside of Lima. But as I looked behind me I could see the concrete memorial testifying to the progress of a city offering every amenity that one's heart could desire. This was still Lima. The contrast, unimpeded by space or time, was disorientating.

The following pictures illustrate, however poorly, what my eyes took in on my bus ride and short walk to my friends' home.

Mira Flores - one of the wealthier districts of Lima.

Lima is divided into districts. The nicer districts look much like a prosperous U.S. city.

Then I arrived at the district in which my friends live.

We arrived at these stairs after walking up a dirt road and a short, but steep, dirt path that cut between several homes.

This is where my friends live. This humble dwelling is home to my friends, their three children, and her mother. Her brother, who owns the homes and land, lives with his family in the house directly behind the first one (pictured below).

My friend, Miguel (Linsey's and Pedro's son), is holding one of seven puppies who now share this space with him.

Linsey with her two and half month old baby boy (Que lindo! - How cute!).

Despite the difficulty of adjusting to the contrast between Lima as many people experience it and the Lima my friends know, once I entered their humble dwelling I felt at home. My time in their house was far more beautiful and inviting than the concrete jungle that I spent an hour traversing. My friends, who don't have much to spare, fixed us a huge lunch, handing us plates spilling over with rice and tuna. We spent hours together, basking in God's presence as we recounted the stories of His love for us.

The writer of Psalm 73 struggled with the contrast of the wealthy and the needy. More specifically, he wrestled with the apparent comfort and wealth of the wicked as compared to the suffering and poverty of the humble and faithful. The injustice of it was enough to make him want to throw in the towel, to reject God and pursue wealth and comfort. The psalmist writes, "Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning." (vv. 13-14)

Then the psalmist entered God's presence. He writes, "When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me, till I entered the sanctuary of God..." (vv. 16-17, emphasis mine) The worth of worldly riches faded away in the presence of the One from whom all value flows. Some of my most favorite verses in all of Scripture come from the hand of a man who once envied the rich. But in his relationship with God, Asaph finds wealth that far surpasses the value of any created thing.

Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever. (vv.23-26)

May we all experience the brokenness that led Asaph to such a profound place of worship!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

We had lots of fun at home as we tried to cram a summer's worth of fun into one month...and, in reality, managed to fit several summer's worth into what seemed like a few days. But we have recovered from the dizzying pace of being home and are enjoying a more measured rhythm to our daily schedules. As we reflect on our time at home, it is easy to see God's fingerprints all over the place. The time with family and friends was so rich. The opportunities to share our story about God's grace were so encouraging. We are grateful for the gift of relationships that the Lord has blessed us with. While there is no way to share images from every event during our time in the States, the pictures below capture some of the sweetest moments.

Enjoying the hot weather with water on the farm

Time with family
More time with family in Champaign, IL

Slip sliding away

Celebrating a cousin's (Lukas) first birthday

Lots of fun times with best friends

Visiting the train museum

Dad getting slimed at the Hope VBS...and it was his birthday. Happy birthday Geoff!

The girls enjoying the sun at the Current River

All "funned" out after a day on the river

The boys searching for treasure

Malachi doing what he loves...playing tractors

Swimming in the Current River

Visiting Blue Springs at the Current River

In Omaha for a staff retreat. This is the North American staff that live and work in Peru.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It is hard to believe that we have been back in Lima for three weeks. On one hand it seems like only yesterday that we were visiting with family and friends in the States. But on the other, it feels like we never left Peru. The rythym that took several months (about five, to be exact) to develop and seemed destined to dissolve during our visit in July has been reinstated, with improvements. We are thriving, though not without dificulties, in our new home.

Raechel, Lily, and Eli are in their thrid week of homeschooling. Raechel is amazing, a truly gifted teacher, and the kids have displayed a ravenous appetite for learning. Zeke and Chi returned to school without incedence and seem to be enjoying their time at the jardin de ninos. I have been spending as much time as possible with the youth and trying to figure out how to best organize my time in the office. I'm still learning the ropes, and the ropes are long...

My time with the youth has been rich. I have gone to visit kids who have left the streets, now living in shacks tenously clinging to the side of a nearly vertical hillside. I have been playing soccer every Wednesday with my friends at La Flecha. Friends who still call the streets home and who continue to struggle to believe that God loves them and has created them for something more. I have attended a Bible study where youth that have left the streets gather to learn more about the God who, in Jesus Christ, has rescued them from their former hopelessness. I have learned a lot from my friends - about myself and about the Lord who loves them more than I do.

I have so many stories to share. Starting today, Raechel and I are committing to posting at least once a week. We want you to get to know my friends. We hope to keep you updated on how our family is getting along in Lima. We want you to feel connected to the ministry of Word Made Flesh. But most of all, we desire for you to grow closer to Jesus Christ. We would love for God to use these words to encourage, challenge, humble, and edify his people. We will pray to that end.