Friday, October 26, 2012

Here's Eli

This week I want to highlight our oldest son (9 years old) and share with our readers about his experience in Peru. 

We moved here when Eli was 6 years old, and it has been such a joy to see him grow into a young man and to journey with him through this Peruvian experience.  He has optimistically encountered all of the challenges of living in another country.  In general, Eli is laid back and goes easily with the flow, something we needed as we faced the same challenges.

Below is a picture of Eli's 7th (1st in Peru) birthday, only a few months after we arrived.  (An aside - Zeke had fallen off his bunk bed a few days before, and this is why the side of his face looks slightly green.)

One of Eli's favorite things is adventuring, so living in the city has been difficult for him.  He enjoys nature, science, and just getting dirty.  His favorite times in Peru have been when we have gotten out of the city and explored this beautiful country.  In fact, I noticed when I was searching for pictures that most of my pictures of Eli are of him doing just that.  Below are a series of pictures of Eli "getting down and dirty" as he explores Peru.

Above he is learning to shoot a slingshot during our visit to the Amazones.

During the same trip, he discovered this machete and pretty much held onto it throughout the entire trip, as you will see below.

Eli and mom after a long hike through the high jungle.  It poured down rain on us during the latter half of the hike.

Climbing the rocks in Santa Rosa

Finding bugs in the jungle

Finding and "saving" frogs 

Climbing the rocks during an all-boy trip to the jungle

More exploring during the all boy adventure

Again with the machete...I am not sure Zeke felt very comfortable with this.

The machete rarely left his side, and I am scared just looking at this picture.  This must have been while Geoff was in charge.

Always exploring when given the chance

Another thing Eli loves is learning.  He amazes me with his ability to absorb knowledge (I am a little jealous) and I am constantly learning from him.  Often times during homeschool, he teaches me, especially in the subjects of science and history.  Below are a couple of pictures of him enjoying learning.

During our first year here, we gave Eli a snake for Christmas.  Peruvians always thought this to be the oddest pet and were usually a bit confused why someone would want to own a snake.

Below are a few pictures of Eli in Santa Rosa.  Although he can enjoy himself while participating in the ministry programs, he always gravitates to getting "down and dirty" in the sand.

A short interview with Eli

Mommy:  What has been hardest about living in Peru?

Eli:  I miss my cousins and I miss living so close to nature.

Mommy:  What has been your favorite thing about Peru?

Eli:  Going on adventures.  I loved the adventure to the Amazones because we had long hikes where we could explore, but I also liked the one with just the boys because it was fun to have boy time.

Mommy:  What have you learned during your time here?

Eli:  I have learned to enjoy sitting with mom and dad in church because I am enjoying preaching and because I learn more than I do in Sunday school.  I have also learned that one family, like Robbi and Elita, can make a big difference.

Mommy:  How have you changed during your time in Peru?

Eli:  I have seen that mission work is not only going out to remote places but that it can be done in the deepest of cities to the most barren deserts.

Mommy:  Anything else you want to say about your time in Peru?

Eli:  Sometimes it is boring and sometimes it is fun.

Side note from Mom:  If you want a lesson between boys and girls, you can go back and read Lily's interview a couple of months ago.  She is a bit more verbose than her brother :).

Below is a recent picture of Geoff and Eli with the abandoned kitten they rescued from the park.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Meaningless and Hopeless

"Meaningless! Meaningless!"
      says the teacher.
"Utterly meaningless!
     Everything is meaningless."
Ecclesiastes 1:2

So go the opening lines of Ecclesiastes; and, upon honest reflection, so appears the world.  Our friends on the street live to feed their passions, whatever they may be at any given moment.  Many of them are simply repeating the pattern established by their parents, adapting the cycle of sin, poverty, and brokenness to their own age and environment.  The chaos and destruction that appears in the wake of their choices does indeed seem meaningless.

But the writer of Ecclesiastes was not merely referring to the obvious ways that sin perverts the goodness of God's creation and distorts the semblance of its moral order, nor did he only illustrate his point with those whose lot is endless toil with no reward.  His examination cuts deep and his diagnosis poetically describes the impression given by a horizontal survey of this world.  Rich or poor, oppressed or free, educated or ignorant, yellow, red, black, or white our best efforts are meaningless in our sight...

Even so, the stark reality of the truths of Ecclesiastes are brought into sharper focus in the darker corners of this sin stained world; the absurdity of  selling and buying a person's body for the fleeting pleasure of sexual gratification, an unquenchable fire that consumes all who attempt to tame it; the pointlessness of huffing glue to cover the pain of past abuse only to be aroused from a stupor with a pounding headache and a profound sense of shame; the closed wombs of countless women who, along with their husbands, are mentally, emotionally, and financially prepared to care for children, while the fertility of so many others bring children into this world without fathers, homes, or love.  Everything is meaningless.

 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole [duty] of man.
For God will bring every deed into
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

So ends the wisdom offered by the writer of Ecclesiastes; and, upon honest reflection on the testimony of Scripture, so is the world.  But if this is the end of the story, we have simply been moved from meaninglessness to hopelessness.  The writer of Ecclesiastes has contemplated all of creation from a worldly perspective and has found it to be utter vanity.  He moves from the horizontal to the vertical in order to identify our purpose, banishing the pretense of triviality.  We were created to honor and glorify God by knowing Him and obeying His commands.  But the honest reader, while gaining a since of purpose, will not be moved one inch from the despair he felt when life appeared meaningless, "for God will bring every deed into judgement..." (emphasis mine).  Now everything is hopeless.

...but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks,
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God...
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us the wisdom of God - 
that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.
1 Corinthians 1:23, 24, 30

So writes Paul; and, upon honest reflection on the testimony of the Spirit through the Scriptures, so is Christ.  When we honestly look at the world around us and consider the brevity and seeming incongruity of our lives, we are tempted to stumble under the weight of a horizontal vista (see also Psalm 73).  When we recognize that Scripture teaches that we were made for an end, that our lives are not meaningless but, instead, are imbued with purpose, we are tempted to stumble under the burden of that unreachable goal, that is, to honor and glorify God with all that we are.  It is in the revelation of Christ alone that we find that our purpose brings hope, because it (i.e., our purpose) was accomplished in Him.  Jesus Christ fulfilled the "whole duty of man," fearing God and keeping His commands.  By this He became our righteousness and holiness.  Then, He was judged for "our every hidden thing," all of which was evil. By this He became our redemption.  In Christ there is purpose (to love, serve, and enjoy our God and Savior) and hope (eternal life with the Triune God).

Oh, the depth of the riches of the
wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgements,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
"Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
"Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?"
For from him and through him and to
him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33-36

Friday, October 12, 2012

Just Plain Peru.

This week Lily asked me if she could write on our blog and since Geoff is out trying to take care of a required test for our car (and this, like many things here, could take hours), I decided this would work out nicely.  The below post, written by Lily, is her thoughts on some of the things she has noticed about Peru.  

My name is Lily and I am writing this week on my parents' blog.  I want to share a little about Peru. Peru is very different from the USA.  The food is different, the schools are different, and the people are different. 

Lima is also different from the rest of Peru.  It is huge.  Because most people do not have cars, they ride taxis or buses.  The streets of Lima are very busy and there are speed bumps everywhere!  Rapidly, the cars shove in front of each other in order to get where they need to go.  There are little stores called bodegas located on almost every street.  They are jam packed with Peruvian treats as well as other simple foods.  Many people live in apartments and others live in one room houses.  Conveniently, there are vendors who sell food on the streets.  These are a big favorite in my family.     

Below are some pics of just plain peru!

One of the things I love about Peru is the food!

O so good.

Intestines for sale at the market. Gross!!!

The market, where most Peruvians buy there food.

In this picture you can see some of the buses people ride. Lima is very busy. 

Peru can be different depending on the place.  This is Santa Rosa. 

An Incan chief at a dance show we saw.

A Peruvian dance at the dance show.

The USA is very different from Peru, but that does not mean Peru is different in a bad way.  God made all countries and all people.  He is working with Peru as well as North America.  At first, I wanted to move back so much.  But as the time draws near, I don't want to leave the people and the country who, like America, our great God is working through.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Meet Esperanza

Meet Esperanza

It is with immense joy that I (Geoff) publish this week's post.  One of our greatest blessings during the years that we have been in Peru has been to work along side our "forever-family" from Peru.  We have grown to deeply love our Peruvian brothers and sisters in Christ and have enjoyed laboring beside them for the glory of our Father.

It has been remarkably humbling to see how God is using Peruvians to reach Peruvians.  The Spirit is transforming the hearts and minds of the people here (as He is all over the world), empowering our Peruvian brothers and sisters to carry the message of the Cross to every corner of this country, and beyond.  We have witnessed the wisdom of Peruvians ministering to Peruvians (not to trivialize cross-cultural ministry and its important place in God's mission).  National servants never get homesick nor falter with language.  They know their culture better than any foreigner ever will.  They know and love their people, and they speak with an understanding and perceived authority not possessed by those of us who come from the outside.   Our experience here has impressed upon us the inestimable value of Peruvian leadership in the work of God in Peru.

It would take a 100 posts to enumerate all of the lessons that we have learned from our friends here.  Our lives have been enriched and our hearts have been enlarged through these relationships, and I would love to share, however inadequately, this gift with all of you.  Towards this end, in this blog, I will introduce you to my friend, and dear sister in Christ, Esperanza.

Esperanza joined the Word Made Flesh staff around the same time that we moved to Lima.  Her love for the Lord and her passion to see our friends reconciled to Christ is exemplary.  She is tireless (apart from work meetings, where she sometimes reenergizes by taking a short catnap) and driven, giving sacrificially of herself and inspiring others to the same.

Personally, Esperanza has been an invaluable part of my experience here.  Because she is bilingual, I have been able to participate in the ministry of Word Made Flesh in more significant ways with her help.  She intuitively knows how to finish my thoughts, and when I reach the end of my tiny repertoire of Spanish expressions she is always ready to fill in the missing pieces (which is often and many, respectively).

My favorite thing about Esperanza is her heart for lost people.  More than once, I have been profoundly impressed by her passionate pleas to our friends who live on the street.  She shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ with tears in her eyes, entreating our friends to consider the goodness of our Father in sending His Son to obey and suffer on our behalf.  Her's is not a cold and calculated argument for why we are "right" and others are "wrong" but a sincere, heart-felt message of grace and forgiveness to broken and sinful people like ourselves.  She has taught me much about the heart of evangelism.

The following is an interview (via email) that Raechel had with Esperanza:          

  • Tell me a little about your family and where you all are from?
I come from a large family, three sisters and one brother, I am the middle one. We are all from Lima, Peru, my parents too; though my grandparents are from the mountains of Peru, Cajamarca, a place most of my extended family loves to go for vacation.  I am blessed that my parents were Christians when my brother, my sisters, and I were growing up because they taught us Christian values.  But more importantly they showed us the best thing a person can get, God's love and forgiveness.

  • What does a typical day or week look like?
Well, during the weekdays is pretty mechanical, I get up early for devotional, then get ready for work in PHH, I also have a tutoring class from Monday to Thursdays. I usually get home by 8:00 and then take some time to study, because I am taking a 9-month course in the university that ends in December this year.  Friday nights, music rehearsal at church. On Saturdays mornings, I visit my aunt to practice English and then dance rehearsal. Saturday afternoons I just stay home or have other plans. Once a month I go to classes at university. Sundays, I usually spend all day at church.

  • What are your hobbies or things you enjoy doing?
Easy, singing and dancing.

  • What do you like/enjoy about working with PHH?
The possibility to work in the ministry full time, seeing God’s work in the life of my friends, and seeing God’s work in my life through their life.  I also enjoy being able to get into their environment and be recognized as a friend, but a friend that is looking for their good, I mean a good relationship with God.  Another thing that I enjoy is to see how God supports his work. 

  • What is difficult about doing full time ministry?
One of the most difficult things is dealing with frustration. Many times I was expecting fast changes, a quick response, but I am learning that God has his perfect timing to do his work, and I just need to keep praying and trusting that I am going to see that change.

  • What is your hope for your future?
Many families and individuals changed by the blood of Jesus and embraced by the church. I hope to see families and individuals, regardless of their situation, trust and honor God and also be a testimony for others.

Esperanza has done lots of translating for us and our teams

Something not mentioned above is Esperanza's gift with kids.  She is amazing with children.