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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Well, ever since my first missionary trip to Peru in 1997, I decided to set aside collections of elephants and cows and start collecting llamas. FYI, they are indigenous to Peru. And being harder to find, I'm not quite so overrun by them!
I also began to collect another thing...spiritual sons and daughters.
My first was Jose Choquehuanca, who had been one of the students in the missionary's English class which I took over for her during my first visit. He wrote to me after I left, and told me how his own mother had passed away when he was just 5 (he was in his 20's when we met) so I told him if he wanted he could call ME "madre". We built our relationship through correspondence, and when I returned in 2003 for our friend Pastor Hugo's wedding, Jose was a ready and willing escort about town for me, endearing himself to me even more in his sincere solicitude.
Also in 2003 I reconnected with my friend Marleni's eldest on Foreman, who had been serving as a missionary in Colombia with JuCUM (Youth With A Mission). As he shared his vision and goals with me, I became one of his main supporters, both in prayer and in finances, as well as a spiritual mother. In fact, while he was not my first, he soon became my number 1 spiritual son...and we joke that he is also my most expensive, because I invest so much in his work.
His brother Clay has also become like a son to me, as we visit online, and as he's put me up for a night or two in his home in Lima. We joke that he's my LESS EXPENSIVE son, compared to Foreman.
Jhon and I built our relationship after we met in Lima in 2004, when we met online and chatted. We had an opprotunity to know each other better when we shared missionary adventures in Iquitos in 2006.
I had met Cesar briefly with Jhon, but he was quiet and reserved. But he was also with us in 2006, and I watched him grow and blossom in the Lord. Our shared experiences both then and in Feb of 2007, as well as our online chats, brought us even closer together in heart and spirit, so when he was away when I returned in July this year, he was heartbroken not to be with me.
Abel! Ah, Abel! What a sweetheart HE is! We'd met only briefly in 2004, but bumped into each other online in 2005 and when I learned he lost his mother when he was 3, I took him to heart, and since (unlike a majority of my other spiritual kids) he has no mother BESIDES me, we developed a much stronger kinship through our chats. Then I was able to spend a week with him in February, and brought him with me to Iquitos this summer. We were together for 5 wonderful weeks, and I ministered to him as a mother, and watched HIM blossom as the void was filled.
Jose Calderon is a youth leader at a church in Lima. He was one of those rare people who gave ME something, a praise/worship cd that he saw me enjoying from his collection.
Elvis I'd met only briefly in 2004 and didn't remember him, but he was with us in 2006, and we grew closer; and again in February of this year as one of the Sodados de Roca. He became my "Indiana Elvis," a hand to pull me up the steps of Machu Picchu, an arm to link with mine as we walked the streets of Cuzco.
His brother Victor "Tito" endeared himself to me as he learned Row Row Row Your Boat and we'd chat online as much as possible.
Then there's Esli Gonzales, whose pastor father had interviewed me for Christian Radio in 2003, and passed away in 2005, but not before giving Esli my e-mail. We got to know each other online, and he introduced himself to me in person in 2006. This summer he spent every spare moment with me on my evenings off and just enriched my time in Iquitos.
And while I seem to have acquired mostly sons, I DO have some daughters - two goddaughters, Esther and Lisbeth, and Sabina's nieces Leydy and Zandy...but I think my favorite daughter is Sabi's Ruth.
These are just a FEW of my sons and daughters, the ones I've come to know most...and there'll be more, so many more...
And I love and miss them so, and they are among the main reasons I want to get rid of these excess pounds and get in good shape so that I can make more trips to visit them and go with them on missionary adventures.


Soldiers of Waiting (Soldados de Espera)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

After settling in Iquitos when I arrived in June this year, I went with a small group of people to revisit some of the churches I had gone to last year. Pastor Johel helped to coordinate things with the pastors. My #1 spiritual son Foreman was originally going to accompany me, but he had to supervise work being done on our house. So he sent friend Levy instead. I also had my "son" Abel from Lima, and Esli from Iquitos, and Marleni - Foreman's natural mom and my best friend.
Well, having come up with names for the prior two groups, of course we had to think of something appropriate for this one. And since the boat was delayed a day because it had to reload, rearrange, and take on more cargo ... so we had to wait...and then it was so dark when we arrived in Jorge Chavez, so we had to wait to go to Nuevo Kuwait where my dear friends pastors Augusto and Rosa awaited...and we had to wait for Pastor Walter to come back to get us from Nvo. Kuwait, and had to wait to go to to Requena, and there was no boat directly to Iquitos, so we had to wait and board a boat for Nauta, and arriving in Nauta we had to wait for a bus to get us to Iquitos...Waiting and waiting...But God is patient and does a quick work in us by making us wait.. In Spanish as in some other languages, the verb WAIT is the same as HOPE. When GOD makes us wait, we can do so with a sense of expectancy and HOPE - it's not for nothing! In the waiting, closer bonds were formed among the soldiers, especially Abel and Esli, who discovered certain common talents, interests, and experiences, and the two became very good friends. They escorted me on my free evenings to the Plaza de Armas where we'd go to the local internet cabina for an hour or so, and then hit one of the restaurants for dinner and a caraf of Sangria. The experience on the river was well worth waiting for, and we want to return again next year, taking more time to be able to visit more of the villages for longer time.
It's definitely easier to mount the gangplanks to board the boats, climb the stairs, get into and out of hammocks, step into and out of canoes, squat to relieve oneself on a muddy bank behind reeds - with less weight to encumber one! Good motivation to get rid of the unwanted pounds and keep the muscles limber. Love those squatting exercises!


Presenting "Rock Soldiers" (Soldados de Roca)

Friday, November 16, 2007

It was Pastor Jorge Samelvino who coined their name because of the terrain we were going to, in the mountains ("Sierra") of Peru. The Andes are like the backbone of the country. Along the coast, where Lima is, they are dry and barren. But inland we discovered there were lush areas. Cusco is a beautiful city, rich in the country's history, and I'd love to go again. In February the climate was springlike - warm compared to the Rochester winter my senior minister Al and I had just left for this prayer project! But the warriors from Iquitos, which is in the rainforest ("selva") region closer to the equator, found it very chilly!
The surrounding farm villages are beautiful, and the mountains reminded me of the Catskill region of my state of NY. In a couple of places we had 3-way translations of Al's sermons - English, Spanish, and Quechua (an Incan dialect found in the mountains)
Moises had been in Iquitos last year, but was visiting his grandmother in Iquitos so he did not become one of the Soldados de Barro. But here he had the opportunity to be a Soldado de Roca. Jhon, the other Soldado de Barro, on the other hand, could not join us, and remained in Lima to continue his studies.
I bonded with my boys even more.And the lads LOVED Al. I bequeathed Elvis (whom we dubbed "Indiana" from the Spielburg thrillers) my leather coat and got him a hat to go with it. Still gotta get him a whip!
Can't wait to go on more missionary adventures with these guys! So, I have to continue my exercise and healthy eating so I can endure the rigors even better!


Presenting "Mud Soldiers" (Soldados de Barro)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Well, it's time to reminisce, having gone through all of this past summer's photos.
Last year I had the pleasure of traveling with a group of a pastoral couple and 3 young men from Lima, and another who joined us from Iquitos, to visit some river churches in Peru. Ps Jorge had been in contact with a few villages when he got a letter from a fellowship of pastors directed to his brother Ps Hugo, who had passed away. Jorge promised he'd carry out what my friend Hugo had purposed to do, to bring me to visit according to the ministry the Lord gave me - visitation and encouragement in the Body of Christ.
I loved the adventure of traveling by boat, spending the night in hammocks thereon, and then traveling by canoe to visit the villages of Nuevo Kuwait, Uralina, Jorge Chavez, Atun Posa, San Juan de Paucar, and Bretaņa. We were gladly received - all but Bretaņa had never had a visit from a gringo missionary.
Of course part of an adventure is the unexpected. Like when the boat's engine ran out of oil and our strong young men helped to haul it while one of the pastors went with a passing boater to get more oil. While they had their first baptism in mud when we took the canoe up the channel of the Puinahua to the village of Nvo Kuwait, we encountered it in earnest during the walk along the river bank. It was after the trip and before we left Iquitos for Lima, at a little concert Jorge gave, where, for the prize of a cd of his songs, he asked the question what was the name of the group accompanying him. I thought he was speaking of our group that had traveled on the river, but he was speaking of the musicians. I piped up "Soldados de Barro" - Soldiers of Mud, or Mud Soldiers - for our miry experiences. Well, the name stuck, and so these 4 - Michael, Elvis, Jhon, and Cesar - became the Mud Soldiers. These photos highlight those adventures.
I loved getting to know and work with these 4 "kids" - young men in their 20's - their endurance, their hard work, their sense of fun, but especially their testimonies in the Lord. They are among my most loved spiritual sons.
And Sabina became a very dear friend (as well as my bathroom escort)as we shared the adventure together.


From Glory to Glory He's Changing Me

Monday, November 05, 2007

ANyone remember that little song? "His likeness and image to perfect in me the Love God has shown to the world..."
Since I finished up the pix from this summer's tripI thought I'd take a stroll down memory lane focusing on Pastors I've come to know in Peru.. I started with Pastor Hugo and my first trip in 97. I don't know how much I weighed then, but I can tell you I wasn't as physically active then! My second trip in 03 was for Hugo's wedding, and I met Genaro, Johel, and Avisrror (not shown) in Iquitos then, weighing even more. When I returned in 04 I was up to 250 pounds when I met Hernan, Victor, Jorge, and Gregorio in Lima and Carlos, Emelio (not shown) and Modesto in Iquitos. But after joining Spark in 06 when I returned I was down to 230 by that summer. When I next change the pix I'll show some MORE "after" shots with pastors.
Yesterday we had a lovely surprise visit by my DS Ben and his wife our DDIL Mellissa, and our "shiny new Penny" born September 20. And Nina (me) will be able to keep up with her as she becomes more active, thanks to Spark.


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