Sorry it has been so long between updates. Things are starting to get going again (not much happens in LaPerla between Dec-Feb due to the rains).
Jenn and I just got home from the Food For the Hungry Summit in Arizona last night. We have a renewed desire to make La Perla part of our lives every day. One of the ways that we’ve fallen off the wagon is in my failure to regularly update the blog. The last quarterly report we received was written by Jack on December 1 (10 days before he died). It was the first update on which he included a personal note to “Rock Harbor” (which includes all of the team members who have visited). It’s a very poignant note–even more so in light of his passing–because it applies to his life’s work at least as much as to our small contributions. Here it is:
“I am so thankful to God for your support of the work that is being carried out in the communities to benefit the families. I pray that God would continue to use you to bless this community and others, and I urge you to remember that the seeds you are helping to plant today, God will be faithful to grow, and will one day be harvested in his Glory. Blessings, Jack”
Here is the rest of the update:
1. Local Church: 5 people were newly baptized and 2 members of the church decided to get more involved in church activities serving as deacons. The church took out a loan to help them finish the construction of the building and each church member is committed to giving monthly towards paying back the loan!
2. Special Events: The youth from Iglesia El Buen Camino invited youth from 5 other churches to participate in a talent show featuring theater, choreography, and singing. And the church celebrated its anniversary with lunch, choreography and singing.
3. Clinton Flores Vela (a sponsored child) did not show any interest in schoolwork, chores, or even completing assignments. But in the last few months, he began regularly attending the FH youth club and hearing about doing everything as if it was for the Lord. Now, he takes pride in what he does and finishes everything on time. He is an example to his community.
4. Thanksgiving: God has been softening the hearts of the people in the community. More and more families are showing interest in wanting to know more about him.
5. Community Prayer Requests:
*Pray for the church building project: that the loan will come through quickly and that church members will be faithful in their commitment to pay it back
*Pray for families in the community: that God would continue to soften their hearts and that they would come to the feet of Jesus
*Pray for Guillermina, Pastor Juan Carlos’ wife who has been suffering health problems
6. FH Staff Prayer Requests
*Pray for Monica Macedo (the health project facilitator) that her pregnancy would continue to go well and that she will deliver a healthy baby. Pray also that God will change people’s attitudes about their health through the workshops she teaches in the community
*Pray for Jack Arriaga (this is our Jack–his prayer request) for his spiritual and work life and that God would continue to use him in serving the community for his glory. (This is still something you can pray for: that Jack’s servant’s heart and good example will continue to send waves of hope through the community).
Finally, I’d like to add two things:
The updates from 1-4 are actually amazing answers to prayer. They represent beginnings of resolution in some major areas we have been concerned and praying about: the church not taking responsibility for their building project, the church being closed in on itself and not reaching out to the community, and community programs not seeming to have the desired impact. Pray that this progress will not be hindered by Jack’s death!
Ryan Smedes, the FH Country Director for Peru, told us that La Perla requested to have Jack’s body displayed in the community center on afternoon so they could pay respects to him. 2 other communities he had done short stints in prior to working in La Perla requested the same thing that for that day. He said that they had never seen such a turnout for a lost member of their staff and that Jack’s gentle heart had clearly made a huge impact on everyone he worked with. I am thankful that God allowed us to know him for even a short time. He is an inspiration for the surrendered life God really wants from us.