An amazing recap by our beloved Pam

(copied from Pam’s blog…..what an amazing young woman)

New post on Followingavision’s Blog

La Perla 2011. He makes everything glorious!
by followingavision
It almost seems impossible to recap my time in Pucallpa because of the amount of emotion and joy that was involved; I don’t know how to convey the feeling in my heart for what I just experienced, but I will try my best! I can honestly say that God’s hand was upon this trip; his fingerprints were all over everything we did. Something I loved about our time in Pucallpa this year was the variety of areas we worked in… kids, youth, parents, medical clinics, construction, home visits, etc. We were greeted at the airport by our friends of La Perla with signs, shouts, hugs and kisses.

Our time started out strong with a medical clinic. We were able to see over 300 patients; serving them through medical attention, prayer, filling their prescriptions for free, and spending quality time with the people/kids as they were waiting their turn to be seen. I’ve now experienced a few different medical clinics, and each time I am completely in awe of the different ways we can serve God. With barely any previous experience, I helped in the pharmacy; filling some prescriptions, and helping where needed. It’s amazing to watch people who specifically have a call for medical missions, or just a passion for the medical field to serve God in this way and give everything they have. Medical missions is a way to fill practical needs for the people; and through filling their practical needs, we are able to reach their hear ts. It was truly amazing.

We also were able to help out in filling another practical need…working with machetes! I must say, the men and women and even kids made this work look so simple; little did I know, it wasn’t one bit easy! I have much respect for anyone who can successfully use a machete to cut a field of grass, its hard work! The people are hard workers. I don’t know how much help I personally was for this project, but I had a blast trying and working alongside the community! Our hard work was rewarded with coconuts off the tree; followed by a spontaneous game time with the kids!

So I am realizing that if I go day by day on what we did, you will be reading (or give up reading) for a long time…so instead, I am going to just talk about a few things that really had an impact on my heart.

Parents Night. As I wrote in a previous blog entry, I was given the privilege of preparing a teaching/activity for parent’s night. As I was waiting my turn to speak, I felt the Holy Spirit leading me elsewhere… I had a whole teaching planned out, and right before it was my turn, I felt led to basically toss the paper and speak more from my heart. I had a teaching prepared of the different roles of the husband, wife, and children according to the Bible; but I felt that it was not my place to share that. So I shared about the perspective I had as a child of my parents; and how important it is for a child to have the support and encouragement of their parents. I asked a few different questions; challenging the parents to think about their kids in a positive way; thinking about funny memories of their childr en, their qualities and strengths, and the little details that have a big impact. We heard a few very funny stories from the parents. The night ended with the parents making cards of encouragement for their kids. As I walked around the room looking at the cards that were being made, my heart was filled with joy…but one card in particular caught my eye. The front of the card, in big letters written in a heart said, “To My princesses”. There was just such a deep level of love I saw in that, and it filled my heart with joy! It was precious!

Home Visit with the Lewis’. I went with Steve and Jenn to visit the kids they sponsor. We were at the house of Juan, the boy Steve sponsors, and his mom (who I got to spend some quality time with last year) gave us a delicious jello/flan dessert. When we arrived at the house, the first thing that caught my eye was a piece of artwork; it was beautiful! Juan’s brother Luis had made it and they offered it to me. Luis was not home, but Juan said that his brother would be honored if we were to take his artwork home with us. Generosity. These people give without expectation of receiving. It is so humbling to see their generosity and the desire they have to give everything they have; which is not much to begin with. I was very blessed that morning!

The Team. Laughs…more laughs…more laughs…and more laughs. I’ve never experienced a team without any drama…so all those who are wondering, YES, it’s possible to go on a mission trip with a group of people and not experience any drama!!! I personally didn’t know this was possible, but turns out it is! I just can’t say enough about this group of people. We all compliment each other great; such different strengths and talents that all came together perfectly to fill the holes. I had so much fun with the team, serving the community of La Perla for my 3rd year in a row. It was so nice to be reunited with this group of people after a year. Each person brought a different aspect to the team, and I learned a lot from each team member. Saying goodbye to them was not easy, they are really a special gro up of people!

My Birthday. Wow, it was incredible! My birthday started with Jenn, Steve, and Alfred coming to my room at midnight to sing happy birthday. I was fast asleep when they came in so my reactions were as follows. 1. scared out of my mind. 2. extremely confused as to what was happening. 3. EXCITED AND HAPPY! I went back to sleep, woke up, went to breakfast, and was surprised with the table being completely decorated, signs saying happy birthday, and homemade birthday hats made by Jenn! It was an awesome surprise! After breakfast we headed out to Mision Tec for a relaxing morning. I was surprised once again…with a birthday package from my mom! Then came the surprise cake! It was a very special day for me, and I wouldn’t have rather celebrated my birthday anywhere else! That night at our farewell ceremony wit h the community, I was extremely humbled once again by the generosity of the community. Members of the community were coming up to me giving me big birthday hugs and kisses and giving me gifts. What an awesome birthday I had!

School. One day we visited the school in La Perla. We went from classroom to classroom talking about making good decisions, sexual purity, hand washing, the future, and wherever else the spirit led. This was one of my favorite days. In the afternoon we went to share at the high school. I was in a group with Shellie and Christie. We took turns sharing personal testimonies with the students, how every single decision we make either has a positive or negative effect on our future, draws us closer or further from our goals, etc. The last classroom we visited God gave me an idea. I showed the students a blank piece of paper and said; let’s pretend this is my heart. I passed the paper up a row of desks and told the students to rip of pieces, crumple the paper, and do what they wanted to it. By the time this pap er got back to me, it was wrinkled, ripped, and no longer a complete blank sheet of paper; it was destroyed. I asked the students, How am I supposed to give this to my future husband, a broken and destroyed heart…missing pieces that each one of you have. It was amazing how attentive the students were. I thought this example was pretty awesome, but I can’t take any credit for it, God gave me that idea and I think it really reached the students in a deep way. I love when the spirit leads, I continue to learn how important it is to obey and allow God to be in control. It is not about me in the slightest.

And last but not least, and probably the longest part….

Judith. Judith is the girl I sponsor. I saw God work in her heart this week in incredible ways. Judith is no longer living in La Perla due to family and security issues. She now lives about an hour away walking. Monday to Friday she walks an hour to school. She doesn’t get out of school until 6:00 which means she has to walk home in the dark. When I found out she was no longer living in La Perla, I was really bummed and figured I would not see her much this trip. She came to La Perla to see us on Saturday and I saw sadness behind her eyes. We sat and talked for a while and she shared with me that she now has a boyfriend. She just turned 15 and her boyfriend in 19, and not a Christian. My heart sunk when I heard this. She had given her life to Christ at the camp last year, and I could tell her heart was not in the right place. I encouraged her to really pray about her boyfriend and to make sure she is making good decisions in her life. After talking for about an hour, it was time for us to go. Monday afternoon I went to visit Judith at her school with a friend named Daniela who works with the organization. She got permission to leave class and we sat and talked for about 2 hours. Daniela and I shared personal stories from our lives, both good and bad decisions we’ve made and what consequences we had to face as a result. Judith shared about the loneliness and sadness she has in her heart; as well as her current living situation which is not very good. I sat and listened to her and my heart was aching for her. I left the school feeling both happy that I was able to have that time to really hear her heart and share mine with her, but really sad that this was the reality of her life and there was absolutely nothing I could do in that moment to rescue her from it. It’s weird…when I f irst saw Judith’s picture and decided to start sponsoring her, I don’t think I realized that she was an actual person, with feelings, and heartache, and family problems, and dreams that seem so far from possible for her. The majority of people who sponsor a child through an organization will never actually meet their child. It’s just a person in another country who is poor, and writes a letter a few times a year talking about the sports they like, and the chores they have at home. But the truth is, I know Judith. She is my friend. She is real. She does not have an easy life at all. She writes me letters that are personal. She is a special girl who needs guidance in her life; she is just like you and me; she experiences joy and sadness, trials and triumphs, fears and confidence.
The following day was the day we went to the classrooms. Her classroom happened to be the last one, with the paper demonstration. That night she came to the youth workshop we had and I had a few minutes to talk with her before it started. She told me that she was really touched by my testimony and that she needs to make better decisions in her life and make changes in the way she is acting. She shared with me that it was important for her class to hear what we shared. They recently had a classmate who got pregnant at 14 and had to drop out of school…she said probably 90% of her class is sexually active, and she felt it made a big impact on the class. That night in the workshop we had a time for the youth to accept Christ or rededicate their lives to Jesus. About 6 of the youth accepted Jesus in their heart for the first time, and about 6-7 decided to rededicate their life to Christ; Judith being one of them! Later on she shared with me that she made a big decision that nigh t, to make good decisions from now on; to make changes in her life that need to be made, to rededicate her life to Christ and get back on track in her relationship with God. She held her cross necklace in her hand and said this is what keeps me going. I had tears in my eyes and couldn’t believe how the Lord had worked in her heart in just those few days. In that moment, the sadness behind her eyes was gone. Saying goodbye to her this year was especially difficult. Yes, she made this decision to rededicate her life, but it breaks my heart that she is still in the same place as before, without someone to keep her accountable, someone to share her heart with, someone to encourage her and guide her through this decision. And all I can do is pray for her.

It’s amazing how God leads you to certain people and places in life. He orchestrates things perfectly.

Well this entry is way longer than I was intending, but I hope you were able to get an idea of our time in Pucallpa. I could write on so many more things that happened, including hearing from various members of the community the ways that this group has impacted their lives so profoundly, the way that we are providing them with a lighting system for their sports field which will bring light into the darkness of the community, how God has used each one of us in their lives to help them grow intellectually and spiritually. There’s an unexplainable feeling to arrive somewhere and have over 150 kids waiting for you to get out of the van, greeting with you with hugs and kisses. It’s a beautiful chaos walking into a sea of children who just want to love on you. It is so humbling to hear and experience these things because the truth is, every year I go to Pucallpa with a desire to serve and bless my friends there, but I leave feeling that they served and blessed me way more than I could ever do for them.

And with all this said, I am coming to a close of 9 months in South America. I cannot believe this season is ending…it went so fast. I return to the states October 23rd and the rest is still to be discovered.

followingavision | October 15, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/pGTST-77
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Finishing strong…..

What a difference a week makes.
The clinic yesterday went much smoother than the one on the first day of our trip. Everyone did a great job, and we saw the very last patient right as the last important drugs were running out and the pharmacy was being packed up. Serving in this capacity (medical missions) is a bit difficult for me because I don’t normally have to encounter so many people and children that are suffering all in a steady stream of need, pain, and often fear. I feel that I owe the readers of this blog the reality of the tough side of this trip as well as the “we all love each other and are having so much fun!” side. The fact is that we are working with people so far below the poverty line that along with the parasites and other regular issues in these communities, we were also seeing malnutrition. We spoke with mothers who couldn’t feed their children and were watching them waste away….all while plagued with anxiety and desperation. Tending to the needs of the sick (often people whose conditions have deteriorated to the point that they are beyond our help) is a difficult job emotionally and the physical conditions were very difficult wight the heat and humidity. The crew in the pharmacy never complained once about working for hours and hours soaked in sweat without so much as a water break. Jason and Alfred saw a nonstop flow of patients from the second we started to the late afternoon…..also in a room that felt like a hundred degrees. Don’t get me wrong, people…we DO have a great time and we DO consider it an honor to be in LaPerla serving together…but these people work so hard day in and day out while we are down here, and I just couldn’t be more proud of them.
OK, if this is my one “tooting our own horn” entry, then I must mention the project that many of you as supporters helped fund. When you think of the money it takes to send us down here you might wonder what else it pays for besides our airfare, food, and lodging. Well, for one, it obviously pays for the medicine for the clinics and our in-country administration and transportations costs. But it also paid for an absolutely community-changing project this year. At the closing ceremonies in the town square (under a brilliant full moon and huge bonfire, no less) we dedicated an entire lighting system for LaPerla’s small sport court area. Imagine your local park. Imagine the entire lighting system with concrete poles, giant lights, the electrical needed to run everything…..that was what we were able to provide for LaPerla. The cost was over $7,000 and this project more than any we have done really helps meet the specific problems this community is starting to experience. Violence is rising in LaPerla, and it is a community that is virtually in the dark when the sun goes down. They will now have a safe place to have youth meetings and activities at night, and the lights will help illuminate the whole area. My sponsor child’s father is in the Peruvian version of our D.E.A. And he said it best when he told Alfred and I “Darkness is bad. Spiritually and also in areas where people live. Bad things are born and bred in the darkness. This area of light will bring safety and joy and laughter to my neighborhood. This is a great thing.”
There was a very official ceremony during the farewell where our team was called up in front of the community (hundreds of people showed up….the most by FAR of any of the years) and they had me sign a bunch of papers. They LOVE papers. Oh – and stamps! Every official has a stamp that they simply MUST put over every signature. It makes it look very official……I’ll have to budget in an extra $10 into the team budget next year so I’m not the only guy in the gang without a stamp. With the official stuff done and out of the way, the celebration commenced. Jenn’s sponsor child Paquita came out with her friends and sang a song, the teens all danced and did choreography for us, and Marcial (a local teen leader and amazing young man who we were able to help medically last year) gave an amazingly thoughtful and profound speech about what our last four years of service have meant to him and his community. Photos and tearful goodbyes and hopeful handshakes for next year followed, and off we went into the night. It was the fourth time for Jenn and I to experience that nighttime ride on the last night….and I can say for certain it was the best among the bunch.
The team got to Lima safely and said our farewells late Thursday night. It is now Friday morning at 730am. I’m on a plane with Jenn, Alfred, Kim and Jason and we are just about to land in Cusco, Peru for 2 days of recovery and fun at 12,000 feet in the Andes. Christi and Shelli are off to Chile for an adventure of their own, and Pam has one more week with her host family in Lima before she returns to her wonderful mother and family in Florida.
Thanks for your prayers. Thanks for your amazing support. God bless you all, and hey – have a great weekend!
-steve

The final push to the summit.

Good morning, Team LaPerla.

We’ve had just a little bit of sleep and have quite a day in front of us with what is always a very intense clinic time. We collectively ask you to pray for the energy, the health, and the mental clarity of our team as we make this final push to the finish line.

Thanks so much for everything. I’ll try to let ya know how today went in a quick post tonight.

(draws sword and starts running up the hill) “Charrrrrrrrrge!”

Photos and quick update

Hi! Ok, so Miguel didn’t end up needing surgery! They said they wanted to wait to see if it could heal itself, and they had great hopes that it would!
It’s 10:40pm here, we just finished the official farewell and bonfire, and we still need to get all of our bags packed before we go to sleep, because tomorrow is a BIG medical clinic day and then we go from the clinic to a debrief to the airport. Wow.
We could use your prayers tomorrow for the whole team as we try to finish strong. Everyone is back on their feet and healthy, so we should be able to make a big charge all day.
Thank you so much for all of your support. Not sure what else to say…pretty overwhelmed. Love you all and hope all is well back home!

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Is it really allowed to have this much fun on a mission trip?

Hello, team LaPerla!

On Tuesday we made three different trips to LaPerla! The Principal of the main ( well….the only) school in LaPerla was open and even eager to have our team come to share with all of the students. Just to give you an idea of the size of the school, the elementary school has 700 students in the morning and the high school has 400 students in the afternoon! We got to meet and at least talk briefly to every classroom! The team shared personal testimonies from their lives and encouraged the kids to value themselves and that working hard toward their future was worth the effort. Wow – it looks very trite and flippant when I look at that sentance…..it is so hard to explain things like our experience at the school without typing pages and pages. I can only say that each team member put themselves out there in a big way and that the kids and teens really payed attention and were eager to approach us afterwards and ask more questions. Pam’s sponsor child Judith was profoundly affected by the stories the girls shared. We even got to pray with the kids in the classroom! During school! So many of these kids need love and encouragement so desperately, and both the morning and afternoon sessions were just amazing.
After a trip back to the hotel real quick for dinner, we returned for the last night of teaching with the kids and teens. Again, I apologize for not having the time to share specific stories (dinner in 5 minutes then back to LaPerla), but the team did such a great job. We have SO much fun with the kids! The relationships we continue to build 4 years in just grow deeper and deeper. There were 6 teenagers who made decisions to follow Christ, and another 6 that rededicated their life to serving Him…..and by serving Him to serve their neighbors, friends, family, and the community of LaPerla.

One last fast thing – one of the times we were leaving LaPerla in the van yesterday, we noticed something truly awesome. As the van bumped along the rough road to the bridge Jason said “oh look! There’s Bruno! That kid is everywhere.” then Shelli said “there goes Marcial in his mototaxi! Oh – there’s Jim driving his taxi into town!” and Christi is waving out the back window saying “bye, Karen, see you tonight!” and all the while Steve and Jenn are holding the special-prepared meal that a sponsor child’s mom prepared for members of the team. We all took a few minutes and talked about how it felt like we were truly a part of this community. There is so much genuine love and respect between the members of this team and our friends in LaPerla. I’d love to build up how hard this trip has been and how hard we have worked….and the truth is we HAVE worked very, very hard…..but the joy and the relationships and the deep, deep feeling we have of community in LaPerla make every bit of this trip an absolute treasure.

Nights among the lightning and laughter.

Hi, team LaPerla! Things have been going just swimmingly here. Sure, there’s been some hiccups along the way as expected, but overall it has been an amazing few days.
I find that as I move further into these trips I feel less and less like blogging and the entries end up shorter. I must admit a bit of selfishness in this regard, as it is definitely a choice to savor the few minutes alone between our late return from the community and the sleep we have to get before the next morning. The longer I’m in LaPerla, the less I feel the draw of the cold blue computer screen. The jungle and the rain and the lightning and the noise and the PEOPLE….it all just starts to seem far more attractive than pounding away at tablet feebly trying to communicate these truly miraculous experiences. As Christi said so well today, when you’re someplace like this for any amount of time you just can’t even imagine going back or even wanting to go back. This community of LaPerla and the people that we have grown so close to over the past 4 years is truly beyond description.
That being said (at great length and in a totally narcissistic way), it is still my job to try. But it’s past midnight and I want a little time to talk to my wife before we pass out, so I’m going to continue this yearly pattern of laziness by being brief.
Sunday afternoon we visited a Shipivo village. Our translator for the past four years, David, is Shipivo (the native people of this area, very much like Native Americans int the States) and wanted to share some of the culture of his people with us. We visited a few homes and then finally went to the village church where some of the local women greeted us with traditional dances and songs. A MASSIVE rainstorm moved in. It was so impressive in it’s suddenness and power. We just sat in the church (picture a brick building but open holes for windows) and watched and listened in awe.
oops. Ok, the power in the whole hotel just went out again. It might be a very warm, dark rest of the night, and all we have for a flashlight is this iPad with very little power left. I must go. Here’s the rest of the highlights real quick.
We’ve done two nights of teachings with the children and teens in the community. Alfred and Christi are each leading a group, Jenn’s crafts and preparations have been a huge hit, and everyone else ( including our new team photographer, Shelli) has contributed in huge ways and been an amazing help.
We did child visits at our sponsor kids houses today. Man, I wish I could type about this forever. Suffice it to say that God blesses those who do his work beyond measure. If everyone could just experience what we all did today….well, there would be a long waiting list to be not his team I’ll tell ya that much.
Prayer requests!!! Please, those of you who are praying for us please know that it has been a massive help. Prayer isn’t just a routine or a ritual….it is an amazing gift and a powerful tool. One of the amazing trips about a trip like this is that you’re constantly faced with situations where only God and nothing else is your option. There are a few of us on the team that are really feeling borderline sick. This team inevitably has casualties every year, and the environment and interaction with the sick and just all of the kids (along with just the work) seems to be trying to take it’s toll. Please pray for the health of our team and that we can finish strong. Also, please pray for a special little guy named Miguel who is having a small but important surgery Wednesday afternoon. Please ask your closest friend on the team about Miguel’s story…it is a miracle!
Done. So sleepy. Love to you all. Gonna attach a few random photos and crash.
-S
P.s. Power back on for a second so can upload entry! Goodnight!

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