Returned home – healthy and thankful

Hello, Peru team supporters!

Well, we are home safely and everyone went back to work today. The last day of travel proved to be a much longer than anticipated journey, but when all was said and done we were home safely and – HUGE answer to prayer here – all in good health. This is the first trip out of the 8 I have been on that absolutely nobody got sick. No form of illness whatsoever. Truly an answer to prayer – and it was the request we most repeated to the friends and family praying for us! Let’s never forget that prayer to the Lord God Almighty isn’t a self-help mantra or a religious routine…prayer is an incredibly powerful thing and an amazing privilege. Thank you –all of you – for your prayers.

I have sat here and stared at this keyboard for the last thirty minutes trying to figure out what to write. Honestly. I can’t begin to count the number of times that over the last week I have started typing a story and ended up just deleting the whole thing out of frustration. I want *so* badly to share the heart of Tec and the Thomases and Freddi&Emma and Max&Stephanie and the Reid family. I want with all of my heart to be able to capture the feeling of serving God in this amazing way with these incredible, humble, brilliant families. I want you to cry with us as we learn that a very close friend of ours from the village was abused and is in a terribly painful situation. I want to share so much, but I seem to end up sharing the “box score” of the trip. “Well, Shelli and Leah both had two hits today with an abscess lancing and a top-tier lice clinic with the kids. Alfred went 3-for-3 with some backbreaking work and great translating skills. Jenn had a career trip with all sorts of teaching opportunities, great leadership and perfectly filling the role of team Mom.” But all of that kind of stuff just talks about us. What did WE do and what did WE accomplish – it doesn’t matter nearly as much as what we saw God doing all around us. The huge honor and blessing for us was simply joining in on what was already happening and allowing God to use us however He saw fit. And He did use us. And He was glorified. And we were blessed. That’s about all you need to know about us and the fulfillment of our mission.
My dream is that as I process everything that has happened over the past few weeks I will gain some clarity in regards to specific stories we experienced together on the trip. I would love to do a few more updates just on short stories from the trip. One major factor throughout the trip was the process of edification – the children of God being built up, encouraged and strengthened through other believers and the miraculous things God was doing in their lives. We met so many people than inspired us with their selfless faith and tireless endurance, and I hope that in sharing some of their stories with you over the next few months I can invite you into a clear vision of what truly living you life on mission is all about.

Thank you to our friends and family. Thank you so much, RockHarbor Orange and all of our family there. God bless you all, and thank you one more time for all of your prayers and encouragement.

Thanks for your patience, gang!

Hi, gang!
(Entry written on Saturday night)
Jenn and Leah and Birthday Girl Shelli and I are all on the flight out of the jungle and over the Andes mountains to Lima. Alfred will be right behind us on another flight. We are going to spend the night in Lima tonight and we get to hang out with PAM tomorrow! (Pam has been on our last five trips and we missed her so much this year!) We all very much wish we could stay for another week (if we could teleport Kim and Daniel here) and I’m just trying to be comfortable resting in the sadness that I feel upon departure each trip. The cool weather of the coast and a great 30th birthday celebration dinner in Lima tonight help dull the pain for sure, but we already miss our friends.
I don’t know where to start. The medical check ups with the kids were a huge success. To give you an idea how huge this aspect of the trip was, Leah asked Cristina “So you don’t have a nurse on site, and how many medical teams do you have each year?” Cristina simply replied “you guys. Just you guys.” Just as important as the specific medical needs they diagnosed and treated was the updating of each medical file on each and every child in the homework club and all of the teens as well. Our mission has always been and continues to be long-term development of the physical and spiritual aspects of these kids lives, and I can’t think of a clearer example than those medical charts. We don’t have any epic facebook shots of our giant clinic or giant numbers of the hundreds of people a day we ran through a big makeshift tent…there is absolutely nothing wrong with those things, but that’s not us and that isn’t our mission. This is what it looks like to partner with an incredible beacon of hope like the TEC Care Center….real life, day in day out care, prayer and friendship with our adopted community.
Writing these blog entries is so strange, because you feel you need to give a list of all of the things you accomplished, and a proper tally of your time spent so you can justify the worth of both the trip as a whole and the individuals’ time. But all of the good stuff is in the stories. A great example of this is that yes, we did fund and participate in a construction project. Alfred and I had a blast participating in the ultimate recycling project: smashing up (no jackhammers) the foundation of a building and then taking the pieces of that foundation (one wheelbarrow at a time) out to the dirt road of the facility to reinforce and basically pave their road. Fun stuff. But just like in”real” life, God revealed Himself most through relationships and through the breaks in the hard labor where everyone sat around and talked.
The construction crew was made up entirely of locals and staff at TEC, with Alfred and I thrown in there as well. We both contributed well to the labor, but I feel that 100% of the reason God had us there was to encourage and witness to the guys on the crew. The first day we were working the site the rest of the crew broke for lunch and Alfred and I still had a little to do. One of the guys (Reny) wanted to stay behind to hang out with us because he wanted to work on his English. Reny is working every job he can find and forgoing two meals a day in order to pay his way through university. He and Alfred formed a special bond and it was so cool to watch them working together the next couple days. Alfred got the crew together at the end of the last day and led a powerful prayer of encouragement for Reny and the guys.

(Update from Monday Morning at Lima Airport)
I’m going to just publish this one and work on part two. Thank you guys so much for your patience.

Hello, friends! I apologize for being so lax on the blog updates. I promise a proper entry soon, but for the time being I hope you’ll bear with me and settle for a few more photos . We are all healthy and just overwhelmed with feeling so blessed that I’m simply at a loss for words right now. Thank you all for your prayers!!!!

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Thank you, RockHarbor Orange!!!!

Hello, everyone!

This morning, our little team and EVERY Kids Alive, Pucallpa worker piled into cars and drove into town in hopes of knocking out the bulk of the Christmas shopping for the homework club kids.
Each Kids Alive worker had two lists of kids–one for the little “Chispas” and one for the older “Llamas”–to buy for, and had calculated ahead of time how much they could spend on each one; so we paired up with them to help.
We parked at one of the town’s new shopping centers and descended on a store that Christina called the Peruvian Walmart. Almost every person grabbed a shopping cart, and we all headed to the store’s two toy aisles.
Within minutes, we had cleared the shelves of all brunette dolls, tea sets, trucks, baby dolls, and skateboards, and with half our carts already overflowing, headed to the clothing section. There, each team carefully inspected and thoughtfully chose sandals, shoes, and t-shirts with specific kids in mind. Steve became the official floater: moving between teams to ask if they needed him to grab supplementary items like markers, water bottles, or socks to round out their lists.
In a little over an hour, we formed a line reminiscent of the 55 freeway during rush hour. One sweet cashier got the lucky job of ringing up our wagon train. In the midst of checking us out, there was plenty of time for her to ask questions about what we were doing and who these gifts were for. Soon, she called one of her coworkers who was off the clock to come use his store rewards card to let us take advantage of any sale items, and for our order, that came to over 500 soles (around $250)! After about an hour of checking out, we left the store with our mission accomplished!
Everything you see in our photos was paid for with donations from Rock Harbor, Orange! And there is still some left over for them to buy the items the store didn’t carry or had run out of (because of us)!
We want to thank RHO right now for the overflowing generosity you showed. Your open hearts and hands help the missionaries here to tangibly demonstrate Jesus’ love to these kids through gifts chosen especially for them. Our team’s hearts are overjoyed at seeing the body of Christ working together perfectly over such a long distance!

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God’s gifts for his children…..

It’s been a great first weekend.

Something really unique about these trips to the TEC care facility is the fact that when you get here just just kind of get assimilated into the flow and life and work of what is already going on here. Our girls did checkups during the day on Friday and I went out location scouting for a video I’ll be making while I’m out here…but this trip isn’t about checklists and making sure to hit some kind of pre-planned watermarks in order to justify the value of the mission. We are here to encourage, to fellowship with and to serve the men and women of this incredible place as they put in the real work day after day here in the Amazon basin. And in between all of that we also get to see to the kids’ medical needs, do a construction project, and make a fundraising video. Awesome stuff, right???

We have been talking a lot the last few days about how lucky we are. How honored we feel to have the opportunity to be here. There is this common perception that short term missions have to be difficult and uncomfortable in order to have any true value. That you must suffer to serve. We as a team have had our fair share of difficulties over the years – it’s true. But at this point of this trip it is pure joy, and we are trying to be comfortable just accepting the love and joy our Heavenly Father is gifting to us! Alfred said at the dinner table tonight:”I’m home.” Leah said to me this evening at sunset “Steve, I can 100% understand now why you want to live here.”
Tomorrow starts the hard work in earnest. All systems are go. Please continue to pray for the health of the team, and know we are praying for you guys as well. Love from all of us to all of you!

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