Clinic day #2, surprise engagements and farewells.

The team’s last day serving in Peru proved to be quite the celebration.

We gathered around the breakfast table at the hotel for our last morning together as a team, and we promptly played an elaborate practical joke on Birthday Girl Shelli. As she opened her eyes after praying for our food, she really wasn’t expecting everyone at the table to be wearing the terrifying masks she hates so much from two years ago. She screamed and fell out of her chair. We’re such good friends.
Gifts came next, and when it came time for Daniel (shelli’s boyfriend) to give his gift he said that what Shelli loved most was words…and he proceeded to give the sweetest and most thoughtful speech about Shelli. As she teared up, he got up from his seat and went over to hers, got down on one knee and proposed….with the ring cleverly hidden under an iPod nano. Obviously she said yes and celebrations ensued.
We headed out to MissionTEC to hang out with the kids there and also to provide medical care for the children in their program. I headed out into the village with Daniel and Shelli as they went to visit Daniel’s sponsor child Clever (yup! That’s his name!). Clever and his sister Gina live is a very, very difficult environment. Their mother hasn’t been around for years, their father is unfortunately struggling with alcohol, and the walls of their house reach neither their thatched roof nor their muddy floor. Daniel and Shelli were greeted cautiously at first, but after Daniel explained by saying “Clever, I know this seems weird with us coming here. But I want you to know that this is simply the first time we are meeting, not the only time. I want to be your friend. All the time. I want to write you every month. I promise to keep your photo where I can see it every day so I can pray for you every day. Clever, I love you and Jesus loves you and that is something that is never going to change.” everything changed. Clever understood that this wasn’t a photo op with the Great White Hope from the mighty USA. This was a brother and sister who were there to introduce themselves and they were just asking if he would let them be a part of his life. Through MissionTECs homework club Gina and Clever receive meals, showers, and most importantly school tutoring and spiritual guidance. By starting to see themselves as unique, special people who are individually loved by the Creator of the universe they are developing the foundation to dream big AND work towards those dreams.
Then it was off to their airport at sunset. No tearful goodbyes, no dramatic moments. Just a team of seven people at the end of this little journey. The love was literally palpable, and as Jenn and I were driving back into the jungle from the airport a little voice in me said “I get the feeling this isn’t the last time we’ll be doing this……”

I’ll be doing a wrap up soon….please read that one. The rest of the team is safely back in Lima(Pam) and the states (Jono Christi shelli Daniel) as Jenn and I finish up our work/debrief here on the river at MissionTEC. Love to you all. Thanks so much for your prayers and support.

Friday blog: 1 of 2

A blog journal entry from Jono earlier this week:

Peru Blog:
In the thick of it.

On Monday we had our first medical clinic and just by the looks on Christi and Shelly’s faces we all knew it. Christmas morning was referenced more than once by both of them.
As the people would arrive they would get a number and sit and wait to be called. After seeing the doctor they would get their meds from our pharmacy then one of us would pray for them. As the day went on and more and more people came we found ourselves in a rhythm. At one point in the day I was one of the prayer people standing off to the side for anyone that wanted. We would ask them specifics, pray for a few minutes then move on.
Our translator Antonio and I had just finished praying with an older lady when Christi got our attention. She pointed over to a man in his thirties in all back signaling that he wanted prayer. He asked for us to pray for his health but I felt God leading me to go deeper with him. I simply asked him if he knew who Jesus was and he said no. So in the middle of all the craziness I was able to share the simple gospel message with him and he surrendered to The Lord! He said he was driving his taxi and felt drawn to what was happening at the clinic and knew he had to come and ask someone about God. What I didn’t know at the time was that his wife had been praying for him for a long time to be saved. She came up to me with tears in her eyes rejoicing that her prayer had finally been answered.

Jungle jail and boo-lee.

Today the girls went out to see our longtime, dear friend Jim in jail. Jim was accused of a crime he did not commit, and he has been in jail for six months without a hearing. The hearing is supposed to be in about a month and we feel confident that his lawyer has all the evidence in place to hopefully “prove his innocence” (it works a little backwards from the US here)
One amazing story from the jail was how the girls got in. Like so many things here, it is a time consuming and very unpredictable process. Tensions were a bit high. There are many amazing stories from during their wait. The girls had been given very specific instructions about what to wear, and we’re warned that the likelihood of being molested by the guards during the search was very high. When the girls finally got into the third staging area where they were to be searched, the guard they had been talking to about their visit thanked them for being sisters in Christ and being faithful to Jesus and their friend. The guard said she had trust for them and let them enter without being molested.
Just as the day before (I had visited Jim on the day before – men and women visit on different days), Jim was thrilled to see the girls and he was amazingly positive despite his dire situation. As he talked he clutched the cross necklace that Alfred gave him last year, and he spoke about his life in jail and his deep desire to get out and to reunite with his family. The girls spent a long time with him just listening and telling stories…praying and encouraging him. During my visit I reminded him that much of the new testament was written from prison, and he said that he knew that because he had a great bible study group inside the jail. There are so many more stories…but it was great to see his face and encourage him. He is a good, good young man. Honorable. Faithful. Please pray he is released soon.
Jono and Daniel and I did stuff for the documentary around the hotel, and got in some great team interviews in the afternoon. Nobody likes being in front of the camera, but everyone did a great job.
We then went to the public school to give a series of talks on bullying (pronounced boo-lee-ing) to the high school classes. The whole team shared their experiences, and the student were surprisingly a captive audience. It was a good exchange because this problem is rampant around the world, not just in America. The school allowed – and even encouraged – us to share how finding our identity in God had helped both the bullys and the bullied from our group. We even got to pray with all of them! In the public school! God forbid! :). We then presented the school with a gift of a brand new PA system (speakers and all) for their school (thanks to all of YOU who helped support us financially!) and went on our way.
Well, it’s back into the jungle today. One last medical clinic today, then Jenn and I take the team to the airport tonight. Jenn and I will be staying down here to work with a different set of missionaries, and our lovely teammates will fly to Lima tonight and home to Los Angeles tomorrow!
More soon. Love to you all! -Steve

Proverbs 31:20

“she opens her arms to the poor, and extends her hands to the needy”

This evening, while Pam, Jono and I (Steve) worked on the documentary we are shooting, the girls from the group lived out the very essence of practicing what you preach. Our schedule had changed for today suddenly (as often happens) and we had a few hours of time not allotted for.

The girls decided they would take the available time to go into LaPerla and give manicures and pedicures to the mothers of the families we serve with in LaPerla. They got the women together at Saturdina’s house on the main square corner (very easy to do since every man in Peru was watching the world cup qualifier game) and first talked with them for a while about Proverbs 31. If you haven’t read proverbs 31, check it out – it’s a great piece of wisdom and encouragement for women…written 3000 years ago but still so meaningful today.

It was just after sunset as Jono and Pam and I walked up to the house and everything was lit in the red-purple-orange glow that only a sky full of the glorious smoke and dust of LaPerla could create. We saw our girls on their knees with little wash basins scrubbing the feet of the women of the community, then massaging their feet for quite a while, then painting their nails. All while the others alternated the same service for their hands. Now, here’s the thing: in many situations this might sound awkward…but the fact is that these women feel comfortable with us. They’re our extended family. They enjoyed every minute of it, and the girls did as well. Jenn told me tonight “it was just so great to look up at them and either see their eyes closed with smiles on their faces or just to ask them questions and talk to them the whole time!”.

Pam jumped in right when we got there, and I went around the corner and found Daniel playing with the kids, dancing with the kids, and generally keeping them out of their mother’s hair. He’s amazing. Truly.

We ate a little food and then went to the center for an amazing night with the community. It was full of its own amazing stories, but it’s 1:45 in the morning so I’d better get some shut-eye! Thank you so much to those of you who are praying for us! We’re so grateful to RockHarbor Orange, the Beacon, and all of our families and friends who are part of this adventure with us!

Clinic day!

By: Hermana Shelli – Christi and I are sitting here in a dirt field as the FH team tears down the tents and Jono and Pam share the Gospel with 3 teenage girls in matching school uniforms. It sounds like they are truly diving into some tough questions and we are excited to hear how this conversation goes! Christi takes a second to put a Gatorade packet in her water as we both realize we may be slightly dehydrated. This is in spite of the fact our dear team mates Stephen and Daniel made sure we were drinking water and eating electrolyte “shot blocks” throughout the BUSY medical clinic!
For Christi and I this is equivalent to Christmas day. In the morning we opened boxes of every medication we could have desired for a clinic, and now are able to give medical care and prayer to over 200 people. The clinic could be identified this morning as we drove into La Perla, by the pop up tents in the middle of a red dirt field.
Our team rapidly went into action unpacking the van. Steve and Daniel sat counting out medications (and making games out of it as they went), Jenn was making signs for the teaching presentations, Christi and I set up and organized the pharmacy, Pam began the deworming campaign (handing out medications to all the children, which is done every 3 months) and Jono was busy capturing all these moments on film. And that’s all in the first 15 minutes.
Ten patients waiting, quickly turned into 20, then 50, then 100 people! We used this as an opportunity to teach the community about worms, dengue fever, and dehydration. With the visual help of posters made by Jenn and the dynamic instruction of Christi, Jono, and Daniel the community is now quite educated! It was incredible to see how willing everyone on our team was to step in and get involved! The boys educated themselves using Where There Is No Doctor, then dove into being first time health promoters for the crowd waiting! Shelli, Jenn and Christi got to help deworm the local preschool while the doctors started taking their first patients. The next 5 hours flew by as a seeming never ending line of patients were waiting for the doctors and their meds in the pharmacy. Steve, Jono and Daniel prayed with patients, helped Shelli and Christi in the scurry of filling prescriptions and teaching patients about their meds and illnesses. With the closest clinic on strike for the last several months and great medical needs rampant in La Perla, it was amazing to see how God put together our team, the local doctors who volunteered, all the meds we needed and the chance to provide spiritual care alongside of true spiritual need.

Shelli checking in on day 4.

Shelli here, we are to be up tomorrow early for the CLINIC, so this might be a short entry! (I’m a bit excited for the clinic). Church this morning was fantastic. We all spoke a brief message to the congregation- some in Spanish (so proud of Pam and Christi and how well they can communicate). The service was a great collection of songs, dances, encouragements, “hallelujahs” and gifts! They gave us all presents and thanked us for our years of friendship.
Next we headed to a restaurant to eat the best ceviche in Peru. Perks of a mission trip in Peru, just saying.
After full bellies, we visited Mission Tec to see Steve and Jen’s dear friends Kyle and Christina. Somehow we ended up on a boat, cruising up the river as the sun was setting. Calm water, the rhythmic hum of the engine, birds flying out of the trees to each side of us and DOLPHINS all created an incredible jungle experience! We could have stayed there all night, but we had a teens program to get to!
The program was in a word… Fun! We had the best time playing games (Jono is quite the master of ceremonies and an awesome resource for fun and crazy games). Just to set the scene for one of the 3 games we played: Daniel rallied the boys up and Christi the girls as Jono was off doing the music for the game and killing tarantulas (ya that really happened). Pam was in the back with Judith, connecting as they do while Steve slyly tried to video them (all the while getting caught by Judith).
Ok I’m going to wrap this up as we are eating our dinner now! Please pray for our very busy day tomorrow and for the health of our team!

Day 3: a community developing.

By: Hermana Cristi Kambs.
I’m not sure what everyone back home’s Saturday might have entailed today, but I’m pretty certain we might have been the only ones who spent their day mixing and laying concrete… followed by marching in a mile long parade! What an adventure it is to be in La Perla!

I wish we could transport each of you all here today see the church “Fuente de Vida” that we have been working with the last two years.. to sit on the simple wooden benches, next to bare wood walls with stains from water flooding, on a bright red clay floor that quickly becomes sticky mud when the jungle rains roll through.. We were invited by a very excited pastor to join their long awaited project to put in a floor in their church, which the members had been saving and planning for for months.

We quickly gained a new respect for anyone in the cement mixing business!! Imagine 6 gringos sweating away in the blazing hot sun next to our Peruvian friends and a whole gaggle of kids wanting to help (steve, with a jammed finger. was in charge of media from the sidelines!) I don’t think any of us have been so dirty or sweaty or tired as we were after just a few hours with cement and shovels, but everyone of course had a huge smile on their face and lots of laughs to be had as showed our support for this amazing little church.

After coming back to shower and grab lunch, we headed back to be part of a campaign organized by the community and Food for the Hungry to raise awareness and to help stop domestic violence in La Perla. Having no idea what to expect, we rolled up to the church to see hundreds of kids, plus some clowns, drums, megaphone, banners, balloons, costumes, even the national police were there! We didn’t realize it until then, but we were about to be part of a very boisterous and colorful parade through La Perla all the way to the central square of Yarina! What a sight to see!

When we got to the town square, we quickly found out we were organizing games for about 100 kids (thanks Jono for pulling some great ones out of your bag of tricks!).
When the activities wrapped up, there were several presentations on stage by beautiful traditional Peruvian dancers (think super pro with costumes and all) …and to our great surprise, our group’s choreography was going to be the grand finale!! What we lack in dancing ability, we certainly made up for in enthusiasm! Of course, the community loved that we were just there, participating in their big day.

As I look back on Day 3 here in La Perla, I think about the sacrifice the men made by giving the money and doing back breaking labor to lay concrete for their church.. and how the young people spent their Saturday investing in their community by campaigning to prevent violence. We are seeing a community full of empowered, hopeful, passionate people. I applaud the work Food for the Hungry is doing, because although they have trained and supported, everything has been done by the community, FOR the community- I remember hearing the president last year say, “If we’ve done this much in the last ten years, can you imagine where we will do in the next ten?”. There is now a bridge, a school, clean water, mother health promoters, a sport court (with lights thanks to last year’s trip!)- where there was once shacks, tall bush and a wooden plank over the river.

So thank you for the huge part you have in this transformation- for sponsoring kids, supporting us and sending us here, for being a part of this tremendous time with our dear friends through your love, support and prayers for our team and La Perla! Make sure to keep checking back to see what new adventures are in store in the coming days in La Perla!