To all who are praying for the work in Peru, greetings once again from Machahuay!
It has been a period of building and preparation for the upcoming outreach ministry located in the new space I am renting in Machahuay. If you recall, I am planning a recreation and learning center for the kids and teens of Machahuay. Earlier this month I chose to name the place "El Fuerte" (The Fort) for a couple of reasons: One, the building I rented is very old and has crumbling adobe walls inside and out; with no chance of being finished and painted smooth - not even close! So I figured I'd turn that to my advantage and give much of the space the look of an old fortress. Second, I want the Rec Center to be a constant reminder of Psalm 18:2 "The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer...", which will be the prominent verse in El Fuerte. It is the strength and assurance that we have as children of God through faith in Jesus Christ that I want each of these kids to come to know. El Fuerte will be at least one place where they will see and hear the Good News that provides true strength and assurance in the lives of believers.
The painting and preparation have begun, but progress has been slow. The walls have needed sweeping, scrubbing, sanding and some patching (in that order), before finally sealing and painting. It's a process. In one end of the front room, I have planned an area for toddlers and smaller kids to roam about and play with toys, listen to Bible stories, color and draw pictures from the Bible, etc. Since the "Fort" theme seemed a bit too cold for the toddlers, I decided to make that part of the room a castle theme. So that idea grew into a big castle painting project that ultimately turned into a Saturday event for the kids. I had picked out a very colorful castle picture to model from the internet and on one of my trips to Arequipa I bought some bright colored paints and supplies to paint it on the wall, scaled floor to ceiling. But since the walls are in such poor shape, I looked at painting the castle on a large piece of thin plywood that is common here (called triplay...like our luan back home). But even that didn't seem like it was the best I could do...so I decided to cut the castle out of the triplay into various shapes and put them together as a 3-D mural on the wall. Well about 30 shapes later (cut with a razor blade, by the way), I had all the castle parts ready to paint. Then the idea hit me...why not have the kids paint the pieces and make it a community event. So on a recent Saturday, Lynn Frankland graciously offered to come to Machahuay to help manage the herd of about 20 kids eager to paint! We had some old shirts for smocks so they wouldn't ruin their own clothes and a bushel of brushes for all the kids to join in. It was a great time of chaos and fun! There were two rounds of painting for the different shades of color, so we had a 2 hour break for brush cleaning and re-masking the pieces. During the break as I was washing brushes and setting up for round 2, Lynn shared Bible stories with the kids! It was a great time for all!
Since then, I have been "fixing and tidying" the painted pieces and I am almost ready to assemble and install the castle. Everyone is excited about that part too!
So any space, even all painted and decorated, is just a space until you put stuff in it. As I type, I am in Arequipa getting supplies and things to begin filling The Fort. There is a good Christian bookstore here (the only one in town I think) that has themed coloring books (Heroes of the Bible, Biblical Values for Life, Fruit of the Spirit, etc) that are going to be great for the kids. I'm getting small tables and chairs, drawing and coloring supplies, a whiteboard/chalkboard easel, colorful foam-tile flooring, etc. For the older kids (especially the boys) I'm getting a Foosball table and other games for them to play - board games as well as action games.
In the future, I hope to add some technology items, like a small computer lab and other learning tools. Part of the space will be used for Bible study and discipling, but the entire Rec Center will have scripture on display and promote God-honoring principals in a Christ-centered environment. Other ideas are to teach basic computer programming skills, English as a second language (adults are already interested), and I'm even dreaming of having a place for some older-generation locals to teach Quechua to the younger generation here. Quechua is the "heart language" of this region, but it is dying out as generations grow up with little knowledge of the actual words and structure. However there are cultural concepts, traditions and touchstones from the language that are still carried forward which are important to know and understand as we try to make the Gospel known and understood here. Lots of ideas for the future...but first the preparation!
In mid-April I had another opportunity to help out in yet another "roof-raising" for a neighbor. The scene was similar to the last neighborhood event, where men hauled heavy buckets of concrete up rickety planks to a second-story roof. Once again most of the fellas were "fortified" with pisco alcohol and coca leaves to endure the hard labor. I was obliged to refuse the offers to join in, of course, but a bit later I saw some early fruit from my efforts to be "set apart" by abstaining. After the roof was completed there was a traditional celebration with a prepared meal, but there was also the usual amount of drinking. This time hosts had gone to the trouble to purchase a large bottle of soda just for me to drink. After I poured a cup, a couple of the other men joined me in drinking soda and did not drink alcohol until I had left the gathering. It's a small step for sure, but I was encouraged by their respect for my abstinence. These are good men that are caught up in a life and tradition with limited alternatives apparent to them. I'm praying that God will use me and others who come to serve here as a model for an alternative life in Christ. Help me pray that being an obedient example and bold witness will open eyes and hearts to the Gospel for these men.
In early May we also had a visit by some of the IMB (International Mission Board) staff based in Lima. The Olson Family and the Royal Family came to the area to scout out locations for other churches to serve. The Arequipa-Quechua people group (the people group for this region) is a target group for the IMB in the coming years. The two young families stopped by to see Lynn and I on a recent Sunday and what a pleasure it was to have them all here for worship and fellowship afterward. Help us pray that churches will be led to serve more of this area of the world and the unreached peoples of this region will indeed be reached with the Gospel.
I will briefly mention that Movie Nights continue to be a big hit! Now each Friday night is a packed house. I can fit just over 30 in the room without much difficulty, but it makes for a for a full house. A new problem is the movies themselves. I'm running out of ideas and good movies to show that is appropriate for ALL ages. For example, Lynn introduced me to a real jewel of a movie that I had never seen, a Spielberg flick called War Horse. What a great movie with good biblical hooks, but I had to edit out a few war scenes that were a little rough for the smaller kids. Any ideas of good movies from those reading this update would be helpful! A list of good titles is very useful when I go to search the DVD shops in Peru, otherwise it's a bit overwhelming as you wade through hundreds of DVD's. Thanks in advance for your ideas!
Please be in prayer for the following as God hears and is faithful to answer:
- The men of Machahuay. I am intentional about reaching the men of Machahuay (young and old) with the gospel. In time I will invite Peruvian partner churches from Arequipa to preach and teach at men's events here. Pray that I am obedient in cultivating good soil among the men here so that the seeds of the Word will grow strong when heard.
- The children of Machahuay and "The Fort". Since the initial outreach ministries here are focused on the kids, pray that the gospel message presented in various activities at El Fuerte will take root in curious minds.
- The church team from Life Spring Church in Smithfield, NC who will be laboring here with us around the 4th of July week. Continue to pray for their preparation and protection as time draws close to their trip.
- The IMB-affiliated churches interested in serving in this area. Please pray alongside for God's guidance in their decisions to serve the Arequipa-Quechua peoples.
- The Olsons (David & Cameron and boys, Pete and Mike) and the Royals (Greg & Amy and girls, Alese and Emily) who serve on staff with the IMB in Lima.
- Please continue to pray for me, that I will be obedient to God's will in all things.
- Lynn Frankland as she labors alongside in Viraco.