Greg's Peru Blog

Greg's Peru Blog


MAY 14, 2018

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 our luan back home).  But even that didn't seem like it was the best I could 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.

Greg's peru blog

April 2018

To all who are praying for the work in Peru, I send greetings again from Machahuay!

It has been a very busy few weeks since my last update.  God's pace at preparing "good soil" here in Machahuay has been gratifying, humbling and tiring all at once!  I apologize for the length of this update, but I felt like giving you as much news to pray over as possible!

At the time of my last update, I had just hosted the second Movie Night here at the house, with plans to continue with that outreach effort each and every week.  Since then, this weekly event has only grown in size and popularity!  Last night, for example, I had a packed house of over 25 folks to watch the animated move Ole' (Ferdinand).  It was a huge hit with the kids and adults...and it played loosely into the cultural reality of bullfighting in this region of Peru.  Viraco and Machahuay are famous for its bulls and bullfighting.  At the end of the movie there is a bullfight scene and all the kids were shouting "ole" at key moments.  It was really a great time.  I was able to deliver a message to the kids (and adults) before the movie began with Jeremiah 29:11-12 as the anchor text, with a nice tie-in to the movie.

During Holy Week I decided to have a Film Festival, where each night of the week I alternated a showing of Son Of God and the CS Lewis tale: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (another huge hit here, where the Gospel is at the core of the story and I am only too pleased to point it out!).  The movie "Son Of God" had amazing responses from both kids and adults and many came to see it more than once.  On Good Friday I followed "Son Of God" with a powerful message video-short by Dan Stevers called The Fifth Cup (La Quinta Copa) after asking the crowd the question, "What happened on the cross?"  It was a good night!

But Movie Nights have only been a part of the happenings here.  I spoke about my next door neighbor in the last update/blog and about hauling blocks for his home addition.  A few weeks ago it was time to pour the concrete roof on the new addition.  It turns out that this is an event like an old-time barn-raising, where the whole community turns out to help.  For much of the day men from all over Machahuay took buckets of concrete being mixed on the lot beside my house, through my backyard, up some rickety planks and onto my neighbor's roof.  It was quite a scene.  These guys are made of steel and they are like machines.  I opted to stay at the cement mixer and shovel and dump buckets of aggregate into the concrete mix.  It was a choreographed scene with batches of concrete being mixed and dumped in time for the stream of concrete carriers to head back to the roof.  I was, of course, the foil for all jokes.  The tall gringo who they nicknamed as the recently ousted "white" Peruvian president PPK.  It was all in good fun and I was happy to be a part of it all.  In all the comradely, there was also the sad picture of an addicted culture.  It was the women's job to keep the Pisco flowing for the men (Pisco is like grain alcohol) and to provide coca leaves for them to chew on while they worked.  That's why most of these fellas operate like machines and are like steel...they weren't feeling much of anything!  This unfortunate reality did give me the opportunity to set myself apart as a Christian and kindly refrain from taking either drink or chew.  After the concrete was all poured, there was a break of a few hours and then everyone gathered in my backyard (since my neighbor no longer has the space) to celebrate the roof-raising.  The owner, Juan, said a few words of thanks to the crowd and then provided food for everyone.  I brought out benches for the ladies to sit on and mingled as much as I could.  As I looked around, I could not believe my great fortune of having so many neighbors fellow-shipping in my backyard!  I could not have planned this any better!  God is so good and generous in how He knits together events and opportunities.

Just before Holy Week, Marco Salas, a Peruvian brother-in-Christ, came from Arequipa to Machahuay to begin tutoring me in Spanish.  Throughout the week and in-between movies and ministry activities, Marco gave me long-needed, classroom-style Spanish lessons in grammar and conversation.  Unfortunately Marco's sister back in Arequipa had a medical emergency and ended up in the hospital; so Marco cut short his stay here and returned to Arequipa on Thursday before Easter Sunday.

Marco was here to help in translation for our Palm Sunday service at the start of the week, however.  Palm Sunday was a special day for us all here.  Lynn came over from Viraco for the service that morning and we all walked around Machahuay trying to find palm branches or something that looked similar.  During the walk, we visited one of my favorite vistas in Machahuay, overlooking a deep valley with huge mountains in the distance.  Since the view faced east, we decided it would be a perfect spot for a sunrise service early on Easter morning!  Walking back to the little chapel where we would hold service; we noticed there was also a funeral being held that morning at the Catholic Church, which is just across the plaza.  The ceremonies surrounding funerals here can be a bit elaborate and usually involve a lot of drinking.  Thinking no more about it we began to prepare for our Palm Sunday service.  Time passed and one delay came after another and I was beginning to think we'd never get underway.  Per usual, I was getting impatient since I was delivering the message and wanted to get started...but something was causing more and more delays.  After over an hour of delay, we were all finally ready and Lucila (the stewardess of the chapel and long-time friend of our missions here)  opened the service with a prayer and a song...there were only a few of us in attendance.  About that time, an entire family (6 or more adults) approached the church with tears and told us that they were from Arequipa and had come to Machahuay for the funeral; but they were Christians and did not want to participate in the Catholic ceremony.  They were moved to tears (as we all were) that God had provided a place for them to worship on this Sunday of both celebration and grief.  The service was a sweet time in the Word and a great time of worship for us all!  After the service and after the guests left we all sat in amazement of God's timing.  Had we started the service "on time" we would have concluded before that family ever showed up.  Yet another lesson learned for this impatient servant as God continues to teach me in such loving ways that His ways are always best.

One of the days Marco was still in town, he and Lynn and I decided to walk to one of the next pueblos over from Machahuay and Viraco, a place called Cotanay.  It's a small village that you can easily see from Machahuay.  We went there to find Roday Inejosa, the owner of a space across the street from my house in Machahuay.  More on that later.  In these small towns, you just go in with a persons name (or part of a name) and ask around until you find them.  Right away Lynn was reunited with a teacher she had known from working in the schools in Machahuay and we got directions to the correct house of the folks we were looking for.  After talking with the folks we had gone to see, we started home.  But then we were stopped by an invitation from another neighbor there to sit and talk and have a snack.  So we met Fernando and Claudia, a truly warm and friendly couple interested in who we were and why we are here.  We explained all things and Lynn shared a bit of her testimony.  It was a great visit and we were invited back.  I include the side-trip to Cotanay in this update because I have been praying about which of the close-by villages we should begin to engage first.  I think God has answered.  

The service at sunrise on Easter Sunday was the next big event amongst the night of movies during Holy Week.  I put out flyers around town during the week and plastered the house with announcements of the service and its location just outside of town.  I also asked several folks back home to pray for good attendance at what could be the start of a new church here.  Lynn stayed in the Machahuay hostal Saturday night after helping me with the final Film Festival showing on Saturday.  Easter morning we got started around 4am carrying items to the spot for the service...a table, a bench and supplies to administer the Lord's Supper after the message at sunrise.  I had gone to that spot earlier in the week and pegged the suns appearance over the mountain top at exactly 6:35am, so I advertised a start time of 6am.  As 6am approached, there was no sign of anyone coming, not even Lucila with whom we had picked out special worship songs just the day before.  I was beginning to worry, but then God sent a few faithful folks (including Lucila) just in the knick of time!  We had six to attend and the biggest gift to me was when one of the young teen boys who attends movie nights showed up with his mom!  It was another sweet time of fellowship and worship with the Lord in celebration and remembrance.  Lynn had the unenviable task of interpreting the message that I had originally prepared for Marco to interpret.  She did an awesome job and kept me in line throughout the service!

Finally, I ended my last update with a hopeful start to having morning devotions for passers-by.  I've been praying over the development of this outreach, but I cannot report any progress yet.  However, another topic of prayer for me for some months has seemed to take flight.  Even before beginning the movie outreach I have been in prayer about finding a space to open some type of recreation/education center for the kids here (young and old).  A place for organized table games like ping-pong or foosball (called fulbito here), a place to gather and do science or computer projects, a place for little kids to sit and color, a place to read get the idea.  All of these activities would take place in a Gospel-centric atmosphere rich with lessons and examples for God-honoring life principles.  Well, having a "place" for all of this means I first need a space for all of this.  "Curiously" (...wait for it...) my neighbor Marta directly across the street who owned a restaurant for 6+ years here in Machahuay moved her family to Aplao (3 hours down the mountain) just a few weeks ago at the beginning of the school year.  Marta, who has served food to many of the mission teams visiting over the years, wanted her young son Brian to attend school in Aplao.  We found out only a couple of weeks ago that the move was permanent.  "By chance"...Lynn ran into Marta in Aplao during a 15 minute bus stop on her way up the mountain from Arequipa, and Marta gave her the name of Ronay Inejosa, the owner of the space who lives in Cotanay.

So our trip to Cotanay was successful and I have rented the space directly across the street to expand the ministry here in Machahuay.  Let me just say that nothing is "curious" or "by chance" when God is involved.  It is all certain and assured!  I have about 1,000 ideas for how to use that space and only resources for doing maybe 5 of them.  So help me pray that I can discern His will for this next phase in the ministry here and be wise and obedient in using His awesome provision for His glory!

In His Service-


Greg's Peru Blog

March 2018

To all who are praying for the work in Peru, I send you greetings from Machahuay!

Since my return to Peru in February after a long holiday in the states, the Lord has been doing amazing things in the early days of the ministry here.  His provision, plan, and perfect timing has seen rapid progress in launching the first of many evangelistic outreach opportunities here in Machahuay and surrounding villages.  A week ago Friday (March 2nd), I was able to hold the first Movie Night outreach at my house in Machahuay.  The idea behind the whole Movie Night thing came about when I was taking one of the nicer buses up the mountain from Arequipa and they were playing the Kendrick Brothers' Christian-themed movie "Fireproof" (in Spanish, of course).  I couldn't believe it, and the folks on the bus were riveted to it.  When I told Lynn Frankland about it, she suggested the idea of having a movie night here in the villages.  Well I just could not shake that idea and it kept growing in my head and in my heart.  And after much prayer, it has become a reality.  

I have been preparing for this outreach even during the holidays before returning to Peru with the purchase of a tiny but amazing projector and roll-up screen.  I packed it all up along with a speaker system I had purchased years ago and hauled it to Peru.  The thought behind the outreach initially is to introduce myself to the community by providing a free service and to provide a platform for someone like me (not yet fluent in the language) to share the gospel to a captive audience!  I also want to encourage families to come together for family entertainment, which is not an easy task in this culture.

When I first returned to Peru, I stayed in Lima a short time to finalize my residency status here (I'm now an official resident!) and afterwards took a bus trek from Lima to Arequipa and then up the mountain to my home in Machahuay.  The entire bus trip took about 25 hours, but I was able to see scenery I've not seen in years and I saved money by not flying from Lima to Arequipa.  I arrived at my house in the evening and found everything just as I had left it...all packed up, chained, and secured in one locked room.  A combination of damp weather (it's the summer rainy season here) and a shut up house had everything very damp and musty, so the next few days were spent airing things out or just rewashing.  The sun is usually shining in the mornings until about 10am or 11am before the clouds roll in, so washing and drying is an early morning task.  Since I've not spent much time up in the mountains of Peru during their summer months (November to March) I did not expect it to be this chilly in the summer here.  I'm more familiar with their winter months, which are dry, but understandably cold (winter).  Mark Twain once said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco, known for its chilly summer days.  Ditto for Machahuay!  It is a chilly and wet summer here!  

After unpacking and airing out everything needed for day-to-day living, I began the set-up for showing movies in the living room of the house.  Once I had all the technology in place and tried it out, I knew I had something special that I could offer the community - the picture and sound was amazing, and the living room seemed designed for just such a set-up.  Now I had to plan for the opening night...what to show, what to say, what to serve?  The latter was the easiest.  Movies need popcorn, right?  So back in the states I bought a Whirley-Pop popcorn popper and good quality kernels and hauled that up the mountain as well.  The choice of movie and how I would begin sharing Christ in this format was another thing.  So I fasted and prayed and sought the Lord's guidance as in all things, but for this time especially.  A few days before the first Movie Night, I decided to show the animated movie, Ice Age.  Not a go-to movie for evangelism, for sure, and probably not in most church DVD libraries!  But it's a movie about unlikely friendships and the sacrifices that friends sometimes make for one another.  And that was really the heart of my first message to Machahuay.  I want them to know that I am here to be a friend and to share the love of Jesus and the good news of His saving sacrifice.  John 15:13 was the anchor text for my intro to the movie that night.  There were 13 kids and 1 adult attending - all were attentive and well-behaved.  I scripted out what I wanted to say and since I was a bit nervous, I had to read most of it.  I had no idea if anything I said was understood by those kids until the moment in the movie came when one of the characters acted to save another by risking his own life.  At that moment two of the little girls watching looked around to find me and acknowledged that they got it.  A special moment for this simple gringo way up in the Andes.  The kids loved the movie and the time of fellowship...several were on the rug under blankets and others on the only seats I had...wooden benches.

We repeated all of this again just last night with the showing this time of the animated classic, Finding Nemo.  Again, a secular movie, but what an opportunity to hear about being lost and found - lost in sin and found through faith in Christ!  And that they did, before the movie started and before the refreshments flowed (homemade cookies this time) I was able to share God's Word and the good news of Jesus.  Last night I had 19 attend, including 3 adult moms.  God is good y'all!!!

Meanwhile my language studies are progressing, and God is arranging for a full-time Spanish tutor and Peruvian brother in Christ to spend time in Machahuay with me soon.  I'm also striving to bear fruit for God in this place through acts of kindness and fellowship, always trying to listen and look for where He is working.  Last Saturday I helped my neighbor next door haul 1800 building blocks into his tiny backyard where he is expanding their home.  It nearly killed me, but I got to know Juan, Jamie and little Nadin...and they got to know me.  God has a plan there one day.

And so it the Lord unfolds His plan here in this amazing part of the world.  Pray that the tiny gospel seeds being planted will grow in their hearts.  And pray that I will be obedient to water those seeds and tend to their growth through future discipleship and bible studies.  Pray for their parents, that they would be curious or interested enough to attend a movie and also hear God's Word, even as it stumbles out of my mouth.  

While it's only one of the outreach efforts I will begin here, there are many more movie nights to come with great bible stories and Christian-themed movies on the schedule.  Help me pray for God's guidance in preparation for each and every one!

Next up...early morning devotionals for passing locals as they head to work their fields.  A start to their mornings with God's Word on their minds and in their hearts.  Join me in prayer as plans are in the works already for this special outreach!

Thank you all for your support and prayers!  May God bless you as you hold the rope for those called to the ends of the earth!

In His Service -