I’m not sure how many of you have ever had to run through an airport with a slim chance of making your international connection. Up until August 25th none of us had. There we were though; four first-time missionaries running our tails off through the Atlanta airport hoping that the gate folks would take pity on us and allow us on the plane which we were certainly going to miss. God is good, as you all know, and we made our flight by 8 minutes. When we reached the gate and saw Greg, Megan, and Ana (who had just beaten us there) we felt so relieved. The past few weeks we had mostly been apart from each other and to be finally on the plane with our teammates was such a great feeling. Off we went to Lima with plans of Visa appropriation and advice gleaning from veteran missionaries. All was good.
Actually it was only mostly good. While in Lima we had only two objectives to accomplish over 7 days. Our first objective was to bug the Dowells to death with questions about living in Peru. I’m happy to report that not only are they still alive, they took a lot of time out of a very busy week to hold our hands and answer our questions. Not only did they give information but they played mentor to us all and were so encouraging. Paul and Amy are such great people and we owe them a good deal. Paul spent many an hour talking to us about their mission strategy and how it has evolved over their tenure in Lima. He enlightened us about the many legal facets of foreign living in Peru and told us a lot of good stories. Amy imparted a wealth of knowledge on living and running a home in Peru. She took the girls to a store and gave them pointers on culture. We are indebted to them for their generosity and helpfulness. I can’t imagine not having them to bounce questions off of and receive advice from.
Our second objective was to make headway on obtaining our religious worker visas. Without these visas we have to leave the country every few months, or pay a fee at the immigration office, to get our passports re-stamped. Not only will they be convenient, they will give legitimacy to anything we attempt in the future as far as renting, purchasing, or conducting research. They’re pretty important. Paul and Amy graciously offered to walk us through this process and to have one of their churches sponsor us as missionaries in Peru. While we had hoped to make progress on these during our week we found out that it would not be possible. For starters, I forgot to bring Shaye’s original birth certificate which is vitally important as the government is extra cautious about children’s identities (a good thing in my opinion). Secondly we found out that the church had not received some paperwork back that would be necessary to complete the process. So we found ourselves going a little stir crazy in Lima with almost nothing to do. It was nice, though, to have a little bit of calm before the storm that we now call Language School. We have plans to return to Lima soon to obtain our visas; this will probably take two weeks.
An unexpected blessing from our time in Lima was our worship on Sunday with one of the churches Paul and Amy have started. We went expecting a warm welcome and a great worship service and we received both of those things. What we did not expect was a special blessing for our team that Paul had apparently thought up. At the end of service he called us up to the front of the church and charged the members there to basically consider us family and help us in any way needed. He asked them to become partners with us in the work by helping us obtain visas and by assisting us in any way they can. It was a very touching, moving moment, and there were a number of people tearing up. We felt so humbled by the experience. In a very Pauline way, it was just another stop on our missionary journey. We had gone from Shiloh Road in Tyler, Texas to Cedar Lane in Tullahoma, Tennessee to this church in Lima, Peru. Each one has loved us, blessed us, and sent us. Now its our turn to be the blessing.