June 2012


I am a missionary.  “Duh, I knew that.”  I know.  But what you may not know is what that means is different for me than you (probably).  

People ask me questions.  Lots of questions.  “Why do you do ?”  “Why don’t you believe ?” “How do I teach my children about ?” “How do I make so and so stop ?  And because I’m a missionary, it’s assumed that I know.

But I don’t. I’m a Christian wife and mother, and I’m slogging through this mess of a life just like everyone else.  All too often with a rotten attitude about it.

The questions used to rattle me.  Our American focus on education and testing means that when there is a question, we should have the right answer.  And if we don’t...bad grade.  I really don’t want to get a bad grade in being a missionary.
But now I imagine it this way: If I were walking up a hill behind someone and came to a difficult step over a rock, it would make sense to ask whoever had made it over that rock to reach back, grab my hand, and steady me so that we can continue on together.  And that’s often all the questions are really aiming for...requesting that someone provide a boost, a steadying presence in this continual climb toward growth and well-being.  They are asking, “Are you available to walk with me? Or am I in this on my own?”  

Now I’m not as thrown off by questions.  There are lots of things I don’t know, lots of answers that haven’t been mine to wrestle.  But I have already crossed lots of rocks, already asked God lots of questions and sought His redirection in how to think and live and love.  I can lend a hand. 

Folks, Jesus was all about giving a boost, being a steadying presence, and walking with anyone who approached Him.  

Therefore, we should be, too.  

It’s not about having answers.  It’s not about fixing people.  It’s not about condemnation, judgment, categorizing, condescending, managing, entertaining, legislating, or constructing.  No gimmicks, tricks, bullet points, illustrations, do’s, don’t’s, or how-to’s will suffice.

It’s about presence.  His in us.  Ours in the lives of others. His kingdom is wherever He is and how his arrival changes the world.  

They are hungry for Him and are asking us if He has come near in us.

CUDA News: June

It is always a blessing to have your supporting church highly involved in your mission work.  We love our relationship with Cedar Lane and were excited when they contacted us over a year ago with a desire to put their talents to use here in Arequipa.  Since the Cedar Lane church is blessed with an abundance of engineers (even some rocket scientists!) we began to think of ways for them to put their technical skills to use.  What came of our planning/praying was the idea to build and install solar panels in a poor community.  The team that Cedar Lane put together rose to the challenge and arrived this month ready to get to work.

The process of choosing a community to receive the panels was long, frustrating, and God-led.  Due to some early mistakes and assumptions we found ourselves a month-out from the arrival of the solar team with no community committed to working with us.  We eventually decided to stick with Naranjal, Manuela’s community where we installed water tanks and built latrines, after a few weeks of praying and looking for an open door.  After the community-chosen directors of Naranjal asked for our assistance in resolving some in-community issues we felt like we were being told to stay in Naranjal, to put the solar panels there.  After a few weeks’ discussion we have decided to install panels in the seven homes that are currently occupied and one or two panels for the community building.

God certainly blessed our week with the group as we were able to get more work done than we had originally planned on.  Thanks to our interns we were able to get all ten of the panels constructed!  Even better we were able to install five panels when originally we had hoped to get one installed.  As of now five of the seven families that live in Naranjal can turn on their lights at night and the other two should have their panels installed soon.  It was a sweet moment when Manuela conveyed their gratitude to the group from Cedar Lane with lots of hugs and even a few tears.

While here the three engineers from Cedar Lane (Joel, Brian, and Mark) 1) held a press conference, 2) gave various radio/tv interviews, and 3) presented at two universities.  Abraham really outdid himself in creating these opportunities to let Arequipa know about CUDA and our programs/businesses.  During these interviews they were able to not only talk about solar energy as a viable power source but they also had many opportunities to share their faith as what motivated them to come to Arequipa.

Our hope is that we can continue this program using the simple design created by the engineering team without the need for repeat trips by American engineers.  We will be looking for Peruvian partners to help make this a reality.  Already we have had a community send their president to talk with us about acquiring panels for their homes.  Join us in praying for God to lead us in this, and every other, project.

New Life

Jose Luis was the first Peruvian that was baptized into Christ in our time here.  I can remember our first meetings with only the two missionary families, Emilio (who was already a Christian), and Jose Luis.  How exciting it is to see what has happened over the course of these almost-four years.  We have grown in number, but more than that, we have grown in our relationships with so many of these Peruvians.  I commented to one of our interns that it is kind of scary for me to think about leaving Peru at this point.  I am so invested in the lives of these people, my Peruvian family, that I cannot and don't want to imagine the day when we leave.

Throughout the first part of this year, Jose Luis's attendance to our weekly meetings were off and on.  He works a lot, and we were aware that his work sometimes affected his attendance.  What we were not expecting to hear one Sunday is that Jose Luis was gone a lot of weekends because he was visiting a certain friend in another city...

Meet Miriam.  She is promised to Jose Luis and they will wed this August (the 18th to be exact).  She lives in a town 4 hours away from Arequipa.  She will move here the beginning of August.  She has been studying the gospel message with Jose Luis throughout their courtship.  They requested to come meet with Greg and me a few Sundays ago.  We felt so honored that she would make a special trip to come meet us.  But that trip meant more than that.  Jose Luis explained that she wanted to join him in his journey with the Lord.  We scheduled a time to meet again and talk about the cost of discipleship.  They came, we talked, and Miriam decided to go with the “Eunuch response.”  If there was a place to do the baptism, she didn't see any reason to wait.  On June 29, the holiday of Peter and Paul here in Peru, Miriam confessed her faith in front of the church that could come with 2 hours notice.  It was a beautiful scene.  We all came back to the house.  We shared, sang, and prayed.  Keep Miriam in your prayers as she begins her journey of discipleship.  Also pray for the new life Jose Luis and Miriam will share as they say their wedding vows this August.

Toward the end of this month, I finished the study of Mark with Nadia.  I went into that last study feeling so excited about Nadia making the commitment.  The result caught me off guard.  To make a long story short, I learned that Nadia had a different perception of baptism than what I believe the Bible teaches.  She explained to me that she is in the process of making that commitment but she needed to forgive some people in her life and make things in her heart right before she could make covenant with God.  I immediately went to Romans 8 where it talks about the Spirit helping us in our weakness.  We conversed for awhile, and we concluded with the plan to look more closely at baptism in our next study.  I spoke with David Mitchell, the overseeing elder at Cedar Lane of the Peru work who was here with the engineers, and with Greg about where I should go with this conversation.  I fully believe the Spirit pointed me to Romans 8, so it was no surprise to me when they both said I should take her through Romans 6-8.  

Also, I spoke with three of our Peruvian Christians that came from a Catholic background– Paty, Alfredo, and Manuela.  I learned from them that Nadia's hesitancy comes from a Catholic mindset of not being able to approach the presence of God unless your horizontal relationships are made right.  I learned a lot from them, and I thank God that I have my Peruvian family that understands a Peruvian mindset better than I ever can.  Isn't that what Christian brothers and sisters are for?
Nadia and I read through Romans 6-8, and we ended the meeting with her saying that she was ready.  She realizes that she is in process, but that she will always be in process.  Baptism isn't the end result of making yourself who you think you should be.  Baptism is the beginning.  It is the acceptance of the gift of the Holy Spirit who is the only answer for making us into the person God wants us to be.  

We haven't made it to the water yet, because there are some people that Nadia really wants to be there to witness her decision.  We are making plans for that special day.  I am thrilled beyond words to have walked thus far with her in this journey.  God has taught me and stretched me so much in the process.  I am now excited to see her confess her faith publicly in front of the saints, and enter into a study of discipleship with her.  Thanks to all of you for your prayers for Nadia.  She is such a dear friend to me, and I cannot express the joy I feel in being able to call her “sister.”