One of the greatest difficulties we face as a team is inexperience. As with most vocations, inexperience makes it hard to get a job in the first place—or in our case, raise funds to get to the field in the first place—which in turn leaves us asking how we will get experience. This is only the initial hurdle, since inexperience really matters most for the very reason employers are hesitant to hire novices: we've got a lot to learn once we finally do get in the field. It's the initial hurdle that we've been dealing with, though, and it has caused us to ask pointed questions of ourselves.
You may have heard it said that time flies when you are having fun. I can attest to the truth of that statement. Our time in Tyler has been flying by and the month of October was no exception. We have been wrapped up in ministry and team development, fundraising and prayer. We have received encouragement from so many people and truly feel blessed to be where we are right now. I want to share some of the progress we have made and some news we have received that I think will lift your spirits as it has ours.
They say the best is always saved for last, but I just can’t wait. We have met with the Shiloh elders and have received their blessing on our mission work! God is truly faithful and is so good I can hardly put it into words, but I’ll try. Shiloh has agreed to join with Cedar Lane, Megan’s home church, in the sponsoring and encouraging of our work in Arequipa. While there are many details to be worked out between ourselves and the churches, we are excited about this partnership. This is truly an answered prayer, and such a blessing to know that those who have raised us and brought us to this point will continue being part of our journey.
Now that we have two churches joining together in support for us, many people want to know where we stand financially. Cedar Lane and Shiloh are both in the middle of the budget process for 2008 and are prayerfully deciding what level of financial support they can provide. They are both looking at up to half of our total salary needed of $90,000, and are committing to help us raise our relocation and work fund from area churches. We have also sent out letters to Tyler area churches in the hopes that they will join with Shiloh and Cedar Lane, either with a yearly pledge or a one time donation. Please be in prayer for these churches as they make these decisions.
So, what else have we been doing at Shiloh these two months? Along with various teaching responsibilities, we have been involved with projects such as Habitat for Humanity and Karing Kitchen. Greg had the opportunity to preach on October 7th. He spoke about the Good News and how it still is good even when it is not only to you but through you. He did a great job and the church was blessed by his words.
A major project we are beginning is the formation of a Mission Support Team. This team will support the work in Peru in a number of ways. Not only will they be advocates for the team at Shiloh while we are in the field but they will take the lead in motivating the congregation to be more missions- minded. We foresee their participation, leadership, and ministry being invaluable to ourselves and a powerful tool for the congregation.
If you are reading this you probably already have a relationship with some aspect of Team Arequipa. I am writing from the perspective of a Shiloh person. Since three of the team members grew up at Shiloh, many people have already invested in the future of this team. It has been an amazing sight to watch Kyle, Larissa, and Greg grow in their service to God. It has been a wonder to see all the great talents that Megan adds to the team.
So it is with great excitement and anticipation that I look forward to the next few years. I am in constant prayer for guidance, completion, and open doors as the field workers for Team Arequipa are in the final preparations for their insertion into this new beachhead in the kingdom. It is exciting that Shiloh people are prepared to work beside them in this effort. It is a blessing that Cedar Lane is committed to this partnership. May we always be dissatisfied with the borders of God’s Kingdom. May this dissatisfaction push us to partner with those who are able to be on the frontline in this effort.
I look forward to seeing what God is going to do with the partnership between Shiloh, Cedar Lane, the Smiths and the McKinzies. I am are ready to know new brothers and sisters that I would not know otherwise, I am ready to see others inspired to give themselves for the work of the kingdom, and I am ready to experience Christians loving and supporting each other as they work together for the Lord. I am ready to see the full measure of blessing the Lord gives through the work of Team Arequipa.
Greg and I have been planning on going to Peru as a family unit since we were engaged in 2004. It has been quite a journey. I have gone from considering not marrying Greg to feeling like I am the missing puzzle piece for Team Arequipa.
On our research trip to the city last year, my prayer was for God to burden my heart with the need and desire to go. I was having so many doubts about our decision and God’s will for the McKinzie family to be there. God certainly opened my eyes to our calling to Peru on that trip. So if one feels called to go to a place, why is it still so hard to go?
“When are you guys leaving for Peru?” many have asked me. My answer has slowly dwindled in time. I have gone from saying a few years, to a couple, to one. Ask me today... “Less than a year.” It has finally dawned on me. I shared with Greg that I have really gotten used to the idea of going to Peru, but the reality has just set in. We moved our family to Tyler, TX to partner with a church that we hope helps to send us to Peru. My home church is sending us to Peru. The pieces are all coming together, and I am starting to freak out. Is there something wrong with me? Then I go to Hebrews 11. By faith... Noah... Abraham... Joseph... Moses. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6).
I am going to Peru because of faith. Doubts, insecurities, and rationalizations plague my mind telling me why I should not go, but I cling to my faith in the one that has remained faithful throughout time. I read from Proverbs 3 today. Verses 5-6 are some of my favorite verses to quote, but the first four verses caught my eye. Check them out. I want faithfulness to be bound
around my neck and to be written on my heart. Noah didn’t want to build the ark; Abraham went through several times of doubt and trial; Moses told God to his face that he could not do what he was called to do. But God is faithful. I will be leaving for Peru to do his work in less than a year. I am scared to death, but I faithfully accept the call to be sent.
Team Arequipa finds itself now, at Shiloh Road church, in a place that is both natural and strange. So much has changed since the beginning, and although it has not been too awfully long in the grand scheme of things, that beginning seems quite distant now. Onlookers might imagine that the team has always been more or less like it is now, but hopefully a short journey into Team Arequipa’s history will reveal something of the refinement we have experienced.
This summer our team conducted our second research trip to Arequipa, Peru. Those in attendance were Greg, Kyle, Bryan, Eralda, baby Jack, Bobby and Candice. Bobby and Candice Garner are friends of ours from Searcy who have a heart for missions and joined us on our trip to help determine if missions in Peru was where God was leading them. Like any good research team we had a list of things that we wanted to accomplish:
- survey real estate, to rent and to own show Eralda, Bobby and Candice the city
- examine health care network
- find and speak with NGO’s - development groups not run by the government
- attend local evangelical worship services
We were all very excited about getting to look at houses and apartments in our target neighborhoods. On our previous trip we were able to pinpoint three preferred areas of the city but did not have the time to sample available housing. We began our search by speaking with our trusty hotel manager Alfredo. He recommended we speak with a particular real estate agent who, though she had no homes in our areas, was still helpful and showed us a few things that she said would be comparable. We continued our housing search through newspaper ads, sometimes dealing with an agent and sometimes with the individual owner. While we still have a lot of looking to do once we move to Arequipa, the results of our search give us a clear idea of the type of home we will live in. The numbers we gathered will also help us as we propose budgets to churches.
A major goal of the trip was to show our city to Eralda, Bobby and Candice. We wanted them to see what we had seen, see how God spoke to us through the people of this city. To do this we went on a ‘touristy’ tour of the city and then we also took them on the reality tour which we had experienced last year. Through these they were able to see the beauty of the city from various lookouts, visit historical sites and learn a little of the history of Arequipa. They were also shown the reality that the average citizen of the city faces day after day. All that took the reality tour were touched by it, even if it was their second time. It is hard to see people at that level of poverty live with such determination and not be inspired.
While we had an idea and some information on how the health care network operated we had not seen a clinic firsthand nor spoken with anyone at a clinic. In Arequipa there are basically three tiers of health care. The lowest tier is the public hospital. Services there are rendered at little to no charge to any citizen of Peru. The hospital is centrally located and staffed mostly by doctors volunteering their time. The middle tier has a significantly better level of care, but costs more, thereby narrowing the field of clientele. The upper tier consists of private clinics located around the city. Since the top tier clinics provide high quality care for a low price (when compared to US health costs), we will most likely use them. Two clinics in particular were recommended to us so we set off to see them. One of the clinics allowed us to tour their rooms and gave us some pricing for various services. The rooms were very large and very clean. Peruvian doctors are respected throughout South America for their level of training and expertise, and from what we could gather from our visit should we need any medical assistance we would be well taken care of.
I was not with the group for the last two objectives, but I am able to report on them. We have spoken before about our desire for the work we do in Arequipa to be holistic. By that we mean to minister to the people both spiritually and physically. One thing we’ll need in order to carry out developmental ministries are contacts. NGO’s will serve as vital sources of information and help as we launch programs to serve the people in Arequipa. Greg and Bobby were able to meet with a number of people about their organizations; it is our hope those contacts will be useful to us in the coming years. Lastly we wanted to experience a Peruvian worship service. It was an uplifting time of praise to our Father, and it gave us a taste of what is to come.
Thanks for all of your prayers for safety and effectiveness. We accomplished our goals and are one step closer to moving. It is exciting to think that the next time we fly to Arequipa it won’t be as researchers but as missionaries!
Well, you will soon learn that teamAREQUIPA has moved to Tyler, TX as our first true step in the process of heading to Peru. We’ve been here a month already, and the time has flown by. So far, so good.
Just as a recap, we came to Tyler by our own choice. Shiloh Road Church of Christ had committed a sum of money to help support us for the second half of this year, which we had intended to be time spent with a sponsoring congregation before our move to Arequipa in early 2008. Plans change, especially when they are in God’s hands, so when the second half of the year began, we had no sponsoring congregation to work with but had clear calendars and a desire to focus on team tasks. The four of us sat in our backyard in Memphis and came to the unanimous conclusion that we would come to Tyler, basically uninvited, and offer our time and effort to the ministries at Shiloh. We set a date of late August and started packing.
Once in Tyler, we hit the ground running, with Kyle putting in office hours and filling in some teaching slots before our moving truck even got here. We began attending meetings and devotionals and teaching classes and planning missions-focused events. They even gave us an office to use, so we feel very official.
One of the neatest things that we have been able to do is a weekly meeting dubbed Mission: Possible. It is solely for the purpose of garnering attention and providing information about ourselves, our vision, and our methods. Our desire is to spark a love for the people of Arequipa. We don’t want teamAREQUIPA merely to consist of two families. Rather, our dream is that we will have a large team of people passionate about God’s work in Arequipa, and we will merely be the field agents.
For those who are less familiar with our backgrounds, Shiloh is home to Kyle, Greg and me. By the time we were in high school, our families were all attending Shiloh, and we became good friends in the youth group. Coming back is especially meaningful for me, as I was born and raised in Tyler and grew up at this church. It really is my church home; even though I have found other church families, this one raised me, and it is special to be back. The last time I was here for any significant period of time, I was in high school. Now I am married, have a baby, and am in a ministry position with the team. Thus, we are reintroducing ourselves. I have enjoyed swapping motherhood moments with the women whose children I used to babysit. We sit in meetings with the ministers who taught us. We teach and mentor the youth group, even though we were in their shoes not very long ago. It is such a blessing to fill new roles in this familiar place and will provide us with an excellent learning experience.
We are excited about the plans and purposes God has for us at Shiloh. Our hope is to grow in our knowledge of Him, to gain experience in ministry, and to solidify a long-term, committed relationship with the church. For Shiloh to be a significant part of our support would be so special. These are the people who instilled in us a love for the Lord and a desire to see His kingdom grow. We now want them to join in our dream of His kingdom taking hold of Arequipa.
All in all, it’s good to be back home.