October 2015 will mark one year in Arequipa for the Blairs and Daggetts and about a year and ¾ for the Frouds and Morgans. This past month our team was able to step away for a few days to regroup and refocus on our work here in Arequipa. It was a wonderful three days together. We spent the first part of the day focused on worship and team meetings. During the evenings we ate dinner together and played games.
Many of you who have been following this newsletter for the past several years may have heard of Paty before. She has been a servant within the house church groups here and also works with CUDA’s (the Christian Urban Development Association) microfinance projects and takes care of CUDA’s accounting. She has such a beautiful story to tell.
I love the experience of climbing mountains and being high up. In some way I experience God’s greatness and power when I go far away from where the hustle and bustle of the city is. The air is clean and it is quiet and peaceful. I can think better and praising God just seems so natural. Climbing for me, as strange as it sounds, is a form of worshiping God. I realize how great He is and I praise Him along the way to the top. Psalm 19:1-6 is one of my favorite psalms. It really resonates with me when I read how the beauty of God’s creation testifies of His greatness and glory.
Since 2002, Holly and I have had the privilege of accompanying Harding University students to Peru and Bolivia. That first summer we were in Arequipa for the very first time! It is encouraging to see all that God has done in Arequipa since then! We have taken the occasional summer off from travels to do other things (we were in Greece in 2008) but I believe we’ve traveled to these South American nations ten times, accompanied by students on all but one occasion. In 2014, we faced our greatest logistical challenge, traveling with up to sixteen other individuals to Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.
It took me 15 years to realize I went to school to learn. That’s right—only as a junior in college did that profound truth dawn on me. When I decided to start learning (and that that was part of the point), everything changed. I found out it was more than just a classroom activity and more so a way of life that enhances everything from coffee and snowboarding to relationships and travel.
Living Libraries is growing by leaps and bounds. This year we have four different schools in four different areas of the city. This is enough to keep everyone busy…yet we keep growing!
CUDA’s health branch, Pura Vida, is launching its newest initiative this month. We’re calling it ProCED (Programa de Cuidado y Educación para Diabéticos), a play on the Spanish word proceder, meaning “to proceed”. We are proceeding from and building on last year’s work done mostly by Andrew and Bethany Gray in the clinic in Arequipa’s district of Hunter. The Grays started doing free Diabetes screenings for patients in this clinic a little over a year ago and have established a great reputation for CUDA there. Finger-stick blood glucose readings allow us to see who has abnormally high blood glucose. We’ve screened over 850 people thus far.
In eight months on the mission field I have already been challenged in so many ways. I felt fairly well-equipped to come here and do what we set out to do. But it’s been one of those things that the more you get into it, the more you realize how inadequate you are. I heard a man once talk about his father who was a master stonemason. He recounted how his father could read the stones knowing the exact right place to put the chisel and precisely how hard to swing the hammer so that the stone would fit just right. I often feel like one of those stones. The chips are flying. It hurts, but hopefully after it all I’ll fit where the Master wants me in his house.
So it’s that time of year again. Summer is upon you, residents of the Northern Hemisphere. The sun, sand, and Sonic all bid you, come. In addition to your normal summer routines of work, camps, vacations, and a little R & R, many will embark on summer mission trips. A question I have is: are short-term mission trips a culturally appropriate model for evangelism or community development?