Monday, October 31, 2016

And then Jesus happened!

On September 24th our friends Lider and Dolly of Nuevo Chimbote were married. There were also eight baptisms, eight first communions and two confirmations. This beautiful day was the first time that the community of Nuevo Chimbote ever celebrated their patrona, the community's feast day, in a religious way. Each pueblo has been dedicated to a saint or Jesus. The community of Nuevo Chimbote's saint is Our Lady of Mercy. Lider has shared many times that the Lord has showed their community mercy by bringing us to them.

Lider and Dolly have three children together, two boys and a girl. Lider is 43 and Dolly is 32. When we first came into town sixteen months ago both of them did not have interest in the church, in fact Lider was a drunk. Their relationship was strained. And then JESUS happened!!!

Lider was asked to take on the role of the town animador by Padre and Taylor who had no idea that he was struggling in his faith and a drunk. The animador is the catholic minister in the community. An animador leads the Liturgy of the Word service, visits the sick and dying, and catechizes the community, as well as they are responsible for the security of the chapel and must attend meetings with the priests three times a year. It was through this new role that God called Lider back to Him.

Lider came to every single class that we led every Tuesday evening and every Sunday morning. He started reading his Bible daily. We would spend time having Bible studies together and also we would study our faith. We presented the Kerygma to the community and taught them how to pray. We taught them their first hymns and led them in their first Liturgy of the Word service. For much of the few first months Lider came without his family. He was excited to grow in his faith. He asked many questions and always looked forward to our next visit.

In time Dolly started attending the classes. She would bring their two youngest children. She would come but she wouldn't participate. She was often sitting in the back by herself watching and listening.   At first when we asked if she wanted to get married she said no. It was only a few months ago that Dolly finally shared the reason why she said no.

Over the following months Dolly started participating. She was seen sitting in the front singing and answering questions. She also started bringing more people to the classes. A young man started attending who we later learned was their 17 year old son. She always had a smile on her face and was excited to see our car pull into town. Even a deep wound on her foot from a machete wouldn't keep her away from the church.
When the chapel was being built Lider spent every day working on the chapel instead of in the rice fields working to feed their family. They knew that God would provide their needs as long as they did His work. Lider also started participating more in the Liturgy of the Word services and the classes. He started sharing what he learned from reading the Bible and children's catechism books with the community. He was also open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. There were many times that he shared what he felt God was leading him to share and he was no longer shy and timid.

When we asked Lider and Dolly again if they wanted to get married they excitedly said yes. They also said that their children would also be receiving their sacraments. They enthusiastically went to the marriage retreat.

It wasn't until the one year anniversary of our first visit to Nuevo Chimbote that Lider and Dolly shared their testimony. It was then that we learned how much God had done in their lives and how amazing God is. Our God is a Real God who does Real Things for Real People in the Real World. He proved that to them through His faithful love and how He repaired their broken relationship. As I stated above Lider was a drunk. Most of the money he had earned was used to support his habit leaving little to take care of his family. This led to many arguments and a very strained relationship. When we first asked Dolly if she wanted to marry Lider she could only think of these times and all the hurt he caused her. She wasn't ready to believe that his conversion was real and that God could actually change someone. But over those next months Dolly saw that Lider desperately tried to follow Jesus. He gave up drinking and started loving her in ways she didn't know. For the first time she was able to see Jesus in her husband. It was through his witness and his struggles that she came to Jesus. She saw that when he did turn back to drinking he realized his mistake and turne
d back to the Lord for forgiveness. He also asked her for forgiveness.

Lider and Dolly joyously came before the Lord to receive the sacrament of marriage because they know what life is like living without Him. They don't want that anymore. They have asked Him into their hearts and to change their person now they were coming before Him to ask Him to change their marriage. They know that God will help them with their struggles and that He will be their faithfully as the center of their marriage. They also have faith that their example will also bring other's to know His saving GRACE!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

"Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace."

He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace." Luke 8:48

Taylor first met Isabel back in January when he visited her pueblo for the first time. We had just been given 20 new pueblos to minister to in the Bombonajillo valley. Taylor and our friend Max travelled to Bombonajillo over three days before the rains came. (This valley is difficult to get to due to the poor road. During the rainy season the road is impassible. The only way out at this point is to hike out in the mud down the mountain.)

Isabel's foot.

When Taylor was introduced to Isabel he was told that she was very sick. Taylor and Max went to her house to visit with her. They found her sitting in a chair in pain. The picture above shows the cause of her pain. Her friends tried their best to console her by placing cool rags on her foot as well as moving the air around her foot to keep the flies away. There was no medicine to treat her foot in her pueblo. They believed it was a flesh eating disease and that she needed to somehow get to Tarapoto for treatment. No trucks were scheduled out since the rainy season was about to begin and she was in no condition to walk.

Taylor and Max prayed with her. They shared the gospel. Taylor said that they only thing he could give her was his prayer but that is all that God needs to work with. Simply put faith. Taylor shared the miraculous healings from the Bible. He also shared our own stories of miraculous healings. Taylor then prayed over her that she might have faith and that God would show mercy and heal her.

When Taylor explained her condition to me when he got home I contacted a friend in regards to her condition. The news was not good news. Upon reviewing the picture they came to the conclusion that she had a flesh eating disease and that she needed immediate treatment with powerful IV medicines. Unfortunately the rainy season had begun. There was no way to get to her. We turned to the Lord in prayer and begged for His mercy.

Last week Taylor, Max, Andrea, and Bre headed back to the Valley once again. This time they had four days to minister to the people. One of the stops along the way was to visit Isabel. We had hoped that we would find Isabel alive.

Praise be to Jesus Christ. Isabel was alive. In fact Isabel was cured. She shared with the group that during those months she thought she might die but that she still had faith that God would heal her. She shared a dream she had. She said that she had gone to Heaven. And while she was there she went to the foot of our Lord. He had said that it was not her time yet and there was still work for her to do. He asked her to be a missionary, to spread His Good News. It was then that she knew she would be healed and that she was supposed to take part in sharing the Gospel.

Our friend Bre, a nurse, evaluated Isabel. She found that she had complete use of her foot and complete feeling in it as well. Both of which seem impossible due to the thickness of the scar tissue. Isabel asked that the missionaries pray over her again but this time so that she might be able to walk. She hasn't left her chair in 5 years but she is determined to become God's missionary and to spread His Word.
Isabel with Bre. Bre examined Isabel last weekend. She found that Isabel's foot is completely healed with full motion and feeling.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Morropón Chapel

On May 25th we were blessed to have Bishop Rafael join us in Morropón to bless the completed chapel. It was such an exciting day for the community and for us. The project a year in the making was now complete.

It was also time for us to give this community to another amazing missionary family. The Carmody family will be ministering to the community as well as Nuevo Esperanza, Puerto Rico, and San Hilarion.

We were blessed to work with these pueblos last year but we are even more blessed to work alongside another awesome missionary family!

Leo handing Bishop Rafael the leaves to use for blessing the chapel.
Bishop Rafael gave Taylor the honor of breaking the bottle of champagne.
Here are some pictures from the day. We hope you like them.

We hand a lot of fun with it. He broke it in one swing. It was so cool to experience it!
The people placed flowers on the path leading into the chapel

Leo waiting for the blessing to begin inside the chapel.

The inside of the chapel
Bishop Rafael blessing the crucifix

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Celebrate Good Times C'Mon

The chapel is complete in Nuevo Chimbote. What better way to celebrate than mass with our Bishop?  On May 25th Bishop Rafael came to the community of Nuevo Chimbote, San Martin, Peru. In just four months the people of Nuevo Chimbote were visited by two different bishops. For a community that had been lost this is absolutely amazing! Below are some pictures from the special day. We hope you like them. Please continue to pray for the community of Nuevo Chimbote as they are still very new to the faith.

The community came together to put in this path from the road to the chapel. When they were all done laying the stones they found that the path formed the shape of a cross. Outside of the path the community will be planting flowers and bushes for a prayer garden. Above the path will be a terraces with grape vines to provide shade. Since this picture was taken the community has planted some palms and flowering bushes. They are currently working on saving the money for the fence around the chapel and the terraces. They are so excited and everyday someone is there to take care of the plants and the chapel.

What a beautiful church. Here is the finished inside photo. A special thanks to our friends from Holy Family Parish who helped make this possible through their donations and their hard work here. Now wasn't digging the footing by hand worth it?

The patron saint for Nuevo Chimbote is Our Lady of Mercy. How perfect that God blessed us with this community! We have a devotion to the Divine Mercy and this chapel was built in the year of Mercy. God is simply amazing!
The priests brought all of the church leaders from the other communities to celebrate with Nuevo Chimbote. When I saw this truck I instantly thought cattle trailer and it brought me back to WI.
Miguel is hanging off of the truck helping the people step down. Miguel is from Ecuador and he is in the process of learning English so he can join Intake in Louisiana this year. He lived in the community where FMC had missionaries and heard God asking him to enter the mission. Miguel in turn has helped one of our Peruvian friends hear the call from the Lord and this young man is discerning missions as well.
School was put on hold for mass. All of the chidden with the teachers joined us for mass that day. It was so beautiful to see the children there with us. For most it was their first time at mass. The children sat in the aisle and Bishop Rafael directed part of his homily to them. It was so precious.
Our friend Max made these signs to welcome Bishop Rafael. The kids were so excited to hold the signs. At one point all you could see was the sign and some feet. 
Padre Paco, Bishop Rafael, and Padre Leopoldo (L-R). We have had the pleasure to sit and talk with Bishop Rafael. He is so humble and encouraging. When we stayed in the retreat center in Moyobamba he was the one who opened the doors and he was the one who made our beds up.

Padre Paco and Padre Leopoldo are missionary priests from Córdoba, Spain. I can not express my gratitude for serving under these amazing holy men. God has truly blessed us!

You can see part of Dante in the background. Dante is a man from Picota that is currently in the seminary. He will be ordained as a priest in two years.
Blessing of the statue of the Divine Mercy.
Blessing of the crucifix.
Bishop Rafael giving his homily. He talked about the importance of receiving baptism but also of changing your life and living for Jesus. It was very beautiful! This was something that we had been sharing with the people. It was very good for them to hear it from Bishop Rafael.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Taylor was asked to share about our experience in finding the community of Nuevo Chimbote. He also shared in our joy of journeying with them over the past year. We have been so blessed to witness the love that they have for Jesus blossom and grow. 
Our friend Lider. When we first came to Nuevo Chimbote he wanted to have his children receive baptism. When the faith community started to come alive we asked him to become the church leader for the community. He reluctantly accepted. It wasn't until after this mass that he shared his testimony with us. His testimony brought me to tears. (This is why we sold everything. This is why we are missionaries.) Before we came to town he said that he drank. I am assuming that it was like most men here which means he drank a lot. When we came to town and started classes he didn't have a relationship with Jesus. As he attended the studies with us and as he read the bible we gave him it was then that he found Jesus. He found Jesus and he changed his life. He stopped drinking and started reading his bible. He sought the Lord and started living for the Lord as well. He is an amazing encouragement for the people of Nuevo Chimbote. He often begs for patience for the community as they are still coming to know the faith. He also is so open to the Holy Spirit. He is a shy man but when he feels the Holy Spirit he has no problem speaking up and sharing. It is so beautiful to see this. I think the most beautiful thing he shared was that he has fallen back into old ways every once in a while but he then turns to Jesus and begs for His mercy. Lider and his wife Dolly will be receiving the sacrament of marriage on September 23. They will also be receiving first confession, first communion, and confirmation that day as well. Their witness is far greater than anything I could ever say. I am so honored and humbled to call them my friends.
The community of Nuevo Chimbote fed all of us after mass. Feeding 150+ people is a lot of work and you need to call in the troops. Some of our friends from Nuevo Egipto came to help cook so the ladies from Nuevo Chimbote could participate in their first mass in the chapel. There are not many people that Faustina will go to but Max's sister is one of them.
Check out the size of those pots. You bring out the big guns when there are 150+ people. Preparing to cook the rice and beef for lunch. 
Another view of the large pot. When I saw this pot I instantly thought chicken boyah. It wasn't as large as the kettles we use in WI but it was big. I also then wanted chicken boyah and unfortunately that is not a dish they have here.
The people in Nuevo Chimbote use the water from the canal for everything. They bath in the canal and wash their clothes in the canal. Each family has a certain time and day to go down to the canal to bath and wash. If you don't go down in your designated time you have to wait until next time. When the group was here working in the church the team had to go down to the canal and bucket water into a tank so they could have water to make concrete. The people also use this water to cook most of their food. They use wood fires to get the water extremely hot to sanitize it before adding the ingredients. The fisher families in town can purchase good drinking water but most do not.
Yuca is a wonderful starch that we were introduced to. It is delicious. We are often served boiled yuca with meat and rice. Our favorite way to prepare it though is fried. It is yummy like french fries. The flesh of the yuca is white which means that it takes on the color of whatever it is cooked with. This yuca was not cooked in the canal water. Our friend Hilda caught rainwater in buckets that week so we could have fresh clear water to boil the yuca in. It is said that you can tell the level of poverty of the people by the color of the yuca. If you are served white yuca the people either collect rainwater or good drinking water to cook it in. If it is darkly colored or is served with a sauce the people do not have access to clean water. 
Just four months ago an old dirt building came down and now this beautiful chapel stands in its place. The community celebrates a Liturgy of the Word service here every Sunday. Our family comes every Tuesday for a bible study. The faith is alive and growing. In September we will have a sacrament mass where Lider and Dolly will be married as well as many children will receive baptism and first communion.

We want to send a special thanks to everyone who helped make this chapel possible. Thank you Holy Family parishioners for your prayers and support.
Thank you to our friends and family in Brillion, Reedsville, Greenleaf, Appleton, Green Bay, Hilbert, Denmark, and Chilton.
Heidi and John, Nancy and Mark, Curt, Christel, Jesse, Tom, Ken, and Mary Beth thank you for all of the blood, sweat, and tears that you put into this project! You touched the community in ways they were not expecting. It was so beautiful to watch the men of the community join you in the work. Your example helped bring Ulysses back to the faith. It was because of you that we were introduced to Fiorela. Thank you so much and we can't wait until we see you next year!!!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Howdy partner welcome to the wild west- Part 2

Our excitement to return home from Nuevo Chanchomayo ended at about 3:00am with the sound of rain. When I heard the rain my heart sank. I knew at that moment that there was a chance we would not be able to leave Chanchomayo for a week. The worst part was that we had only planned on staying for one night which meant we only had enough clothes for one day. How was I going to keep my kids clean? How am I going to walk on the road without falling down? What were we going to do?

We learned very quickly that a two story house is very important. The bottom floor is the kitchen and eating area and the top floor is the living area. How do you contain six kids to an upper floor? Let's just say it was an interesting morning. The kids enjoyed making creations out of the mud. Surprisingly they stayed relatively clean until we had to walk to another house for lunch. We walked through the drizzle to the house of the other animator, Almandro. He was so generous with lunch and coffee. The warm coffee helped with the chills. Almandro invited us to stay at his house that evening.  We spoke with the family who was hosting us and they said it was better for us since he had a larger house. We moved our bags to Almandro's house and started to prepare for the evening. We decided to continue with our daily ministries there since we were unable to leave. I led a class with the kids of the community and Taylor prepared for another talk that evening while our children rested.
Stuck inside

As we looked out over the town from the second story balcony Taylor and I laughed. Horses were tied up around the plaza, some were walking around. The houses are wood two story buildings. People were walking around with boots. At that point it hit us, this place looks like the depiction of the wild west in the movies.

That evening for dinner we headed to the house of Almandro's daughter. She was so wonderful. She had prepared tallarin, spaghetti noodles, with sweet plantains and meat. Taylor told her that he had prayed to God this morning asking for spaghetti. It was such a blessing since we had eaten rice at every meal. The kids were not interested in eating though. They saw all of the cuy, guinea pigs, on the floor and they wanted to play with them. People raise cuy in their kitchens. That way they can easily catch them when they want to serve them for dinner. We explained to our generous hostess that people do not eat cuy in the US. She was surprised by this since they are very delicious. I admit that they are very delicious. She is hoping to have some big enough to serve us next time.
Almandro our gracious host

Leo also received his first birthday gift that night. When they learned that his birthday was in two days they gave him a chicken for his birthday dinner. Taylor and I laughed because we knew that Leo was not going to let us butcher this chicken. Instantly Leo looked at us and said that she was a pet and we can't eat her. We translated this and the whole room started laughing. We tied up the chickens legs, so she wouldn't be able to escape, and headed back to the house to grab our Bibles before our next meeting.

We quickly trudged through the mud to church. Ok maybe it was- We slowly trudged through the mud to church. We rang the bell and prepared for the talk. When everyone arrived we opened with a song. Our kids love the song "Jesús esta pasando." It was the first song that we learned in spanish and it has a lot of fun hand motions. Naturally this was the song Taylor taught the community in January so they excitedly exclaimed that they wanted to sing this song. With everyone off of their feet we joyously began our lesson praising the Lord. Taylor spoke on the Holy Spirit that evening. How perfect since we were going to be celebrating Pentecost on Sunday.

Stuck inside some more
Our walk back to the house was much slower this time. Carrying four sleeping kids through mud is a little tricky but we made it without falling. Taylor and I were able to pray for the kids and tuck them in by ourselves. Just as we were heading off to bed Almandro handed me a chamber pot. A chamber pot?? I didn't think anyone uses them anymore. He said that I was should use it during the middle of the night. Taylor, Faustina, Adele, and I headed to bed. This time we were able to tuck ourselves in.

When we awoke the next morning we were overjoyed to find that it had been over 12 hours without rain. Breakfast was once again rice with chicken parts and coffee. After pitching the contents of the chamber pot out the window, Taylor quickly started searching around town for a truck to take us out. After a little convincing a man agreed to take us. In less than five minutes we were able to pack all of our things and we loaded into the cab of the truck including Leo's chicken. Leo cradled the chicken the whole ride. Normally live chickens are tied to the side of the truck but Leo did not like the thought of that.
The road doesn't look bad yet. But just past the curve it got fun!

Our ride out was more exciting than the ride in. The mud was deeper and a little more slippery. We ended up getting stuck five times. The driver and a young man who was riding in the back had to dig us out with shovels. They through more mud into the tracks so the truck would have better traction. They also rocked the truck from sided to side instead of front to back. All the while in the cab of the truck you could here us praying. The kids were going back and forth from English and Spanish. We invoked our guardian angels multiple times. Five hours later we were back in Picota. Praise the Lord because the rain started once again as we were driving out.

Please pray for our family as we will be heading back at the end of June for three days. Please pray that these communities will receive the spiritual help they need.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Howdy partner welcome to the wild west- Part 1

On Friday, May 13th our visited one of our new communities in the valley of Bombonajillo. We had to take a camioneta from Picota to Nuevo Chanchomayo. The only means of transportation to Nuevo Chanchomayo are horseback, motorcycle, camioneta, and walking. The rode is incredibly bad so only experienced camioneta drivers haul people and items into Nuevo Chanchomayo. The rode is usually impassable from February until June due to the rainy season. We lucked out though. We haven't received rain for two weeks allowing the rode to dry. Praise God! The last time Taylor was able to get in was the last week in January with our friend Max.
The red dot is Nuevo Chanchomayo. Caspizapa is the first red dot on the yellow line depicting the road.

Our drive to Nuevo Chanchomayo was beautiful. The rode is extremely bumpy but the scenery takes your breath away. Surprisingly the drive only took two and a half hours. When Taylor went on his motorcycle it took eight hours before he arrived.

My first impression of Nuevo Chanchomayo is that it looks nothing like any of the other pueblos we have visited. All of the streets are dirt. Normally the towns have a few paved roads or gravel roads, but this wasn't the case here. The streets were no longer dirt when we arrived. They were all mud. Deep layers of mud. It looked like a fun track to drive on but I wasn't excited to walk on it. All I could think about was how I was going to keep the kids clean. The houses are also very different. Every house was made out of wood. I figured out very quickly why they are two story houses.

Our ride into Nuevo Chanchomayo.

We were welcomed into town immediately by a man named Gato. Taylor and Max met him on their last visit. He asked us to rest in his house while Taylor went to find one of the town animadors. Blanca, his wife, quickly went to the store to by food to make us lunch. During our time in their home we witnessed Gato carrying bags of coffee beans to his house from someone's chacra. These bags weighed over 50 kilos and he carried bag after bag into his home. We had arrived right in the middle of the coffee harvest. The town was a ghost town since everyone was trying to harvest their coffee beans. We were so blessed to chat with Blanca and Gato over the wonderful soup of chicken feet and organs they had prepared for us. Adele absolutely loved eating the organs. She refused to eat the actual meat and cried until she had an organ in front of her.

Blanca and Gato introduced us to a single mother with six children. This mother is having a hard time supporting her children. They are all malnourished and underweight. She has no support from the father and desperately wants a better life for her children. She asked us to find them a home out of Chanchomayo. She doesn't want to see them suffer anymore and she knows that she needs to find them a better home. It broke my heart to hear her story and to see the pain in her face. She loves her children so much and doesn't want to see them die. She sees that sending them away will most likely be the only thing that can save them. Please I beg you to pray for this mother and her children. Please pray that God will send us an answer for this situation!

Hiking to the next town. We are still fairly clean.
We were finally able to find one animador to talk to. We set up a time to have a class that evening and placed our bags in the room where we would be staying. We decided to hike to the next town. Padre Leopoldo asked us to visit and the people from Chanchomayo said that it was a short walk. As we started up the muddy mountain we could see some clouds rolling in. At that point we decided to keep hiking. The hike up the tall muddy mountain was very slippery and muddy, go figure. It was a slow climb but we made it to the top. As soon as we recached the crest the beauty was surrounding us. Low clouds were covering our heads and we were immersed in the jungle. This is exactly what we had in mind when we heard we were going to Peru. Bird calls were echoing through the trees. Malachi tried hard to mimic them. We laughed and took it all in and then it happened- a downpour. Yep that's right we were caught in the middle of a heavy downpour on a muddy mountain road. We were able to find some shelter just in time to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00. The rain slowed down as we neared the end of our prayer. We decided it was time to head back to Chanchomayo.

The hike down the mountain was much more difficult than the hike up. Of course silly me wore sandals on our trip. I didn't realize that it was a mud town otherwise I would have worn my other shoes. The kids really enjoyed the muddy slip and slide. I was struggling to stay on my feet most of the time. Then we came to the steep mountain. I thought it was slippery on the way up but now we had a fresh rain and had to navigate the way down. Taylor, Ruth, and Leo seemed to navigate the mountain easily. Anthony, Malachi, and myself had problems. Anthony conceded to the mountain and slid on his butt down the mountain. Malachi took off his shoes and found a better footing. I just struggled. Praise be to Jesus that a young girl from Chanchomayo was walking down the mountain at the exact same time. She saw how difficult it was for me so she offered to take Faustina. Thank you Jesus. I continued to struggle all the way down. Let's just say it wasn't pretty. The Lord humbled me and I was able to praise Him through it all.

This is what I looked like after the hike.

We all arrived back to the home we were staying for the evening covered in mud, some more than others. We were so blessed to be able to take showers as soon as we arrived. I was so excited to wash the mud off but then I stepped into the water. The water in Chanchomayo is fresh from a mountain stream. As you can imagine it was cold, the take-your-breath-away cold. Thankful to be clean it was time to bath the children. Taylor was so gracious to bath the little boys. I knew exactly when they stepped into the water. I don't think Leo and Anthony has ever screamed so loud. We were so thankful for a warm meal and hot coffee. Coffee is a main drink for the people since it is quite chilly and for us chilly is in the 60's. We headed off to the church for our talk. So much for nice clean kids. By the time we reached the church our legs were all muddy once again.

After our talk we were thankful to be heading to bed. We had a long day of traveling and when 10:00 came around we were excited to sleep. We made our way up to the second floor. Here we learned we would be sleeping in the same room as our generous hosts. Our hosts had a bed, the three boys shared a bed, Ruth had a small bed, and they laid a mattress on the floor for Taylor, Faustina, Adele, and I to share. We prayed with the kids, kissed them, and climbed onto the mattress. Then it happened. Our gracious hosts proceeded to tuck Taylor and I into bed. They placed the blankets around us, wished us a good night, and tucked the mosquito net under us. Taylor and I were at a loss for words. We looked at each other and asked if we were imagining it. Nope we both agreed that it definitely happened and that was an experience we never thought would happen. Last year Noah, a fellow missionary, mentioned that this exact thing happened to him. We didn't believe him and we teased him. Well it happened to us. We were tucked in.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Bigger Plans

We wanted to share the slideshow we put together for our friends who came to visit us in february. An amazing group of ten came from Holy Family Parish in Brillion WI to share in our mission. They came to build two churches but God had bigger plans. 

When our group arrived the heat overwhelmed them just as it did to us when we arrived in Peru. The heat sucks the life out of you especially when you come from snow to our 100+ temperatures. I guess the best way to imagine the heat is think about a visit to a sauna. What do you do in one? There really isn't anything you can do. In a sauna you just sit back an rest, well here we worked hard.

The amazing ten people who joined us for two weeks in February worked through the sweltering heat to tear down one building, dig the footings for two churches, carried buckets of water out of the canal so they could mix cement, created the frames with rebar for the columns, and pouring cement using wheelbarrows.

All of this sounds like fun doesn't it? Well as exhausting as it was God worked on all of us through this experience. God used this time to speak to each of us. He spoke to us through the people we met and the work we did. He challenged us to make changes in our lives and encouraged us to continue on the way to Him.

Who would have thought that God would have used this mission trip to not only change the lives of the people we had come to serve but also ours at the same time?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

End of a Blessed Day- Video Blog

            Taylor's reflections and thoughts from our visit to Bombonajillo Valley on Sunday.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Let's try something new- It's a video blog

We are trying something new this time. Please take the few minutes to watch and let us know what you think. 

We want to every now and then have a video blog in place of our written blog.

We hope you like it! God Bless!!

Monday, March 21, 2016

A candle, four airports, and a prayer

Last week we said goodbye to our amazing friends from Holy Family Parish Brillion WI. Ten people came in total, seven were good friends. The three we hadn't met until they arrived ended up being good friends by the end of the two weeks. They came to build two churches but they ended up doing so much more!

When our group arrived at the airport in Tarapoto, some twenty hours and four airports after their journey began, the joy on their faces was amazing to see! Needless to say hugs were exchanged and laughter was heard ringing throughout the airport and the parking lot. At one point we noticed the awkward looking package. When we commented on it we were told that it was our Easter candle. (For those of you who have forgotten the size of the Easter candle please take note of it at the Easter Vigil mass or Easter Sunday mass this weekend. These are not small candles and they do not easily fit into luggage as our friends found out.) Taylor and I never asked for an Easter candle but nonetheless we were happy that they brought one. Now we were just trying to think of where we can put this candle.

Later that afternoon we were told the whole story of the Easter candle. Taylor's great-aunt and great-uncle bought this easter candle in 2010. They intended on lighting the candle for their anniversary every year but they never did. The day before the group was scheduled to leave Lorraine gave the candle to Heidi and asked her to take it Peru. Heidi excepted it and then had the challenge of finding a suitcase to bring it in. Every suitcase she tried didn't work. The candle ended up sticking out about six inches of each one. It was then decided that they would just carry the candle.

When they got to the airport they were told they would have to check another bag if they wanted to carry the candle on. After talking it over they decided to check an extra bag and carried it onto the flight. During security the candle was flagged as a suspicious device but once it was determined to be a candle they were able to go through without another problem. The group did note that the handling of the candle was very different in the US compared to Mexico where they had their first layover. The candle was handled more aggressively in the US. It was shoved around in the overhead bin by the airline staff. In Mexico it was handled with great care in security; it was placed alone on the conveyer belt. The airline staff also cared for it gently. The difference between both countries surprised the group.

By the time the group handed the candle to us they were happy to be done with it. Bringing the candle ended up being more difficult and more burdensome than expected so being able to hand it off brought great joy to the group. None of us were aware of what the Lord had planned for this candle.

On March 5th we had the privilege of presenting the candle to Padre Leopoldo and Padre Paco. When we brought out the candle to them Padre Paco immediately said "It is the Lord's providence." All of us were quite surprised by this. Padre Paco went on to explain that they didn't have the money to purchase an Easter candle this year and that they have been praying for an Easter candle. They thanked our group for listening to the Lord and said that it will be easy to change the 2010 to 2016.

God answered the prayer of our amazing priests from Spain by some friends of the American missionaries for the people of Picota, Peru.

God does answer prayers. Sometimes it doesn't happen the way you want it, sometimes it is not the answer you want, sometimes it is simply be patient, and other times he answers them through people you have never even met. But God ALWAYS answers prayers.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The rings of renewal

I would like to introduce you to our good friends Daniel and Deni. They are one of the animadores in Nuevo Egipto. Daniel has been a pivotal part of our mission. When Taylor found Nuevo Chimbote Daniel was the one who went with Taylor to go door to door asking if anyone wanted sacraments. Daniel and Deni helped us teach the people of Nuevo Chimbote how to have a Liturgy of the Word service. When we returned to the United States last September Daniel and Deni went to Nuevo Chimbote on Tuesday nights to continue preparing the children to receive the sacraments. They also went to Nuevo Chimbote on Sunday's to help with their Liturgy of the Word service. They are living examples on how to be missionary. Their love for the Lord is evident when you see them. We have been blessed to call them friends. We have enjoyed quiet time sharing what the Lord has done in our life and also listening to how the Lord has worked in their lives.

Daniel and Deni after renewing their vows with Bishop Demetrio of Cordóba Spain.

Daniel and Deni shared their desire to go door to door in the community of Nuevo Egipto explaining the importance of receiving marriage in the church. This is the same thing that Taylor and I shared God asking us to do. We asked them why people don't receive marriage in the church. They explained that people feel it is too expensive to get married in the church. For Taylor and I this was very hard to comprehend because the church does not charge to receive marriage. (We ran into the same issue when we were trying to convince parents to have their children baptized in the church.) We were told that people want to celebrate and have a party and wear a fancy dress. They also explained that buying rings was almost impossible due to the high price.

Renewing their vows in front of the whole community of Nuevo Chimbote

I can honestly say I laughed when I heard the excuses. I understand that everyone wants the day to be special but I also understand the importance and graces that flow from receiving marriage in the church. Daniel and Deni understand as well. They told us that the excuses were silly and it is something they have been trying hard to get rid of. We talked a little more and decided that Taylor and I would try our hardest to remove as many excuses as possible with the help of Daniel and Deni. Daniel and Deni were going to talk to the community and explain that since everyone would be getting married on the feast of the town's Patron Saint we could have one large fiesta for everyone. That way everyone could split the cost of the fiesta and Taylor and I would supply the cake. We told Daniel and Deni we would supply the rings. We also said that the clothes do not have to be extravagant but white. But first we asked Daniel and Deni if they would like to be the example for the town. Daniel and Deni received matrimony in the church years ago but they did not have any rings. We told them we would give them rings if they would renew their vows in front of the whole community for their 25th anniversary. Needless to say they were ecstatic and quickly agreed. Taylor and I set to work organizing the day and trying to get rings.

Blessing of the rings

I emailed two of my awesome friends back in Wisconsin for some help. They were able to find some rings at an amazing price and purchased a bunch for us to have. Praise God that these amazing friends were coming to build the church in Nuevo Chimbote so we didn't have to ship them. Once I explained to them about the marriage situation here they also went searching for wedding clothes unbeknownst to me. When they arrived not only did we have beautiful rings but a suitcase of white shirts, skirts, shoes, and dresses for us to lend to people for their wedding.

Daniel placing the wedding ring on Deni's hand for the first time.

Taylor spoke with Padre Paco to see if we could have their wedding vows renewed while Bishop Demetrio was visiting from Cordóba Spain. He was very excited and agreed. We all thought that since the bishop was visiting more people would be at mass to see them renew their vows. This would help us when we would go door to door asking for people to be married in the church. 

On Wednesday Daniel and Deni renewed their vows in front of our amazing friends and a packed church for the bishop. Over the next few weeks we will be going door to door with Daniel and Deni seeking people who want to receive marriage in the church.

 Please pray for Daniel and Deni that they may continue to be God's example for their community. Please pray that from their example more people will come into the church. Please pray for our amazing friends from Holy Family Parish Brillion WI who will start heading home tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Bringing Down the House

This past weekend we had the privilege of bringing down the house in Nuevo Chimbote literally. We spent the day on Saturday tearing down an old building with the Carmody family and the community of Nuevo Chimbote. Why did we tear down an old building? Because over the next two weeks some of our amazing friends from Holy Family Parish in Brillion WI will be here in Peru building a chapel for the people of Nuevo Chimbote!

We are so excited to be able to help with this project. Over the past year we have spent two days a week in Nuevo Chimbote teaching the people about Jesus and how to live their faith. They have prepared their hearts for Jesus and now they are preparing a place for Him in their community.

Peru is a catholic nation which has helped in the building of the church. The government has given the community land to build a church. The land which they were given is right off of the center plaza. There was an old mud government building on the land that needed to be removed. Up until this time we have been using this old building to have class and the Liturgy of the Word services. We were also blessed to have mass in the building with Padre Paco.

On Saturday when we arrived to tear down the building the community was still in shock that this was actually happening. It wasn't until Taylor swung the pickaxe at the building that it finally sunk in. They are getting a chapel! When the first chunks of mud fell off of the building the community kicked it into high gear. People ran to get ladders and more tools.
We were given a special treat from the Lord while working, honey. As we started removing the walls we found hives with the delicious treat of honey. The sweet treat was a wonderful gift from the Lord. As soon as someone found some you would hear a shout "Miel" and everyone would go running.

The Lord also blessed us with some beautiful cloud cover to keep the heat at bay. During our break we shared the gospel reading of the day which was the parable of the prodigal son. Taylor encouraged them to continue to seek Christ and to change their life for Him.

By noon the building was down to the posts. It was amazing to see how quickly we were able to take it down. We will be removing the mud over the next few days and on Monday the build begins.

Please pray for our friends as they start their journey here today. Please pray for the people of Nuevo Chimbote that the continue to make a home for Christ in their hearts. Please pray for us that we will continue to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit.