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?