This month has been a very full month filled with many different opportunities and experiences, and time feels like it is moving so fast!! I am thankful for the opportunity to be living here in Peru and working alongside the Equipo de Suenos team. I have been learning more about the various ministry areas that Isaiah Projects supports, which has been helpful as I continue to work away at developing a new website for iProjects. We are getting closer to being ready to launch the site, but we still have a few more steps to go. I thought in this update I would highlight a few of the areas in which I have been involved with this month and my time in Peru.
Satipo - Evangelism with Cru - March 10-16
To be honest, this was a week I was not looking forward to. The reasons I didn’t want to go included...Not thinking I would like the jungle...the snakes and frogs, the mosquitos, the heat...working with people I don’t really know and feeling like I wasn’t sure of why I would be there. So I had quite a bit of anxiety in the week leading up to going. But I prayed about it and then I started thinking positively and viewing it as an opportunity in seeing what God wanted to teach or show me...and so I opened myself up to the experience. And I am glad I went...a learning experience for me to be open and accepting of whatever God has for me to do.
The team I would be working with consisted of a variety of people who were connected with the organization of the United States called Cru (https://www.cru.org/). The focus of THIS trip was to bring evangelism by way of the Jesus Film Project to the native jungle communities around Satipo. As I became aware, this was the first trip of its kind. The group was made up of students, interns with Cru, a few Cru staff members, a staff member of the Jesus Film, as well as my friend Yani, her aunt and Me. The 3 of us where representing Equipo de Suenos to support the logistics.
As Equipo de Suenos and Alex have been working with and collaborating with Cru and the Jesus Film Project for some time, I came to realize this was a great opportunity for me to learn more about the organization and what it is all about first hand. My overall take away things from the week included the opportunity to learn about the organization, the different areas of ministry they do and resources they have, and the opportunities for networking and more about evangelism. I did a lot of talking with people, seeing how they are doing, listening to their stories...ideas...challenges...etc. They imparted many tips, tricks, resources etc to me :)
Each day we travelled out to 2 different village communities, but a few of the days it looked a little different. When arriving in some of the more distant villages we realized that speaking spanish wasn’t going to work. We needed to have translation into Ashaninka, the native language. So we had to change up some of the things we planned on the fly. The third day we had to take 2 pick-up trucks out of town and up the mountain/hills to get to the community in the morning. The roads were tight, wet, slippery, bumpy and very muddy. The ride was slightly uncomfortable and scary as it seemed like we could slide right off the road at any moment...but we made it. And the community was so touching and beautiful. Well worth the drive!! The thing that stood out to me in this community is just how poor they were and how isolated they are. There was a school teacher who come 5 days a week to a shelter like school. She said out of the 40-50 kids that came that day, only about 5-10 attended school. The rest would not come as they don’t have the basic school supplies. Meaning, they don’t have the means to buy a notebook and pencil. We gifted each child with two notebooks, an eraser and a pencil. I was surprised that the kids who didn’t have the supplies wouldn’t just come anyway...as you don’t NEED those supplies to learn...although it does make it easier. But I was told that there has been such a culture of shame developed that kids don’t want to come due to embarrassment of not having what the others have. A sad reality! So I hope and I pray that bringing these supplies will make a difference for some of them, as they don’t need to pay for school...only the supplies. It is easy to overlook the impact of simple things like crayons and paper.
Many of the kids we saw in these communities were dirty, with tattered clothing and some without shoes, or shoes that didn’t fit. Also, many have never coloured before with crayons! It was impressive to see how well they did (even the really really little ones), with things like colouring in the lines. Pastor Leonardo (Yani’s dad) has taken on going to these communities as his life mission. He travels far and wide to bring them the gospel and help raise up leaders and build new churches (the people, not the building). His testimony is also incredible, but too long to write about in this newsletter.
One thing that I really felt strongly about and prayed about this week was for the Jesus Film Project (https://www.jesusfilm.org/) to give Leonardo a backpack. The Jesus Film Project is a project that puts together these tech backpacks with a solar panel, battery, projector, speakers and portable screen...along with an SD card with clips or the entire Jesus Film on it. By having this as a tool, Pastors are being equipped to go out to places without electricity and show the life and gospel of Jesus via Film in over 1703 different languages. They have collaborated with Wycliffe Bible Translators (https://www.wycliffe.org/). I saw first hand how incredibly impactful it was for people in these tribes to hear the story of the bible and the life of Jesus in their own language. When talking in Spanish often it looked like they were attentive to be polite, but when the film was played in Ashaninka, their attention grew and they were locked in to listening. When someone would share the gospel message at the end and ask if anyone wanted to accept Christ, over 40 people this week took that step. Now the next step is to help these communities learn and understand more about what a relationship with Jesus means, and provide them with teaching and resources. The Jesus Film Project has the ability to provide of this type of support through the clips and bible study material.
I was excited to hear from Alex on our last day that he felt that leaving the Jesus Film backpack from Equipo de Suenos with Pastor Leonardo would be a great opportunity. I couldn’t agree more! Pastor Leonardo is certainly someone who is worth every investment and opportunity, and will be able to continue to grow the relationships he started and we encouraged this week. I am excited to see what happens next with him and his ministry. We ordained Pastor Leonardo as an ambassador and field coordinator for Equip de Suenos in Satipo. What a great way to end off the week!
All in all a good week! I am so glad I went!! I am happy to understand more about Cru, the Jesus Film Project, Equipo de Suenos in Satipo and just how all these things and resources are working together for the great commission. I love love LOVE seeing mission teams and organizations working together for the same cause. I love to see how Pastors like Leonardo are not working only to grow their own congregation but to be actively going out and ministering to those who won’t ever be able to pay them for doing the work they do.
Pacasmayo and the Sewing Hope Ministry team- March 16-27
We started the week with a 2 day retreat for the leaders of the Sewing Hope ministry in the Lima area. It was great to see a few of them bring their certificates for completion from as far back as 2006. It showed me how impactful this ministry is for the women that are involved. At the end of this retreat the ministry donated two sewing machines to two of the communities that have already been meeting together. One lady showed me with pride several projects she is doing because of what she has learned over the years. However, she does it all by hand. The excitement that was seen when we announced that they would now have a machine to work with was very touching.
After the retreat, we headed together to Pacasmayo, a coastal town in the northern area of Peru. I had a great time working alongside my new Mennonite friends. We held a two day workshop for about 50 people. This week we saw women, men and young people learn to sew. The impact of this skill means that for some they have a new means to make money. For others it is an opportunity to find support and friendship.
My purpose for going with this team had two other reasons. The first was that I was given the opportunity to put my spanish translation to the test. Traveling with 5 Canadians and 1 Peruvian (Alex’s Mother in law) allowed me to translate for both parties. I know that I am not super clear all the time, but I thank God for providing me many words and the ability to help the best I can with what I have. I continue to work on developing my spanish...it’s a work in progress, but getting better every day.
The second reason was to have the opportunity to see the work of Auden and Wendy Lujan, through the Escolares Brillantes after school and feeding program sponsored by Isaiah Projects. This program feeds and supports 20 students and their families who are struggling emotionally and financially. Each day the kids go to the center after school and receive lunch, do their homework (with support), do a devotional and are provided dinner. The local church under Auden and Wendy also connects with the families and supports and encourages them. It was great to see the program in action, and now seeing it makes me feel more connected and understanding of what how great the need is for this program to be provided to this community.
Chiclayo - Pastor Training - March 28-30
Moving forward to the current week, now I find myself in Chiclayo another coastal city in the northern area of Peru. I am here with 3 of my friends from Equipo de Suenos: Alex, Juan (Chippy), and Christian. We are working with a few pastors from this area, including Pastor Marcial from Cajamarca, to provide a 2 day training for pastors. The training is meant to help support pastors with using the tool of MC2, which is also produced by Cru. The training has taken that tool and expanded it to help empower pastors to be able to form small churches or groups where they can have an impact on ‘making disciples’ in small groups of 5 people. Each pastor has a book with 61 lessons which they can walk through with their 5 disciples in order to promote a multiplication effect. They are being trained, so they can train and then the continue the effect from there. The resource uses a small group discussion format, which also links to using the Jesus Film Project material. It is a simple structure, but so effective. The pastor's here are very under resourced, and this resource will help them develop a structure for focusing more on raising up disciples and leaders with training. The prosperity gospel is rampant here...so to see a group of pastors wanting more resources that actually call their people to action, rather than line their pockets is very encouraging. The other important thing is that the training is free, another aspect that is unheard of here. Equipo de Suenos is paying for all the supplies and materials needed, and THAT funding comes directly from those who are serving in the ministry and the salaries they raise in their jobs. They are all so excited and happy to have the opportunity to teach and serve in this way.
So that was my month of March. Along with supporting the team here with other various activities and preparing for the medical team to arrive on April 5th, it has been a busy month!! I have loved seeing the various aspects of ministry here in Peru. I am here with Isaiah Projects, as well as working with Equipo de Suenos. On top of these two fantastic ministries, I have now learned a lot about several other organizations and ministries and how they are all working towards the calling of the Great Commission.
I have a little less than one month left here in Peru, returning April 26th, and I know the time will go by fast!! Next week I am heading back to the jungle, but to another part (more south). I am going to visit the La Buena Semilla home in Puerto Maldonado. I return on April 4th at night and the Medical Team from Bethany arrives early morning on April 6th. Just enough time to wash my clothes, sleep and maybe grab an ice cream ;). I am really looking forward to having the team here this year. I have been working closely with the Equipo de Suenos team to develop 2 weeks of full of opportunities for service and impactful experiences!! Can’t wait!!