Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Children and Butterflies

Oftentimes I have seen children outside playing, running, and chasing butterflies. Today I saw this simple activity in a new way.
I am spending a few days getting to know Pastor Pablo Benitez and his wife Paula, serving at Su Refugio (, a Christian children’s home for abused children. When the local government gets reports of potential child abuse in the home, they will investigate and when the problem is real and serious, they pull the children from the home and place them in foster care. There are virtually no foster families in the area and few places for these children to go in safety: Su Refugio is one such place. Pablo and Stella told me the backgrounds for some of these children – horrifying what they have been through. Knowing the abuse some of these children had experienced and now seeing them playing as if they had no cares in the world was moving, to say the least. This is how children are supposed to grow up!
I also realized this home is different than an orphanage. In an orphanage, you do not necessarily know the background of the children: they could have come from a battered childhood, but they also could have come from good home lives where the parents died in a car crash and had no other family to take care of them. Su Refugio is different: every child here has a battered past.

Pray for them and pray for Pablo and Stella as they serve God by serving the children.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Galilea - The Classes

We were here to teach the 3rd of 12 TPI classes - A Survey of the Old Testament. As the course progressed, I was impressed by the men's ability to understand the material, ask solid questions, and compare and contrast the biblical teachings with some of their tribal customs that sometimes differed from biblical practices. They had questions about infant salvation, the use of some medicines and drugs that induced alcohol-like euphoria, marriage vs living together, and how to minister to someone with two wives.

This was the area where few, if any, of the students were married to the woman they were living with, and had children with. One of the men had contacted Jaime, our country coordinator for Peru, and told him that 7 of the men wanted to get their lives right before God and had decided to get married in May, but wanted Jaime to send them a program because they didn't know how to do it (perform a wedding ceremony) and didn't want to do it wrong. When I got there and told them that what they had done had been an inspiration to me, and others, that 7 had taken this step, based solely on the power of God's Word, they told me the new number was 14. When they discovered I was particularly interested in this, they recounted and told me that 16 couples had recently married, wanting to be more in line with God's Word on marriage and the relationships between God, men and women. I asked these men and women to stand when I took this picture, so you can put faces to some of these remarkable people.
The people standing had married just a few months ago to "get their lives right before God."

Peru - Life in the Jungle of Galilea

Walking the street of Galilea reminds me of the rural areas of Honduras and Nicaragua... Dusty (or muddy, depending on when the last rain fell), home-based restaurants and shops, and people walking everywhere... It was easy to forget you were in the middle of the jungle... Until you realize the generator provided electricity for the town only from about 7:15 pm until 11 pm (the people use flashlights and candles in their houses and stores if it is dark before the electricity comes on), there was nothing but more vegetation behind the vegetation you could see, and the street and trails we were walking on had to be cut by hand with machetes.

Without consistent electricity, there is no consistent refrigeration, so food is prepared fresh and eaten right away or thrown out. Speaking of food, most of the meals include fish and/or chicken... Frying and boiling are the two common methods of preparing the food, both done over an open fire. They also eat a lot of rice, noodles, plantains (like bananas but harder and not as sweet) and yucca (a root). Needless to say, there are few computers and no Internet, although cell phone coverage is plentiful!!

Peru - Getting to the Jungle

Other than a few minor delays, the trip from Memphis to Houston to Panama to Lima, Peru was uneventful... Even going through immigration at 1:00 am was a lot more crowded than I expected... It seems a lot of flights arrive in Lima between midnight and 1 AM. I got to the hotel around 2, got checked-in, emailed Sandy that all was OK, and tried to sleep, knowing I had a 6 am meeting with some of the teachers from Peru.

Daniel, Rolando and I got the 8 am bus to Bagua Chica, arriving at 4 am (that's right, 20 hours on the bus!)... At least the seats reclined a little further than your standard airline seat, but not much. We then hired a car to take us one hour to where we could find a truck (4X4) to take us to Santa Maria Nieva. After the first two hours, the next 7-1/2 hours were on dirt and rocky roads. We finally arrived in Santa Maria Nieva, but the town was on the other side of the river from where we were, so we had to take a water taxi. We found rooms in the third hotel/ hostel we checked and stayed the night.