An Ending...?

riginally I was going to put "The End" as the Title of this last blog post coming from Iquitos, Peru. But for some reason that just didn't feel quite right. Yes, in some ways this is an end. I have just 6 days left of work, and will be leaving Peru and moving back home in just 18 days. But for our new church plants, for the people that we have been discipling and who we've come to love, it is truly just barely a beginning. Their new lives in Christ have only just begun. My own journey feels like it's only just beginning as I go back to the States and search for a job and begin to live my life as a different, stronger, healthier, more faithful person than I was a little over 2 years ago.

These past few months have been amazing ones to be a part of as I worked here in the jungle. My old partner Dalila never was able to make it back onto the field. We continue to pray for her and her family as her dad's health continues to fail. Because of her not being able to make it back, I began to work with a young woman from the Nazarene church in Iquitos whose name is Miluska. She is 24 years old and has recently been studying to become a pastor. While the circumstances of her coming to work with me were not ones that we ever would have wished for, working with Miluska has turned out to be a major blessing. She has connected well with our contacts and began to build relationships with them. Also she's agreed to take over our church plant in Bellavista Nanay when I leave in a week. Praise God! The work has barely begun in Bellavista and we already have very strong numbers coming to our services. I have faith that this will be a large and strong church, both in numbers and in faith someday soon. It is a huge weight off of my shoulders to know that there is someone who will continue to work and grow that church in Bellavista.

Speaking of Bellavista... I'd love to share with you some of the amazing ways that God has been working in this part of the city...

Two months ago we decided to begin holding a youth service on Thursday nights. At our first service we expected to maybe have 3-5 teenagers come. We ended up having 25 youth between the ages of 10 and 22! We’ve continued to be blown away by God’s work in Bellavista. Consistently we have had that same number of youth come to the services. Every week they invite their friends and we see new faces. About half of them are also now coming to our regular church services on Friday nights. In a culture where many youth by this age are out partying and drinking, often getting into more serious trouble like stealing, these youth have found the right path. They respect each other, and are eager to learn as they ask deep questions about who God is, and are praying for their families and talking to them about God. Wow!

For our regular church services on Friday nights we barely fit into Hermano Antonio's house anymore. We now have around 12-15 adults and youth, and then about 15 kids at every service. They are not only growing stronger in numbers, but in their faith as well. It is so beautiful for me when we visit different people in their homes and they share how God has answered their prayers. Or they tell us how every night now they pray with their children before they go to bed. Or how they've shared their faith with their neighbors, and then their neighbors come to service the next week. We also have a strong consistent number coming to Sunday School that we hold for kids and adults on Sunday mornings. I can't wait to hear in the future how this group is changing and growing!

It has been such an incredible experience to be a part of watching these lives grow and change. As I have been building relationships with all of our contacts over the past nine months, I'm starting to realize how difficult it is actually going to be to say goodbye. I have come to love and care deeply for the kids who run up and give me hugs every time I'm in Bellavista and who listen attentively to their Sunday School lessons and are memorizing Bible verses left and right. For the youth who are on fire for God and can laugh and joke around in spite of how hard their lives actually are. And for the adults who become so joyful as they feel God's blessings and experience his love and peace, and are eager to share their lives with me and those around them.

The reality of the truth that I will probably never see any of these people again is a little hard to grasp. I know that all I can do is put this work in the hands of the Holy Spirit as he continues to work in Bellavista Nanay. It has been an amazing experience to get to watch Him work thus far. One that I know I can easily say I know that I will never forget. I know that I will leave a piece of my heart here in Iquitos.

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support of me over these past 2 years. It has been an amazing, life changing journey. Thank you for taking it with me.

In His Love, Grace, and Mercy.

A "Welcome" Back to Iquitos

I arrived back in the Jungle on Sunday night at about 9:30pm and made it back "home" around 10pm. I was very ready to go to bed and sleep for awhile after traveling for 18 hours and missing a night of sleep. However that wasn't going to be so easy after all unfortunately.

We came back to find things kind of in a mess... to put it lightly. Our room was absolutely covered in dirt, every single surface. The pastor's wife Malena told me before I reached our room that it "looked like Spiderman came in and attacked your room". She wasn't exaggerating. There were spiderwebs EVERYWHERE from floor to ceiling. It was impossible to walk without running into one. And with spiderwebs of course come lots of spiders. While we were gone the District Superintendent came into our room and cut down all of our mosquito nets because he said robbers were reaching in and trying to steal them from the windows. He then took all of our mattresses, stripped them, and put them against the windows in an attempt to block them better. So my mattress that I had previously covered on purpose to keep clean was now dirty and a little damp.

All of our sheets and clothes that we left smelled awful, kind of a mix between sweaty and sour. As I cleaned out my wardrobe the next day I found cockroaches and lots of rat poop. Gross.

Brittany and I were starving so we went to try to make food in our kitchen. Everything in there was ALSO covered in dirt, and we had no soap to clean things with. We managed to scrounge up some food but I don't think it was the most sanitary.

For some reason the toilets in our bathrooms wouldn't flush, and the toilet seats are now covered in a yellow stain that doesn't come off.

As I was chatting with Malena she informed me that there is currently an outbreak of Dengue Fever ( in Iquitos. Actually she used the word "epidemic". Not good at all. So we now have to be more careful than ever about keeping the mosquitos from biting us.

We spent all day yesterday hardcore cleaning and fixing things and everything is pretty much back to normal. I have to remind myself, this is the jungle life. But after experiencing all of the conveniences of living in the States for a month it was a little bit of a shock to come back to! I am reminding myself that God is good all of the time, and He is in control and taking care of us. I am excited to be back and to start planting our next 2 churches!

Getting Ready for Vacation

It's been a whirlwind last few weeks as I've worked to finish up my work in our first church plant in Belen. Tomorrow we all (Peruvians and North Americans) get to leave to go back to our homes for a month long, much needed, vacation! Every group of 40/40 missionaries has one break during their time working for Extreme and our break happens to fall over the end of December and beginning of January. What luck!

We have all been antsy for weeks, dreaming about things like hot showers, American food, driving in cars, windows with glass in them, getting to speak in English all the time, and other things of that nature.

The time has finally come. I can't wait to give my parents and sister huge hugs tomorrow night at the airport. And to do the same with friends and other family not too long afterward.

So tonight will be my last night sleeping under a mosquito net for a month. I'm so blessed by the work that I am doing here, and really do love my job. But a vacation to the States for a month is much needed for all. We can't wait for a little relaxing in the comforts of our homes!

Thanksgiving in Iquitos

On Monday night we celebrated Thanksgiving down here in Iquitos. Monday's are the only days that our entire group is together, so we "postponed" our holiday a little bit. Last year we had actually celebrated EARLY before we left the city of Arequipa and met our partners.

So this was the first year that we celebrated as an entire "family" with our Peruvian partners. It was really special to get to share this holiday with the Peruvians. They loved it as well! Our cluster support family worked really hard to make the day very special for all of us. We had all the classic Thanksgiving fixings... turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potato souffle, rolls, green beans, rice (for our peruvians), and lots of pies! The food was absolutely delicious. I stuffed myself I think more than I EVER have.

We all sat together at one long table. We had also invited the District Super Intendent and his family, who live on the same compound as us. So all together we were 16 adults and 5 kids. We sang songs together, gave thanks for the things God has done in our lives over this past year, told stories, and in general just had a great time of fellowship.

Our group has truly become a family. I'm sometimes amazed at how close God has brought us, even with all of our many background and cultural and even language differences. It was truly a great Thanksgiving!


So I keep trying to think of semi-exciting things to write about. But all I can seem to think to tell you is that it is SO HOT in Iquitos right now. I'm sitting here in shorts and a tank top, with a fan only 1 foot away blowing on me at full blast, and I am STILL sweating. It's a little ridiculous. I drink so much water every day and yet lately I rarely have to use the bathroom because I just sweat everything out.

Today the weather report says it's 93 degrees. But with the 59% humidity the weather report also says it "feels like" 106. It's been like this for a couple of weeks now. And it's not going to start to cool down to a good 80 or 85 degrees until probably January, when the rainy season starts up again.

So anyway... this is the jungle. This is what I signed up for. And I'm even relatively used to it by now. But it has just been at an extreme level lately!

Belen Blog

I finally got a blog set up for our church plant in Belen. From now on I will probably be doing quite a bit of posting on there, and less posting on this blog.

The link to that blog is

Check it out!

Living in Community

I’d like to try and paint a picture of where I live here in Iquitos. And in that hopefully show a bit of what it means to live in community here in Peru. Something that has definitely been a new experience for me!

We live on what we lovingly call a church “compound”. The 7 of us 40/40 missionary girls share one room. Our personal “space” includes our bed and our small wardrobe to hold our clothes and personal things. The boys share a room that is attached to ours. Immediately next to our room to the right there is a 2 story house. On the bottom story lives the District Superintendent and his wife and there 5 children who range in age from 2 month old twins to a 16 year old son. Above them lives our cluster support parents from the States as well and their 3 kids ranging in age from almost 2 to 6 years old. If you walk out of our room and walk straight across our “yard” (big enough to be a soccer field) there is another smaller house. In this house lives the pastor of the church here, along with his wife and their 4-year-old son.

None of these houses or our room has glass on our windows. So everything is essentially open all the time. Things like “peace” and “quiet” don’t really exist in my world anymore. It’s also nearly impossible to go to bed early or sleep in for that matter. To say there is a “lack of privacy” would be an understatement.

At the same time life is never boring. There is always something going on when we are home from work… Someone to talk to and hang out with. Everyone’s doors are always open for guests to enter and hang out and chat. People are constantly borrowing and lending things, cooking for each other’s kids, or just sitting around laughing or discussing life.

I personally wouldn’t mind having some privacy every once in awhile, but the majority of the time I really do love living in this community setting. I think us North Americans could learn a lot from how willing people are to help each other out in Peru. How often neighbors and family share what they really don’t have. It’s a beautiful Christ-like way to live.

Of course on the mornings like today, our only day off, when I’m woken up at 8:00am by blasting Spanish worship music coming from the Superintendent’s house, all of these positive thoughts aren’t usually the first to pop into my head. But as I’m sitting here reflecting on this now, I know I’m going to miss this when I finish here in 14 months and move back to the States.

Random Happenings

A lot has been going on lately... and since I've been so busy the posts have been slacking! Sorry about that. I'm working on setting up a blog specifically for the church we are planting in Belen as well. But until that happens, here's a quick update on what has been going on in my life and in my work here in Iquitos Peru!

I just got back from our first morning of Sunday School for kids. We started off relatively simple, just trying to get as many kids as possible to know what we're doing and hopefully come to our Sunday School classes. It was so amazing... we had over 70 kids with us this morning in the lower (poorer) part of Belen. What a huge blessing and answer to prayer! I got to teach the kids a couple of games and then teach a Bible story of David and Goliath. My partner Dalila taught the kids a song, and my other partner Juliana dressed up in a costume we have of a giant guinea pig names "Rico" to help attract kids. It was so much fun! I love working with kids and it's been a long time since I've had the chance to teach. My heart is definitely full! We're praying for just as many kids next week if not more. God is so good!

We have been struggling a little bit to actually get our contacts that we are visiting and discipling to come to our church service that we hold on Friday nights. So we have been doing the only thing we can think to do at this point, and that is to pray. Praying that God changes the lives of those we are discipling. That he reveals himself to them and answers their prayers. And that he puts a desire into their hearts to attend church so that they can begin to learn what it means to be part of God's family and grow even more in their relationship and faith in God. Juliana had the idea to start up a prayer service on Tuesday nights. We want to be a church based on prayer and trying as best we can to follow God's will and direction. And to recognize that really it doesn't come down to us at all, it is only God who can make our little church in Belen grow both in strength and numbers.

This past Friday we had 33 people attend our service which we hold in the front room of a little house. WOW!! God is so good and so faithful. Three weeks ago we had 4 adults and a handful of children. Friday we had 25 adults and the rest were kids. I feel like I want to burst with praise. We ran out of seats and were pretty crammed in this little house. We had new faces of people we have invited for awhile and finally came. Those who have been attending brought friends and relatives. We were able to make some new contacts of people who want us to visit them and share more about God. The Secretary of an area of Belen (a man who has quite a bit of power basically), came on his own and when we gave him a Bible to follow along he just sat the whole time reading intently. It was absolutely beautiful.

We have a few more visits to do this afternoon and tomorrow we get to rest. It has been a long and exhausting but absolutely amazing week. My heart is so full. God is so good. We continue to pray for Belen and our contacts and our church. Please join us in prayer. God is doing amazing things in this community!


This is the name I hear about half the time when I´m working in Belen. It literally means "little white one", in an endearing sort of way.

Yesterday before our church service we went around inviting our contacts in Belen to the service. The friend of one our contacts sells food in front of her house. She said to me "gringita! Ven!" Literally "Gringita come!". She had me sit down and placed in front of me a fish with part of the head that she pulled with her hands out of a grayish water, and a banana (a different kind that tastes more like a vegetable). She told me to eat it all. And didn´t offer my partners any. So with my smiling missionary face I ate all of it, picking out the fish bones and attempting not to gag too much as I felt the scales on my tongue.

I´m pretty sure she just wanted to see if the "Gringa" would actually eat what they eat all the time. It was pretty funny. Afterwards she gave me a very full glass of grayish water... I´m assuming river water.

The miracle? My stomach is totally fine! Not sick at all. Praise God! My partners were just trying not to laugh at me the whole time. Julianna said "well it´s just another story you have to add to your adventures in Peru". She´s right.

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

So much has happened since I made it back to Peru. I started my time in Arequipa to prepare for our “Mega-Event” called Love Extreme. We had 3 weeks of short-term missions going on in different cities throughout Peru. All together there were over 300 short term volunteers in addition to our large long term staff. On Saturday June 19th we had all volunteers and staff together in Arequipa for the Mega-Event. Extreme had rented out a huge complex where we held men’s and women’s conferences, had festivals for kids, rock concerts at night, medical and dental clinics, and sold tons of food including “cuy” (guinea pig, a delicacy here in Peru). Our main attraction was our featured speaker. His name is Nick Vujicic, a man from Australia born without any arms or legs. He came and shared his testimony and the hope he has in Jesus Christ. His speaking was amazing and dynamic and the audience of thousands was completely enraptured by his story and strength and courage.

Throughout the entire day the Holy Spirit was moving and working in Love Extreme. We had over 10,000 Peruvians come to this event, and over 1,000 decisions to accept Christ that day. WOW! It was so amazing to get to be a part of something so huge. There had been so many trials and attacks on Extreme Nazarene in the weeks and months leading up to this event. But it was obvious that Love Extreme and Arequipa had been covered in prayer by so many in the time leading up to the event. God moved and worked in mighty ways that can only be explained and accredited to Him.

After the event I was in Arequipa for 2 more weeks following up on and visiting the houses of those who had chosen to accept Christ. The 40/40’s who are working in Arequipa will continue to follow up with our new brothers and sisters in Christ.

Then finally after a 2 day all staff beach “retreat” it was finally time to head back “home” to Iquitos. Something I had been looking forward to for so long. After a 5 hour trip turned into a 20 hour trip (from what really can only be explained by the fact that I live in a 3rd world country) I at last made it back to Iquitos.

I’ve spent this past week working and getting to know all of the people that we are currently discipling in Belen, where I am planting my first church. My 2 partners, Dalila and Juliana, have been doing an amazing job. They currently have about 25 people that they are discipling, and there are so many areas of Belen we haven’t even reached yet!

Our little “congregation” is absolutely beautiful. We have Neli, who Dalila and her original North American partner Melissa, met when they first began working in Belen. 3 weeks before meeting her, Neli (a diabetic) had gone to the hospital for a pain she had had in her leg for 5 days. It turned out to be an infection and the doctors immediately removed her leg so that the infection wouldn’t spread. 3 weeks after this devastating change in her life, Neli accepted Christ. She praises and loves God with one of the purest loves I have ever seen. Neli opened her house to us to hold services, and that is where we hold our little church services on Friday nights.

Then we have Luis and his wife Roxana. They have 6 kids, and they currently are worried about and don’t know where the oldest one is. Luis also happens to be an ex-terrorist. While neither Luis or Roxana have chosen to make a decision to accept Christ yet, they are welcome and open and happy for our visits. Roxana even usually comes and brings some of the kids to church with her. So we continue to love on this beautiful family and pray for God’s peace and hope in their lives.

There are many more stories to tell… which in time I will work on doing. Our contacts consist of and range from a teenage pregnant girl who is already a mother of one other child, to a 72 year old man with a 29-year-old wife. The stories and people in between are just as wide and varied. I love getting to know and work with them, and I can’t wait to continue to get to know these beautiful Peruvians. I am so excited and blessed to get to be a part of the work we are doing in Belen.

Thank you all so much for your support and prayers that allowed me to make it back to Peru and continue my work here. Continue to pray for Belen and those we are working with now and those we are still going to encounter. My partners and I are planning to show the Jesus Film soon in hopes of reaching even more people. We are also going to start a Sunday school for children beginning next week. God is moving and working and we are loving getting to be a part of this ride.

It is so good to be back.

Love Extreme

So I know... I have been a horrible blogger lately. I'm sorry for that! There is so much to say to "catch up" with the past few months. However for now I'm not going to go back to that. For now I just want to share one cool story from our Mega Event called Love Extreme that we had yesterday in Arequipa.

During the morning we had a women's conference (which was amazing in and of itself). After the conference I was waiting for my friend Katie by the bathrooms that were around the corner from the conference. A woman came up to me and asked me about a retreat that Extreme is having for women in a couple weeks. So I started to tell her about it and then told her I could get her information and would love to call her and come visit her this week. She said ok and started to write it down. And then she started telling me how she was sick. How she struggles with alcohol and how she gets drunk a lot because it makes her forget things (she didn't say what), and she can't stop drinking. She said she actually goes to a church but is too embarrassed to tell her pastor or anyone else there. That her brothers and sisters don't know and that she's a single mom. She started to cry as she was telling me this. She said she wants to stop but can't. At one point I just gave her a hug. My friends we hugged for over 45 minutes. And it was a good strong hug. We both prayed out loud off and on. She was weeping for most of the time and I had begun to cry as well. Right there in the middle of this hallway we just held each other and prayed and cried together. At one point my arms started to shake from holding them there for so long and my legs hurt from standing straight that way. And I just prayed in my head for God to give me the strength because I was not going to end that hug until she wanted it to end. Those were His arms holding her, not mine. When the hug finally ended she just kept thanking me and I kept telling her that this is God's love. That He loves her and wants her to be healed. He wants that for her life, he wants to comfort her and help her and hold her.

At some point during that another friend Brittany walked by and she waited for me (Katie had taken off already). When the lady left I went and sat down next to Bri and I couldn't talk. I just started to cry. My hands were shaking, whether from the effects of the hug or the experience I don't know. I finally managed to say "That, that right here, that is what I was supposed to do. That is my call. THAT is why I wanted to come back to Peru." Bri just said "I know. And that lady knows that the love you showed her was real and was coming from someone who could understand pain."

Yesterday was not meant for me. And yet with this one experience I was blessed beyond anything I can even explain. Praise God. What an amazing day.

Jungle Stuff

  • I crawled into bed one night and found a frog in my bed with me.
  • The other night my friend Brad woke up with a mouse partway in his mouth.
  • The next day my friend Nancy woke up with a mouse in her bed.
  • I have eaten cow stomach soup, and soup with a whole fish in it (eyes, tail, bones, scales).
  • I found a grasshopper bigger than my hand.
  • Our family in Pucallpa had a tarantula in their house.
  • I accidentally scared the tail off a lizard.
  • Lizards happen to live on our ceiling in our room, I think they like the lights.
  • The other day I went with my friend Brittany to the orthodontist and there was a lady waiting with her baby monkey.

Jungle life sure isn´t boring.

Medical Mission in Iquitos

We have had an amazing week here in Iquitos. This past week we had 20 doctors, nurses and translators come down to Iquitos to help with a week long medical mission. The 40/40's had the chance to take a week off of school and help out with the mission. We helped everywhere from keeping the kids constantly entertained with games and puppet shows, to line control, translating, evangelism, and wherever else we could fit in and help. We went to 7 different locations in 7 days. We had 2 doctors, a pharmacist, and a number of nurses and helped about 150-200 people each day. It was amazing and incredibly exhausting at the same time! We had some serious cases of Chicken Pox, high blood pressure (high enough to be hospitalized), diabetes, anemia, hernias, and other things. It was awesome to get to share God's love to these people just by helping them with free medicine.
I helped with translating for the nurses at different times and went out and ran games for the kids in other times. One day we had a lot of crying babies and I spent almost the whole day inside the clinic with a puppet getting most of them to stop crying. That was pretty fun. My most exhausting day was when I spent the entire day in the clinic translating for the nurses. My Spanish was by no means perfect, but I could (most of the time) understand what the patients were saying and they could usually understand what the nurses asked me to tell them. The funny part was I kept having people show ME the problems they or their kids had. Needless to say I'm pretty sure after seeing some of that my calling is NOT to be a nurse! By the time I was done my brain was incredibly worn out! But it was pretty cool to see that my Spanish really is progressing.
After the clinics were done in the day we had 4 different nights of showing the Jesus film to the community we had just helped. We don't have the exact number yet... but at least 250 men, women, and kids came to Christ this week. Wow!! How amazing of a God we have!! One of the nights I got to share my testimony (yes in Spanish). It was scary but I could just feel God's presence with me. Again... I don't really have the words to describe it... it was just amazing.
It was an incredible week. THIS is part of what I feel so called to do. To help people. And I feel so incredibly blessed that God let me be a part of this past week.

Psalm 103:1-6 "Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed."

p.s. pictures to come later.

When you live in the Jungle...

The North American´s went to Lima to pick up our residency cards a few days ago. It was an amazing little 2 day vacation. After living here for 8 weeks it seemed like the most modern city ever! We are now officially Peruvian (sort of)... pretty exciting!
We came back feeling a little refreshed after having hot showers and not having to sleep under a mosquito net... riding in cars... things like that. On the way back from the airport our mototaxi broke down (this happens often but they usually can fix it right away). Then we were rear ended. All is fine just not the funnest experience. The electricity was going in and out in the city. Another thing that happens often. However the last time it went out it fried the electricity in our room. So the first night back in what felt like 98 degree heat we had no fans. We find out the next day that all of the fans and everything that was plugged in is now also fried. Luckily we have some guys who know some things about electrician... and many hours and lots of changing wires later we´re back in action.
There is only one place in Iquitos with wireless internet. That place has been shut down for a few days and we don´t know when it will be back up. So for now no more picture updates, or calling my family on Skype. I'm hoping we´ll be back in action there fairly soon.
It's hard when we just have a few small comforts and those are taken away. The day after we didn´t have fans everyone had slept horribly and was cranky the next day.
So for now really trying to work on my patience! I used to think I was a pretty patient person... but I think I am learning otherwise... or at least learning that I have a lot TO learn.

Miming and Belen

So things have been changed around a little bit here with our mission. We are now in charge of planting one church during our training. 2 of the missionaries (my friend Melissa and her partner Dalila) will be in charge of planting this church in the district of Belen, the poorest area in Iquitos. This week we had intense 7 hour a day classes on different ways to evangelize, part of which involved learning how to Mime. Random but fun!
Yesterday we went out to Belen to do some evangelism work in the hopes of jump starting their church planting process. We went to the Plaza in Belen and performed a couple of skits, had a short message, and then went around and talked with different people there. The main goal was to collect names and addresses for houses where Melissa and Dalila could go and visit. We had evangelism bracelets to give out. I sat down with about 5 kids and started to explain the meanings of the different colors on the beads. At one point I looked up and realized I was surrounded by at least 30 kids, all completely quiet and listening. I absolutely LOVED it. God knew I needed a little boost in spirit... and what an amazing way to do it! For the rest of the time I had a couple of little friends following me around and hanging on me and playing with me. In that moment I had this feeling that my life would never be quite the same. Talking with the people in Belen, seeing all of the need there, my heart swelled with a want to try and help them. About half of the kids didn't have shoes, all were in dirty clothes and most looked like it had been a long time since they had had a bath. I'm so blessed to be part of an organization that wants to evangelize by meeting these social needs.
I'm excited to see what God has in store for Belen! Be praying for this community as we try to start to plant a church there.

Drew getting his face painted.

Part of our crowd.

Performing one of the skits.

Bringing in the New Year

I celebrated New Year's Eve was celebrated this year differently than I've ever done before. I guess that makes sense seeing as how I'm currently living in Peru. So what does New Year's in Peru look like?
Well last night we had church. It was supposed to last from 7-midnight, but the missionaries left early to fellowship together. We played some games and 15 min before midnight we shared things we were grateful for from this past year. We then "prayed in" the new year together. A great bonding time for our "family". Afterwards we hugged all around and went outside to set off fireworks. I learned about 2 traditions on this day in Peru.
1. Families take old clothes and make a lifesized "doll" out of the clothes. It's stuffed with sawdust or hay. Then at midnight everyone takes their dolls out into the streets and burns them. Something to do with burning away the past year and starting fresh. The streets were FILLED with TONS of smoke. And today there were black piles everywhere from the dolls. Our group made a doll to burn as well.
2. After this people take off running in traveling clothes with backpacks or suitcases. I hadn't heard about this until I actually saw it happening. It was hilarious! My Peruvian friends told me that the people believe if they do this that the whole next year will be spent traveling and exploring new places. Oh and most of these people are dressed up and are wearing masks or have painted faces for the new year.
Today our church went out to an area that had a pool and lagoon and some courts to play sports. I had an awesome time fellowshipping, playing volleyball, swimming, and getting some sun!
This year was definitely something completely different for me, but it was awesome to get to be a part of this New Year's celebration in Peru!

Christmas in Peru

In Peru Christmas starts at midnight on Christmas Eve. Last night we celebrated our Christmas all together... our Pucallpa and Iquitos family. It started at church with a Christmas Eve service. We sang lots of songs, and had a short sermon. The 11 North Americans were asked to sing a Christmas song in English. We sang "The First Noel". I'm not sure what it is about being a missionary where people ask you to sing ALL the time. It's fairly funny to me. Then a little after 10pm we headed over to the Simpson's, our cluster support family, for some games and gift exchanges. We did sort of a white elephant gift exchange with little presents the Simpson's had bought. At midnight we ate hot chocolate and Paneton. Then we went outside and lit some fireworks. It was crazy noisy. Everyone in Iquitos was also setting off fireworks! Then we had a Secret Santa gift exchange. After that most of us left and went to the Plaza de Armas where it seemed all of the rest of the people in Iquitos had come as well! We watched a lit up fountain and more fireworks and just laughed and chatted together. It was an amazing night!
Today I got to chat with my family on Skype and "be there" as they opened presents. That was awesome and bitter sweet at the same time. For lunch today we have a HUGE mixture of Peruvian and American Christmas food. I'm looking forward to that!
Feliz Navidad!

Isaiah 9: 1-9
"1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan-2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. 4 For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. 5 Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this."

Wow. What an amazing God we serve. God bless you all on this Christmas. Amen.

Me and my partner Juliana.

Nativity set in the Plaza


A big thing here in Peru is to have what is called a "Chocolatada" for kids. It consists of hot chocolate and "Paneton" (like a fruit cake but much tastier) and games and music or whatever else. The hot chocolate is not your typical instant stuff from the states. It is condensed milk, water, and chocolate all cooked together in a HUGE pot over an outside fire.
My friend and fellow missionary Gary had the idea to do one for youth, since these are typically always for kids. Gary, myself, and our partners work at the same church here in Iquitos. (Each pair works at a different Nazarene church in the city to do "practicals" while we are studying). So we put together a program for the youth. We had a band with lots of upbeat music, some games, and some skits. It was a pretty great night, and at the same time definitely a learning experience for all of us. The Peruvian and American ways of doing things are VERY different... and it was our first event we put on as a group. But that is what we are here for... to learn! At the end a short sermon was given and we had about 10 or 12 youth out of the over 50 that came accept Christ. It was pretty awesome!
Today we had ANOTHER Chocolatada for the kids. We had over 70 children from the community come (our normal for Sundays is probably about 15-20). So that was amazing as well. It was a little crazy and hectic having so many kids stuffed into a small room, but it ended up going pretty ok.
And after all that... I need a NAP!

Tourist Days

My fellow missionary and friend Brittany has a friend visiting from her church. He is not actually visiting, he is more here on work. He came to teach us how to make glasses for people, a skill that we can use in our ministry. It was pretty interesting and I’m excited to get to use this skill when we’re out on the field.
The past couple of days were his last 2 days in Peru and he invited Brittany and 2 of her friends to go out touring. Yesterday we went with a guide about 45 minutes up the Amazon river to a native tribe called the Bora. It’s a native tribe who has found a great way to make money for themselves. About an hour away from their village they put on a show with dancing and they sell jewelry and other things that they make there. At the end of the show they had us dance with them. Quite an experience! We then went to a butterfly farm that also had a few animals and monkeys running around not in cages. Brittany and I made a friend of one of the monkeys on accident and he started following us. He stood up and put his hands on my leg and I was like “AH!”. So he went to Brittany instead and climbed up her leg and chilled on her shoulders for awhile. Crazy!
Today we went out to the zoo in Iquitos. It has all animals from the jungle here in Peru. A pink dolphin, anacondas, tons of different monkeys, birds, anteaters, and more. I got to hold an Anaconda that stretched longer than my arms. I was pretty freaked out the whole time. But he was nice and calm.
It was nice to get out and explore Iquitos a little and be a tourist. Have I mentioned how much I love the jungle?

Some of the Bora tribe.

Brittany with her new friend.

Why yes, yes I AM holding an ANACONDA!

Guacamayos... love the name for these guys in Spanish. Makes me crave some guacamole!

Padre Cocha

(December 3, 2009)

Today we went to do some evangelism at a village just outside of Iquitos. To get there we had to travel by boat down the Amazon River about 30 minutes. I felt so much excitement to be on a boat traveling on the Amazon. However I didn’t yet get to see any pink dolphins or piranhas… hopefully some day! We arrived at the small village of about 3,000 people and went to the local Nazarene Church to see what the plans were for the day. We walked around in our pairs for a little over an hour knocking on doors and inviting as many people as possible for a skit and games and sermon at 4pm. I was fairly happy that I was able to trade off doing the inviting with my Spanish. I felt much more like I was in the selva (jungle) today than I have yet. As we were walking on the outskirt at one point to our left was extremely dense green jungle. So awesome, minus the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much in my LIFE. For lunch 2 ladies from the church cooked for us. Each of us had a broth soup with a whole fish in it. Head, eyes, tail, bones, everything. We all put on our missionary faces and ate it all. I felt pretty proud of myself for finishing even though my stomach was churning the whole time I ate!

We had a little over 100 kids and probably 20 or so adults show up in the afternoon in the Plaza. It was an awesome turn out. We played games with the kids and then put on a skit. My friend Gary gave a short sermon with part of his testimony and the story of Jesus.
I went to sit next to a teenager during the sermon and had this overwhelming feeling that God was saying "focus on this one". So I prayed for her during the whole sermon, not yet knowing her name or anything about her life. I prayed that God would open up her mind to what she was hearing. And that He would just make his presence so real to her that she couldn’t deny it. I talked to her after and learned her name is Leslie and she is 17 years old. She just finished school and wants to study to be a nurse, but has 3 little siblings at home who she helps to take care of and therefore can’t leave right now. I invited her back to the church where we were doing more stuff for kids. She came with and on the way invited 3 more friends. We were able to talk for a long time. We talked about all kind of random things, a lot about our lives in general. It was awesome getting to know her, I was feeling like I really needed to just keep talking to this girl, and she didn’t seem to mind. I would say we became friends quickly. After the presentation for the kids I introduced the girls to the pastor and one of our Peruvian girl missionaries talked to them and told them the story of Christ. She invited any of them who wanted to accept Christ into their lives so that they could know the love of Christ and live a life following God. She said that she wanted that and prayed a prayer for it with Empatriz. I had goose bumps the entire time. I am continually amazed by how faithful and powerful and loving our God is.

There is a lot more that happened today. More lives that were saved and cool stories along with that. But for me this is the story that sticks out. The 17 year old girl Leslie who has up to this point never been to church. Who today accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Pray for Leslie… that God would continue to make His presence known to her. That He would change her life. Pray that she follows through and starts to go to church like she said she wanted to. And that she can be a light to her 3 younger siblings and parents.

Getting on the boat to ride on the Amazon.

The view from Padre Cocha of the Amazon

Walking around, me and the jungle and the river

Some of the kids waiting for the skit.