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.