Thank you to all who have been praying for my family over the last five weeks as well as those who have been praying for safety and success in the work. After spending three weeks in the United States and visiting different churches as well as being part of Sovereign Grace Bible Church's first annual missions conference Michael and I arrived back home on the 28th of July. Here is an update since we have been back in Peru.
The work in Desaguadero began for Reaching and Teaching as Tony Steele, Cristobal Quispe, Anibal Salazar, and I sat around a table in Cusco Peru last October. That night seemed especially cold as Tony and I had just arrived from a week of training in the jungle to an altitude of 11,000 feet.
The plans made around that table became reality as Reaching and Teaching International Ministries started their first week of training pastores in this new site in August. There were over 40 in attendance each day and by the end of the week over 30 had enrolled in the program offered by RTIM.
The challenges to this work started before the team met together in Peru.
-First, brother Paul Walker almost didn't make it to the training in Peru. His flight leaving Denver was late coming in which stranded him in Denver because he would miss his international flight out of the States. Trying to get a flight to Peru was even more challenging than normal because the Olympic games were set to begin and he spent all day trying to find a flight to Peru. The Lord in His providence used the change of day and route to put Paul in a city that he was not destined to pass through. In that city God had a divine appointment for a man to hear the gospel. We must commit our works to the Lord, and He is the one who establishes our plans. (Prov. 16:3)
-The second challenge was the first night we arrived in Desaguadero the entire town was partying and worshipping their idols. The party was across the street from our hotel with four stages set up and four bands all rocking at the same time until 1:00 in the morning. It seemed to me like each band was trying to outplay the other bands as the all played at the exact same time. It was chaos. I have never experienced anything like that in my four years in Peru. It was so loud that the windows, walls, and even our bed frames were vibrating with the music.
-The third challenge was the altitude at 12.550 feet above sea level. We were all affected by the altitude. Both Paul and Tony experienced feeling like they couldn't breath in the middle of the night. I only mention it in passing because it seems like a small thing but when you can't get warm in a week of training it makes things uncomfortable.
-The fourth challenge could have been deadly. While I was teaching I felt ill and kept getting worse. I had to teach from a chair. Soon my eyes closed and I couldn't put my thoughts into Spanish sentences. I started slurring my words and nothing was making any sense as a migraine headache came on. Tony stopped me in the middle of trying to teach and told me to go back to the hotel room. I stumbled through the desks of students like a drunk man barely able to stand. Not long after I left there was an explosion. A small gas tank exploded in the kitchen that is located below where the pulpit is on the second floor that we were teaching from. Thankfully Tony and the brothers were all fine and the only damage was the gas tank. The hose to the stove had a leak in it caused from the cooking and what had caused my problems was breathing the fumes for 40 minutes before it exploded. Thankfully everyone was okay but sadly I don't have a lot of brain cells to lose.
Please keep this work in your prayers. Pray that the Lord would raise up a church back in the States that can partner with Reaching and Teaching to help them train in this new work. Probably a church located in Alaska would be a good fit. Please continue to pray for the brothers in this area.
After arriving back from Desaguadero the leaders from our church went to 'Lauramarca' to share the gospel and help with a medical campaign. Another brother named David Chavez in Urubamba donated 100 blankets to give out and Jair a medical doctor from Cusco and Ruth his nurse went with us to help in this work. We also had Joel Smith visiting us from the States who went with us. He was supposed to go to Desagudero with us but he also had airline problems.
Our original plan was to visit two villages to help out with medical needs and share the gospel in both places. On the first day we ran out of medical supplies and decided to head back to Cusco after only one day. It was a good trip and Joel Smith had an opportunity to share his testimony through a Spanish translator and then through a Quechuan translator. Roger and I shared the gospel with a Quechuan translator as well.
The highlight of this trip is that we now have a plan to bring Tomas to Cusco twice a month to train him in the word. Tomas is the brother leading the Bible study up there as well as the brother who translated for us into Quechuan.
Please pray for this work as there is much work that needs to be done.
3. Cusco Peru:
Pastor Paul not only helped teach in Desaguadero but he also preached a series on the family for five nights in Cusco Peru. He has such a desire to serve sacrificially that we worked him like a rented mule. We also found time to relax and share about ministry and work. It was a profitable time for me to spend with a dear faithful brother who is also one of my mentors.
During the meetings most of our church members faithfully came. The services started each night at 7 and were supposed to end by 8:30 after an hour of preaching and 30 minutes of questions. What really happened was that we the last two nights we finished around 10:00. Now it's time to rest and get back into the routine of daily ministry in Peru.
Please keep this work in the church in prayer as the Lord is working. There is also another group of believers in Lucre about 25 minutes outside of Cusco that have asked us to come and help teach them the Bible.
Please pray for us as there that we would have wisdom to know how to meet the needs the Lord is putting before us. Our pastoral staff will meet this week to discuss what we can do to help.
Please pray about helping us financially. The work continues because people faithfully give each month and sometimes its people we don't know. The Lord continues to meet our needs and we are grateful for your support both financially and in praying for us.
I want to thank our home church Sovereign Grace Bible in Helena Montana for their love and support in the work. This last picture is for the Knoepke children who drew for us these really nice pictures. Stephen and Sophia have them hanging by their beds.