Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pray for the Mountain Villages of Peru

I received the following update from Russ and Sherri Fleetwood, two missionaries working in the outback of Peru. Many villages are facing the same kinds of things. One man spoke to me about how the excessive rains have ruined their crops for this year. Potatoes are rotting in the ground. Wheat and corn is also in danger. Pray for these villages.

April 13, 2009

Donde Corren Las Aguas (Where the Waters Run)
When we mentioned in our last update that it was raining a lot, little did we know that even more was yet to come! “It’s the worst it has been in 40 years”, some people say. We certainly hope that this year is the exception, not the rule! Landslides have been the biggest issue, but flooding has also been prevalent. One street became like a muddy river with water running through doorways into people’s homes. In other locations, foundations for walls have been eroded, leading to collapses. One hillside behind a group of houses melted into mud and was running down into doorways and passageways. Almost every roadway in the area has been blocked by slides at some time or another. As quickly as they can be cleared by a bulldozer, more hillsides give way and block the road anew. There was even a 2-day stretch when every route out of the Conchucos valley was impassable. In recent weeks, city officials have rented more machinery in an effort to keep roadways open. They have also been trying to size up the damage that has been done. At least 10 houses have collapsed and as many as 100 are in danger of collapse. The city water supply has also been in danger. The cement holding tanks had to have some emergency repairs. Thankfully, the rain has let up for a few days at a time – enough for things to begin drying out. But the occasional heavy shower or extended drizzle continues to cause problems.
As recently as last night we had a downpour. A canal up the hill behind our house became blocked, causing water to run down through a pasture and into our yard. The back wall of our adobe storage building collapsed. Water then ran through the building and into our neighbors’ living room downstairs. (We live upstairs.) We quickly dug drainage ditches in the yard in an effort to divert the water. Thankfully the rain eased up before any of our neighbors’ possessions were damaged. It was a personal reminder of how people have suffered through the rains this year.
Please pray with us that the local government will take steps to improve drainage here in town and along the roadways when the weather clears. It is likely that with dry weather the need for improvements will be forgotten – that is, until the rains return next year! But at this point, we’re just waiting for them to come to an end this year!

Good Friday
Here in the mountains, Semana Santa (Holy Week) is important. For weeks leading up to it, the custom is to gather in your local Catholic church building and review each week a different story from the life of Jesus. Two weeks ago it was the story of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, when the people laid down palm branches and their cloaks in his path, as if welcoming a king. This past week, the focus was on Jesus’ death on the cross. There was some reflection on His resurrection, but the focus here is more on His suffering and death. It is good to remember how He suffered for us – the price He was willing to pay and how He can identify with our pain. But to not celebrate His resurrection is to deny the victory and hope that Christ provided for us. As Paul said: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Cor. 15:17-19) Indeed, it is the subsequent resurrection of Jesus that allows us to call the Friday of His death “good”!

On this Good Friday, we were planning to be in the community of Conopa to show the Luke Video in Quechua. Our friend, Magno, had arranged this opportunity with the local catechist and community leaders. Showing the video would have required that a heavy electrical generator be carried by hand up several hills! Due to road closures, we were not able to make it to Conopa. Magno was nice enough to come into town and let us know that the road and the trails were in horrible condition. We hope to show the video in early May. God’s Spirit is working in Conopa and we are excited. But in some ways we don’t know what we are getting ourselves into. There are a lot of traditions here that conflict with scripture. But there are a lot of traditions that are suspect or whose original purpose has been forgotten. We are always eager to share with anyone who is open. May those who are seeking a real relationship with Christ build upon good traditions while letting go of bad ones.

20 Years!
Not to trumpet our own horn, but since it is the custom here to throw your own party, we figure we should announce to you our recent 20th wedding anniversary! On April 8th in 1989, Russ and Sherri were married at Royal Lane Baptist Church in Dallas, TX. Where have the years gone? Wow! God is good to have blessed us in so many ways during these 20 years. We typically take some sort of outing on our anniversary. Last April, while in the USA, we sought out the blue bonnets and paint brushes (wildflowers) of Texas. This year, since so many roads were blocked or at least damaged, we stayed home and celebrated by cooking hamburgers and watching a movie.

Many of you prayed for our friend and sister in Christ, Natalia. On Sunday, March 15, Natalia went to be with the Lord. After her stay in the hospital some weeks earlier, she had returned to her son’s home where she had many visitors in her last weeks. She remained sure of her heavenly destination and was ready for relief from her pain. Her passing was especially difficult for her daughter, Elida, who is a single mother of two and was very close to her mom.

It was our first wake and burial since living here in Peru. Customs here are quite different than in the USA. The family endures some very difficult days not only of mourning but also trying to provide food and refreshments for visitors. They also accompany the casket all night long getting almost no sleep until after the burial. It is almost as if the culture here feels that family members should suffer physically as well as emotionally – as a tribute to the deceased. Many people joined the procession to the cemetery. It was not as “reverent” as one would expect in the USA, but it was a sign of how much Natalia was loved and respected. Some good words were shared by a brother in Christ – Natalia’s pastor from when she was part of a Pentecostal congregation.

Change Is a Part of Growth
You may have heard that the IMB is going through some restructuring. The goal is to position our agency for the future – through better use of resources, better engagement of people (both on the field and worldwide partners), better support, streamlined administration, more local ownership… Certainly, the world is changing and we must adjust to those changes. Here in Northern Conchucos, we will be affected minimally. But we will be part of a new team – the Ancash Quechua Team. Brett and Brenda Cargile will be moving to Huaraz to lead this new team, which will include those of us currently serving in Northern and Southern Conchucos, as well as others working with nearby Quechua people groups. We will also be part of a new “Middle Indigenous Cluster” belonging to the “Americas Affinity Group”.

As the Ancash Quechua Team meets next week, please pray with us that Father will give us a vision for the future that has Him at the center of creative and effective strategies for reaching our people groups. We confess that we have no genius or adequacy for the task, but pray that His power and glory will draw many to Himself.

- Protection of many homes and lives during the heavy rains.
- Protection of Maximo, brother-in-law of Eulogio, during a recent fall from a muddy trail.
- Natalia’s promotion to Heaven – freedom from pain, being with her Savior.
- Recent x-rays showed that Lucho’s fractured leg has healed. Now he only lacks exercise to regain mobility.
- Time spent with Magno (from Raj Raj) here at our house when not able to reach the communities of Conopa.

- For relief from damage caused by flooding and landslides. For preventative measures to be taken.
- Please pray that leaders will emerge from each of our Bible study outreach groups.
- For unity and the Holy Spirit’s leadership during our Ancash Quechua Team meeting in late April.
- For opportunities to build new relationships with new communities in the area of Conopa.

May you know Father’s abundant blessing,
Russ and Sherri

Let Me Be
Caedmon’s Call

Lord, You are the maker of my heart
The framer and reshaper of my soul
Master and Creator, Healer and Sustainer
I will put my trust in You alone

Teach me to be faithful to confess
In this way my spirit will be blessed
Though my sins are daily, You have loved me greatly
Removing them as far as east from west

Let me be open, let me be humble
Let me find the joy of my salvation in Your cross
Let me be broken whenever I stumble
Let me remember the great mercy of my God

Give me the full measure of Your grace
And as it is reflected in the Word
Faith and reassurance, mercy and endurance
Carry these to those who haven’t heard

Let me be open, let me be humble
Let me find the joy of my salvation in Your cross
Let me be broken whenever I stumble
Let me remember the great mercy of my God

All I have needed is laid at Your table
All my achievements, I lay at Your feet
Alive in Your spirit, I’m willing and able
You make my joy complete

Let me be open, let me be humble
Let me find the joy of my salvation in Your cross
Let me be broken whenever I stumble
Let me remember the great mercy

…You make my joy complete…

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