New Passports

Let me back up to review the last month. 

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Our family took a trip to Bolivia for about 2 and a half weeks.  One reason for all of us to travel together was to fix the travel problems we have had by obtaining a real Bolivian passport rather than just using ID cards as travel documents (we are in Peru has Bolivian citizens- another long story).  This should help us avoid the catch 22 I was in last year when I could not leave Peru for the US, via a central American country.  So, after standing in line outside the immigration office at 5:30 AM on a wet, cold morning we were let in as numbers 12 – 15 in line and received our passports the same day.  In Bolivia there is no other way but to pay your dues… in misery.  So we thank the Lord for that – really no sarcasm there, it could have been much worse.  

The other reason for being in Bolivia was an invitation to teach my Bible study Methods class at the Facultad Biblica.  They have a good year and eager crop of students in Camiri.  Janel sat thru the classes with me and kept me straight on a few things.  The kids had a little school work with them but mostly enjoyed running free range on the farm and helping out here and there with the grandparents.  Just to give you some perspective, both Fionna and Isaac drove Grandpas 500cc Royal Enfield classic.  

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This last Saturday, shortly after our return to Peru, we took our students on a trip to the river.  It is a little like the story of Hansel and Gretel where you take them out deep into the jungle and then leave them two by two.  Actually, it was a wonderful trip and the students have been excited by the prospect of trying out what they have learned this first semester.  However, this morning at 8:00 AM, I received a call from Sandra (one of our students) who had to climb a tree to make the phone call and was speaking fast, because of poor signal, short credit and an emergency.  Karen, her companion, had an accident and they were a bit worried what to do.  So far they had cleaned the wound and wondered if they should travel down to a village where there would be a medical outpost.  I suggested waiting.  Karen had bashed up her big toe and lost a nail – painful but not life threatening.  Boy are these kids going to have fun!

So things are very quiet here at the Bible school and our home, but it will not last much longer.  Our team from Seattle is arriving a week from tomorrow.  There are 5 young folks coming down from Northgate Gospel Chapel, our home assembly.  It will be fun and hopefully we will be ready for busy again.  We are looking into projects that need doing, short trips we can take and ministry opportunities where they can get involved.  For now a little more quiet. 

Another event this month is the Convention of river assemblies being held at one of the furthest towns down the river, the village of Leche.  It is far enough away that we have suggested the Bible school gals not try to attend from their villages, the boys will make the journey which will likely involve a 4 hour walk after some river travel.  Aaron will be going down to work with the youth now that his foot has healed up nicely.  Some organization by youth and members of our church is going on to see if there will be a delegation from Tarapoto.  Please pray for this event in any case and travel mercies for those who choose to attend.  Also, if you remember our students along the river, pray that they would learn a lot and be a blessing.  

In Christ,  Jesse, Janel, Fionna and Isaac

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Third World Problems

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The weather is beautiful right now with a slight urge to put a long sleeve shirt on, misty skies and wet grass coming up over your flip-flops.  Last week I may have had heat stroke and to top it off we have had recurring water shortages this last month and a half.  Hot days with no hope for a real shower, just a sponge down.  It took about 4 misplaced holes to improve our water line and we hooked a new tank up to the runoff water from the roof, this only supplies the washing machine.  And now the water pressure from the city is back to normal so it feels like a wasted week of work, but there will be more shortages coming.   I think a course on “solving third world problems” should be required for outgoing missionaries.  🙂 

Two weeks ago the local assembly sponsored the second elders retreat for river village churches with an expanded invitation to Yurimaguas assemblies.  I am not entirely sure how to evaluate success but it was slightly better attended than last year and our church really got into the service end of the event.  It was fun to see the ladies step up in the kitchen and the youth elbow up to volunteer for dish duty or serving tables.  For speakers we had Peter Hocking come in from Lima to teach “Conflict Resolution” and my dad, Mark Mattix was teaching thru some missions chapters in the book of Acts.  We had a little Q & A time to review the messages in the afternoons.  The men were encouraged and after a few suggestions as to dates were requesting a repeat event next year.  So you can decide what success means.  

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Grandpa and Grandma – dad and mom – spent two weeks here with dad busy teaching the module on Creationism.  This is a foundational course in today’s age, for any students pursuing university, they will either stand up or wash out on this topic.  Mom on the other hand was busy sewing, non-stop, with Fionna.  I hope they enjoyed their time, the kids were a bit busy with some school and duties but appreciate getting to know family this way.  We often observe that we get to spend more time with grandparents and relatives than many folks we know in the US.  

The Bible School is settled in to a steady pattern of studies, ministries and daily routines.  Once things are running and all the coordination kicks in we can relax a little.  Having the Sosa family here has helped and of course added a layer of coordination to the efforts as well.  We are finally getting to the smooth stretches.  Adriana has started a ministry loaning out books and Vicky (daughter) has taken over selling hymnbooks and Emmaus courses.  Franklin and Aaron have continued to pursue the San Luis neighborhood with the students.  A week or so ago the whole church here went to join them for a Sunday evening of specials and evangelism.  My encouragement to them is to “go for it” and see if a church can be established there, but some people are more careful than I tend to be.  So we keep praying.  

These last years I have traveled to Bolivia for a two-week course on Bible study methods and that time is coming up.  This time the whole family will go to visit and in part to get Bolivian Passports for all.  It sounds funny, huh.  Well, this will solve the problem of not being able to travel in and out of Peru except thru another south-American country.  So in a week or so we will be on the road and thru the clouds.  The family hopes to catch up with some friends and of course more grandparent time.  Soon after we return we will be expecting a team from Seattle, (Northgate GC)

Thanks to all for your letters of encouragement, your prayers and thoughts.  Some of you have even realized how close Peru can be with Facetime and other interactive means of communication.  Please feel free to drop in on us anytime.  

 In Christ,
Jesse, Janel, Fionna and Isaac

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Meeting the Shawi

Alarms started going off at 4:15am, this was a bother because I had hoped to sleep until 4:45am.  It was our second night in tents with an air pad to dull the cold hard concrete.   We were to pack up and be out by 5:00 am to start loading the boat for our river trip to the upper Paranapura.  Our next night would be in an indigenous Shawi village.

Our group consisted of five girls and one guy from our Bible school, Aaron and then Janel and I.  We were joining another missionary, our guide, Josh Hire and his daughter who jumped in the boat last minute.  It took three trips in a three wheeled pickup to get our luggage, supplies and students to the boat.  After some last minute changes we were off, up the river with a loaded boat and 40hp pushing us into the current.  

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I asked multiple times how long we were expected to travel this day and received very vague answers.  As it turned out, this is a very mysterious formula to figure, it depends on the boat, the load, the driver and the depth of the water.  We immediately knew it would be a long day because of our heavy boat, it would not go up on plane, so we plowed thru the water.  After getting 2/3 of the way there, 1 pm, we started to run out of water and were beaching the boat in various shallow spots.  So we pushed and shoved to find the deeper water.  As we were getting frustrated with this, the Shawi pastor showed up in his 10 meter dug out canoe with a 9hp peque-peque engine (modified lawnmower engine).  We split the load and sent half of the group ahead, those who stayed fought the boat and luggage thru the shallows.  Pretty soon the motor was hitting sunken logs and churning up the mud with the propellor.  Then the motor gave out.  Part of our drive shaft was busted and we were up a river with no motor – or paddle.  

Our Shawi pastor, Alberto, showed up again wondering what was taking us so long as it was pushing 5 pm now.  He had the foresight to bring an extra engine he had borrowed with only 9hp but the long shaft so that it did not drag in the dirt.  We all arrived at Pucalpillo by 6:30, after dark, and the community was waiting for the special evening service.  

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This evening meeting, like the four meetings we attended was quite fascinating and at times a bit disturbing.  Obviously we were in a different culture, denomination, language and many more differences.  The meeting started off with a techno beat programed into the yamaha organ and an andean wynyo melody.  As soon as they started the singing some dancers stepped out and formed up in six person rectangle and did a pattern dance.  It was hard to decipher the melody or words partly because of the language.  The only way we could tell the song changed was the dance steps changed.  One of the disturbing parts in the meeting was when a couple of dancers went into a trance like state and did “crazy” dancing.  Everyone ignored them and continued.  After the dancing there was a message that was translated to Shawi or quickly summarized into Spanish when pastor Alberto spoke.  To finish it off they prayed very earnestly in a weepy wailing and returned to the dancing and singing again.  It was a big community event and really there was no other show in town to compete.  Usually after we made it to our tents and to bed we could still hear the generator and music.  

As soon as we arrived at Pucalpillo one of the leaders there informed me that “the bathroom was over there behind the blue tarp”.  Sure enough they had a fresh hole dug with a couple of boards over it and a hole cut between the board.  Baths were just a matter of going to the river, best after dark for privacy.  Our sleeping quarters were a general wood floored room on stilts and everyone picked a corner for a tent.  Eating meals was greatly improved by the dried goods we brought in our bins and a couple of pastor’s wives who put their time in to cook for us on the wood fires.  We were a bit scarce on meat and only were provided two chickens as offerings by villagers. 

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On Wednesday we again got in two canoes, as our boat was out of commission, and went about an hour up river to the village of San Juan.  The river got narrower and we found a few places to push and rock the canoes.  Lots of sticks and logs in the river threatened to block our way.  Again we arrived to our new quarters and to another hole in the ground bathroom which we were very grateful for.  By this time Aaron was sick and later Janel got the stomach bug.  This time we were in an upstairs apartment with a tin roof that made things either hot or loud when it rained.  All day it seemed like we were walking in mud and had our feet oozing wet.  In the evenings it turned rather cool.  

Our Bible students did their children program as in the previous village.  This village had better Spanish comprehension but still the lessons were done thru a translator.  There were about one hundred children in each town.  It was especially fun to see our students try to teach games thru a language barrier.  For many of our Peruvian students this was the most foreign part of the country they had ever been in.  Many of the indigenous girls would paint their hands and feet with a clear plant resin that turned black in a few hours and stayed on for a couple of weeks.  

This town had only recently opened up to the gospel.  One of the projects we planned was to deliver something like 40 water filtration systems.  So on Thursday we set up the two bucket system with a filter and hose between.  It was a big deal with teachers calling off school to teach some hygiene and the use of clean water.  Our missionary guide, Josh was quite surprised to see how much progress the gospel made since his last visit a year or more ago.  There is something of a revival going on in the Shawi villages along the upper Paranapura.  

In one of the interesting conversations I had with pastor Alberto, we discussed healing and miracles. He had story after story to tell me about the medical situations that he had prayed over and seen healing power displayed.  Prayer is quite an art form here, not just your regular talking to God, more of a crying out to God with some very hyped up emotions involved.  When done at the end of the service, it was accompanied with music and various ones wailing as the pastor prayed.  Some of it felt a bit fake so I wanted to hear Alberto out on this.  As we talked I was shown the desperate need for healing that they had, especially with few and poor medical choices.  The witch doctor is a real option for them because of their desperation.  So with a spiritual revival afoot in the village it was reasonable for people to cry out to God in their health needs.  I was quite impressed but also had to point out the greater miracle I had seen over and over.  I have seen God gets a hold of a life and really transform it.  People who are at the end of their rope with ruined families, bad finances, addictions and trashed reputations, upon whom God infuses a new nature thru the Holy Spirit, then the changes come and they are good for eternity.  Healing is good until the next illness, but eternal life can start now and last forever.  

IMG_2962Our return trip started again with alarm clocks at 4:45 am Friday and the expert folding and rolling up of tents.  On Thursday afternoon our boat had magically come up river sporting a replacement 15hp outboard, towed by a canoe.  We packed our baggage and tents down the slope and across the beach, to the boat.  We decided to get a couple of canoes to lighten the boat and get us down river a couple of hours to deeper water.  About 9:30 we were finally on our own and chugging down river all in our original boat.  We did the math and calculated the hours our trip would take with the smaller engine.  Finally we were within cellphone coverage and called ahead asking for a vehicle to meet us at a wayside village with road access in order to shorten our boat ride.  So at 5:00 pm we were unloading the boat and climbing the slippery port stairs out of the river and up to the waiting vehicle.  One of the items to get out of the boat was the broken down 40hp outboard, boy that was a chore.  It took us about an hour to get in to Yurimaguas and it saved us about 3 hours on the boat with little chance of navigation at night.  Josh’s wife Jeniffer was waiting for us with a true hot meal when we arrived.  We were almost home, all we had to do was load into a couple of vehicles and travel back to the Bible institute arriving after 10pm on Friday.

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Distracted brain syndrome

Today I am suffering from distracted brain syndrome… maybe that should be catalogued in the medical journals.  As I finally sit down and take a moment to breathe it finally comes to mind that an update is in order.  And there is much to update everyone on.
We returned safely to Peru and had a few days to settle into our home.  After 3 months absent there were little things to fix, like the water line and some electrical trouble, plus a major clean up of house and vehicles.  After a week of deep cleaning and reorganizing, the kids started homeschool which put Janel into high gear.  Mid-week into the first week of school the Sosa family from Uruguay arrived.  We went thru all the above all over again settling them into their apartment.  That is still happening as I can hear them discussing how best to put up the clothesline on a pulley off their balcony.  
Along with the Sosa family settling in, a clean-up of the Bible Institute buildings and grounds was in order.   Everything on the list was pretty well taken care of in about 3 big work days.  We even added a paint job of the big study/library room.  Of course there are still some little things to buy and replace but it is nice to have capable hands.  
One more addition to our team is Cristian, a returning student, who is looking to complete a second year with a ministry/missionary emphasis.  We are working on a curriculum of discussion topics, reading assignments, travel itinerary and working for his keep when he can find it.  The concept is to have a tentmaker ministry and Franklin Sosa is a model of that already.  This is new to us so if you have questions… I’ll get back to you on that :).  
Aaron has been promoting and signing up students, as a result we have 5 girls signed up and maybe another one coming in a week.  Only only boy, Victor, signed up for this year from the local church and we are thankful that Cristian can share his “tribulations.”
It has been an interesting and so far very positive experience with the new team.  We have had a few long meetings to get everyone on the same page and as we wrap up the first week of our program things feel very smooth.  Of course, there are many little things to sort out but that should settle down in a few more days.  Our students have a very positive attitude so far – on best behavior for 2 weeks usually, however they seem to have a very sincere interest in getting the most out of the program.  Our professor from Canada is Mark DeJager who is a returning missionary reconnecting in Peru for a few months.  His class is Old Testament History.  We did need to make a change already as our Evangelism prof has some health difficulties in his extended family.  I will move my class, Bible Study methods, up to give him time to, Lord willing, sort things out.  
Thank you all for praying for our transition back into the country!  We are especially thankful to have some students to work with.  There are more exciting things happening in the church as well as some things to clear up.  Overall the church feels like it is in a very good place.  We are thankful for their maturity at this stage.  
Keep us in your prayers and for the Sosa Family and Aaron.  Team work is always a challenge so I am wondering how long the fun is going to last.  So far fun.  
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Wow this happened fast…

observe the panic in my eyes!!

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and it appears that someone wants an upgrade… keep dreaming kid.

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Back to School


Our furlough is coming to an end in less than two weeks.  It has been a good time to visit many of you who support us, pray for us and have encouraged us.  This furlough it was fun to be in different homes, for a meal or a night.  So as we end this adventure it is time to look at Peru.


Janel is busy working on final touches here and packing bags.  I am beginning to connect with people in Peru both for students, teachers or other ministry engagements.  Once we return we will be busy getting the place ready for the beginning of the Bible school.  The Sosa Family, our new colleagues are arriving a week after and there will be much to do settling them in place  Aaron is down there now busy with some ministry invitations around the country and promoting the Bible School program.  We hope he can sign up a fair number of students as well, but we ultimately take what the Lord sends us.  

So here are some prayer requests that are on our mind.

  • Students for the Bible School, they tend to sign up last minute so it can be a real nail-biter.  This year we could take up to 12 students with the help of the Sosa family.
  • Settling in the Sosa Family with two daughters.  One daughter (20) will likely assist in the girls dorm and the younger daughter (15) will need to figure schooling out.  Also they are self supported and Franklin will be opening up his shop in souvenir making.
  • We are going to offer a 1/2 scholarship this year to needy students hoping to encourage attendance with some responsibility parameters in place.  As this is a new program we need to get the word out to the right ears.  This will also become an opportunity for those who wish to invest in our students during our 7 month program.  A half scholarship is $80/mo.
  • As an immediate request, Air travel.  We leave for a conference in Long Island NY on the 7th February and then to Peru on the 11th.  Lot’s of potential for mishaps.

Thank you all so very much for making our time in the U.S. fun and interesting.  It has been great to reconnect to old friends and make new ones as well.  May the Lord bless each of you. 

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Mattix Christmas to you

 Christmas and New year’s greetings to all.  May the Savior of the world stay in focus and grow real to each of you.  It has been a real treat to visit many of you as we are on furlough these few months.  We have been blessed to stay at different homes for meals and overnights in many cases.  It is a funny thing to come half way across the world and find a family like this.

Our grand adventures started with our trip to CMML’s mansion in New Jersey.  Getting used to a new car and traffic had its’ moments… (joy, panic, frustration or exhilaration) you pick.  After visiting some chapels on the east coast and friends we started our drive across country.  Along the way we saw some fun museums and visited a couple of different chapels, one in Cincinnati and then in Springfield.  

Thanksgiving caught up with us in Newcastle and we spent the day with family and their extended family.  Quite a party of missionary kids so a lot to talk about. Then after a sunny day in Springfield we got caught again, but this time in a blizzard on our way to Emmaus.  You can read about the blizzard in depth on our blog.

Part of our traveling was intended to check out Emmaus as a schooling option for Fionna and even Isaac down the road.  Before they launch out into the world they may appreciate having some sights, sounds and people to look forward to.  We also looked in at Frontier S.B. in Wyoming and will check some more colleges out in Yakima.  In both Emmaus and Frontier the kids enjoyed some friends they knew, looking around and asking questions about their programs.  

Now that we are in the Yakima – Seattle area we are filling up our time on the weekends and enjoying the time to visit in the middle of the week.  It is fun to get an ocasional project going – usually and more productively for other people.  Fionna is on a half work day today and Isaac has made a little money on side jobs over the Christmas season as well.  

Thanking so many friends and supporters is one of the things I am focusing on while up on furlough.  We have been blessed in so many ways by so many folks here.  As we have presented our ministry in Peru, our challenge to believers is to think beyond Praying and Giving, and now really consider GOING.

Jesse, Janel, Fionna and Isaac

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