Slowing down

 

(this is an update requested by CMML for their magazine due to print in December)

We are feeling like it all slowed down after a mad rush of activities to complete the Bible School year.

Our Bible School program this year took in 7 students and put them thru 7 months of Bible and Bible related classes.  The program is a discipleship program so though we would like a few more students we do not want “all the students we can get”.  One of our students bailed out close to the midterm as he was having trouble with our house rules and expectations of discipline so we graduated 6 and gave diplomas to 3 more who took odd courses.  One advantage of being in the jungle of Peru is that we send the students out to river villages on ministry trips.  It is all part of their ministry experience.

We anticipated a difficult year due to being short staffed but the Lord was good and we managed, though just a bit worn out.  We have two singles on our team and would really like more help and ideally a family to join the team.  This next year we have the same problem unless the Lord provides before March.

So now we slow down and begin planning.  Different professors need to be lined up for next year including trips and other items on the schedule.  We need to sign up new students and are actively promoting the 2018 school year.  Besides that I have some classes to prepare for with other training programs early in 2018.

Plans and prayer requests – (not in the article)
We hope to build a small apartment above the current boy’s dorm… just need to get a bid, and the contractors’s time.
Janel want’s to finish the painting upstairs in the bedrooms so picking colors is the next project.
Also need to work with Fionna on Mom’s birthday gift… coming up on the 20th of Oct.  (she will never read this so we are safe)
Kids are pushing ahead on school in order to be free when we all go to Bolivia in Dec.

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The truth will set you free

As I was early for breakfast with our bible students, I went to wander through the lounge area and found one of the pegs of a wooden sofa lying on the ground.  So an idea occurred to me on the way to breakfast.

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Soon after breakfast was started I had the peg leg brought in by my son Isaac while I had been advertising to the students a great opportunity to evaluate their maturity.  I set the peg leg on the dinning table and watched for reactions.

One set of girls immediately started whispering back and forth.  Some put on a studied face of shock and surprise, a few asked what that thing was.  Then I started asking questions of various students while holding on to a straight serious face.  One after another started coming up with excuses.  “I didn’t do it but I saw it”.  “I never saw it or know anything about it”.  One brave girl mentioned “It broke itself off when I pulled the furniture around but I think it was already broken”.  “it must have happened when the games were on in the lounge last week”.  “I saw it broken and fixed it by putting it back into the peg hole”.  And so the excuses rolled.

The humor in all this, is the culture of Spanish countries, where you can linguistically blame the object for breaking itself, therefore making it not your fault.  Spanish is loaded with cover your tail and save face culture.  So I was laughing out loud at them as they desperately tried to solve the problem my making it not their fault.  No one took responsibility – some came closer but would not take the blame full on.  I pointed some of this out as breakfast continued.

Breakfast was winding up and we began to read Proverbs 28 but only made it to verse 13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.  We all roared laughing at this one.  The broken peg leg would have been so easy to confess, everyone after all had had some experience with the broken sofa leg… so confess.  Then you can add the responsibility of telling the authorities that it is broken and it may be your fault, no one was willing to confess so we never were able to fix it, so it kept adding guilt to the next person who broke the chair.  Why is it so hard to say “it’s my fault”?

Sin is this way of course and in much graver circumstances, this is why we have a hit and run for example.  Then you have cycles of sin where once you cover a sin a couple of times you can “never” confess because you must admit the cover up as well.  As a sin remains hidden its lure grows stronger, such as pornography or addictions for example.

The solutions is always to confess, no matter how tangled the mess has become.  It does take some courage and humility, but it is the only way out.  The truth sets you free.

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Blowing and storming

It’s blowing, it’s thundering, it’s flashing and the lights just went out.  So now I have time to write an update letter.  
There are a few jobs pending for today.  I need to run and get some silicone to stick down some new ceiling panels at church that blew around a few storms ago.  Then there are bougainvilleas that blew off the wall at Tuttles.  That was this mornings job.  Again at church there is a roof that blew off the Sunday school classroom last storm.  That job is for this afternoon.  We are told this is the windy time of the year.  
Aside of our exciting weather, we have an exciting month because we are graduating the students on the 30th of September.  This year has had it’s struggles but we can see the growth in the students as they approach the final stretch.  We started with 7 students and lost one along the way so we will graduate 6.  Our team (Dhaly, Aaron and ourselves) is committing to be here next year for another go round but there is still a need for a couple and other singles who could join.  
This last month has kept us very close to home.  There was a youth retreat on the coast and both Dhaly and Aaron attended while we stayed and “took full responsibility.”  I think Aaron and Dhaly may have been worried how that was going to work out.  We had fun and the students were actually enjoying visiting our home more while the program was probably a bit more strict.  On the other hand we were tired and ready for them to get back into the normal rhythm.  We decided that older people (+40) are not as much fun, but don’t need to be, since our social life is quite complete and content.  
You may have heard we have Jennifer with us as well.  Her adventures here are fun to tell, starting with public schools having been on strike for the last 4+ weeks.  We have had to create a small homeschool program to keep her busy and out of trouble.  Most recent project… digging holes to transplant some larger palm trees.  She is out there in the rain now.  Just today however she completed a page of 100 simple math problems in less than 5 minutes so she earned some ice cream.  We are all happy about that.  
Here is my list of little jobs getting ready for graduation.  Caps and gowns, dinners, program, print diplomas, wrap gifts, host parents, … etc.  Unfortunately I get to teach the last class so that means I should get most of that done this week or next (in between fixing roofs).  While we do all that we should be planning and talking to our team about next year’s guidelines and expectations.  We should get some promo work prepared and coordinate new students sign ups.  Once that is all over we are splitting out of here fast and planning to make the missionary retreat in Chiclayo, where we have no responsibilities, I hope.  
We appreciate your prayers, as you can see we are sprinting for this year’s finish line and might collapse before we get there (it only feels like that some days).  Prayers are needed.  
By the way, please continue to pray for our visas to stay in Peru.  CMML (our mission board) was a big help in getting some of the necessary paperwork from the USA.  The paperwork was turned in last week and now we wait to hear their response.  
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Making pizza with the students.  An unforgettable night, since it started pouring down rain and they had to carry the unbaked pizzas to the big oven at the institute.  IMG_1539
Gotta have a little bit of fun at the national motocross races held in Tarapoto.
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Civil wedding in one of the villages about an hour away.  The bride and groom with her Dad.  IMG_1921
Another storm adventure… it started pouring down rain in the middle of a cookout with the young people.  A complete adventure including pulling a motokar out of the muddy mess!!
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August – living the jungle life

I hear the kids have finished their first 4 weeks of school, so… that month flew by.  School has been a bit harder for the kids this round and we are also getting more tech (computers) into the education along with the glitches.  Janel has had to order replacement Math Cd’s and we are using a new old computer after replacing the hard drive.  We had some help from Aaron Campbell on that one.  Just to add some fun to the mix and to help out another missionary family we added a kid to the family, Jennifer.  This is a 4 month addition to our family so we are working certain plans around as we cannot take her out of the San Martin province.  She is pending an adoption process and her adopting parents (our missionary friends) had to leave the country for an overdue furlough.  This brings some changes in our daily routine, taking her to school and keeping up with an 11 year old’s social life.  
I was invited to a youth camp in Puerto Maldonado, Brad Hallock’s old stomping grounds.  Soon after it was suggested that Janel teach a workshop.  That was convenient since we needed to get to Lima with Fionna for renewal of US passports.  So, Jenifer will camp out with another friendly family while we go off to the southern jungles of Peru.  They have requested some world view topics and existential philosophy type stuff.    Janel gets to teach a workshop on baking.  
As I mentioned, it has been a month and the Bible school has continued at a steady pace.  We had Christopher Mattix with “Church History” and today Teddy Ramirez’ finished his course on “Cults.”  This next Tuesday our students will join Pablo Cenepo on a river trip for the week.  They plan on doing some construction, children ministries and evangelism along with a team from a US church.  
Our long term plans are getting more defined as Tuttles have been able to communicate their plans with us.  We are once again praying and looking for more help.  We can use singles who want to be involved in the dorms and activities.  Aaron is confirming his plans to continue on next year and Dhaly is still working thru that decision.  What would really add some stability is a couple / family that would be willing to join in.  There are many more needs in the villages, local scene and church that we could help with if we had more hands on deck.  Also if we had a family to team up with we could take more students in our program as this remains our primary ministry.  
Fun Family facts:
Isaac has his motorbike running but now someone wants to buy it.
Our child population has increased by 50% – overnight.
Our animal population shrunk by 25% – the rabbit died – not a euphemism.
Our car population increased by 100% – Jenifer brought a nice car with her.
Fionna is taking a Home Economics class… yummy
Fionna oohs and gasps at various moving critters she finds under her microscope.  
Jesse and Fionna survived one month of French class, then quit.
Janel often gets stranded on her motorbike for lack of kicking skills.  
Jesse gets to play “night in shining armor” often rescuing Janel on a red Yamaha.  
Too bad we are getting old, at least we started early.  
“That’s all folks” – Mr. Bugs Bunny (to you).     
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It’s always Leah in the Morning

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Visiting the water fall with Jurgen

We are enjoying Jurgen Schultz’s visit here in the Jungle.  I think he brought Canada with him when he came as it has remained quite cool each day, even under 70 degrees most mornings.  Of course he also brings great conversation topics and quotes from people he has read or heard.  My favorite, a quote from Tim Keller, “It’s always Leah in the morning”.  Likely meant to lower our expectation of worldly pleasures, however, we have had fun getting extra millage out of the quote with other applications.  I’ll let you ponder the deeper insights.

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Uhm, say what?  Chicken?  

Speaking of “Leah in the Morning”, Janel and I had some marriage counseling twice this week.  One is an old marriage where the wife had been putting up with her unsaved husband for many years, lies, cheating and more.  Now he is saved and really growing in the faith but there is still the struggle of learning to trust him again and encourage him thru troubles.  It is kinda like finally getting your marriage started after all theses years of living together.  Pray for them.  A young couple came last night and they are quite decided to get married and are getting all the paperwork together for the event.  We went thru part of a course on God’s design for marriage, some raising the bar and lowering of the expectations so that you can greet reality after the wedding.  Pray for this young couple as culture is not their friend, but it is exciting to watch them take the right approach, rather than running around in the bushes and getting caught.

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Fionna is jumping into the big leagues now – helping at the convention.

Our students have settled into a good study routine with Jurgen teaching, next we will have Christopher up for a couple of weeks on Church History.  Dhaly is back from a big get-together in the Dominican Republic so our team is now complete and firing on all cylinders.

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Seminar on Efesians

The church has finally taken the step of recognizing two new elders, brings the number up to 4.  We took advantage of Jurgen to teach a seminar on the book of Ephesians.  It was well attended and we even had visitors from other churches come and enjoy.  I think the church will want to do that a few times a year with different professors we bring thru for the Bible School program.  Our need at church is becoming space in our little structure.  We may need to do some construction to shove the wall back and build classrooms on a second story.  No plans drawn out yet but that is where the talk is headed.

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Memories of better days… vacation is over already!

Fionna and Isaac are back to school again after a short summer vacation.  We save our vacations for other special travels.  But “It’s Leah in the morning” and vacations have to meet reality.  Both of them are finding the curriculum significantly more challenging this year so they are enduring thru the first weeks.

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.  We still pray for our legal work and renewing our papers with immigration.

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Fourth of July spread

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Motorbike crash in Peru… very dangerous.

Well, once in a while the dramatic stories of my life must be told in full.  So, for those who would like greater details of my visit to the police station… read on.

On Thursday morning, at approximately 10:30, Fionna and I were dinking around town on my motorcycle trying to find a place to park.  Quite a few streets were blocked off which caused me to get a little discombobulated and drive up some streets that I often don’t ride on.  Approaching this particular intersection, there was no stop sign for me, so I speed on and to our dismay so did the fellow coming crossways because he also did not have a stop sign.  In a flash I saw the terror on the guys face who was driving and the frail older lady that he had on the back seat.  Then my own terror gripped me as I desperately tried to slam on the brakes.  I t-boned into the side of his motorcycle and heard the smashing of plastic and metal.  Then came the cries of the other driver as the bike went down on top of him.  My first reaction was a desperate look around for Fionna.  I heard other vehicles approaching fast and worried about one of us being run over.  Later, she told me that somehow she had fallen off first and got up by the time she saw me flying off backwards.  I landed on my back and Fionna heard me screaming all the way down.  Thankfully, that was a very comical moment for her, must have something to do with all the Calvin and Hobbes magazines that the kids read.

Somehow, the frail lady riding on the back of the bike managed to jump off like Fionna did, I hobbled over to the sidewalk and sat down, stunned and in shock. Vaguely I listened to the frantic work of people trying to get the other driver into a motocar and taken to a hospital.  All of his moaning and groaning was very dramatic and disturbing to listen to.  I tried calling on my cell phone and contacting folks back at the institute.  I wanted to get a hold of Jesse, who was teaching a class at the time, but was unable to get a hold of anyone.  Thankfully, I was able to get in touch with Techy and Delwin Fowler to come help me sort out the mess.  (They are local missionary friends)  All I could think of was the massive fines and threats the police would throw on me along with this other family and the medical outcome of the other driver.  Gringos are great targets for getting money out of.  Latinos are great at playing the yelling match, whoever yells the loudest usually wins.  I prayed that the Lord would provide a just and loving solution.

In the midst of all that, folks worked very quickly to get the other man’s motorcycle off the street and hidden away in a neighbor’s garage.  That was my first red flag (beyond the very dramatic moaning of the man) that something fishy was happening.  However, I was still in too much shock to think much about it.  The other driver and older lady were out of there within a few minutes without even asking me for my information.

People quietly stood by me, brought me water and tried asking me questions.  Later, I realized that the man’s wife had come up beside me and asked what was going on, just as the Police showed up.  The Police took all my paperwork, put me in the back of the Police truck, another officer rode my bike down to the station and Fionna was allowed to go with the Fowlers.  Once at the Police station, the first officer to see me and hear the story let me know in no uncertain terms that my driver’s license was illegal for Peru and basically I was in deep trouble.  Never mind the fact that the other folks had all taken off and hid their motorcycle!!  I calmly explained to him (still in too much shock to let any of my Irish out!) that I had an International Driver’s License and that my husband would be bringing it shortly.

Techy and Raquel Fowler were coaching me through the whole process and calming me down while we waited for Jesse to show up.  In the meantime, they sent a police officer to the hospital where the man had been taken to and eventually, the wife showed up at the police station to present his paperwork.  Jesse showed up to join the hurry up and wait party.  After a few hours of sitting there, we were brought before a transit officer and he started questioning what happened.  In looking over both of our paperwork, he mentioned to the lady that their motorcycle insurance (SOAT) had just been bought at 11:30 that morning, the accident happened at 10:30!  No wonder they were so quick to get out of there.  Driving around without SOAT is a big no no.  I was indignant (my Irish was coming out) but it didn’t seem to matter too much to the officer.  It’s all a big game of who’s going to pay.

Eventually, the wife pulled one of the officers into another office, and what was exchanged at that time we do not know, but the officer came back-in talking quietly, but loudly enough so we could hear that she wanted to reconcile privately.  We did not realize this was an option and thought we were just dealing with the police.  Throughout this whole time, they were trying to find anything and everything wrong with my paperwork so they could get me on something.  Sure enough they found one, my motorcycle license plate was different than what the title document said, which we didn’t realize.  Jesse made a few calls around to the previous owners and found out that they had just not updated the license plate, the police checked into that and found that was true.  They seemed very sad, gone was the idea of getting us for a stolen vehicle.

The wife wanted us to sign an agreement for a small percentage but indefinite payment of damages for her husband.  Threats of him needing surgery or therapy were being made.  All a little bit shocking when it had been stated by transit police and agreed by all that it was a no fault accident due to there being no stop signs.  We were adamantly against being responsible for indefinite damages in a no fault accident. Thankfully, at this point, the police intervened and suggested we could come to a fixed amount payment and we would have to come to an agreement soon or the paperwork would be started to file a claim against us.  She called her husband and found out that he had no broken bones nor torn ligaments, which was a huge relief to me.  In the end, we offered a payment and the lady counter offered for a higher one, which we accepted.  We then went to town to get the agreement written up and notarized to take back to the police station.

Once back at the police station, we signed and paid the lady and she was freed to go with all of her documents and we were once again at the mercy of the police who were still hesitating, trying to get a bribe out of us.  In one of their tries, they sent Jesse out to get un-needed photocopies and I overheard the two officers talking about how they weren’t able to get anything out of this gringo (Jesse) and what they should try next.  There were vague comments about how much lawyers cost and how nice the police had been to help us avoid these costs.  Jesse reminded them of how nice it is to help neighbors out and since we live two blocks away from the police academy, wasn’t it nice and neighborly of us to pull the police truck out of the ditch the other day.  In the end, they gave us my documents slowly and let my motorcycle go.  As we were on the way out of the office Jesse gave them a few coins to get a pop and promised to be back with some baked goods in the future.  The difference between a gift and a bribe.

We ran into the wife as we were collecting my motorbike and she apologized to me for all that happened.  Fionna got away with a couple of scratches and bruises.  I am quite sore, but am getting better everyday.  Thankfully, the older lady only had a few scratches and bruises and the other driver had a sore leg but nothing broken.  Adventures in a Peru.

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Advice for my future son-in-law

Be a Man

Son I want you to be a man
You may have noticed that men fight
I want you to fight, hard, and win
Fight for my daughter,
fight for her rights, her honor, her safety
but never fight against each other
and never fight for yourself

Son I want you to be a man
have you noticed, men are strong and big
I want you to work hard
be smart, be diligent, finish the job
provide for my daughter,
my grandchildren and even your neighbor
Never mind being rich, just don’t shrink the work

Son I want you to be a good man
Be a good husband and father
Love your wife, love your children, love your neighbor
Give them everything you have
don’t hold back a single selfish whim
Think of their good, their rights, their needs
Do not entitle yourself to a single thing

Son I want you to be a righteous man
Think a lot about God, all the time
Think about Him early every morning
when you whisper I love you each night
when you put your children to bed
when you sit together to a meal
teach your whole family to think about God

Son I want you to be a humble man
This will be the hardest task of all
you will need to face yourself when you are wrong
apologize to my daughter when you sin
ask your children’s forgiveness as well
More difficult yet, learn to forgive them
This will make you a great man

*For the occasion of my daughters wedding, advice given to my future son-in-law.  (she is only turning 15 for now)

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