Our family is in Peru for two years to serve with Extreme Nazarene. We are living in the jungle city of Puerto Maldonado supporting our team of 8 missionaries as 12 churches are planted here in 18 months! Please keep checking in to keep up on our our ministry and adventures in Peru!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Just keep cutting, just keep cutting...


...just keep cutting, cutting, cutting. This is the song I have been singing in my head all week...to the tune from Finding Nemo. I have been cutting shapes...lots of shapes while everyone was gone preparing for VBS (Vacation Bible School) that starts today. There are actually 3 different VBS at 3 different churches at the same time that our group is putting on. We start this afternoon and it will continue for the next three days. Please keep these activities in your prayers...for kids to show up, for help to show up...and that these kiddos would hear and understand the love of God. Thanks all!

also...the team made it back from their trip a day early and had a great time...I'm sure Tyson will share some stories about their time soon!
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Monday, July 27, 2009

Amigos

Kai has been blessed to have a great little buddy here in Iquitos. Jim is the pastor’s son and just turned 3. From the first day they met these two hit it off and have been amigos ever since. With everyone gone I decided to come to the church and let Kai play with Jim for a few hours since his mom is working. I am currently watching them go from fighting over a ball to laughing to yelling to chasing each other and playing happy…their relationship has lots of emotions but always they are sad to leave each other when the day is over. I am thankful for a friend for Kai…one that he has lots of time with and can be a boy with (right now they are poking at ants with sticks). It is especially fun for me to watch him speak Spanish and learn new words. He is always saying “ven, amigo” or “vamos”…he is really good at the “command” words…ha! Here are some pictures of the “amigos”.

I realize I have not written much about Kai or how he is doing…that is because we have tried to keep this blog more about the mission then pictures of our boy…I have a whole other blog for that and if you want to check it out you can: www.kaismith.blogspot.com
However, I will give a quick little update. Kai is doing great here in Iquitos. He is going to a jardin (pre-school) in the mornings while we are in school and seems to really enjoy it. He is learning more and more Spanish each day and I am always pleasantly surprised when he uses new words that he has learned from being around Spanish speakers. He loves coming to the church and playing with Jim and seeing all of the team. He loves riding in motocars…especially when Daddy’s driving. He is the only one on our team that is not tired of rice. We have it every day here but he is always asking for more “arroz”. He is handling the heat like a champ even though he sweats like crazy and the mosquitoes haven’t seemed to bother him too much. All in all it has been an easy transition for him here to Iquitos and we are thankful for all the people who have helped Kai love being here, by loving him.

Sidenote: Hermana (what we call the district superintendent’s wife who live on the grounds too) just gave Kai a cup of coffee…hmm…not such a great idea but they both seem so happy about it I think I’m going to let it go…it looks really weak so hopefully there won’t be terrible consequences…*here’s hoping* This kid gets spoiled by everyone…one of my biggest challenges of living here:)

Around Iquitos



Work Party

A few weeks ago our team used their one day off to go work at a church across the river. They worked hard cleaning up the land that a church will someday be built on and building a fence. This is actually the church that Olivia and Ana go out to every Sunday and they have learned that there are a lot of health issues in this community. The main issue is that there is no clean water and the people there either don't have the ability or don't know how to clean and sterilize it. This Saturday Olivia and Ana will be leading a health day out there and our whole team be going to help out...I believe Tyson and I are listed to cut hair:) I look forward to going out and helping and will for sure share about it later!



Movie at San Pablo

A couple weeks ago our group helped out at one of the churches in town by showing a testimonial movie. Tyson wrote about it below with the picture of Kai "driving the motocar...here are a few more pictures of the group.
Callie playing futbol in the pouring rain with the kids...what a trooper!
And Callie getting "cleaned off" with the kids...you can't really see it but there is a well right there that the church put in for the community...very cool since there are communities that don't have access to clean water.
The team setting up for the movie

Prayers for river trip...

The team left this morning for a 4 day trip up the river. They will be on a boat for about 12 hours today before reaching their destination and then be at a church helping out for 2 days...then they will make the 12 hour trip back on Thursday. Please pray for safety and health for everyone on the trip...our 8 40/40s, Tyson, 2 pastors and Cristobol. Please pray also that this would be a great time of service, fellowship and relationships. I am sad to say that I am staying home with Kai but felt that two 12 hour boat rides with an active 2-year-old were not a great idea. I will be spending my time hanging with Kai, catching up on some blogging, preparing for our VBS that will be happening this weekend and praying for our team! Thanks for your prayers!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Jair Post 1: Hopefully of Many

I want to share a cool story of redemption in my life and a huge answer to prayer. As you know our number one priority is to serve the 40/40's and provide for their needs so that they can more effectively focus on reaching the lost in Peru. That has been our main objective here, but I really felt the Lord calling me to pray for my own mission field in addition to serving the 40/40's. One evening I went out for a walk to our local stadium and sports coliseum which was open for the night and there happened to be a city league basketball game going on. I figured I'd inquire more about the possibility of playing and was told I could try out for "team juvenile." As I left I was excited for the opportunity but continued to pray about a mission field. I was not sure if this was it but I definitely wanted to walk through this open door. My thoughts at this point were on how much time I've put into basketball over the years; practices, camps, playing, coaching and that don't know of any eternal results from those efforts other than personal lessons. As a Young Life leader in College, I coached for 2 years at Lynden HS with the goal of reaching the basketball guys, knowing that most if not all were lost. However, my focus was so intently on reaching them that I neglected that there were other students ready and willing for me to lead them. In my opinion I lost out on an open door on those that I could have made a significant impact. So my prayers is that I would not make the same mistake and that I would see clearly whether this is going to be worth my time and not just because it's fun or that I could use the exercise. The last thing I want to do is waste any time here if it's not going to produce fruit. My prayer is for clarity here in Iquitos specifically, knowing that we're not living here for very long. So they told me to come for a try out, which is a funny story in its own right. But, yes...God allow me to make the team which was the first step in the right direction and step 2 was that they were okay with the fact I could only practice 1 or 2 nights a week.

My first practice with the team turned out to be a very poorly run high school practice, but there were a good amount of college and beyond aged kids. Suffice to say, I felt very welcome and following the practice I received many pleasant grettings. Which in itself was reason enough to go to the next practice.

My second practice was at the Coliseum which is about 5 Peruvian (larger than normal) blocks from our house. I was told it would begin at 9pm but didn't start until 10pm and we didn't get done until around 11:30pm. I learned my lesson about showing up on time for practices. Anyways, as I was walking home I got about a half block from my house and I notice a kid sitting crouched near a doorway with his head in his hands and it was raining quite steadily at this point. I asked if I could help in anyway and he just motioned with his hands that he was hungry. I quickly went home grabbed some money, picked him up off the ground and we went to the Chifa restaurant (Peruvian Chinese food) near our house (that I'm beginning to think is a 24 hour joint). Jair is his name and for about 45 minutes Jair ate and we chatted about boxing, (which he does. and thank you parents for the name), family, American football, school, etc. I learned that Jair is 16 years old and has never known his Dad. His mother lives in the jungle and visits occasionally, but he is currently living with his aunt who he has been having problems and is why he was on the street that night. He was very gracious with my Spanish and I asked him if we could meet again in the next few days to grab a bite to eat again. So we set the date for Monday night 9:00pm after our 40/40 Monday meals.

I couldn't believe it, I just felt like I had been the best gift ever. It was like God answered my prayers using basketball as a legitimate desire to pursue and for the right reasons. Yet He had something totally different in mind and something so much greater. It was beautiful. If you've taken the time to make it through this quite lengthy blog entry, please be praying for Jair and our time together.

Kai, helping out at San Pablo. It was a wet and muddy trip there but Kai will take any opportunity to ride in a "Byclecycle" as he calls it. This last week we helped out at Andrew and Daniel's church with a outreach film. And anytime dads' not in the front seat Kai is. It was a great opportunity to help initiate some community involvement in the San Pablo area of Iquitos. Each of our pairs are helping local pastors with outreach and discipleship in differnt churches around the area.

Friday, July 17, 2009

First Short Term Project!

The volunteers for the first of a series of short term projects arrive today in Areqipa. They will be working on the construction of the training facility and church in Arequipa as well as doing activities and events to help start the church planting in Arequipa. The team in Arequipa has been working hard to plan and prepare for this project and we are excited to hear about all that God will do down there in the next two weeks.
Please join us in prayer over the next two weeks for the long term volunteers, the short term volunteers, the safety of everyone and for God to move in the hearts of the people in Arequipa!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Part 1: Monday Night Study at the Smith's

1 Peter: Lessons in Discipleship
Part 1: Seguridad (Security)

Intro:
Every Monday night we have the 4o/4o’s over for dinner with the purpose of living out together Acts 3:42, here are the notes from our study. We want to be intentional about accomplishing these four things 1. Devoting ourselves to the apostles teaching 2. Fellowship 3. Breaking of bread (eating together and partaking in the Lords supper) and 4. Prayer. Our group of 4o/4o’s are very strong individuals, from dealing with the climate, cultural changes, language difficulty for some, church culture differences and life together we are surprised by their determination at every corner. Everyday is incredibly busy with 6:oo devotionals, school from 8:oo to 1:oo, work three days a week with a local church or hospital in the afternoons for the 4o/4o’s, homework, and church 4 nights a week. The agenda and opportunities to spiritually be stretched are deliberately difficult now to prepare them for a non-stop ride we are all about to experience in a little over 4 months. Because our group is constantly being required to prepare and receive information for classes, we want to make Monday’s a fun time of discussion and practical study in the apostles teachings.

With our goal being to create the foundations of indigenous churches, we really want to distance ourselves from what we have to offer to a church plant in Peru and rather leave that to the people here to shape how it looks. Our role isn’t to bring the American culture to Peru but rather to bring Christ and inspire others to lead these indigenous churches. Thus we have decided that Monday’s we will study 1 Peter, because as I studied it I was struck by it’s perfect outline of how we should begin our discipleship process. I have included our bible study outline for you to follow if you’d like. I have also created an illustration that I hope will help our group to remember this book and the outline for discipleship evangelism. Our goal is to raise up leaders and right now, this is the most important thing we can learn while preparing for our jobs in Puerto Maldonado.
I first read through 1 Peter, God’s grace is what stuck out to me but then as I read it in light of our current situation in Iquitos and my current opportunities with Jair and Pool (whom you will hear about in blog posts to come) that I was struck by it’s perfect description of our walk of faith and outline for discipleship. There are five distinct chapter that perfectly follow the path we should look to follow as we disciple a new believer, with the end in mind of preparing them to become Christ like servants.
Our legacy here needs not be in buildings, intentions, but rather in people. Disciples firm in their faith, prepared to live Holy lives, prepared to submit and suffer and serve for Christ. My hope is that this model will help us all to remember the stages that believers follow as you disciple and raising up leaders.

Illustration:
1. Vs. 1:3 - 12 Security
2. Vs. 1:13 - 2:10 Sobriety (Holy living)
3. Vs. 2:11 – 3:12 Submission
4. Vs. 3:13 – 4:19 Suffering
5. Vs. 5:1 – 14 Service

The video illustration outlines the book and first two verses of 1 Peter and is a result of contemplating the 4o/4o’s current living situation. Rats, bats, bugs, leaky roofs, frogs and cucarachas.

video

Explanation: Peter starts with here at our basic level of need. Love. Peter is saying that God loved us before he even knew us. I think that says a lot. We typically love people after we get to know their character and who they are. God is saying I love you and I can't wait to get to know you. We all have a desire to be known and a desire to know our creator. And this is what I told Jair the first night we met. That God loved me even when I was junk and I love him even though I don’t really know him. But just as God wants a relationship with us, I can’t wait to get to know him. Getting to know him is inconsequential to me loving him. The same is with Christ dying for people that are currently filled with sin. It's incredible and we need to begin with love and a desire to get to know those that we disciple.

Application:We then read through the following verses and assigned one work descriptions of these verses. For each of the verses this is what they came up with in reference to Security (our shield) in our faith.

1. 1-2: Love: explained Jesus dying for sinners. 2. 3: Mercy: giving us new birth in Jesus through his resurrection 3. 4: Inheritance: imperishable, forever with Him 4. 5: Protection: by God’s power through faith 5. 6-8: Praise: Rejoice: In the salvation we have received in faith

Conclusion: We need to begin our discipleship with love and then follow up with the basic foundational understandings of who, what, when, where, why and how of Christ’s sacrifice. We need to preach that in Christ there is security from our former path of destruction and sin. And a new security, protection and inheritance in Christ that allows us to REJOICE.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

We apologize...

…for our lack of communication and posting these last few weeks. We have been so busy with school, homework and ministry that if we ever do have a little extra time we don’t have brain power left to write anything worthwhile…hence, you have only seen pictures of random things lately because I don’t have to think to post those:) Beyond school we are also doing our best to fulfill our role to support the 40/40s and figuring out all that our job entails. Below are a few posts from me and there will be more to come from Tyson as well. Oh, another obstacle…the internet…it is pretty slow and inconsistent here so I am now saving this to MS Word to post when it comes back up:) Thank you all for your prayers and for checking in to see what we are up to…we will try to keep you all more updated!

There are so many things I love about Iquitos...

…it really has quickly become home to us. I love the mototaxis, the rain, the sun, seeing full families fit on motorcycles…oh so many things. But for us, the most wonderful thing about Iquitos is the people. The people of this city are really warm and welcoming. The houses here are always open, people sitting on the sidewalks visiting and watching the passersby. The kids that live next to the church always run out to give us (mostly Kai) hugs when we arrive and the boys on our street keep their eyes out for Tyson to play soccer with. Today Kai and I walked to the corner store for a treat and visited with the lady that runs it, then on the way back a neighbor invited us in to visit for a while. We love the simplicity of this life here and the small town feel of this city of 700,000!

Missing...

Lately I have been really home sick. Not the “I miss driving, Starbucks and hot water” kind of homesick (although I do:)), but the loneliness kind of homesick. I feel lonely right now and I miss my friends. Of course I have missed them all along these last few months…but lately it is different. Lately I have this deep down aching desire to be around people who know me…really know me…in the deep down knowing kind of way. When someone knows your strengths and encourages you in them…but also knows your faults and weaknesses and loves you anyway. When you can be serious and silly all at the same time and go from laughing to crying and back to laughing again in 2.3 seconds. The kind of friendships that take years to develop…or maybe just one girls night sharing life stories with the movie paused:)

Don’t get me wrong. I am by no means alone here. I have my husband who I adore and am so incredibly thankful for. There is now way I could be here without him and that I know for sure. But, our friends have always been an important part of our relationship…we both have them and spend time with them outside of each other. And we have an amazing team and there are wonderful women in the church and all around me. Yes, there are language barriers, different life stages and age differences but I know these friendships will develop and I am excited for those…but right now, at this moment, I just miss my friends and that’s okay. I have to come to the realization that because I having a bit of a hard time does not mean that I am weak or failing or that I don’t want to be here. In fact, I have never not wanted to be here…only wished that I could go home to visit for an evening or that they could come here:) It just means that I miss them and I should…I have amazing friends…more than worthy of some good tears and missing:)

This last weekend when we were in Lima I was beyond blessed to have two wonderful conversations with two of my dearest friends via skype. It was just what I had needed and left feeling encouraged and refreshed by them…thank you friends:) That evening I began to think about friendships and being known and was overwhelmed by the love of my Father in Heaven. A Father that loves me and knows me deeply--deeper and better than anyone else. I thought about how I really don’t know real loneliness because I can’t remember a time I didn’t know that my Heavenly Father loves me and cares for me. How thankful I am that I have a God that knows me deep down…all the ugly and selfishness too…and loves me anyway. We all want to be known and loved in this way. I began to reflect on the people in this city we are in now, Iquitos…and the people of Puerto Maldonado that we will be serving next. How many of them have a deep down aching desire to be known by their creator that surpasses any loneliness I am feeling now? How many of them are hurting and broken and feel unlovable and have an emptiness only Christ can fill. When I reflect on these things I am reminded yet again of why we are here, why we left our family and friends (and hot water and starbucks:)), to share the life and love that only Christ can give to the wonderful people of this country!