Thursday, December 22, 2011


Tuesday night prayer services continue to amaze me, bring me joy and remind me of God’s faithfulness.  This week, on a cold and rainy Tuesday night we had five adults, one teen and six kids in the church!  Wow, I am often overwhelmed with God’s faithfulness!

Bur really, I want to tell you about the prayer service we had last Tuesday.  Again, Franci and I waited for the clock to read 6pm before starting our service.  And there we were, the two of us, the clock reading past 6, and nobody else had arrived yet.  We started the service, just the two of us like we’ve done many times.  But this week was different.  We sang, we read the Bible, we prayed, just the two of us.  And still, nobody arrived.  We prayed again, asking God to bring people, so they could hear the Word and pray with their neighbors, their brothers and sisters of the faith we have in Christ.  Finally, two little girls arrived.  We are not even discipling their mother but these two girls, Juliana and Nicol are faithful to come every time we are in the church, Sunday’s, Tuesday’s and Saturday’s.  We read the Bible again, this time with the girls.  As we were reading, Petronila and Felipe arrived.  We started over reading the Bible passage so they could hear the entire passage.  And, in the middle of reading the passage this time, Florentina and her grandson Brando came in.  We again stopped reading the passage, got everyone settled on the wooden benches, and started reading from the top again. 

So there we were, Franci and myself, Petronila, Felipe, Juliana, Nicol, Florentina and Brando.  Franci gave a short reflection on the passage we had read and then we asked for prayer requests.  Florentina spoke up, she asked for prayer for her husband, Fortunato, who we have never met.  She said he is regularly drunk and she wants him to change.  Then, her grandson, Brando, about 10 years old spoke up as well.  He asked for prayer for his dad who is also frequently drunk.  He went on and described how difficult it is for him, his mother and his older sister when his father comes home drunk.  He talked about how he yells at them and explained that his older sister, Aremi, tries to go to bed before their dad gets home so that she doesn’t have to deal with his drunkenness.  But, her going to bed early, only frustrates the drunk ‘father’ even more and he yells at her telling her she doesn’t want to be part of the family and she should just go away.  My heart broke for Brando and Aremi.

This isn’t the first time my heart has broken for this family.  I’ve known since we met this family in June that his father was a drunk and we’ve been praying for him.  That day in June when Franci and I went to their house with Carmen, the entire family was crying, hearts broken, tired and weary from the drama and emotional damage of a drunk father.  In the weeks following, Brando would tell us about how he would kneel at his bed and pray when his dad came home drunk. 

So, my heart went out to Brando again in this moment, this poor child.  But not only did my heart go out to him, Petronila was crying.  Petronila knows what its like to have an alcoholic husband and son.  She knows what her grandson Elvis has gone through having an alcoholic father pass away.  She also relates to Florentina, understanding what it’s like to have an alcoholic husband, Guillermo is no longer drinking but is now three months drink-free.  We got up from the benches and formed a circle to pray for these prayer requests Florentina and Brando had so transparently shared with the group.  As we circled up, Petronila grabbed a hold of Brando with tears in her eyes and she held onto him tight, pressing him into her bosom, caressing him like a mother, shedding tears of sadness and understanding.  We prayed, Petronila holding onto Brando, and Florentina next to me tears falling from her eyes.  As we prayed, I thought about how the night started, about how Franci and I feared no one would show up.  And I thanked God for His faithfulness.  All I could say, I was so overwhelmed, was, “God you are faithful, thank you for your faithfulness.”  I repeated this prayer over and over.  I couldn’t get any other words to come out of my mouth.

God had a plan for that night.  He had a plan to unite these families in Yanamayo, He had a plan to bring them together in their pain, a plan to connect them, show them how important this church family is.  God is so incredibly faithful!


Deuteronomy 32:3-4

I will proclaim the name of the Lord.

Oh, praise the greatness of our God!

He is the Rock, his works are perfect,

and all his ways are just.

A faithful God who does no wrong,

upright and just is he.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Titicaca, Turkey and Tombs

I haven’t posted any pictures for a while so here’s a photo update from the past few weeks…..

Titicaca – In November we went to the shores of Lake Titicaca for a baptism ceremony.  Our bus did blow out a tire along the way, but we made it to the beach and 6 people were baptized in the frigid water, showing their decision to follow Christ.  Baptisms in Lake Titicaca, how amazing, these baptisms will always be some of my fondest memories.

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DSC_0154 DSC_0162 DSC_0208 DSC_0231 DSC_0258 DSC_0285 DSC_0333Turkey – Although Thanksgiving was not the day I had expected, I ended up being frustrated and crying at the cultural differences and the fact I was missing my family, my home, all things familiar.  But, overall, it was a good day with good time shared with my family here, good food, shopping for ugly Christmas sweaters, making pumpkin cheesecake and watching fuzzy internet quality good ol’ American football with the guys.  A special thanks to Amanda for all the time she spent (literally 3 days) making our Thanksgiving favorites and for taking all the pictures!

Kristen making rolls P1050753 P1050764 P1050772 P1050774 P1050775 P1050797 P1050799

Tombs – Last week the Extreme Director, Brian, came up here to Puno for a review of the past 11 months of work.  We shared stories of what God is doing in our communities, in us and through us.  It was a great time to review the work we are doing and review the goals with just over seven months left in Puno.  The next day, Brian took us out to celebrate, we went to Sillustani, ancient pre-Inca tombs north of Puno.  It was a fun day to hang out as a Puno family and see more of our beautiful surroundings.

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Monday, December 5, 2011


What to write?  What to say?  Sometimes I don’t blog because I don’t even know where to start.  Do I tell you about Thanksgiving?  About the good food but the realization of how much I miss home, my family, my culture.  Or should I explain why we lost two team members in a week?  Or I could talk about what God is teaching me about prayer through His Word.  If I don’t blog in a while, it’s not because nothing is going on here.  There’s always plenty happening and there’s always stuff I want to share with you all, but sometimes, I just don’t know how to put it all into words.  Sometimes my mind can’t process all that’s going on let alone try to describe it here. 

So, that being said, what should I share with you today?  Today, I want to talk about 32 weeks.  We have 32 weeks left in Puno.  This Thanksgiving also happened to be the year and a half marker for us North Americans.  Chad, Amanda, Trevor, Garren and I all arrived in Peru together on May 24th, 2010.  Can you believe it?  You probably can because you miss me like crazy and are counting the days until I’m home….right?!  :)  I was thinking on Thanksgiving and this past week about where I was at emotionally and spiritually last year.  Last year the day before Thanksgiving we had been in Peru for six months.  I remember thinking, “Wow, I’ve made it six months!  I’m a professional at Spanish, I’ve got this Peru thing down, I know it all, I’ve been here forever!”  And now, I’m a year and a half into this, with eight months to go, 32 weeks to be exact.  Last year, six months seemed like an eternity, it seemed like I had been in Peru for forever.  And now, I look at the future, I see those eight months on the calendar in Chad and Amanda’s apartment and I know this time is going to fly by.  Eight months is nothing in comparison to the work we have to do, or rather, the work God still has in this city, the work He wants to accomplish through us. 

So my vision for these 32 weeks…….work hard with heart and passion.  I feel like this past year and a half has been about me.  I’ve been learning and growing, becoming the girl/woman God had planned for me.  He’s been molding me and polishing me, stretching me and challenging me.  I’m not there yet, I’m still a work in progress and always will be.  But, I feel like now is the time.  God has been filling me up with His Spirit and His knowledge in the past year and a half.  He’s been preparing me for a strong finish to this race.  The truth is, I still don’t know how to do this job.  Franci and I are regularly changing strategies and ideas, we don’t know what we’re doing, there’s no pattern to follow.  I’d love to insert a spreadsheet right here and show you that my vision includes goals, deadlines, exact strategies.  I’d love to say that my vision is a mapped out plan, color coded with numbers and dates, detailed with ideas and a plan of attack.  That’s the business side of me.  I’m missing my insurance days where I had a goal and a vision to complete that goal, all mapped out on paper.  If I had to sell 20 life policies, I came up with deadlines and strategies.  I would figure out who I would call, when, what I would say.  Then, every time I sold a policy, I could add that policy to my excel spreadsheet for the month, showing me I had one more sold and x many more to go.  I loved looking at that list, seeing my accomplished work on paper.

But here, I feel chaotic and clumsy in this job.  I don’t have everything mapped out for the next 32 weeks.  I don’t have exact strategies in mind, I don’t have a spreadsheet color coded and detailed.  That’s not how this job works.  So what’s my vision?  To give more of myself and my time, to give more of what God has given me in this lifetime and especially over the past year and a half.  I need to be faithful to Him.  I need to be passionate about this job on a daily basis.  And He will bless my time, effort, passion and heart.

Paul speaks in Philippians chapter 3, he writes from jail, and he says in a nutshell that the most important thing in this life is Jesus and a personal relationship with Him, everything else is a ‘loss’, a waste in comparison.  Paul is humble, he disowns his own righteousness, he accepts his physical and spiritual suffering as gains for Christ, He so desperately wants to know Christ that he wants to know Him in everything, in His resurrection but also His death.  And then verses 12 to 14, Paul goes on to say that all he just said in verses 7-11 are goals, he’s not attained a perfect relationship with Christ yet, he’s not received Christ’s righteousness, he’s not identified completely with His death.  Paul admits to being in process still.  Seriously, Paul!  Paul was an incredible imitator of our Lord, he was an awesome evangelist, a great disciple and leader, a martyr and prisoner, and he didn’t have it all together.  Of course then, neither do I. 

God has done and incredible work in me over the past year and a half.  I am not the same girl you once knew, God has molded me, polished me, formed me, not out of the girl I was, but into the girl, into the woman He originally created me to be.  But He’s not done.  I’m not perfect.  I have not obtained all that I need to strive for on a daily basis (verses 7-11).  But, God has been working in me to be able to use me.  Oswald Chambers says on these verses, “God is not after perfecting me to be a specimen in His show-room; He is getting me to the place where He can use me.” 

Oswald also says, “I am called to live in perfect relation to God so that my life produces a longing after God in other lives.”  My vision for these next 32 weeks, less than eight months, is to use let God use me, to let Him shine through me, that He would capture the hearts of these people through me.  I realize in order for this to happen, I need to give more heart, more soul.  I need to strive, to press on.  Paul says twice, “I press on”.  This race is hard.  This past year and a half has been incredible, but its been difficult, there’s been times when I’ve wanted to go home and give up.   And there will be more of those feelings in the rest of my time here.  But I’m not here for myself.  I’m not even here directly for these people.  I’m here for Him.  I run this race for Him.  And He deserves my every ounce of effort, heart and passion.  God is renewing me and exciting me about the time I have left here.  He’s giving me His heart and His passion for this city.  I’ve been listening to Chris Tomlin’s ‘God of this City’ often lately and this is such a powerful song, its my cry out to Him for this city of Puno.  Take a listen and pray for this city with me.  Pray that God would use me, that I would have determination to finish this race as Paul had, that God would use all He’s planted in me and taught me for His Kingdom and His glory.  Pray that His vision would be a reality in this city through us (Franci, Garren, Geremias, Trevor, Sammy, Chad, Amanda, Ella and Thomas) as a team.

Philippians 3:7-14

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that i may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Saved by the Bell…..

I love spending time with our contacts, I love chatting and just getting to know them more. And one way that happens is when people invite us to stay for lunch. Lunch is the biggest and most important meal of the day here.

Well, last week Petronila invited us to stay for lunch after we finished with our lesson. It was great food, she served us acopa, which is a puree of crackes, cheese, peanuts and milk and is served with potatoes. It might sound weird, but really, its delicious! Normally, its served as a dip with potatoes. But Petronila, she loves her food and she goes big and does not go home! :) Petronila served us up what I would call acopa soup. She served us a whole bowl of this puree with potatoes sunken in the cheese, milk, cracker, peanut mixture. It was incredible, especially since I already love this dish. But, seeing as I don’t eat much dairy here and the serving size was for a family of four, after almost finishing the food she served, I felt sick to my stomach for the rest of the day.

It’s very important to eat what you are served in someone’s house. It’s a special treat to be 'invited’ to stay for lunch and the people here take it very personally if you don’t like the food they serve. So I finished my acopa soup last week, minus a bit of soup and 2-3 small potatoes at the bottom of the bowl. Normally I wouldn’t leave anything when someone serves us food, but I literally could not bear anymore. So, Petronila graciously gave my leftovers to the dog and said nothing about it. Thank the Lord!

Today, Petronila, bless her heart, had us stay for lunch again. I sat at the table as she set the bowls down one for each of us, Guillermo, Francisca, myself, Petronila and their friend Felipe who we are also discipling. I looked down at the giant bowl of food, another large serving, only to find out on the menu today was rice, onions, cow heart, cow stomach and intestine. Seriously! All in one dish!? I’ve had intestine soup before, or at least a few bites of it, and I’ve had one little bite of heart. With that, I’ve also had a little bite of tongue and lots of chuño. So I’m open to trying things, in small portions, like, one bite.

I sat at the table shaking, fidgeting, not sure what to do except for ask God for help. Finally everyone was served, which really, I was not waiting in anticipation, as far as I was concerned, Petronila could take a week to get everyone served and I’d be okay with that! But, we were served, Franci prayed and it was time to dig in. I tried cutting a piece of stomach with my spoon to make it a smaller, more manageable bite; but it would not cut. So I found a smaller piece along with the other organs that sat in my plate and I took a bit of stomach with some rice. I could barely get it down. I thought I was going to spit it out and throw up right there on the table. I chugged some water and calmed myself down.

But I couldn’t get myself to take another bite. In fact, I was ready to cry thinking about the situation. So I grabbed my phone and stepped outside. I called my brother, Trevor who didn’t answer and Garren who did. With tears in my eyes and desperation in my voice I told Garren I had a problem and didn’t know what to do. He was able to make me laugh about the problem and we decided I should pull the “diabetes card”, that I should make up some excuse including my diabetes on why I couldn’t finish the food. So I went back in, sat down at the table again, and proceeded to take another bite, this time with heart. I got it down and just as I finished washing it down with water, my phone rang. Trevor was calling me back. I stepped outside again and answered the call. I went through the whole situation again with Trevor and we chatted for a few minutes.

I went back inside yet again and as I sat down I apologized for the disruptions. After I apologized Petronila told me the food wasn’t good cold and asked if I wanted it warmed up. I told her not to go to the trouble because everyone was already done eating by this time and I asked her if I could take the food with me to eat later. (That’s a big FAT lie!). So Petronila gave me a tupperware to borrow, I slopped the nasty organs and rice into the tupperware and took the food with me. Thank the Lord I didn’t have to eat that bowl of organs! I was saved by the bell, because I spent so much time on the phone, my food got cold and obviously I couldn’t eat the cold food. hehe. So, that’s my story and lunch adventure for today! Keep reading and I’ll keep you posted on more adventures in Peru! :)


Thursday, September 29, 2011


Many may know me as a 'princess', or even as high maintenance, which can both be very true. For those of you who know that side of me, you would be so proud and impressed with my daily bathroom choices. Literally, finding a bathroom when we are out working can be difficult. I will admit to 'popping a squat' as needed. Like the one time I peed behind a soccer court only to find out some lady was up on her roof watching me, or another time I had Chad keep a lookout for me while I peed behind a car on a dark street in Ilave. Being a girl here can be difficult. There is not always a bathroom around and when there is, the condition is questionable and you have to pay. Yep, I pay S/. 0.30 - 0.50 ($0.10 -0.20) to use these public "bathrooms". Oh yeah, and the price I pay includes a few squares of toilet paper, not on a roll in the stall, but handed to you personally before you enter. So, over the last week or so I've taken some pictures of the bathrooms we frequent to share in this experience with you. Its not the same as in person, but hopefully you'll get a little idea of what daily life is like here! ;)

So here's the first and best bathroom. This is the bathroom Franci and I share. It's an all-in-one type bathroom. You see the drain on the floor? That's because our shower head is directly above it. No curtain, no separate shower, its all right there. But, I love our little bathroom. It's functional, we don't have to share it with the guys, and we have and electrical shower head for hot water. Yes, electrical shower head. Peru does not know that water and electricity don't mix. I've shocked myself a few times but now know only to adjust the water pressure with two fingers on the metal lever covered in a thin casing of plastic.
This bathroom I would probably rate second best. It wins in convenience and price as it's the bathroom in the house we rent in Yanamayo. Most of our contacts live nearby within 3-5 blocks so we can always make a quick stop at the house as needed during the day. The only problem is, we get one flush a day. The water only runs from about 5am to 7am. So by the time we get to the house, there is no running water. One of the neighbors occasionally fills up the trash can with water so we can flush the toilet with a bucket of water. But, he's quite unreliable and we've gone many weeks without water. The good thing is, when the water runs in the morning, it fills up the pipes and that's why we get one flush a day.
This is the public bathroom we use when we're in Huascar. We literally have to walk 15-20 minutes to get here and it's the closest public bathroom. Its actually decent and has running water which is a perk. You can flush the toilet and run your hands under some water in the sink. But there urinal cracks me up! Which brings me to another point....most bathrooms are unisex.
In Chucuito we've found a really cute menu (restaurant) where we eat lunch and use the bathroom. Here's the bathroom. Very typical. Concrete, no toilet seat, a bucket for a trash can, and a metal door that doesn't shut all the way. But its free with lunch!
Of course we have outhouses too! When Mom and Dad were here, we were in a combi heading to Ilave to spend the day out on the farm and Mom saw all these little blue outhouses lining the road and up into the hills. Mom expressed to Dad and I how impressed she was with the availability of rest stops on the way to Ilave. This is what I told her, "Mom, you see those houses out there?" "Yeah." she responded. "Well, these are the bathrooms for those houses." Mom was astonished and embarrassed. Out in the country, even in the outskirts of town like Chucuito and Yanamayo, people use outhouses. That is their one and only bathroom. Above you can see the 'door', a potato sack that really only covers your bottom half, in Ilave you can gaze out at the farm, sheep and crops while squatting in the outhouse over the hole in the planks of wood.
And of course, an official squatty potty. This is from the public bathroom in a market called Bellavista. It's pretty simple. Put your feet on the feet marks and squat. Toilet paper goes in the trash can like everywhere else in Peru and then you go out, grab a bucket of water and splash it on the squatty potty.

So there you go! Now you know and have seen more than you want to!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Grape Juice....

If nothing else, this time in Peru has changed me. I am not the same girl I was even three months ago, continually, God is teaching me, growing me, working in me and through me. And the opportunity to see another corner of the World, has changed my life and perspective forever. The most amazing thing to me is that God's Word is living. I know that to be true through my experiences here. Not only do I see it living and moving in hearts and lives, I see it living and moving in my heart and life. God's Word has come to life for me, with new perspectives, with my new self, God speaks to me in new ways through His Spirit and Word.
A few days ago I read Isaiah chapter 65. If I were back in the states, I might have passed over this chapter without much thought, or at the very least it would have had a different meaning for me. But right here and right now, I can take this chapter very literally, let me explain why....
Isaiah 65:1-15 - Judgement and Salvation
1 “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
2 All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations—
3 a people who continually provoke me
to my very face,
offering sacrifices in gardens
and burning incense on altars of brick;
4 who sit among the graves
and spend their nights keeping secret vigil;
who eat the flesh of pigs,
and whose pots hold broth of impure meat;
5 who say, ‘Keep away; don’t come near me,
for I am too sacred for you!’
Such people are smoke in my nostrils,
a fire that keeps burning all day.
6 “See, it stands written before me:
I will not keep silent but will pay back in full;
I will pay it back into their laps—
7 both your sins and the sins of your ancestors,”
says the LORD.
“Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains
and defied me on the hills,
I will measure into their laps
the full payment for their former deeds.”
8 This is what the LORD says:
“As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes
and people say, ‘Don’t destroy it,
there is still a blessing in it,’
so will I do in behalf of my servants;
I will not destroy them all.
9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,
and from Judah those who will possess my mountains;
my chosen people will inherit them,
and there will my servants live.
10 Sharon will become a pasture for flocks,
and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds,
for my people who seek me.
11 “But as for you who forsake the LORD
and forget my holy mountain,
who spread a table for Fortune
and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny,
12 I will destine you for the sword,
and all of you will fall in the slaughter;
for I called but you did not answer,
I spoke but you did not listen.
You did evil in my sight
and chose what displeases me.”
13 Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
“My servants will eat,
but you will go hungry;
my servants will drink,
but you will go thirsty;
my servants will rejoice,
but you will be put to shame.
14 My servants will sing
out of the joy of their hearts,
but you will cry out
from anguish of heart
and wail in brokenness of spirit.
15 You will leave your name
for my chosen ones to use in their curses;
the Sovereign LORD will put you to death,
but to his servants he will give another name.
16 Whoever invokes a blessing in the land
will do so by the one true God;
whoever takes an oath in the land
will swear by the one true God.
For the past troubles will be forgotten
and hidden from my eyes.

I read these verses and I think about Puno, I think about the friends and contacts we have made, the people with whom we disciple on a regular basis. Take verses 1 and 2, God has come to Puno, He has brought us, a team of nine adults to spread His Word, love, compassion, mercy and joy in a city that has ignored Him, a city that has not cried out for His help but instead focuses on partying, drinking, women and worshiping idols. God out of His compassion, brought us here to this city. It was not because there was a great number of people searching for His face, God showed up here in Puno and said, "Here I am, Here I am".

And despite God's presence, the people of Puno continue to provoke God to His face. People here literally burn incense, worship idols, are involved in witchcraft, participate in sacrificial ceremonies and more. And I'm not just talking about Puno in general, I'm talking about people we know, people who allow us to come into their house and talk about the Bible. Let me give you a few examples.......

Isabel lives in Huascar, we have been meeting with her for a few months and she has been fairly consistently faithful in receiving us and The Word. She's very interested in the Bible, the history and the reasons we believe why we do. While my parents were here in June, Isabel gave my mother witch blessed cocaine seed and quinoa seeds to take back home (which she obviously did not do). Isabel told us that Mom should put a candle in the seeds and light the candle on Tuesday's and Thursday's and she would be blessed with riches. Despite trying to teach her directly from the Word over a period of weeks, she still truly, from the bottom of her heart, believes in this witchcraft and believes its okay.

Another example, Ines. Ines lives in Yanamayo where she runs a little tienda and knits for extra money. I love Ines, she is incredibly sweet and I love her hugs and warmth. She told me at one point that she does not have faith in any religion that will not allow her to worship her idols. She prays to virgins and saints, she has a saint in a glass case in her tienda to which she prays and lights candles. Her idol worship is a form of security to her and has expressed the difficulty of letting go of this known practice close to her heart and life.

Serafina, she also lives in Yanamayo. She is very generous and has opened up to Franci and I tremendously. At the very beginning she was shy and unwilling to share with us. But now, we can hardly get her to be quiet! The last time we visited her, we sat on her bed chatting, catching up, talking about life, struggles, and the family. During this visit, she talked about her father and his illness. Very openly, she told us that they were going to bring in a witch doctor to try and heal her sick father. Then the next week, we went to visit her and her father opened the door and told us Serafina was busy and would not be able to meet with us. We can only assume that at that very moment, they were with the witch doctor as her father does not live with her but came into town specifically for this occasion.

And, Lola. Lola is a tiny old woman who climbs the hill to Alto Huascar where she lives. That's how we originally met her, as she was slowly but steadily climbing up the steep hill to her house. We ran into her on the street the other day and she was carrying a rabbit in a bag. We chatted and she explained her grandson is sick, she was taking the rabbit up to her house where they would hover the rabbit above the boy's body. The theory is that the rabbit would die after hovering it above the sick body, then they will cut the animal open and decide which organ cause the death. Whatever organ failed the rabbit, is the problem with the child, then they will treat the child's illness according to the dead rabbit.

These are just a few examples of idol worship, witchcraft and other practices that rightfully so, provoke our Lord. It's the next few verses that worry me. God is faithful to those who love Him, He is compassionate and merciful, but He punishes those who defy Him. Verses 6 and 7 are very clear. God will pay pay for utter defiance, God does not have mercy on those with whom He's tried to reach and yet they continue to pursue their own imaginations. Literally, people here continue to climb the mountains, burn incense, sacrifice animals and blatantly defy our Lord.

So first, God reveals Himself to a people who have yet to realize their need for Him, to a people who believe in other God's, to a people who pursue their own will and way of life and see nothing wrong with that. God holds His hand out to them, He stretches His arm to touch them and retrieve them from the muck. But, the people decide they don't want to follow Him but would rather continue in their own ways of defiance to Him, they tell Him to "Stay Away". God has no problem punishing those who reject Him, He will even punish their children and their children's children for their blatant defiance and rejection.

But in verses 8-10, God reminds us of His faithfulness and His redemption. When there is hope of a true servant, He will not destroy, He will not punish, but He will instead bless those who seek Him. I have hope, I have hope there is juice left in some of these grapes, in some of these women, Isabel, Ines, Serafina, Lola, and more. I have hope that they will not be punished and destroyed, but that God would take the little juice, the little they have, and use that to turn them into wine, use that to turn them into true servants of Him. But they must call on His name, they must seek Him and be willing to change their beliefs and ways. Pray for these women and countless others. Pray that these chains of idol worship and witchcraft would be broken in the city of Puno.

These beliefs and actions are literally part of the culture and way of life in Puno. In Yanamayo they had to move the police station from one building to another. So they painted the new building and have fixed it up to look professional. But not only have they painted and fixed up crumbling walls, they also put in a 'capilla', in English it translates to a 'chapel'. It's not a chapel like we would think of, but a small building encasing a virgin or saint 'doll' for prayer and worship. This is a governmental building, the police station, with a religious capilla. It got me thinking and now every police station I go by, I look to see if there is a capilla and sure enough, every single police station has a capilla. So do the markets, random street corners, the top of many hills and other places as well. These beliefs run deep, not only Catholic beliefs, but ancient Inca beliefs and witchcraft, these actions are taught and part of life here. But, that doesn't mean they grieve the Holy Spirit less, that doesn't mean God will decide its okay. Verses 11-12 reiterate the seriousness of the situation, reiterate the fact that God will not tolerate this defiance, God will not tolerate being ignored after He compassionately tries to reach out. The consequences will be death, hunger, thirst, shame, anguish and brokenness.

It's depressing and scary but true. The good part is, the blessings. For God's true servants, those who leave behind all kinds of evil and instead of pursing their own imaginations, pursue His Will and path. For those, He promises mercy, life, food, drink, joy, a new life, a new land and forgiveness.

Reading this part of Isaiah does make me realize the seriousness of this situation, the seriousness of being in Puno, a city of idol worship and witchcraft. My prayer is that there would be juice left in these people, in these grapes. I pray that through Franci and I, through Garren and Geremias, through Trevor, Sixto and Nelson, and through Chad and Amanda, God would turn these drops of juice into faithful servants, servants who will be blessed by our Lord instead of provoking people who are sentenced to judgement and death. Pray with me. Help me in prayer for these lives, these souls and their future, pray that they would be drops of juice turned into true and faithful servants, blessed and accepted by our Lord.

Isaiah 65:22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.

Monday, August 22, 2011


I'm back in Puno. Back to the familiar sounds of pigs squealing, trash trucks playing music, sheep baaing and Spanish words flowing. I'm also back to the familiar sights of Lake Titicaca, women carrying children on their backs, chickens freshly slaughtered and beer caps on the street.
Coming back was difficult, I'm not going to lie. Not difficult in that I cried and was sad, I really wasn't. But I was leaving vacation to go back to work. Who wants to get back to work after being on vacation? Nobody! I was all over Denver seeing friends and family, enjoying good food, good conversation and good company. From Downtown to Breckenridge, Park Meadows to Thornton, I was all over the place and had a blast.
I left home Friday morning (August 12th) and headed to DIA with my Dad. Denver to Dallas, Dallas to Miami, Miami to Lima, Lima to Juliaca. Phew! I made it to Juliaca, Peru about 4pm on Saturday afternoon. I hopped on a bus with all 130 pounds of luggage and we started the hour trek to other home. As the bus drove through Juliaca, I remembered how much I love this place, I remembered how I love seeing the women dressed in traditional clothing and how I missed the kids playing in the street. I saw two little boys rolling a tire down the road, I saw people sitting outside conversing together, I watched men and women selling fruit on the street as we passed by on the bus. Right as I was praying and thanking God for bringing me back to this place and giving me His heart for this place, looking out the window, I caught another sight of Puno, a man facing the bus, relieving himself. Oh Puno! Thanks for the warm welcome home!
But, in all seriousness, I love Puno and I love the people here. I love the relationships Francisca and I have built in Yanamayo and Huascar, I love the family I live with. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. To live and work in a beautiful corner of this world, to be immersed in another language and another culture. It's difficult and frustrating. But I wouldn't change anything. I love Puno.
No matter how much I love Puno, Colorado will always be my real home and it was great to go home for vacation and spend time with friends and family. Sixteen days, one carrot cake, lots of tacos, many hours chatting and tons of hugs. Here are some highlights and photos from my trip home to Colorado. Thanks to EVERYone for making this a special time!
Family Time!
My Little Sissy Got Engaged!
Colorado Sunsets!
Delicious Food!
Girls Night Out....Progressive Dinner Style!
Time With Friends and Family!
Heritage Square Alpine Slide with Jessica!
Downtown Denver & TWO Rockies Games! (Thanks to my D!)
Fishing, Hiking and Hanging out in Breck with my D!
(Thanks to Jeff & Shirley for lending us their condo!)