Wednesday, November 24, 2010

8 Weeks

This past week my ReachGlobal “Boss” or, church-planting coach, came to visit Meredith and me in Tarma. It had been a year since he had been here and it was fun to show him all that we have accomplished in 2010. We spent time talking about the future and what we as a team would like to see happen in the next 5 years or so. We talked about my transition as I finish up this season of ministry and head home to start a completely different season of life.
Today marks the start of my final 8 weeks in Peru. People have asked me if the time has gone quickly, and the answer always seems to be yes and no. Each day of transition into a new culture, of learning how to live on my own, doing ministry in different and sometimes frustrating ways made the time seem like it was crawling by. Being away from my family, my friends and Jason has been difficult as well. Yet now that I’m standing here a mere 8 weeks from home, I do wonder how the two years I committed to ReachGlobal has gone. My church-planting coach asked me a series of questions a while ago to help me process through the upcoming change and transition. He asked me:

Where do I want to go before I leave Peru?
Who do I want to spend personal time with?
What is the mark I want to leave on Tarma?
What can I do to help my team before I leave them?

These were valid questions that I have spent several weeks thinking through. The places I want to go are generally restaurants so that I can eat the typical food of Peru that isn’t widely found at home. The people I want to spend time with is a small group since I still do not have personal friends apart from my team and my tutor, Diana. I do anticipate that the hardest goodbyes will be with Stephen Hawking High School and my 60 students for whom I have come to care deeply.
When I think about leaving a “mark” on Tarma, my mind really draws a blank. How can one person really “mark” a community in just a year? What would that look like and how would it be accomplished. To be perfectly honest, I’m not all that concerned with leaving my mark on this place. What I want most of all is to have done all I possibly could to help this team and this ministry advance and grow. I want to come back three or four years from now and see that what I helped start has developed into a consistent, solid and God honoring ministry that is changing the lives of the people of Tarma. Could that be called a “mark”? I suppose. It is really the only mark I am interested in leaving.
As far as helping my team, I have discovered a few practical ways that I can spend these last weeks as I phase out of ministry responsibilities and start packing up my things. The house that Elsa and Meredith and I rent is a three-bedroom, without any closets. When we moved in we realized that we would need some place to store our suitcases, boxes and ministry materials. So we decided that in addition to our apartment, we would rent one room from the apartment next door that would serve as our storeroom. Obviously once I leave Tarma, there will be no need to rent the extra room since there will be one in our own apartment – so one of the things that I want to help my team with is to move out of my room and help move all of our ministry supplies and extra stuff into an organized space in the soon to be spare bedroom. It seems like a silly way to spend my last days in Tarma, but I thrive on organization, and I know that this is something that I can leave my team and my roommates with - something practical.
So there you have it, the grand plan for the final weeks of my life and ministry in Peru.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stop! Oh wait, oh please Mr. Postman!

Well this is your official notice – To those of you who have taken it upon yourselves to encourage me with boxes of goodies and letters sent to our P.O. Box here in Tarma, I thank you from the deepest part of my heart. Getting mail is always fun, especially when you’re far away from home and when it’s not junk mail. But due to the few weeks that I have left in Peru, the Christmas season being upon us, and the general slowness of the Peruvian post, I would like to ask that no more letters/ boxes be sent to me while I’m in Peru because - - - I may not get them! Last year my Grandmother sent me a box the last week of November, and I didn’t get it until my birthday in mid-January. So unless you are okay with just my team receiving your goodies, I thank you for your generosity and love these past two years, and inform you that there is no need to send anything more :)

Monday, November 15, 2010


When I think of the word ‘satisfied’ I think about the many ways we use it. I am a satisfied customer. I am satisfied with the work. Or in Spanish, estoy satisfecha, to describe that I’m full and don’t want any more food. When I think of this past week of ministry with the Faith E-Free team from Wisconsin, I think of the adjectives happy, pleased, content . . . satisfied. The adjective ‘tired’ comes to mind too, but mainly I am satisfied.
It was an interesting change to go from working with youth teams to working with a team of adults, but I will confess that overall I enjoyed the adult team more. Maybe that is because any ministry we would do with an adult team fits better into where we are as a missionary team at this point in the Tarma ministry than a team of youth. The 6 days of ministry included cooking classes, basketball seminars, workshops on Administration and Finance, English classes, visitations, a painting project and workday as well as a final event. Our goal was to use this team of professionals to reach out to the professionals of Tarma, and in some ways, announce our presence. In the process of all our activities we got to know 3 English teachers from a public all-boys school in town that we had not had the opportunity to meet before. As a result, Meredith and I will be doing our Christmas Bible studies with them in English. We also met and have begun to coordinate with two social workers that work for the city who are dedicated to the graduating seniors of poor and broken families, to teach them values, finances, good decision-making skills and the belief that they can rise above their situation and circumstance. Because of the team and these events we are now able to coordinate with these social workers to give values classes and teach on the love and forgiveness of Christ in the schools of Tarma.
As the week went on I was able to spend time with and get to know individuals on the team and I was encouraged by their willingness to help and serve where we needed them to serve. They were very gracious with me as I learned how to lead in this context, and they were patient with me as I made mistakes. We worked hard together and by our final event we had made several new contacts and reinforced some old ones. It will be interesting to see how many new Bible studies will be started as a result of this team.
As I enter into my final two months of ministry and life in Tarma I hope that “satisfied” will be an adjective that I can use often. We haven’t seen an overwhelming amount of fruit yet in the ministry, and I’m almost certain that I will leave Peru and not know the full impact of my presence and time in Tarma until years later, yet I hope and pray that regardless of visible fruit, I will leave this country, this job and this season of life, satisfied.

Friday, November 5, 2010

When life hands you a new job description . . .

. . . can you still make lemonade? I'd like to think so because a nice tall, cold glass of lemonade would accompany well the hustle and bustle of preparing for a short-term team.

Back when we were preparing for our last team in July, Meredith told me to pay attention as she was planning on putting me in charge of preparing for, organizing, and heading up this team from Wisconsin. I paid attention, but didn’t really know what I was getting into until I started the work of preparing. List after list after list left my brain overly scattered and my calm shaken as I worried and stressed over forgetting important details like food, shelter, ministry. Okay, those were not things I really worried over, but let me breakdown for you the detail that goes into covering all the bases to host a ministry team:

- Coordinate transportation from airport in Lima to hotel.
- Coordinate hotel stay for one night in Lima
- Coordinate transportation from hotel to the bus terminal in Lima.
- Coordinate purchasing bus tickets for trip to Tarma.
- Coordinate hotel stay in Tarma.
- Coordinate three meals a day during stay in Tarma.
- Coordinate enough ministry activities to full a week spent in Tarma.
- Create and print a million flyers, invitations and brochures to advertise said ministry.
- Check to make sure you didn’t forget to invite someone who will get their feelings hurt by being forgotten.
- Double and triple check that you didn’t forget to invite someone who will get their feelings hurt by being forgotten.
- Run through every possible scenario to try to have all bases covered such as: power outage, thunderstorms, obnoxious drunks outside the door, uninvited guests trying to crash your event, etc.
- Coordinate snacks for ministry events
- Buy enough water to keep team hydrated during week spent in Tarma.
- Try to anticipate and provide for any medical needs or emergencies.
- Coordinate translators to be present at each and every event.
- Remember to write thank you notes to all contacts that helped out or allowed us to use their buildings, restaurants, spaces.
- Have a “follow-up-plan” ready to put into action the moment the team leaves.
- Coordinate purchasing bus tickets for trip to Lima.
- Coordinate transportation from bus terminal to airport in Lima.

I think that covers most of the bases, although at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if I did forget to schedule lunch one day, but thankfully I’ve got my team helping me out, and Meredith at the ready to remind me of something I’ve forgotten.

Despite the more stressful preparations on my end, I’m really looking forward to this team because this is one of the first weeks of ministry we will have dedicated solely to adults. We have invited over 300 people to attend workshops on administration in the workplace, developing your work team, finance, time-management, ESL, cooking classes and basketball clinics for coaches and P.E. teachers. We have invited school staffs and administrations, professionals and businessmen and women in Tarma, along with a few of our more faithful contacts. Our hope is to use this team to basically advertise the presence of our team and what we do, and hopefully spark some interest among adults and professionals to start a bible study in their homes and/or businesses.

Please be praying that the Spirit would move in people’s lives and hearts through the presence of the Faith E-Free team from WI, and that we would have new contacts join and commit themselves to the ministry. For me, this is my last flung effort to help the ADIEL Tarma team attract adult participation before I wrap up here and head home. We are teetering between faithful perseverance and discouragement about our lack of adult commitment and the standstill of our ministry. Pray that God would do miraculous things this week. Thanks.