Monday, November 16, 2015

Updates and Prayer Requests

It's hard to believe, but October 2nd marked 3 years of living in Peru for our family. God has done so much in the time that we've been here. He has blessed our family with a beautiful baby girl who was born here and knows this as the only home she's ever had. We've been blessed to care for and be a part of so many precious children's lives; close to 100 kids have came through this orphanage in the past three years. Some have stayed only a week or two, and others have been here their whole lives, and some, 10 actually, have been adopted! 

We've seen God's faithfulness like never before as He's provided for needs day after day, and month after month, often in such awesome and unexpected ways that remind us it's All Him. We have a Father who loves us cares for our every need! He never fails us.

We've met and got to know so many new friends and families here in Pacasmayo and surrounding areas, that have welcomed us and helped us feel at home here. 

We know that these three years couldn't have happened without our brothers and sisters out there who support us, both financially and prayerfully.  Coming here we had enough to get us by 2 years max, and we simply trusted that if the Lord wanted us here longer, he would provide, And he has been, and continues to, through people with generous hearts. We feel blessed to still be here :) 

Here's a bit of the latest happenings at Casa de Paz and in Pacasmayo, and a few prayer requests:

Pray for the children's health and well being. 
Protecting and caring for kids, that's what Casa de Paz is here for, and we want our kids well! Thankfully the majority of our kids are strong and healthy with energy to spare, but there have been a few not so well lately.  One of our Casa kids was recently diagnosed with hepatitis A. He was put on treatment and doing well, but it is contagious and has already spread to one of the other kids.  2 others are epileptic and need to be closely watched for seizures. We also have 2 cases of chicken pox, so far..lets pray it stops there. And to top it all off we still have head lice going around.. fun! Those critters are nearly impossible to get rid, especially with so many kids living closely together. 
Three girls (sisters) have joined the Casa de Paz family. The oldest (14) was pregnant as a result of abuse from within their home. We didn't know about the pregnancy until she had a painful miscarriage shortly after arriving here. We later learned that this was not her first pregnancy. There have been a lot of tears and some late nights praying with this young girl as she tries to cope with the pain. Thankfully brighter days are ahead and healing is happening. Pray for peace for these sisters and continued healing, physically and spiritually. 

Esteban, who has worked at Casa de Paz for many years, has been unable to work for some time now due to cancer. We recently heard the sad news that one of his little daughters has also been  diagnosed with cancer. Esteban's wife and son have been working Estaban's shift at Casa de Paz to maintain an income for the family. It's hard to watch this happen to one of the the most godly, humble families we know, but we believe that God has a purpose for everything that happens, the good and the bad, and we believe in the power of the name of Jesus in who we ask all things. There is power in prayer, especially where many unite together, so join with us in praying healing for this beautiful family! 

After an amazing trip to Israel and only a few short weeks back at Casa de Paz, Avis is back in the states again. We were glad to be able to celebrate her 71st birthday before she left. The Casa de Paz and church family together threw a surprise party for Avis. Hers was the biggest carrot cake I have ever made! Pray for renewed strength for Avis this year, and peace as she follows where the Lord is leading her next. 

Jake has been a pastor for some time now, but, now it has been made official! He is now an ordained pastor, and I guess that makes me a pastor's wife! Pray for Jake as he leads this church that has been entrusted to us. Pray that this church family continues to grow, not only in number but in unity and in love, in strength and in boldness to proclaim the gospel, in compassion and mercy to help our neighbor and those in need, in the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit and in heavenly wisdom and understanding as we seek to know Christ more and walk in a deeper relationship with Him.

Avis doing the ordination
Pray for me as I lead our weekly women's bible study. This leading thing is still a bit out of my comfort zone. I think I will always be more comfortable serving behind the scenes. But, if there's one thing I've learned it's that being out of comfort zone is the perfect place to be to grow and be conformed more into the likeness of Christ as I learn to rely on Him completely. I am in positions now that I never thought I'd be in and doing things I never thought I could do, but as long as I trust in God, his promises prove true: His grace is sufficient in my weakness! And I know that I in myself can do nothing, but Christ in me can - to Him be the glory!

An old photo from one of my first times with the women
Pray for these women, that they would hold on to hope and continue to grow in faith, being a light to those around them and that their husbands and families would come to know the Lord too. 

Pray for our other missionary families. Tammy, who is in the U.S right now until January visiting family and doing events to raise funds for Casa de Paz.
And John and Eva and their 3 kids who have lived here with us for 4 months now and have been such a blessing to our family and so awesome to work alongside with. 
And for our staff and house moms, who work here not only for an income but because they love these kids. 
We had three young volunteers this year who have cared for these kids with the love of Christ. These women served with all they had while they were here, but now they have returned to the states to start the next chapter of their lives. We miss them and pray for more volunteers like these! 

We are heading into hot summer weather here, but this summer might be different. There has been a lot of talk about El Niño, a season of climate change that causes heavy rains in areas that normally don't get rain. It's expected to hit this area in December.  A little bit of rain is good, but too much and it could cause a lot of damage to the mud brick homes, and mudslides and flooding. Pray for people to be prepared as best they can, and let's hope it won't be as severe as predicted. We trust that God is in control and will help us through anything that comes our way. Most of the schools in this area are putting in extra hours on Saturday's to finish the school year a month earlier than usual so that kids won't have to go to school during the El Niño season. 

Thank you to all who are keeping us in prayer. God bless you!


Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

Friday, September 11, 2015

Peace like a river in my soul.

John 20:21  Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."

When Jesus said this to His disciples, I wonder what kind of image popped into their mind. Did they think of the fundraising they would have to do before they could afford to "go", did they think of the shots they would need, or the medication they would need to take in case they got sick, maybe they took out a travelers insurance policy. Did they make a list of items to take along; sunscreen, four pairs of clothes with extra socks and underwear, toothbrush, earphones, deodorant, hand sanitizer..... I'm sounding sarcastic I know, but really, I think they likely did go through preparation process, although I think what they thought of as the most important thing to take may not match what we would think of as very important. For example, have you ever had one of those travelers pillows, you know the ones that wrap around your neck, I used to think 'what could be so great about that' but I tell ya I am sold, I don't think I'll even get on a bus with out one lol, all of a sudden what used to not even cross my mind now is one of the first things I think about when I think "trip". Any way lets get to the point....

Avis and her brother Fred, when they first came to Peru spent a fair bit of time in Iquitos, on the amazon river, doing medical campaigns, showing movies, and preaching, church planting really. I had the great privilege of going on a mission trip with an awesome group of people to Iquitos. Layla is a great woman of God who Avis worked with back about 13 years ago, she is still at it, with 7 churches under her care. 
I had the awesome privilege of preaching in the same church Avis preached in back than, only instead of  a wooden shack rocking back and forth on logs floating on water, it is now a concrete building firm and sturdy, what is amazing is that the church members themselves funded the building, and this may not seem so unusual to you but in a country trust is rare and money is rarer, for people to stand together in unity to fight for a better building in which to worship God without the help of an outsider is amazing. 
An amazing missionary house was supplied for us in Iquitos where we had some amazing cooks feeding us some of the best food I've ever had. The first day we had a little tour of the town, which included a small boat ride, I had to chuckle when the preacher who was acting as guide a small boat with its owner, another boat owner runs up and says, "you can't take them on that boat, the gringos are scared, you need a bigger boat that wont tip so easy" of course he was the one with the bigger boat, I assured him that this gringo didn't mind taking a smaller boat for less money. 

The next morning however we boarded a boat that was a little bigger, well, longer at least, it may have been only about 5 or 6 feet wide but it was at least 70 feet long or more. we started up river being told "o its just two hours or so, not far...) of course 2 hours later we were still going, 4 hours still going, finally 8 hours later we arrived just before dark at our destination. 

That night there was not enough beds so we kindly let the lady's have the beds while us men slept on the floor boards, with mosquito nets draped over us to keep the dinosaur size mosquitoes off of us(I was thankful for my neck pillow) 
we found out the next day we had had the better end of the deal, all the ladies wok up with lots of tiny new friends, with spots all over their bodies to prove it. We had an amazing day that day, with one pharmacist, three nurses and a dentist we gave medical attention to over two hundred people. That night we all took turn preaching, we had like a mini preaching conference right there in a small amazon village. 

We decided that nigh that floor boards and bed bugs are temping but we would rather set sail down river back to Iquitos. I have to say, to lay flat on your back in the middle of the amazon, in the middle of the night, I don't care what your sleeping on, there is nothing more awesome, the sky so packed full of stares it takes your breath away. 

The next day was basically the same thing, when we arrived and asked about the size of the town, we found it to be about a third of the size of the last town, being a little on the tired side I thought, good, this will go quick, we started our process of diagnosing and handing out medication, and the time actually did go by pretty quick but I found out we had served almost the same number of people here as we had at the last town, people from miles around had heard about us and made the journey to be seen, and to receive some medication. Another great night of worship and preaching, we set sail once again into the night towards Iquitos. 

We wrapped up our trip with a night of worship in the main church with all the leaders of all the churches, I felt undeserving of standing up to speak to such an amazing crowd of God fearing leaders, but God gave me grace. 
I desire this for people from our small little church here in Pacasmayo, Anyone who has ever gone on a mission trip knows how it can change you, I pray that God opens doors for our church to step out into the unknown and grow. There are many obstacles that the enemy likes to put in the way, but with God all is possible. Please pray for us as we all worship one God, to bring Him glory and honor. In Jesus name amen.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Decade of Marriage to Celebrate

Ten years of marriage. It doesn't feel like that long ago, but at the same time I can hardly remember what my life with Jake before being married was like.

Our wedding day August 20, 2005

10 years is a milestone, and we wanted to do something a little extra special to celebrate this year. We have had this idea for a long time, since before we ever knew we'd be living in Peru at this time; hence our wedding clothes being one of the few things we did not sell or give away when we moved to Peru. We're grateful to Jake's parents for the extra luggage they hauled with them here to get our wedding clothes to us when they came to visit this past July.
We thought, if the dress (and suit) still fits, why not put it on again? So the plan was to get dressed up in our wedding clothes for a fun photo shoot, and later have cake with our Casa de Paz family. I guess we should have known it would turn into much more than that, especially knowing how much Peruvians love to party. And when they party, they like to go all out. Well when the Casa de Paz staff heard about our simple idea to have "cake with the kids", it quickly turned into a full blown, fully decorated surprise party, with dinner and dancing, and even wine (not real wine). We even had some surprise guests. Everything turned out beautifully.  We got to celebrate our special day with so many of the family and friends God has blessed us with here, and the best part was that God used it to His glory. Jake and I have the great privilege of being an example of a godly marriage to the people of Peru. Our marriage isn't perfect, but it is strong and cannot be shaken, because of the firm foundation it is built upon, which is Jesus Christ. We both knew when we made our vows 10 years ago, we not only made them to one another, but more importantly we made a vow before our heavenly Father. And that is something to be taken seriously. But sadly this is something that the world does not take very seriously at all. Divorce rates are only going up, and nowadays almost as much among Christians as non believers. In Peru marriage is hardly existent. We have seen more separated and broken families here than ever before. Broken families is the reason for most of our Casa kids being in this orphanage. It seems to be the norm here for 5 siblings to have 3 different fathers. Jake and I were shocked when we got asked once by a stranger in town if our three children all belonged to both of us. We sure never thought we'd have to answer that question!
We realized soon after moving here that our marriage would play a big and important part of God's mission for us here. I look at all our girls and the young women they are becoming, and wonder what they will do with their lives when they move on from this orphanage. Will they go out and find their worth in a man who values them only for their body, get pregnant and when he leaves wait for the next man, or will they know that their true worth is in God alone, and wait for a godly man who loves her as Christ loves the church? And our young men. What will they become? Will they run and go their own way when things get tough, or will they stand up and be real men, working hard and doing whatever it takes to provide and care for their families. Our prayer is to break the vicious cycle by raising men and women of God who value marriage as God created it to be. Men who go to church with their wives, men who can lead the church. Men who love their wives as Christ loves the church. And women of God who support and work alongside their husbands, respecting and submitting to their husbands as the church submits to Christ. It is not as hard for a man to love and give up his life for his wife when his wife is respectful and submissive to him, and likewise it is not as hard for a wife to respect and submit to her husband when he is loving her as he loves himself.  It is when both do their part that it works out in beautiful harmony. God knew what he was doing when he gave us our roles. Of course, as humans, we still fail each other daily, and should never expect the other to love us perfectly.  Only God can do that. And only with God at the center can we even begin to love one another at all.

Our anniversary dinner turned out to be a great opportunity to speak about how important marriage is in God's eyes. So important that it represents Christ and his bride, the church.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Ephesians 5:22-33

"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:18-19

Our first photo shoot location was about a 20 minute drive to a small town called Puemape. The black rocks contrasting our white clothes made for some stunning photos. I'd say climbing up those rock mountains in high heels was well worth it. :)

Next, we drove back to Pacasmayo and walked all over town (still in my heels) stopping to take pictures in front of antique doors and buildings or whatever we thought might make a great picture, like this cool stone wall pictured above.  We must have been quite the sight. Some drivers by would stop their cars to watch, or take our picture... one lady asked if we were making a movie. Jake mentioned that rumors were probably being started that pastor Jake just got married, but we were sure to explain to anyone that asked, that this was an anniversary celebration and not our wedding.  We did kind of feel like newlyweds all over again though. :)

After the town photo shoot, we headed back to Casa de Paz to pick up our kids for family pictures at the beach.  We are grateful to Tammy and Avis' family for watching the kids for the first part of our photo shoot.

For the signs I used picture frames that I already had, construction paper and a sharpie! I got the idea from something similar I saw on pinterest awhile ago. Gotta love Pinterest!

Just thought I should mention that I made all the signs, except for the "IT" one; that one was all Jake, his idea of having a little fun. ;) One of the many reasons why I love this man, he makes me laugh <3

John and Eva had the important job of capturing the moments of this special day, and they did an awesome job as our photographers! Between Eva on our Canon and John on the iPhone, we got some pretty professional looking photos.

The Casa de Paz staff made us a beautiful scrapbook filled with photos of the kids.                


Chicken, potatoes and rice for dinner. Yummy!

Our lovely girls all dolled up.

Our volunteers, Sarah & Courtney. These ladies are to thank for my hair and makeup, which held up through a whole day of wind, sun, and dancing. I would say they're pros.

Hector was quite awestruck by my dress. lol


Girls love to get dressed up, and they all looked absolutely beautiful!


Theses boys clean up nice!
It was so great to have Avis and Fred and family with us.

Lots of dancing. So much fun!

And last but not least, CAKE.  We all know that Tammy makes the most amazing cakes, but she really outdid herself with this one. I mean look at it, it was almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.
It tasted as good as it looked. :) Also, the white roses on the cake are real. All the flowers were real. One of my my favorite things about Peru - flowers are cheap here! 6 soles, that's what I paid for my bouquet. That's about 2 dollars. I can't get over it.

What a full day! We were exhausted by the end of it, while some of our peruvian friends were just getting warmed up. I think Jake and I were one of the first to leave the party. But it was mostly because we were excited about our last surprise of the day. Yes, I know we got way too spoiled that day, but hey we can't help that people love us and want to do nice things for us, right? ;)
Our last gift of the day was from our wonderful neighbors John & Eva, who booked us a night away at La Estacion Hotel where we got to fall asleep to the sound of the ocean. Now we felt like we were  on a second honeymoon.

Altogether it was a very eventful, memorable day. It may seem like an awful lot for an anniversary, but keep in mind that it is hard to keep it simple in a culture who's motto is basically Go Big or Go Home.  I'm thankful for the family God has given us here who took the time to put all this together for us.

I pray that they all saw that the beautiful dress and flowers and decorations and dancing was not the most beautiful thing about the day, but rather the love covenant of oneness that is between Jake & I, and God, the real reason to celebrate.  I pray that our marriage would continue to be used as a shining example to the kids at Casa de Paz, and all those around us.  For His Glory.