To all of our friends who have opened your hearts to join with ours in extending the hospitality of God to our neighbors in Peru…we are in Pucallpa!
Many streams flow into this transition – streams of prayer, sacrifice, obedience, relationship, learning, work, commitment, giving, hospitality, surrender, and love. Your contribution to and through the streams flowing into our new home have been significant. Thank you!
Simply arriving here is neither the goal nor the destination – it is a time and place for the streams to gather that they might overflow. Our prayer is that we might establish a home from which all of these streams can overflow together into other lives, families, and communities!
We thank God for safe travel to Pucallpa by land and air. For Mark, Caleb, Andrew (Mark’s brother), and our friend and driver, Juan Pablo, the two day journey through the Andes mountains in our truck was beautiful yet unnerving. After a first day of scenic and smooth travel, we encountered heavy rains on the second day of travel. In several spots, and one area in particular, we encountered very dangerous conditions. [The picture was the result of a landslide closing one lane from a week before we traveled, with one fatality]. As we traveled the second day, rocks and even a couple huge boulders were beginning to fall off the mountainsides, with a few coming down not too long before we passed them. There were powerful waterfalls and streams of water running off the mountains and across parts of the road. Thankfully, we were able to pass safely yet awestruck before our Creator in witnessing the majesty and power evident in the mountains, rivers, and waterfalls that we encountered.
It was very special to re-unite when Kristin, Steve (Mark’s dad), Jacob and Rachel arrived by air a few hours after the group arrived by land. The children were very excited to finally be at our house in Misión TEC – too excited to sleep their first night. When Mark went into the boys’ room to encourage them to get some sleep, Caleb responded, “Dad, it is kind of hard to sleep when we’re just so excited about our first night as missionaries!”
Over the next couple of weeks, we experienced a very intense and focused time of setting up our home. From furnishings to electrical, carpentry, painting, and plumbing projects, we had long but very productive days. Our Kids Alive team and Mark’s dad and brother were very helpful. After returning from their trip, Mark’s dad confirmed the fruitfulness of our family’s first few weeks in the following comments he shared with the church: “They are establishing their home. They are not visitors. That is now their home. We were able to help them build their home…the kingdom of God is our home, and it does not matter where we are. Our call is to be at home in the kingdom of God and not visitors.”
With Mark’s dad and brother, we visited the Shipibo church in Nueva Era, the community where Victoria’s Fund started seven years ago. At the conclusion of the service, Mark was able to join other leaders of the church in praying over a young man serving in the church who was being sent out to share the good news about Jesus’ kingdom with a more remote tribe. Following church, we visited the new community of Victoria Gracia. More and more Shipibo families are moving into this village from the deeper jungle. We had a special gathering with them under the shade of a tree where the village church of only a few people currently meets. Not everyone moving into this village follows Jesus, so it remains a special opportunity to share His love and the story of His victory by His grace with these families. They shared how they have plans to include the name “Victoria” in their church. It was a real privilege to introduce to the community Victoria’s grandfather and uncle for the first time.
While we will nurture our friendship and partnership with these Shipibo communities, God has led us to join with a Peruvian pastor friend, Cesar Soto and his wife Isabel, in serving their congregation, Torre Fuerte, in Yarinacocha (outside of Pucallpa). Mark preached our second Sunday there and is scheduled for the next one as well. Pastor Cesar also ministers in several remote tribal communities in more remote areas of the Amazon. We hope to come alongside him and encourage the connection of his work in the church with his outreach to some of the remotest parts of the earth.
Our full-time service and setting for daily life, ministry, hospitality, and learning is Misión TEC, a Kids Alive Care Center in San José (outside of Pucallpa). Our entry into this team has been joyful and very encouraging. Kids Alive is focused on rescuing children at risk, and San José is an impoverished area where there are children with no running water, who struggle with education, and face life with a variety of physical, relational, and emotional challenges without a strong foundation at home in the way of living in the kingdom of God. In our early weeks here, we have been struck, even overwhelmed, by the significance and breadth of the ministry that Kids Alive has established in the lives of several hundred children in our community. Children are on campus throughout the week during a series of Christ-centered programs that strengthen them in multiple areas of life. In addition, Kids Alive seeks to reach out to impact families and communities through the relationships that are established with the children. Our orientation to this ministry has begun, and we will continue to shoulder more responsibility as time goes on and the Lord directs our steps in tandem with the team around us. Our first responsibility began this week with the arrival of several college interns from Azusa Pacific College in Southern California. These college students will serve at Misión TEC for seven weeks, and we will be very involved in supporting them during their experience, both in serving them and serving alongside them. The team at Misión TEC consists of several missionary families and national staff workers. It is a team from the nations in South America, Europe, and North America, serving the nations here in Peru!
Our children have settled in very well to life in this new setting. This includes a new
school, Colegio Cristiano Peruano Americano, a Peruvian Christian School. The kids are pictured here on their first day of school.
In addition, Caleb and Jacob are thrilled to be part of a local soccer academy led by a Christian who was a former professional player in Peru. We celebrated Caleb’s 10th birthday (first with Popop and Uncle Andrew present and later with a joint-party with his friend Elijah, who also
turned 10). Caleb’s birthday completed a year of each birthday celebration in our family in a different city (Rachel – Union Mills, NC; Jacob – St. Petersburg, Fl; Mark – Lima, Peru; Kristin – Arequipa, Peru; Caleb – Pucallpa, Peru)! As the pictures illustrate, we continue to thank God for how our children have taken this plunge!
We have also been enjoying the delicious food and adjusting to the creatures and the climate of the jungle. During one gathering, we actually saw these iguanas fight – a new sight even for our long-time missionary friends!
We appreciate your ongoing prayers and support! Daily life is full of challenges, opportunities, joys, and moments of exhaustion. Thank you for being with us here in our new home, that we might overflow together by God’s grace to our neighbors from your neighborhood to ours!
Mark, Kristin, Caleb, Jacob, and Rachel