Thursday, December 18, 2014

Three-Month Newsletter #4

As the end of the year approaches, some of you may be thinking of year-end giving. Additionally I am looking to enlist a few more monthly donors in the coming year to make up for those who have dropped off over the past three years. If you would be interested in a one-time or continuing donation as a way to join the ministry here in Puerto Supe, check out "Support Chele" for instructions on how to give by mail or online, or simply go to and click "Donate Now". 

US Tax deductible receipts are provided for South America Mission.
For those wanting tax-deductible receipts from Canada, check the "Support Chele" tab.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seeds of Hope III

The first of December began our third sewing bootcamp with Sylvia Rempel, from Sewing Seeds International (SSI). We had a dozen ladies for eight days of advanced-intermediate class. Most of them had attended either the first or second year and all were already familiar with the basics of sewing.
Seeds of Hope, our sewing school, was started in 2011 through SSI, and has continued over the last two years giving classes three evenings a week on everything from sewing basics to pattern making through a local teacher. It is incredible to see the things our ladies are making after just a year or two of classes. Though initially we had wanted to give classes for free, we were unable to find support from the government to make that possible, and the ladies pay S/.33 a month.
Over the past two years, SSI has sent a group of teachers for a week-long intensive course. Additionally, any teams interested and equipped to teach, like the team from Wheaton Bible Church this year, are welcome to participate.
I usually help with translating for the classes, but this year I also got to sew. I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed the projects, and the 9-hour days flew by. Thanks for constant help and guidance by the two ladies below, my products turned out half decent.
Last year some of the ladies received loans to purchase machines, and some have started working with the teacher, who makes uniforms for schools and companies. Others are sewing for their families, and are beginning to sell products to their extended families and neighbors. 
 In addition to economic fruits, spiritual fruits have also come through the sewing program. The teacher was baptized this July, and her pre-teen daughter has recently expressed interest in studying the Bible. Two other women have been studying with Grace or I over the last year, one of whom has begin to attend church, decided to marry her daughter's father, and is growing in her faith and convictions. Each week Grace leads the women in short devotionals, and even those who do not consider themselves Christians, or who are decidedly culturally Catholic, listen respectfully and sometimes participate. 
Grace, Cesar, and the people from SSI have put a lot of work and time into building this program and keeping it running. Few things have gone according to plan, and the program we have today is not remotely what was imagined three years ago, but God's hand and provision has been evident all along the way.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Paseo to the Lima Zoo

This Friday I was fortunate to go with one of my fifth grade classes on their field trip to the Lima Zoo: "Parque de las Leyendas." We left Puerto at 4:30am and arrived around nine at the park. For only S/.10, or $3.50, we spent six hours just scratching the surface of this mammoth park.

The park is divided into regions representing the geographic regions of Peru. Each section stars animals and landscapes from its region, spaced between actual pre-Incan ruins. I was very impressed with the park- its cleanliness, beauty, and abundant bathroom facilities fully equipped with paper and soap (not something to be scoffed at).

In the mountains we encountered llamas, a pumas, condors, and many other typical animals nestled among waterfalls and eucalyptus trees. My fifth grade friends expertly identified replicas of Chavin and other ancient ruins hidden among the foliage. 
[Click photo to enlarge]

Through the gateway to the jungle everything changed. Tall trees walled us in, and even the ground itself had been replaced with the red clay soil typical of the jungle. Monkeys, bears, wild cats, and a variety of tropical birds dazzled us with their exotic markings and shapes.
A noon we sat on the grass and watched hundreds of other school students in their uniforms fill the expansive meadow. The mothers in our group opened the large bags they had been doggedly hauling around the park all morning and dished out heaping plates of arroz con pollo, tallarin saltado, escabeche de pollo, papa rellena, and fried yuca, chicken, or potatoes. Lunch cannot be skipped or skimped in Peru, so these mothers had risen at 3am to cook. Between us there was feast enough to feed any parent or kid who came unprepared or had to buy hamburgers in lieu of real food, i.e. rice.
We lazed about for almost two hours playing Uno and enjoying the spring weather until whatever it was we were waiting for happened, and we moved on to see animals from other countries: peacocks, hippos, zebras, and the like.
The final and smallest section was that of the coast. As coastal dwellers we live in a desert where cities or farms have replaced most natural habitats. Sea lions and penguins took center stage and entertained us with underwater acrobatics.

At dusk we headed to the fountain park before heading home and completing our 21-hour odessy.
For anyone passing through Lima I would definitely suggest a trip to the Zoo. I especially enjoyed sharing the wonder and enthusiasm of a bunch of ten-year-olds on my first visit there.
Some things are just better with kids.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Three-Month Newsletter #3

It's newsletter time again! As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at If you get blog post updates emailed to you, please remember that I do not receive any emails sent as a "reply" to the update.

 Here's a recap of the last three months:

Monday, June 9, 2014

Three-Month Newsletter #2

Here's a recap of the last three months:

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Week In Ayacucho and Huanta

Last Friday morning I awoke 10 hours into a bus ride from Lima. I groggily wiped a patch of window free of condensation to peer into the pre-dawn gloom. "The ground is a strange color," I thought, "and what a strange texture. What could that be?" Then it hit me: the ground was covered in green grass! 
 Things became clearer and clearer as we sped through a valley that resembled a mix between the Garden of Eden and a fairytale wood. As we rounded a curve I was met with the awesome view of the sun rising over the folds of painted mountains. What a view after many months in the desert!
When I arrived in town, I joined up with a team of six as they spent time in Ayacucho and Huanta to make connections, learn culture, and build bridges, as two of them, Rick and Donna Martin, plan on coming to the region to plant a church.

Aycucho is the place where the Shining Path, a maoist gurilla movement, had it's birth in the 1980s. From Ayacucho violence and unrest spread across Peru causing death, destruction, and migrations of rural peoples to find refuge in cities. The Peruvian military began to fight back not only against the militants, but against anyone who helped them or anyone suspected of helping them. Many villages were decimated and women and children murdered by both sides. The violence has  left it's mark on the people of this beautiful region.
 After a couple days learning and networking in Ayacucho, we left for Huanta, a picturesque town about an hour away. We met up with Pastor Nicolas Ticona, his wife Stacie, and his two sons. We were shown around the school he works with, Johannes Gutenberg, a private school that serves the poorest children in the community. We also met with Pastor Nico's church and I helped translate for the team during a few of the church meetings and member home visits. 

 After a few days in Huanta, we traveled back to Ayacucho to do some more networking, and prepare for departure. After the team left, I stayed with a missionary couple I had met with the team for a couple of days. 
Walter and Mary Lynne Wood have lived in Ayacucho for over 15 years, working to start ISOM schools for pastors and church leaders in remote Quechua-speaking communities. Because travel to the city for extended periods is impossible for most rural pastors, the video-based, low-cost training offered as a part of the Quechua Bible Institute is ideal. 

The pastors of these rural communities become administrators and discussion leaders of the IBQ programs after attending condensed training sessions. It is amazing to see the multiplication of Bible Training programs across remote villages. Many of the students are only semi-literate at the beginning of the program, but finish to earn their certificate, often the first certificate of any kind in their lives. They are currently putting the finishing touches on a Quechua translation of What Every Pastor Ought to Know by Adrian Rogers.

It was incredibly encouraging to talk to the Woods, to hear their stories of God's provision and fruit. It would be hard to find a more hospitable couple, and their love for their city was infectious. I feel privileged to have visited these beautiful mountains, met so many incredible missionaries this week, and seen the work that God is doing through them. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spring Break Peru Round Two

This past week we hosted a group of 21 students from the University of Virginia's Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship.

We enjoyed a week split between morning presentation of Christ-centered skits, dances, and testimonies, and afternoon construction work. It was incredible to see the amount accomplished in physically building our church, in renewing and deepening connections with the local schools, and bringing the Gospel again to my English students.

Here are a few photos to give you a glimpse of all that went down:
 Fishers of men
 The ever-esteemed "gum skit"
 The day Debbie burned the skin off her feet dancing her heart out on hot concrete
Celebrating Drew's birthday the Peruvian way. . .in front of 500 high school students. . .

In addition to outreach, we also had good times of celebration with the church during Sunday service and an evening dance party, with our team seeing the local sights, the teens at a bonfire, and digging deep into the word every evening. 

 Some friends shared local dances with us
And the team shared Swing Dance, The Wop, The Wobble, and The Cupid Shuffle.
You're welcome, Peru.

Even illness couldn't stop us 
In addition, we also had a variety of construction activities this week:

Task: tiling the kids bathroom and kitchen counter.

Task: finishing bago boards and building the kitchen counter.

Task: bending rebar into squares and wiring them onto roof supports to reinforce columns. 

 Washcloth swag and periodic dance breaks mandatory. 


Task: Paint kids classroom, sanctuary, and outside of church building. Paint two murals inside church.

What an incredible week. What an incredible group. What an incredible God we serve.
Thanks Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship at UVA for lending us your most quality students! Thank you for being part of another testimony to the unity of Christ's global body.

Well done, Sir.