Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Short-Term Missionaries Help Build Two New Churches

It's challenging for people to gather for worship when there isn't a place gather.  Our missionary friends, Taylor and Katie Schmidt, have felt the Lord calling them to build churches for two different villages... and so they are.

The Schmidts mobilized a group from their local parish in Wisconsin to help.  At the beginning of March, ten Cheeseheads came to our area and spent two weeks breaking ground (literally) and completing the initial stages of construction.

Here are the short-term missionaries from Wisconsin along with our family, the Schmidts and some priests.

We joined them and helped out as much as we could.

Existing structure on donated parcel of land.

The first step of the project was to demolish the existing mud structure which stood on the land donated for use.

Katelyn and some of the boys from our town tearing down a wall.

As we smashed the pick ax into the cement-like mud walls we were able to reverse engineer the whole structure.  We figured out what makes these dwellings so strong and durable. (This is an example of homeschooling at its finest!)
Karen and Michael hard at work.

We discovered that there were very few, if any, nails used during the original construction.  All the walls were made with tree trunks and bamboo shoots which had been connected with vines.  Atop the bamboo shoot lattices was a composition of mud and shredded reeds.

Jack helped these men break apart the wall and then push it down.

Everyone stopped working to enjoy the honey in the wall of the structure.

At one point, I swung the pick ax into a corner and instantly a swarm of bees appeared.  Although I was startled, I was more startled at everyone's reaction.  The locals yelped with excitement.  They all put down their tools and gather around for a sweet treat.  During our break, Taylor shared the daily readings and stressed the importance of always making time for Jesus.  It was beautiful!

This was what we were able to accomplish the first day.
Everything takes so much longer without modern machinery - like a bulldozer.

Katelyn digging the hole for the corner stone.

After the initial demolition and site preparation, the hard work of digging holes for the foundation began.

Anna and Karen just starting hole #11.

It was grueling as the ground was mostly sticky, heavy clay. Thank you Jesus for the opportunity to work hard for You!!
This is a hole ready for cement.
These supports are what will hold up the whole building.

The group built the support platforms and columns.  We helped raise them into place, which was really exciting!

It was fascinating to participate in third-world construction with third-world tools and techniques.

Two Peruvians using their water tube level to determine where
the next pieces need to go.
The most interesting thing was learning how they use a water tube level. The Peruvian men filled a long tube with water and then placed their thumbs atop each end.  They put the tube in one corner of the structure and adjusted it until the top of the water was where the next structural piece needed to be.  After marking it, they stretched the water tube level to the other three corners and used the water level to mark where those next pieces should go.  One of the short-term missionaries checked the accuracy of their calculations with his laser level (just because he was curious) and found that they were within 1/8 of an inch.  My guess is that they could have been more precise, but it seems they don't value precision much around here.

The Schmidt family with the Bishop of Cordoba, Spain.

Toward the end of the short-term mission trip, the bishop of Cordoba, Spain (who overseas this region of Peru) came to visit with some fellow priests.  They visited each of the construction sites to thank the workers and encourage the locals.

The people were thrilled to have such honored guests in their communities.

Our family with the bishop of Cordoba, Spain.
(He's in the white shirt and the big cross)

During our training we were taught to always be ready for unexpected visitors.  We never imagined that would be a bishop from Spain.  After working all day at the construction site we returned home, covered in mud and totally exhausted from working under the hot, hot sun.  A few of us got showers and were snuggling in for a little siesta.  Katelyn never made it past the rocking chair in our front room; she passed out from shear exhaustion.  Still sweaty and covered in mud, I was sorting our dirty laundry when the phone rang. Our local priests informed us that they would be at our house in five minutes with the bishop and some of his fellow priests.  It was an extremely productive five minutes to say the very least.  

We feel so blessed for the opportunity to work alongside this group these last two weeks.  We look forward to continuing with these two projects until the roofs are raised with songs of praise to Our Lord and Savior!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Katelyn's New Ministry

School has started and with school comes homework.  English is a particularly difficult subject for most of the kids here and there aren't many people around to help.... That is, until English speaking missionaries move into town.

Several days ago there was a knock at our door.  When we opened it up a teenage girl timidly asked (in Spanish of course) if we could help her with her English homework. We agreed and invited her in.  Upon glancing at the assignment we realized it was all in Spanish, which seemed a bit more challenging.  We said a prayer and continued on.  It took a while to figure it all out, but we did and she was thrilled.

The next day, there was a knock at the door.  Two different girls stood timidly hoping for help with their English homework.  We agreed and invited them in.  Later that day another girl stopped by. Since then, Katelyn has assumed the teaching role and graciously helps everyone that comes.  It's amazing how well she's able to communicate, translate and provide the necessary assistance.

That you Jesus for this unexpected ministry!!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Man's Dying Wish

Two days ago we were asked to visit a man who is dying.  Our friends hoped that we would pray with him and bring him the comfort and love of Our Lord during these last days.

While visiting, we learned that only a short while ago this man was healthy and active.  After suffering injuries from a moto accident his health quickly deteriorated.  His ankle was broken in five places, but without the money to have it fixed it remains inoperable and extremely painful.  He suspects damage to his internal organs because since the accident he hasn't been able to eat.  Every time he tries, he vomits.  Many other problems have arisen as well causing rapid weight lose, debilitating fatigue and pain.

This man accepted his fate and sat quietly in a small room waiting for death to come; however, there was one wish lingering in his heart: If only he could get to his hometown to die alongside his family members.

As we prayed with him, we gently hung a Miraculous Medal around his neck and placed a rosary in his hands.  He wept quietly and asked that we pray the Hail Mary.  Together we petitioned Mama Mary, that she would accompany him in this last phase of his journey back to Our Lord.  It was beautiful.

Very early the following morning we packed up his belongings and took him to the bus stop.

As we were waiting for the bus I was able to say in my broken Spanish, "Someday, I hope to see you in Heaven."  Peaceful tears fell from our eyes as we embraced.

Unable to walk, this man couldn't travel alone.  So, a friend and neighbor offered to accompany him to his home town which is 9 hours away.

We bid this beautiful man farewell as his friend carried him onto the bus.

As I waved good-bye, I quietly thanked Jesus for every one of you which have made it possible for us to be here in Peru.

I feel so honored to be able to serve His people each day.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Your Kids WILL Get Sick

During our training, our instructor at Family Missions Company said,

"Repeat after me, 'My kids will get sick.' "  We reluctantly repeated, "My kids will get sick."

He continued, "Repeat after me, 'I probably won't know what to do, but need to trust the Lord in all things.' "  We obeyed and repeated the difficult words.

Our 3 months of training prepared us well for missions; so well that we weren't shocked or alarmed when Michael broke out in a horrible rash all around his mouth.  The bumps were pussy and spread quickly.  We prayed - Please Lord, fill our hearts with peace and complete trust in You.  

We're happy to report that we've gotten antibiotics and he's on his way to healing.  Please pray for him during this time of recovery.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Back to School Shopping

The Holy Spirit kept tugging at our hearts, telling us to visit a family that we met for the first time a few weeks ago.

Today, we went to visit.  We expected to buy them some food, read today's gospel and pray altogether since this is what we were able to do last time we went to their home.

Praise God, this visit was different. With improved language skills we could engage in a more meaningful conversation. We learned that the dad works at the rice mill, which is physically demanding. He is often unable to work because of the rain - none of the rice mills operate when it's raining because "the machines just don't work when it's raining."  During the rainy seasons, rice workers often struggle financially.  This family was especially concerned because school is starting next week and they couldn't afford uniforms and supplies for their kids.  (Here in Peru the school year goes from March to December.)  We walked with them to the store and bought them all that they needed to start the school year with a smile.

We had no idea why the Holy Spirit was nudging us to visit this family, but now we do.  We're so glad we listened.  These kids' were super happy to get new uniforms, shoes, socks, underwear, paper, pencils, etc.  By the looks on their faces, it seems that this may have been their first Back to School Shopping Spree.

A great big thanks to all those making it possible to brighten one person's day at a time here in Peru!!