Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Blind See

Matthew 9:27-30

27 As Jesus went on his way two blind men followed him shouting, 'Take pity on us, son of David.' 28 And when Jesus reached the house the blind men came up to him and he said to them, 'Do you believe I can do this?' They said, 'Lord, we do.' 29 Then he touched their eyes saying, 'According to your faith, let it be done to you.' 30 And their sight returned.

The Bible is full of miraculous events.  Some people think miracles don't happen anymore, but we have witnessed miracles that left us speechless; things that were indisputably the work of God. Other times His intervention has been less obvious, but none the less extraordinary. Recently, we had the privilege of experiencing a miracle that Jesus worked right here in San Hilarion.

There is a woman in our town whose heart beats for Jesus. She loves being at church and desires to attend every gathering there. Over the last 5 months, we have only seen her around town when she has been accompanied by her grand-daughters. She grasps their arms much the same way a blind person clings to his/her leader. She would walk carefully, feeling the ground with her feet. She swayed her arm in front of her to feel for approaching objects like a pew.

One day, I sat down next to her in church to chat. She squinted at me and smiled when she recognized my voice. "Oh hermanita" she began to say, "desearia poder verte." (Oh, little sister, I wish I could see you.) As I talked with her I noticed that her glasses were REALLY old and incredible scratched. It looked like the lens has been scrubbed on a rough cement sidewalk.

I asked her if she would like new glasses. She perked up and began talking too quickly for me to understand. I could only gather that she would LOVE new glasses, but she could never afford to buy them. Plus, it would require a trip into the big city, which she also couldn't afford.

Thanks be to God and the generous donations of our benefactors, we were able to buy her new glasses.

Although this may not seem like a miracle, I believe it is. According to the dictionary, a miracle is "a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency."

The probability of us arriving here in San Hilarion at exactly the time that this woman needed new glasses is minute. We could have been sent anywhere in the world. Jesus, who is the divine agency the dictionary refers to, placed us here for her. He wanted us to bring her His love and compassion. He wanted her to feel His love through us...through you.

When our friend put on her new glasses she giggled, talked really quickly in an excited voice and then started to cry.  She explained that she thought she was going blind.  She thought she would never see again.  She turned to me and looked at me with wide eyes and said, "Oh hermanita, eres hermosa!" (Oh, little sister, you are beautiful!)  My tears joined hers as we embraced.

Now, our friend comes to church every morning by herself to join us for morning prayer. She goes to the market by herself and enjoys going for walks around town.  I feel especially joyful when I see her chatting with someone she has seen along the way.  She radiates a new joy.... the joy of Christ Himself.  She was blind, but now can see.  She received the gift of sight from Jesus Himself.

Jesus works miracles everyday; they may not always look like those in the Bible, but they are every bit as real. We pray for openness, that we may all be more aware of His presence and give Him the glory for all the miracles He works...  All the blessings He bestows upon us every day!!!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Mandatory Fun Time

"Make time for fun and relaxation!!!"
Those were our strict marching orders as we left Louisiana for our first mission assignment in Peru.  

"You WILL get burned out if you don't take time for yourselves!"
we were told very clearly.

As hard as it is sometimes, we've tried our best to obey.

Here are some photos of two different day trips we took recently.

Outing #1: 3 Hour Van Ride Through the Mountains to a Port City
We drove through the mountains for a couple hours to reach a port city
which lies on a large river which meets up with the Amazon.
This was our first big outing in Burrito Gris (our van).
She struggled a bit, but managed to make it with God's help.
We stopped along the way to give everyone,
including Burrito Gris, a much needed break.
When we arrived in town we headed for the Central Plaza.
It didn't take us long to find the more interesting parts of town.
Here is the waterfront where the locals bring their wares in and out of town for sale.

Outing #2: Hike Through the Jungle to a Waterfall
We hiked for over an hour to get to the swimming hole
beneath a beautiful waterfall in the jungle.
Jack and Michael had a lot of fun
exploring the jungle.

When we arrived at the waterfall we swam in the refreshing natural pool.
Here's a picture of our crew having lunch by the waterfall: Father Leo,the Schmidt family,
Andy, Russ and Miguel (our single guys), Jack and Michael.
These outings are exactly what we needed to be refreshed and ready to go "make disciples of all nations."

Thursday, June 9, 2016

We Bought a Van

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 
18 give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

This is an example of a camioneta.
When we jumped into the bed of a camioneta we (silently) rejoiced and praised God for the opportunity to ride alongside the poor.  We enjoyed the wind whipping through our hair and toughed it out when the rain came in full force. We enjoyed sharing the funny experience of flailing about with the locals as the truck zipped this way and that.  Entertaining though it was, relying soley on public transportation made it difficult to do the ministry that we came to Peru to do.

This isn't the exact one we were
considering, but it is similar.
We prayed without ceasing. Morning, noon and night we asked the Lord to lead us to the right vehicle; the vehicle that would keep us safe and fulfill His mission through us.  Days and weeks passed, but no vehicles presented themselves to us in an obvious way.  Tired of waiting for the Lord to reveal His plan, we began the logical process of assessing our options analytically - pros and cons.  Our mental checklist included such factors as safety, cost, fuel type, accessibility of replacement parts, ability to transport additional people and many others.  Our analysis resulted in a sound decision: the best option for the Carmody family was a moto-carga with bench seating behind the driver.  We made arrangements to purchase the motocarga a couple days later and felt relieved that the decision making process was over.  We felt relieved, but not content.  Something wasn't quite right.  

The following day a man drove by our house in an old camioneta.  He stopped and chatted for quite some time. Only by the grace of God we understood each other perfectly and talked for over 20 minutes. Finally, I asked where I could buy an old camioneta like his.  He began giving me directions, but I interrupted and asked if we could just buy his.  He shrugged and agreed.  Before he left he went to his truck and returned with a bag of freshly baked bread.  He said he brought it to go with our dinner.  I smiled and told him Chris was planning to make soup.  "I know", he said.  The twinkle in this man's eyes made him seem angelic.

We didn't end up buying the man's camioneta, but our interactions with him led us right to the van that we feel was a gift from God.  It's PERFECT for the Carmody family!!!
Our new van meets all the criteria:
it's safe, it was cheap ($1250), it's a diesel with easy to find
replacement parts and it's designed to seat 16 people.

We're pleased 
to present 
"Burrito Gris" 
which means 
"Little Gray Donkey" 
in Spanish  

Burrito Gris is the perfect missionary vehicle for SO many reasons.  
It keeps us really humble.  
The salesman told us to lift up the front seat and check the water in the radiator before we drive it - every time.  
After we got it home there was a problem with it starting.  So, we had to push start it every time for over a week.  When we couldn't get it started on our own, we had to get others to help push.  We were quite a spectacle, as you can probably imagine! 

Burrito Gris allows us to enjoy each other's company completely because there is nothing to bicker about.  Without a radio, there is no need to agree on a station or song.  Without air vents, we don't need to discuss heating/cooling preferences. We just enjoy the air flowing in through the holes in the floor.
Burrito Gris can hold LOTS of people.  On our first outing we fit 29 people into our cute little gray donkey.  With only 75 horsepower, she struggled a bit to make it up the steep, mountainous roads, but with God's help she did it!!
Burrito Gris all "Jacked Up"... by Jack... how fun!!

We've already discovered that replacement parts are easy to find, praise God.

Jack and Michael's favorite part is the ladder on the back.  It provides easy access to the roof rack, which the kids have discovered is a fun place to ride when we're on the backroads heading out to the pueblos for ministry.

We give thanks to God for providing us with the perfect missionary vehicle, despite our impatience and lack of faith.  He is SO good!!!
We made a little video saying "Thanks" for supporting Team Carmody and providing us with the funds to buy our Little Gray Donkey.  Here is the link:  

Van Thank You Video

If you can't watch the video, please accept our humble "Thanks!!" and know that we couldn't do this without you.

Lots of love, Karen

PS - If you're wondering why we chose the name "The Little Gray Donkey", this is why... It occurred to us that a little gray donkey carried Jesus when He was inside Mary's tummy.  A little gray donkey also carried Jesus into Jerusalem near the end of His life.  We desire to bring people Jesus and figured there's no better way than with the help of a Little Gray Donkey.

A Delightful Misunderstanding

After a bit of confusing conversation with a group of women and their kids we surmised that one of the women needed to go to her parents' house.  Just to clarify, we asked in our best Spanish, "Do you need to go to your parent's house?"

"Yes, next Thursday" replied the woman.  She explained where her parents live and asked if we could drive her there.  Although we weren't familiar with the specific pueblo, we know the area and felt confident our van could get us there.  

"Yes, of course" we replied without a real understanding of what this woman needed.  Unsure of what our "yes" meant, we handed it over to the Holy Spirit and picked a meeting spot.

This morning we arrived at the designated location only to find a different woman there with her five kids.  We know the woman who was waiting because we've helped her several times with food, school uniforms and other necessities.  "Where is the other woman?" we thought, "Why is this woman here with her kids?"  

Are you confused yet?  We were for sure!!

We smiled, rolled down the windows of the van and said "Good morning."   The woman opened the van door and piled in with her kids.  We laughed and asked, "So, where are we going?"  She explained that she needed to go to work in a chacra (farm) and guided us through the turns and up steep, rocky hills.  As we rounded the last corner, we saw the woman that originally asked us for a ride.  "What is going on?" we wondered.

As it turns out, all of them are related (four generations).  As a way of saying "Thank you" for us helping the woman with the 5 kids, her mom and grandparents wanted to have us over for lunch. They wanted to just spend the afternoon together.... who would have guessed???  

Following are some pictures from our unexpected lunch gathering...

When we first arrived the great-grandpa showed us a jungle cat that he had killed the night before.  They eat the meat and then he sells the pelt in the city.  Usually, he gets "large" ones, but he won't pass up the babies.  When we asked what "large" 'meant he put his hand up above his waist.

Shortly after we arrived, the great-grandma caught a couple chickens that were running around the yard.  The grandma and mom killed the chickens and then cleaned them in the canal.  

When we first arrived it was startling to see lunch in such a raw state, but now it seems perfectly normal.

As the women were preparing lunch the kids swam in the canal... yes, the same canal that they just dumped the chicken guts in....

Our totally confusing attempt at being helpful ended up being a delightful misunderstanding.  We had wonderful conversation, laughed all morning and had the chance to get to know them all better.

Wednesday Night Ministry in Full Swing

It has taken a while to get into a groove, 
but we've finally settled into a nice routine.

Every Wednesday we bump along a pitted dirt road through the rice fields to Moropon, which is a small pueblo about 25 minutes from San Hilarion.

Usually, we arrive in the early afternoon. Yesterday we arrived a bit later because we waited for the rainstorm to pass.  We're learning to operate like the Peruvians who stop everything when the rain starts.

Upon arriving, the kids jumped out of the van and ran for the field where they began playing Frisbee in the ankle-deep mud.  We just received Frisbees in the mail from friends in the United States.  Our Frisbee premiere was a huge success; the local kids LOVED it!!

As the kids play, the adults in the community prepare dinner altogether.   This has become a delightful time for everyone.  We all appreciate the opportunity to get to know one another, share stories and laugh  Usually we prepare dinner outside over the fire, but everything was soaked from the rainstorm so we moved indoors.  With no hesitation a woman invited us to use her house and welcomed us in with a smile.

We begin with praise and worship.  Chris has mastered several songs in Spanish and does a great job improvising to accommodate requests.

During each visit we read and discuss scripture, sing praise and worship, and do activities with the kids.

Last night we shared Jesus' teachings about the "salt of the earth" and the "light of the world".
We turned off the one light which hangs from the middle of the ceiling and compared the darkness to sin.   The kids here are very familiar with darkness...and sin.  After lighting a candle and letting our eyes adjust, we talked about the impact of one candle.  We all agreed that Jesus' love is like candlelight that brightens even the darkest of situations.

During our discussion each person (adults and kids) painted a picture of a candle illuminating the darkness. We encouraged everybody to use their pictures to teach the people at home about Jesus' love.  The black background represents sin, the candle represents a person, the flame represents Jesus' love and the candlelight represents the love of Jesus radiating out of the person and illuminating the darkness.  It was beautiful and FUN!!!

After our bible study and art project, we enjoyed dinner altogether.

Anna had fun teaching one of her friends a hand-slapping game.

As our time together came to a close, we bid the community farewell and headed home on the dark, pitted dirt roads.

Thank you Jesus for bringing us here to this little community in the middle of the Peruvian jungle to share your love!!