Sunday, July 8, 2018

Breaking, Entering and Kidnapping... for the Love of Jesus!

Each culture has a unique way of accomplishing life's daily tasks: eating, sleeping, laundering clothes, educating children. Amidst those differences I have found a universal truth: When guests are scheduled to arrive there is a predictable flurry of activity - items are put away, blankets folded and shoes straightened. Such a flurry swept through our home a couple weeks ago as we prepared for an evening of praise and worship with the drug addicted teenage boys in our village. Glancing at the clock I realized it was time to light candles and tune the guitar.

Furious pounding broke the mellow mood.

Opening the door I was greeted by the neighbor boys who were talking a hundred miles an hour trying to explain their worries:
- the neighbor lady left almost 3 hours prior
- she locked her baby in the house
- the baby's been wailing for 2 1/2 hours
- the house is pad-locked shut
- the window is covered in wire mesh and wood planks
- nobody knows when she's going to return
- the baby is in danger

When they finally stopped talking they peered up at me with hopeful eyes and said, "Surely there is something you can do!" 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding."
Proverbs 3:5
Unsure as to what lie ahead, my friend and I made haste to the baby's home. Upon arriving we heard the desperate cries from within and searched for a way to enter, but just as the boys had described, the house was secure. To the unsuspecting eye there was no way to enter...

...unless of course some part of the house were to fall off or something crazy like that!

"And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
"This is the way, walk in it."  Isaiah 30:21
As we turned to walk away we heard a THUMP!  The wallboard beneath the window fell off, providing a clear entryway.  Our mouths dropped open and we started giggling.

In Galatians 5:18 St. Paul says that "If (we) are led by the Spirit, (we) are not under the law."  I'm not sure if he was referring to breaking, entering and kidnapping, but we felt led by the Spirit to rescue the baby when the house literally fell open.

I stepped from the moon-lit yard into the pitch black house.  I blinked ten times trying to get my eyes to adjust, like my mom always taught me, but to no avail.  Since I couldn't see a thing I inched my way along until I came upon a lean-to of sorts which covered the screaming baby. I assume that the tent was intended to keep the bugs out, which it did, but it also kept the heat in. When I moved the sheet, the horrid stench that escaped almost made me vomit. The baby was wrapped in a cloth that was drenched with his own sweat, urine and feces. I gently carried him across the room and handed the little bundle out of the secret passageway to my friend.  She quickly returned to my house to bathe the infant, treat his rash, put him in a diaper and wrap him in a clean towel. I recovered the wallboard and refastened it to the side of the house.  Shortly thereafter the baby's mom arrived and entered her home.  I expected an audible sign of distress when she realized that her little boy was missing, but she hardly responded.  She left quietly, locked the door, dropped her head and shuffled away. I caught up to her and explained that her baby was with my friend. Without asking how I had gotten into the house or hardly saying a word she changed directions and unemotionally stated that she wanted her baby back. At my house she removed the clean towel, threw it down, put the urine soaked sheet back around her child and mumbled, "My baby was fine!"  As she was leaving, the guys started arriving for our candlelit evening of worship.  They each found a comfy place to sit, got settled in and listened peacefully to Chris strum the guitar.  As I looked around the room Isaiah 61:1 came to mind: 

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound."

Tears welled up in my eye as I offered silent prayers of thanksgiving for everything that the Lord has been able to do through us....bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to those held captive by their own drug addictions, and free the imprisoned little baby from the prison which is his home.  I ask for prayers, that we're able to remain open to the Spirit of the Lord God, so that He can continue using us for breaking, entering and kidnapping - if He so desires.

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit in nudging you to support us financially  so that we can continue serving the poor here in Peru, please visit either:

Call Family Missions Company at (337) 893 - 6111.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

28 short-term missionaries visit from the United States (by Chris)

We just hosted a short-term mission trip which consisted of 28 people from the United States that wanted to have an encounter with Our Lord, Jesus Christ in the poor of Peru.  This was the first trip of this kind to be held in Peru.  We have had short-term medical mission trips for the last 7 years or so and Family Missions Company decided it was time to try out this other type for the first time here in Peru.  Our family was tagged to help lead the trip.  A missionary family with tons of experience in hosting mission trips came down from Mexico to lead the trip and our job was to shadow them and to "learn the ropes" on how to host one of these.  Karen did a magnificent job in planning the 8 days that the group was actually here in the jungle with us.  Our community of full-time missionaries here in Peru also helped out with the trip and were a super big blessing.  The group arrived on Monday, June 25th and stayed until Monday July 2nd.  This group was fantastic, they worked hard, played hard, prayed hard and had a transformational encounter with Jesus.  Here is a summary in pictures:
Part of the group was from St. Cloud, Minnesota, the rest were from all over the U.S.

First things first, we need to load up the luggage and run it to the Centro Pastoral in Picota to make room for missionaries.

Then we loaded all of the missionaries in Motokars for a fun ride
 to where we will eat lunch and have an orientation.

Hey, hey, thumbs up for a fun ride!

Our work projects were to build two houses for two poor families here in San Hilarion, one side-project was to rebuild an
outhouse out of the scrap materials that we had.  This is part of the outhouse crew....they had a blast!

Here is one of the missionaries joyfully goofing around with Jose and Fernando!
Here we are attending mass in Picota where the priest and deacon that came along on the trip were able to co-celebrate the mass with Padre Francisco.  What a super blessing for everyone!
We split into smaller groups at night for different ministries, here was our group that headed out to a distant pueblo called Nuevo Chimbote, where we went door-to-door doing home visits and then praise & worship in the church.
Here we are praying over a sick woman in her house during one of the home visits
We led some dynamic praise & worship in the church with many from the community present.  Two of the short-term missionaries also presented their personal testimonies and Katelyn translated for them.
Here is the crew that stayed behind to change a flat on Padre's truck coming back from Nuevo Chimbote.  It was super blessed because we couldn't figure out how to get the spare tire down from below the bed.  Then the Lord sent a couple of angels our way to help out.  One of which, is the son of the oldest married couple in our church, who is struggling right now in his journey with the Lord.  It really felt like he needed this encounter as much as we needed his help to get this tire fixed!
Many of the days involved working on the two houses at the two different work sites.  There was occasional downtime where the short-term missionaries had the opportunity to try their hand at some of the local ways of doing things and to do some home visits. Here are some examples:
Sitting and shelling beans with Dona Loyda and her daughter.
Stopping to enjoy a delicious and refreshing coconut!

Drinking it straight from the coconut!
Anna led a group to take some extra food from lunch to some poor families in town

Having the opportunity to do laundry by hand!

One day for lunch, we arranged for a Peruvian seafood buffet, stocked with delicious ceviche!!!
Here is The Virgin of the Nativity
We had a chance to go on a pilgrimage to the town of Tabalosos,
 where there is a huge devotion to la Virgen de la Natividad
 (The Virgin of the Nativity).

After mass, the community invited us to a local school where
they had arrange a very special Peruvian dance party!

A good time was had by all while we danced the night away!!!

Later that night in Tabalosos, we had an impromptu praise & worship session with the local community at the location where we had dinner.  Here is the whole group with the community that showed up, seemingly, out of nowhere.

After working at the work projects, we would all head down to the river to "take a bath in the river" just like the locals do.  Not only does the water feel great, but you get to wash your body with your clothes on, so your clothes get clean too!!!

Here is the new and improved outhouse that one of the teams of missionaries made
We were also super blessed to host a volleyball tournament to help with HIV/AIDS awareness.  We had a chance to give a talk about God's infinite love for each of us and a personal testimony was shared that was very moving.
Late that night, we took everyone to visit Hogar Nazaret (Nazareth Home) which is a home for kids with unhealthy home situations or whose parents have abandoned them.  We played games, and each child received a gift from one of the short-term missionaries all wrapped up with their name on it!  What a great night!
We ended the night with a candle-lit praise and worship session down at the river's edge.  It was very beautiful!

On Sunday, we split into smaller groups and attended the Sunday service in different communities.  Here is the group that came to San Hilarion to celebrate with us.
After the service, we broke up into smaller groups to do home visits to the sick members of our community.

Monday came and it was time to pack up and head to the airport.  We really enjoyed this group of short-term missionaries and I know that they impacted our lives and I hope their many encounters with Jesus in Peru impacted their lives as well.
We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit in nudging you to support us financially  so that we can continue serving the poor here in Peru, please visit either:

Call Family Missions Company at (337) 893 - 6111.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Dave Ramsey is Alive in the Jungle

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, 
"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. 
Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

When I encountered Javier, Jherson and Ivan they were really hungry, metaphorically speaking, for every good thing in life because destitution and poverty is all they had ever known.

Although I know it best to "teach a man to fish", I couldn't deny the reality of their immediate hunger...not just for food, but for the little things that so many of us take for granted: a cold drink on a hot day or a new pair of sandals when our old, warn-out ones finally break.  So, I fed them and they ate like starving animals. I desired to teach them to fish, but saw clearly that they weren't ready to learn.  They had been hungry for so long that they could only relish in the banquet before them. Surely their insatiable appetites would pass as they gained confidence in our friendship.  I trusted that eventually they would want to learn how to fish. I knew I couldn't feed them forever, nor did I desire that.  I just had to be patient and trust in God's perfect timing.

A few months ago Javier and Jherson went to Lima with our family to visit my parents, but they left before us.  Prior to their departure I sat down with them to discuss their upcoming expenses: groceries, gas, school fees, drinking water, rent, hygiene products, etc..  We made envelopes for the categories of expenses and discussed the importance of self-control. Fully aware that they had NEVER managed money before, I talked with them about the real temptations that would arise to take "a little here and a little there" for whatever random thing they might want. They understood that there was sufficient funds for their family's necessities, plus a little extra in the "Extra" envelope for treats and special activities.  If, for example, they took money out of the "Groceries" envelope for pop and gum they wouldn't have enough to feed their family.  They seemed to understand.

At that point Ivan, Javier and Jherson had been drug-free for three weeks.  They had gotten past the difficulties of withdrawal and reported feeling healthier and happier than they ever had!  As I hugged them good-bye in the airport I reminded them of how good they felt and encouraged them to resist any temptations that might arise to slip back into their own ways.  They assured me of their desires to stay clean and told me not to worry.  However, temptation got the best of them.  The same day they returned home they took money out of the "Extra" envelope and bought drugs, not just enough for the evening, but for the next morning too.  For the first time in six months they got high before going to school.  They smoked again that night and the following night too.  All the money in the "Extra" envelope was gone, so they pulled "a little here and a little there" (exactly like I told them NOT to do) to buy beer and go to the motocross race. Unsurprisingly, they ran out of money before we returned home.  When I went to check on them the envelopes were empty, they were hungry and ashamed. Although I felt disappointed by their decisions I didn't fret too much because I knew that "the school of hard knocks" is an excellent teacher.  I simply said, "So, tell me how the envelope system worked."  Their heads dropped immediately and there was silence.  I waited patiently for them to find the courage to tell me the truth. Through tears of sadness and embarrassment they admitted that the temptations were too great.  They wanted to do what was right, but couldn't.  They apologized a thousand times over again and said that they would understand if I never trusted them with money again.  I assured them that they would learn.  I told them that people all over the world have trouble managing money.  I explained the concept of debt and told them that even people with a lot of money fall into the temptation of buying things they shouldn't.  Their tears started flowing all over again as they thanked me and gave me great big hugs. 

I knew we needed to alter our approach a bit, but how?  I asked the Holy Spirit to guide me as I ventured to the market to find the solution.

There were little plastic jars that fit perfectly into a larger plastic container - could this be it?  This would allow them to see at a glance the various categories and available funds.  Chris went to the bank to get smaller bills so we'd have exact change for each jar.  We bought a little record keeping book and headed for their house.

Jherson, Ivan and Javier laughed at the childish appearance of my "system", but finally admitted it was fun.  As we worked together to identify each category Jherson labeled the corresponding jars and lids.  Javier wrote notes about what each category included along with the budgeted amount for a week. We taught the concept of carrying money over from one week to the next to amass the needed amount for things like haircuts, which they can only get once a month.  We designated a jar for "fun" which includes things like guitar strings and new paint.  All of this is totally foreign to them.  They've never had the money they've needed for life's necessities like food and clean drinking water, much less for haircuts and paint supplies.  They feel super spoiled and constantly thank us for our willingness to use Team Carmody's funds for them.

Since our initial "training session" whereby we filled the jars, I've met with them three times. They are truly embracing the system and have shown the discipline needed to live within a budget.  We record how much was spent each week as well as how much is left in each category.  I'm happy to report that there has been a significant amount of money left over at the end of each week.  As we discuss their expenditures they proudly recount the sacrifices they've made to live within the system.  Just the last time I met with them they were super eager to share this story:  There is an elderly man that they often see in the plaza.  He is sickly looking and always sits alone.  The last time they saw him they asked if they could buy him dinner.  He happily accepted.  The guys rode their bikes home to get money.  At first they planned to take funds from the "Almsgiving" jar, as would have been appropriate, but they wanted to use that money to buy pop and snacks for the kids at the orphanage during their next visit.  So, instead, they took money out of their "Grocery" jar and agreed that they could eat a little less.  They said that it was a miracle because somehow their mom had made perfectly filling meals all week and there was still money leftover in the "Grocery" jar.  "It's like God put extra money in that jar just to thank us for being generous." Ivan said.  As I giggled tears streamed down my cheeks. What I wanted to say was, "I'm so excited that you're learning how to fish."  However, I knew that wouldn't mean anything to them.  So, I gave each of them a great big hug and simply said, "You guys are incredible!"

Dave Ramsey:
Personal Money Management Expert
I know that we won't be able to give these guys money forever, nor do I desire that.  I just have to be patient and wait for the time to arrive when they'll be ready to take that next step and earn money on their own....which I believe they will.  At this juncture, I'm thrilled that they've overcome their drug addictions - all praise be to God.  I'm thrilled that they're doing so well in school.  I'm thrilled that they've made drug-free friends and spend their days participating in wholesome activities.
Lao Tzu:

Metaphorically speaking, I'm thrilled that their appetites have been satiated, that their ravenous hunger has passed and they've found a peaceful way to exist outside of destitution.  If ever the philosopher, Lao Tzu, and the personal money-management expert, Dave Ramsey, could have met I believe they would have sanctioned our plastic jar system and agreed that it is doing wonders to teach my Peruvian sons how to be happy, debt-free fishermen.

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit in nudging you to support us financially  so that we can continue serving the poor here in Peru, please visit either:

Call Family Missions Company at (337) 893 - 6111.