Thursday, January 18, 2007


Go Church! Beat Marcion!

Interesting article in Christianity Today about the dearth of translations of the whole bible available to many language groups. Understandably many translation efforts begin with translations of the New Testament, which is much smaller than the Old Testament, and in which "God has spoken to us by His Son" (Heb 1). But, as well, too many translation projects have stalled out there, either failing to see the importance of the Old Testament or simply being intimidated by the sheer size of the task. Again, epsecially in regard to the latter, understandable.

However, I'm encouraged to see that translation societies like Wycliffe are seeing the importance of translating the whole bible and are committed to seeing these full translation projects through to completion. It's also encouraging to see that increasingly the translations are being done by nationals, who know the language and culture from the inside out. The time, effort, and expense necessary for nationals to acquire biblical Hebrew and Greek, though costly on the front end, increase the chances of better quality translations, both in understanding the original text and then in translating that into native languages.

Not surprisingly, missionaries are experiencing breakthroughs where they are bringing all of the scriptures to a people in their native languages. Why would we expect a full-bodied faith from those who have only about one quarter of the sacred scriptures available to them? And to bring it close to home, how can we in the United States expect full-bodied faith and mature churches when we often survive on one quarter of the bible, not because of a lack of access, but because of a lack of interest.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


From Peruvian Summer to Midwestern Ice storm

The ten of us who were returning to St. Louis (Kim was returning to Dallas to pick up her kids and Paul Webb stayed behind in Peru) pulled in safe and sound in two groups. The first group landed about 12:40 p.m., the second group aroudnd 4:00 p.m. We're grateful to God that we were able to get into St. Louis before the worst of the ice storm hit. I personally had a great reunion with my family, passed out gifts to everyone, took a long nap, and got a wonderful, hot, shower with pretty good water pressure. Thanks for reading this last week. I'll try and post a couple of updates whenever I hear from Paul Webb.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Left (One) Behind

I wasn't completely accurate when I said that we all were leaving Trujillo for Lima. One member of our team is staying behind for almost another two weeks. Paul Webb, who is certainly the most skilled among us, will live in a Sunday School room at the Wichanzao Church. Here's what Paul will see each morning when he wakes up. Paul's skills will be very helpful over the next several weeks, as he continues to help on the Wichanzao Clinic. I also have a hunch that Paul will find a way to work some hiking and mountain climbing into his schedule. The Lord bless your continued work, Paul. We're praying for you.


Finished in Wichinzao

Today we finished our work in Wichinzao. Last day of English instruction for the kids, last bit of painting, spackling, and pulling wire. Here you can see the multiple base coats in clear contrast to the unfinished bottom section which will be eventually be tiled.

During lunch the pastor from the Larco Church, Ricardo, brought flowers to his wife, Dani, who was one of the ladies who helped with the cooking for our team all week. It was their 10th Wedding Anniversary, so we all got to share in congratulating them on their first decade.

After lunch we all briefly visited the Saint Augustine Language Institute (SALI) before driving out to see the Huaca del Sol and the Huaca de la Luna, both temples were built by the Moche people, whose culture flourished from approximately 100-700 AD. It was fascinating. The pictures simply do not do it justice, but this temple is amazing. The murals in front of Monte are between 1300-1800 years old. They have never been restored, all the paint you see is the original paint.

Here's the team on top of the Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon):

Then it was off to Larco Church where I gave my final lecture on the life of Charles Simeon and then we went back to the Baker's house for dinner.

We leave the hotel at 6:40 AM tomorrow to catch our flight from Trujillo to Lima. Then once in Lima, we have all day to ourselves, because we don't leave Lima for Miami until shortly after midnight. Then it's on to St. Louis (via Atlanta for some of us).

Don't know if I'll get another chance to blog or Dios les Bendiga (God Bless You).


Arevalo & First Patient in the New Clinic

Wednesday morning we took a trip to the other church in Trujillo -- the Arevalo Church. It will be the largest and most ambitious project among the three churches, because it has the most land surrounding it. The church has come a long way since we saw it last year. As you can see from this picture, it will be beautiful when it's finished. By the way this picture shows where the church currently meets for worship, but that will actually be the Fellowship Hall when the building project is completed. The sanctuary will be to the right of the present building.

After the visit to Arevalo we returned to Wichinzao to continue working on the clinic. Mainly painting, spackling, and wiring. The progress is really evident, and although we're just putting on base coats of white, even that really dresses up the clinic.

Not only have we had the privilege of working on the clinic, but as well, we've been able to enjoy some time with Dr. Dan Doolittle from Carbondale who is the lead doctor here at the medical clinic. Dr. Doolittle is here for three weeks getting some things in order, but we also provided him with the opportunity to see his first patient in the new clinic. Monte scraped his thumb near his nail when sanding earlier in the week and it was giving him some discomfort. He was also afraid it had gotten infected -- a minor thing, but a bit of a bother when you're working with your hands all day long. Well, Dr. Doolittle evaluated his patient, and treated him with a topical antibiotic and a band-aid.

The ladies have continued to receive crowds of enthusiastic children and yesterday we could all hear the children enthusiastically shouting out "January" "February" "March" and "One" "Two" "Three." The girls have done a great job and the children have really gotten attached to them.

I had the second of my three lectures at the Larco Church and will give my final one this afternoon. This one will be on the life of Charles Simeon.

Not only do I wrap up my lectures today, but we wrap our work at Wichanzao. Tomorrow we'll leave the hotel in Trujillo early in the morning and fly to Lima where we'll await our connecting flight to Miami.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Posting from Wichinzao!

Tiene Hambre? (Are you hungry?) Here's what the ladies at the Wichinzao Church lovingly prepared for us yesterday. Chicken with an orange sauce, rice, and the purple vegetable beneath the chicken is a sweet potato. Apparently Peru is famous for it's 3500 varieties of potatoes.

Yesterday at lunch I was opening up my MacBook to show some pictures I had just taken to one of the other members of the team. When I opened my computer I noticed that it had detected a wireless network. Wes Baker, one of the missionaries here, could not believe that there was a wireless network in Wichanzao. I walked around the room with my comptuer and detected a total of six wireless a neighborhood that only has the water turned on 2 out of every 48 hours!

In fact, I'm sending this post to my blog using a wireless network in Wichinzao!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Tuesday Wrap Up

Tuesday morning we again ate breakfast at the church and then promptly started to work again on the medical clinic. After having sanded on Monday, we put two basecoats of paint on the walls and ceilings.

We also continued to pull wire and we broke ground for the sidewalk in front of the clinic and began to build the forms.

The English instruction went well, with even more children than on Monday. The girls had their hands full, but did very well and will, I'm guessing have even more kids on Wednesday.

While the team finished up work and theb ate dinner at the church in Wichinzao, I went back to get cleaned up so that I could teach my first class on the doctrine of vocation. There were about 15 people there, both students and members of the church. I thought the lecture was well received and will finish up the doctrine of vocation this evening.

Everyone's holding up well. Thanks for your prayers!

Monday, January 08, 2007


Getting to Work

We arrived bright and early at Wichinzao this morning to get to work on the Wichinzao medical clinic. After they fed us breakfast we started sanding wall and ceilings to prepare them for painting--we'll start painting tomorrow--we pulled wire for all of the electrical fixtures and outlets, and we dug a hole 1 meter x 1 meter x 1.6 meters deep to bury the main ground wire for the building (that's what the code here in Peru requires).

Here is the Wichinzao church (where I preached Sunday morning by the way)...

and here is the medical clinic where we did all the work today:

One of the great opportunities that we've had over these last two years is to minister to folks who are outside of the church in addition those who are already a part of the churches here. For instance, today Mary Kate, Hannah, Kim, & Jessica walked around the neighborhood in the morning and publicized a mini-English School that they just whipped up off the cuff. Gringos, as we're called here (it's not generally a derogatory term in Peru) are very interesting to most of the Peruvians. White skin & blond hair are curiosities here, and most of the kids have enough Gringo curiosity and desire to learn English that they'll show up for 1-2 hours of English instruction. The girls had 40-45 kids from the neighborhood -- both from the church and from outside the church. The ladies are planning to do English instruction each day and my bet is their number will increase each day.

Another example is that Shane & I jumped on a soccer "court" (it's a concrete pad like we'd use for basketball in the states) with a couple of neighborhood kids to play some soccer and within about 5-10 minutes we had a game of 4 on 4 going with kids waiting to play on the side.

One of my faovrite examples of this kind of opportunity is with the taxi drivers who take us literally everywhere that we go here in Trujillo. Peru Mission uses some of the same drivers over and over again, because it finds those men reliable. Therefore we got to know a handful of drivers -- two in particular -- last year. Bran Steadman really hit it off with one of the drivers, Ronald (see them below). When we met Ronald last year he had nothing but good things to say about the Peru Mission, but he didn't want any part of going to one of the churches. Well we came down this year to find out that both of the two drivers Ronald and another driver, Santos, are both going to church now -- one at Arrevalo, one at Wichinzao. It's been a great blessing working both with our brothers and sisters in the churches here, but also with the people that God brings us in to contact with in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Time for bed. Buenos Noches. Adios.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Lord's Day in Trujillo

This morning we worshipped with the church at Wichanzao, which is where we'll be doing most of our work on the medical clinic. Pastor Guillermo Diaz (pictured below) taught Sunday School before the worship service and then led us in worship. I had been invited to preach this morning at Wichanzao, and was very honored to bring God's Word to the people there this morning. There should be more pictures of Wichanzao over the next several days as we begin work on the medical clinic there.

After worship this morning we all went back to the Bradfords house for lunch. When I say all of us, I mean our team of 12, 4 Peru Mission interns, Bill & Allen Bradford, Wes & Jami Baker, Allen & Sandi Smith, John & Heather Ferguson, and each family's children (18) -- that would be a total of 38 people for lunch! All of the missionaries here are very gifted and well practiced in offering hospitality and it was greatly appreciated by our team. After lunch all 38 of us gathered in the living room to sing some hymns and pray before our team headed back to the hotel for a short nap before the evening service.

For the evening service we worshipped at the Larco Church which is where we worked and spent most of our time last year. It was great to see the work we had done last year not only completed, but to see that quite a bit more work had been done on the church as well. What was even better, however, was seeing familiar faces. We were eager to see friends that we made last year in that congregation and were warmly received by them. Larco Church is pastored by Ricardo Hernandez (pictured below talking with Jeff Hebenstreit) who recently graduated with his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Seminario Biblico Reformado (SBR) and was ordained. Ricardo is the first ever graduate of SBR.

Larco Church also honored me with an invitation to preach and so I did this evening. That makes four times now that I've preached through a translator. Preaching through a translator can be a little difficult, though my translator, Bill Bradford (see us below at Larco Church), is very good. It's simply not always easy to get into a good rhythm when you have to pause after every sentence for the translation. It's harder to complete long thoughts and can be a little challenging when trying to phrase things a certain way or use one's voice emphatically. I also had to rewrite my sermons a little to try and excise many of the idioms that I often use in a sermon back in the states. I'm sure that preaching through a translator gets a little easier when done more frequently. All in all I thought things went well, and I was humlbed and honored to have been asked to preach to Christ's church here in Peru.

After the evening service the team went back to Allen & Sandi Smith's home for dinner. Again we were treated to some first class hospitality--by the Smiths this time. We relaxed and enjoyed ourselves at their home and then returned to the hotel at about 10-10:30 p.m.

The group is doing well. Everyone is healthy, sleeping well, getting along fine. The work starts tomorrow on the medical clinic and I found out that my seminary classes will be taught at the Larco Church rather than at the SBR facility. The classes will be open to more than just seminary students, members of the congregations will be welcome as well. The classes will be offered at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings. Pray for me as I teach two sessions on the Doctrine of Vocation and one session on the Life of Charles Simeon.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Safe and Sound (and tired) in Peru

The rest of our trip went very smoothly. The flight from Miami to Lima wasn't bad at all. We landed in Lima at about 7 AM local time (Peru is on EST). We had a bite to eat and then met our tour guide and bus driver, here's the whole team right before we got on the bus.

We spent the day touring Lima and had several hours to ourselves at an outdoor shopping mall that sits perched atop cliffs that overlook the coast - a beautiful setting.

We also toured a museum, which featured several of the ancient cultures that occupied what is now Peru. These ancient peoples spanned more than a millennium before Christ and ended with the Incan empire which was finally conquered by Spain's Francisco Pizzarro, along with help from the Inca's enemies in the rain forest. Here are several of the many artifacts that we saw in the museum. These are jars, from the Incan period, I believe.

We also toured Lima's main plaza and a Franciscan monastery. Since today was Epiphany the plaza was crowded with people watching a pageant of sorts commemorating the visit of the Magi to worship and bring gifts to the Christ child.

After a full day in Lima we headed back to the airport, caught a Lan Peru flight to Trujillo (350 miles up the coast from Lima), and were met by both old friends and new from the Peru Mission. From there we drove to our hotel, dropped our bags, and went out for pizza! By the time we got back to the hotel it had been nearly 36 hours since we departed from St. Louis.

We're all eager to get to sleep. I preach tomorrow morning at the church in Wichanzao and then tomorrow evening at the church in Larco. Pray that all goes well.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Yes I'm going to blog the Peru Trip again

Even though this blog has been lying dormant almost since last year's Peru mission trip, I am planning to blog regularly during THIS YEAR'S Peru mission trip as long as I have consistent internet access.

There are 12 of us going this year. Five of us flew to Tampa and are headed on to Miami in a few minutes. Another five flew directly to Miami. Two more are getting to Miami via Atlanta. We'll all join up in Miami and fly down together to Lima.

As for the Tampa folks (of which I am a part), the flight from St. Louis to Tampa was a little rough. A little airsickness, a couple of us spilled drinks all over ourselves during one of the turbulent parts, but we made it. May not have access again until Lima, or maybe even Trujillo.

We appreciate your prayers for us.

Here's Hannah, Monte, Mary Kate, & Jeff BEFORE takeoff!

Monday, March 13, 2006



I was reading a NY Times review of Gary Wills' new book What Jesus Meant and came across this line, which struck me as quite humorous:

Meanwhile, many conservative Christians would have us take the four evangelists' accounts as inerrant, as though the New Testament were an Associated Press bulletin about the first decades of first-century Judea.

I didn't realize that the AP was inerrant. Maybe they should clarify for their readers, the high standards that they observe by changing their name to the Inerrant Associated Press ;-)

Friday, March 03, 2006


Chris Juggles

I juggle.

But there ought to be two different words for what I do and what Chris Bliss does. I didn't know juggling only three balls could be so amazing. If you're one of the few people on the internet who hasn't seen this, then take 5 and click here (click Must-See Finale on the right to start video).

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Four Things

Well, I haven't posted in months...and Bobber & Trevor have both tagged me...SO in order to possibly jumpstart my blogging we go:

Four jobs I’ve had:

UPS Unloader - Earth City Hub
Camp Counselor - Summer's Best 2 Weeks
"Coke Boy" at Tractor Pulls, Demolition Derbies, & Horse Races - Clinton County Fairgrounds
Assembly & Metal Fabrication - Beard Industries

Four movies (I could add dozens to this list) I could watch over and over (series count as one):

Sound of Music
Remember the Titans
The Game

Four books I could read over and over (series count as one, and excluding the Bible):
Well, besides the Bible, I don't really read books over and over, but...

Wishful Thinking
The Undertaking
The Biggest Bear
Calvin's Institutes

Four places I have lived:

Philadelphia, PA
Frankfort, IN
Pittsburgh, PA
West Lafayette, IN

Four TV shows I watch:

Monday Night Football (when I can)
Seinfeld Reruns (rarely these days)
Antiques Roadshow (occasionally)

Four places I have been on vacation:

Vancouver, BC
Sunset Beach, NC
Florida (Venice, Sanibel, Wildwood, Cocoa Beach, Orlando, etc.)

Four websites I visit daily:

Gold & Black Illustrated
St. Louis Gas Prices
St. Louis County Library (OK, almost daily)

Four favorite foods:

Duane Purvis Burger
Garbage Burger @ Max 'n' Erma's
Prime Rib @ Mountain Jack's
Pork Chop (anywhere) but had a great one @ Citizen Kane's

Four places I’d like to be right now:

With my brother
In Frankfort, Indiana on a Friday night in the fall of 1985
With my wife in Europe
At Lambeau Field for Brett Favre's final game (NFC Championship Game) 15 degrees and snowing

Four bloggers I’m tagging:
I think I might be the last blogger on the web to do this? But in case, I'm not...

Duane (I know, he hasn't posted in two years and eight days, but you never know.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Two Questions to Ponder

1. Is it possible to listen to Rush and not "play along" with Neil Peart while you listen?

2. How have I never gotten a traffic ticket while listening to a Rush song on the car radio?

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Shyamalan's Lady due in 8 months

I have enjoyed all of M. Night Shyamalan's films (yes, even The Village). They're beautifully shot and he gives good attention to detail. I like the way he tells stories, I enjoy the themes he deals with and even the quirky way he sometimes deals with them. I'm not a "Shyamalan Surprise" fan...aching for a return to the surprise of The Sixth Sense (though it was pretty good). I like his films with or without the surprise.

Well, I've not been keeping up with what his next project was, and this is probably old news to some of you, but he's rolling out a new film in July 2006 called Lady in the Water: A Bedtime Story. Apparently it's based on a bedtime story that he conceived for his children.

Here's one site's synopsis of the film: A building super finds a sea nymph in his apartment building's pool. Now...I know one current super and one ex-super who ought to go see this with me, just for all of the inside super themes, that the average moviegoer would miss ;-)

I really am looking forward to it, so if you want to join me, let me know. We only have about 8 months to plan our Shyamalan outing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Not Feeling God's Presence

I wasn't familiar with Dwight Ozard or with his work, but saw on a few blogs that he succumbed to cancer this week. Dick Staub posted a piece that Ozard, a writer and consultant, wrote called Is "Spiritual Formation" a Bourgeois Preoccupation?? This part jumped out at me as quote worthy:

...our experience of God is in a very real, if equally odd way, profoundly irrelevant to our relationship with God.

I don’t get this, but there are not only times and seasons in believers’ lives when they don’t feel God’s presence, there are many, many sincere, good and godly believers who never sense his presence in the way that we would-be mystics, activists, Charismatics and "key leaders" speak of.

Because they have without ever having an experience that they could define as “mystical,” many of these believers live their lives in quiet anguish or deep guilt, having been made to feel by over-zealous preachers that the exceptional experience they lack is somehow normative.

Dwight, of course, is now experiencing God in a way that is entirely consistent with his relationship to God. Love and peace of Christ to his loved ones.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Look Welch's coming out of a faucet!!

I'm not a big fan of church advertising, especially things like billboards. However, given the aversion that some Christians have to the suggestion that Jesus turned water into REAL know, like the fermented, alcoholic kind, I kinda liked this billboard that I saw in downtown St. Louis right next to two Baptist Churches:

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Not Much to Cheer About

My teams, the Boilermakers and the Packers, are a combined 3-12 this season. Quite a turnaround from last year, when they were a combined 8-7 at this point in the season -- with the Boilers headed to the Sun Bowl and the Packers headed to the NFL Playoffs. They'll both be staying home from post season play this year. Maybe the looong off season will be good for both teams. I hope so.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Push-Update 10

1 x 35
2 x 25

1,215 down
8,785 to go

A new wrinkle to the push-up endeavor. My family wants in on this fitness challenge. So even though I've got two weeks head start on them, they're going to try and each do 10,000 jumping jacks before the end of the year. One of my daughters did 500 today. I think I'm in trouble.

Of course this could be good for everyone's stomach muscles...because we'll all be keeled over laughing at our 2.5 yr old trying to do jumping jacks ;-)

AND, yes, I am planning to post something more substantive soon, but I'm too tired tonight.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Push-update 9 - FIRST THOUSAND!!

1 x 40
1 x 35
4 x 30
1 x 20

1,130 down
8,870 to go

OK, I started this push-up thing on October 12th...10,000 push-ups by the end of the year. At the time that worked out to about 125/day. I didn't commit to 125/day, just committed to 10,000 by the end of the year. Well, here I am 21 days later having knocked out only 1,000 of those 10,000. I've averaged about 50 push-ups/day up to this point. HOWEVER, most of that drop off occurred during the mission trip to I'm not too worried. However, having done a quick recalculation I'm now going to have to average about 150 push-ups/day to reach 10,000 by the end of the year. I'm certainly not giving up. Just time to refocus, that's all.


Trick or Treat

Here's my gang heading out into the Halloween drizzle last night:

Preemptive links:


Glory Road

I'm such a sucker for underdog feel good sports movies. Throw in a racial justice element, the fact that it's based on a true story (whatever that means), AND it's by the makers of Remember the Titans and I'm sold. I'm looking forward to seeing Glory comes out on January 13th. Any other underdog feel good sports movie suckers who want to go with me?

Saturday, October 29, 2005



Well, we touched down in St. Louis at about 12:20 p.m. today. What a great feeling to be home!

From the time we left our hotel in Trujillo (6:45 a.m. on Friday morning) until the time we touched down, we had been traveling for about 30 hours and had had enough travel. I had a rough second leg from Lima to Dallas, very nauseated for the first half of the five hour flight, though after that I was fine. The other snag was that due to a late departure in Lima, we missed our connecting flight in Dallas (by about 5 minutes!). Fortunately we only had to wait another 90 minutes for the next flight to St. Louis, but it's still frustrating when you know you're being delayed another 90 minutes and it's no fault of your own. Oh well. We're just glad to be back.

Thanks so much for your prayers. By the way, for those of you in St. Louis, we'll be making a presentation at the church about our trip next Sunday night, November 6th at 6:00 p.m. Hope all of you in the area can make it!

Friday, October 28, 2005


Lima Airport


It´s 11:33 p.m. and we don´t leave for Dallas until 1 AM, so we're stuck here waiting until that. We're all dragging.

We arrived in Lima today around 10:30-11:00 a.m. and have been killing time until it was time to come to the airport. We dropped one member of our team, Paul Webb, off at a hotel in Lima, because he's staying here for another 10 days or so in order to hike the Inca Trail. He's really excited about it. We were sad to see him go, as he had become an integral member of our team, but we're also excited for him to undertake this adventure that he's been looking so forward to. Here's a picture of our whole team along with missionaries (and PCA pastors) Bill Bradford (Front row on the far Left) and Wes Baker (Front row on the far Right), as well as the pastor of the Larco Church, Ricardo (Front row, second from Left), and an architect and church member, Lenin, who is working on the church buildings. Paul Webb is on the Back row, far Left, Lenin is next to him.

We had a great time in Peru, but we just want to get home now. We can't wait to see our families!


Final Work Day

Yesterday was our final day at the worksite. We were able to complete the cross shaped sidewalk, and prepare the surrounding area for the paving stones. Here's what it looked like when we left yesterday.

There will be sidewalks along each side as well as large planters. The paving stones that will fill in around the cross are red, black, and gray. It should look really nice when it's finished. Here's are the paving stones.

The other thing that will really make the entrance attractive is cedar doors. They had a carpenter there working on those about half of the week. Brian Steadman spent a couple days with the carpenter helping him to plane the door in order to get it to fit in the doorway.

Of course, we would like to have seen the project through to completion, but we just didn't have enough time. Members of the congregation and a local construction crew will continue working on it for the next several days until it's finished. Hopefully they'll be finished by early next week.

After work we toured the ruins of Chan Chan. Chan Chan was built by the Chimu people who flourished from about the 8th century to the 14th century AD, when they were conquered by the Incas. The size of the original city was staggering--20 square kilometers originally, though less than that exists now.

We enjoyed good food and warm hospitality at the Bradford's house last night. The Bakers and Bradfords have been so kind to us in opening their homes and their refrigerators!

This morning we fly out of Trujillo back to Lima and then will spend the whole day there before our plane leaves at about 1 AM. We're going through Dallas on the way back St. Louis.

Maybe one more update in Lima, we'll see. We have been humbled and amazed at what God is doing here among these faithful people. At the three congregations, at the Seminary, at the English Language Institute, everywhere the gospel is advancing and engaging the surrounding culture with tremendous results. We'll miss being here in Peru among newly familiar brothers and sisters, but hope that we will be able to return with another team in the future. We caught a vision for the many other projects that still await completion. Thanks to those of you who have prayed for us. Please do pray we'll have a safe trip home. Dios les bendiga!

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Push-update 8

1 x 40
1 x 30

915 down
9,085 to go


Visit to Wichanzao & Arevalo

Today we started pouring concrete in two sections on the sidewalk. The paving stones were also delivered which we’ll use to decorate the entrance. We’re not yet sure how much we’ll be able to complete before we leave.

At the Seminario Biblico Reformado today I delivered my last lecture. I lectured on A Theology of the City. I leaned on good stuff I’ve read from Ray Bakke, Harvie Conn, Robert Lupton, Manny Ortiz, John Perkins, and others.

I also profiled Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) as one exemplar for urban ministry. I talked about how central the parish concept was in his ministry at St. John’s in Glasgow. I hadn’t put two and two together, but what’s interesting is that the Church where I preached on Sunday used to be owned by the Free Church of Scotland. The Free Church sent the first Reformed missionaries to Peru. The first Reformed missionary to arrive in about 1917 was really taken with Chalmers parish model, and set up the first few churches drawing heavily upon Chalmers and his parish model. So promoting Chalmers’ ideas about parish ministry was in some ways a return to the roots of the Reformed church in Peru.

It was a real joy to be able to teach at the seminary, though I must admit that to teach there was very humbling, as I’m sure the week would have been just as valuable, had I sat and listened to one of them lecture. Here’s a shot of some of the students that I taught throughout the week. All of the men in the picture are pastors or student pastors. Juan on the far right works on two college campuses in Trujillo, and his work is only one of two international RUF (Reformed University Fellowship) works in the world.

Though I’ve enjoyed teaching there, I’m also relieved to be finished as I was feeling like I was spread a little thin: preparing, lecturing, working at the worksite, etc. Now I feel like I can focus on the worksite/construction project.

Today after work we also had the opportunity to go visit two of the other churches in the area. We visited the church at Wichanzao and the church in Arrevalo, both are communities on the edge of Trujillo. Both churches are amazing, though Wichanzao is a lot further along. The things these churches are doing here is simply amazing.

We had dinner at the Bakers again tonight…what hospitality they have shown us this week!! More good food, more good conversation, and more free phone calls!

Today is our final full day in Trujillo. We're scheduled to fly from Trujillo to Lima on Friday morning and then on from Lima to Dallas, before finishing the final leg to St. Louis. Here's a map of Peru showing Lima and Trujillo to give you a feel for where we are.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Continued Progress & Visit to Moche Huacas

More progress on the sidewalk and entry to the Larco Church, as well as some culinary adventures that involved eating, what in the U. S., is considered to be a household pet (you'll have to wait to hear more about that later). This picture shows a little of our progress, which may not be too visible, but believe me we continue to advance (the sore muscles testify).

Yesterday after work we went to see a sacred site (Huaca) of a pre-Incan society, Huaca del sol (sun) and Huaca del luna (moon). These Huacas were built by the Moche people, who flourished from about the time of the birth of Christ on through about the 8th century (I believe the Incas began to conquer Peru in about the 14th century). Very interesting. Here's a shot of the Huaca del Sol, notice the adobe bricks which were stacked there over 7 or 8 centuries as new level to this 7 level Huaca was added each century.

We finished off the evening by enjoying once again, the hospitality of the Bakers who had us back to their home for dinner and provided us access to free phone calls home, which all of us took advantage of.

I taught my second class at the seminary, this one entitled Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Agendi: How Worship Shapes Belief & Life. Last class today on A Theology of the City, as well as a discussion of Phillip Jenkins' essay Next Christianity which appeared a couple years ago in the Atlantic Monthly.

A few of us have been dealing with some bowel problems, nothing terribly serious, but inconvenient and uncomfortable at times. More updates later.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Beginning our Work

Monday morning we began our work on the entrance to the Larco Church. You can see below that the current entrance to the Larco Church is dirt and an old sidewalk.

Following the plans drawn up by an architect in their congregation we're creating a cross-shaped sidewalk with decorative pave stones that will create a beautiful entrance to the church. The Peru Mission team really has a vision for making the church the center of beauty and vitality in this neighborhood. They are at the intersection of several poor neighborhoods and a growing middle class neighborhood as well.

By the end of the day we had broken up the old sidewalk, and dug out the base and graded the area. We were able to finish the layout and the setting of the forms by the end of the day. All this we did with two shovels, two sledge hammers, two pinch bars, and two chisels. We were able to work side by side with our Peruvian brothers, which was an honor...not to mention a keep up with them, that is! Here's what things looked like when we called it a day (though the Peruvians stayed a little later to tidy things up).

In the morning I went over to Peru Mission's headquarters, the San Augustin Mission, and taught a class on the Biblical View of Homosexuality for one of their seminary classes. The class consisted of current and aspiring pastors, including an International RUF minister, one of only two RUF's outside of the United States. Though homosexuality is not yet as prevalent in Peru as in the U. S., it is growing. In the past few months a Roman Catholic priest "married" two homosexual men, and there was a HUGE public uproar, with the bishop denouncing it and suspending the priest from ministry for the time being. So, though homosexuality is not a current pastoral issue that these men are dealing with, it figures to be on the horizon and all the better if they can be prepared ahead of time. The class went very well and the opportunity for interaction and discussion enriched the class. I'll return Tuesday & Wednesday morning to teach again.

Last evening we attended a party at the English Institute, that was designed to allow English Institute students to meet some "gringos" and practice their English. Following that we went out to eat with the Bakers and then all came back to the hotel and crashed.

Now we're off to a team meeting at 8 AM (we are on Central Time here) and out the door at 8:30 to return to the worksite. So far everyone's healthy and doing well. Thanks be to God. Please pray for our health, and that we would be effective here in all that we hope to accomplish. Until next time...


Worshipping with the Larco Church

Saturday evening we arrived in Trujillo and were met at the airport by Missionaries Rev. Wes Baker & Rev. Bill Bradford, both PCA pastors. Along with them was the Pastor of the church in Arevalo, Eduardo, and several other men. We took three taxis from the airport to the hotel.

The landscape is pretty barren. Trujillo, a city of about 800,000 has a desert climate, rains two or three times per year, but is a little cooler. The view out the window of the taxi consisted of preserved ancient Indian ruins, humble dwellings, and campaign ads (they're nearing an election in Peru).

As many of you who have traveled in the third world know, the rules of the road can be quite in, there are no rules. Traffic "lanes" appear and disappear out of nowhere, the driver must be instensely focused because literally anything can happen at any time. Other drivers expect to be cut off wherever there's an available space. Pedestrians are not afforded the right of way, so they must be on the alert as well. Horns get used more than brakes--and a horn doesn't just communicate displeasure as it often does in the U.S., but is more of a courtesy to other drivers to help them know who's around them. What's amazing is how well it all works. We haven't seen a single accident, and the people are extremely patient with what appears to a U.S. driver as an aggressive, chaotic, free-for-all.

We arrived at the hotel, unpacked and relaxed for a few moments before joining Wes & Jami Baker, Pastor Eduardo, Jaime (administrator at Peru Mission), and Pastor Ricardo for a late meal at an Italian restaurant in Trujillo. The food was good and it was a nice chance for us to begin to get to know one another. After our meal we took a stroll down to the Plaza Mayor (the main plaza) in Trujillo, then hopped in taxis and hopped in bed.

Sunday morning we worshipped at the Larco Church. As we prepared for worship we had to adjust to some differences. First there was a the constant crowing of roosters, then the distinct smell of marijuana drifting over from properties adjacent to the church and occupied by squatters. A new and different environment for worship, but as the service started, with rapid and almost indiscernible Spanish (to my ears at least), things began to be more familiar...a Call to Worship...Confession of Sin
and Absolution...Scripture readings...interwoven with robust singing.

Then it came time for me the sermon. I had been invited to preach both the morning and evening service, and so I ventured up to the pulpit and preached through a translator (Wes Baker) for the first time in my life. My sermon went OK, by the end I felt like I was finally getting the rhythm of preaching through a translator. Here's a shot of me preaching at the Larco Church at the morning service, while Wes Baker translates:

After the sermon we offered our tithes and offerings. At the Larco Church they pass around a huge woven basket for goods, bags of rice or other food, offered as tithes & offerings, followed by a plate for monteary offerings, people can give either. We celebrated the Lord's Supper and had the benediction pronounced over us in what turned out to be a very familiarly shaped worship service, offered in a largely unfamiliar (to our ears) tongue.

Following the service we were invited back to the Bradford's home and enjoyed a wonderful lunch (with some HOT!! spices) and then joined with the Baker & Bradford families in a time of prayer and singing, before returning to the hotel for a nap before the evening service.

The evening service was very similar to the morning service, except that I had some significant challenges to overcome as I preached. Sunday happened to coincide with one of the two biggest festivals in Peru, El Señor de los Milagros or The Lord of Miracles. Though it sounds like Christian religious festival, according to Wes & Bill it is largely an exercise in idolatry -- images processed all over the city, people bowing to the images, etc. -- combined with what devolves into drunken festivity. Think Mardi Gras.

Then think preaching during Mardi Gras. As I got up to preach a brass band that sounded as if it could have come from the French Quarter in New Orleans began to play.

Now the sanctuary has open doorways at the front that leads to an open air courtyard, so the band was quite audible. Then the fireworks started -- sometimes nearly startling me and the congregation out of our skins. That's when the lectern collapsed. We all shared a laugh as we reassembled the lectern and I continued preaching. Despite all of the distractions I thought the sermon went pretty well, I felt like I adjusted a little better to preaching through a translator.

After the evening service we were invited back to the Baker's home (Wes & Jami and their seven children) where we enjoyed a delicious meal and some great fellowship. Then we walked back to the hotel and hit the sack.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Push-update 7

1 x 35
1 x 30

845 down
9,155 to go

I'm struggling to find the time and energy to keep up...we'll see.


Arrival in Lima, Tour, & Arrival in Trujillo

Well we're here! We arrived in Lima at 4 a.m. on Saturday morning, twelve hours after we left St. Louis (stop over in Miami). None of us got much sleep on the plane from Miami to Lima--it was difficult to get comfortable. We immediately went to hotel in downtown Lima, and a couple of us took 2 hour power nap, while some of the rest of the guys on the team walked down to the Pacific. I opted for nap ;-) And boy did it feel good to get a couple hours of shut eye!

We left all of our luggage at the hotel and spent the day touring Lima by bus and on foot. Lima, a city of 7 million is a beautiful city on the coast of Peru. It's a moderate desert climate--raining only two or three days a year. The temperature ranges from the low 60s to the mid 90s throughout the year, and there's usually a little bit of cloud cover, so you don't roast in the direct sunlight. It was very pleasant on Saturday.

We had a great tour and a very knowledgable tour guide, Carla, who spoke excellent English. We started with the beautiful Parque de Amor (Park of Love) overlooking the Pacific, continued on through a historic and upscale neighborhood called San Isidro (a Spanish surname derived from St. Isidore), and then visited the Plaza Mayor and the main Cathedral in Lima, which contains the tomb of Peru's Spanish conqueror, Francisco Pizarro. Here's a shot taken on the Plaza Mayor. The Cathedral is the gray building in the background. Lima is sometimes called the City of Balconies, you can see the dark wooden balconies protruding slightly from the side yellow building on the left. The balconies are not walk out balconies but are more like a veranda or a bay window in terms of how far they extend from the side of the building.

Here's another picture taken from Plaza Mayor. This one gives you a nice view of the fountain that is in the middle of Plaza Mayor. You also get an even better view of the Cathedral.

After touring the Cathedral we walked to the nearby St. Francis Monastery and spent a couple of fascinating hours there viewing beautiful architecture, ornate chapels, a beautiful old library (I was coveting big time!), and the catacombs under monastery where we were surrounded by the skulls, and ankle bones, and rib cages of long dead monks and benefactors.

We wrapped up our tour and had dinner at a Peruvian restaurant where I had a Chacharron Sandwich (fried pork) and Purple Corn Juice (sweet, non-carbonated juice made from black corn). Then we hustled back to the hotel grabbed our luggage and headed to the airport where he took a very pleasant flight from Lima to Trujillo. Here's the team-sans me-getting off the plane in Trujillo.

More about Trujillo and worshipping with the Larco Church there later. Now I've got to run to a team meeting, followed by our departure to the work site, where we'll begin our construction work. I'll also be lecturing later this morning at the Seminario Biblico Reformada on the Biblical view of homosexuality. Right now I've got to run.

Until then...Dios les bendiga! (God Bless You!)


Happy Birthday Honey!!

Cumpleaños Feliz, my sweet Sonja! Sorry we can't be together today.

Today my lovely wife celebrates her birthday and we commemorate another event as well. Fourteen years ago today I came from Pittsburgh to West Lafayette, and arranged for a good friend to take her out to eat on her birthday at one of our favorite restaurants, Mountain Jack's. Before ordering, he excused himself to go to the bathroom and I returned in his place bearing roses and completely surprising my wife. After enjoying a nice dinner I took her out to one of our favorite parks, Fort Ouiatenon.

After talking for awhile, I gave her birthday present to her, a delicate and ornate lace handkerchief that had belonged to my grandmother. She thought it was beautiful but seemed a little bewildered at my choice of gifts. So after a moment, I told her to give it to me and I'd show her what it was for. She handed it to me and I unfolded it, placed on the ground, knelt down on one knee, offered her an emerald cut diamond, and asked her if she'd be my wife. After a looooong pause (she was making me sweat!) she said, "Yes," and we were married seven months later.

I'd do it all over again Sweetie. I love you. See you in a few days.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Push-update 6

1 x 30

780 down
9,220 to go

OK...I have not maintained my program in the midst of my travels thus far, but I plan to begin again. I did at least make a go of it again on Sunday night. I'm about 5-6 days behind, so I've got some serious catching up to do. I'm going to shoot for getting caught up before I return to St. Louis. We'll see.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Flat Statistics

I've been listening to the audio book, The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. Pretty thought-provoking, and an interesting exercise to be reading that and The Next Christendom simultaneously. Anyway, one of the amazing statistics that Friedman cites in his book is this:

Google now performs 1 billion searches per day
Only one third of those searches originate in the United States
Only one half of all searches are performed in English

Whew! There's big world out there, and apparently that world is pretty tech-savvy.


Peru bound

Friday afternoon, along with six other men, I'll be making my way here:

Our church is sending us to Trujillo, Peru to work with Pastor Wes Baker and Peru Mission as we serve and learn from our Peruvian brothers and sisters. We'll be doing some construction work on a church and I'll have the opportunity to preach twice and lecture three times to seminary students at the Seminario Biblico Reformado.

My three lectures will be on:

A Theology of the City, and
How Worship Gives Shape to Belief & Life.

I may also have an opportunity to lead a discussion on Philip Jenkins' excellent book, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity.

In fact, one of the things we'll be doing is taking an article that Jenkins wrote for the Atlantic Monthly (which Rev. Baker translated into Spanish) and discussing it with some of our Peruvian brothers and sisters. Our team has read the article and their folks will have read the article too. I look forward to learning from that discussion. I'm excited about how God is moving in the global South and am eager to observe and participate in this historic shift.

Anyway, I hope to be wired enough to be able to post some updates during the trip. We'll see. Until then...Dios Les Bendigas!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Push-update 5

2 x 35
2 x 30

750 down
9,250 to go

Still one day behind my target of 125/day

Monday, October 17, 2005


Push-update 4

Missed two days, which means I have a lot of catching up to do if I want to stay on pace...

1 x 35
7 x 30

620 down
9,380 to go



I admit I was about ready to pack it in. 2 outs in the ninth. Cards are done. Wrecking ball hits Busch Stadium in the morning.

Then Eckstein squeaks a base hit. Good, but, probably too little, too late. Edmonds walks, nice, but...Then Pujols cranks one over the fence. I couldn't believe it!!! Three mop up outs in the bottom of the ninth and we're going back to St. Louis!

Don't swing that wrecking ball just yet...

Friday, October 14, 2005


Push-update 3

1 x 35
3 x 30

375 down
9,625 to go

This looked pretty easy on paper, but, as you know...push-ups are not done on paper.



1 x 35
3 x 30

250 down
9,750 to go

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