Saturday, October 29, 2005

 

Home

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

Waiting...

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 challenge...to 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 different...as 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:

Homosexuality,
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

 

UN-BE-LIEVALBE!!!

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.

 

Push-update

1 x 35
3 x 30

250 down
9,750 to go

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

 

One Maniac...10,000 push-ups

Looking at my flabby self yesterday I decided I've GOT to do something...so I quickly did some calculations and figured that I can knock out 10,000 push-ups by the end of the year. That's approximately 125/day. Definitely do-able. I'll post updates here for accountability's sake.

125 down
9,875 to go

Met the first day's quota!!

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