Semana Santa, or Holy Week, was an incredible time of ministry, fellowship, and focusing on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The church gathered to watch the Passion of the Christ, followed by a time of discussing the significance of Jesus’ death on the cross. The next evening we shared a Passover meal, including the Lord’s Supper, that taught us all about the deliverance that God has given us throughout history, from the Exodus to our deliverance from sin. Then, we went to another church in Lima – Camino De Vida – for a night of worship.
All of this culminated on Easter Sunday. As we gathered together in the afternoon to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, we focused on the reality that we really have something to celebrate about – Jesus is RISEN! And as we celebrated and reflected on the hope that we have because of the empty tomb, we were able to witness our new sister in Christ, Roxanna, die to her old life and be raised to a new life in Christ as she was baptized. It truly was an amazing week, followed by an amazing Easter Sunday. Praise the Lord!
In terms of ministry, life has been going well here in Lima. Since I am such an orderly guy, I will proceed with this post based on the title. Bible studies have been going well, and they are easily some of my favorite moments during the week. Monday night studies are going well in my apartment, although I am completely exhausted every night once everyone has left. Individual Bible studies are going good, including a new study that Wes and I are having with a married couple that lives close to my neighborhood. I always enjoy the opportunity to personalize each study, focusing on verses and truths that are particularly applicable to each person.
With 2011, our team has set out with our new vision for ministry and for the community of faith here. Part of that vision includes “large”, planned service projects (currently called “La Mano de Dios”, which will be quite impactful for you Maradona fans). The hope is that these projects will instill within this new community of faith the desire to serve our neighbors and other parts of Lima. Our first project took place in Paraíso, where we have been working as a team for over a year. It was a great opportunity to demonstrate the love of Jesus in very tangible ways. I am in charge of the next service project, and I am currently brainstorming for potential ideas. Any thoughts?
We are also excited about Holy Week (Semana Santa) this year, and we are currently planning several events during that week. In Latin America, Semana Santa is such an important week – spiritually speaking – due to the heavy Catholic influence. In an effort to be culturally relevant, we are trying to make the most of this week when everyone has their eyes turned on Jesus in order to share the good news of salvation. I am especially excited about the meal that we will share on Friday night in order to reflect on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and to learn some Jewish Passover traditions.
Please keep all of these ministry events in your prayers. Your prayers are very much appreciated.
Please keep a new Bible study in your prayers. We had our first study last night at my friend Carlos’ house. The cool part about it was that it was his sister, Carla, who asked me if we could study the Bible at their house. So, last night we started studying Mark. There were five family members there, and hopefully there will be more next week. Your prayers are definitely appreciated.
So I have been terrible about posting. Here is a brief look at some things that have been going on:
Great time with Jeff Tipps on his trip to Peru – Been a little sick lately, first with the “gripe/flu” and then some wonderful fever/stomach goodness – Our team is reading When Helping Hurts, which I have enjoyed thoroughly – Definitely been enjoying my time with Kyle Glaeser as we talk about life on the mission field – Starting to plan my time back in the States in September – Have been eating healthier and working out in 2011, and still going strong, unfortunately with little to show for it 🙂 – Have really enjoyed reading Proverbs lately – Started visiting some foreign ladies (Canadian, American, Dutch) in a Peruvian jail – Bible study at my house in going well on Monday nights – Relatively frustrated with some aspects of ministry, most of which is due to my own shortcomings and weaknesses – Excited to hear about Tristian Varvel’s coming birth – Cut my hair short – Love Dunkin’ Donuts coffee
I won’t bore you any longer. I pray that God is blessing you richly in every aspect of life.
This past Sunday, Peruvians went to the polls in order to vote for the next Peruvian president. In Peru, all citizens are required by law to vote in all elections. If they choose not to vote, or are not able to get to their designated voting station, they are required to pay a fine. Because of this requirement, voting days are national holidays. In addition, the sale of alcohol is prohibited several days preceding the elections. Unlike the United States, there are numerous candidates for every election, and this presidential race was no different. Among the dozen or so candidates that decided to run, there were 5 front-runners in the weeks leading up to the elections: the former mayor of Lima, a former president (presidents can serve multiple terms, just not back-to-back), a former chief government official, the daughter of a former president (who is currently imprisoned in Peru for crimes committed during his second term as president), and a former military official who just happens to be associated with the communist and socialist parties of Peru.
And now, two days after the elections, it looks like the latter two candidates will advance to the second round of elections, since the next president is required by law to receive more than half of the votes (they received around 32% and 23% of the votes, although they are still counting). The run-offs will take place on June 5th, and the next president will be sworn in on July 28th, Peruvian Independence Day. Please keep Peru in your prayers, as these are very interesting times. There is much uncertainty about the political policies and intentions of both of the leading candidates. But, as a Peruvian friend of mine said last night, as Christians we can rest assured that God is in control regardless of who wins. Praise the Lord.
This past Thursday, exactly one week ago, Jeff Tipps came landed at the Jorge Chavez International Airport. I was waiting for him with Justin Thompson, who had graciously offered to drive us home from the airport. It was so great to see Jeff after over 15 months of only sporadic Skype conversations. We spent the next four days catching up, eating great food, seeing some sights, and taking part in ministry events such as Youth Night and our Sunday church gatherings. Unfortunately, I was feeling pretty terrible on Saturday, but Jeff was patient, and the rest of time was relatively issue free (minus some weird stomach issues). The entire time was fantastic, and I can’t wait until he comes back again. It is so refreshing to spend time with a great friend, knowing that you can talk about anything or nothing at all. And it is nice to know that he knows more about my life here in Lima. Praise the Lord for great friends…
This past Monday was the first neighborhood Bible study that has been held in my apartment, and it went really well. While we have had numerous Sunday gatherings at my place, in addition to several spontaneous youth gatherings, this was the first Bible study. Up until now, much of our work has focused on personal Bible studies with small groups of people. I have really enjoyed these personal studies, but I was ready to have something local and consistent in my neighborhood. That way I could invite both new and old friends to study God’s Word.
It is funny the things that you learn about yourself throughout the course of your life. In particular, being on the mission field has taught me numerous things about my quirky personality. I have learned even more that I love people, that I love having people over to my house, and that I love talking to people about our Lord. I have also learned that I am absolutely terrible at starting things. Even though I have an idea that I think is awesome, I find myself struggling to pull the trigger and get it started. Thankfully, this weakness is one that none of my teammates share.
With the start of the new year, our team decided that we wanted to start family groups. These groups would be locally based with a heavy emphasis on Bible study and fellowship – right up my alley 🙂 With this new initiative, I was motivated to start this new group in my apartment. Despite only have one person at 7 (the time that I told everyone to be there), there were eight Peruvians by 8. We read Genesis 1 & 2 and then ate snacks and talked. It was an amazing evening, and I am super excited about the coming Mondays. Please keep this new family group in your prayers.