Monday, April 24, 2006

From Up Above

In case you were wondering what Trujillo, Peru looked like from space, here is an idea from Google Earth.

Just in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Surreal Life

Well, we just returned from RUF and I preached my last sermon on the campus of TAMU. (We have one more RUF meeting, but our graduating seniors will be giving their testimony as to what God has taught them during their time here). This is a weird experience. I know in my mind that this was the last time, but in my heart it feels like I will have many more opportunities. Next week. And the next week. And the next semester.

When I got up to speak, one of our students who shall remain nameless (ahem...Hannah Wachdorf) pointed to her face like streams of tears were falling! She almost got me there, but I recovered. I preached from Luke 7, the story of the woman of the city who crashed Simon the Pharisee's party in order to demonstrate her love for Christ by washing his feet with her tears and hair. It is a good text, and just like everywhere else in the Bible, you have to present it and just get out of the way.

At any rate, I feel weird right now. I'm in denial. This is all surreal.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Call Me Sick...or Crazy...or Something Like That....

This is bizarre, but with May quickly approaching, I'm realizing that everything in our lives is about to get turned upside down, and I'm beginning to feel rather nostalgic about things around here.

For example, I had a dentist appointment this morning. Usually, not a fun thing to do. No matter how much I floss, I could always do more. I mean, is anyone satisified about their flossing? There is a parallel here to being satisfied with one's prayer life, but I digress....

As I left the dentist office of Dr. Birdwell, I realized that I'm going to miss this place. Not that I'm going to miss the dentist office per se (though the staff there is great), but what the dentist office represents: trusted friends that make Bryan / College Station a great place to live. I know my dentist, my mechanic, the regular faces behind the counter at the stores & restaurants that we frequent, the connectedness of this place.

Pastor & writer Eugene Peterson said in one of his books that he wanted to get to know the place in which he is ministering. Having spent over 10 years in Aggieland, I feel like I know this place. It is my place. My home. I know it. And yet there is so much more to know. And like a good friend you are just getting to know who unexpectedly gets reassigned to another city, our time here has been too short. But as someone has said, "Home is wherever God calls you to live."

Man, we don't want to leave. I wish that we could pick up this place and drop it right next to Trujillo. We don't want to leave, but we are willing to go. And I think that is a good thing. The people & places of Trujillo will soon fill our hearts, and I trust God will once again wed our hearts to our new home.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Half way up / down the mountain!

We pleased to let you know that we have 50.1% of the monthly support needed pledged!!! This amount is what individuals and churches have committed to so far. Please join us in praying that the remaining 49.9% comes in quickly. As many of you know, my call with RUF at TAMU expires May 31st. We have 3 weddings that we are a part of in June. Thus, we hope to be able to leave sometime in July. So keep praying with and for us!

Post Spring Break Missions Trip Report

John & Justin Downtown Lima

Friday, March 10th
We headed out from Bryan/College Station around noon and headed over to Bush Intercontinental in Houston. After getting stuck in traffic on I45 (surprise, surprise!), we made it to the airport in plenty of time to catch up with the RUF group from the Univ. of Texas. We boarded the plane about 3:30pm, and sat on it for a long time while they made a repair to the engine (!). If that wasn't enough, the pilot came on and informed us that as soon as the repair "dries", we'll take off. I thought about offering some duct tape if they needed any additional strength for the glue! After a long 6 hour flight during which we watched "Walk the Line", we landed on Peruvian soil and headed out to the Hotel Meleia which was very nice. I think we turned off the lights and jumped in bed around 2:30am.

Justin at the deck of a restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Lima

Saturday, March 11th
After eating breakfast at the hotel, we drove to downtown Lima and tour a few amazing cathedrals. The main cathedral housed the bones of the Spanish conquerer, Pizarro, as well as some 25,000+ bones in the underground catacombs. After eating at a nice restaurant that overlooked the Pacific Ocean, we headed back to the airport and caught a one hour flight up the coast to Trujillo. After checking in to the Hotel Country, we headed out to an italian restaurant just off the town square and had some very good pizza.

A Monestary in Lima

Sunday, March 12th
We headed out to the church plant in Arevalo where we spent the week working. I preached in the morning service on Mark 8:27ff. Rev. Bill Bradford translated for me, and I'll tell you, I'm convinced that he worked 10x harder than I did. I had the easy part. After church, we walked the neighborhood with some of the church members and invited adults and children out to the church for the week's Vacation Bible School outreach. After church, we headed out to Wes & Jami Baker's house for lunch and an afternoon of singing psalms and hymns. Sunday evening, we headed back out to Arevalo where my collegue, Benji Slation (RUF UT), preached on Mark 9.

John & his amigo, "Ben-hi"

Children at the VBS Outreach

Monday through Thurs, March 13-16th
We started construction after morning devotions at Arevalo. The team started out with much gusto and vigor having waited many months to get to this point. We busted up concreted, uprooted trees, and moved rocks & boulders in preparation for the digging for the foundation of what will be the medical clinic. At 4pm every afternoon, many of us split up the work and some attended and helped out with the VBS outreach. We had 50+ kids and a handful of adults attend. This served as very good relations to the neighborhood, many of which were greatly surprised that many of the girls on our team were working hard.

The church at Arevalo under construction.

Josh & Kara working hard on the foundation for the medical clinic.

Wednesday night, we met with students from the English Language Institute which is an outreach of the mission to the community and university students. We had many opportunities to tell folks about the Gospel and invite them out to the church. As you might expect, many of the students were very self-conscious about speaking English with North Americans, and a handful were very excited.

Our meeting with the university group.

One evening, we went out to eat at Chelsea's which is a very nice restaurant. We had chicken & beef kabobs which were very delicious. I sat with Gerado who is one of the seminary students who is working with the university students, Percy who is another seminary student who will be working with the youth at the Arevalo church, and Pastor Ricardo and his family. He is the pastor at the Larco church. 90% of the conversation was in Spanish. My head was swimming after about 2-3 hours of conversation. My brain never processed that much Spanish in one setting. One of our students, Kara Zeiger, helped me understand some of what I couldn't, but I was surprised and encouraged with how much I did understand!

A handy and pretty way to remember how to spell "Huanchauco."

Friday, March 17th
We toured the Moche ruins in the morning, which is an ancient paramid that is only about 25% excavated. After that, we headed out to Huanchauco which is famous for their handmade bamboo-like canoes and surfing. We ate out there and then stopped by a market to look for souveneirs, and then headed out to the airport. We flew back into the Lima and waited about 6+ hours in the airport until our flight left at 12:54am.

One of the carvings at the pyramid ruins at Moche.

Brian Franklin at the Beach

Heading back to the Lima from Trujillo's airport.

Saturday, March 18th
After a long red-eye flight (during which, I slept more than I thought I would) we arrived around 6:05am back in Houston. After a smooth transition through customs, we headed back to Aggieland.

Justin and his new friend, Luis.