I thought I would give you a snapshot of where the people you’ve met here currently are, or what they are up to.
Eduard and Lady
Eduard is in the very northern point of Peru and has been for about a month. He took a high-paying job at a concrete factory, but it lasts only six weeks. As I was told by Jheyson from Huaral, they do these high-paying short stints because it keeps them from having to report the workers as employees, freeing them from all the tax obligations and other fees. The work is rather dangerous and very difficult, I understand. Eduard’s wife and son stayed in Cusco without him. He plans to be back to work on the farm in September if we can come to a mutual understanding.
Rafael and Elisabet
We do not see them much anymore. Rafael does his best to avoid us, even leaving immediately after I arrive at the store. He does not want to talk about life or most especially about God. He seems fairly unhappy. In the last couple of months, he has torn his Achilles tendon, messed up his knee, slipped a disc in his back, hurt his neck, had Covid, and now has severe migraines and is scheduled for a brain scan. Elisabet says she thinks God is allowing all this bad to happen to them (remember the truck vandalisms and their store robbery, too) in order to get Rafael’s attention. She isn’t willing to consider any sort of change without Rafael.
We did have a pizza supper with them last week. They wanted to invite us for supper, so they took us to one of their favorite restaraunts. After going, we realized the many reasons why don’t go out often. It was an enjoyable time, but getting seven little ones to bed after 10:00 at night—well, you can imagine.
She has been back to church a few times recently, and she always seems emotionally moved, but she’s incredibly unreliable (not just about church) and seems unable to find time to get to many services. I asked her if we could maybe have a study with her on Saturday or Sunday at her house if she could not make it to church, and she said that would be amazing, but when we pulled out the calendars, it didn’t look like it would work for several weeks.
She asked if we could please move our prayer meeting to her house. She begged and begged for me to come see it, so I finally took the time. It is a nice house, but it is very out of the way. I couldn’t see a good reason to move there. With some questioning, I finally got out of her that she wants us there for good luck because she was robbed there a few years back. If we have a house of prayer there, God will bless her by keeping the robbers away.
I haven’t talked with him since February though we tried recently; the call wouldn’t work. He is still in Lima, selling yogurt on the streets. Last I heard, he had separated from his long-term girlfriend who had moved back to Puno. I encouraged him to consider coming back to Cusco and attend church here or to go to Huaral to be with Christians, but he isn’t ready to face his sin.
Lucy has been attending once or twice a month for a few months now. She is a retired nurse that China met in Cusco, and she lives a few hours west of here. Occasionally, she stays at her second house in Cusco and from there visits church. She is faithful to send me a message pretty well every Sunday to let me know she listened to the message I sent via WhatsApp to the sermon group we have.
Alicia has been ill with Covid for a couple of weeks now. I would like to visit her this week if I can take time for it. She has also been suffering with worse and worse vision. I think she has cataracts. I offered to take her to Cusco to visit a doctor, but she said she was afraid of the doctors in Cusco and wanted to find one at the German Hospital in Curahuasi. She says she can no longer read the Bible for longer than about two minutes at a time before her eyes hurt and water so much she has to stop.
Percy and Lucrecia
After standing and giving a testimony on July 2 that they wanted to consider officially moving their membership to our church, we pretty much haven’t seen them at church. Percy and I have had a few conversations. He says that he definitely wants to be part of the church, but that his wife and daughters have decided to go back to their other church. I suppose when faced with an actual decision, they couldn’t go through with it. We are still trying to stay friendly and keep an open conversation with them. Perhaps God will draw them back, but for now, it seems like they have decided to give up on being here.
Esmeralda is still receiving instruction. She is a regular fixture here on the farm, helping Steph with all sorts of things. She walks into the house and immediately finds work to do and generally works until she is ready to leave. Her level of diligence and responsibility is incredible; I would recommend her as an example for any young woman in that regard. I’ve been blessed that she has been taking some time to enjoy sitting and reading occasionally when the work is done. She has been moving steadily through a diet of doctrinal books and religious fiction, too. She has been helping every day with baking and selling if China or Leonela are planning to sell; some days they decide not to bake for whatever reason; but otherwise, she is right there with them. She seems to be of one heart and mind with us with the only hold out being the veiling; we pray patiently for her.
Leonela has been working one week with Esmeralda, baking and selling in town. The next week she teaches Spanish classes for our children. She has had a heavy burden on her heart for Percy’s girls, but they haven’t managed to get together. I think mostly Percy’s oldest daughter throws cold water on the idea. However, lately they have been active in a group chat Leonela started with them and China. I’m hoping that helps to keep the door open for them.
China is the head teacher and keeps things rolling toward our deadlines. I’ve been blessed to see her developing and stretching her teaching skills this year. Sometimes after several years, you can fall into a rut, but she’s really pushing herself to improve. Currently, her residency process is rejected for the second time. We are weighing the options for her. It may be that she will opt not to pursue residency and will simply pay the fine with the potential of a return to the States after the school year ends in December. She’s praying for direction in that.
Caleb and Belinda
Steph and I enjoyed a rare evening alone with them last week. It was good to get caught up on life. Even though we are so close, the busyness of life can make it hard to get the important small things communicated. They report that they are happy with their place here and remain excited about the potential for the work of the church. They are still looking at being here up to or through 2024, Lord willing, so that gives us some stability.
Caleb and I looked at a location for a store last week in Izcuchaca. It seems pretty promising. If we go through with the store option, it will essentially be Caleb’s project with me providing some support and experience where I can. Esmeralda and Leonela are both looking forward to the possibility of working the store. I do what I do best:
worry about every detail plan for every contingency; Caleb is ready to open the store tomorrow—what’s to worry about?! I imagine stores are a bit like babies: They cry when you would rather sleep, demand constant attention to keep growing, and make messes at the most incovenient times. But, I’m looking forward to seeing the project get moving.
Shawn and Steph
Steph is getting rounder and rounder every day. She is generally happy and healthy, with the pregnancy seeming to go better than about any pregnancy so far, with the exception that she had strong morning sickness for months that turned into mild morning sickness since. But she doesn’t complain. She feels so much better with her hands free from pain, something that was always magnified tenfold during a pregnancy.
The children are all happy and healthy. Anne had her first mini-surgery last week in preparation for her braces. The plan is to probably have braces on next year, but there are few steps, including a semi-permanent retainer, that need to happen over the next six to twelve months. We’re happy with the orthodontist so far; her first surgery cost only around $35, and he handled it very well.
I am feeling much better now that warmer and sunnier weather has finally arrived. I have found some freedom in structuring my week so that I have a day for writing, a day for church work, a day for the store (planning and looking so far), a day for the farm, a day for study, and so on. Before, I was caught in the unpleasant cycle of always putting out fires as they came and not being very focused or productive. I definitely feel recent weeks have been going better. I pray a lot about the church here and the need I think we have for more workers—two families is not very many. I still enjoy sharing the Word with the group every week, but I feel I don’t reach around much beyond that.
School teacher for next year
Yeah, I don’t know who that is either. Do I worry about that? I try not to, but we would really like for God to provide a capable teacher for next March. Neither China nor Leonela are planning to teach here. China will likely be moving on, and Leonela would like to focus more on the store and community.
The new families
Yeah, I don’t know who they are either, but I pray for them pretty well every morning, and I have for years now. One of those families materialized into Caleb’s, but we still feel a need for a couple more families to help carry the work forward. And we would really like for them not to be Schmidts! We love our family, but we need some other perspectives and experiences to round us out and challenge us.
We hear from many of you from time to time, letting us know you are praying for the work here. I am convinced that the success of the work here will be directly correlated to prayer, both in the church here and from you all. You see the needs outlined above. Hopefully, they can be a good prayer list for you. We would love to see all those names above as members here—those and more!
I can’t remember if I’ve ever asked for you to do this or not, but I would like to ask you to share the blog. There are now several hundred of you who see this, but I would like to expand the scope a bit if possible in the hopes of opening the net wider for finding future workers. If you know a conservative Anabaptist family who may have interest in a small mission church in Peru, please forward them the blog. Maybe they will be the ones God calls to come help us.
You can simply forward the blog as you receive it to get them interested, or you can send them to juandavidschmidt.com. Thanks in advance. Getting the word out I’m sure will help; if nothing else, it will gain us more prayer warriors!