The last few weeks have felt especially full for me. Of course, we did have visitors, but it didn’t seem like they took that much extra time. I know I’ve been putting some hours into my garden work, so that probably makes me feel more busy otherwise, but I love the garden. It is a balm to my spirit to work out there in the dirt with my plants.
Caleb and Percy have been pushing the well project forward. I haven’t helped much in the last couple of weeks besides lending my brain. Caleb and I have a goal of having the well connected to the house within the next two weeks. They are pretty close to done with the setup in the well house, so now it comes down to connecting everything to the house. Before the final connection, we will need to tear out the bathroom ceiling to get to the pipes that have been leaking off and on over the past couple of years. That’ll be the most involved part of the project.
Steve Zimmerman’s Visit
We enjoyed having Steve and Rosetta and two of their girls with us for a couple of days. I wasn’t sure if we were very good hosts, but Steve’s are old pros at mission life and Peru life, having lived in Puno for a couple years. They’ve served numerous other places over the years, too.
Steve loves to talk and to listen, and while we had lots of laughs, I enjoyed Steve’s ability to take a conversation deeper and deeper. He wasn’t content until he was down digging around in the roots of issues. I think that is a good skill to develop. He really made me think, and I know Caleb also enjoyed connecting with him, too.
Steve is an uncle to some of my former students, and his mannerisms made me think of my students and some of my very favorite years of teaching school in Tennessee. I’m grateful for those opportunities; they were formative in leading our family here.
Steve’s left on Saturday morning; Caleb dropped them off at the bus stop in Cusco. Josué left with them. He was rather eager to get back home. His visit here was his first time away from home, and he said it awakened in him a desire to see more of the world. Josué has a lot of good thoughts, and we will miss hearing them, but I’m sure his church family is glad to have him back.
When Naoma left, she was nursing a cold. We had hoped she would just take it with her, but she is a generous person. Since their departure, one after the other of us has fallen victim. It’s really not that bad as colds go, but it just annoyingly lingers, providing headaches, chest tightness, and plenty of extra mucus. I was one of the last to get it, but I’ve now had it for over a week. It has slowed us down but not brought most of us to a stop.
I also noticed that I was feeling worse after going to church. I thought at first that maybe it was just the effort of preaching/teaching on Wednesday and Sunday that wore me out, but China pointed out that Caleb’s have guinea pigs on the other side of the wall just behind the pulpit. If I take my allergy medication just before preaching, then it’s pretty much not a problem. If not, then my eyes and chest are burning by the time the message is over. It seems that my guinea pig allergy is only getting worse with time.
Cristina has been showing up off and on over the last few months. She was at church on Sunday morning when I shared a preparatory message for Communion, which seemed to really affect her. She recognized that she hasn’t been putting effort into pursuing God, and she committed to doing better with that.
Coincidentally, her birthday was this Tuesday. She is estranged from her family and was planning to spend it alone. She called Caleb and asked him to invite everyone to come to her place, so we did. Steph made her a birthday cake, which was a surprise for her. We spent about an hour singing hymns, and I shared a short devotional.
She seemed fairly overcome with emotion that we would take time for her. She said she wants to make more time for God so that she can be part of the brotherhood so she never has to be alone again. It really does make me thankful for the family of God and the love we have through Jesus. How does the world get by without the body of Christ?
Esmeralda, Anne, and Abbey finished their instruction class, but we as a church felt it would be good to continue a weekly study for about another year. Steph is going to be heading up a study with the women to meet weekly with them. I’m glad to let the older women teach the younger ones! I don’t want to shirk my responsibility, but I know the ladies will do well with this study.
Alicia is still receiving instruction. She is at the very beginning stages of her instruction and has a lot to learn. It is surprising to see how ignorant she actually is though she has been in Christian settings for decades. The concept of personal relationship with Jesus and disciplined study has been missing, but she is eager to grow now. It is a blessing to see her wearing the dresses Steph is making for her.
Cristina has said she wants to join Alicia’s instruction, so she may be with us this coming Sunday afternoon. It would be good for her to have the exposure. I am blessed with how Alicia and Esmeralda both are bold to tell Cristina what God expects from her.
Percy has not yet committed to a regular study though he continues to mention it. I don’t want to pressure him. He needs to make the choice himself. We are glad he continues to come to church. His prayers on Wednesday are always burdened for his family and himself.
Rafael and Elisabet have not missed a week of study so far. It is incredible to see Rafael so hungry for the Bible. In the last study, the topic of forgiveness and restitution came up. Different ones shared stories about people who have harmed them in the past and how God helped them find forgiveness. Esmeralda feels burdened to make restitution with the people in her past—pray for her in that. While we talked, Rafael sat quietly with tears in his eyes and sometimes spilling down his cheeks. I asked him later what he was thinking, but he didn’t want to say. I’m sure he has hurts in his past, too. Is he longing for the peace we have that passes all understanding?
Caleb has been relating to some Israelite neighbors. The Israelites here are a cult founded by a man who claimed to be the messiah in the 1980’s, I believe. He died, of course, but these dear deceived people continued in their wait for the Messiah. They offer animal sacrifices and follow many of the Old Testament rites. Caleb feels a special burden to bring these people to Jesus. They have the Bible, but they only look at the Old Testament.
Pray for each of these dear souls. The Holy Spirit is working. And pray for us that we would be effectual, fervent, and righteous in prayer and practice.
Residency stuff has been somewhat of a muddy situation lately. Our latest attempt had been rejected also, so I was once again trying to work with the attorney. I had a phone call with him just yesterday, in fact, but he couldn’t find our children’s birth certificates—that I had sent him in 2019! Yes, we’re still working on their residency. He called me an hour later, laughing that he had found them after all in another of his client’s files.
Working with this lawyer is an extreme test of… It’s just an extreme test.
With China now dating (surpise to those of you just finding out), we have decided to drop her residency process. She is planning to return to the States in January 2023, Lord willing.
We’ve worked out with the attorney that the best thing for Caleb’s will be for them to restart their process in January 2023, too. So, we’re kind of on hold until then. Caleb’s will need to pay a fine of $1 per day that they are over their visa, which is going to be pretty hefty, but we don’t see another better option, all things considered.
I have a policy of calling the attorney each week now because it seems to be the only hope of making any progress. Once we have our children’s residency, which could be within a month, Steph and I plan to change our residency status from “Religious” to “Family.” We are able to do that because Walter is now over three years old, and he is Peruvian. Having Family status will make our residency more nearly semi-permanent.
School is headed towards its end. Because of starting in May, we are ending in December this year. Caleb and I are planning to have a mini-conference here this Saturday, with each of us sharing a lecture for the teachers. It will be the very smallest teachers’ meeting I will have had the pleasure of attending, but we do what we can.
China is definitely out of the picture, and Leonela has declined to teach next year, so we’re still teacher-less. I am confident the rate of my graying has increased in the last few months due to school stuff. We have asked a few folks to teach, but have received no’s so far. However, we just this week had a potential yes.
I had a good phone call with a potential teacher who says she is very interested in accepting the position. She wants to pray about it and talk with her parents and ministry before letting us know. Please pray for the young lady and for us as we wait on the Lord.
Looking into November, it seems much less full than October or September were. That doesn’t mean it actually will be, but it’s worth dreaming about. I feel like on one hand that I’ve done very little in the past few months, but on the other hand, my days always fill up. I could use a breather again, I think.
Steve Zimmerman told me that he thinks I need about two young men to work alongside me to help both with the farm and the church. So, apparently there at least seems to be plenty to do. If you know of two single fellows who would like to spend six months or more with us, please let me know. I’d love to talk with them.
Blessings to each one. Keep praying!