Happy belated Indepedence Day, friends and family. By the way - I apologize for the lack of exclamation points and parentheses in this blog since the keyboard I am currently using is malfunctioning. Lame.
Yesterday was a phenomenal Sunday. After a great worship service, we loaded a comvi to Huaraz, about an hour and a half ish away, and had a cook-out with several missionaries serving around Ancash Province this summer. There were several missionary couples working with Wycliffe, translating the Bible and other material into Quechua, and a group of students from a Mennonite college in Indiana serving this summer as a part of their requirements to graduate - what a requirement. AAAAANNNNNNDDDD there were REAL American hot dogs and hamburgers and SALAD - oh how I´ve missed salad - and congealed salad which Rachel from Ohio made fun of me for calling it that but hey - that´s the Mississippi word - AAAAAAANNNNNNDDDDD the most beastly intense desserts in the world - chocolate cake, mud cake, chocolate ice cream, and homemade hand-cranked vanilla. Oh. My. Goodness. I understand that annoying commercial about ´´I´d give my right arm for some homemade ice cream´´ now. So stinkin good.
But besides the food, getting to hang out and be encouraged and encourage others was definitely worth the dusty, cram-packed comvi ride. The missionaries there challenged us to rely on God´s daily grace. They encouraged us that when service becomes difficult, trust in the Lord, pray like nothing else, and put on the FULL armour of God. What a blessing they were for us.
And on the way back, our team had a GREAT time of unifying personality tests. The whole cube-ladder-horse-flowers-desert test was the hugest hit. I loved it. And really gained some insight about my teammates. MC friends, there is another sugar cube in this world. Absolutely hilarious. For those of you who have never tried the test, look it up online. It´s completely worth your time.
Today, we took a trip to Campo Santo, the site of Old Yungay before it was completely destroyed in 1970 by an avalanche. It definitely made me second-guess my prayers for earthquakes, considering that´s what caused the avalanche. Thankfully, New Yungay where we´re serving is sheltered from Huascarán by a ´´protective knoll.´´ Yungay was once bigger than Huaraz, the capital of the province, but was LEVELED during the afternoon of May 31. Only a few children survived who had gone to a circus just a little down the road, and some of the townspeople managed to climb up to the cemetery that is built on a hill. They survived for two weeks without food because they couldn´t climb down from the cemetery because of the devastation. There was nowhere to go. Tragic, tragic story. And we actually met one of the survivors who still lives there and tells his story to tourists who come. Being at Campo Santo made me think of Nehemiah and his mourning over the broken walls of Jerusalem. Yungay has been rebuilt. And now the Lord is rebuilding its people, restoring to them the JOY of His salvation, and reminding them that His JOY will be their strength. Traditions are empty. Life is empty without the Light of the World, the Bread of Life, the Living Water, the Word that was in the beginning. Seeing kids like Jorge and Shayle and Lourdes and Lenny and Estephanie and Julio UNDERSTANDING and FOLLOWING... What a reminder that the JOY of the Lord is our strength.
And just for fun, after the tour, I bought a pair of Miss Frizzle earrings for future classes about Peru and the Incas and however else I can incorporate them - it´s going to be good - AND we went to a restaurant for lunch and tried SHEEP STOMACH. It´s not too bad... if you can get past the color... and the smell... and the texture.
Keep us in your prayers - and not just for the sheep stomach thing. Pray that God will continue to draw kids and teenagers to our classes. Pray that they will have a huge desire to learn His Word. And pray for unity and encouragement for our team. The guys head out Friday back to Lima to catch a plane to Iquitos to research the jungle - much different than sweet precious small-town Yungay.
And for those of you serving other places this summer, know that I am praying for you all. Never forget that the JOY of the Lord is your strength. Don´t be anxious about anything - but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And His PEACE that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. I love you all. One more month til we reunite. Make the most of every moment.