Monday, December 28, 2009

Colca Canyon Trekking

Very early Monday morning, 4am to be exact, we loaded a bus and headed to Colca Canyon, the second deepest canyon in the world. It is over 10,000 feet deep at the deepest part. We arrived in the little town of Cabanaconde and started hiking around 10am. After a long 4 hour hike down, down, down, 4,000 feet down into the canyon we arrived at a nice little hostel in San Juan. de Chucho. It was a quiet little pueblo where not much has changed in the last 200 years. Small terraced fields are worked by hand, irrigation water delivered in shallow channels, and cooking is done on a wood oven. Electricity arrived about 10 years ago, but is only used for lights (and a TV in the kitchen) J The next day we hiked down the canyon through 2 other small pueblos, and into the town of Sangalle, better known as the “Oasis”. It is a little island of palm trees and hostels fed by a natural warm spring coming out of the canyon wall. Our little hostel had a swimming pool and a nice lawn to relax on. There is no electricity yet, so dinner was by candle light. After a good nights rest, we got up at 4:30 am, so we could be on the trail by 0500 before the sun reached our part of the canyon. This time it was up, up, up, 4,000 feet up. We made it in just over 3 hours. After breakfast, we took a bus to Chivay and enjoyed a dip in the 104 degree hot springs to sooth the sore muscles. Ahhhhh, so nice.

Rock Climbing

Dan, Syndey, and I went rock climbing one afternoon. After about a 10 minute taxi ride and a short 5 minute walk, we arrived at a nice rock face just above the Chile River. The climbing guide set 3 ropes and courses for us. Dan impressed the climbing guide by making it up all 3 routes. They even took one rope down and let Dan lead climb to put it back up. This was new for Dan. Sydney and I didn’t quite make it up to the top, but we had a lot of fun truing. Our hands and shoulders were a little sore the next day.

Life is a Beach!!

Mom and Dad Linnell, Daniel and his girlfriend Sydney, and Dawn all arrived in Arequipa on Monday, December 14th. We took a bus tour around the city on Tuesday. On Wednesday afternoon, we took off for the beach in Mejia. The people that run the language school let us use their beach house, which is just a couple of blocks off the beach. We took walks a couple of times a day, read books, caught up on sleep, played Frisbee, and chased sand crabs. The weather was hot and the water was cold. Everyone got a little sun burn. Came home Saturday afternoon to get ready for the next adventure.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Peruvian Wedding

The Alvarado family, our host family while we were in language school, invited us to the city of Tacna for their son’s wedding the weekend of December 5th. Again, we had the option of bus or plane. We wanted to try the bus since it was only a 6 hour trip each way. We actually enjoyed the ride, with movies, bingo, snacks, and lots of time to read. Denise got to yell BINGO, and won a free bus ride for a future trip. In Tacna, the family reserved space for us in Hotel Holiday Suites. We spent the day Saturday walking around the Tupoc market where you can find clothing and household items. Bargaining didn’t seem to be acceptable, but everything was pretty inexpensive, even by Peruvian standards. We happened to find a few Christmas gifts.

Saturday night we walked to the church for the wedding. Very traditional, catholic wedding...started an hour late. Andres and Karla were lovely. They had a madrino and padrino stand up with them as their sponsors. Then on to the reception. The wedding guests boarded a two story bus for the ride around town and on to the restaurant outside of the city, La Italiana. We arrived about 9:30 pm and had a few housdoerves, a few toasts, and finally a full dinner about midnight. After dinner, the dancing started and the real fun began. Denise and I and another north american couple decided to call it quits about 2am, and we hear the party lasted until 4am. Sunday morning was a little quiet and slow to rise. We sadly said goodbye and headed back to Arequipa after a fun filled weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving

Ahh, a few days off, so we decided to go to Lima and Spend Thanksgiving with Dawn. The choice was bus or plane. A 15 hour ride each way on the bus or 1 ½ hour flight up and back. We choose to fly. The first stop was a grocery – the cupboards were bare! Dawn asked for chicken enchiladas and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. Though a little burnt on the bottom (gas ovens are difficult here – just one setting is usually available – full blast) they were delicious. Dawn invited Itamar, the accountant in the office and one of her English students. Also Itamar’s son, Ismael, came to lunch with us. We ate our way through the rest of the visit, stuffed chicken, spaghetti, and a visit to a restaurant for sushi. One outing was to a local park for the magic fountain displays. In the eveing the lazer lights are just beautiful, a must for a visitor to the area. Dawn also had laser eye surgery on Friday and is now recovering nicely. We were also able to visit Dawn’s church which is an hour bus trip across Lima. It was a beautiful service with an amazingly talented group of musicians leading the worship. All too soon, we returned to Arequipa with a 6am flight (who booked that flight so early, anyways?!?) on Monday morning after Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Puerto Maldonado Team 2

The song “Showers of Blessings” comes to mind as I am writing this update in the middle of a huge thunder and lighting storm here in Puerto Maldonado. The Puerto work project was showered with blessings right from the beginning when 30 people arrived on October 23 in Puerto Maldonado to complete the 40/40 house. These were some hard working folks. We worked non-stop for 10 days, putting in 10, 12, even 16 hours a day to get the building ready for the 40/40 missionaries to move in on November 3.

The house was a little behind schedule when the team arrived. The work site had been without power for 10 days when the team arrived. The stucco work inside was completed 1 day before the group arrived, but the topping floor slab on the second level was not. So we started putting primer on the walls of the first level, tile on the bathroom walls, and plywood ceiling on the trusses of the second level. The floor slab was completed the second day, so we quickly moved upstairs with the primer. A huge blessing was brought in the form of a Graco airless paint sprayer by a church in Idaho. I had not even asked for one, but the pastor there just felt like we could really use it. Boy was he right. Not only did they bring the paint sprayer, but they brought money to buy a generator to run it as well. We were still out of power, so I was able to buy a nice 120V/220V generator to power both the paint sprayer and our power tools. And the store I bought the generator at was owned by a Christian family, who sold me the generator for 33% off since it was for the church. I love it when you can see the hand of God at work.

After I painted the walls and ceilings, we were finally ready to start tiling. We installed tile on all the floors, 3 bathrooms, 2 laundry rooms, and 2 kitchen counter tops. That is a lot of tile cutting, setting, and grouting. A blessing that arrived with the Puerto 1 team was a small tile saw. Boy, did it ever get a work out. In fact, the motor froze up on it after the first floor. One prayer warrior of a lady prayed over it, I laid hands on it, took it all apart, cleaned it out, put it back together, and it worked the rest of the project without any trouble. Blessings come in many forms.

With just a few days to go before the 40/40’s, they completed the stucco on the outside the house. We painted the front of the house, installed to 40/40 sign, leveled and filled the yard, installed windows and front doors. In addition, we completed the block walls for the church, formed and poured the columns and bond beams, built and erected the trusses, and got most of the metal roof on in time for the building dedication. All told, we installed 1000 square feet of ceiling, 500 feet of batten strips, 51 feet of shelving, 16 windows, 2 doors, 2000 square feet of floor tile, 414 square feet of wall tile, 3 toilets, 5 sinks, 4 showers, connected the cistern, water tank, and control systems, 64 feet of metal handrail, 2 ceiling fans, 20 light fixtures, 38 electrical outlets, used 30 gallons of primer, 40 gallons of interior paint, 10 gallons exterior paint,, built 8 metal beds and frames, 1248 concrete blocks, 196 buckets of concrete, 6 trusses, and 200 sheets of metal roofing. There was about 2,970 hours of labor donated during the project, and no major injuries. I was blessed with a great work team.

After a boat trip in the morning and a restful afternoon at a park, the church and house was dedicated on the evening of November 3rd. It was exciting to see over 120 people at the dedication and watch the 40/40’s go explore their new house. I will stay another week completing little things around the place, and will head back to Arequipa on November 15th. I can’t wait to see how God uses this church and the 40/40’s as they begin the church planting process here in Puerto Maldonado.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

First Work Team Leaves Puerto Maldonado

After 8 days of hard work, we had completed the second story walls, roof, and 3 sides of the outside security wall. We dug 7 footings for columns, formed 150 feet of foundation wall, tied rebar for 300 feet of beams and 7 columns, carried and installed over 4000 concrete blocks, used 120 bags of cement and hauled an estimated 1,080 buckets of concrete, built 4 roof trusses, installed 120 sheets of metal roofing, and roughed in the main electrical panel and 25 electrical outlets. Many great friendships were formed between both the American team members and the Peruvian team members. Praise God for these men and their willingness to come use their construction skills here in Peru.

Boat Ride and Tree Top Walk

Tuesday morning right after breakfast, we headed to the port of Puerto Maldonado to board a small motorized canoe for a trip down the river to a research center. Along the way, we saw egrets, turtles, alligators, gold dredges, and lots of butterflies. After about an 1 ½ hours, we stopped at the Ecological Reserve Taricaya. There we got to see several kinds of monkeys, parrots, mawcaws, parakeets, owl, otter, jaguar, and ocelot. We took a jungle walk where our guide explained different plants and trees, and how many were used by the indigenous people. The exciting part was a 42 meters high (137’) by 90 meters long (295’) tree top canopy walkway. It was great to look out over the jungle from the vantage point of a bird. It really gives you a different perspective. After a short lunch at the reserve center, we got back into the boat for the ride home. Along the way, we detoured along a side tributary and stopped to fish for a while. We got some bites, but nobody landed a fish. We did get to see a couple of alligators though. We arrived back to Puerto Maldonado just as the sun set and darkness settled along the river. What a great day.

Festival de Ninos

As some of the first impact work in Puerto Maldonado, we held a “Festival de Ninos”, where we enjoyed parachute games, crafts, snacks, songs, bible verses and puppets. They continued to enjoy the parachute games, crafts, snacks, and most of all the puppets. We had between 60-70 children there on Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoon. Saturday was the last day and Pastor Freddy gave the salvation message using the salvation bracelet made during craft time. At the end, 33 children asked to receive Christ as their savior. Praise God.

Baby Dedication

You just never know what you will be asked to do when you’re on the mission field. Denise, Dawn and I went to church on Sunday night a few weeks ago. When I got there, a lady was there that wanted her children dedicated. Pastor asked me if I would dedicated these two children. My first reaction was, no way…I have never done it in English, let alone in Spanish. But I was reminded that I was a missionary, and a great honor was being asked of me. So with Dawn as a translator, I thanked them, told them I was humbled and honored for this privilege. Denise read from Luke, chapter 2 about Joseph and Mary taking Jesus to Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord. I then said a few words to the mother and the congregations about raising the children to know and love Christ. Then a short prayed asking God to watch over these children and to use them for his purpose and for his kingdom. You just never know what is going to happen next.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

On to Puerto Maldonado

We will soon be working in Puerto Maldonado, a jungle city located on the Rio Madre de Dios, a tributary of the Amazon River. There are about 50,000 in Puerto Maldonado, but it is a small remote city. In some ways, it reminds us of the YK delta in SW Alaska. Dennis spent a week there in late August/early September coordinating the re-start of our building project there. We are building a 2-story missionary house. The first floor will be for the 40/40 Support family, and the second level will be for the eight 40/40 missionaries that will be working on church plants in and around Puerto Maldonado. We have 2 teams coming, one the end of September and one the end of October to work on the building and do community impact to jump start the church planting. Dennis will be leaving soon to live there for 7 weeks until the project is completed. Denise will come to Puerto Maldonado during the 2 work teams, so Dennis will not be alone the entire time. The 40/40's arrive November 3rd, expecting to move in, so there is lots of work to do to get the building liveable.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rafting the Rio Chili

We decided to do something fun after all the volunteers left. We took a short rafting trip just outside of Arequipa on the Rio Chili. Not big water, but there were some Class II/III rapids, with one Class IV. We had a great time. Denise said it was better than any ride at Disneyland. It was hard to believe that we were in the middle of dry dessert country because everything was so green around the river. If anyone comes down to visit, this will be a must do adventure. We want to go again.

25th Anniversary

On August 18th, Denise and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. The team had a tour day, so we spent the afternoon walking around the Plaza de Armas, showing the group good places to go buy souvenirs, get good eats, or a good cup of coffee. After we loaded them on the bus for the evening, we stopped into a small cafĂ© and had a great pizza cooked in a wood fired oven. Then a short taxi ride home and fall into bed exhausted. For our anniversary present, there was no silver or jewelry involved. We are both too practical this year….we decided to buy a new mattress for the bed, because the one furnished with the apartment must be 10-15 years old and is killing our backs. Besides, we took each other to Peru this year

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dedication Day

Sunday was a special day for Extreme and the Zamacola church. There were about 500 people in attendance for the dedication of the Larry and Addie Garmin Missionary Training Center, 40/40 housing, and Zamacola Church. About 300 of those were from outside the church, having been invited at one of our impact events during the last week. Each local church was asked to perform a special for the event. Denise and I were part of a dance group from Alto Libertad Church and performed a traditional Peruvian dance. (I was told to not quite my day job). It was a great celebration and there were people hanging out the windows, standing on the sidewalk looking in, and a standing room crowd. What a great way to jump start a church planting movement.

Tiling All Night Long

We have been making great progress on the church building. The outside has been painted, the dormitories are finished, the lights installed, front door built, and now the floor tile is going down. However, we hit a snag on Friday afternoon, and about 40 tiles had to be removed. This setback cost us about a day. With the building dedication looming just one day away, Dennis and 4 others stayed up all night Friday night and completed the first floor tiling. Just part of the Extreme Adventure!!

Dawn Get to Stay an Extra Week

It was Sunday afternoon, and we are getting ready to take Dawn to the bus station for her trip back to Lima, when she received a text message from the Pastor she is teaching. He told her she should stay in Arequipa another week. He would be coming to Arequipa on Saturday to dedicate the building anyhow, so she should just stay. Yahoooo!! Dawn was really wanting to stay but was afraid to ask. We raced to the bus station to change her ticket to the next Sunday. On the way back home, she was talking with the taxi driver and got to share why she is a Christian and invited him to church. Was this all part of God’s plan? It was fun to have Dawn helping with the impact events. She was asked to lead several of the events for Extreme and was a great help in reaching out to people here in Arequipa.

Group of 80 Arrive for AQP 1

On a bright sunny Friday afternoon, 80 willing and ready volunteers arrived to do construction and impacts here in Arequipa. For the next 12 days, half of them will help work on the Larry and Addie Garmin Missionary Training Center, 40/40 housing, and Zamacola church, while the other half will visit hospitals, a women’s prison, children’s home, show Jesus Films, and pray with people in the Plaza de Armas. What an exciting week.

Dawn Comes to Visit

After a 15 hour bus ride from Lima, Dawn arrived back in Arequipa on August 4th for a short visit with the parents. It was great to get to see her and hear all about what she has been doing in and around Lima. Her English teaching is going well, and the family she is teaching loves her. She enjoyed being here where she knows the city and the streets. She met some friends and went on a rafting trip. She will be in town for the first few days of our next project, where 80 short term volunteers will work for 12 days.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The first team in Arequipa

Our first group of short term volunteers arrived in Arequipa on July 17 and were here for about 12 days, and much was accomplished. Dennis had a construction team of about 14 people who painted, carpeted, pulled electrical wiring, hung lights, and built tables for the new missionary training center, dormitory rooms, and worship center. The Peruvian workers continued with the stucco and plumbing work on the second floor of the worship center. The teams got to eat lunch together and had a good time getting to know each other.

Denise got to get out of the office during the project. She helped a few days at the constrution site keeping me organized. She also got to go out on a community impact project in a new church plant area called Rimero Priale. The team walked around the community with Rico to draw the kids to the arena. They they did face painting, played games, performed puppet skits, and presented the salvation message. Close to 50 children came forward to pray and accept Jesus.

Overall for the 12 days, over 175 children and adults became new Christians and the local churches are beginning to follow up and disciple these new believers. What a great start on our short term projects.