Monday, August 20, 2012

Excerpts From Peru

Here are some selected excerpts from friends Sean & Amber's recently-begun missions work in Peru... I hope you'll join me in praying for them.  These are just excerpts from their newsletters.  If you'd like to receive their newsletter in all of their enjoyable glory, let me know.

Very encouraging.  Very funny.  Very challenging.

I especially commend to you Sean's thoughts on prayer... & the dog story.

Today is Monday, Aug 6
Started language school today. 

Today is Tuesday, Aug 7
Second day in language school. Overwhelmed. 

I went to go get my beard trimmed today. Disaster. Seriously. I guess I didn’t realize that Peruvians don’t typically have beards and, therefore, the barbers don’t really do beard trims all that often, if ever. I look ridiculous. 

Today is Wednesday, Aug 8
These verbs are crushing us. For anyone who has never attempted to learn spanish: it’s ALL ABOUT THE VERBS!!! There’s a blagillion of them. There’s ten blagillian rules to how you can or can’t use them. Every rule has an exception...or two. Right now we’re just trying to memorize a metric ton of them...we’ll figure out how to use them later (according to Julio, our gramatica teacher). 

Today is Thursday, Aug 9
I (Sean), was meditating on my prayer life this morning. After a little thought I came to this conclusion: I pray like I serve an impotent God. The Bible paints the picture of a strong, benevolent, merciful, powerful, gracious, God. A God who raises mountains and lays valleys low. A god who creates entire galaxies for the glory of his own name. A God who stirs nations and crushes sin and death. 

I pray like he is a God who burns cookies and has trouble getting his socks on in the morning. God has called us to a massive mission, and yet, I pray to him as if he’s only sent us on a trip to the grocery store because the milks gone bad. I’m not praying like peoples souls are at stake. I pray as if the glory of his name is something to be forgotten...neglected,  even. It’s not. It’s something to hunger for. My prayers indicate that I obviously don’t believe in the Gospel of God. No...I believe in the gospel of Sean, complete with all of his weaknesses. 

I need to repent in the dust and cry out to God. I need to pray that he will teach me how to commune with him through the beautiful gift of prayer. I need to approach his throne of grace boldly. Christ purchased that for me, it’s time I pray like I believe it. 

Today is Friday, Aug 10
Something weird about the people of Arequipa: Everyday I go for a walk around 7am. So far, every morning the temperature has been between 68-72 degrees. Of course, I’m in my shorts and t-shirt. The weather feels amazing. The funny thing is, every morning I walk out into the street and see my fellow Peruvians bundled up like it’s february in Minsk, Russia. Boots, pants, scarves, ponchos, beanies, thermal blankets, portable heating pads, hot hands (trademark), and so on. 

I hope I never climatize. I never want to live like 70 degrees is -30. The really funny thing is that it never really gets above 80 degrees. It’s not like it’s dropping from a cool Death Valley 118 down to 70. I walk around like we’re in SoCal, they walk around like we’re in northern Siberia. Strange...

Just got done with our 5th day of class. Every day I feel a little more confident and a little more confused. 

Today is Saturday, Aug 11
It’s looking like Amber might have to drop out of classes. We can’t find a babysitter and we’re not going to take Patience to the day care. We’re praying that the Lord would move...

The people of Peru love yogurt. Yogurt Yogurt Yogurt. You should see the yogurt aisle at the local grocery store. It’s massive. It’s equal to the square footage of Alaska. There are more brands of yogurt than there are types of plant fauna. Right now, in the fridge roughly ten feet from my right hand, there is a gallon of yogurt. .5 gallons of peach, .5 gallons of strawberry. Mucho Yogurt. 

I’m doing homework on a saturday. If 16 y/o Sean met 25 y/o Sean he’d beat him up, just on principle.

Today is Monday, Aug 13
I (Sean) had my first conversation in Spanish today. It wasn’t pretty, but it was legitimate. We talked about being in language school, the United States, Patience, and a few other things. It was encouraging to see some progress. 
The Lord answered our prayers. We have a baby sitter. Just another reason to trust in the God who is faithful.

Today is Tuesday, Aug 14
There is some serious animosity between the family we are staying with and their maid. I hear both of them whispering about each other to other people. Sometimes the Senora of the house tries to talk to me (Sean) about her. I try to change the subject as quick as possible. It’s uncomfortable, to say the least. Praying for wisdom on how to handle this situation.

Today is Wednesday, Aug 15
So, as you may know (if you’ve been following along regularly), I go for a walk every morning. Typically, I just pick a direction and start walking. I walk until I’m good and lost. Then I try to find my way back. It’s a fun way to see and learn my way around the city. Well, today’s walk was....unusual, to say the least. Let me tell you about it. 

You see, there are hundreds of ferrel dogs roaming around Arequipa. Some of them are sweet and cute. Some of them....not so much. Sometimes, during my walks, I find myself in dark alleys and other uncomfortable positions. But hey, I’m like Bear Grizz baby! Raw adventure is the name of the game. Such an adventurous spirit, of course, sometimes means that you end up wishing you would have been less adventurous and more of a home body. Sometimes you find yourself in tight circumstances with not-so-nice looking dogs. Today was one of those days. I’ve never felt like I was truly in danger...until this morning. Let me tell you about it. 

As the story begins, I’ve been walking down a random road for, oh, I don’t know...30 minutes. I happen along a dope graffiti piece, so I stop and take a picture of it. It came out well. Yay me. I then proceed down the road like a character out of Bunyan’s masterpiece, not knowing what hell I’m heading towards. Then it happens.

I see a lovely elderly lady standing by the gate of her casa. She looks sweet, but I can’t shake the feeling that she is more ominous than butterscotch. She’s trying to control her  dog. It’s not going well. Poor woman. Before I look down to see the creature, I can hear his deafening growl. A low roar from the larynx. The growl turns into a bark...growing more vicious with every second. I stop to observe. Why? I don’t know. But I do...

I then see her hand moving towards the gate latch.

At that very moment I felt what I like to call “Combat Syndrome”. Let me explain: When I was in the military, I used to train constantly. I was a medic, so we were always working on trauma evaluation and treatment. Trauma because, well...I was in the Army. Not the Air Force. Anyways, during training, the exercises were always taken half seriously (to say the least). It was a joke, really. When it came time to test the skills we had “acquired” during training, the energy shifted. Now you’re under the microscope. Pass/Fail. Everything is hurried, jumbled, and messy. Even though no one’s life is at risk, you feel a tremendous amount of pressure. 

Enter Iraq: The bomb goes off, the building shakes, you get ready for incoming casualties. Your adrenaline starts pumping. They bring the patient in.....and.....every....thing.....slows.................down. Time comes to a grinding halt. You don’t feel nervous. You don’t feel confused. You seem to see everything more clearly. Your thinking becomes pristine. Your vision is clearer than it’s ever been. I can still remember, in vivid detail, a good many of my trauma patients from the emergency room of Mosul, Iraq.

Back to Arequipa: As I see the gate open, “Combat Syndrome” kicks in. I see her hand unlatch the gate. I can see every muscle and tendon glide under the aged and wrinkled skin of her right hand. The gate opens. The hinges creak with a deafening squeal. The Beast, eager to escape, shoves his head through the newly created opening. I’m thinking about all the scenarios I’ve imagined in times past. You know what I’m talking about. You see a wild dog...he’s barking at’re thinking “am I going to have to try and fight off this dog? What am I going to do, kick it? Punch it?” If you’ve never been in this situation, you need to get out more. Or revisit your childhood...

As the Hound of Death pushes the rest of his body through the open gate, I think about all these things in a matter of a millisecond. “Yep, I’m gonna have to fight this dog”. I can see the look in his eyes. The drool from his saggy jowls. What if it bites my foot because, well...let’s face it...I kick with the speed of a man ankle-deep in a pool of tar. Whatever. I can’t just let him attack me. Can I? Time is slower now than it’s ever been. I can almost feel the aggression coming off of the Beast in waves. I can hear his sturdy paws press the ground as his haunches thrust him forward. Forward towards the inevitable altercation between my foot and his face.

I love dogs. “God, I don’t want to die from an infected dog bite.” Time is slower now than before, if that’s even possible. I’ve been living in these two seconds for what feels like an eternity. Every bark is almost deafening now. Ok, it’s time to react. I put one foot back. I assume my karate stance. I guess all that work in the fifth grade is finally about to pay off. Right foot cocked. Ready. Deep breath. The beast is so close. 3......2......1........

He comes to a dead stop. He sniffs me. I’m waiting, right leg still ready to roundhouse at a moments notice. He looks at me for what feels like an hour. I’m breathing like a locomotive. Suddenly he turns and runs over to the neighbors dog and sniffs his intimates. 

Ok. Ok. I look up at the lovely lady who owns the Hell Hound of Death. I quickly realize that I look like I’m on the brink of murder. I wipe the psychotic look off of my face and try to smile. My heart feels like it’s going to beat it’s way up through my teeth. She smiles back at me. A big smile, too. I start to decompress. I laugh a little. Very little. “Ok, you’re good”, I tell myself. Time to get moving. I look back at the Beast once more before departure. Chihuahuas. Absolutely terrifying. 

Today is Thursday, Aug 16
Random thoughts for the day
  • My Ipod broke. Tragic. I was using it to listen to sermons, among other things. Those long boat rides are going to be a little bit longer now. It’s all good though, more time for prayer.
  • I know like....100 words in spanish now. I’m pretty much fluent. ;)
  • Prayer life has been picking up. Figuring out how to systematically implement prayer. It may seem like that kind of approach would “quench the flame”, so to speak, but it actually helps me immensely. I’m undisciplined by nature, even after years of military service.
  • Some short term missionaries came to Arequipa today. They’re here to help the people we are staying with do some work in the village. They brought six jars of peanut butter. Extra crunchy. Have I died and gone to heaven?
  • Oh, and Ambers pump got here. That’s great and all, and we’re thankful, but it just doesn’t hold a candle to the peanut butter.  
  • At 8,000 feet, just walking down the block will leave you out of breath. The air is thin up here. 

Today is Saturday, Aug 18
Four things worth mentioning
  1. Amber’s sick...again. This time she’s got a temp. Oh, she’s throwing her guts up all over the place, too. So far it’s Sean-3, Amber-2, Patience-3. Me and Patience are tied, but I think Amber might pull through in the clutch. 
  2.  We had a set price for the baby sitter. She is asking for more money now. Praying for wisdom on how to handle this. 
  3. Went to EVERY STORE in Arequipa. I did not find one shirt that fit me. Not one. The closest to “fitting” made me look like someone saran wrapped a meatloaf. 
  4. If anyone is familiar with my knee problems, they’re back. My right ACL feels like it’s gonna shred any minute. Stairs are becoming difficult. I’m 25, I shouldn’t be having these problems.

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