Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Soapbox Blog


Happy Semana Santa, everyone! (Semana Santa is “Holy Week”, or, the week before Easter Sunday)
Speaking of Easter, for those of you who are curious, they do not eat ham for their Easter dinner here in Peru.  They eat fish, “the food of our Lord”, since that’s mostly what Jesus ate.  Pretty neat concept.  But my rebellious nature can’t help but crave the huge, tasty, Jewish-law-breaking ham that is traditionally served in the U.S.  But this year Walter and I will be celebrating with a group of missionary friends who are providing a smorgasbord of chicken salads.  I guess it doesn’t matter what you eat as long you understand the reason for the celebration: not only that Jesus Christ died in place of us to pay for our sins, but that he defeated all sin and was resurrected to heaven where he awaits our arrival into the perfect eternity he so graciously offered us through his sacrifice.  John 3:16 (NIRV) says, “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only son.  Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.”  If you just skipped reading that because you think it’s cliché or lame, I encourage you to go back and actually read it.  Think about it.  If you don’t understand it or never really gave it any thought before, feel free to send me an e-mail at ashleyinperu@gmail.com and we can chat about it or any other verse you might be pondering.  I’m no expert, but I’d be willing to share whatever the Lord has revealed to me about his Word.
I’m happy that, here in Peru, I get the chance to share the Word with others by being a part of a team of Peruvian average Joes who volunteer their time and talents to organizing bi-weekly youth meetings in town.  This youth group is called Alto Voltaje (“High Voltage”).  We come together once every two weeks for a time of fellowship, fun, worship and a biblical message.  As I’ve mentioned before, Walter is part of the team that organizes games and activities and he also is part of the praise band.  I work with Jimmy Sisley to come up with the biblical message for each week and use the internet to research other tools such as videos and stories that pertain to the lesson. 
Last week we had to cancel the youth group meeting due to violent protests in the city over gas prices.  The protests were going on in another city a two and half hour drive away as well.  During this time no gasoline or food was coming into Pucallpa and most people didn’t risk leaving their homes.  School and work was canceled.  Thankfully it only lasted about 3 or 4 days, but those were some long days of staying locked up inside to avoid getting attacked by angry protesters who would steal your tires and burn them in the street.  Unfortunately, a few people even died during these protests, though I doubt that made headlines in any newspaper.  It may have made the news, but most of us don’t know since the city of Pucallpa turned off power and water for a day or two as a threat to get everyone to settle down.  It worked.  Everything is now back to normal…even the gas prices.  Here are a few pictures that some other friends or missionaries managed to get during the protests.
Burning ties in the street 

Police try to control street fires

The streets were empty and all the stores/business were closed

Those who had no choice but to go out paid off police to escort them for protection
 
I don’t mean to scare any of you by telling stories like this, but this is part of life here in Peru.  It’s not that protests such as this are common, but they’re certainly not abnormal either.  The corruption amongst the government and the people is out of control.  I know that everyone says that the United States is on a rocky path right now, too, but let this story be a warning to the chaos and loss of control that will come if the American people don’t start standing up for themselves and educating themselves on how to take care of our nation. 
I know that the purpose of this blog is not to be a political soapbox, but I believe that the political realm is a missionary field as well.  The Lord sends some to far-away countries, but to others he says, “stay.”  That doesn’t mean that those who stay are not called to be missionaries.  It simply means that they are to be missionaries right in their home country.  Jesus taught us to feed and clothe the poor, but don’t you think that if we cleaned up our nation, took care of the corruption, there might be less poor to feed and clothe?  What if instead of giving a poor man a coat, I dedicated some time to research political candidates and vote for the one who will put more jobs in place, allowing this same man and many others the means to buy their own coats.  Is that not also a way to clothe the poor?
Ok, I see that I’m starting to get preach-y so I’ll end it here.  But please do think about these things.  Please spend some time listening to Lord and asking him how He would have you serve him in the context of your own culture and home-town. 
If you’ve gotten this far and are still reading, thank you.  I hope that the length and intensity doesn’t make you decide to not read my blog in the future.  My next blog will probably include pictures of my newborn son, who is due to grace us with his presence in about 5 weeks, on May 22, 2014!  If you’re less of an analytical thinker and more emotional, you’ll probably appreciate that one, so stay tuned!  Thanks again for reading.  God bless!        

Monday, March 3, 2014

Campamento X-Tremo 2014

For anyone who was wondering, the camp back in January went swimmingly!

We did have one incident where a kid got so many ant bites that he had to go to the hospital to get treated for an unexpected allergic reaction, but as soon as he was treated and his rash and swelling went down in his face and hands and feet, he actually decided to go back to the camp for the remaining 3 days instead of head home to rest.  But wait, the story gets even cooler!  This particular camper is 17 years old, raised along with some younger siblings by his single mother.  I got to talk with his mom for a while before we left for the camp and she said that this was his first camp because she was never able to pay for him to do things like this before.  Even this time, she paid me all in coinage that I'm sure she had been saving specifically for the event.  She said that he was a good kid, but struggling with respect and direction in life.  Well, after 5 days of camp, he ended up giving his life to the Lord.  He even went to Walter in tears to talk about some things going on his life.  A week later, I got to talk to him and he said that he can already feel a difference in his relationship with his mom and he apologized to her about how he had been treating her before. 

That's just one story, though.  By the end of the week, 6 of our 36 campers decided to follow Jesus (4 boys and 2 girls).  Praise the Lord!  It actually ended up going so well, that we are planning to do another camp in July (but the kids all said they want it to be a full 7 days this time!), and word about how great Walter is at being a camp administrator has gotten out on the street and he's already led another 2 day/1 night camp since January and has been asked by another group to coordinate a 3 or 4 day camp for September!  I'm so proud of my hubby who finds time for his passions and ministry even with his family and job obligations.

Since the camp, Walter and I have been working in a team led by Jimmy Sisley to lead a down town youth group meeting twice a month called Alto Voltaje ("High Voltage").  Each time we meet we have games, music and a biblical message.  Walter's roles include coordinating games and activities and playing in the praise band, while I partner with Jimmy to come up with lesson topics and aids (like skits and video clips).  We have another girl in charge of communicating with the kids through technology such as Facebook and WhatsApp, a guy in charge of all the sound and tech equipment (who also helps with games), and a few more people who play/sing in the praise band.  We never know what to expect each week, as some weeks we've had as many as 40 teens and early 20-somethings show up, and other weeks we've only had about 20.  If you think of it, please be praying for this group as we will be kicking off the new school-year with our next youth group meeting on Saturday, March 15. 

Not much else has been going on.  My belly just keeps on getting bigger and bigger as I am now  in my third trimester of pregnancy.  As far as Baby Tello is concerned, he and I are both growing well and staying healthy.  He's an active little guy, and I'm sure he will he either be a kick-boxer or soccer player based on how he's been treating me lately, haha. 

Well, I pray you all have a blessed week.  As always, thank you for your prayers and support.  Enjoy the pictures below from "Campamento X-tremo 2014".

Playing "hockey"

Which team can eat a watermelon half fastest?

Jimmy Sisley led all of the night Bible sessions

Night Volleyball

There were lots of water games...this was just one of them.

Vann Brock set up tether ball and it didn't take long before break times were converted into tether ball tournaments.  All the older guys challenged Vann, but could never beat him.

I taught the morning Bible sessions

Part of the obstacle course each team had to complete daily
 
Obstacle course

Obstacle course

Obstacle course

Obstacle course

Which team can sling a water balloon the farthest?!

The man who made it all happen



Monday, January 20, 2014

2 Days and Counting...

Happy New Year Everyone!

Last time I updated was before Thanksgiving.  It’s been super-busy since then.  Once December hit, it was crunch time for planning our camp.   Walter and a small group of guys have been out at the camp almost every day for the last month working on clearing land, building bathrooms and a cook’s quarter’s and preparing the site for games and campers.  I’ve been busy as well, working with Jimmy Sisley in planning the devotion and lesson topics (there will be small group devotions in the mornings and a small sermon/message in the evenings) .  We’ll be going through the whole book of Colossians in the five days of camp (which begin in only 2 days!).  One aspect of our camp that hasn’t really been done by other camps in the Pucallpa area is a workshop session each day.  Several of the camp leaders will use these hour-long morning workshop sessions to pass along some specific skills or knowledge they have, such as handling horses, self defense, first aid, carpentry, knot-tying, etc.  I’ll be teaching the first aid workshop and possibly a workshop on the basics of how to read music, so I’ve been preparing for those as well. 

 There’s still a lot of work to be done in the 2 days before campers gather to take the 40 minute bus ride to their 5-day extreme outdoor experience (they will be sleeping in tents, not bunk houses and will be required to participate rain or shine!)  But I have faith that, with your prayers and support, it will all come together.  We ask that you be in prayer this week for the following:

1)      That none of the leaders/workers who have committed to help will back out (we've already lost 2 this week!).

2)      For general safety before and during the whole camp session (Jan. 22-26)

3)      That the leaders will be diligent in preparing their hearts and minds for whatever we may encounter.

4)      That at least one camper will be moved by the Holy Spirit to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.

There’s not much else to share for now since lately our lives have been consumed with camp preparations.  But below I have included some pictures of what other things have been going on in our lives in the last two months.  I hope you enjoy!  Thanks so much and God bless!
 
 
We hosted an American Thanksgiving for friends and family...

 

 I put up the Christmas tree...

 
 
My dance class performed in the school Christmas program (sorry the picture's blurry...I'm working on tracking down some clearer ones to share)...

 

 
 Walter and his friends Caleb and Salomon dressed up in costumes and danced around for a Christmas outreach to disabled children and youth...



My belly started to grow...


I sang in the church choir for our Christmas service (I'm front row, third from the left)...


We celebrated Christmas with 15 other members of the family (I hosted again)...


(That's my father-in-law below, demonstrating his vocal talents via Karaoke on Christmas Eve)...

 

Walter and I helped put together a youth outreach led by Jimmy Sisley on Dec. 28.  About 40 teens and 20-somethings came out for a few hours of music, games and a Truth-filled message... 


I helped with decoration and registration...


Aside from helping to plan games and toting all the supplies to the downtown location, Walter also played drums in the praise band...



Walter and the guys finally got all the eels out of the pond at the campsite and caught some fish along the way so they decided to make a snack out of them.  Not a bad meal to celebrate success!

Friday, November 22, 2013

PETRA Progress

Good news!  The pond that Walter and Caleb have been draining is now filled with 7 eels less than before.   The bad news is, we don't know how many more are still in there.  The boys have been working hard the last month or so draining out a pond at the PETRA camp grounds to prepare for a youth camp session in January (our summer time).  The only reason they had to drain it in the first place was because the Brocks' son was bitten/stung by an eel while swimming one day and we decided it would not be a good idea to have a bunch of teenagers play in eel-infested waters.  Here are some pictures of the pond and the work the boys have done so far.

The pond where we intend to end an obstacle course with water games at our camp in January

In order to empty it out of eels, it has to be drained completely.  This is the water pump system they are using.

Now that we're in rainy season, the pond quickly refills, so they also had to dig a ditch so that it would constantly drain on its own when they were not pumping water.


There has been other progress at the PETRA grounds as well.  The Big House has come a long way, thanks to Vann's hard work and the hard work and motivation of a couple from GA who came to help out with construction for a month.  All the first floor walls are up and half of the tresses to support the second floor.  Another team from the same church will be coming for two weeks over the Christmas holiday to continue with the construction.  Even though the picture below (which is a month out of date) shows a good amount of progress since the summer teams were here, it really is nothing compared to the current progress.  The second floor is already being worked on and the day after Thanksgiving, many missionaries will come out for a picnic and "barn raising" to put up some second story walls that Vann has been preparing.

The "Big House"


I, of course, haven't been able to help much with the outdoor and heavy lifting jobs.  I'm now three months along in my pregnancy, but still trying to stay as active as I can.  I continue teaching dance classes, which are going well, but a little stressful as we only have 2 practices left until the Christmas program.  The girls are hard workers and love to learn, which motivates me even more to do my best to teach them what I can.  Our devotion this week was about how, even though our earthly bodies are limited in what they can do, our heavenly bodies will have no boundaries.  Knowing this should help us to not get discouraged when we find certain dance moves difficult, but give us hope and joy in knowing what the Lord has in store for our eternity.  And knowing about this eternity should make us thankful and motivate us to do our best to worship him with the abilities He has given us, even if our "best" is simple compared to what we will do in heaven.  If you're interested in more dance-related devotions, check out my sister Alyssa Campbell's book Time to Dance.  Below are some action shots of me teaching the older girls' class and Olivia teaching the little kids (they're so stinkin' cute!)






Well, that's all the news here.  I forgot to post a picture in my last blog of Walter's 26th birthday party.  He finally caught up to my age on October 12.  Here's a picture of the whole group that celebrated with him and one of him after the Peruvian tradition of shoving the "victim's" face into the cake. 

Melanie Sisley, Raquel Sisley, Luz, Dick, Gloria (Walter's mom), Walter, me, Cristina, Jean Franco, Jimmy Sisley, Guillermo Sisley, Eduardo (Walter's dad), Salomon

In Peruvian tradition (or at least in Pucallpa), after singing three versions of the birthday song in Spanish and in English and the candle has melted down to nothing but a puddle, the person who is celebrating their birthday has to watch out for any nearby friend because it is likely that that person will shove their face into the cake.  Among our group of friends, that person is always Salomon...at least he has the decency to bring a separate cake for the occasion, since no one can eat it after the birthday celebrator's nose and mouth have been all over it.
 
I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving!  Eat some turkey and give thanks to the Lord for his many blessings.  We are thankful for all of your prayers and support and hopeful that they will continue.  God bless you!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

First comes love, then comes marriage...

...then comes the baby in the baby carriage?  That's right!  If you haven't already heard, I'll fill you in now:  Walter and I are going to be parents!  We're expecting the arrival of Baby Tello sometime at the end of May, 2014.  It turns out last month when I was sick for several days and wondering why no one else was as sick as me, it's because there was a teensy tiny little creature growing in my tummy and stealing all my defenses.  But that's ok.  I can forgive him/her for that since he/she has left me otherwise healthy with not even a hint of morning sickness.  I've just been super tired all the time and sensitive to certain smells.  I can still eat pretty much everything, but I figure, I'll keep that to myself in case my mother-in-law decides to cook guinea pig for us again (see previous post for visual...but only if you have a strong stomach!).

Everything else has been going well too.  I love, love, love teaching dance classes.  We're currently working on choreography for a Christmas program that SAM Academy will hold in mid-December.  Our 18 dance students range in age from 4 to 16 and include three boys!  I've been impressed with their ability and attitudes and even some of their insights and participation in the pre-class devotionals.  I've had to cut out prayer requests in the little kid class, though, because we could spend the whole hour praying for each kid's pets :)

Walter's still playing drums in the church band and I've been invited to sing in a choir for the church's Christmas service.  I'm pretty excited about it.  I really miss being a part of a choir.  Also, the two of us are working with a few teenagers at church who are interested in music.  We have a guitarist, a pianist and a singer.  The hope is that we can eventually start a youth band at church that leads worship every once in a while during the Sunday service.  I've been doing some vocal technique with Danna, the singer, while Walter's been teaching some guitar technique to Elivaldo, the guitarist.  Unfortunately, neither Walter nor I play piano, so we can't help Vanessa (the pianist) with her instrument, but at least we are building a relationship with her.  Neither Vanessa nor Danna have been baptized, and they seem to be confused as to the purpose.  Please pray for Walter and me as we continue to minister to these kids and teach them how to be leaders. 

I'm sorry there are no pictures this week.  I attempted to take some during dance class, but they didn't turn out very well.  I'll try to have some for the next blog post.  The camp PETRA is coming along.  All the land necessary has been cleared and now we just have to maintain it.  Hopefully in the next month we can start making the soccer field a place where one might actually be able to play soccer.  Please pray for diligence for all of us as we work toward our goal of having a camp/ retreat for the youth of our church (probably for 5 days) in January.  Another church is already hoping to hold a camp here the week after we do. 

As always, thanks so much for reading.  God bless you and have a great day!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Eels, Piranhas and Guinea Pig

Hello, hello!

I'm happy to report that after four days of lying around sick in bed, I'm finally better and can even breathe through my nose!  Yay!  Never take your nose for granted!  Yesterday Walter and I bought a new motorcycle to replace ours that was stolen on Saturday.  It's nice to have some wheels again, but it's sad that we had to dip into our pick-up truck fund to replace it.  We're just a little farther away from getting the pick-up truck and even farther away from building a house now.  *Big sigh...oh well, the good news is, God provides, and he did provide for us.  We are thankful that we had a savings to fall back on.  Also, our refrigerator broke and we had to buy a new one AND we are putting on a new roof this month.  Is this what life is going to be like from now on?  So long, spontaneous vacations and frivolous purchases of my singlehood!  Eh!  More like good riddance.  The truth is, I love being married, challenges and all.  Besides, it makes it a lot easier that my husband is the coolest guy on the planet.

Coolest Guy on the Planet

As far as the Camp PETRA goes, Walter and I along with some friends have been going out to clear land to prepare for a camp in January for the youth group at our church.  We've cleared land for the campground and soccer field.  Now we just have to maintain it and work on building bathrooms and possibly bunk houses if we have the time and resources.  We're also planning to build an obstacle course that ends in a pond.  But first we'll have to drain the pond of its murky water to get rid of that pesky eel that's lurking around ("Beware the shrieking eels!"), and then we'll have to refill it.  We could just go to the lake for water activities, but it's farther away from the campsite and there are piranhas there, so, you know, liabilities, blah blah blah...just gets complicated.  I mean, would you sign a permission slip for your kid to play in piranha infested water?

Dick and Vann clearing land for the soccer field
Walter and Solomon

Me workin' the weed whacker

Piranhas!  (Photo from Google Search)

I've also started co-teaching dance classes with a really awesome lady, Olivia, who is a teacher at SAM Academy this year.  She'll be leading the little girls' dance class and I'll be leading the bigger girls' dance class.  We're doing a mix of ballet and jazz with some sprinklings of other styles.  Since the classes are for the missionary kids, they are all in English, although we also have some German-speaking girls from the Swiss Mission involved.  We decided that this year, the dance classes should be more than just an extra-curricular activity, but also a ministry.  So I am using my sister Alyssa Campbell's book Time to Dance: 52 Devotionals for Dancers as a guide to start of classes with thought-provoking and inspiring Scripture for dancers and a word of prayer.  Sorry, I brought my camera to take pictures, but then got so involved in the class that I forgot.  I'll try to remember to snap some shots for next time.  But before I let you go, I'll give you one...well, two...more pictures.  I ate this for lunch this week...

GUINEA PIG!!!!!

And this is what it looked like pre-cooked (the white-ish stuff to the side is just crushed garlic)
 
Well, as always, thanks for reading and for keeping us in your prayers.  If you would like to receive our monthly Praise & Prayer e-mail, please contact me at ashleyinperu@gmail.com.  Have a great day and God bless!










Saturday, August 10, 2013

Summer Summary

The summer season has finally come to a close and I finally have the chance to fill you in on all that’s been happening…

SUMMER TEAMS
Nine people from Glenrock Baptist, Sisk Memorial Baptist and Providence Baptist Churches in York County, SC, as well as Emmaus Church in New Bedford, MA, came down the first week of June, primarily to work on construction of “the Big House” (where the Brocks will be living until they pass the torch to someone in the next generation) that will be part of the PETRA camp site.  Doing it all the old-fashioned hammer-and-nail style, they managed to put in place all of the floor studs and half of the sub-flooring, which was fantastic progress considering the intense heat and the incredible size and weight of the Quinilla wood from the Amazon Jungle that they were using.  We also had a couple who is pretty horse savvy and worked on training the unbroken horses that are part of the camp ministry.  Right after they left, a second team from New Union Church in Gainesville, GA, came.  They were only here a few days but finished the subflooring and put up the studs for one wall.  Vann has since been working on the construction and has made a good bit of progress, getting up most of the wall studs by himself.  They hope to have it dried-in by November, when rainy season begins.  We are all very thankful for the help and encouragement of the teams as they demonstrated to us their servant hearts.
 
Glenrock/Providence/Sisk/Emmaus Team displaying their work
 
Getting the horses used to being ridden

New Union Team from GA finishing up the wall studs for the bay window
 

FLASHMOB
I ended up not taking part in the flash mob after all because we had to schedule our flights to the U.S. for the day that was chosen to perform, but maybe next time… J  I’m still hoping to eventually do some sort of dance ministry again.

HOME TIME
Ah, where to begin!  Aside from being Walter’s first trip to the U.S., this was his first trip ever outside of Peru.  I had so much planned for us to see and do but most of my plans fell through.  When I was preparing for the trip, I forgot to factor in all the extra hours of shopping that Walter would want to do in a land where anything you could possibly want exists, and it’s all on sale!  But my mom took us to Carowinds amusement park where Walter experienced big roller coasters for the first time.  We also went go-cart racing a couple of times.  Several of my friends came over one day to meet Walter and play games.  A few of them speak Spanish, so we were able to play bi-lingual Pictionary: challenging and fun :) .  Other than that, however, it was mostly family time, fully equipped with an American 4th of July picnic at my Grandma's house in the mountains of PA, which included fireworks, a hamburger cook-out, rounds of croquet, and the Annual Waldmeyer Cherry Pit Spit.  All of my family, not surprisingly, fell in love with Walter as easily as I did.  While we were visiting my family in PA, we had a “Blessing of the Marriage” ceremony at my grandma’s church.  It’s ironic how Walter and I both wanted to elope and keep things simple, and somehow ended up with three weddings: a civil and a church wedding in Peru and another ceremony in U.S.
 
Walter got to know Wal-Mart very well

Walter and me at Carowinds, modeling the cool car and the roller coaster in the background

Go-cart racing (Walter beat me)
 
The Annual Waldmeyer Cherry Pit Spit: when the Waldmeyer family gets together in the summer, sports awesomely nerdy matching T-shirts and has a competition to see who can spit cherry pits the farthest. (Notice my dad cheating as he raises his arm to throw his cherry pit instead of spitting it. Can we say "disqualified"?!)  No one has ever won a cherry pit spit because their are discrepancies every year and as we all compete, there is no judge.
 

Walter and me with my sisters and their families after the Blessing of the Marriage ceremony

Can you even stand how cute my nieces and nephew are?!

Walter was eating so much food with everyone forcing him to try new things (which he thoroughly enjoyed) that he decided to stay busy to not gain weight.  Here he is using a machete to clear out underbrush in the woods behind my mom's house.  He did a lot of yard work for my aunt in PA, too.  I think everyone was sad to see him leave.
 

MINISTRY
While we were in “the States” we also took the opportunity to visit several churches, some which have been supporting me for a while and some to which we introduced ourselves for the first time.  We had many opportunities to speak about the ministry that God is calling us to here in Pucallpa and plans for the near future.  Aside from working with the Brocks, we’ve also been “elected” (in other words, no one else wanted to do it) to lead the youth group at church for 12-15 year-olds.  We’re both pretty excited about it since youth ministry is where both of our hearts are, and we’re looking forward to seeing what God has in store for us and for the young teens he is going to put under our care.  We’ll probably be starting it up in two weeks, so please keep us and the teens in your prayers, that we’ll have the courage and self-discipline to follow through well, and that the teens will be receptive to, not only the messages the Lord teaches through us, but to us as leaders and mentors. 

Thanks so much for reading and for keeping us in your prayers.  Remember, if you would like to donate to our ministry (for example, pay the $35/month for our internet so I can keep you updated) please write checks to Glenrock Baptist Church with “Peru Missions” in the memo and mail to

Glenrock Baptist Church
P.O. Box 151
Fort Mill, SC 29716