March 27, 2014
The day started out normal enough, with training and lots of preparation, but it quickly took a turn when we found that one of our students had to go to Lima to get some paperwork straightened out in order to leave the country. Apparently the paper they tear off of the customs paperwork is something you should keep with you, or else they won’t let you leave the country. To our credit, everyone kept theirs, but this one student had theirs taken from them by a hotel staff member and they never returned it or admitted to ever having it. The Northeastern Peruvian Mission office was very helpful in getting flights arranged and they even sent their lawyer with her so she would be able to navigate the challenging process.
While out working to make arrangements for the student’s travel Ramon and I stopped at a local restaurant to grab some lunch. I got a salad “with” palm hearts and avocado. It turns out that in Peru that means that’s all that’s in the salad. It was delicious, by the way.
Cheyenne is always saying, “that was awkward”, we'll today she had another opportunity. The city of Tarapoto was aware that 36 foreign missionaries were in their community and they decided to give us a recognition. So, today at 4 pm we left the hotel all dressed up and we went to the Plaza del Armos (the center square in the middle of Tarapoto) where the city had set up a big stage and speakers. The governor of San Martin was there (San Martin is the territory that Tarapoto is in), and the equivalent to the mayors of Tarapoto and the surrounding towns were all there. We even had the Peruvian Union Mission president there. Why was it awkward? Well, I suppose that it wasn’t so much awkward as it was unexpected and unnecessary. We came because we love Jesus and want to share His love, not to be recognized as anything special. It turned out to be a good opportunity to talk about the value of Adventist education in front of a lot of people who otherwise may not have heard about it.
After the recognition we all marched to the nearby Adventist Academy (a K-12 school) with a police escort closing off the roads ahead of us. It was kind of spectacular, with university students marching with their sign, church members, and people from the town. At the Academy we had a ceremony to dedicate the new roof on top of their “gym” area, and we even got to watch an inaugural soccer game. The gym here is just a concrete floor where their school buildings meet together, but now it has a roof on top so they can play in the rainy season.
Tarapoto doesn’t have the same rules as cities in the US have. For example, you can’t serve alcohol, offer massages, or sell certain merchandise within so many feet of a school in the US. In Tarapoto there are all kinds of violations of that rule directly across the street from the academy. Makes me like country schools, but without many travel options its also nice to have the school accessible to the members in town.
I gave another appeal for baptism tonight and Lelis stood up! Lelis is the father of one of the church elders. I’ve found that a large portion Adventists in Peru are converts and their families are still Catholic. Having a parent join the church is really exciting.
These are my friends, Olenca and Boris. They are brother and sister and have become my companions every time I am at the church. We can’t understand each other, but we have fun anyway.
I found out tonight that every night there is a team from the women’s ministry of the church who are praying for the meetings while I preach. Praise the Lord for prayer warriors.