Greetings from 38,000 feet above sea level
The Los Angeles District Work & Witness Team is now homeward bound. In fact, by the time you read this, we’ll be back home. As for right now we are in flight from Cusco to Lima, before we make our connecting flight to LAX. It’s been an exciting two weeks… filled with lots of traveling (including plane, bus, van, cars, boats, trains, and even a little bit on horse for some)… nine of our nights were spent in different beds (airplane, hotel, dorms, bus)… some days were blistering hot… other days were spent in thunderstorms and showers… there were a total of 11 worship services with many packed out buildings… lots of teaching, sharing, and one on one counseling… many bug bites but a ton of blessings poured out on each one of us. God is good!
THEME: Our theme for the two week trek was “Fan the Flame” or as written in Spanish, “Aviva el Fuego” from II Timothy 1:6. The Apostle Paul’s challenge to young Timothy to keep on fanning the flame that God had begun within him was his message of encouragement. For this very reason the Los Angeles District has taken part in fanning the flame among many Awajun (Aguaruna) and Mestizo people in the Amazon jungle of Peru. The beautiful thing about Work & Witness is that as we may choose to make our journeys to a foreign land to be the encouragers and flame “fanners”, we soon discover that we ourselves have had our own flames fanned and renewed once again. We receive as much encouragement as we dished out ourselves!
TRAVELS: The team members met at LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal on Sunday night at 9:00PM, October 2. After all members were present, checked in, we then began our 9 hour flight to Lima traveling all night and arriving in Peru just before 11:00AM. Following a one hour layover in Lima, we boarded another one hour flight to Chiclayo. Traveling with a myriad of suitcases, it took us a while to get all luggage together before making our way to the hotel to get a good night’s rest. Since the main reason for our travels was to hold two Pastors and Spouses Conferences in the jungle, I had to make a few stops in Chiclayo to pick up materials I had printed in advance for the teachings.
Following a great night’s rest we hopped on a bus for a seven hour journey over the Andes to a small town on the edge of the jungle called Bagua where we participated in a 10 year church anniversary celebration at Los Olivos Iglesia del Nazareno. Another night’s sleep and we were now off for the jungle in three vans loaded to the hilt with cargo. Along the way we stopped at Pomora, crossed the Maranon on a cable car to climb the jungle hill to visit the gravesite of Esther Carson Winans, and then continued our way to the Nuevo Horizonte Mission Station.
The following day (Thursday) we took a five hour speed boat drive down the river to Nieva where two districts (Condorquanqui and Bajo Amazonas) were joining together for a three day conference. How grateful I am for the 5 Spanish Speaking pastors who joined me in the teachings. Pastors Ismael Joaquin, Josh Santin, Josue Tiguila, Eleazar Torres, and Adrian Velasco were all a tremendous blessing to all pastors and spouses who attended the retreat! Each night we concluded the day with a worship service where team members shared in special music and preaching. We ended each service with a raffle where every pastoral family walked away with variety of gifts to take back home with them.
Sunday morning came and Pastor Wes Thompson preached with our young Cuban translator from Northridge New Life, Adam Irigoyen, who made it possible for all in Nieva to understand… Though he spoke with a great Cuban accent. If you don’t know what that means… Just ask anyone who speaks Spanish. I loved his accent!
Back into the vans on Sunday afternoon, and we found ourselves welcomed by a host of pastors and spouses from the Amazon district at Nuevo Horizonte for an incredible opening service for the four day conference there. Once again, the teaching was fabulous. I’d take these pastors anywhere in the world with me. They are the best!
While the teaching was taking place during the days, team members were purchasing materials like pots, pans, kettles, and other kitchen items to be distributed to the pastoral teams for the raffle. Other team members were working on painting and putting up screen windows where old material had worn out.
When the days were nice and it wasn’t raining, Marcos Salas pulled out his drone to entertain the natives all around capturing pictures and video of the local area. He was truly a hit in the jungle. No one had ever seen such a thing before.
When the second conference came to a close, we took off for Bagua in vans to hop back on the bus for what was supposed to be a seven hour drive back over the Andes to Chiclayo. On the way into Bagua at the beginning of our trip, we traveled by day… and all was well until about 2 hours before reaching our destination (Bagua) we heard a loud explosion… Sure enough a blown out tire. The driver stopped, checked things out… And then decided to continue onward on the flat. We figured he thought that all was ok since he still had two other tires on the same side as the blown out tire. But, with only 20 minutes to go before our destination, we were traveling at a snail’s pace and bouncing all across the road. He finally pulled over, and worked for nearly two hours trying to change the tire. With the help of several team members, the tire was changed and we were back on our way… Arriving in Bagua 2 hours late… Holding up the service.
Because of this problem, I decided to purchase our tickets for our return an hour earlier than I had planned… Just in case. We had a flight out of Chiclayo for Lima at 8:00AM on Friday so I had the bus tickets for 9:00PM which would get us in at 4:00AM. Plenty of time to catch our plane… I thought. But as we were boarding the bus, I overheard discussion from those just arriving from Chiclayo that there were terrible delays at a place called Hualapampa due to heavy rains. I pulled a few team members together for a quick word of prayer and we were off.
Just after midnight, we were awakened because the bus came to a complete stop. The road was blocked with a long line of trucks, buses and vehicles… on both sides. The driver shut off his engine. We all got out, and immediately noticed a broken radiator line. Water was leaking everywhere. Knowing our need to get to Chiclayo, we unloaded everything in the dark and mud… Put all luggage in a different bus, with team members split into two groups… Two separate busses. For the next 3 hours we crawled… stopping every 20 seconds or so… and… I kept looking at my watch wondering if we’d arrive in time to catch our flight. I spoke to the bus driver informing him of our dilemma and asked that he take us directly to the airport, bypassing the bus terminal. As we arrived in Chiclayo, it was 7:20… traffic was horrible, and as I glanced out my window, I noticed he was taking us to the bus terminal. WHAT? As he parked, and opened up the door… I made a mad dash to where he was standing, and said, “Our flight leaves in 30 minutes… we need to get to the airport NOW!”
It was only then when he noticed the seriousness of our situation, and quickly got back in his seat and proceeded to take us to the airport. Needless to say, we made it with no time to spare. By the time we checked all our bags through and boarded the plane we had only held up the plane by less than 10 minutes. One more stop in the Andes earlier that morning… and we would have missed our flight. It would have meant another 12 hour bus ride to Lima. But, all went well… and we made it just fine.
Thank you for your prayers while we were away. There were many answers to our prayers and God blessed us with His protecting hand from beginning to end. We enjoyed a great sightseeing trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu at the end of our journey, just before returning home. With only a few illnesses here and there… we all arrived back home safely.
For more picture and info… go to Facebook LA NMI District – Work & Witness, or the under the “Events Tab” above.
DR. SERGIO FRANCO: We have just gotten word that Dr. Franco passed away over the weekend. The family would appreciate prayers.
PASTOR APPRECIATION MONTH: I hope that every church takes some time during this month of October to honor our pastors who serve us all so well. I, as one, am so grateful to every pastor on the Los Angeles District. Thank you Pastor and family, for the time you give to your local church body and to the district family. I am so blessed to minister alongside of you as we continue this Building of Bridges in and within our communities. What a joy it is to serve the Lord with gladness!
I love you and look forward to seeing you soon!