24 Dec 2012

Pray for Peru

The BMS Prayer Guide once again focusses on Peru this week. Please join us in praying for the whole team. Thanks!

16 Dec 2012

Chad Disaster Appeal

Desperate food shortages in Chad, caused by drought, regional conflict and failed harvest, have left 1.6 million people without enough to eat and 15% of children either moderately or severely malnourished. This is a critical time. Through their work at the Guinebor II hospital, BMS are running a hunger prevention and malnutrition treatment programme to support these vulnerable people, and are now running an appeal to raise urgently needed funds.

6 Dec 2012

One month down...

It's hard to believe that we've already been back in the UK for a month. Time is flying - mostly because it's been filled with a series of visiting friends and family, midwife appointments, eating all the food we missed whilst in Peru and trying to get ready for El Bump's pending arrival.

10 Nov 2012

November Prayer Letter

We're now safely home and adjusting to life back in the UK. We're very much enjoying spending time with our families and friends and looking forward to baby's arrival.

Our latest prayer letter is now available on the BMS Website or by clicking here.  As always thanks for your prayers!


5 Nov 2012

Pray for Latin America

This week the BMS Prayer Guide focusses on praying for Latin America. Although within South America BMS personnel are present only in Peru and Brazil, partnerships are still active with Baptist Conventions in Paraguay and Ecuador, and continent-wide with UBLA (Latin American Baptist Union). Current grants represent continued support of projects within BMS strategic areas. Please pray that God may guide each leader and worker to minister according to his will, through his love.

31 Oct 2012

Yucay and Calca


With only a week to go until we arrive back in the UK, things are slowly descending into semi-organised chaos here. We're half packed, we think we've found someone to look after the house, the cot is made ready for our return, and we know where our passports are.

11 Oct 2012

International Day of the Girl 2012

Today marks the first ever 'International Day of the Girl', as designated by the United Nations following a campaign by the charity 'Plan'. The purpose of the day is to highlight ongoing injustice and discrimination against girls in many parts of the world, and to campaign for changes that will help to improve lives and transform futures.

4 Oct 2012

The Henleys on Tour!

Well, time is flying by and it's now just over 4 weeks until we fly back to the UK.  We're really excited (and a little nervous!) about the impending arrival of 'El Bump' but also that we have the opportunity to spend Christmas with friends and family.

It's not all mince pies and nappies though - we will also be taking time to visit our supporters and Church Partners whilst we're home.  It will be great to be able to see you all and thank you in person for your support during our first term of service in Peru and also to be able to share more of what God's been doing and what life is like.

14 Sep 2012

Nauta



The city of Iquitos sits in the Loreto region of Peru, in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. It is the largest city in the world which is inaccessible by road - everyone and everything has to come in by either boat or plane. Our BMS colleagues Gill and Harland have been living and working in Iquitos for 3 years now, and are involved in a variety of development projects and helping local Baptist churches. You can see more about some of the work they're doing in the Amazonia video.

9 Sep 2012

Kite Flying and English Lessons...

A while ago we shared with you about an unexpected meeting we'd had and a request for a Bible study.  Well, it's time for an update!

25 Aug 2012

Quick Update...

Huge thanks to all of you who were praying for the Bible study today. As is par for the course here, plans have changed slightly and it looks like the study will now be at some point during the week. Please do keep praying though!

Thanks again :-)

21 Aug 2012

Undefeated

In the run up to the Paralympics, BMS have produced a set of resources for use in churches. The Undefeated campaign aims to persuade the UK government to benefit the lives of disabled people in developing countries by becoming more inclusive in their foreign aid strategy. The resources are designed to inspire your church to celebrate the faith and excellence of Paralympians, campaign on issues of global injustice and be more inclusive towards disabled people. For more details or to order resources, please click here.

Tales of the Unexpected...

Every day we try to get out and about in the community to meet people.  Sometimes this is just into town or the market, but other times we go for walks and explore the area to try and get a sense of how Urubamba and its outlying villages function.   On many days these efforts seem to yield almost no fruit.  Quite often we come back having had little more than two minutes of conversation with people, especially conversation that didn't revolve around the vegetables we were buying or the freshness of the bread.

8 Aug 2012

Curahuasi and Beyond...

In Peru, as in many countries, plans are often considered to be slightly more 'flexible' than they would be in the UK. Things are liable to change at the last minute, events never quite start when they are meant to, and nothing can be taken for granted. The positive side of this, and one of the things we really appreciate about the culture here, is that relationships come before everything - it is far more important to invest time with the people that you're with at any given moment than it is to be on time to another meeting. The not so positive side is that, especially for us, it can be incredibly frustrating trying to get anything done!


A few weeks ago we met a Peruvian missionary who has been working in the rural region between the cities of Cusco and Ayacucho. Originally from the area, and therefore a fluent Quechua speaker, the focus of his work has been on planting churches in poor Quechua communities. At the last count he had planted 38 churches of varying sizes. Keen to learn a bit more about Quechua culture and the work he's been doing, we asked if we could come and visit him and some of the churches. He seemed very happy about this, and invited us to a big celebration/conference that all the churches would be having together in a small town called Curahuasi, about three hours outside Cusco. He promised that when he got home he would send us some more details...

Three days before the event was due to start, we still hadn't heard anything, so sent an email asking if he could give us some more information. The reply came back saying that the conference was now going to be the following weekend. This wasn't a problem, and in fact made life slightly easier for us, but we still had no idea exactly where it was or any of the timings. Several more emails elicited no response, but we decided to head to Curahuasi for the weekend anyway - after all how hard could it be to find a conference of 40 odd churches in a town of only 5000 people? We also have some good friends from language school who work at a German missionary hospital in the town, so we knew that whatever happened it would be a good opportunity to see them!


We arrived in Curahuasi to be welcomed by Frank & Anja Nöh and Stefan & Tabea Seiler, who we knew from Arequipa. After a great evening catching up with them, we headed off on Saturday morning to try and find the conference. Our first stop was the Baptist church, where we met the pastor. He was very surprised to have two gringos at the door asking if he knew anything about the conference..Some confusion and a phone call later confirmed that the only conference going on was an anniversary celebration for four churches in another village 35 miles away, and that the person we were meant to be meeting was in Cusco and therefore wouldn't be there. Having come all this way, we decided that we might as well go and visit the anniversary celebration, so got another taxi to take us on to Concacha, forty minutes drive up a beautiful snaking mountain road.

We arrived in Concacha just as they were heading back into a session, so didn't get a chance to talk to anyone before being ushered onto some uncomfortable wooden benches in the church. The whole thing was in Quechua, so we didn't understand a word of it! We did however get to 'enjoy' the delights of some typical Quechua worship, a brief audio sample of which can be heard below.


After the session, we finally managed to introduce ourselves to the visiting speaker, who was a pastor from a remote area on the other side of Cusco. He wasn't expecting us, but was delighted to see us and made us feel very welcome. Over lunch with him we were able to spend some time talking about his work and struggles and some of the social and economic problems particular to the area he is working in. We hope that this is a relationship which can develop further so that we can be mutually supportive. Please pray that this can happen!

After lunch we were introduced to the rest of the attendees and the whole meeting prayed for us. As always this was both very encouraging and very humbling - in every church we've been to in Peru people have gone out of their way to welcome us, to affirm our ministry, and to help us feel part of the bigger picture of what God is doing here.


The trip, therefore, was nothing like we expected it to be, but was a huge blessing nevertheless! Plans may change all the time here, but that doesn't mean that they won't work out well.

30 Jul 2012

July 2012 Prayer Letter

Our latest prayer letter is now out and can be seen by clicking here. Thanks again for all your prayers.

18 Jul 2012

Time For A Makeover...


We've been thinking for a while now about changing the look of the website a bit, and have finally got round to doing it. The basic layout is still the same, but the colour scheme has changed to make it (hopefully) easier to read and use less ink for those of you who are printing it out.

We'd love to hear what you think (good or bad) and any other suggestions of how we can improve the website and/or keep you better updated with what's going on. Thanks!

Dancing at the anniversary of Urubamba

13 Jul 2012

Long Time No Blog...

Well, huge apologies that our blog entries have been sparse of late. We’ve had lots going on and have been blessed by several visitors, so we thought we’d update you with all that we’ve been up to.

With Faye and Jonathan at the Pisac Ruins

6 Jun 2012

Exciting News...

We are very excited to be able to announce that we are expecting our first child! Baby Henley is due in mid-December, and we will be coming back to the UK to have him or her. We had the 12 week scan yesterday (picture below) and everything appears fine - the baby was dancing while we watched on the screen! After a few weeks of nausea and tiredness Julia is feeling much better. Thanks for all your prayers!


31 May 2012

El Señor de Torrechayoc

In 1650 a huge earthquake destroyed the main route between Urubamba and Lares, a nearby town. Local tradesmen wanting to travel to and from Lares were forced instead to use a high and dangerous mountain pass, with heavy taxes imposed by the owners of the hacienda that the new route passed through. Because the route was only used by indios, the Peruvian government showed little interest in repairing the road, and it wasn't until a couple of hundred years later that a group of locals decided to get together and do it themselves.

2 May 2012

Flooding in Iquitos

Some of you may have seen that in recent weeks the city of Iquitos and the surrounding area have been hit by very heavy flooding. In some places the water is as high as 4m, meaning that people are living with human excrement, crocodiles, anacondas and the risk of electric shock in their homes. Others have now moved to live in roof spaces, but are struggling to find food and sanitation.

25 Apr 2012

April 2012 Prayer Letter


Just a quick message to let you know that our April 2012 prayer letter is now available and can be seen by clicking here.

As ever thanks for all your prayers and support.

8 Apr 2012

¡Feliz Pascua!


A very happy Easter from Peru. We hope that you've all had an incredible and blessed day and have been able to celebrate the remarkable significance of Jesus' death and resurrection for the whole world.

Peru still has a very strong Catholic heritage so Holy Week and Easter are very significant times in the calendar, marked by a number of events. Thursday and Friday were public holidays, and the streets were filled with people buying and selling special Easter biscuits, crosses made from grasses and onions, and 'espinos' - cacti which vaguely resemble crosses and which serve as a reminder of the crown of thorns. Many people will hang these over their doorways as a sign of good luck and to drive evil spirits away.

On Good Friday evening the road surface in the main square was decorated with some incredible street art (which appeared to use a mixture of dyed sand and leaves). After a mass in the Catholic church in the square, the corpse of Christ was then carried through the streets in a glass coffin, stopping occasionally to pray for the town and bless different aspects of local life.


On Holy Saturday many of the Catholic churches remain completely closed for the whole day, and in some places the corpse of Christ is displayed with black cloth as a symbol of mourning. The churches then re-opened this morning for masses of celebration and more parades and festivities.


Because of it's significance in the Catholic calendar, many of the evangelical churches here do nothing to celebrate Easter (or Christmas). At the church we attended this morning there was a brief passing reference, but nothing more. However we are very much looking forward to going up to Cusco this afternoon where there will be a special Easter service at the church our friends Scott and Anjanette Williamson have planted there.

It's at times like this that we feel a long way from home, and miss the customs and traditions that we're used to. However today also serves as a reminder of why we're here. We believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus offers hope and life in all it's fullness to the whole world, and this is the message that we hope to embody, to share and to see become a reality here in Peru.

Happy Easter, and every blessing on this special day.

23 Mar 2012

Settling in to Urubamba...


We can hardly believe it but it’s a week today that we moved into our home in Urubamba. There is still much to do, but slowly we are getting ourselves sorted. We still seem to be making daily trips to the market to buy yet more stuff and then piling ourselves onto motor taxis (motorbikes with two seats attached to the back) complete with kitchen bin, vegetable rack, mop and bucket... you name it. It’s a comical sight, but nothing like as comical as watching our three piece suite disappearing down the road strapped precariously to the roof of a taxi the day we bought it! It’s home delivery but not as we know it! Moving house in Peru has certainly been an experience.

The strange thing for us has been the absence of the usual string of friends and family that would normally be queuing up to visit when you move house. For this reason it was really nice to welcome the Peru Action Team for a day this week. They travelled down to the Valley to see us and we spent a very hot morning climbing a fairly large hill, with no shade just a mile or so from our house. Thankfully the climb was rewarded at the top by an amazing view of the Salt Pans of Maras. Whilst not in use at this time of year, a local informed us that normally there are 400 people working there, refining and gathering the salt to be sold all over the region. It was amazing to see the white and caramel terraces stretching out before us and it was great to be able to invite the team back to our home afterwards for lunch and a well earned sit down!


After lunch we burnt all our packing boxes in the garden – quite a significant moment really, as they’ve been part of our lives now for 10 months! We also spent some time praying for one another. The team prayed for our home, our ministry here in Urubamba and for God’s guidance in these early months and we prayed for them as their time in Peru draws to a close. Amy, Jess, Liz and Rob have been here since October and in two weeks will travel back to the UK to tour churches and schools sharing some of their experiences. Please pray for them as they spend their last two weeks here in Peru. They’ve learnt many new things and will have lots to process as they return home and begin their tour. Please ask for God’s blessing and safe keeping on them and for Him to guide their next steps into the future.


11 Mar 2012

And they're off...



Well, after successfully passing our driving theory test (thanks so much for your prayers!), tomorrow we leave Arequipa to begin moving into our new home.  We’ve spent the last couple of days packing up and trying to make sure we have everything we need and today we went out for a lovely lunch with our host family.  We ate at ‘El Gaucho,’ an excellent Argentinean meat restaurant in the centre of Arequipa, which we’d recommend to anyone! It was the first place we went out for dinner with our hosts back in August, so it seemed a fitting (and tasty) way to end too.  We will be really sad to leave Julio, Miriam and their family as we’ve so enjoyed getting to know them and being made to feel very much part of their family over the past 9 months.

Yesterday we also put the world right again, by adding a Union Jack to the collection of International flags at our language school.  It was good to pop in again and sign the leaving book and to offer our thanks to all our great teachers for the final time.

There is sadness in leaving, but we’re also very excited to be able to begin settling into our new community in Urubamba.  We’ll try to keep you posted as we get settled, although internet could be patchy for the first few weeks until we get ourselves sorted.  But please continue to pray for us, for the documents that we’re awaiting from the DVLA and for the moving process.  There’s lots to do! 

29 Feb 2012

Home Sweet Home...


So, after 40 hours of sitting on buses, 4 days walking around in the rain, endless conversations with people sending us from pillar to post and looking at several houses that James couldn't stand up in, we now have a house!

This weekend we signed contracts and collected the keys of what will be, for the next year at least, our home in Urubamba in the Sacred Valley. It's a great house and a real answer to prayer. Huge thanks to those who have been praying for us as we've searched and put out feelers over the last few months. And thanks too to Scott and Anjanette Williamson in Cusco for putting us up in their home and for helping us negotiate the renting process in Peru.

We're really excited about the house. Although it's a little bigger than we had imagined, it will be an excellent place to begin our ministry and a base from which to get to know the community better. It also has a small but lovely garden and should offer us a place to relax and begin to feel at home. Please keep praying. Moving in could be a challenge as the dirt track that leads up to the house is, for the moment at least, very waterlogged and at least some of the furniture may have to go over the wall rather than through the small garden gate!

Please also pray as we try to get our driving licenses over the next few days. We need to finish this process in Arequipa before we can move to the Valley. So please pray for success in exams and favour from the officials who will check our paperwork. It's a good thing that for God, all things are possible!

Urubamba. The house is over on the left.

12 Feb 2012

BMS Day of Prayer 2012

On Monday 13th February BMS are inviting people to join in their 2012 Day of Prayer. BMS staff and mission personnel will be setting aside the day to pray for the work and vision as we look to the future.

If you would like to join in, there are a number of resources on the BMS website including:

  • the main programme of prayer with prayer points for each hour of the day covering different parts of the world
     
  • a new all-age prayer with PowerPoint suitable for use in a Sunday service
     
  • prayers and readings for individual use
     
  • prayer letters from mission workers
 You can also visit the BMS Prayer blog, which will have a special Day of Prayer focus. Thanks for your support and prayers!

8 Feb 2012

The rain in Arequipa falls mainly...all the time!


Well we’re now back in Arequipa and enjoying all that ‘rainy season’ has to offer.  This year the rain in the highlands has been especially heavy, causing the Rio Chili that runs through the centre of the city to be in danger of over-flowing its banks.  Yesterday we watched a valiant attempt to rescue five dogs that were stranded on a small island that had formed as the waters rose round about them.  Sadly homes are under threat too as the waters rise and crops are damaged by flooding.  Please pray for those affected and of course for the rains to ease.


For us the rain is inconvenient but nothing more.  Strangely in fact it helps us feel at home, except of course for the intermittent sunshine.  Here you can purchase ponchos and umbrellas  from street vendors everywhere whilst the rain falls and the moment it stops the merchandise changes to sunglasses!

We are getting back into a routine after a very busy and travel-filled January. We are back at language school each morning and enjoying learning more about culture and the church (as well as trying to sort out our persistent mistakes!) and in the afternoons we’re working towards obtaining Peruvian driving licenses.  Going through the application process hasn’t been entirely straightforward so far and is proving to be quite a test of patience.  Peru is a country that seems to love paperwork and we’re accumulating quite a lot of it as we fill in forms and provide copies of all of our documents and certificates.  We have already had a physical check and a psychometric test to check our suitability to drive.  Whilst some of the questions were ‘interesting’ and a little bemusing as to their relevance, we both passed without any problems.  So after we provide a few more documents we get to take the theory test - please pray for us in this as it’s quite a learning curve, with many of the answers taking us quite by surprise!

We’ll keep you posted on our progress! 


16 Jan 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Apologies for the lack of updates on here recently - after months of living a fairly sedate lifestyle, the last few weeks have really taken off! We won't bore you with all the details, but here's a quick round-up of what's been happening...

Just before Christmas we travelled up to Cusco again to stay with the Williamson family. We were always expecting Christmas to be a difficult time but it was great to be able to celebrate with other Christians in a different culture, as well as to be with other Brits and eat an amazing Christmas dinner (complete with turkey and all the trimmings). We also got to Skype with our families, which included a slightly tearful moment as Julia's nieces (2 & 4) sang Christmas carols to us.

On New Year's eve we went to the centre of Cusco with the Action Team to join the celebrations there. This proved to be slightly more dangerous than expected, as there seems to be no laws limiting who can buy fireworks or where you can set them off, but there was a good atmosphere and it was worth going just the once!

During our time in Cusco we also got to start the house-hunting process. We saw everything from tiny places that James couldn't stand up in to mansions with private swimming pools, but as yet nothing that has 'felt' right for us and the vision that we have for church-planting. Please pray that God would both provide the right place and let us know when we've found it!


Back in Arequipa, we only had a few days to rest and get some washing done before joining other Christians from some of the Baptist churches in the city on a week long mission trip to the city of Tacna. We ended up just outside Tacna in a beautiful but chilly village called Tarata. There has been a young pastor and his wife there for a couple of years now trying to plant a church, and whilst they've seen some success it is hard-going. We joined a team who had been invited to help by running a medical campaign, a children's holiday club and doing some door to door evangelism. Whilst we wouldn't necessarily agree with everything which was done, and particularly with some of the theology being preached, it was a great experience both to be with Peruvians and see how they do things and to have some time in the 'campo'. The Sacred Valley is a long way away, but we felt an affirmed sense of call that at least part of our role here is to be exploring ways of 'doing' church in remote, poor villages like Tarata.

Finally, we came virtually straight from Tacna to Lima, where Julia had been asked to preach at the president of the Baptist Convention's church. Despite only finding out at the last minute that she was actually preaching in two services, her first sermon in Spanish went brilliantly and God used her powerfully. As a result we have now been asked to speak at the national young adults conference next week, so please pray for our preparations for that.

That's it for now...we head back to Arequipa tomorrow before returning to Lima on Saturday to speak at the young adult's conference then attend the annual Baptist Assembly. We'll let you know how that goes afterwards!