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!