27 Dec 2013

Vilcabamba Landslide

We've been watching over the last few days as the BBC have reported on the storms hitting Britain at the moment. We hope that none of you are too badly affected and that you manage to stay safe through it all.

Here in Peru we've not yet seen the massive flooding of previous years, although rainy season is only just getting underway. Despite this, last week we heard of a small community where some of our clinic patients live who have been affected by landslides caused by the rain.

It seems that as part of the government construction of a new road to Paucartambo, a load of rubble, stones and mud were dumped at the side of the road. After a period of particularly heavy rain, this was all washed down into an already overflowing river, which in turn dumped it in the 'chacras' (small fields) of a number of local farmers. This has destroyed a lot of maize which would have been ready for harvest in April, and on which many of the locals rely for their basic diet.

Vilcabamba Landslide from J Henley on Vimeo.

In theory the government should pay compensation, but as so often in Peru, persuading them to hand over the money could be easier said than done! We are keeping in contact with the community to see if or how we might be able to help out. In the meantime, please keep all those affected in your prayers. Most of them simply don't have the contingency funds to allow for setbacks like this, so the future is very uncertain.

26 Dec 2013

Deck the halls with boxes and bubble wrap...

As I write this, 'Boxing day' (a very British tradition!) has come to an end, Katie is tucked up in bed and we are grateful for a lovely Christmas.

It was always going to be a slightly strange Christmas, as we have moved out of our house and into our colleagues house in preparation for leaving in just a few weeks.  Most of our things are in boxes or should be in boxes by now, but we are grateful for the hospitality of the Williamson family for lending us their home and Christmas decorations whilst they are in the UK for home assignment.

Strangely too, this was our first Christmas day on our own, as in the past we have always shared the day with family.  This could have felt a little sad, but actually we had a wonderful time, espeically as it was Katie's first Christmas and sharing the day with her (even though she knew very little about it) was a real treat.

Thank you for your prayers and messages - it was great to know that we weren't forgotten. Happy (belated) Christmas to you all.  We pray that your Christmas was full of joy and wonder wherever and however you celebrated this year.

16 Dec 2013

December Prayer Letter

Our December prayer letter is now available on the BMS website. As you will see, it contains some pretty big news about a decision we've taken to return to the UK permanently in February 2014. This has not been an easy process as we've tried to discern what God wants for us, but feel that at the moment it is the right decision for us as a family.

As always thank you for all your prayers and support. We are very appreciative of all the support we've had from BMS over these last few years and also to you all for your ongoing love, prayers, encouragement and parcels.

15 Dec 2013

Huambutio Chocolatada

Today was the annual chocolatada in Huambutio - a traditional community event for Christmas with singing, drama, a short message and finally hot chocolate, sweet bread for everyone and presents for all the children.

The whole of El Puente Church got involved, and especially the youth group, who led the singing and the drama. It was a great day (only slightly hampered by a power cut!) and a great chance to bless the local community. Many thanks to everyone who was involved, and please pray for all those who came. It is a special privilege to be able to share something of the gift of Jesus' birth in a place where people have so little.

11 Dec 2013

Adult Workshops

Over the next couple of months we are involved in running a series of adult workshops at the clinic in Huambutio. These are covering a range of different themes, including hygiene, nutrition, physical health, child care, baby stimulation and much more.

So far, numbers are growing each week and we hope that these workshops can be a valuable resource for the community and can grow into something much bigger. Please pray for the whole team who are involved in leading and running the sessions - that we would have wisdom and clarity as we try and share with people.

5 Dec 2013

Nauta Training Centre

Last week we had the privilege of being part of the teaching team at the Nauta Training Centre; started by a group of local pastors along with our colleagues Gill Thurgood and Harland Rivas, mission workers with BMS in Loreto.

Nauta is about an hour and a half from the city of Iquitos, in north eastern Peru.It is situated on the river MaraƱon, which feeds into the Amazon just a few minutes up river.Here amongst the network of rivers and tributaries are huge numbers of small communities, accessible only by boat and often very poor. The Nauta Training Centre exists to provide local Pastors and church leaders of these river communities with a basic theological education, but also a support network and training in community development and skills such as first aid.Each training event lasts about a week and takes place six times a year.It is a huge sacrifice for those who attend as many have to miss out on paid employment and travel up to 10 hours to be there.And yet for many, it is the only training they have ever been offered.It is not unusual for people in these communities to have only the basics of a primary education and no opportunity for further study.

James taught a course on Integral Mission, Julia taught on the book of Romans and Katie enjoyed meeting many new friends.Despite the heat and humidity, which after the cold dry mountain climate of Cusco was quite a shock especially to Katie, we thoroughly enjoyed meeting the Pastors who had gathered for this month's teaching and to learn a little of what life is like for them. We were struck by their humility and their welcome to us and we were humbled to hear of their faithfulness and perseverance as they pastor in often very difficult circumstances.

This was the last training event of the year, so at the end of the week there was a graduation ceremony for those who had attended enough sessions. It was great to celebrate with them and to pray for God's blessing on them as they continue to serve him in ministry.

Please join us in giving thanks for the Nauta Training Centre as it continues to resource the river communities and please pray for the students as they begin to put into practice all that they learnt last week. Please pray too for our colleagues Gill and Harland and also Laura Lee Lovering as they serve with BMS in Loreto.