Wednesday, January 30, 2008

To be honest, it's a little overwhelming. About two months ago, I was asked to help with the youth camp this year. You must understand that "youth" here includes anyone from about 14 to 40 who is unmarried. When I was asked, I responded that I would pray about it, and a few days later, I agreed. Later that week, in a camp philosophy meeting, it was announced that I was the director of the youth camp, which was quite a surprise to me, if to no one else. I stayed calm, for my understanding was that everything was fairly well laid out and organized, and they merely needed someone to be in charge during the actual week of camp. Roughly one month later, the director of another camp asked me how the details were coming along. "What details?" was my unguarded response. He commenced telling me about all of the responsibilities which are included in a Peruvian camp director's job description. These details had somehow not been mentioned up to that date, which left me less than one month to begin (and finish) all of the preparations for camp which include designing and sending camp literature, finding/bringing campers, recruiting counselors and cooks, developing and organizing games, inventing and printing camp booklets, creating and keeping a budget, soliciting a special speaker, and overseeing the camp itself, as well as the myriad of other details that are involved in making a camp work. This camp will take place Lord-willing from February 11-16, and I am thankful to say that the Lord has given strength and wisdom in many areas already, and by His grace we are assured of a wonderful camp this year. We are praying for The Lord to bring many saved and unsaved young people, and we are praying that He will prepare the hearts of not only the campers, but also the counselors and staff.

As you know, we are filling in as furlough replacements during this next year, and that has several implications for us. First, the church attendance where we are pastoring/planting has been lower since our co-workers left, and there is a tremendous need to get the gospel out in our community. Therefore, we would like to have an evangelistic outreach focused mission team. Also, We are in the midst of building a church building. The church has been meeting in the Whatley's home basically since the beginning, and the church is definitely outgrowing the available space. The building needs are as follows: doors and windows, a large exterior temporary wall, wiring, plumbing, and eventually stucco, tile, and a drop ceiling. The church has been saving money to continue construction, however funds are definitely still needed. We are praying that the Lord will send several teams with varied skills to us during this year.

Other than the outreach/evangelism and construction goals. We would like to do the following this year Lord-willing:

1. Be actively discipling the members of the church through small-group Sunday School (evidently a novel concept in most of Peru).

2. Be encouraging not only participation but leadership in the areas of evangelism and discipleship among church members.

3. Start a bible-study with the goal of it becoming a church in the nearby village of Huayllabamba.

4. Visit and evangelize the totally untouched Quechua villages in the mountains in our immediate area.

5. Teach several courses in the Seminary in nearby Urubamba.

6. Obtain property in the Southern jungle "capital" Puerto Maldonado. This would serve as base of operations for our jungle ministry, and would likely be the site for another church in the city which now has nearly 100,000 people and only 1 small Baptist work, which is probably the only gospel preaching church in the entire province.

7. Begin construction on the property if necessary.

8. Continue to improve cultural and linguistic understanding and practices.

9. Observe and learn from the veteran Baptist missionaries and pastors in the area.

10. Compile and record deputation tips for future deputizing missionaries.

Will you pray with us about these goals? Will you pray with us about whether the Lord would have you and/or your church bring a mission team down to help?

Thank you in advance for your prayers regarding these requests.

In Christ Alone, Buddy and Loren Fitzgerald

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pastor's Camp and More!

During the pastor's camp this year we had 3 jungle pastors who had never before visited us here. It was a tremendous joy to see the growth in their lives since we first met them in the jungle about 4 years ago.

The evening services can get a little long, so if your children are tired, just lay them in the aisle of the tent. (if you are an adult, you're expected to sleep in your chair)

If you really get tired, there is always the basin of water in the middle of the center aisle. The idea is to splash yourself in the face with it. Amazingly enough, I didn't see anyone dump the basin on their sleeping neighbor the entire week!

This is Jacob, the jungle pastor from the Yine village called Miaria. He doesn't look so savage now, right? He is part of the generation that worshiped the "sun god" before the missionaries arrived. The sad part is that while most of the tribes now claim to be "Christian" many of them still have no idea what that means. Their idea of a Christian is a non-pagan who is somewhat civilized, and may have a church-building in his village.

This is Cuzco, note the snow-covered peak in the background!

This is Lois Hutchinson, one of the early Baptist missionaries to this part of Peru. She and her husband worked here for many years together before he passed away. She has now "retired" here, but is still very busy in the work.

Bob Whatley, a Baptist missionary who has faithfully spent 47 years here sharing the gospel in the Cuzco region.

Sharon Loveall. The Lovealls have been in the department of Cusco for about 15 years now, and work here in Urubamba pastoring the church, and directing the seminary.

On the left is our special speaker for the week. An African missionary veteran of many years. The theme this year was discipleship, and I personally learned much, despite not having time to make it to all the sessions. On the right is Ken Loveall who translated for Dr. Fogle all week.

Despite the great teaching, and amazing stories, not everyone stayed awake. I suppose that is to be expected. (See pastor, it is not just the congregations in the U.S.)

I wanted to introduce you to some of the missionaries in this region of Peru. Unfortunately, the gospel has not yet gone to all Peru in the same measure that it has been spread here. Please continue praying for the jungle ministry that God has called us to.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The 11 hour church service!

When was the last time you had an 11 hour church service? On the Whatley's last sunday here, we started at 9am, and finished a little after 8pm. it was Great!

Loren worked in the kitchen until she had blisters (literally!)

Tim was rescuing someone from drowning! Actually we had the privilege of baptizing 4 converts. It was a true joy to see a visible, public testimony!

These are our co-workers, Tim and Barb, and this is a fascinating game called: "Get-the-sticky-liquid-all-over-your-partner-before-they-get-you!"

On a side-note, it is much more entertaining if you are not the one playing.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Snapshot (or two) of our life

If you would like to see an enlarged version, just click anywhere on the photo.
This is our impressive meat section. Notice the large hacksaw in the lady's hand.

This kind of overflowing load is a common occurrence in Peru. A van this size (which is much smaller than a 15 passenger van) will often contain more than thirty people (especially on holidays)!

We do have quite an assortment of jewelry. This is our version of the preteen phenomenon "Claire's", although it is popular with all ages here.

This is as close as it gets to Home Depot in this part of the world. The store is only about twice as wide as the doorway, and you can see how deep it is.

This is our fruit lady. Here in Peru, your vendor (of almost anything) is called your "casera". Loren has been buying from this casera for the last few months in order to build a relationship.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Christmas Miracles

Sometimes the preaching that we hear makes the Christian life, and especially full-time Christian service sound like the most carefree, easiest life on the globe. Since we arrived in Peru, we´ve had a few difficulties, as one may expect. As we were preparing to go into the jungle, we discovered that two different denominational leaders had tried to persuade the tribe not to let us enter. As you already know, however, the Lord blessed in marvelous ways on that trip, and His name was and is lifted up in that tribe as never before. Coming back from the tribe, we went to Lima, hoping to obtain our housegoods which we had sent in a shipping container from the states. We were told several conflicting stories, until the truth finally came out: our container had been sent to Chile because a repair was needed on the boat. We´ve now been in Peru for nearly 5 months, and we have yet to see a few of the larger (read: more desired by the port officials) items. Also since arriving, we have had two miscarriages, and found out that Buddy's dad had cancer, and Loren's mom had a minor heart-attack (are they ever really minor?). Both Buddy's family, and Loren's mom had been planning to come visit, but because of the health problems, they were unable to come. Buddy's family had been saving to bring the whole family down for Christmas, but since they could not come because of treatments, they offered to bring us back for Greenville for two weeks. We prayed about it, and the Lord showed us that He would have us return in order to see family, be an encouragement, get a little rest, and report to our church (As well as eat some wonderful food not available in Peru =).
As we were preparing to return to Greenville for a much sooner than expected visit, we had a very, very interesting call from Buddy's family. It turns out that both of his parents had been reading James 5, and were impressed by the Lord to approach the elders of the church asking that they pray over Buddy's dad and anoint him with oil according to James 5, so that is exactly what they did. From that time until now, all of the symptoms of the cancer have disappeared, and Mr. Fitzgerald seems to be doing great.
Perhaps we do not hear today about the Creator and Master-Physician healing people for several reasons. Maybe some do not want to be seen as having ¨Pentecostal tendencies¨. Perhaps others feel that it is a private thing. Yet others may have the fear that if the cancer or malady returns, they will be looked upon as foolish for proclaiming themselves healed when it was apparently a ¨figment of their imagination¨. Personally, I believe that whenever our God does amazing miracles (which is actually every day!) we need to praise Him, exalt Him, and make our boast in the Cross of Christ through which we receive a multitude of undeserved benefits on a moment by moment basis.
Another miracle also occurred during this Christmas season, however it started long ago. Many, many years ago, a young widow named Beliza in San Jose, Costa Rica accepted Christ as her Savior. She faithfully prayed for her children and brought them to church, but the youngest boy, Juan Jose, did not show much interest. He made several professions of faith, but did not show a lot of fruit. She began to pray especially for Him, but he continued going his own way. He eventually moved to New York City to make a name for himself, and to make as much money as possible. He was an engineer, and was doing well when he married a beautiful young lady also from Costa Rica named Lorena. They dressed imaculately, and enjoyed all that comes with wealth. Almost right away, the children started coming. In their early months of marriage, Beliza came for a visit, and encouraged them to find a church in their area. They found the First Baptist Spanish Church of Brooklyn in the yellow pages, and began attending there. Lorena was baptized while pregnant with their third daughter, however the family's relationship with the Lord apparently did not extend beyond the doors of the church, as the young couple continued their self-centered lifestyle. Not long after the fourth daughter was born the struggles became too much, and Juan Jose and Lorena were divorced. After many years away from church and away from the Lord, the third daughter was saved, and eventually all four daughters and Lorena had been miraculously saved by the grace of God. They prayed fervently for the father, Juan Jose to be saved, but he did not realize his true condition. He continued to look back to the professions of faith that he had made as a young boy in Costa Rica.
This Christmas, the third daughter, Loren Fitzgerald, called her father, Juan Jose to wish him a Merry Christmas, and see how he was doing. He related how he had been reading a book that Loren had given him called ¨Becoming A Christian¨, and had also begun attending church again. He was overjoyed to recount that the Sunday before Christmas he finally understood for the first time why Jesus Christ had to come to earth specifically for his sake! All of those years he had lived a self-sufficient life apart from God, but God finally showed him that Juan Jose was not good enough, or acceptable in the sight of God!

Despite the difficult things that have happened, the things that God has done in us, through us, and for us remind us that we are privileged beyond measure to be serving the Lord, and we cannot imagine a better, more rewarding life than the one that our gracious Father has given us.
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