Monday, January 28, 2008

Blog reading level

blog readability test

A friend of mine (Dave Godzwa) tested the reading level of his blog and found it required a genius to read it. I'm happy to report that my natural writing style is that of the common man. To read something a little more challenging, you can check out Dave's blog at

TV Reviews

Sunday, January 27, 2008

House Hunt

We’ve been in Lima, Peru for 2 weeks now and are loving it. (That's us in front of the President's Palace.) It’s like living in New York City in the middle of August—congested, noisy, smelly, extremely humid and full of adventure. We're really grateful to the Lord for calling us here and grateful to everyone on our team for partnering with us. Thank you!

We've had five items on our agenda over the past two weeks, each of which has involved getting lost in city traffic. I've written a new proverb for my life: Never get lost in a big city during rush hour. Here's a rundown of our 5 agenda items:

1) Finalize our residency visas. This involved trips to Interpol (the international police agency) and Immigration. We were fingerprinted in both places. At Interpol, a doctor drew a picture of our teeth, while we lay inverted in a dentist's chair. It's hard to tell, but I think he was very impressed with my teeth! We received our "you can live here now" cards a few days ago. Praise the Lord!

2) Meet with the National staff. The Peruvian Assemblies of God were having their General Council meetings the week we arrived. So, we met with the General Superintendent (the top official for the country) prior to those meetings. Later we were presented to all the ministers. After the meetings, I met with the superintendent again. Since all of the Assembly of God missionaries were in town for the Council, we had a chance to go out to dinner with them. This is important, because some of them live 1000 miles away or on the other side of the mountains. It was great to meet them all, but it was a double blessing since one of them (Gwen Kovack) offered to take us on a tour of Lima and fill us in on some of her experiences in ministry. That was invaluable.

3) Find a car. We're in the process of buying a Kia Grand Carnival (known as the Kia Sedona in the states). I'll write more about that later.

4) Find an apartment. House hunting in Lima is a daunting task. The real estate agents work word-of-mouth. If you want a house, your agent calls all of his/her friends and asks about what they've got and if they've heard anything. While your agent is calling, you go driving around the neighborhood you want to live in and look for "For Rent" signs. We were really frustrated in the process. We wanted an apartment that was close to the kids' school, since we'll have one car and I'll be all over the country. The ability to walk to school or to a grocery store was a high priority. Unfortunately, we couldn't find one in that area that was large enough for us and still in our price range. (If we wanted to pay $3000, we could have found one or two.) For me, calling people and talking real estate over the phone has been a challenge. We should have had a class in this in language school!

We found one apartment that was small and expensive. We were about to take it, when we met a teacher at the kids' school. He knew of another apartment about 1/2 mile away. It's connected to a park where the kids can play and it's within walking distance. It's more money than we wanted to spend, but it's the best thing we've seen so far. When I was asking the Lord for his perspective on it, I felt like he said, "It fits all the criteria you asked for, doesn't it?" So I said, "Yes,...Thank you!" We'll get the keys on Monday and (hopefully) get our furniture on Wednesday or Thursday. We're really grateful for a place to soon call home. We've been living out of suitcases for a month and a half. We're all looking forward to a larger wardrobe selection.

While we were home over Christmas, we visited friends at Akron-Springfield Assembly. Here's a picture of our "looking for an apartment notebook" with the pen I've been using. We we tell our partners that we couldn't do it without you, we really mean it!

5) Grocery shopping, learning the city and surviving. Whenever you're in a new town, this takes time. For us, in a new town that's 10 times larger than our old home and where everyone speaks a new language, this has been a stretch. But, it's a blessed stretch!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

How and what we're doing in Peru

We're wrapping up our 10th day in Lima and the adventure is still a good one, though not without the kinds of nicks and bruises that are required for a real adventure. For instance, I'm grappling with a bad case of welcome-to-South-America diarrhea.

I recently had a meeting with the General Superintendent of Peru. Since one of my dreams is to teach in a Bible college, he wanted to know how soon I could teach at the Seminary here in Lima. That's the kind of invitation I've wanted for years. Unfortunately, I couldn't take him up on it right away. I don’t think it is wise to start teaching at the Seminary, too soon, for four reasons: 1) I’m serving as the country coordinator for Latin America ChildCare and have much to learn in order to do this job well. I need to fully understand the financial/administrative aspects of the ministry, as well as making relational connections with the pastors and directors of each school. 2) I have yet to complete my own doctoral studies. I have one class left to take and the project to complete. Of the latter, I’m about ½ way through. 3) As a family, we don’t yet have an apartment or a car. The kids aren’t enrolled in school yet. So, I need to smooth out the rough waters of transition so my family can feel more at ease. Figuratively speaking, we are like transplanted trees in buckets. We still look good, but we need to take root in the ground. 4) My Spanish is not yet strong enough—especially with regard to understanding the Peruvian accent and idioms. I told Pastor Espinoza that I needed 6 months. Rich Ferguson, another A/G missionary in Peru, advised 1 year. I probably need to sit in on a class or two before teaching, so that I can understand the dynamics of education in a Latin context. Personally, it’s disappointing to have to wait before stepping into a position I have long dreamed of. But, taking on too much too soon could be the disastrous. So, I’ll keep plugging away, jumping one hurdle at a time.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Unexpected Encouragement

On New Year's Day we had the pleasure of stopping in at the XA SALT conference in Cincinnati. What a great joy it was to see our friends! It was really surprising to see the daughter of one of my XA friends from when I was a student. I remember when Lisa Potter was born. Her mom and dad, Steve and Cindy, were major influences in my discipleship.

I knew that Lisa was attending XA at Ohio State, but it was still surprising seeing her at SALT--but it was even more surprising running into her dad (Steve) at the airport in Miami, Florida! We had just gotten there and pushed our pile of luggage into a corner, where we could spend our 5 hour lay-over on the way to Lima. (That Lay-over ended up being 7 hours.) I looked up and there was Steve! He was flying out of the same gate as us, only on an earlier flight. Steve was on his way to help a ministry in Haiti. He has always been a great encouragement to me, so I took this encounter as a sign from the Lord to be encouraged.

I wrote about Steve and Cindy previously in this blog. You an read that entry at:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

We've Arrived!

4 years and 2 weeks after we received the call to Peru, we are finally in the Land. Praise the Lord for this awesome blessing! Our time in the states was great, though full of travel. We're looking forward to putting down some roots. Currently, we're in a condo in San Isidro, a suburb of Lima. We're renting this condo for two weeks, while we look for a perminant house or apartment. We were supposed to arrive last Saturday, Jan 5, but were delayed by the processing of our visas. We traveled to Chicago last Wednesday and went to the Peruvian Embassy. Everything was worked out and Lena and I are now card-carrying residents of Peru. Praise the Lord!

Thanks to all who've been praying for us. Our flight out of Miami was delayed 2 hours last night. As such, we arrived in Peru at 1:00 AM. It took 2 hours to get through customs. Consequently, the kids got to bed at 3:45 and I hit the hay at 4:45. Before going to bed, I opened the shades and the window in our bedroom. The breeze was great and I enjoyed looking at the lights of the city. I thought I’d sleep that way, then I remembered that the Sun comes up at 5:30 AM. Sometimes darkness is more beautiful than an impressive view. Abi, who slept through most of the flight, got up at 9:00. As such, so did the rest of us.

It is sunny and hot here. We just took a walk to the grocery store. It was lovely and expensive. Expensive is a small bummer, but the lovely part is a big upper. Hannah said, “So far, I love Lima.” We reminded her that our vacation rental condo is in the pricey part of town. I suspected when I rented this place that being in a nice part of town would be a good idea for our first impression of Lima. We’re on the 16th floor with a great view of the city. In theory, we can see the ocean from our condo. In reality, we can only see the mist that resides over the ocean, which is very far away. I keep telling the kids, “There’s the ocean!” And they keep saying that they can’t see it. So I say, "Where's your faith?! Open your eyes!" It doesn't really help them, but I like saying it.

There is a life size replica of a pagan pyramid outside our bedroom window. I’m guessing that it’s a museum.

We love you mucho, mucho,


Sunday, January 06, 2008

A short delay

We have not left the country yet. We were supposed to fly to Peru on Saturday morning (Jan 5), but the government agency that approves visas for missionaries in Peru was not able to approve ours in time for our flight. We could have gone ahead and entered the country as tourists, but it would have meant flying out of the country again to receive the proper visas. As such, we were advised to post-pone our flight so we can have our passports stamped in Chicago. We hope to have that done on Wednesday. We found out about the delay this past Thursday night, leaving us 1 day to change our plans. I was heartbroken. I wondered if it was the enemy keeping us from our calling, if it was God teaching me patience or if it was just circumstance. I prayed about it, asking the Lord if we should just go and start the visa process over in Peru. The Lord reminded me of a time when I was a kid and my uncle gave me a fishing tackle box. He offered to take me out to see “Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang,” on that night, then we’d go fishing the next night. I was too anxious to go fishing with my new tackle box, so I pushed for us to go fishing on the first night. It was a frustrating experience for my uncle, because we only had 30 minutes to go fishing. Of course, 30 minutes of fishing with my new gear was insufficient for me also. Afterward, I realized that I had pushed for the wrong choice. My uncle tried to warn me, but I was too enamored by my new tackle box to listen. As I prayed about our visas for Peru, the Lord brought this memory to my mind. I took it as the Lord’s advice to sit tight and get the proper approval. So, we’re visiting my in-laws in Cleveland and plan to drive to Chicago on Tuesday. After we get the visas, we’ll drive back to Cincinnati. I’ve changed our airline tickets to next Saturday (Jan 12). We’ll be arriving in Lima at 10:50 PM.

Please keep us in prayer for the successful completion of the visa process. Also, please pray with us that all that God has planned with be accomplished for his glory during these “bonus” days we have with family and friends.

Mucho Agape,