FREE eBook! “My Missions Trip to Peru”

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While all 6 of my journal entries regarding my missions trip to Peru can be readily viewed on this blog, I have compiled all of my musings into one eBook for those that find this format more accessible. It’s in a PDF document, downloadable below. Thanks for your interest!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE EBOOK

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Peru Missions Journal (Entry 6/6)

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July 11, 2018

We were blessed to have a vibrant, sunny day in Urubamba, a noticeable distinction from yesterday’s overcast and drizzly afternoon. Though I must say that witnessing the Andes Mountains being partially swallowed up by dark clouds was a hauntingly beautiful sight to behold. I was very excited to begin the day, as my workload was rather light, simply administering a final exam.

This class has been a good group to teach in these last three weeks. It’s hard to believe that today is indeed the end of Doctrina 1. While nearly all of the experiences were overwhelmingly positive in the classroom, unfortunately two students did not end up completing the coursework, due to various reasons. Both were certainly capable of succeeding, but sadly 2 of the 10 did not make it all the way through.

While it’s easy to focus on the disappointments, the testimonial response from the students was quite encouraging. I asked them if they could share one thing they learned from the class that was most important to them. One of the older students shared how this course really helped him have more confidence in who God is. Another described how this class helped him better understand the Trinity, how God is one God but exists in three Persons. Some highlighted their appreciation in their new awareness of how the Bible was put together over the years. Afterwards, the students began and eventually completed a 180-question test, covering just about all the main points from these last three weeks.

After class was complete, I changed into more casual clothes to go to a café in downtown Urubamba. It was around 11 o’clock, so I wasn’t extremely hungry, but I did get a small hamburger, with cheese and eggs on it. The reason I wanted to go there was to try a specialty-made coffee drink. I went with a cappuccino, which was elegantly put together and exactly what I was crazing. I sipped on the cappuccino while grading some of my exams. Soon, I picked up a couple of cheese empanadas to go (“para llevar”).

I wasn’t on campus too long but for a short Skype call and a couple of other things to much on for the second-half of my lunch. Grace, one of the team members, brought me a couple of extra tomatoes they had—perfect timing! I did just a bit more grading, before making another trek out into the city for some shopping.

I wanted to go back to the Pablo Seminario ceramic and pottery shop for a couple more items as gifts, so that was my first stop. The weather this afternoon was quite literally perfect—sunny, 60 degrees or so, and a few clouds here and there. After getting some of those gifts, I went on towards the market, which is at its largest, I believe, on Wednesdays. I took some time to browse and got a lot of offerings of prices for things I was interested in purchasing. I ended up getting a couple of shirts, one for my wife and one for my son. After the market, I picked up five small bags of coffee as souvenirs for family, and then bought a large cup of some more wonton soup to have these next two days before leaving on Friday.

For the third night in a row, I had a quiet and calm evening. It took me at least a couple of hours to grade the final exams, but I finished them tonight. I also had the opportunity to Skype with my wife and son for a solid hour. Dinner was leftovers, but enjoyable for sure—some wonton soup and pizza from last night. There a sense of accomplishment tonight, having finished not just teaching the class but grading as well. And yet, there was also a bittersweet feeling, realizing that my time in Peru was almost up.

July 12, 2018

Today was a very light and easy morning. Since I finished up my grading yesterday, I didn’t have to rush to get work done today to fulfill my seminary duties. Instead, I packed up as many things as I could ahead of time to get ready for my departure tomorrow. Admittedly, I was a little nervous as to whether or not I would be able to fit everything. It seems when I came down to Peru that I didn’t have much room—now I had souvenirs to bring. But fortunately everything fit just fine.

It was an ideal day to have in Urubamba for one last long walk around the city. While I was in the southern part of the city, along a long and straight street that runs into a gas station as my indicator concerning where I am in the city, a Latino couple was walking the opposite way in my direction. The young man started speaking to me in Spanish/Castellano, asking me a question, one that I actually understood—at least, I hope I did, because I gave him directions on how to get to a vehicle that would take them to Ollataytambo. I must look like I know where I’m going in Urubamba.

For lunch, I went back to El Chorillano. I wanted to play it extra safe today with my flights coming up tomorrow, so I bought a “tortilla” once again, which is basically an omelette with chicken, onions, and peppers, on top of a mound of rice in the middle. I had ordered this “para llevar” (to go) previously; the dine-in option was put together elegantly.

I had an interest in breaking a 20 (soles, that is), so I went to the café I had gone to yesterday for my cappuccino. Today, I bought a manzanilla (chamomile) tea in a to-go cup, and also several “cocadas” (kind of like coconut macaroons) to share with the Americans on campus—I tried one as well, and it was pretty good! With all the free time in the last few days, I managed to finish my entire research paper that I had been working on for a class with Tyndale Theological Seminary (Hurst, Texas). This paper discussed the destiny of Israel as seen in Romans 11. Although it was a little tough getting into the topic with all the busyness of traveling, grading papers, and everything else, once I had time to really focus on it, I thoroughly enjoyed the study. Now, just one more research paper for my class, Book of Romans!

At night, I had the opportunity to attend my last church service in Urubamba. When I first got there, I expected it to be a pretty easy night in the pews, but actually the pianist was late, so I was asked to play the hymns for the evening. I accepted quickly, but then I saw the first song—I didn’t recognize it at all. “Uh oh,” I thought, “this might be rough.” But thankfully I was able to play enough complementary chords in that first song, and the other four were familiar to me. Although the music stand for my hymnal literally fell to the ground after the first hymn, as if to signal a bad omen, I managed to play the other songs with more confidence. What’s the first, second, and third principles of missions? Flexibility! That’s something that can be tough for musicians who are always perfectionistic, but this kind of thing can also lead one to trust in God and reorient our thoughts as to why we play music in the first place—it should be to glorify God rather than self. Overall, the service was worshipful, and one of the team members, Randy, preached a powerful message with several responding in some important way.

July 13, 2018

It was a cloudy morning in Urubamba, but no problem for a day of a travel. We headed to the bus station around 9:30 and I made my way via public transportation to Cusco. There’s not much room on these vans, so my suitcase and carry-on bag were attached to the roof—good thing it’s not rainy season! I was in the very back with three other people, where we were “squished like sardines,” though perhaps there’s a Peruvian analogy that would be just as fitting. Aaron, one of the missionaries in Cusco, with whom I’ve spent every weekend with this trip, met me at the terminal, and we took a taxi to the city’s small airport.

I had been praying that, if at all possible, I could get an earlier flight to Lima since my flight from there to Miami was only about 90 minutes past my expected arrival in the coastal Peruvian city. We got up to the front for check-in and the lady at the counter said there was extra room on a flight leaving at 2:30. It cost $30 to make the change, which was well worth the diminished stress—what a great relief! Apparently, while we were ordering the change, the flight switched from 2:30 to 2:50, which wasn’t a problem of course. And as I was waiting at the projected gate for departure, a lady from LATAM (Latin American Airlines) gave me a voucher for a free “snack”—a free drink and sandwich from a café on the second floor. That worked out well!

We indeed departed right on time and arrived in Lima with several hours before my evening, “red eye” flight to Lima. Unlike last time, my luggage arrived—in fact, it was like the fifth piece of luggage to come through the baggage claim. I had to wait a while until I could check in, so I was in a kind of luggage limbo, with three items to hang onto and not many places to sit down. Once American Airlines opened for their evening flights to check in, I found out that my flight was delayed about 90 minutes, but since my flight from Miami to Charlotte the next day was at 10 a.m., that was still plenty of time. When the clock struck midnight, I was sitting in the airplane, while dozens of others passengers and I anticipated making to Miami in a matter of a little over six hours.

July 14, 2018

I’m not one to sleep in cars, buses, or airplanes. Last night’s overnight flight wasn’t very much different. Every which way I moved around in my seat, I couldn’t find a comfortable form for sleeping very long—though I think I did officially “sleep” for about 20-30 minutes at one point. Looking outside the nearest window around 5:30 a.m., the sky was certainly beautiful. And about an hour later, we arrived back into the United States at the airport in Miami. Going through customs wasn’t that difficult of an experience, though it took a few minutes for them to scrutinize my five bags of salt I purchased in Maras—evidently, they were making sure it wasn’t cocaine or something.

While usually five-hour layovers aren’t desirable, the tardiness from last night’s flight allowed an ideal amount of a timeframe for my 10 a.m. flight to Charlotte. Thanks to a generous giver in Virginia, I had plenty of money to spend at Starbucks for breakfast by gift cards, so I purchased a breakfast sandwich, a banana, and a coffee. My flight to Charlotte went well, which put me in another 5+ hour layover. My first lunch back in the U.S. was an easy choice—salad! I tried a barbecue chicken salad from California Pizza Kitchen. Salad never tasted so good. Later that evening, I had another smooth flight, which was to my final destination of Roanoke. I was so exhausted that I slept from the time we boarded the plane until I was in mid-air. At about 7:15 p.m., the small aircraft we were in landed in the similarly modest-sized airport in Roanoke. My approximately 33-hour journey from the van ride in Urubamba to the small city of Roanoke in southwest Virginia was finally over.

In some ways it felt like I had just been away for one long day; in other ways, it felt like half a lifetime. I believe that I accomplished what I set out to do in seeking God’s will for this missions trip. Primarily, I sought to help train up young men and women by helping them better understand who God is and what is unique about His Word. We encountered many powerful truths, discussed some difficult questions, and learned a lot in class. I enjoyed being able to minister in other ways, whether it was on campus or off. I played piano twice in Sunday morning services in Cusco and once for a Thursday evening service in Urubamba. I preached once in Cusco and once for a chapel service. Many tracts in Spanish were dispersed throughout the time and in different pockets of Peru.

It can sometimes be hard to gauge the “success” of a missions trip, but having had the opportunity to work directly with ten students, as well as local Christian leaders and missionaries, I have a network of people that I can hopefully find out how and where God will lead these whom I have influenced in the last few weeks. Like Paul to Timothy in the early church, I have the desire to train others so that they can “teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). It is my prayer that these students will go on to serve in missions, pastoring, teaching, church planting, and evangelism, whether in Peru, the United States, Latin America, or the uttermost parts of the world. I am extraordinarily thankful for the opportunity I was given to spend these three weeks in Peru, and if God allows, I would like to return again in the future.

Peru Missions Journal (Entry 5/6)

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July 7, 2018

I simply could not rest my mind last night, for whatever reason. I was in a different bed this time, and that espresso must have been highly caffeinated, but overall, I was not able to sleep well unfortunately. Nevertheless, we enjoyed a really nice breakfast and coffee, and at about 9 o’clock I got to work—grill master time. Yes, the time we started was about 3 1/2 hours before the time we expected to eat. But we honestly used up every second of that time to grill, as the lack of lighter fluid did not allow the coals to stay aflame very easily. Throughout the sunny morning in Cusco, I was flipping burgers and turning hot dogs.

Lunch was quite the treat once it all came together. Soon after, I laid down upstairs for about 20 or 30 minutes to try to make it through the day with enough energy. The meeting was over and we said our goodbyes at around 2:30. A missionary who works mostly in the jungle of Peru, Joy, had just flown in that morning. We did some souvenir shopping in Cusco, and while I had not planned to get much more, there were several things that met the right price for me.

This was the first time I traveled from Cusco to Urubamba in the evening, as the sun was setting. This allowed me to see this beautiful part of Peru in, quite literally, a different light. I made a ham sandwich back in my room in Urubamba around 7 p.m. Since I had been up close to a lot of illness this weekend, I took more probiotics than I normally do. At night, my stomach definitely felt off—I didn’t think it was from food, but it could have been from excessive probiotics, an illness from someone, or perhaps even a form of altitude sickness. But for sure, I was quite ready to go to bed soon after 9.

July 8, 2018

I was hoping last night was the end of the stomach problems, but that wasn’t the case. I decided to eat a small breakfast, which may have not been the best move. Nevertheless, I decided to go Sunday school at Nueva Vida (New Life) Baptist Church in Urubamba.

As we entered the building, there was a service going on in the main auditorium—one spoken in Quechua, the heart language of many Peruvians in the Andes. Walking upstairs, we were about 15 minutes early for the Sunday school hour, which was actually taught today by a Mexican pastor whose church had been in Urubamba for a visit for several days now. The young pastor delivered a very thorough and analytical study of the book of Jonah.

Heading back downstairs towards the main auditorium, I was really feeling nauseous and dehydrated. I certainly didn’t eat enough food this morning, nor had I drunk enough water. I also wasn’t sure if my symptoms were going to get worse. Consequently, I left early to try to hopefully get better in the afternoon.

While I’m no doctor, eating some food and drinking lots of water seemed to help quite a bit. I wasn’t perfectly healed, but it was definitely an improvement. Taking it slow in the afternoon also allowed me to get prepared for the last week of classes. I adjusted the final exam to meet my expectations and got everything in order for teaching the class notes. One of the missionaries brought back some really good wonton soup for me, which was a nice and easy dinner to consume.

While not 100% sure how I would do, I decided to go to the evening service and thankfully everything went fine health-wise for me. The service had plenty of singing, perhaps something like 8 or 9 songs, and a different Mexican pastor (same church as the man who taught Sunday school) preached an excellent message. One interesting practice at this church every Sunday evening is their celebration of birthdays and anniversaries. The pastor asks for anyone with a birthday or a couple celebrating an anniversary to come to the stage. In return, the congregation sings a birthday and anniversary song in their honor–the tune is very catchy, and gets stuck in my mind every so often.

Overall, I felt much better this night compared to this morning. I am praying for not only a healthy week in my last days in Urubamba, but one that is richly impactful to the students who are studying at the seminary.

July 9, 2018

Today was the start of the last week of classes at the seminary. It was such a relief to wake up feeling healthy again in regards to my stomach. That alone gave me a little extra boost in my eagerness for the day. This morning, my class took their last quiz. We followed it up with a progression of our notes, dealing with the topic of the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament in paraphrasing, summarizing, etc. Thereafter, we spent the remainder of the class time considering the illumination of the Holy Spirit, based off of 1 Corinthians 2 and other passages that deal with spiritual blindness. Overall, the class seemed to connect with the analogies I used and I believe the time together was spiritually profitable.

I had just about ran out of soles, so I stopped by an ATM and then made my way to a convenience store to pick up a few items before heading to “Carbon y Pollo” for lunch. I purchased 1/4 of a rotisserie chicken, which was loaded with fries and some excellent fried rice (one can never be say there aren’t enough carbohydrates in Peruvian meals). This substantial meal was so big that my to-go box needed to have a rubber band to secure it. Taste-wise, I could tell there was a citrus flavor in the chicken, and it was ideally cooked as well.

After lunch and Skyping with my wife, I did some laundry, the last round I will do in Peru. While the clothes were being washed, I took another trip out into the city to the food market, not much more than a 10 minute walk. I walked a few steps down into the market building and immediately saw fresh, but not overly-ripe bananas to my left. I paid a little under five soles for four bananas, one orange, and two granadillas. When I returned on campus, I was able to disinfect the fruit to prevent sickness and hang my clothes. Afterwards, I had my classic and almost daily snack from back in the US: peanut butter and banana. I peeled the banana and it looked about as perfect as it could get. The taste was so much better than I could’ve hoped; I’m not sure if it was due to not having much fresh fruit on the trip or if it was simply that good.

I finished the night with a lot of free time. While I did Skype with my wife and son again, I also had an opportunity to catch up on my doctoral studies, which I had barely touched since my flights to Peru. It was a good, calm start to the week, and while I am certainly eager to be back in the US to be with my family, it was altogether a good Monday.

July 10, 2018

I woke up pretty tired this morning, and it was a little extra cloudy than usual. Nevertheless, I got some Peruvian coffee and breakfast in me, and once I moved around a bit, I started to catch up and begin the day of teaching. Today was the final day of regular teaching in my class, Doctrina 1. Students turned in their last homework assignment, which required them to read twenty different passages from the Bible, dealing with the identity of God or the nature of the Bible, and then respond to each in two ways: (1) what does the passage mean? (2) how can I apply this to my life? Essentially, I borrowed the format of devotions from the Word of Life curriculum.

During class, we discussed the topic of how to study the Bible. Each student picked a passage of his or her choice. And afterwards, we discussed what they learned. They turned in a paper copy of their response as part of a small grade as well. One of the team members, Randy, preached a good message on the calling of God, as referenced in Ezekiel 3. For a little while after chapel, we also had some time to prepare for the final exam, which is tomorrow.

I finished my leftover chicken, rice, and fries from yesterday’s lunch for today’s lunch. Soon after, I squeezed in a short time to catch up with my wife and son on Skype. At about 2 p.m., I went on a very nice walk with Randy all around Urubamba. It was about an hour and twenty minutes of walking, where we got plenty of exercise, had time to talk, and passed out several gospel tracts (in Spanish, of course). We saw how in the local cemetery, the Catholic-owned part of it was rather extravagant and well-kept, but also how many people have thrown trash into the Protestant-owned side. A sad sight to see to be sure. Towards the end of the walk, we also saw some small Incan ruins, which was a real nice part of the scenery.

For dinner, Randy and his wife, Grace, joined me to dine at Pizza Wasi—the same pizza place from last week. Randy was going to preach at a revival service later in the evening, so we got to the restaurant by 5 o’clock. They made bread sticks for us, along with offering a choice of oregano, a creamy garlic sauce, or a “picante” (spicy) sauce to add to them. I ordered a half-pepperoni, half-sausage pizza, which was well more than enough for one meal and one additional leftover meal later on this week. We enjoyed the time together for dinner and proceeded to pay at the end—that’s pretty normal, of course. What was unusual concerned how the restaurant didn’t have any change for our cash, so one of the workers had to run down towards a grocery store, purchase a can of condensed milk, and then give us both back our change. Overall, though, it was a very delicious meal and the fellowship was pleasant.

I once again had a quiet evening, where I could devote some time to my doctoral studies. After a great time Skyping with my wife and son, I had a few hours to study, relax, and get ready for tomorrow. Just one test in the morning and my seminary responsibilities will be fulfilled. I am earnestly looking forward to reuniting with my family, but I am thankful for another good day in Urubamba.

Peru Missions Trip (Entry 4/6)

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July 3, 2018

I woke up this morning with some tension in my inner left ear and sinuses. I was hoping that the irritation would gradually dissipate, but it did the opposite throughout the day. Despite not feeling 100%, I was able to teach a pretty good day of classes. The students took another quiz, and we covered plenty of important features in Bibliology, especially in regards to the inspiration of the Bible.

Although I wasn’t feeling well, I did not want to miss the chance to eat at a highly recommended local restaurant called “Pizza Wasi.” I believe “Wasi” is a Quechua term for home. It was cooked right near our table in a stone oven. There were a variety of pizzas that our group ordered, and I was able to try a few different kinds. First, I tried the Hawaiian pizza, which featured ham and pineapple. Next, I had a couple slices of the chicken pizza, though it also added peppers and onions (I want to say there were carrots too?). Finally, I had the Urubamba pizza, which included peaches and elderberries—a sweet pizza, but not overwhelmingly so.

I wish I could say that a lot of other exciting things happened today, but unfortunately my illness kept me confined to resting and drinking a lot of water and tea. Thankfully, a humidifier was discovered for me to use, as I suspected the altitude was affecting my sinuses. I wasn’t sure how I would be feeling when I woke up the next day, but I asked that God in His sovereignty would bring full healing by the next day.

July 4, 2018

After sleeping for a solid 8 hours or so, I woke up to a much better throat. I remembered that I prayed for God’s healing of my illness, but it was pretty remarkable that by the time classes began, I didn’t have any soreness or excessive phlegm in my throat. It was such a notable contrast to how I had felt the previous evening.

Classes went particularly well today. Students tended to do well on a somewhat challenging quiz regarding biblical inerrancy. After the quiz, I took some liberty to veer away from the prepared notes for a while so that we could study some “problem passages” of the Bible. I received some good feedback on this study by the students.

Rather than a normal chapel, the students broke up into smaller groups, which were based off of their expected destinations for their mission trips that would take place very soon (I think as soon as two weeks if I’m not mistaken). This extra time allowed me to catch up on grading. We returned back to the classroom thereafter to cover some of our notes on biblical inspiration, as well as some comments from the textbook by Charles Ryrie.

It was indeed the Fourth of July! All of the Americans in the group, seven in total, had a really nice lunch of BBQ, fresh veggies (which can be hard to consume in Peru because they need to be carefully cleansed to prevent illness), chips, baked beans, and watermelon. I have had some great dishes in Peru, but there are few foods that can top a good BBQ.

Not long after lunch, most of our group took some time to hike up a nearby mountain where one finds a cross at its peak. It took about 45 minutes to hike up, and throughout the time the sights were masterful as we overlooked part of Urubamba (see the picture above for this post). Gradually the snow-capped mountains became even more distinguished. Finally, I arrived at the top and the scenery was completely breathtaking. I didn’t realize how wide Urubamba truly was until this excursion. The Urubamba River rested at the bottom of the mountain in front of me, while the city was all populated on in-between the river and me. We took some nice photos of the sites that could be seen in a 360-degree direction.

I arrived back to the campus in the early evening, giving me sufficient time to go on Skype to talk to my wife and son—always something I look forward to each night. While we were talking about one anothers’ day, I heard some loud noises outside, but this time I was in a much clearer mindset than the previous week, and I detected fireworks. I stepped outside momentarily to take in the sights of about three or four outbursts. That was all, but it was a fun pastime to enjoy in Peru during America’s day that celebrates independence. Just one more class day to go for the week! Lord willing, we will see the salt mines in a town called Maras tomorrow.

July 5, 2018

I woke up to a cloudy morning outside, but I was definitely eager for the day to unfold—the sun eventually appeared in full force by late morning as well. Before taking the quiz, I wanted the class to further ponder the example of Jesus in Luke 4. While we are studying Bibliology (the study of the Bible), I didn’t want us to lose sight of the practicality of why we have the Bible and how to live in light of our knowledge of the Scriptures. Jesus endured temptation from Satan by being filled with the Holy Spirit, and in a similar aspect, relying upon the Word of God.

The students took the quiz, which covered details on Jesus’ understanding of the inspired Bible, among other crucial topics. During class, we continued in our notes and saw some pretty remarkable truths about how the apostles and Christ Himself had such a sturdy understanding of the Bible’s inspiration. Once again, chapel was a time spent in small groups to prepare for upcoming missions trips among the seminary students. This allowed me to catch up on grading almost entirely (just the paragraphs to go, which will take some time). We reconvened at 11 and finished our class at the regularly scheduled time of about 12:35.

Rather than proceeding to having lunch, our group exited the campus shortly after 1. We took the “red beast” vehicle on a bumpy ride towards the salt mines of Maras. But first, we had a picnic lunch. Visually, the location of the picnic was stunning. Audibly, there was almost no sound to be heard. After lunch, we arrived at the salt mines, though met with steep cliffs just off to the side of the narrow road.

It surprised me to see how much of these salt mines are supported by such a seemingly modest source. The experience was indeed quite enjoyable, as many pictures were taken at yet another Peruvian location that every person ought to check out. On the way back to the vehicle, there were about six or seven shops that vendors hoped to make a few soles from tourists. I bought a couple of chocolates and some bags of pink salt as souvenirs.

But one of my most desired tasks was to find a vendor that sold handmade slippers as a gift for my wife. I did find one vendor, and it appeared that this one vendor had a monopoly on this product. The seller wanted 90 soles, though I tried talking her down to 70. She was adamant about 80, so I decided to walk away. Fortunately, the lead missionary of our group, Rachel, was conversing with another seller, who did not have slippers on display, but did have some pairs in storage, down a couple flights of stairs and in a building closer to the salt mines. She likewise accepted 70 soles, so the deal was made.

I picked up a few items on the way back to the campus, including dinner from Chorrilano’s once again. This time I had steak, fries, and rice—Peruvians like rice and potatoes, if you didn’t catch on to this truth yet. Though another reason for these being favorites is that they can be harvested in the region and they are cheap.

We went to the Thursday night midweek service in Urubamba. One of our team members, Randy, spoke on an important message from Ephesians 5 on the roles of husbands and wives in a marriage relationship. Back at the campus at night, I’ve thought about all that went on this week. There were a couple of difficulties, but much of the time was quite remarkable. Just one more week of classes to go, and that includes two days of regular classes, with the final exam scheduled for Wednesday. Thursday I have reserved to grade the final exams and finish up everything before heading back to the U.S. Tomorrow morning, I plan to head to Cusco once again, though with the expectation to return Saturday afternoon.

July 6, 2018

After a quiet morning, our group left at around 10 a.m. to head onward to Cusco, but with a few stops in-between. First, we went into the Awana Kancha llama farm, which housed not just llamas, but other similar animals such as alpacas. We were able to feed them, and while a llama didn’t spit me on, one of our team members was not so fortunate. The farm also had a mini-museum and other displays, along with a gift shop that featured many high-end items. I succumbed to the pressure of a really nice llama stuffed animal for my son, even though it was quite pricey.

A short drive down the same road took us to a zoo that had rescued animals from the wild, many of which are endangered species. We took the tour, which allowed us to take pictures with some very friendly alpacas, but it also included the only species of bear found in Peru (which, I believe, is the same species that inspired the Paddington bear series). At the end of the tour, we saw the grand finale, namely, the flight of the Andean Condor birds with their magnificent wingspan and distinguishable features.

Afterwards, we arrived in Cusco, heading straight to the mall. Out of all the malls I’ve been to (admittedly, not a greatly high number), this was perhaps the cleanest, finest, and well-kept malls I’ve been able to visit. It wasn’t terribly large, but it had a nice food court, including American restaurants like Starbucks, Burger King, and Papa John’s. I wanted to do something a little more Peruvian, so I went with a place called Bembos, which was a fast food burger restaurant. I ordered the “Bembos Royal,” which had a nicely sized burger patty with cheese, tomato, lettuce, and egg, with a side of fries.

After lunch, there was plenty of time until we had to go to our next destination, so I also went to Juan Valdez Café to order a coffee. There wasn’t simply a regular cup of coffee to choose from, as it had mostly drinks related to espresso, so I got an Americano—double shot espresso, finished off with hot water, to create a near coffee-like drink. It was only like 8.8 ounces, but that certainly was a potent cup. When ordering, I was a bit confused because the barista was trying to sell me other items rather adamantly when I simply wanted the coffee—finally, she asked, “solo café?” Indeed, that’s all I wanted.

We arrived at Aaron and Stephenie’s house a little closer to 4 than originally planned. They had a church planting meeting, with about 7 or 8 other kids besides their own 3 that were needing to be occupied for the time of the meeting. I read several books to some of the English-speaking ones, while the rest played with Legos and other items. While I was trying to send a quick Facebook message to my wife, I was sitting on the ground with my laptop. A small Peruvian boy walked towards me, clearly not feeling well, and sneezed all over my left arm and laptop. I headed straight to the bathroom and lathered my arm and face with antibiotic soap. Then I got a Clorox wipe to thoroughly wipe down my laptop. I was (and have been) praying that I could avoid this illness that the Peruvian boy had, as I haven’t really felt 100% just about the entire trip due to altitude acclimation, stress, and other issues.

After dinner, a delightful chicken and rice meal, and following the church planting meeting, Aaron and I tried working with a grill to prepare for tomorrow. Since lighter fluid was not found earlier in the day, we experimented with this candle-like device that would act as a less powerful but plausible alternative. It took a good while, but finally the hot dog we experimented with was thoroughly cooked. Tomorrow, I will be operating the grill for 24 hamburgers and several hot dogs. As the night closed, one couple from our group, the Newmans, was able to get on a plane in Cusco and make their trek back to the U.S. They were an enjoyable couple to have on the trip, so I’m sure it will be a bit different for the upcoming and final week I have in Urubamba.

Peru Missions Trip (Entry 3/6)

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June 29, 2018

This was the earliest I had intentionally woken up for anything as long as I can remember. For most things, I wouldn’t be eager to rise out of bed at 3 a.m. But going to Machu Picchu is one of those rare exceptions. I left campus with Rachel, a full-time missionary on campus, and a high school intern a few minutes before 4.

We arrived at the train station in Ollataytambo with plenty of time before our expected departure. Rachel had purchased the tickets beforehand for everything (and we reimbursed her as well, of course, soon after), so our process was fluid and simple. We hopped on the train, where we were given the choice of a drink (coffee con leche for me) and a snack. We sat across from a Brazilian couple during the 90-minute ride. I certainly enjoyed talking with them. They were kind and interesting (and a little coarse at times). Finally, were able to briefly discuss their own beliefs and values towards the end of the ride. In the words of the young woman, who was a Sao Paulo fashion designer, she “believed in every religion.” Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to discuss further. But perhaps the question I asked them about their religious beliefs would cause them to ponder eternity and their own lives before God.

The train took us to Aguas Calientes, where we then found our way to a bus that would take us the rest of the way to Machu Picchu. We walked up a small flight of steps, handed our entrance tickets at the gate, and proceeded not much further until we saw perhaps the most impressive ruins on the face of the earth—Machu Picchu! It felt like we were transported to another world. The sun was bright, the day was beautiful, and the experience was unforgettable.

After seeing the ruins from a short distance, we first went through a trail zig-zagging around the nearby jungle (or at least the jungle’s outskirts). The plant life was picturesque, the cliffs were awe-inspiring (if not a bit intimidating for someone deathly afraid of heights), and the weather was crisp and cool while in the morning shade. We found our way to one of the trails on the side of a mountain that the Incas founded. Part of it had a chasm that could be bridged by a moveable plank of wood.

Returning to the city, we witnessed simply astounding works of architecture, which cannot be easily replicated by modern man. There were llamas here and there and to my son’s great happiness, we even spotted a chinchilla. He said, “I want to go see the chinchilla” when he saw the picture of it. I took over 200 pictures, but none of them can quite do the same job as being there in person. It really was breathtaking. Some of the stories were inspiring, witnessing the ingenuity of the Incan people, but others were certainly haunting—such as the location with a thick slab of rock that lay at an angle for human sacrifices, where the blood would trickle down from the victim, or the place where mummies would be hung during rituals.

I thought to myself that had I not been aware of the revelation of God in the Scriptures, then it would make sense for me to look at creation—especially the most majestic of sights found in Peru—and think that there’s something divine about it. But as I have taught in my class, there is a big difference between general (as in creation) and special (as in the Bible) revelation. It’s a wonderful privilege to teach Peruvians the Bible and see their hunger for truth. Next week’s classes pertain to Bibliology (the study of the Bible), so I eagerly anticipate what we will cover.

We returned back via train to Ollataytambo and stopped to eat at Hearts Café once again. There, I ordered a burrito, which was also good (I purchased the alpaca burger previously). We made it back to campus around 7 p.m. It was long, but indisputably a fantastic day. Tomorrow, I expect to go to Cusco, where I will be staying the weekend with Aaron and Stephenie once again, and even preach at the local church on Sunday.

June 30, 2018

The Machu Picchu trip required an early morning and plenty of walking, so sleeping in was in order for today. Shortly after 11 a.m. I was dropped off to take a van up to Cusco, which is a little over an hour of a trip. I sat in the front seat as the driver named Julio brought us safely to our destination.

Arriving in Cusco, Aaron met me where I arrived, and we then headed to the Plaza de Armas. For lunch, we ate at perhaps the most recognizable American restaurant available, McDonald’s. It was rather similar to any of the chains found in the U.S. I had a burger with barbecue and onions, along with fries. The fries tasted essentially identical to those in the states. Meanwhile the burger had a hint of that noticeable Peruvian meat flavor that is hard to describe. But overall, it was fun to try. To top it off, we stopped by the Starbuck’s in the plaza as well, and I purchased a tea—exactly the same kind of tea as “Jade Citrus Mint.”

We took a couple of stops at some famous sites in downtown Cusco. Architecture is one of the main features of Incan and Peruvian history. One Catholic church was built on top of Incan ruins. Back in 1950, there was a sizeable earthquake in Cusco. While the church suffered greatly, the Incan ruins on which the church was built were unshaken. That’s certainly a testament to their architectural abilities.

There were several vendors along the road, but there was one main building that we were aiming for as we walked for a little while down this rather attractive city. It seemed in our best interest to take one stop and have a look around at a place called Tika Chocolates. I ended buying a variety of small chocolates, and the free samples certainly didn’t dissuade me. We eventually arrived in the main market building, where I bought multiple gifts (and maybe a thing or two for me, including an alpaca sweater). Aaron was a master at negotiating price—I must’ve saved at least 1/3 of my money, perhaps more, because of that.

Afterwards, we took a taxi back to Aaron and Stephenie’s home. Dinner was quite nice, as we enjoyed teriyaki chicken with rice and broccoli. Another missionary family joined us for the evening as well. I learned a couple of new board games, including Ticket to Ride, though I can’t say that I was a victor in either. It was nice being back in Cusco, where I got to experience several things for the first time in my life yet again.

July 1, 2018

It was another tough night with abdominal pain and other symptoms that might be related to the high altitude, but not nearly as bad as early in the week. Fortunately, I got several hours of sleep. I enjoyed a warm shower in the third floor (which is sort of a roof, but it has a room built in for a bathroom and shower). Breakfast was wonderful, which included scrambled eggs and ham, strawberries and papaya, as well as fresh bread.

We made our way to the church up the windy, dirt trail once again. I was able to help lead the music by playing the keyboard for a second Sunday in a row, but this time I also had the great opportunity to preach. I spoke on the book of Habakkuk, which is rarely taught or preached on in many churches, but it is one of my favorite books of the Bible. It speaks so clearly to trusting God in hardship, and it presents a solid theology for how we understand God’s dealings with humanity. Overall, I think the small congregation responded well to the message.

We went back to Aaron and Stephenie’s house for lunch, where we had a very tasty beef and vegetable soup. Soon after, Aaron helped me get to the van that would take me to Urubamba. This time I was much more confident in the route, so I didn’t have to worry about where I would be left off. I arrived shortly before 4 p.m., picked up a few items from a convenience store on the way back to the campus, and got ready in time for a meal out in a local restaurant prior to church. I ordered a dish that had sliced chicken on top of fries, and it included a refreshing chamomile tea—though I would add that Peruvian chamomile tea tastes way better than the stuff we find in America.

The local church in Urubamba included a children’s competition of Bible quizzing tonight, which was certainly an interesting thing to witness. Tonight’s service lasted for well over two hours, packed with songs, preaching, and the Bible quizzing. It was a very exciting yet tiring week, and the same could be said about the weekend. I’m glad that the first few days of this next week look to be a little slower, as I think I need a breather, though I wouldn’t trade this past week for anything less.

July 2, 2018

Today was the start of week two for classes. Since we covered all the material pertaining to Theology Proper (the doctrine of God), we were able to have the first of two exams. There were about 80 questions, and the testing time was somewhat lengthy. After the exam, we briefly introduced the next topic (Bibliology—the doctrine of the Bible) before it was time for chapel.

When I walked into the building for classes (which is the same one for chapel), I looked on the board that had the names of preachers for particular days. I knew I was scheduled to preach some day this week, but I was not sure as to exactly which day. Sure enough, there was my name listed for the second day of July. As it often is at the seminary’s campus, my name was humorously misspelled “Waily” to accommodate for Spanish speakers who usually pronounce “i” with a short vowel sound, rather than the long “i” in “Wiley.”

Because I had been forewarned to always be prepared to preach on the mission field, I did have a sermon ready to go (several sermons actually—I wasn’t sure of how many times I would be asked to preach for chapel services and other things). I spoke on Ephesians 2:1-5, which explains how we are all spiritually dead and apart from God by our own nature as sinners. But it also provides hope found in God, who can make the spiritually dead person to become alive in Christ. I outlined three sets of comparisons found in the text: Dead vs. Alive, God vs. Satan, and Grace vs. Punishment. Overall, I think the students listened well and found substance in the message.

We finished up the day by delving into some introductory topics in Bibliology. Afterwards, we tried something for lunch that is considered a delicacy in Peru—cuy. American readers better know this as guinea pig. It didn’t have a lot of meat on it, but I did try it, and overall, it wasn’t too bad at all. To borrow the cliché, it did taste like chicken, with a slight gamey texture to it.

The afternoon and evening were much slower paced compared to many days thus far. I had a chance to do some laundry, which was greatly needed. I also picked up a few things from the store for our Fourth of July meal on campus and other needs. For dinner, I actually tried out a Chinese restaurant called Chifa’s—the inside of the restaurant still had the interior of a pizza restaurant, though with a few oriental symbols here and there around the room. I ordered a sweet and sour chicken, though it was a great deal different than American-style Chinese food that I’ve had. This dish had fresh mango and orange (cooked) with the entrée to create the desired taste by the cooks. It tasted fresh, but I couldn’t eat much more than half of the portion. The rest of the night was filled with grading and preparation for the rest of the week. It helped to have this opening tonight so that I could get ahead in light of the busy schedule I expect will unfold by the latter part of the week.

Peru Missions Trip (Entry 2/6)

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June 26, 2018

Classes began a half hour earlier today. This was done to compensate for lost time when we took a break midway in the morning to watch Peru’s soccer team compete against Australia in a consolation game for the World Cup. Soccer is huge for just about any Latin American country, but this year was extra special for Peru. They hadn’t been to the World Cup since 1982—nearly a decade before I was born!

Since a couple of commuter students were not reached with the information that we would begin at 7:30, we did start on some more of the notes, discussing the attributes of God. Around 8:10, I administered the first quiz of the course, which took about 20 to 25 minutes. Some did well, others not so much. Hopefully, the students with the lower grades will improve and do better for tomorrow’s quiz. With just a few minutes before 10:00, we were all (even me, the gringo who hasn’t ever played a real game of soccer) very excited.

We walked a few minutes outside of campus to a local pastor’s home, where about 30 or more people watched the game with intense interest. Every time Peru had the ball close to the opposing goal, some inched closer to the television, earnestly hoping that somehow Peru would get a goal. Then it happened—goal!!! With the level of noise from excitement in the house—and surely most of Urubamba was glued to the same thing on TV—there must have been at least a small reading on the Richter scale. Peru added another goal, while their stout defense kept Australia from even scoring once. The host family served coffee (black, but with a potent amount of sugar) and delicious bread as a snack.

After the game, we came back to the campus for about an hour and twenty minutes of class before lunch. Some of the material was a little heavy, and I got tripped up over one main point that I needed to explain for tomorrow’s quiz, but overall, I think we had a solid second day of class. The rest of the day was a time to slow down after a peculiarly busy weekend. I was able to grade the quizzes, prepare for tomorrow, and even get ahead a little towards the rest of the week.

June 27, 2018

Day three of classes was probably my best so far. We began with singing the hymn, “Santo, Santo, Santo” (Holy, Holy, Holy). The students asked several good (and theologically deep) questions during the morning. They seem to be engaged with the material, and overall, I felt rather prepared for today’s coursework. Teaching on the Trinity is never an easy thing to do, but that’s what we discussed today. Overall, I enjoyed the time together in the study of God’s Word.

I had lunch in the cafeteria (as I’ve done most days this week), which served lentils, rice, and a fried egg, along with a soup. Many of the meals here have rice, potatoes, and often both. Quinoa is another popular item. Soon after lunch, I went with some of the other members of the team in Urubamba to a really fascinating place called “Seminario,” which is named after its founder and world renowned artist, Pablo Seminario. We got a free tour of the pottery shop, viewing how each worker makes these fine pieces of pottery and ceramics. At the end, we went to the gift shop with an assortment of many fine objects that were handcrafted by these skilled workers. I am not really a huge pottery lover, but these items were extraordinary. I wanted to buy several things, but constrained myself to purchasing a couple of coasters and a mug.

On the way back to the seminary campus (the one where we are staying, that is, rather than Pablo Seminario’s), we traveled through the bustling market, filled with vendors of all kinds of products. I tried hard to barter a few items down to 20 soles (Peruvian currency), but was met with a rather adamant, old lady, so I settled for 23. These included a few small gifts for family members.

One of the local missionaries who lives on campus, Lydia, serves heavily as a translator for the team. She invited the whole group of Americans to her apartment on campus (actually, it’s connected to the building I’m staying in) for a nice dinner. We thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship and the food, which included cheesy chicken chowder, cheesy French bread, and mixed fruit.

While we were out shopping in the afternoon, I started to notice some pain in my abdomen and back. I have been dealing with chronic issues in regards to my abdomen and back, and while I have kept these flare-ups under control for about a year, the stress of this past weekend concentrated everything to that location of my body. The pain can be quite severe as it was this evening, causing me to be unable to fall asleep until about 2 a.m.

Today was certainly eventful and there were many things about it that I enjoyed immensely. At the same time, with my abdomen and back pain I was also slowed down a little. Every time these flare-ups occur, I am reminded the truly great blessing that it is to get an uninterrupted night of sleep.

June 28, 2018

Today, I began my last day of classes for the first week. Once again, the students took a quiz, this time on the doctrine of the Trinity. Thereafter, we covered quite a few topics, discussing the names and activities of God. Overall, I thought the students asked good questions, and my prayer is that I communicated the material in a helpful manner and answered their questions in a biblically-focused way. Yet again, our chapel service was filled with beautiful singing and one of the short-term missionary teachers, Jeff, challenged the students in a mighty way.

After classes, I walked down the road from the campus and onto one of the main roads in Urubamba. I purchased some Icy Hot cream from a pharmacy that was named after Pope John Paul II (just in case I were to have another flare-up). I was very thankful for Rachel, one of the missionaries on campus, for directing me to not just a recommendable pharmacy, but also to a convenience store simply called “Frank’s.” I picked up some oatmeal for me to have during my time here, and even a couple of chocolate bars as souvenirs for others back home.

My final stop in Urubamba was at a restaurant called Chorillano’s. There were plenty of guests at lunchtime, and this was my first time ordering food in Peru by myself—and relying on my Spanish (Castellano) to do so. Browsing a menu one of the workers handed me as I sat at a table near the front of the restaurant, I looked for familiar terms. “Pollo”—that’s chicken obviously. So that narrowed it down to a couple of options. I ended up buying the pollo tortilla, though I was a little surprised (but not in a bad way) to find out that “tortillas” in Peru actually are closer to an omelet. This was totally fine by me, as the food was delicious and filling—and cheap! It was only 14 soles, which amounts to something like $4.75.

I arrived back on campus within an hour or so of leaving, and enjoyed much of the early part of the afternoon on Skype with my wife and son. This is one aspect of technology for which I am abundantly grateful. It’s not easy being away for one week, let alone three, but utilizing Skype can help that long distance challenge subside a bit.

I was able to go to bed really early tonight. Shortly after turning off the lights, I heard round after round of a loud sound outside. It certainly alarmed me, but as it turns out, the sounds were merely fireworks. Tired and not thinking as straight as I usually do, I had momentarily wondered if some kind of internal war broke out. Thankfully not! After that, I slept for only six hours, but that had more to do with my wake up time for Friday—3 a.m.

Peru Missions Trip (Entry 1/6)

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June 22, 2018

Missionaries often say that flexibility is a requirement for being on the mission field. I learned that in regards to flights in the summer of 2017 when I traveled to Mexico for a missions trip. Today, I got a second chance to learn a little more about flexibility. When heading out the door to be taken to the airport, I checked my flight schedule and saw that my first flight out of Roanoke, Virginia would be delayed for about 40 minutes. Traveling to Charlotte was a short trip, but the window of time to get to Miami was minimal. I missed the connection, but that was quite all right as another flight got me to Miami in just enough time for my 5:40 flight to Lima—my first international flight while by myself.

I rushed to my gate while trying to get one last chance to talk to my wife before leaving the country. Out of breath I arrived at the gate, and thankfully I didn’t miss it. This airplane also would be delayed…and delayed…and delayed. First a mechanical problem, then a rough storm, and then there was “difficulty filling the tank with fuel.” No problem again though, as we could just make it a red eye flight—but there was a problem. Lima’s airport closes at 2:30 a.m. until later in the morning, and we were projected to make it by around 3. We literally turned back from the runway to wait in line for hotel and food vouchers.

While certainly tiring and disappointing, I had the chance to meet a couple of very interesting people. First, I spoke with Joaquin. As we walked what seemed like a mile to the other end of the Miami airport we joked about the long commute. I found out that his destination was also Cusco, and naturally he asked what I would be doing—Machu Picchu, right? Well, that’s certainly a perk, but I responded that I would be teaching at a Bible institute. “Which denomination?” he asked. I shared that I was working with Baptist Mid-Missions, and to my surprise, he revealed that he had come to know Christ as Savior through the ministry of a BMM missionary when he lived in the Dominican Republic. And not only that, but he also was going to the region of Cusco for missions—specifically evangelizing through a summer camp.

Later in the evening, while I was standing in line for the vouchers and a bit tired from the incessant waiting of the day, I simply the person behind me if he was from Peru. We then got into my reason for heading to Peru, and when I shared that I was going to teach at a Bible institute, he told me that he has taught at Bible institute in Peru for ten years. Currently, he’s living in Chicago and attending Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS). We then got into a wonderfully interesting discussion about Christianity and biblical education in Latin America. He spoke of the urgent need to help young Christian think and know why they believe what they believe. Instantly, this conversation reaffirmed why I was going to the mission field for three long weeks away from my family and comforts of the U.S.

June 23, 2018

I woke up this morning in a Holiday Inn, not in Peru of course, but in Miami due to the delays yesterday. Arriving at the airport with plenty of time, I used one of my food vouchers at a place called Juan Valdez Café. Wow, was this good. Not knowing what a espresso cubano was, I ordered it anyway because I’m always up for new coffee delights. This rich, double-shot espresso was mixed with brown sugar, which hit the spot to be sure. By 10:15, we boarded and left around 10:30. The crowd of a majority of native Peruvians clapped as we elevated into the air (in contrast to last night’s groans and probably a bunch of Spanish curse words that I couldn’t translate). Finally, the destination of Lima was on the horizon.

I had never seen such natural beauty from an airplane as we passed the snow-capped Andes Mountains piercing through the overcast, cloudy skies. Indeed, I was in Peru! I walked downstairs to get my 30-day tourist visa—nothing more than a stamp on my passport really. Then I proceeded to pick up my luggage to then transfer it to LATAM (Latin American Airlines). There were a lot of large, black suitcases that came off the plane. One came in after another. Yet as the rate of new suitcases slowed down in the baggage claim facility, I soon realized that my luggage wasn’t in Lima. This, of course, was pretty stressful, especially as I was trying to catch a plane to Cusco with little time remaining. After filling out paperwork, I quickly tried to check in for my receiving a boarding pass. The self-service machines were not working for me, so I waited in a rather long and slow-moving line. I didn’t know that I was going to make it. Providentially, a LATAM worker approached me and asked what I needed (there were probably 50 people in front of me at least). I said I didn’t have any luggage to check, just carry-ons, but I needed a boarding pass. “Come with me,” she replied. And within one minute I was on the way upstairs with my boarding pass in hand.

I took about an hour flight to Cusco, arriving in somewhat worn-down airport. Heading outside, I met up with a missionary in Cusco, Aaron, who had helped me tremendously with the baggage fiasco. He brought me to his home, where I was graciously welcomed by his wife and three young children. What I came to realize what made this trip so difficult thus far was not necessarily the craziness of late flights and missing baggage; it was traveling without a team. But just spending the evening with Aaron, his wife Stephenie, and children really took a great deal of stress off and provided much joy in our time of fellowship.

June 24, 2018

The blessing in disguise about the flight challenges was that I actually got to sleep for several hours in an actual bed. Had I arrived in Lima on time, I would’ve stayed overnight in the airport in order to catch the early morning flight out to Cusco. After enjoying a wonderful breakfast (and really delicious potato soup the previous evening) with the missionaries in Cusco, we went to their small local church nearby. After being dropped off via taxi ride (no parking places at this church), we walked up one street and were greeted by a steep dirt trail that led to the congregation’s modest building.

The people were very friendly and rather young (though there were several older adults as well). There was a keyboard, but no keyboardist, so I offered to play for their music. While I was told I was a blessing to them, it really was a blessing for me to be part of the ministry that Sunday morning. We sang about 5 or 6 songs (one I had to quickly sight read) and the pastor preached a heart-filled sermon. After the service, a young Peruvian boy went over to the keyboard to play. He pressed a button that teaches the song “Pachelbel’s Canon.” I asked him if he knew the name of the song, and he did. I then asked him if he knew “Fur Elise,” so I played that for him. We couldn’t speak a whole of one another’s spoken language, but we both love music, which really is a kind of language that can cross cultural and linguistic boundaries.

The missionary family took me out to lunch in the city. I enjoyed a stir-fry type of meal with beef, onions, and tomatoes. On the side, I had fries and white rice. This was all accompanied by an assortment of tasty sauces. After an enjoyable meal, Aaron took me to a transportation center, where a van would take me down to Urubamba—the final destination!

We traveled through the busy city streets, filled not just with cars, but people walking everywhere and not a few wandering dogs. The windy streets had plenty of twists and turns—and llamas of course! In this drive, poverty and picturesque landscape were everywhere. I was the only “gringo” in the van, so I was a little apprehensive about the exact location I was supposed to exit the vehicle. After trying to converse with my lackluster Spanish (or in Peru, it’s called Castellano to avoid some of the historical discomforts with the Spanish invaders), I left the vehicle to arrive at a gas station in Urubamba which, thankfully, was indeed the correct location. The local missionary in Urubamba, Rachel, and a high school intern picked me up and we traveled just a few minutes to the seminary campus. The final road that led to the campus had about few inches of room on each side of the vehicle. I was tremendously thankful to arrive at my room on campus with my lost luggage now found and back in my possession.

I changed into some dress clothes and then we walked about 8 or 9 minutes to a local church in Urubamba. This congregation was much larger than the one in the morning, but to attend each service was a privilege for me. After another song-filled service with plenty of preaching time, we returned to the campus, where I got a lot of my things in order and prepared for tomorrow’s day of classes.

June 25, 2018

Today was a packed day of many exciting things. I had ten students—which includes the high school intern—attend the first day of classes in my course, Doctrina I (Doctrine I). After getting the technology in order, I explained what was to be expected throughout the next three weeks of coursework. I’m using the materials of a previous professor, so thankfully a lot of the intricate work had already been prepared, though I did slightly amend a few things.

The students seemed to enjoy the teaching and were pretty involved when asking for volunteers or when I asked questions—they even laughed at my jokes! I covered every item I needed to cover today, which was a big accomplishment. The songs during the chapel service filled the room with the sound of a few dozen Peruvians, men and women, singing quite beautifully. In total, I taught for about three and half hours, plus the hour of chapel.

For lunch, there was chicken, rice, and potatoes alongside a soup with very similar ingredients (though a little bit of beef instead of chicken). At 2:30, we left for an absolutely breathtaking site called Ollantaytambo. I cannot adequately describe this ancient Incan fortress city, filled with ruins, terraces, and other unique imagery. As a tourist hub, there were numerous gift shops, including a chocolate museum, where I bought chocolate coffee and chocolate tea.

The team members that went, eight of us in total, were able to pass out dozens of tracts to people as well, written in Spanish. For dinner, I had an alpaca burger at a place called Hearts Café. This was quite delicious, as it was certainly a little “earthy” in flavor, fresh tasting, and served with fries (and what seemed like homemade ketchup).

On the way back, the lead missionary for our group, Rachel, picked up some of the best tasting bread I’ve ever had. It was lightly sweet, soft, and very fresh. It was a busy Monday, but man was it enjoyable. I am in complete awe of the beauty of the sites of Peru, but also am greatly encouraged by the spirit of the people here. Our team of missionaries, teachers, translators, etc. is also a fantastic bunch! I look forward to what tomorrow might bring.