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Panama Jack's Missionary Blog

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? – Matt 16:26

Peru, Sunday, May 25th

Tue, 27 May 2008 02:28:10 -0400

Dear Family,

It has been along time since I rode a fast moving ride at a Theme Park. BUT, I do remember them well!! They start off with a jerk, and then slowly climb a steep incline. You reach the peak of the incline and then your body is departed from your hip pockets!! While on the twist and turns and jerking here and there (not lasting but a few minutes) you are on a blinding run-away car just trying to hang on. Then before you know it, it's all over. There is a lot of similarity with Theme Park rides and our trips to Latin America. You grab a flight and you are jerked off the grown and slowly climb to a very high altitude. Your flight seems like a long slow ride until you finally reach the peak, and your final destination. What happens next remains a BLUR!! You turn around and several days have passed and then before you know it, it's time to get off and go home.

Every trip I make, I always think to myself as I leave, it won't be anytime before I will be driving back home with 3 weeks behind me.

I arrived here in Lima this past Saturday night about 11:22:35 pm (more or less). When I arrive at Rodolfo's home and greeted everyone and talked for a few minutes, I lugged my bags up to the 3rd floor where my standard room awaited me. I have learned over the years that if I am to stay at a place for a week, I need to do my best to organize my "stuff" immediately upon arrival or before you know it several days have passed and I'm still digging through my bags. It took me until 2:30 am to get the job done this trip.

The first Sunday in Peru is always rush rush. We leave Rodolfo's house about 9:00 am and don't return until about 10:00 pm. In that time frame we normally go to 3 services and preach at each one with lunch and supper jammed in between. That was the program this time as well. We had to make a short stop to pick up a young man from Valdosta, GA who grew up at Forrest Park. Austin Pyler is here in Lima doing a Spanish course at one of the Universities.

Our first stop this morning after getting Austin is the San Juan de Miraflores congregation. Rodolfo started this congregation back in 1992 just shortly after returning from school in Panama. The church has grown from about 20 members to well over 150 since I have been coming down in 1995. I know a lot of the members and have taught and baptized a number of them over the years. It is ALWAYS GREAT to meet with them and get greeted with joy and love.

With us this morning is Donnie Bates from Hugo, OK. Here is here to teach at the Preacher school from the Bear Valley Institute of Biblical studies in Denver, CO. Donnie was asked to do the morning class and I was asked to preach. At the conclusion of services this morning, there was one baptism. Teresa Barru, the sister of one of our preachers, Carlos Barru, decided to put Christ on in baptism. I had the privilege of baptizing her into Christ. I am enclosing a picture of her.

After a late lunch, we left for our second stop. One of many things that I love about my brother in Christ, Rodolfo Espinoza, is that he is constantly evangelizing and starting new congregations here in Lima. Today is the second Sunday for a Bible study at the school facilities of our Preacher Training School (Bible School of the Americas - Peru). This is located in the Jesus Maria, a barrio of Lima. There were about 20+ students in this class which included Rodolfo, Eliana, and Rodolfo's sister and her husband. Along with them were 2 students from BSAM-Peru who live at the school building. The other attendees of the Bible study were those who need to be taught the gospel.

I was asked to lead the class on an appropriate topic. I chose to teach on how to identify the Church of the Bible today.

We finally got started about 4:30 and had great interaction with everyone's participation.

Our study finally ended about 6:00 pm (largely due to a late start and waiting on some who finally came late). Our third stop was supposed to be at a third congregation, Los Olivos, but we could not make in time to worship with them, so we went to supper about 7:00 pm.

Before going home we stopped at a local mall to get a cheap cell phone for the campaign.

After all things being done, I finally got into bed shortly before midnight.

I am writing this Monday night, and already it is 1:09 am. I had wanted to include TODAYS activities, but I'll have to leave that for tomorrow, or I won't get any sleep tonight.

KEEP US IN YOUR PRAYERS.

God bless.

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El Salvador, Saturday, March 15th

Sat, 15 Mar 2008 09:40:40 -0400

Dear Family,

I write this to you on the morning of departure having concluded our Evangelistic/Medical Campaign of 2008 in Tonacatepeque, El Salvador. There is much that can be said about the last two days, but let me give a few highlights.

A TEARFUL BAPTISM

A young lady had a study with one of our evangelistic teams. According to the team, she was very serious about wanting to be baptized. When she came to the compound where we were doing the baptism, she appeared to be very happy about obeying Christ in baptism. As Victor took her confession, she began to weep. As she came out of the water, tears of joy flowed down her cheeks. Later on that night, she participated in our New Converts Class. David Shannon informed me later that she truly was interested and had displayed an eagerness to be in the class. I have posted the picture of her baptism.

MAYOR'S RECOGNITION

We shut down the clinic at noon on Thursday and began to pack up in preparations to leave Tonacatepeque. The Mayor had notified us that he wanted to have us all meet in the Community hall next to his office. When we arrived at 4:00 pm, he and his staff thanked us for coming and working here. Then he proceeded to put a pin of El Salvador on everyone's shirt that was on the team. It was a beautiful moment. We then presented him with the "chair", an act that started many years ago. It is a folding chair that has been signed by the entire team to the person who helped us the most.

VISIT TO MAYOR'S HOME

Later on Thursday, the mayor wanted me to visit his house. His house is not far from the clinic site. It is by no means a "fancy" house, but you could tell that he and his wife take pride in where they live. I spent time with him, his wife, and their youngest daughter. His oldest daughter is a university student who helped us on the first day by translating. They presented me with a gift of appreciation.

FRIDAY

This day is our traditional shopping and touring day. We had 3 groups to do different things. One group took a tour to the road of flowers. They stopped at a coffee plantation where they visited a coffee packing plant. Everyone on the trip really enjoyed the trip.

The second group was the "shopping group". They visited a local mall and an artesian area where tourist trinkets could be purchased.

The final group stayed at the hotel and rested.

We had our final banquet later on that evening. We were blessed to have the Mayor and family with us. He presented us with a flag of El Salvador and thanked us again for coming. While there, the mayor introduced us to the second man in the government below the president, Renee Figarroa. He is the president's closest advisor, and the Minister of Homeland Security. He expressed his gratitude for our coming and encouraged us to come again to help his people.

We had a total of 11 baptisms on this trip. We are excited about this new congregation. I would ask you to remember the new work in your prayers.

God bless.

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El Salvador, Wednesday, March 12th

Fri, 14 Mar 2008 11:58:09 -0400

Dear Family,

There is a lot to report tonight, so let's get started.

PRAYERS ANSWERED

Until today, there had only been 2 baptisms, and one of the two was from the Alta Vista Congregation where Victor Bonilla preaches. This new sister will live and worship in Alta Vista and not Tonacapeque. The other convert is a diabetic lady who is confined to a wheeled chair. Every soul is precious, and we rejoice in that. We were concerned about those above facts, so in our devo this morning, we prayed that God would providentially lead us to honest and open souls who would respond to the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. I can tell you that the Lord answered our prayers by providing 7 precious souls to be baptized. We rejoice in this great blessing, and will continue to pray that God will continue give us more precious souls that will obey His will and be baptized.

ALCALDE (MAYOR) OF TONACAPEQUE

Ediberto Erroa was elected Mayor to Tonaca in 2006. His term will be short, but we pray that he will be re-elected next March.

He came to the clinic for a visit today (he has made a visit almost every day this week). He wanted to know when the clinic would be over. We have decided to run the clinic until 1:00 pm tomorrow. It will take us 2 to 3 hours to clean up. We will then go to the Community Center where we have been holding our night time meetings for a presentation by the Alcalde and his staff. Tonight he suddenly appeared at our house where the kitchen is located while we were eating our supper. He brought pupusa and a chocolate drink.

AT DEATH'S DOOR

Franco is about 25 years of age. When one of our teams found him they started teaching him. Franco has lost kidney function and is having to do self dialysis through a peritoneal port in his stomach. He is about 25 years old and is literally at death's door with no kidney function. We had one of our medical staff to tape him up good, and then took him to where it was being filled. Marco was baptized without incident. He won't be able to last very long if he doesn't get some kidney function going, and SOON!

That's about all for now. Keep us in your prayers.

God bless.

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El Salvador, Tuesday, March 11th

Fri, 14 Mar 2008 11:59:36 -0400

Dear Family,

Today was "hump" day or "wall" day, or whatever. There is not much to it except I try to watch to make sure someone is not having a bad day. If there is going to be someone who is prone to any difficulties then it is usually on this day. The work we are doing is not easy in that we have LONG hours and a little short on sleep. You can run on adrenalin for a few days, but then your "hip pockets" start to drag and you can crash. All in all we did well. I did note that several were dragging, but seemed to be ok otherwise.

HIDEAWAY NURSE

We have a registration station where our clinic begins. It is here that people get their paperwork started, and health aids are passed out and they see a nurse to determine why they have come to the clinic. It is a multi-station operation, so we have to have people to move them between stations and finally out to see the docs. One of our workers from the Mayor's office is a young lady that is very sharp and I am told that she is not only a RN, but a nurse anesthetist. When I found out, I quizzed her as to why was she working in the Mayor's office instead at a hospital. It seems that she had been working in a big hospital in San Salvador, but returning home each evening. There seem to be surrounding smaller towns where a lot of people live that are out of the major "hustle and bustle" of the capital city. In some of the small towns there are some bands of thieves who are too lazy to work, and since there are few police they make demands on those honest people who do to give them money. She told me that a group where she was living threatened her, but she ignored it. Later she said she was assaulted. She went that day and renounced her job and left for Tonacatepeque where it was quiet and safe. I asked her if there were any surrounding places that have these types of hoodlums that might cause us any problems. She assured me that there weren't. They don't mess with towns that have a good police force. I can tell you that there is always two or three policemen around wherever we go. We have two permanent guys who do nothing by stay at our rented house where our cooks work and our Latin brethren are staying. We take very good care of these guys. We have NO sense of danger here, although I constantly stress awareness and prohibit any walking anywhere in the dark or going outside our hotels at night. As my mama always said, "a stitch in time saves nine" or "better to be safe than sorry".

FACES IN THE LINE

One of the things I like to do each day is to go outside the compound and greet the people. The line outside is about a block long. Today, they were lined up when we got there at 6:45 am. When I go out the gate, I start shaking hands and talking to each one in line as much as possible, paying special attention to the children and the elderly. My purpose is to let them know that we will try to do our best to help them and will get everyone in as soon as possible. It is hot out there, and there is not much shade. Yesterday, I found about 4 or 5 people where were over 80 years old, and as you recall one who was 94. The line was longer today than yesterday. I took some pictures of the kids in the line and have posted these "faces" on my web page. Check them out at: http://groups.msn.com/PanamaJacksplace/elsalvador2008.msnw

BIBLE STUDY

There is a playground near the front gate. In that playground is an apparatus for the kids to crawl over with a fort like affair as the center piece. From that fort tower, I can see inside the compound and also the line outside. While I was standing there looking around, one of the Mayor's office workers who has been assigned as our liaison for whatever our needs are. She walked up the ramp to where I was at and after some brief chit-chat, she asked me "Who was the founder of our church?" That opened the door to begin a study with her. We talked for about 1 hour before lunch about what she and her family were. She is Catholic in name only, not remembering when she was at her church last. She had 4 kids in their teen years who are take classes to prepare them to take their first communion. Her husband is (was) Jehovah Witnesses. I determined that she did not feel like she would go to heaven if she died now. Our conversation broke up for the lunch time.

After lunch, she came by again and I asked if she would like to STUDY some from the Bible. She said she would. We studied from about 2:30 to 5:00. She seems interested and accepted what was taught, but at last she just said she wanted to "think" about it. I encouraged her to be baptized but I did not try to obligate her. She has agreed to study tomorrow. Please keep her in your prayers.

That's about it for today. Keep us in your prayers.

God bless.

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El Salvador, Monday, March 10th

Tue, 11 Mar 2008 01:40:22 -0400

Dear Family,

Today was our second day working and I have several stories to tell. So let me get right to it.

A MODERN DAY DORCUS

One of our team members is Annie Massey from Franklin, KY. This is her first trip. What's special about here is that last year she sent 20 to 30 hand made dresses by the hands of one of our docs on last year's team. The dresses were an instant hit as you can imagine. This year the doc could not came again, so he told her "I guess you'll just have to TAKE them yourself." That is just what she did, only she brought over 100 dresses and pants for children. Today she gave away about 25 of them to some of the children she is teaching in the children's class. Tonight she came over to me and pointed out a little girl in a red dress with large white polka-dots and said "that's one of mine." At first I thought she meant that the little girl had been one of her students in class today. I later found out that she was talking about the dress the little girl had on. I can tell you Annie will never be the same. Be sure and check out my pictures at: http://groups.msn.com/PanamaJacksplace/elsalvador2008.msnw. You will find a picture of a proud Annie with the little girl and her pretty polka-dotted dress.

MY 94 YEAR OLD GRANDMOTHER

This afternoon, Buddy Pickler and I went out side to check out the line. It was long on a very hot day. I felt compassion on those poor folks who were standing in the hot afternoon sunshine. I like to talk to people when they are in line. I try to give them a genuine greeting about coming to our clinic and that we plan to help them with their health. I like to shake their hand and joke a little with them, especially the children and the older folks. For the little kids I like to ask them to tell me their name and how old they are while all the time shaking their hand real hard and fast. With the older folks, I call them my little grandmother or grandfather and tell them how happy I am to see such "young" folks in our lines. I also try to find out how old they are.

Well this afternoon the line was almost a block long, and at the very end was a little old lady that was standing there with a walker. I asked her how old she was, and she told me 94 years old. After getting back into the compound, I sent 2 native nurses out to the line to get all the 80+ year old folks out there, and of course my little 94 year old "abuela" was among them. When they weighed her, I kneeled down beside her for a photo, and told her I wanted to have a picture with my "girl friend". Her toothless face just lit up and was so bright and happy.

FIRST BAPTISM

Sometime just before noon, I was asked by Anna Maria Bonilla to take some time to talk with a sister of one of the sisters of Alta Vista. She pointed out the girl, so we went over to talk to her. Anna Maria said that she has been coming and showed some interest in getting to know the Bible more. A few minutes later I saw Jonathan Winchester and asked him if he had time for a study. He eagerly agreed, so I took him to introduce him to the girl. They got together with her, and asked Ana Maria to come and help with.

Right in the middle of lunch, Jonathan announced that she was ready to be baptized. After finding some baptismal clothes, we took her and Enrique baptized her in the smaller of the two swimming pool. We were VERY HAPPY that God gave the increase.

"SHE AIN'T HEAVY"

One of our evangelism teams came in with a little lady in a wheel chair to be baptized. They were looking for someone to help her be baptized given her lack of the ability to walk and stand. Derek Shrull was with us 2 years ago and had lifted a crippled man from his wheeled chair to the van after his baptism. That thought stuck out in my mind as we tried to figure out how to baptize her. We asked Derek over to do the honors. He climbed into the pool and took the little lady and submerged her under the water. I got a video clip. I'll try to upload it so all can see it.

FOR THE LACK OF $10

One of our nurses who is with us for the first time came around the building where Buddy and I were chatting about some difficulty that had cropped up. She was looking very much disturbed about something. Buddy asked if she needed to talk to some one, but she waived him off. We later found out that she had helped a doc just a few minutes earlier with a lady who had a large cyst on one of her breasts. The doc, who is an Oncologist, said it didn't look cancerous but that she needed to have a Sonogram done. Well the lady said that she did not have the $10 to pay for the Sonogram, our nurse graciouslly gave the lady $10 for the exam. It broke this sweet lady's heart to know that with all the opulence we have and all our material things in the world, that $10 was keeping a lady from getting the help she needed. Our nurse will never be the same.

I hope these stories inspired you. The GOSPEL is "FOR ALL".

Please check out my web page for the latest pictures: http://groups.msn.com/PanamaJacksplace/elsalvador2008.msnw

Keep us in your prayers.

God bless.

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El Salvador, Sunday, March 9th

Mon, 10 Mar 2008 01:09:12 -0400

Dear Family,

Here it is, day one on the campaign. Everyone went to bed early, at least at the hotel where I was staying (Olinda). It was kind of quiet when I came down about 9:30 to see if anyone was in need of anything. I only saw one person, and I asked where everyone was. I was told that they had all gone to bed. So I did the same. They were sure tired, since a lot of them were up since 3:00 am or earlier. Actually, some of them said they didn't get to sleep the night before.

Our leave time from the hotel is 6:30 am, so that means that if you don't get up at 5:00, you won't be able to get a shower, dress, and have breakfast in time to make the bus (that's taking into account there are at least one or more roommates to try and accommodate with one bathroom).

I set my alarm for 4:45 am. I don't know what caused it, but I woke up at 3:15 am. I went back to sleep trying to get a little more before the alarm went off. Jonathan, my roommate had his alarm set to go off somewhere about 5:15. What he didn't take into account is that his cell phone alarm practiced the "spring forward" to daylight savings time. So, it went off at 4:15 since El Salvador doesn't observe Daylight Savings Time. Again, I decided to try and get a little more sleep until my alarm went off. I nodded off some, and woke up again, this time about 4:40. I decided to go ahead and get up. I took my cell phone with me so I could cancel it when it went off. While I shaving, I waited for my alarm to go off. It never did. It turned out that I had place my alarm settings so that it did not ring on "weekends". It's a good thing that I didn't roll over one more time to wait for the alarm to go off. I might have been late. So between my alarm and Jonathan's we both had problems.

We had a lot of team luggage and medicine to haul out to the clinic area. After filling up the pick-up, we decided to put as many as possible on the one van we have and use the seats in the back of the bus to put the 47 pieces of the team luggage we have.

I left early with the cooks around 6:00. It took us a solid 45 minutes to get to the job site. When we arrived, the security was not sure what was happening. Our clinic area, (which is a sports complex with 2 swimming pools (uh, baptismal pools) 2 soccer fields, 1 basketball court, and lots of playground.

It took a little while to get things open, but when we did, the "Sunday" soccer people started showing up. I had to communicate with the Mayor who had assured us that we would have the facility exclusively this week. That got honored.

After our morning devo, it was "to the work." We had to get the clinic up and running, and that took several hours. We got 5 docs from the health department along with some auxiliary personnel. We also managed to get 3 or 4 translators from the community. Two were the daughter and nephew of the mayor.

Lunch got to us ok and on time. By that time we had things fairly well in order. We did have to swap our eyeglasses area with a doctor's room. Other than that, things went fairly smoothly.

The Mayor has been everywhere. He came early enough to be of great help. We had to have some registration forms, plus get the "community room" ready for the evening services.

The rest of the day went uneventful. We didn't see the numbers I would like to see, but it was a starting point.

We closed the clinic early so we could have some time to get the evening services ready.

I learned during services that we have three sick people. One is our head cook, another is a translator. We need to get them all well.

Well, our late arriver made it in. Buck and I both went to get him this evening. He was glad to be here.

Well that's about I can say and keep my eyes open. Therefore I'll just send this blog and hope it helps to get to know our labor for the Lord.

Keep us in your prayers.

God bless.

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El Salvador, Saturday, March 8th

Mon, 10 Mar 2008 01:09:12 -0400

Dear Family,

Well here it is, the end of the day with our mission ready to begin tomorrow. We have everyone here except 1 person. The major snow storm caused a lot of delays. It looked for a while like we would not get everyone here due to that storm. Two of the three flights were over 1 hour late in arriving. One of our campaigners is stuck in his hometown of Lexington, KY after his flight was canceled.

Today began with us taking a little extra time resting. After sleeping in for an extra 15 minutes, we began to get things finalized for the team arrival at the airport.

I spent some of the morning working on my notes for the team meeting tonight.

About 10:30 am we left for the airport. The first order of business was to gain entrance to the Customs area. It was a little tricky, but Jonathan and I both got badges that gave us the access we desired.

The first aircraft had only one of our team members in it. The other person was the one from Lexington.

We didn't get to the hotels until nearly 5:00 pm. That only gave us 1 1/2 hours before we had our meal and team meeting.

Both hotels are going the second mile to accommodate us. The Plaza Antigua cooked a meal for us tonight -- while it was ok, it wasn't anything to write home about (then why am I even mentioning it?!?!?)

We got everyone back to their hotel and a chance to get some shut eye.

God bless.

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El Salvador, Thursday, March 6th

Fri, 7 Mar 2008 00:21:41 -0500

Dear Family,

My computer can be a GREAT help, but the last two days I know it can be a real headache as well. I am still in the process of trying to find out why I can't get on the Web. It is strange (and I finally figured it out late this afternoon) that I can get my e-mail, chat on MSN Instant Messenger, but I can't open a web page on the internet. It's been frustrating and has put me behind in my blogs. That's why you are getting one for the past two days. (I sure hope this works.)

Yesterday, we got 4 workers in for the advance party team. They were Ronnie Travis, Wendy Graham, Buck Buchanan, and Steve Kirby. We also got some of our medicines that we have purchased.

Part of yesterday we also scouted out some places where our team can have its final team meeting. We visited a restaurant and had a good meal. I'm not sure that this place will suffice for our needs. Anyhow we will keep looking.

Today was a full day. Bill Staggs got to work with a couple of guys to start labeling the medicine. We also got more of our medicine in as well.

I went with the cooking team to begin to purchase the supplies needed for the campaign. We loaded up at Price Smart, a local "Sam's Club" here in Central America. We hauled that to Tonacatepique (Tonaca for short) and stored them in our rented house. I got my first look at the house we rented. It is very ample for our needs.

While we were in Tonaca we paid a visit to the clinic site. They are working on getting things ready for us to arrive this weekend. Fliers have been passed out to every house. We found one under the door of our rented house.

We also paid a visit to the Mayor of Tonaca. He is a very up-beat guy. He was glad to see us. He is getting the final things together for us and our visit. He has been MOST helpful.

Afterwards, we went for lunch (3:00 pm!!) We have learned that Wal-Mart is literally here in El Salvador. Wal-Mart owns Despensa de Don Juan, a chain of grocery stores as well as Hiper Paiz. The employees wear name badges on lanyards that have Wal-Mart on them. Also, I spotted various boxes that were labeled "Wal-Mart - El Salvador".

We ended up our evening by scouting out another place for our team to meet. Its not easy finding a restaurant with a room the size we need to seat 60+ people. When we do find one, we need to have a place most of the team will like. I can assure you that we have had MUCH discussion on this issue. Well, we at least have a good supper tonight.

That's about it for tonight. If you are getting this blog for the first time, and want to see the other ones, please check at www.panamajack.org

Keep us in your prayers.

God bless.

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El Salvador, Tuesday, March 4th

Tue, 4 Mar 2008 23:58:18 -0500

Dear Family,

Here is the latest of what is taking place with us in El Salvador.

First, after taking our breakfast (eggs, fruit, bread, refried beans and OJ/coffee) we prepared for the day. I took a quick trip to find an extension cord for my "office" area in my room. While doing that, Bill and Jonathan worked on the medicine lists in preparation of providing it to the doctors when they come.

At about 11:00, we went to Hotel Plaza Antigua. We took a tour of the hotel. This hotel is less than 1 year old, and you can tell it. (I also learned that Hotel Olinda is only 2 years old having been renovated from a former 2 story residence.) The owner has taken two "homes" and added to it and made the rooms necessary to have a very nice hotel. It is not very far from Hotel Olinda. We did get to see what will be served for breakfast. They actually prepared 3 plates of food and set them out for us to see. We took pictures of them. (They are posted on my Panama Jack page -- the web link is listed below.)

We met Hector Lopez, who is the manager of Hotel Plaza Antigua. We have made arrangements with him to have our Saturday night supper there and our initial team meeting.

I have taken some pictures of the hotel, and I will try to put them on the web page. Go to this web link: http://groups.msn.com/PanamaJacksplace/elsalvador2008.msnw

After Hotel Plaza Antigua, we went to lunch at Cebollines, the Mexican restaurant were we had our team meetings last year. The food was GREAT as it was last year, and the manager and his staff remembered us and treated us kindly. Jonathan got a chance to sample the BIG glass full of Pepsi cola. NO, he did get it all down!!

We made a stop at Price Smart (this is the warehouse store like a Sam's Club or a Costco). We purchased some initial things like bottled water for our rooms, some hand towels and wash clothes, and a couple of other things. We will buy most of our food at this place.

In the afternoon, we got the price quotations from the 3 pharmaceutical companies. We selected our items to purchase, and gave them back our order. Hopefully we should get most of if not all of the medicines tomorrow.

This evening we attended mid-week services at Alta Vista. Jonathan was asked to speak. The normal activity is a Bible class that Enrique teaches over 2 Corinthians.

Well that is all for now. Tomorrow we have 3 other team members coming in to help with the food purchase. These "advance party team members" are GREATLY needed. Things are going very good at this time.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers.

God bless.

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Peru, Saturday, December 8th

Mon, 10 Dec 2007 06:39:03 -0500

Dear Family,

The trip to Ica was a "whirl-wind" trip. It is a four hour drive at best, but it took a little longer for us to get there since we traveled at night on Thursday night. Julio, my driver, is fond of saying about himself that he is a "pajaro de su isla" -- which means that he is a "songbird of his island". What he meant by that was he knows his town and can navigate it with ease. Well, our trip to Ica was proving that he had left his "island". That was especially true driving at night. I was glad that he did not push himself if he did not feel comfortable. One other thing I forgot to mention about the Thursday trip was that while we were eating we felt a very distinct tremor. It happened at 8:42, and I learned on Friday morning from Paulino that the tremor was 5.1 in Lima, but only 4.0 in Ica. It seems that he and perhaps all of Ica keep tract of such things (I wonder why?).

We got started a little after 9:00 am this morning. Since we were going to go through downtown, I had Julio go by Sol de Ica Hotel. This is the hotel in downtown where we have always stayed. It still hasn't reopened. I had met a worker at Las Dunas Hotel that was a former employee of Sol de Ica, and she told me that they have not received licenses to reopen. When I got there, the owner saw me outside taking pictures, and motioned me to come in. I went in and visited briefly. It seems that the only workers he has now are construction workers. I asked him why he wasn't opened, and he told me that it was because the government said that all buildings downtown could not be over 5 stories high. His hotel has a 6th floor, so he is tearing the 6th floor off so he can reopen. I asked him when, and he said in a few days. I told him that's what he said last September when I was here. He went into his song and dance that this was for sure. He said, "Don't worry Gringo, it will be ready". I asked him since he was having to do so much work would he raise his prices or could I get the same rate as 2007. I never did get a straight answer from him. I guess I got my answer!

At 10:00, we met Paulino and Ruben at the church building. Inside, the cook squad was cooking for noon meal. They are still feeding about 40 people (down from 150) and will probably cease this very shortly. All around thing seemed to be getting back to normal (normal wasn't all that good) but you could still see the scars from the earthquake everywhere, it's just that a lot of the rubble has been moved from the streets now.

I had them take me first to the lot where the new church building was to be built. It is basically cleaned off and ready for construction. He tells me that it will take about 2 months to build. That will be pushing it for us to use in June since in Latin America you DOUBLE all estimates and hope that make that schedule.

After we went to the lot, we checked out several members' houses. While we were traveling I asked about ALL of the members that were damaged as to the progress of rebuilding their house. I took out my list and went through it with him. It seems that the members want to wait until they see what the government is going to give them. If their help is like the food kitchen and clothing help was the people won't get much. It seems that the word is out that they are going to get more than I believe will come about. Whatever, we stand ready to supply the materials for a 10X10 room when they are ready to beginning building.

I did go by Yolanda Rojas' house since her story touched me the most. Her little provisional hut that was on the street had been moved off the street and is not hard fast against her damaged house. The only person home was a relative. He said Yolanda was at work that starts at 5:00 am each morning.

I finished my visit with Paulino going over details of administrating the relief project and things we need to keep everyone posted.

By the time we finished it was 12:30 pm. We are looking at a 4 hour ride to Lima and I MUST be there by 5:00 pm since I and another brother from the States, Terry Frizzell, are the two speakers at a youth conference. Given the fact that my driver, Julio, is a "pajaro de su isla", I not sure that I will get there in time. He assured me that since it will be day light he can get there much quicker. So we grabbed a couple bottles of water, some crackers and cookies (lunch) and off we went.

Surprisingly enough the "parajo de su isla" got us there by 4:30.

Five o'clock came and went, and close to 5:45 pm the youth conference began. I was a little concerned at first since my topic was the "Christian Engagement". I was to tell the teens the boundaries of being engaged to be married. The first group of kids that got there were PRE-TEENS! Finally enough of TEENS came that I only had to modify my message a little.

Terry went first. I told him that we were to go from 5:00 to 7:00. By the time he got up to speak, it was 6:00, so he did 30 minutes, and I started about 6:30. Now for those who know me I just want to tell you that at 7:07 the teens were having their after conference snacks!!! AND THAT WAS WITH USING A TRANSLATOR!

Terry, Rodolfo and I then went for supper and home. It's been a long day, and I am glad to get into my bed, even if it is 11:00 pm.

I have some photos to go with this. Also, my son has put all my blogs of this trip on my web page at www.panamajack.org You can send others there to get all the latest of this trip.

God bless.

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