Thursday, January 4, 2018

One month in Valdivia

     It has been about one month since we have arrived in Valdivia.  It has been a month of go go go.  A month of tears and smiles and everything in between.  More days than not, we wish we could snap our fingers and return to Peru.  It has been a hard adjustment and we are just getting started.  We have been dealing with culture shock.  When we are go go go everything is good in regards to missing Peru.  It is at night when we finally settle down to get some sleep that the emotions come.  Don’t get me wrong we have had some really great days.  We did a boat tour on the river.  Nicole and I went on our first date in Valdivia and it was a gorgeous night and we walked along the river.  I have been loving the salami and sausage and cheddar cheese.  The view driving from our house into Valdivia is breathtaking.  Every time I just go “Wow!”  Crossing the bridges over the rivers every time blows me away.  These are views that will never get old.  I saw my first penguin just last week on the beach that is 1000 feet from our house.  My kids have seen six penguins in the last month.  It’s great.  I have been building our house with my dad and brother in law which is such a joy.  This Sunday will be our first service at our new church plant Refugio Community Church of Valdivia. We will be starting with evening services.  The Lord has provided a great location.  He has been so faithful every step of the way.  But we still miss Peru.  But I also know this is the Lord calling in our life.  This is the location the Lord has set us down at.  But it is also crazy to me.  Because I look at this place and when the sun is out (it rains 320 days a year here) it is incredibly beautiful.  They call it the pearl of Chile.   There is wealth here.  It is a major tourist destination.  It isn’t a place that people would think of when they think of missions.  You think Peru or Africa or South East Asia.  I am sure some have looked at our pictures and sarcastically have thought, "oh it must be rough to be there.”  I get that.  It is breathtaking here.  For example just the other day we were in the immigrations office and got into a conversation with a Syrian.  Super nice guy and and a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church.  As we talked and shared he asked why are you here in Valdivia starting a church?  Why not go to the Middle East?  Why not go to Syria?  They need a church.  They need the gospel.  My thought to that was “Why did you leave if you are so concerned with the gospel going to Syria?”  I went on to explain how the Lord called us here and put a burden on my heart for this place.  I explained how some are called to Syria or Africa or Europe, but I was called here.  We don't question the Lord's calling on people's lives.  We support them.  People are called to many different things.  That is the great thing about how the Lord works.  Some plant, some water, some reap.  We all have different callings and no one's is more important or better than another.

     The issue I have seen though is many times we can be motivated by pictures.  Many times we can be motivated by the conditions in which people live in.  If I am real, there are things that are attractive when it comes to missions.  Valdivia is not one of those places.  My new Syrian friend had that exact thought.  There won’t be too many photo opps. here in Valdivia if you catch my drift.  But as I was sitting in the car the other day watching people walking down the over crowded sidewalks I saw people who were empty and lost and on a path to eternal condemnation unless they come to know Christ and Him crucified for their sin.  That is the reason the Lord has placed us in Valdivia.  Because as He told Paul when Paul was in Corinth, the Lord has people in this city.  The Lord has people in Valdivia whom He purchased with His own blood.  There are people here headed to hell.  Christ came to save.  They need to know this.  But as I have already seen in one month of being on the ground, this is not an easy place to do ministry.  I am not in danger (though there has been heavy persecution in the Los Rios region, which is our region by the Mapuche, we are not in danger).  That is not the reason ministry is hard here.   It is hard because people are hard.  This is hard soil.  Reminds me so much of my home town in Santa Cruz.  But the fact of the matter is, people are people no matter whether I am in Peru, Chile or the States or anywhere else.  All people when we strip away every thing have the same issue.   They are separated from their Creator.  They have all rebelled.  They love their darkness.  They need Christ!   This is my motivation.  This is my calling.  To bring the good news of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.  We are praying that the Lord would pour His Spirit upon this place in a powerful way.  We want to see dead people come alive.  We want the Lord to do what He did in our lives.  We want the Lord to do what he did in the lives of our Peruvian church.  We want the Lord to turn this place upside down.  This is our motivation.

     While we miss Peru, we know this is the Lord’s place for us.  One month down, many more to go.  The newness will wear off.  Soon I hope we will be more accustomed to the lifestyle.  But the one thing I never want to wear off or get accustomed to is the need for Christ in this place.  May He do great things in Valdivia and beyond. 

Soli Deo gloria