Sunday, July 12, 2009


Another week has passed and I have realized that I have left another piece of my heart in Peru. With each village I visit and each person I meet I found myself falling more and more in love with this place. While I know that right now I can't stay forever there is a part of me that wishes I could stay and make my home among these people. 

The team from Texas (Micah's team) and April arrived last Thursday very late at night but without incident. We took them to the hotel and then returned to the apartment to pack a bag and catch a few hours of sleep before we headed back to the hotel in the am to get the team ready to leave for the villages. All went smoothly and 8 hours later we had arrived in Huangascar-- all tired and all ready to get out of the vans and trucks after being on unpaved roads up the mountain for 3 hours. 

We all stayed in Huangascar the first night and then the next morning the group of 26 divided into three groups: one group would stay in Huangascar, one would go to Madean, and another to Vinac.  After the two other teams left Huangascar-- it was 6 high school age kids, April and myself and the adult leader from Aledo Texas, Brady.  The next two days were spent ministering to the people of Huangascar. We found the pueblo very empty because of some festivals going on in villages above ours, but God was faithful to provide kids to play with, love on, and the opportunity to share the story of creation and the 10 commandments with. We also got the chance to play some volleyball. I am horrible at volleyball so I tried to just stay on the sidelines and play with the kids. Huangascar is located on the ridge of a mountain surrounded by mountains-- we all stopped multiple times daily to talk about how incredibly beautiful it was, how big and creative our God is, and one student said over and over again that the mountains and the view spoke so loudly and clearly that he didn't understand how anyone could not know there was a God. 

Day 3 was spent in Chocos-- a village about 35 minutes away. We walked around the pueblo and had conversations with women and teens who were out on the streets or had their doors open (most doors are open if the people are home). We found it hard to find men to talk to since they work in the fields during the day and were informed that a lot of the time the men drink during the day while they are in the fields working. There have been several things that have broken my heart for these people since I have been here but I think the strongest and greatest one is the lack of male leadership and commitment to their families. I can't tell you the countless stories I have heard of woman whose husbands cheat on them, are alcoholics, are abusive to their families, or just emotional negligent. I find myself compelled to pray that God would raise up men in other parts of the world or Peru that would call men to live out their biblically mandated roles. 

Day 4 was spent in Azangaro walking around the pueblo sharing the gospel and then playing in the plaza with the kids and sharing the gospel with them. This was the teams favorite day. It was the first day that everyone was back to "normal life." The schools had been out of session on Monday for a teachers day so Tuesday was the first day that there were just a ton of kids and people out and about. 

Day 5 we went to meet up with the other groups in the other two villages. We got the chance to see what their ministry had been like and got to partner with them. My part of our team was in Median. We got to share the story of David and Goliath and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the elementary school. After a full day of ministry we headed down the mountain to Huangascar where we had a worship service in Victoria's home. It was so encouraging and such a blessing to get to worship with them.

We traveled back to Lima on day 6.  We all took much needed showers and then went to have dinner.

Day 7 I got to spend the morning with April exploring Lima-- it was like we had gone back to when we were in college and studying abroad. She is always such a joy to be around. I am so grateful she got to be here. After some time to explore we headed to meet the team at the Inca Market-- Then the only time left was a quick trip by the apartment to get April's belongings before we were off to the airport with April and the Team. 

Some of the highlights of the week:

Victoria- an 85 year old woman this year who was born and raised in Huangascar. She opens her home for Percy and Maura to have house church. She loves praising our Lord and Savior and is passionate and excited to meet young people from the states. She encouraged us all to fervently pray for Peru and showed us what it looked like to love and worship with all that we are.

April- what a JOY and HONOR it was to have April serving beside me this week. April and I studied in Spain, traveled in Europe and studied abroad in Ecuador together. This was my first time to leave the country for an extended period of time and not have her by my side as I boarded the plane-- so it was such a blessing when it worked out for her to come this week. She adds an extra sense of excitement and adventure as she loves life and takes great joy in the small things. It was awesome to get to share the gospel side by side in Spanish after having labored together for literally 4 years to learn the language so that we could express the love of Christ to these people. We had time to chat and reflect on life in our down time and enjoyed sharing things like Coca Cola Light and Choka Soda crackers. I will miss her dearly as she heads back to the states but will be incredibly thankful she got to come and encourage and labor beside me. 

We spent today recovering, doing laundry, and packed our stuff to head out for the last 3 weeks of our time here. I won't be back to Lima until the 28 of July.  I am excited about our last few weeks-- we will spend a lot of time traveling. Tomorrow we begin a 15 hour journey to Huancopi-- then we are off to Chupa-- and then to Oyolo-- getting to Oyolo will include at 6-8 hour hike. Literally the roads go no further and thus you must walk. 

I ask that you pray for wisdom and discernment in every step we take and every form of transportation we get on. I also pray that God continues to teach, mold, and shape me to look more like Christ over these next 3 weeks. I also ask for you to pray as I begin to process and think about returning home and life in the states. There is much to think on and much to be excited about and much reason to beg God to change my heart and desires to reflect His.

I am so grateful and blessed to have so many praying for supporting me. Your prayers are priceless. 

Trusting Him,

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Photos Week 6 & 7

I have posted more pictures from the last two weeks. You can view them by going to Facebook or clicking the link to the right. 

We are leaving again tonight for Huancapi tonight but I will post a blog about this last week before I leave.

Praying for you guys in the states!

Thanks for your love and support.

Trusting Him,

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Change of Plans...

We all know what it is like to make a plan and then to discovery nothing we planned is going "according to plan." When you are overseas that is compounded and it never fails that in the weakness of my plans God shows himself to be faithful and strong. The first half of the summer was planned to consist of village visits to  Vilcas Huaman, Huancopi, Andamarca, and Bella Union. We actually visited Matucana, Cordova, and Bella Union. It went much different than planned E. Coli and strikes could not have been foreseen by our team-- but we all hold fast to the truth that they were ALL seen and known and planned ultimately by a loving God for our good and sanctification. I cling tightly to Psalm 31:15 that says "My times are in your hands." Whether in the aspects of my daily life and ultimately in my death my times and life are in the hand of an infinite God.

I ended the last written blog on June 10th stating we were headed back to the bus station and heading to Vilcas Huaman-- That was not where we ended up. As we climbed back in a taxi and headed across town at 7pm the night of the 10th our team prayed in the car for wisdom and direction.  We knew it was a possibility that the bus may not run at all and the strike may continue on, but we also knew that sometimes the buses don't know ahead of time that the strike won't end at it's "designated" end time and so they get on the road only to get stopped at road blocks and either have to turn around or wait it out there on the road. We wanted badly to be in Vilcas Huaman but didn't want to go if it wasn't where God wanted us. After praying and then arriving at the bus terminal we were informed that the buses were not leaving because the strike had not ended. We then contacted Mike Weaver to make a decision about trying to head somewhere different that night. We decided to go to Ica (5 hours south) so that we could be in a more strategic place to head out the next day. We arrived in Ica at about 2 am and the pastor and his wife graciously opened their door to us to rest our tired heads. 

In Lima at the bus station waiting to find out where we would go when we learned the strike had not ended

In Ica at the pastor's house about to leave for Cordova

The next day it was decided that we would head up the mountain to Cordova-- if you look at week 2 & 3 pictures you can see photos from our trip up the mountain as well as how gorgeous it was from the top. Although our time in Cordova was shorter than expected it was a great time to get to know the summer team that is there-- they are from Kentucky and so it was good to talk about places we all knew about in KY. We spent a lot of time praying in that village- praying for the summer team as they minister, praying for the few believers that are there -- that they would rise up as leaders among their people, and praying for the hearts of those so desperately searching to find hope and meaning for their lives. Cordova also provided an amazing opportunity for a LONG 3.5 hour hike.  Kristen and I set out and got to explore some but mostly stuck to the path-- we hiked to the next village.  We spent the first hour basically in silence- both just needing a little quiet, reflective time.  The next 2.5 hours we spent talking what God was teaching us, the use of financial resources in the lives of believers, and a fair amount of time discussing what transition will look like for Kristen as she heads back to the states in August after having served in Peru for 2 years. Upon leaving Cordova we returned to Ica and got to spend some time with the pastor and his wife. We also had the blessing of spending time with those in their local faith family.  We played volleyball in the street with the kids on Saturday evening and Sunday we had the opportunity to teach Sunday School. They asked us to teach on Matt 7:7-11 God used that passage about asking your Father in heaven for things and him giving you good gifts to teach me a lot during that time. It was a strong reminder that God is faithful and good.

One of the joys of Peru is getting to sit close... this station wagon had 8-- us 4 in the back seat 2 + driver in the front and an older gentle in the hatch back.

The view on our hike... it was breathe-taking

Kristen's dad and younger brother had the opportunity to come and travel with us for a week. They arrived on the 15th and were here until the 22nd. We spent the time they were here in Bella Union which is about a 9-10 hour trip south of Lima. Bella Union is literally one LONG street-- it seems to go on forever. I believe it is about 4-5 miles long. The summer team in Bella Union-- Kyle, Adam, and Amelia-- were such a HUGE encouragement to us and our team. Two of them are in college and one graduated this past May. They each have a strong desire and passion to minister to the people of this village and a faith and belief that God is mighty and they want to be spent on serving these people. We were able to do 2 formal training sessions with the believers there-- teaching on what it means to be the church looking at Acs 2:42-47 and then praying and thinking through what it would look like if a church planting movement began in their village. They were eager to learn and listen-- a few of the believers in that village are so passionate about sharing the gospel and what they are learning. I treasure the times of meeting with them as a house church-- singing songs with just our voices and clapping, seated around in a circle studying God's word, and then sharing with one another ways we can be obedient to what God is teaching us. We left Bella Union excited about the work there and encouraged by the summer team there.

Heading out to invite people to bible study and to minister to the people

Soccer or futbol is huge in Bella Union- Friday nights the guys in the village come out to play. We supported them even though we were freezing!

We returned to Lima to take Kristen's dad and brother to the airport-- we also had the opportunity to celebrate Kristen's birthday a few days early while her family was here.

Kristen's favorite gift as a child was still a hit at 24-- Glitter Girl finger nails.

It is hard to believe but Mid Summer has come and gone. The 130 of us convened in Naska for debriefing. We were there the 26-29.  It was an amazing time of hearing about the work God is doing among the people of Peru and also to hear how God is changing and molding the hearts of the college students who are here serving. It was also an opportunity for us to worship together (thanks to Hayes, Solomon, and Kyle) as well as share meals and some good long conversations.

Tonight, Micah (Kristen's fiancee), some of the youth from his youth group in texas, and April Ciervo (one of my best friends from college who now lives in San Marcos, CA) are coming to spend a week ministering to the people of Huangascar and 2 surrounding villages. We are excited for them to arrive and excited to be back out in a village.  There will be a total of 26 of us traveling and we will be split between the 3 villages. We ask for your prayers and pray that we would be used of God during this week.  

As of today it is 32 days till I return. There are lots of mixed emotions about this. I miss each of you terribly but am really content and grateful for this opportunity. God continues to amaze me with His grace and continues to sustain me. 

Love you all! Thank you so much for the prayers!


More Pics

Well, more time has past and I have not written more but I have uploaded more pictures-- weeks 3 & 4. I am working on another post now. 
Thanks for all your prayers, support, emails, and encouragement. 

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I promise to write more later but I did add a link to facebook pics to the right-- weeks 2 & 3. I will post more soon. Sorry it has been so long. Know that God is good, faithful, and working mightily here.

Trusting HIM,

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Praise the Lord

Praise the LORD.

Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.

Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre,

Praise him with tambourine and dancing, 

Praise him with the strings and flute,

Praise him with the clash of cymbals, 

Praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. 

Praise the LORD.  Psalm 150

Praise God that he is Sovereign and Reigns over every detail of our lives. Despite the fact that I have been really ill this past week I have had great peace in knowing that not one detail of the sickness or my time here is out of His control.  I am so grateful for all of your prayers- countless of you have prayed for healing that I my fever would lower, my stomach would settle, and I would regain strength... all of your prayers are being answered by the Mighty One.  What started May 28th as cold like symptoms escalated over the next few days to full blown flu symptoms and I had to be confined to the bed with a fever hovering around 103. This past Thursday was the hardest day and that night was the low point but even when I felt so dehydrated and couldn't even keep water down I was comforted and strengthened by a Savior and God who promises to never leave us or abandon us and is even concerned with the small details of our lives. 

Friday morning we finally made the call to head to the doctor.  After about 4 hours in the emergency room (it was different that an American ER-- it was actually more comfortable) and blood work and the work up of a stool sample (sorry, probably too much information) I was cleared from typhoid and malaria and a parasite and was told that I have a bacterial infection. I am taking Cipro (antibiotic) and that has really made me feel a lot better. I have continued to feel weak over the last few days and haven't really progressed past chicken broth and rice, bread, and mashed potatoes. We are still waiting on the culture results to know which type of bacteria it is that has invaded my body.  I praise God though that I am feeling better and continuing to regain strength. 

Of course getting sick was not part of my plan, but I know and trust that not one moment has surprised God. While I know and trust God in all of this I have hated the fact that I have kept my team behind and from traveling for the last 5 days as I have recovered. They have both been gracious and both have said they trust that God knows what he is doing and we are in Lima for a reason. I couldn't ask for a better team.  I really owe a whole blog post to Kristen and how amazing she has been while I have been sick but let's see if I can at least give you a glimpse of how she has taken care of me. For the multiple days that I wasn't able to get out of bed she brought me water, gatorade, and tea to my bedside as well as my tylenol when it was time for me to take it again. She has sat with me, prayed for me, and stayed at the ER with me for the 4 hours while we waited. She has made countless trips out for me to pick up gatorade and juice, my prescription, and gone back twice to the Dr's office to see if the test results were in. I have told her she is getting great practice at being a mom and I believe she will make an amazingly kind and tender mother!  

I got my test results from the laboratory this afternoon. E. Coli is the official diagnosis. There honestly is no telling how I got it-- bad water, not properly cleaned vegetables, bad meat, or my personal favorite fecal-oral transmission. I will continue my antibiotics for the next 3 days.

Matucana.  We left Lima on the June 1st for Matucana. We spent that first day getting to know some of the believers in the village and talking with the Summer Team that is there. On Tuesday we spent the morning praying, talking, and studying to get ready for the training we would do that afternoon and evening. Over the next two days we did 5 training sessions. I was only physically present for 3.5 of them because I got really sick halfway through session 4 and did not leave the bed again until we left Matucana. Despite being sick it was amazing and humbling to see the work of the Holy Spirit in that village. God had radically and genuinely saved several believers over this last semester and it was so cool to get to see the work of sanctification in their lives. Kristen taught a session on obedience based discipleship and focusing on how we are to respond to the word with our lives. We seek to know and understand scripture with the prayer and intention that our lives and hearts will be changed in the process and molded to look more like Christ. When we come to the word we come ready and eager to learn the truths about God's character/attributes and to learn how it is that our lives should be lived out and then to humbly and obediently submit all that we are to align ourselves with the Word of God. One couple came back the night after this teaching and said that realized that they needed to be married. They have lived together for many many years--- they have a 16 year old son and two younger kids, but they have never been married.  They were both saved this May while an enhancement team from REAPsouth was there. Based on the word and the work of the Holy Spirit they realized they were living in sin and wanted their lives to be changed in order to be obedient to God's word. It was really cool to see them hear the Holy Spirit and then respond. God is faithful to show us our sin and faithful to give us the strength to find our way out. 

We are leaving at 7 am tomorrow the 10th of June for Vilcas Huaman. It will be a 14 hour bus ride-- well, a 10 hour bus ride and a 4 hour bus ride to get us there. Please be praying for safe travels and healthy bodies.

I would also ask you to pray for our team as we go into this village and prayerfully make an assessment of what the believers and leaders of the house churches need teaching on. Pray that the hearts of the believers would be ready and eager to learn from God's word. I am even asking that you would pray big things like that a house church planting movement would stir up from among the believers of Vilcas Huaman that they would have an unquenchable desire for the people of their village and surrounding annex to know the truth of the gospel that they would not rest in seeking God until He answers their prayer. Also, prayer for the Summer Mission Team that is there-- pray that we would be an encouragement to them in their walk with Christ. 

As of the last count I heard-- I think there were about 40 some odd people of the 120 summer missionaries who have been pretty seriously sick. Please pray for health and strength and for the knowledge and wisdom to know when to go to the doctor and such. 

I am incredible grateful for the prayer and support I have received while I was sick. I couldn't do this without each of you and your countless prayers. 

I anticipate being back and being able to update you on our time in Vilcas Huaman.

Trusting Him-- Celeste

Monday, June 8, 2009

A flash back from the states...

Very soon-- and even today-- I am actually going to write some about this past week, but I received an email from the states containing some amazing pictures that I just thought I needed to share. The pictures and the memories they contain sure make me smile. Royce and Sandra took Mandi and I over to the lake house to let us fish and then Royce took us the following morning turkey hunting. It was an adventure as I am sure you can imagine. We were successful at catching fish but no turkey was shot, but it was worth getting up at 3:30 am just for the experience. Royce- thanks again for taking us and teaching us how to shoot all those guns. We sure had fun.

This one is my favorite! Miss you Mandi!!

Gangsters? Doubtful.

Sweet and innocent... except for that gun.

We were pretty excited to get our hunting gear on!

The one and only bass I caught.