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March 2024

Favourable Conditions

Hi folks,

I've heard rumours of snowdrops and daffodils appearing in Welsh gardens, hopefully they are also being seen in other parts of the UK! Here in Piura we've missed out on the rain-induced greening we enjoyed this time last year, but that also means we've missed out on the flooding, power outages, water supply restrictions, sudden increase in mosquitos and dengue fever that accompanied the greening this time last year. So, on balance, conditions are quite favourable!

This year's underwhelming El Niño has also meant that the regional Baptist Association is benefitting from extra time to get organized for Disaster Prevention and Response. Following our second meeting on 16th February, both Ps Renxon of the Social Action ministry and I had a shock when Jorge, the trainer from the Civil Defence Office, told us that it wouldn't work for us to create an association-level Civil Defence Committee after all, rather we absolutely needed to organise at church-level, or combine churches in adjacent zones. Also, the churches in the city of Piura are spread across urban districts, such as Castilla and 26 de Octubre, but Jorge's jurisdiction is only the district of Piura...On discussing these things with Ps Domingo, the Association President and a very sensible man, we worked out a list of how to group the churches by zone as far as possible, which I had the privilege of proposing to the pastors at the last association meeting (see photo). Inevitably there will be another WhatsApp group to come out of this as we start to work specifically with those pastors on the list who also attended the Disaster Prevention and Response meetings.

Since January, I've also enjoyed a trip to Iquitos for the Global Leadership Summit (or Cumbre Global de Liderazgo). This being the third year running, the event has successfully doubled attendance every year and we received around 250 participants, as well as moving out of the hotel conference venue to one of the larger evangelical churches in Iquitos, called Genesis Church. This year I agreed to expand my role as a session facilitator and was also conference host for the second day of the two-day event, a stretch for my Spanish and my introverted personality and a good reminder that I should never get too 'mature' in faith to stop risking things for the Lord. We also had a technical team and national coordinators fly in from Lima, as well as a fantastic local team from the church. Although there were last-minute cancelled flights and a forgotten bag that was almost detonated by airport security, it all came together for a remarkably smooth event. It was wonderful to welcome my former colleague and long-time Jungle Missionary, Ps Luis, and his son-in-law, Goyco, as well as seeing other faithful leaders from the river communities that had also come through the Training Centre's doors in Nauta some years ago now. The hope is that next year, the entire conference can be managed by the Iquitos team now that they've seen how it all works.

For February I had declared an ambitious goal of getting the first of 25 eco-stoves built by the church at Km980 (I've since learned that the community is called Nuevo Lauterio, but 'Km980' is easier to pronounce and better known by the locals). As I anticipated, this meant that the eco-stove would definitely be built by the end of March and that is what has happened. Once again I saw the Lord lining things up ahead of me. The carpintero metálico turned out to live three blocks from Km980's parent church in Piura and is well known by the pastor there, Ps Julio. Relationships are so important here for getting good service! All the other materials, the bricks, sand and cement, had already been transported out to the community by a parent church member with a truck (at no cost to the project) and in a couple of days after writing this, Ps Julio and I will head back to Km980 for the first proper test of the eco-stove, built entirely by two men from the church, using the manual from A Rocha Peru. Ps Julio is pictured with Severino, one of the eco-stove builders. I'm excited and slightly nervous!

Looking beyond, following the Easter weekend I look forward to enjoying some time off at the beginning of April, when the missionary friends I went to support in Iquitos are coming to Piura and we're escaping to a quiet beach. I'm anticipating us spending lots of time in the sea and hopefully eating some great seafood dishes. I feel that this is something of which Jesus and his disciples would have approved ;)

 

 

As always, your prayer support in all of these endeavours is essential and hugely appreciated. Thank-you! Meanwhile, for all of us who will be involved in Good Friday walks, vigils and Easter Sunday dawn services, let's be bold in proclaiming our risen Lord in whatever way we can.

Love Laura x