Sunday, June 25, 2006

Arevalo Fellowship Hall

I'm ashamed that I overlooked Dr. Sam Suttle's (Louisville, MS) comment on the previous post for so long. He inquired about the work on the fellowship hall in Arevalo. Below, one can see quite a few pictures of how far we have advanced (above is what it is supposed to look like when we finish). At long last we have the roof over the auditorium, first floor bathrooms, front portico, second floor, and doors and windows finished (though we still lack glass in the windows). These pictures do not show the roof very clearly. I had a number of good pictures of this on my computer which was recently stolen. I'll try to get more soon and post them. The building is actually closer to being finished than it looks. We haven't done the "tarajeo" (kind of like stucco) on the outside of the building yet and around the edges of the windows, because that has to wait until the third floor is finished. We've been raising money for the clinic lately, so finishing the fellowship hall is on hold for the moment. Once the first floor of the clinic is operational, then we will get back to finishing the fellowship hall.

Here are the photos:

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Lenin Celiz and Peru Mission Doors

Lenin Celiz left Peru for Jackson, Mississippi yesterday, arriving today. As the mission's architect and supervisor of construction projects, we were loath to part with him, but it's only for two months, and it is for a very good cause! Lenin is one of our most faithful and gifted parishoners in Trujillo. He is a man with a quick, playful smile; contageous optimism; an ardent faith in the Lord Jesus; and a zeal to make Him known.

In addition to being an architect, Lenin is also a carpenter from the city of Moyobamba in the upper jungle of Peru. Lenin grew up working with mahogany, cedar, and other tropical hardwoods in his father's mill until leaving for Trujillo to study architecture. He will spend two months studying English at Jackson State University in the mornings and working with millwright Mike Boyett in the afternoons. Our plan is for Lenin to get experience with the kinds of hardwood doors that are currently being made in the US, so that he can return to Peru and set up a shop to build those doors here for export to North American markets.

This project has been in the works for several years, but now at long last it seems that the Lord is bringing it to fruition. Exports of raw mahogany and cedar have dimished to a trickle from places like Brazil and Peru, as these countries have begun to crack down on the black market trade and put severe restrictions on the legal trade. Developing countries are now more interested in selling value-added products than simply raw lumber. Our hope is to set up a shop that will make the finest quality mahogany and cedar doors and furniture for sale in Peru and the US. In addition to providing jobs for people in our churches, we are hopeful that this will generate a profit that can be used to build new church buildings.

Photos: top, Lenin with some architectural students working on church plans. Middle, Lenin with a mahogany seedling in Moyobamba. Bottom, a load of Moyobamba cedar going to Trujillo for doors and windows in one of our churches.


This picture was taken by Adam Mikeal back in March during the University of Texas/Texas A&M spring break missions trip. The mischievous look is a priceless glimpse at Katheryn's personality.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

New Missionaries

April 19th marked a new occasion for rejoicing among the Peru Mission team. Allen and Sandi Smith, have officialy begun their ministry with us in Trujillo. They arrived in Peru from the States with their daughters Abigail and Adeline, back in the third week in January, but spent February 1 through April 15 in langauge school in Cusco. On April 19 they made their way up to Trujillo after a few days of paperwork in Lima. We now have them officially moved into their new home. They will continue langage studies as Allen eases into responsibiities around the mission. We want his transition to be as smooth as possible and will not load him down with much to do just yet, other than studying Spanish, doing visits with our pastors, and helping out with church music. Please pray for Allen and Sandi as they continue to adjust to a new city and a new home, and as they continue learning Spanish. You can read their blog updates here.

In addition to the Smith Family, we have also welcomed to the team Mr. Caleb Sutton from Valparaiso, Florida. Caleb is actually an old hand around here. He first visited Cajamarca and Trujillo back in the year 2000 on a short term trip with his church. Since then, in addition to other short term trips, he has done two internships with us. One for about nine months in 2003 and then again in 2005 as a summer intern. Now, however, he is back for a much longer tour of duty. He finished a bachelor's degree in English at the University of West Florida this spring and graduated about 10 days ago. We are delighted to have Caleb back for at least two years. He will be teaching English in SALI, as well as helping with the university ministry and church music. Please be praying for Caleb and his ministry with Peru Mission.

Friday, April 14, 2006

New Sport

We have begun a new sport here at the Baker house, swimming. So far we are loving it. Abby, Katheryn, Olivia, and Noah are all taking classes 3 days a week for an hour a day. Katheryn has been working on getting a breath between strokes without raising her head out of the water. Olivia has been working on getting her entire head under water and not just the tip of her nose. Abby has been amazing me at how fast she is on her back. She has a"bad" backstroke. She beats all the other kids to the other side of the pool almost everytime. And Noah is our frog. He doesn't really like to swim on top of the water, but boy can he go when they practice swimming under water. They are having a lot of fun, and I'm just a little proud of them!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Milestones at the Baker House

Millie is such a big girl now. She has successfully completed her time of "potty training." We are so proud of her! We have also come to a huge milestone at the Baker house. For the first time in 16 years we don't have anyone in diapers. Can you believe it? WOW!! The kids are all growing up so fast. There have been many days in the heat of the battle that I felt like we were just marking time, but in reality they have grown so fast! As Wes said last night, our next milestone will be to get rid of the sippy cups!

1,2,3,4,5,6,..... Oh no, one is missing! Yes Cullen is gone. He went to church camp in Moyobamba with several other young people from the three Trujillo churches. He called us on the phone the other night and said he was having a great time. This is Cullens second trip to the jungle. He said he would like to just move there. Moyobamba is a city of about 25,000 located in the upper jungle of Peru. It takes about 19 hours by bus to arrive. That's a long bus ride! Needless to say the girls and I have not made that trip yet. Abby and Katheryn are just dying to go!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Here we are in the middle of a very hot summer. The girls have been spending a lot of time in their bathing suits. We have had a lot of good days to spend at the pool. We have been busy as usual with school, violin lessons, riding bikes,and just stuff like that. One of Millie's favorite pastimes these days is coloring. Lauren just celebrated her 16th birthday, wow! She is becoming such a lady. She is busy as ever with school. She hopes to work up at Casa San Agustin as their secretary in the afternoons. She is pretty excited about that. I am excited about that, maybe I won't hear "Mom can I have some money?" Cullen is also working in the afternoons with the carpenters who are making the doors, window frames, and roof trusses for the churches.

We had a great time last week with Dr. Pete Forney, Dr. Luis Ramos, Dr. Tim Owens, and Dr. Chris Felitta. All the doctors attended patients in the Winchanzao Church. Dr. Tim Owens and Dr. Chris Felitta also attended in the Arevelo and Larco Churches. Dr. Pete Forney and Dr. Luis Ramos performed several surgical procedures. All the doctors were very busy, but were a blessing to the people here.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Baker Family/Peru Mission Update

Greetings in the Lord Jesus Christ! I hope you all enjoyed a blessed Christmas and are looking forward in faith to this new year!

All of us with Peru Mission are well. We enjoyed a quiet Christmas, but are gearing up for a very busy beginning of 2006. First, a quick update on the past month and then a few things upcoming for us in January:

Trip to Moyobamba

In mid-December Bill Bradford and I took his son, William, and my two sons, Cullen and Noah, to the Upper Amazon Jungle in the district of San Martin. All of us had a great time, combining a certain amount of ministry business with a few days fun in the jungle.

We enjoyed getting to worship on Sunday with the First Presbyterian Church of Moyobamba. The Rev. David McPherson (Free Church of Scotland Missionary) is Senior Minister in this congregation of nearly 1000 communicants. As you might have guessed, this is the largest presbyterian church in Peru. It was established in the 1930s by Free Church missionaries and continues to be a thriving, evangelistic, and mission-oriented fellowship.

Bill addressed the young people's group on Saturday evening on the doctrine of adoption. I had the priviledge of preaching on Sunday morning on the subject of prayer as empowering us for evangelism. Though I had been there three years earlier to teach in their Bible Institute, it was a joy to renew acquaintances and friendships with many dear brothers in Christ. This is a congregation with a vibrant faith, an evident love for Christ, and a zeal to make Him known.

On Monday we took a boat trip on the Rio Mayo down to the Tingana Ecological Reserve (an 8,700 acre national park). We had a great time and a close up look at the heart of the Amazon. The thrill for the boys was seeing hundreds of wild monkeys in the trees as we passed by in the dugout canoe.

On Tuesday we visited a few of the church's extension works and countryside churches, also the Annie Soper Christian School. This school is owned by the church and has been greatly used by God to advance His Gospel in Moyobamba. I'm sure that we will have much to learn from the brethren at the Annie Soper Christian School as we encounter challenges in developing our own parish schools. By the way, Annie Soper was a Scottish midwife sent out by the Free Church in the 1930s, who, along with another midwife whose name I have forgotten, travelled across the Andes by mule and donkey up to Cajamarca and then over to Moyobamba. The Lord used them, and another famous Scottish midwife in Cajamarca named Sarah McDuggal, to win much favor from the Roman Catholic authories, and thus to open many doors to the Gospel (to this day there is a street in Cajamarca named after Sarah McDuggal, a statue in her honor, and a museum dedicated to her work in the Belen [Roman Catholic] Church in Cajamarca).

Rev. McPherson also took us to see a tract of land that they have recently purchased, where they hope to open a university sometime in the next few years. It was encourageing to see the vision of Rev. McPherson and the Moyobamba Church. It seems that Thomas Chalmers's view of church, mission, and Kingdom are alive and well in the Upper Amazon.

Two other reasons for our visit to Moyobamba were:

(1) to check on the progress of our carpenters. Carpenters in the Moyobamba church made all of the doors, windows, roof trusses, and tongue-and-grove ceiling panels for our Arevalo and Larco building projects. Spanish Cedar and Mahogany is much cheaper in Moyobamba than it is in Trujillo on the coast, so we had Lenin Celiz (a trained carpenter from Moyobamba who is finishing up his degree in architecture at one of the universities in Trujillo) design and oversee the production of these things in Moyobamaba, having them shipped down to us on the coast for installation. We probably saved about one third of the cost and helped out a faithful Christian family in Moyobamaba at the same time.

(2) We also went to check on a small plot of about 50 Mahogany trees we have recently planted there. The Peruvian government is offering thousands of hectares of land in the jungle for reforestation projects. We have planted these 50 trees, and hope to buy a couple of hectares for planting more, as something of a test case. Mahogany is now listed in the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) appendix III as an endangered species, which means that it's value is currently skyrocketing on the world market. It takes a long time to mature (30+ years) but since the land would be free and it is relatively inexpensive to plant, we have thought that it might be a good investment for the support of church planting and missions in the future. We'll soon find out how easy it is to grow mahogany and whether it may be worthwhile to request larger tracts of land for bigger projects. As you can see in the picture, so far the little trees are alive and appear to be taking root well. Their first couple of years will be most crucial.

Prospects for the New Year

Things are well in Trujillo. We are hard at work preaching, catechizing, making pastoral visits, and planning out our church calendars for the next year. We have a break from seminary classes until March. The churches are gearing up to host our General Assembly in Trujillo this month. Dr. Mike Ross, Senior Minister at Trinity Presbyterian in Jackson, Mississippi and the Rev. David McPherson from Moyobamba, Peru will be our main speakers at the pre-assembly missions conference this year. We will also have the following notables with us in January: Rev. Roland Barnes, the CMS Executive Director, along with his wife Peaches. Dr. Dan Doolittle will be here for two weeks attending patients in the Wichazao Clinic. His wife Pamela and a cousin will join him for the first of those two weeks. Dale Ellison, who is currently raising support to join us in Peru will come with Mike Ross for a brief visit. Allen and Sandy Smith will also make their long awaited arrival to Peru. They will be in Trujillo for the General Assembly, and then head down to Cusco for three months of language study. Also, David and Corrine Bradford, parents of our very own Bill Bradford, will be with us for most of the month.

Thank you for your faithful prayers and support. There is much more to report, but that will have to wait for the next update. The following are some motives for thanksgiving and items for continued prayer:

1. Please join us in praising God for a recent gift of $15,000 from some dear friends in Texas, designated for our Larco Construction Fund! This will get us over a very big hump, and will put us very, very close to finishing the sanctuary and fellowship hall there.

2. Please pray for support for the Arevalo Construction Fund. We have made huge strides with the fellowship hall (where the church currently meets), thanks to some very generous gifts this past year, from friends in Mississippi and Louisiana. We expect to begin the first floor of the clinic in March, and with the Lord's help, hope to have it operational before the end of 2006.

3. Please be praying that all goes well with the General Assembly the last week of this month.

4. Pray for the Smith family as they make their adjustment to life in Peru.

5. Please pray for the other two families still raising support: Dale and Susan Ellison (they are at approximately 45% of their needed support), and John and Heather Ferguson (approximately 10%).

May the Lord richly bless you!

Yours in Christ,

Wes and Jami Baker and family
Peru Mission