June 9, 2020
Hope you and your families are doing well and are healthy amid the crisis of the Corona virus! I’ve been meaning to get out an update to you both to share how things are going with Vil and Elia. They safely arrived to Pucallpa to start the new school & seminary year on the 15th of March. Everything looked like it was good to go, but that was also the day that Peru’s president declared a strict quarantine. So everyone in all of Peru has been restricted to staying at home ever since. School and all forms of travel & most local transport has been canceled. IBIENA decided not to start this semester of seminary classes because of the quarantine, and we are all still waiting to see if and when students in Peru will be allowed to start the school year.
1) We’re so thankful that Vil, Elia & the kids arrived safely to Pucallpa, after almost a week of travel on the river, and that they were not caught in the middle of their travels when the quarantine was declared. The Lord made sure they arrived hours before all transportation was stopped! He definitely was looking out for them – PTL!
2) Even though they weren’t able to start their 2nd year at IBIENA upon arrival to Pucallpa because of the quarantine, Vil and the family have been able to stay next door on the base of FAIENAP (the Fraternity of Church Associations of the Indigenous Evangelical Churches of the Peruvian Amazon). While staying on the base, Vil has been helping on the base with any work around the base that is needed, which is a big blessing for the staff.
Also, Vil & Elia’s oldest kids, Brayan & Marioli, have been able to start their school year with Brayan’s teacher, Kristan Hammond, as she’s teaching them at her house. Kristan is our coworker who has moved to Pucallpa to work especially with Brayan as she is an elementary school teacher, and over the last year, she has been teaching him & the whole family sign language and helping Brayan at school. I will send you both a link to the new facebook page where she posts weekly updates and pictures of the kids studying at her house – it’s labeled GDQ.
We wanted to let DEC know how they are doing amid this global crisis. We’re praying that we will all know what the rest of the year will look like in the coming weeks, and that if & when it is the right thing to do on the government’s part, that schools & seminaries can be reopened so that Vil and the family can return to their studies. Until then, we’re super thankful for how the Lord has protected and provided for the family! Your support is keeping food on their table even amid this unique time. Vil & Elia send their greetings & their heartfelt thanks for your support!
1) For continued protection and health for Vil, Elia and the kids, as well as the other believers and missionaries in Pucallpa during this outbreak.
2) For wisdom for the Peruvian President that he would make the right decision on whether or not to extend the quarantine into May and for when to open schools so everyone can begin the 2020 school year.
3) That the number of Corona virus cases in Peru would start to go down and that the health care system would not be overwhelmed by the number of cases at any point, but that everyone would be able to receive the medical treatment that is necessary and helpful in each individual case.
4) That Vil & Elia will be encouraged, mentored, and strengthened in their faith as they live and work alongside the staff at FAIENAP during this time.
A huge thank you to DEC for supporting this family once again this year! While this year hasn’t started as any of us imagined, we are confident that the Lord has His plan and purposes for each of us, including Vil & Elia, during this time! We’ll continue to wait on His guidance and direction for this year. We’ll keep you all posted how things develop here in Peru. Hugs,
Nemo & Catherine
March 30, 2020
Quarantine & Martial Law in Peru
‘”Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress (our High Tower & Stronghold). Selah [pause, & calmly think of that]!’ (Psalm 46:10-11, AMPC)
Hello from Peru! What bizarre times we are living in! Who would have thought that in a months’ time we would globally all be under some kind of quarantine, social distancing, or shelter-in-place? We hope you are doing well wherever this quarantine period finds you!
With all that’s going on, we can’t help reflect on this passage above that seems so appropriate for this season… “Be still,” or as another translation puts it: “let be,” or “cease striving,” “cease fighting,” or “stop.” That seems to be the general message we’re all getting these days from the government. It’s also a message we get often from the Lord. I don’t know about you guys, but I recognize that even as we are being told by our governments to “stop moving!” or “stay still!,” I’m still tempted to make my days as full of busy work as I can, albeit from home. If I can be really transparent: this is also true just about whenever I feel the Lord calling me to be still… The minute He gives me a chance or command to stop, lean into Him, depend solely on Him, just be with Him…that’s when the temptations & distractions are the strongest to “go, go, go.”
Exactly two weeks ago things changed pretty drastically here in Peru as we’ve now been under a pretty strict quarantine & martial law for the past 14 days. On the practical day-to-day experience, it means only 1 member of the family (Nemo! 🙂 leaves the house 2 or 3 times a week to buy food from the local market (see pictures of our local, now “masked” market below); there are military check points on the main roads to arrest anyone not complying with the rules; we have a strict military curfew from sun-down to sun-up; all non-essential shops, stores, restaurants, & social sites have been closed; almost all work (both office-type & manual labor/building) has been paused; all church or social events has been postponed, and all non-emergency travel (domestic & international, including air, water, & land) has been stopped.
It’s tempting to see this time as a loss or set-back in “work” and ministry. But, another way we are trying to see it here is as an opportunity! A rare opportunity to slow down and spend more time, not producing or doing, but connecting with & reflecting on our Savior. While this sounds simple, I’m finding it hard to do. In our first 14 days of quarantine here in Peru, admittedly I’ve thrown myself into doing as much busy work around the house as possible. “There’s so much we never have time to do! This is our chance!” – at least that’s what my brain tells me. 🙂 Now that our quarantine has been extended by 2 more weeks (at least), I’m hoping to do better in slowing down, heeding the Lord’s call to be still, & not letting the need to “do” rob me of the many opportunities to connect with the Lord that we have now that we’re house bound. We hope you are finding more time in this global pause to do the same! 🙂
Where are you guys??
On a more practical note, you may be wondering where the quarantine caught us. We are soooooo thankful that the Lord worked it out to where we were just arriving to our home outside of Cusco when the quarantine was announced. Our ministry plans had us flying to the jungle a week later, but with all the domestic flights & travel in general being canceled in Peru, we ended up having to postpone our return to the jungle until after this quarantine lets up.
Adding up our comings & goings from before + these past 2 weeks, we’ve now officially lived in our “new” house a total of about a month! We have a big yard and lots of gardening activities that have kept us sane: pulling weeds, planting a few small veggie gardens, setting up a compost, and removing huge stumps. It’s a huge blessing to be able to go outside without breaking the rules of the quarantine. Plus, it’s given us the chance to get a little better settled into our new home. 🙂
We’re also blessed to share our new home with those around us! Before this whole quarantine got underway, we met a local couple who needed a place to stay because of an unplanned pregnancy. They have become such great friends and their baby girl continues to lighten our days with her coos and smiles! It’s been great practice for us to be living with a baby! 🙂 They’ve been working on building a house so they can move into their own place and were almost finished before everything came to a standstill with the quarantine. As much as we don’t want to see them go, as soon as this lock down lets up & they can finish building, they plan to move to their new home. In the mean time, we are enjoying having them stay with us!
Speaking of a baby, this week we’re finishing up our 22nd week of pregnancy, which means we’re officially finishing up our 5th & heading into our 6th month. Only 4 months left before we get to meet this guy or gal! We’ll hopefully find out if we’re having a boy or girl once all this quarantine business calms down, so for now, we’re just calling him/her, “baby.” Baby loves to kick & do flips, and especially likes to do these gymnastics at night to keep mom up. ;D We can’t wait to meet Baby and can’t believe how fast time is flying! Hope you enjoy the baby bump pics from these past few weeks!
Prayer Requests for this Season: 1. Please be in prayer for all the day-laborers here in Peru who depend on being able to get out to earn a daily wage to feed their family. Many of our friends and brothers & sisters in Christ are left with few to no work options with the quarantine in place, so feeding their families for a whole month is a huge concern. 2. Pray for the Napo! We’ve heard rumors that the virus could already be present in our home village, which is concerning given the lack of medical treatment available on the river. Please pray for protection for the people & that the virus will not spread to remote jungle villages! 3. Pray for the people who were away from home when the quarantine started. Several of our friends from the Napo were in Iquitos when the quarantine started and now have no way of returning home until travel is permitted once again. 4. Vil & Elia, who are seminary students from the Napo, arrived to Pucallpa the same day that the quarantine was declared. Their seminary semester had to be postponed until May. Please pray for them as they are hoping & waiting for their classes to be able to restart in May. 5. Personally, we appreciate your prayers for a healthy pregnancy & birth! And continued prayers for Nem’s dad, Celso, as he continues to recover. 6. We also appreciate your prayers as we are seeking the Lord for ways to serve & minister to others during this period of being home-bound; that the Lord will allow us to return to our work in the jungle in His perfect timing; and that we will be patient and attentive to how He wants us to be serving during this unique period.
A huge thank you for your prayers & support during this unique time! We’re thinking & praying with all of you as we know you’re facing this unique time & all the challenges that come with is as well! We would love to be praying with you. Please share any prayer requests with us by replying to this email. Much love from Peru, Nemo & Catherine
December 27, 2019
We are so very thankful for how the Lord continues to use DEC’s support of Vil & his family as he completed his 1st year of seminary this month! They headed back to their home village at the beginning of this month to complete the practicum part of their seminary studies. This practicum is focused on having the seminary students share & practice teaching what they have learned so far in their studies with their families & friends. It’s a great way for them to get some practical experience in ministry! They will come back to Pucallpa in March 2020 to once again resume their studies, so they have about 3 months of practicum. Once they return, they will be able to share their experiences from their home villages with their seminary professors & fellow seminary students. This is a really helpful practice as they will be able to share their struggles, how what they shared was or was not received by the people, and ministry challenges they discover in their home context. So they will be able to be encouraged & counseled in the areas that are specific to ministering in their home context. We are excited for them & how practical & contextualized this seminary is!
Here’s a video of Vil & the family as they prepared to leave on the boat from Pucallpa to return to their home village:
Please be praying for them as a family, as Vil & Elia will begin to share everything they are learning:
1) Their home village generally is a very difficult place to be a believer, especially a believer who is vocal & sharing the gospel! There will be a lot of pressure put on them by their families & friends to not share the gospel and to live like the world. They are needing an extra amount of prayer support in the next 3 months!
2) Please pray that they will not be discouraged, and that in the difficult moments that the Lord will give them peace, a word from Him, & the courage to humbly continue being light & salt!
3) Also please be praying that the Lord will move in the hearts of the people in their home village; that He will convict their hearts of their need for Him, & reveal Himself in a personal way to many!
4) Their home village is called Ingano, and there is only 1 other believing couple there. Pray that they will be an encouragement to each other, and build one another up in their faith.
We, & Vil & Elia, are so thankful for you both & for DEC! We are excited to see how the Lord multiplies & blesses your support of Vil & his family! Thank you for your continued support!
Happy New Year from Nemo & I,
Catherine & Nemo
September 1. 2019
Precious Moments Sharing Life in the Napo
Whether it's that amazing feeling of relief that comes from jumping into the Napo River on a hot jungle day, or the joy of flying down the river in a small dugout canoe with a peque-peque motor on the back under the light of a full moon & thousands of incredibly bright stars, or that refreshing taste of cold masato while helping the people to plant a new yucca garden under the punishing mid-day sun...and the list could go on and on of all the amazing moments from daily life among the Napuruna, but in the end, the moments that are even more precious & memorable are the ones of sharing life with our Napuruna brothers & sisters. For both of us, being able to connect, share, live shoulder-to-shoulder, and learn with people who are different from us...but when you get past the superficial things, are not really all that different from us, there is nothing better!!
Meet little Gianna!
Early one morning during our last trip while visiting one of the villages where we have many friends, the people excitedly shared with us that one of the mom's had given birth that morning to a little girl, Gianna! (see above photo) While we celebrated the news with them, several members of the family, smiling & giggling, asked us if we had ever pierced a baby's ears. We, rather wide-eyed but smiling at their contagious giggling, said no, that we'd probably be too scared to try. Throughout the week, different family members would come by and mention something about the ear piercing ritual of becoming god-parents, in that classic hint-hint kind of way. Long story short, we are god-parents again! Nope, she's not ours in case that crossed your mind, lol. :D We managed to survive the scary initiation process of piercing her little ears! (not something I ever want to do again!) It was definitely the hardest initiation process we've seen or undergone in the Napo, and I still don't know how they talked us into it. XD I just about can't handle being in the same room for this kind of thing, but we had lot of experienced god-parents gathered around, leaning in, telling us what and how to do it, so we all survived the process. Being a god-parent means we're bound to the whole family as "family", and I have to say that I don't quite mind that part. :) So thankful for our extended "family" members in the Napo and especially for little Gianna! P.S. don't freak out about the picture of me holding scissors below! In the end, Nem had to do the piercing (see the picture above with him holding the needle, and us both looking like proud god-parents) since I couldn't make myself pierce her ears, so I did the knotting and cutting of the strings in Gianna's ears. X)
What’s Up in the Napo
This year has been so full of so many twists and turns, and if you feel like you're behind on something that's been happening with us, I'm about to dive into a modge podge of updates & news from the Napo, as well as family & personal updates from the last few months or so! :) Sorry in advance for the long update! What a crazy year it has been; it's definitely keeping us on our toes to say the least. I'm going to start with the latest happenings and work backwards:
August 2019 – ANNUAL CONFERENCE IN DIAMANTE AZUL
As you guys know from our last email update from the 2nd of August, "Our Prayer for Unity" (If you haven't read that one, go back & take a look at it so this update makes sense :), we had our last annual conference with the church plants in the Napo the first full week of August. Thanks soooo much for reading that update, responding with encouragement, and especially for praying fervently with us about all that was going on! By the end of the conference, we could only look back on those exhausting 4 weeks and thank the Lord for helping us navigate through all the challenges. The morning after I sent that email asking for prayer, we left Iquitos at 6am and traveled 10 hours by boat to meet up with the team organizing the workshop. We hadn't slept the nights before leaving because of all that was going on, so the 10 hour boat ride didn't really help with our exhaustion level, but we spent the whole boat ride praying and planning what to do and say as peace-makers between all the church leaders and missionaries involved. We were feeling pretty beat up emotionally. As soon as the boat docked, we were able to get everyone involved in the problems of miscommunication, division and confusion together to facilitate the first face-to-face meeting since the problems had started. It was not an easy meeting, as I'm sure you can imagine - I know a lot of you wrote us sharing about similar problems with unity in church situations or in other areas that you have experienced. Thanks so much for the encouraging words & for your support! By the end of the meeting, we were able to clear up some of the miscommunications just by having everyone in the same place to where they could hear directly from each other. After lots of praying for one another and each person sharing, we felt like everyone was in a pretty good frame of mind to leave the next morning for the conference. Our time with our brothers and sisters in Diamante Azul can be summed up in the above picture from Nem's 3-day Homiletics workshop! We were once again blessed by the fellowship, Christ-like love, joy, hunger for God's Word, and dedication of these precious brothers & sisters. We truly soaked up every precious minute fellowshipping & sharing with these amazing brothers and sisters. There were so many encouraging moments that came from our time with them, of reflection around Scripture and Christian & church life. The 4 pictures below are from Nem's Homiletics workshop with the church leaders and his 2-day workshop on grace. We're so thankful for these brothers and sisters! Thanks so much for your prayers for us and for everyone involved in the conference! We were privileged to see how much the Lord has grown our brothers & sisters in Diamante Azul in faith and grace over the last few years!
August 15-18, 2019 – VISIT WITH NEM’S DAD
As you guys know, Nem's dad, Celso, has been undergoing aggressive chemotherapy the last 6+ months. After we wrapped up the conference in Diamante Azul, we traveled to Lima to see Celso and accompany him and Nem's mom up until the transplant. He just started the transplant today! He'll be in total quarantine for at least 2 more weeks if not more, depending on how his body responds to the transplant. Please be in prayer that his body will respond well and that this will be the beginning of the end of his cancer treatments! While we were in Lima, our sister-in-law, Dorcas, had to be flown to Lima because of complications due to a chronic Pancreas attack. Shortly after, her mom, Rebecca, was also hospitalized because of a heart attack. Thankfully, all of them were in the same hospital there in Lima, so we became regulars in the hospital with visiting all 3 family members. Would you be praying for all 3: Celso, Dorcas, and Rebecca, that they will all receive the treatment and healing they need at this time!
Update on the Situation in our Home Village
Many of you have been asking how the situation in the village is. Thanks so much for your prayers and concern! We were able to meet up with some of our friends and neighbors from the village in July, and thankfully they let us know that it appears that the Colombian strangers in the village have left and that they haven't been seen in the last two months. We feel like the situation is safe for us to resume our normal life in the village soon! We're so thankful to have close friends and neighbors in the village who look after our welfare! In October, we hope to do a month-long visit to a village a little bit downriver, where our godparents, Selmira & Romulo, live. It will be a packed trip! In addition to visiting with the believers in the village, we'll be serving the villages by helping them investigate how to make the local high school upriver more accessible for students coming from other villages. We're excited to be able to meet a felt-need that all the villages in the area have! Please be praying for success in the investigation and that as a result the government will improve the situation for Napuruna high school students! In addition to the visits and the investigation, we'll be working on the final revisions of our 1st oral Bible stories in Kichwa that I've been working on these last few months! See the picture above from my review of the Genesis Wycliffe Kichwa Bible Translation from earlier this year. It's been a lot of work, first reviewing the Genesis translation with our Wycliffe teammates, recording & comparing different oral recordings of the stories in Kichwa, and in July, finally finishing writing a version of the first stories for a Kichwa Evangelism CBS story track! (CBS: Chronological Bible Storying) I'm so excited to be close to using the materials from this oral discipleship project!! To be able to teach Scripture in the heart-language of the people and in an oral format that is natural & reproducible for the people - this will truly be a dream come true! After the review process with our god-mother, Selmira, we'll be able to start using these stories late this fall! Please please be praying for us that we'll be able to finish off these 1st stories so as to be able to start Chronological Bible storying in our home village in October or November! I'm over the moon about this, as you can probably tell, lol. :D Will you pray with us?
1) Will you pray that we will be able to finish the final edits & revisions of these first Chronological Bible Stories? Will you pray that our Kichwa will flow smoothly as we begin discipleship 100% in Kichwa in our home village – this has been our goal since the beginning and we’re closer than ever! This will be a huge learning curve as we start to implement this process. Would you pray that the people will correct us when we say things incorrectly and that we will not get discouraged as we begin discipling in Kichwa? Would you also pray that the Lord will be calling the people to Him and that they will have a hunger to know Him through His Word as we share?
2) Would you be praying for this opportunity to serve the local villages through this investigation into the accessibility of local high schools: A) that we will be a blessing to the people as we help them gather the info for the investigation and as we present it to the government as a petition to improve the high school education system; B) that this opportunity will further open doors in all the villages we visit during the investigation to share Christ in word and deed; We’re praying that by meeting this felt-need, we will be able to show our love for the people, and that it will lead to open doors in the villages that are not open to missionaries efforts to date.
3) Would you pray with us for Celso’s bone marrow transplant, that his body will not reject the transplant in anyway and that he will be free of cancer after this transplant? Would you also pray for Dorcas, that the doctors will be able to figure out what is causing her pancreatitis so she can start eating normally, regain her strength, and return home? Would you pray also for Dorcas’ mom, Rebecca, and the ongoing analysis that the doctors will be doing in the coming days?
4) Would you continue to pray for our precious brothers and sisters in the Napo – that they will continue to seek the Lord with all their hearts and grow in their walks with Him? We’re so thankful for them!
5) Would you continue to pray for unity, patience, and love for all the church leaders and missionaries who work in the Napo? The enemy would like nothing more than to make sure that confusion, miscommunications, and conflicts distract & detract from the church-planting work in the Napo. Would you pray for wisdom and grace for us, that we will be able to continue working in the Napo alongside each and every leader/missionary in a way that shows mutual, Christ-like grace, love, & unity?
6) Would you pray for little Gianna and her family? Pray for health for little Gianna in her first months of life outside the womb, as the first months can be the hardest for newborns. Pray for healing for Gianna’s mom as she recovers from the delivery, and for Gianna’s older sister as she is suffering from unexplained seizures & blackouts.
7) We have some news to share about doors the Lord is opening! Buuuut, since this update is already too long, I’ll save that news for the next update, which should be very soon, so keep an eye on your inbox! 🙂 In the mean time, would you be praying for wisdom & discernment, for a continued sense of peace about the direction we feel the Lord leading us in, and for patience as we constantly seek His leading every step of the way?
April 9, 2019
We got some exciting news from our teammate Kristan about a breakthrough with little Brayan! Here's her fb post:
March 26, 2019
March 6, 2019
March 4, 2019
Vill and Elia and the kids made it safely to Iquitos early this morning! They will be heading to Pucallpa in the next boat in the next day or so. So far everything has gone well. But the baby, their littlest, Marioli, has a cough, so our teammates are taking them to the doctor before they leave to get some medicine for her.
We’ll keep you all updated when they arrive to Pucallpa. More updates to come! Grace,