The Adventures Continue – Garcia Spring 2019 Update

Hello Friends and Family!

Well, it’s springtime now, almost Easter, and that is the due date for our fourth little one, Clara, to make her appearance! So, I thought I would give you guys an update before we enter the busy season of bringing a new infant into the family 🙂

After my trip to South America, I expected that maybe my return to the SGWM home office would be a bit of a downer. Don’t get me wrong, I was more than ready to return home! But when you’re out on the field amongst all of the “action” of missions, it can make the things we do as senders back in Yorba Linda seem a bit mundane. Praise God I was wrong! When I see these families on the field doing the work of the ministry, it inspires me and excites me even more to put my hand to the plow back at the home base. Not only that, but life has been as busy as ever since my feet hit home turf again; the adventures have simply continued here in Southern California. Here is a quick rundown of what we’ve been up to via pictures 🙂

Just a few days after my return from South America, I had the privilege of representing SGWM at CC Downey, the home church of our missionary Zully Ruano who is preparing to go to Spain. At her informational dessert gathering, I told her friends and supporters about who SGWM is and the work we do for missionaries, and we had a sweet time of prayer over her!
In early March, we took a little vacation with Amy’s parents to their time share in Carlsbad, which included a fun family day at the San Diego Zoo!

Near the end of March, I took a day trip to Mexico with Pastor Tim, his fiancé Jenn, and our friend Denise. We visited the special needs orphanage that we work with in Tecate, Mexico. Denise will be spending her summer there serving at the orphanage, which takes care of both young people and adults who are unable to care for themselves due to mental and physical handicaps, so we wanted to scope things out with her. We were also there for Pastor Tim and I to interview Miguel Romero, who manages the orphanage, to officially partner with us as SGWM missionaries. We are blessed to be in the process of bringing them on board with us!

Finally, I was blessed to be able to be able to go back to my former employer, Evangelical Christian Credit Union, and share about my South America trip and my ministry with SGWM. ECCU was such an amazing company to work for, and they have such a heart and generosity toward ministry and missions! It is always a blessing to return and share there and see all of my friends I used to work with!

Finally, Pastor Tim and I have been holding the fort here at the SGWM home office as well as the church, as Pastor Trent and Pastor Mike are in the middle east. We’ve had the privilege of interviewing Nepali national missionaries via Skype, teaching through the Psalms on Sunday mornings with our congregation, teaching our Thursday night School of Discipleship and Ministry, and generally helping things to continue running smoothly while a few of our team members are away.

Please continue to pray for us in this busy season, especially for Amy’s health (and sanity!) as she gets through these final days of pregnancy. Also, would you pray about becoming a financial partner with us as we serve SGWM missionaries around the globe? We love you all and thank you for your prayers, support, and for taking the time to read about what the Lord is doing in and through us!

Love in Christ,
Joel, Amy, Maggie, Harrison, Jude, and Clara Garcia

Harris Family March 2019 Update

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  2 Cor 5:17
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Thank you so much for the prayers and for the support that you have given to us as a family.  Our ministry here wouldn’t be the same without you!  

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300 kids showed up to hear the Gospel at VBS!

In our last update we wrote to you about how our organization was going to step into the new venture of ministering to widows.  On the 23rd of March we had our official launch!  The widows ministry is a huge blessing to it’s participants, giving them discipleship for their spiritual health, with both monthly food packages and the ability to start small home businesses for their physical health.  In the future we hope to be able to include some sort of health care plan.  The great part about this ministry is that since we are operating it through our students churches, it provides a practical means for their further discipleship.  Even after they graduate from our school we will still have the opportunity to walk with them.  We were happy to host a small team from Rocky Mountain Calvary who had the privilege of helping us with that launch.  

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The short term team handing out food packages at the Widows Ministry launch.

On the 27th of March we had the whole community of Adak (the village where we live) join us for the grand reopening of our health facility, which underwent great remodeling during December and January.  We pushed the party to March so that the team from the US would be able to celebrate with us.  At the party we had speeches from pastors, political figures from the community and from our staff, as well as a skit and a time of cultural dancing.  

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Noah learning to walk!

As our family has been learning the Acholi language, we have been seeing some of the sadness and hopelessness of our community.  Much as in Bible times when they used to name their children after circumstances, the Acholi also name their children after the most significant parts of their lives at the time of the child’s birth.  As a result, our community is full of names meaning things like “poverty”, “born through witchcraft”, “Born to the second wife through witchcraft”, “tired”, “problem”, and even the name “cursed” is very common.  This last month I (Matt) have had the unique opportunity to bring the hope of Christ to future generations.  As some of you may know our clinic delivers into the world approximately 40 babies each month, and as a means of seeking Gods presence and blessing, many mothers desire men of God to name their newborns.  Children who’s parents are named “Cursed” are now being named “Blessed”, who’s parents are named “Painful Death” are called “Mercy”!  Never before had I named a strangers child, but it is a great honor to be requested to dedicate a new child to the Lord in such a way. Praise God!

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Shout out to our home church, Calvary Worship Center, thank you so much for the package you sent. It made it just in time for Emma’s 4th birthday!
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,
Matt, Noelle, Emma, Madeline and Noah

Welcoming Spring


Hello there!

First of all, I want to express my gratitude for your continued prayer, encouragement, support, and generosity. It is incredible to think of all those whom God has brought along to be a part of His work here, be that through prayer, financial giving, or other ways. I am greatly encouraged by the obedience and commitment to Him that I see through your lives and it is a tremendous joy to have you as family and fellow partners in the gospel.

These past few months have flown by with a myriad of different happenings.

WASHINGTON VISIT

I enjoyed a visit to Washington for my older brother’s wedding. It was great to see some of you, hug dear friends, and be with my family! Moments all together as a family get few and farther between as the years go on, so it was wonderful to have a few days all together in one place.

BACK IN HUNGARY

I left Hungary while Winter’s presence remained strong and returned to find Spring moving in. These last couple of months I’ve witnessed the beautiful effects of “Spring’s blossoms” in my surroundings, but also in life and in ministry.

One area in particular has been with the young women’s bible study that I host on Monday evenings. Throughout the Fall and Winter, we had each read in different places in Scripture on our own during the week and then came together and shared thoughts and questions. At the start of February, however, we began to do a study all together on Galatians. In March we went though Ephesians, and this month we began to go through Philippians. Together we read through a chapter or two and take time to ask questions and chew on what we have read together.

It’s hard to fully express how rich these times have been! Last week, one of the girl’s expressed how there is so much that we discover and “dig up” together that we wouldn’t on our own. It is a beautiful testimony of the wisdom and beauty of God’s design of the body of Christ! We are not meant to run the race alone. In fact, there is so much that God would show us and teach us of Himself through other people. In the last few months, I’ve realized in my own life that God has teaching me more of His heart towards me and others through the people that He has placed in my life here during this season. It’s incredible!

The photos above were taken with some of the women in our church at a Women’s Retreat in February. It was fun to spend a few days hearing from God’s word and worshiping together, as well as getting to grow in friendship as we spent time together.

PARENTS VISIT

My parents were here for a couple weeks in the beginning of March. We spent time in VeszprĂ©m, where my sister lives, enjoyed a few days with Kiara, our German “sister,” and finished with some time here in PĂ©cs. For myself and my sister, it was special for them to get to see a glimpse of our lives over here! I especially loved getting to celebrate my birthday with my together with some of my family AND dear friends here in PĂ©cs!

NEW OPPORTUNITIES

Recently, the Lord opened a door to meet some high school girls, who I am hoping to be able to connect with again. My hope and prayer is to be able to build ongoing relationships with a few of them and to have the opportunity to share the gospel and the love of God with them.

PRAISE & PRAYER REQUESTS:

  • Praise God for deepening relationships with young women at church and for the beautiful thing God has been doing in and through our times studying scripture together and praying with and for one another. Please pray for continued work of the Spirit in their hearts, that they would grow deeply rooted and grounded in Him and continue to be transformed by the washing of the Word!
  • Praise God for new opportunities with young women who do not yet know Christ. Pray that I will be able to continue to build relationships with them and share the love of God with them.
  • Continued prayer for my friend Gita, who sees a need for God in her life, but has yet to understand her need for Jesus. Pray for opportunities to have more conversations with her about Jesus and about what it means to follow Him.
  • Continued prayer for wisdom and patience in my work teaching the kids. Wisdom in how to care for their whole person, as well as how to help them learn educationally! & praise God for each milestone we’ve crossed already!

Thank you again for continuing in prayer for me and God’s work here in Hungary. It means a lot to me! My prayer for you today is,

“…that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:15-21)

Much love in Christ,

Brenna

Vincent Family April 2019 Missions Update

Greetings from Mexico,

I have some exciting news to share with you about an important new ministry in the church! In March, we opened up the “El Faro” (lighthouse) halfway house/discipleship men’s home! This new ministry is run by my friend and minister partner Uriel Gonzalez and his wife Jody! (and son Jonathon too!)

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Uriel came to our church straight from a US jail over 10 years ago, with a tough past and looking for hope! Over the years, Uriel has graduated from our intern program, completed a 9 month discipleship program, found a virtuous wife at the church, and even left for a season to serve as an assistant pastor of one of our new church plants! But three years ago, God called this Godly couple back home to Rosarito with a vision to start this discipleship home!

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The “Lighthouse” discipleship home is a sober living house for men who have graduated from a rehab center/ mens’ home! As you can imagine, many men struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. Our church is (and always will be ) a place where anyone can come and receive free help and Godly counsel.

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And on average, we place 4 men and women in rehabilitation homes. The problem is that many of these friends have much difficulty staying sober and faithful to the Lord when they leave/ graduate and attempt to move back into society!

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Three years ago, Uriel came to me with his vision of opening up and leading a sober living men’s home! In this facility, the men would work full time at a job and pay rent and their own expenses, while also being disciple daily, and learn to serve in our local church! Just this past month we had our official grand opening as four men moved into this new rental home directly next door to the house of Uriel and Jody!

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These men got to move in free, and have everything provided for them, as they went out each morning to search for a job! Even though our economy here is struggling, praise the Lord, all four men found full time employment WITHIN THE FRST WEEK! These men also have their personal devotions each morning followed by a discipleship breakfast with Uriel.

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After work, these men return home to rest and serve in the church which is located only a few blocks away! These men are learning sober living skills that we believe are going to last them for a lifetime! Many of them are also hoping to be restored to their children and families!

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We are so thankful for each one of you our precious ministry partners! It is through your love, prayers, and financial partnership that we are able to reach what Jesus called, “the least of these!” Thank you so much for partnering with us. We feel honored and blessed to serve the Lord together with you in the ripe mission fields of Mexico!

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Con mucho amor de Mexico,  (with much love from Mexico)

Mike, Sarah, Grace, and Daniel

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My son Daniel, playing keyboard at the end of the service!

Prayer Requests!

#1-  That God would bless the four men that are living in our discipleship/sober living home!    

#2-  That God would continue to provide for the needs of our family and church in Rosarito!  

Praise Reports!

#1- Praise God for our 22nd church plant that we were blessed to send out to Campeche at the end of March!

#2- Praise the Lord for the grand opening of our long prayed over men’s discipleship home, El Faro!  

Introducing Eden Grace

Thank you all for praying for Tonielle’s pregnancy and the birth of our daughter. We are very happy to announce that Eden Grace Sarkar was born, via emergency c-section, on February 16, 2019 at 11:40am. She weighed 3.42kg (7.5lb) and was 18.5 inches long. 

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It has now been a month and a half with our sweet little girl and we are having a great time getting to know her. She now weighs 4.78kg (10.5lbs) and she is 21 inches long.

This past month has been a month of rest and adjustment for Tonielle, while Pankaj has been busy hosting teams, teaching at church, and preparing for the opening of the School of Worship.

Please continue to pray for our family – especially for Levi – as we all adjust and learn how to function as a family of 4. 

Love, Pankaj, Tonielle, Levi, and Eden Sarkar

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Cambodia Missions Update: In Season and Out of Season

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2

We are going through a time which is both “in season” and “out of season” at the same time. On one hand, our various ministries are expanding both in breadth and in depth, which I will share more about in this update. On the other hand, Cambodia is going through its hot/dry season now so daily blackouts of up to six hours nationwide (so far, by God’s grace, we’ve been spared from most of these), highs around 99F, running water cuts and shortages, sicknesses, exhaustion, car repairs, and serious upcoming financial needs, mean that we must choose to keep our eyes on Christ and not the many storms around us as we walk by faith.

Christian Apologetics Classes:

Darryl will finish teaching the Leadership and Christian Apologetics Training Course the end of March. The Pastor wants him to teach more in the future but given the “seasonal challenges” mentioned above, we are not sure whether these trainings will be done before our visit to the USA this summer or in the fall, after we return to Cambodia.

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Darryl with Pastor Phanet (right) and Apologetics/Leadership students at Kingsway Church.

Darryl will also start teaching Christian Apologetics classes again at the Cambodia Presbyterian Theological Institute between the end of March and the middle of June.

Visiting the USA and Urgent Financial Need

We will be spending some time in the USA this summer between June 20 and August 6. We will be mainly in the LA/Orange County areas of California. We need to take care of some banking needs and to reconnect with our senders and relatives in the US since we have been out of the USA for two years.

Please also pray that God will open doors for us to connect with more regular financial partners. Up until now, Kayo’s parents in Japan have been sponsoring Benjamin’s Christian school tuition. This has been a huge blessing, even though they are not Christians (yet). They are retiring soon and so we need around $600 additional each month to cover the financial gap starting this fall. We have additional financial needs beyond this, but this is just the most urgent.

Light Times Magazine and Christian Videos Update

Darryl continues to write apologetics/evangelistic articles and help with English editing for Light Times Magazine, the only Christian magazine in Cambodia. Because it is a magazine, non-Christians are much more willing to receive and read it than they would be to receive and read a tract. Recently the format has changed to focus on readers younger college and career age readers. Below is a Facebook post from Soksan, LT’s founder.

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Darryl has also joined Cambodian Christians along with French, and Indian missionaries in a joint project of producing live-action Cambodian Christian videos for social media through True Media at https://www.facebook.com/mediais4god/

The missionary from India told Darryl that when he was in Bible School in Bangalore, India that one of his textbooks was, Christianity: Reasons for Faith which Darryl co-authored a few years ago! It remains a mystery how the book moved from Cambodia to India.

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One of True Media’s Videos

Partnering With Persecuted Christians

Darryl continues to work to encourage, equip, and partner with Christians from Ch!n@ and P@k!$t@n who have been forced to move to Cambodia for religious freedom. Because of the freedom here in Cambodia, we are planning to develop Christian materials here in their own languages and then send them back to their homelands via social media and underground methods.

Kayo’s Ministries Updates

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Precious Women Organization helps poor women who work in the “night-time entertainment” industry to learn new skills for better careers and Christ’s love.

Kayo also continues to minister to Japanese missionaries and workers in Cambodia who are currently struggling with environmental challenges mentioned above and also have greater difficulty communicating with Cambodians because of language barriers. Kayo is also involved in helping the international church’s worship team learn and use new administrative software. This is even more more urgent because the main worship leader had a stroke yesterday.

In Christ’s Hands,

Darryl, Kayo, and Benjamin

Family In Spirit – Aniku Family Update April 2019

“For as many as have not seen my face in the flesh.” Col 2:1b

CC Flower Mound, Texas was amazing!  God really showed us how close we are to those who pray for us and we for them, even if we have never met in person!  From the moment, we met everyone, it was like seeing a best friend you hadn’t seen in sometime and need to catch up. Like Paul says in Philippians, true companions. Encouraging each other in Christ, sharing the amazing things He has done and is doing.  What a beautiful family we have in Christ!  Please never cease to pray for those you have not met!  We are knit together in God’s Spirit!  

Heading Home

Finally, we are getting ready to head back home!  We leave April 9thbut do not reach Midigo until Palm Sunday.  Please pray as the spiritual warfare is getting strong.  We praise God we still have 2 times to share and encourage the body of Christ before we leave.  This time in America has been so amazing.  God has kept us busy for sure which was our prayer.  Encouraging our American brothers and sisters to be bold in the faith, sharing the gospel, for the days are dark.  Zachary was able to grow, reaching goals quickly through the therapies he had.  Zachary shares how he is excited to go back home and serve God helping the crying babies. Ian made friends and learned how to work through being bullied.  Ian has turned to prayer for everything!  His faith amazes me!  Can’t wait to see how God will use them!  Vincent was poured into by many pastors and given things to equip all the ministries! God also sent so many people to pour into me too!  From weekly discipleship, women’s ministry, Bible College (so far, I am getting A’s!), Children’s Ministry trainings and conferences for both missions and children’s ministry! 

Luke 12:48 “To whom much is given, from him much is expected.” With all that was given to our whole family these months, we are expecting big things from God for each of us!  Excited, yet sober minded, knowing the enemy is like a lion.  Please continue to pray for us!  

Prayer Requests

  • Please pray for our last teachings.  One of my fillings has just fallen out.  Pray they can fix it before we head back.  
  • Please pray for our packing, travels, health and adjustments.  We will be hitting the ground running for sure! We are going back with Destiny who will be serving alongside us.  Please remember to pray for her!  This will be her first time to Uganda.
  • Continue to pray for our Ugandan Children, Ministries and the church!  
  • Please pray for my parents!  I’m sure it will be quiet with all of us out of their house.

Praise Reports

  • God has supplied the money to start construction on the Library and community center!!!! Pray God continues to go before us and pave the way!   We don’t want to put God in a bubble and we don’t want to veer off His path in any way! 
  • We were able to get all our goals done and then some!  My friend Diane spent a whole day helping me look up recourses.  It is possible that we went a little laminating crazy.  I feel equip, at peace and blessed!  All I can say is WOW God, thank you!  All God has taught me, especially about His mysteries has blown my mind!   

Garcia Family Update: South America Pt. 3 – Brazil

Hello Friends!

Who knew that one missions trip would require three updates for me to scratch the surface of everything God did with our team in South America! But alas, here we are at update #3 to talk about my time in Brazil, the final leg of our South America trip.

Drinking out of a coconut!

While some of my greatest spiritual warfare happened in Peru, Brazil was the toughest portion of the trip for me both physically and emotionally, despite the fact that (praise God!) my sickness did not follow me into the Amazon jungle. Physically, the pounding heat and humidity of the jungle wore on me over the first two days there, and emotionally, due to the length of the trip, I was really missing my family the most in Brazil, especially in the jungle where I had zero contact with them.

But we’ll start with the good… the Miller family, our missionaries in Brazil, are amazing! The four of us pastors quickly bonded with their kids, and good thing, because we would all be in close quarters for our five days in the jungle! The Millers were super hospitable upon our arrival in their home city of Manaus, which is a sort of hub for missionaries who serve in the Amazon jungle of Brazil. We spent a day in Manaus just getting to know the Millers, and doing some shopping with Brad Miller in the city in preparation for our trip, which was an adventure in itself.

These bananas are heavier than they look… I was struggling here!

The next day, we took a 2 hour drive to Manacapuru (say that 10 times fast…), the port city where we boarded our speedboat. That little speedboat would take the nine of us to the Apurina people, the tribe that the Millers minister to, in 11 hours down the Amazon river. The view was beautiful, but between that and the return trip, I’m not looking to board any more boats any time soon…

Beautiful view on our boat ride

The Apurina people are amazing, and the Lord is doing great things among them through the Miller family. Brad typically stays there in the village for three weeks at a time, sometimes alone and sometimes with his whole family, before going back to Manaus for a few weeks, and then doing it all over again. While there, he does a church service every evening on top of Sunday mornings, as well as Bible classes for a few of the men every morning, and a children’s ministry program on Saturdays. But perhaps the coolest thing is that some of the leaders Brad is raising up, who take over services for him while he is not in the jungle, are now preparing to go to other tribes to be missionaries there. It was amazing to watch God’s plans for unreached people groups unfolding before our eyes!

Group shot with the Apurina tribe in their church building

The brutal jungle environment did wear on me physically and mentally. Praise God He sent lots of rain while we were there, which did have the effect of cooling things down slightly, though the humidity was still overwhelming. One night, as I lay in the pitch black in my hammock, missing my family as all of the jungle noises made their best effort to lull me to sleep, the words of Martin Luther’s hymn played on repeat through my mind…

Let goods and kindred go
This mortal life also
The body they may kill
God’s truth will triumph still
His kingdom is forever

While I certainly wasn’t facing death, I realized in a deeper way than ever all of the comforts of home and family and friends and hot water and A/C and the English language, etc., that missionaries give up, because they count lost souls as worth that sacrifice. They care so much about God’s glory, about the eternal state of the souls of the lost and unreached, that they are willing to leave everything familiar to them. And believe me, in the jungle, there is very little that is familiar to us! I praise God for this insight, and that night in my hammock, He began the process of dealing with some of the idols in my own heart.

A typical jungle house
Me and Pastor Tim’s room, with a mosquito net-covered hammock

As seems to be typical in foreign countries, the locals love English worship, so I played plenty of songs for them. I also had the privilege of teaching their children’s program Saturday afternoon, as well as teaching their Sunday morning service! I will always treasure those special blessings.

Teaching the kids with Veronica Miller, age 9, translating for me!

When our time in the jungle was over, we went back to Manaus, where Pastor Trent got to share some ministry vision with Brad, and we got to bless the kids with some fun times, including a trip to see pink dolphins!

All in all, this whole trip was an amazing experience. I was so happy to go home to be with my family again, but I also came home a changed person, with the many things the Lord taught me and ways He showed me I need to grow. Most of all, I saw the importance of trips like these. SGWM is committed to not just making decisions from a desk in Yorba Linda about what is going on in the nations, but actually being willing to get our hands dirty, so to speak, and actually connect with the work the Lord is doing through our missionaries. That way, our partnership with them is more informed, our fellowship with them is all the sweeter, and we can carry back the great news of how the Lord is using them in order to stir up the church in America for missions. And that was more than worth it for a few days of me letting goods and kindred go.

Garcia Family Update: South America Pt. 2 – Huacho, Peru

Hello Friends!

I’m excited to bring you all part two of my South America trip update. Our time with the Tippie family in Huacho, Peru, was the shortest of the trip, only covering a couple of days. But boy, were they packed days!

Upon arriving back in Lima via a short flight out of Cajamarca with the Tippies, we took a three hour drive that got us into Huacho (pronounced “Watch-Oh”) near 11pm. I observed that Peruvians seem to be night-owls, and they eat late! We were tired, but Pastor Craig didn’t want to send us to bed with empty bellies. I was glad for that after a delicious meal of roasted chicken, aji sauce (think Chick-Fil-A sauce with a little south-of-the-border kick), and french fries. Peru LOVES their french fries, with their almost 4,000 varieties of potatoes that grow there! I could definitely have gotten used to that.

Gorgeous view of a Huacho sunrise from my hotel room

The four of us stayed at a hotel in the city just a couple of blocks from Pastor Craig’s house. Accommodations were so cheap that we each got our own room and bathroom! This should have made for some good sleep, but Huacho was where I experienced some of my greatest spiritual warfare of the trip, including some spiritually dark dreams and a pretty bad stomach bug that plagued me the entire time there. Huacho is the witchcraft capitol of Peru, and we were there to do some work for God’s kingdom, so these kinds of things are to be expected, especially after our focus on the armor of God at our prayer retreat in Cajamarca!

Our first morning in Huacho consisted of a four-hour meeting planning our upcoming youth group trip to Huacho in June, on which Pastor Mike, Pastor Tim, and myself will return to Huacho with 40 people for various outreaches including a surf camp, VBS, music, soccer, and more! It was eye-opening to see the necessity of traveling so far for such planning, as all that we accomplished could never have been done over phone or Skype. I gained valuable experience for planning future trips as Pastor Mike led the way with his expertise in this area.

A silly picture at Pastor Craig’s house, where I’m failing at the Hang Loose sign!

That night, I was radically blessed with the opportunity to preach the gospel to a few dozen youth at a youth outreach at Pastor Craig’s church! I taught on the woman at the well from John 4, and showed them that Christ is the only one who can fulfill our longing for joy and satisfaction in life.

The next morning I had another amazing opportunity to lead a little “Gringo Worship” (as Pastor Craig calls it) for his church’s Sunday morning service! (You can check out video of that here on Facebook) One of my favorite parts of international travel is to worship with people of other cultures and languages. English worship was cool for them, but I really love the fun, lively, community-driven worship of the Peruvian people!

Preaching the Gospel at a youth outreach

In the midst of all this activity, we also had the opportunity to check out a beach similar to the one we’ll run our surf camp at in June, as well as tour around and work through some other logistics for the trip in Pastor Craig’s super cool bright orange VW Bus! The trip ended with a sweet get-together at the Tippies’ house, a surprise party for Pastor Craig where seemingly the whole community came out to celebrate the life of this man who’s done so much for the Gospel in Huacho.

The making of a purple corn and purple sweet potato drink called Chicha. Not bad!

Huacho may have not been the hardest part of our trip, but between the spiritual warfare and my stomach illness, I really wanted to give up and go home, especially when I considered the possibility of carrying my stomach illness into the jungle. But the Lord was really teaching me a lesson on endurance, and the fact that missionaries endure this kind of spiritual warfare on a regular basis. Part of being a missionary is learning to endure through that and fight the good fight of bringing the Gospel to the nations. The Lord was teaching me what our missionaries go through, and was preparing me for a deeper level of that on the next leg of our journey in Brazil…

Garcia Family Update: South America Pt. 1 – Cajamarca, Peru

Greetings Friends!

As many of you know, I (Joel) just returned a few days ago from an 18-day trip to South America. Two countries, eight airplanes, over 24 hours’ worth of boat rides, dozens of new friends, three new languages, weird foods (cow heart, anyone?), weird animals (pink dolphins, anyone?), rain, hail, heatwave, and real RAIN… Joy, lots of laughing, lots of tears, lots of worship, lots of prayer, lots of Bible, lots of missing my family, lots of physical ailments, lots of sights and sounds and tastes and… This was a PACKED 18 days. Our bodies, minds, and souls went through a lot, more than I’m used to, and while it was hard, my calling to be a part of this movement of God amongst the nations was only confirmed all the more.

And so, because this trip, which really felt like 4 totally different missions experiences rolled into a three-week period, was such a massive undertaking, I’ve decided to roll out my update in three installments over the next month or so (which is probably about the time it will take for me to somewhat process all of it anyway!). I pray you’re encouraged along the way 🙂

With such a big trip, there were multiple purposes for myself and three other SGWM pastors to head to South America and see our five missionary families there. For this installment, I’ll focus on our time at the Calvary Chapel Bible College located in the Andes Mountains in Cajamarca, Peru.

Left to right: myself, Pastor Mike, Pastor Tim, and Pastor Trent
View from the Library at the beautiful CCBC in Peru

We really had one goal in Cajamarca: to bless our four missionary families in Peru with a prayer retreat. I discovered firsthand the fact that missionaries do not get the fellowship and community with other believers that we often take for granted here in the U.S. They are called to lead, to teach, and to pastor, and while they love the nationals of the countries in which they serve with all their hearts, it is so refreshing for them to get to share their joys and struggles with people from their own culture and language. We got to hear about the triumphs and trials of our missionaries’ lives and families and ministries, and perhaps the sweetest time was when each family took their turn having hands laid upon their shoulders and prayers spoken over them on their behalf.

Group shot with our Peru missionary families! Roughly left to right: The Kilgus family, the Buescher family, the Tippie family, and not pictured, the Gunderson family

I was extremely blessed to be able to use my gift of leading worship to lead these sweet saints in singing to Jesus. Live English worship is a rarity for them, so it was a huge joy for me to be able to serve them in this way, and a privilege to worship with these men and women I look up to greatly. On top of this, we were able to teach some short devotions through the armor of God in Ephesians 6, to pray over them, and to pastor them in ways that simply don’t happen over the phone or Skype. Our hearts are now connected in a deeper way to those we serve in Peru, and we feel that our ministry alongside them will be all the sweeter and more effective as a result.

Leading worship for our missionaries in Peru

As is typical, while God used me and His gifts through me to bless our missionary families, I feel that I received more than I was able to give, that I was more blessed and challenged through this experience than I could have imagined, and that my calling to be a missionary serving long-term missionaries was all the more deeply confirmed. Praise God for His grace!

Peruvian food is a new favorite of mine! Lots of french fries and… Beef heart (pictured with the fork in it)? Not bad!

Culturally and mentally, this was the “easiest” portion of the trip, as we were surrounded by other Americans and I wasn’t missing my family too badly this early in the trip. It was with bittersweet sorrow that we left three of our missionary families in Peru to head to Huacho with the Tippies, but we are praying for and will continue to fellowship and serve with the Kilgus family as they seek God’s will for them with Venezuelan refugees, the Bueschers as they teach and disciple young students at the Bible College, and the Gundersons as John pastors a local church and they open their home and hearts to the people of Cajamarca. Look out for the next two installments of the trip with adventures in Huacho, Peru; Manaus, Brazil; and the deep Amazon jungle!

Love in Christ,
Joel, Amy, Maggie, Harrison, Jude, and Clara Garcia