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It’s All Coming Together In Peru!

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I made it safely back up and down the mountain! This first trip into the unknown for 2016 was a giant success. It set a good vibe for the rest of the year and made me so excited about what’s to come this fall in Peru!

My goal was to scout an additional section to the trek I pioneered last November. Here is the blog where I explained this trip. I wanted to add more villages to the trek and make it more exciting for teams who are thinking about using my trek for missions. Now for certain I can add interesting witnessing tools such as, dirt bikes, horses, rafting, etc. This will increase the level of impact we can have.

Just look at some of the photos!

IMG_6384Photo May 04, 11 40 47Photo May 06, 09 39 08IMG_8409Photo May 07, 09 49 59Photo May 07, 11 28 24I was prepared to go alone. Then at last minute, I thankfully got to take two of my Peruvian missionary friends with me, Steve and Micah Hobby. Having them with me was perfect to get a feel for when I’ll be guiding teams. It helped me to create a solid checklist and prepare for every possible scenario.

Photo of Steve and Micah.

IMG_6380The trip was a incredible. I found additional villages to visit. Not just that, in one of the villages, God opened a door for me to build a solid relationship with a man named Alex and his family. This is such a big deal. It means I can visit his people with teams this fall, and the people will receive us with open arms. This is the second village to welcome me like this. I believe it’s the second of many hundreds to come!

I didn’t get a photo of Alex, but here is his village and a few of the villagers.

Photo May 07, 17 43 47Photo May 07, 16 39 27Photo May 07, 10 44 04Two Weeks In Bolivia

By the time this blog posts, I’ll be on my way to Bolivia. I’ll be there for the next two weeks reconnecting with a drug rehabilitation organization, speaking to some youth groups, and climbing two big mountains in preparation for the worlds highest altitude prayer meeting in Mt. Aconcagua.

Back To Peru

After Bolivia, I will return to Peru, and I will be back in the mountains to finalize my trek. When I was in Peru last fall with Tannen Healy, we just made sure the trek was possible. Now I will be making the trek passable and connecting the original trek with the new section.

Trek With Me In June

In early June I’ll do one final run through the entire trek. Would you like to go with me? The dates will be from June 5-14, 2016. As long as you have a passport, the visa for Peru can be picked up at the airport in Lima. Contact me ASAP for details.

Into The Villages

It’s so exciting to think about what’s going to happen in the fall, when I lead teams into the villages. Already, two YWAM teams are confirmed, and other missions teams are considering it. With each team we will do it differently, using the unique skills and creative ideas from each team. We’re going to show so much love to the villagers!

Thank you for your prayers and financial support. Together, we are truly making a difference in South America!

Discovery

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I just finished my greatest adventure. This was the entire reason I left the USA. Now after months of anticipation and pressing my way to this goal, I have a template for the next season of my life. It all boiled down to a single 7-day trek, that I would never forget! This blog is long, but worth your time.

Arriving In Peru

If you’re new to my journey, I’m in South America, scouting remote highlands in hopes to find undiscovered villages that are in need of help. Then I will select one location and return there to start my bigger work.

I first arrived in Peru on November 30th. This was the second of four locations I was scouting. I wanted to find a location that was rich with undiscovered beauty. A beauty in both the form of genuine kind hearted untouched villagers, and a beauty that can only be captured miles above sea level and far away from a civilized world.

Right off the bus in Cusco we made our way to The Meeting Place, where my good friend Steve Hobby welcomed us. Steve is a missionary pastor to Peru, from England. He has become a great friend and a big help to me.

The Meeting Place is a popular cafe in Cusco. They donate all proceeds to an orphanage for disabled people, and to other various compassion projects. Our plan was to work at the cafe as volunteers, while we researched about where to start this trek.

In Cusco, I felt like I was stepping into something big. At The Meeting Place all the right locals and travelers started to find me. As I pieced together their information I was pointed in a direction I hadn’t noticed from searching online. Once I saw that, I searched deeper than anyone before me. Through different types of maps I found a plausible location where we might discover villages. Then I started to map out a trek. The trek seemed extremely difficult, but possible.

For now I will keep the location of this trek to myself.

The Trek

On Sunday morning, Tannen and I boarded a bus leaving Cusco to a small town a couple hours away. We lodged there for the night. The next morning we jumped on the back of a truck loaded with people.

1 Back Of Truck

Sitting there and looking around, I realized these are the people I’ll be working with for a very long time. I smiled and they smiled back at me. I couldn’t speak their Quechuan language, so for 4 hours no words were spoken. But we understood each other as if words didn’t matter. We made faces and laughed with each other for the majority of the ride.

2 Kids Laughing

Then, about 15 minutes before we reached our destination, a lady who sat at the back of the truck motioned the driver to stop. As she leaned away to jump off the truck she looked right into my eyes and handed me some money. It was humbling to accept this money, but also a huge sign of acceptance. I believe this was her way of saying, “you are welcome to be here with us.” She had given me the exact amount of money needed to cover that truck fare.

It was finally our time to hop off. As our feet hit the ground, we looked in every direction and realized we were in the middle of nowhere. Besides that, we were stranded in a snowstorm. No big deal. We had planned for harsh conditions. So trusting God we put on our packs and started to walk. That first day, we walked 9 miles (out of the storm) in the direction of the mountain we’d have to climb before reaching the top of the pass.

3 First Night Camping

On Tuesday we made it to the bottom of the mountain. Along the way we kept running into small houses where the people stay while they herd their llamas and alpacas. Seeing those houses and talking with those shepherds, I realized something; I was not just going to impact the villages I walked through, but also the villages of these shepherds when they returned home.

Wednesday was a very tough day. We trekked up 2,000ft of loose rocks to an elevation of more than 18,000ft were we made it to the top of the pass. On the way up we scouted out campsites and alternative routes for next time. We set our sights to proceed down the pass and felt like it was possible, but we were caught by a bad storm and had to quickly set up camp in unwanted conditions at a high elevation. At one point the thunder was so loud it shook the ground like an earthquake. We feared death by thunder, not even to mention the lightning.

Photo: Trekking to the top of the pass.

4 Up The Pass

Photo: First view from top of the pass and the incoming storm.

5 Storm & First View Of Other Side

Photo: The elevation of our high camp.

6 Elevation Set Up Tent

Photo: The morning after the storm and a clear view of the pass.

7 Thursday Morning

Photos: Pretty views down into the pass.

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Photo: This was on Thursday afternoon. Our first view to the end of the pass.

First View Of The Middle Of The Pass

Photo: Along the way we came across beautiful diverse landscapes.

Walking Through The Pass

Thursday was tough long day. But it was nice because we made it to a point where we knew the pass was possible. The air cleared and we spotted villages in the valley below.

Bottom of blue lake saw villages

Photo: We followed rivers and waterfalls to the end of the pass, moving closer to the people.

Last Day

On Friday, just beyond the blue lake is where we found the most villagers. It didn’t feel right to photograph them, so we interacted instead of taking photos. I wish you could see their beauty. They were everything we hoped for. We found multiple villages. The biggest and most remote village was at the farthest point.

Last day 40 villagers spread out beyond the blue lake

We completed this trek in 5 days, and it should have been 7 days or longer depending on weather conditions and interactions with the people. There is so much more I could tell you about this trek and all we experienced.

Going with Tannen allowed me to see this circuit through the eyes of future Trekkers. I was able to calculate how it will feel to people who are beginners at mountaineering, unaware of the potential dangers, and the life changing impact it will have on them. There were two days in a row that Tannen feared he would die up there. Few people ever push themselves to that level. The lesson is that great things happen when you sacrifice yourself in the hopes of touching others. Now that Tannen has returned to the States, he will take these adventures into his future. Knowing this makes me excited about how others will also benefit from this experience in the future.

I’m Going Back In 2016

I know this trek was the start of something great. I have pages of notes on ways to show God’s love to the villagers. My goal for missions is to make it fun so more people will want to do it. When people are having fun, they can make a bigger difference. This trek is a dream location for activities. For example, we can set up a four day river journey and visit remote villages along the river. There is also the potential for skiing, mountaineering, horse back riding, and dirt bike riding.

All of these things will put missionaries in those mountains. I can see it becoming the happiest region of all of Peru! In fact, that’s my goal. I want to build an oasis of joy there.

When I return in 2016, I will complete the west side of the trek and prepare for the first YWAM team. I hope to send this team before the end of 2016, to get the difference started.

Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Uganda

Now I’m in Chile, then Argentina and Brazil, meeting with YWAM bases to build relationships and see if they will join me in Peru. Then I’m meeting my dad in Uganda, Africa. He is speaking to 60,000 people in the Kampala national coliseum on New Years Eve! I’m also speaking in large meetings during that trip. I don’t think speaking is my thing, but if God has opened the door, I’m going for it! I’ll also be spending time with orphans, street kids, and remote tribes. I can’t wait!

The Wild

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I’m writing to you on a bus ride out of Bolivia. This is by far the sketchiest ride of my life. The good news is, we’ve been riding for 21 hours and we only have 13 hours to Cusco, Peru. Lol.

Our time in Bolivia was supposed to be just a training for the rest of this South America mission. It was a great time and great things happened, but then it became so much more than that.

We had planned to reach Peru by plane on the 17th. But, out of nowhere I felt a strong calling to stay in La Paz for one more week.

We had no set plans, no leads, and not a single idea about where to start looking. All we had was an urge to stay longer and a belief that something big would happen. And it did.

Once we decided to stay I searched online for a justice organization to serve, but I couldn’t find anything. It wasn’t because the opportunities didn’t exist. It’s just hard to find South American websites when you’re searching for them in English.

Remar, Bolivia’s Dream Center

Then I found Remar. It seemed to be a legitimate organization. So we put on our shoes and headed there right away.

From the outside we had no clue what we were getting into. Everyone there spoke Spanish. It was impossible to explain that we wanted to volunteer. But then we found a tall Bolivian man named Eduardo. From the second we met Eduardo we knew that we made the right choice to remain in Bolivia.

Here is what’s really wild. When we had prayed about what we should do with this extra week in La Paz, I heard the words “Dream Center,” which is a well-known ministry for the destitute in California, USA.

As we stood there and talked with Eduardo, we found that Remar is a spitting image of the Dream Center! For example: They provide drug rehabilitation, they rescue women from prostitution, and they help single moms too poor to raise their children.

I quickly noticed that Remar had more vision than they had support. So I offered my skills in graphic design to create a magazine and a calendar.

Everyone buys calendars in Bolivia. It might not seem like a big deal in the US, but they will raise good money from doing this. The new magazine will be their first English publication. This means they can finally attract supporters in English speaking countries, and who can imagine the difference that will make.

At Remar we met a young boy named Luisitos who needed immediate surgery or he would die. His family didn’t have money to pay for this surgery, but thankfully we met them at the perfect time and we were able to help with the finances. The surgery was a complete success! Now Luisitos is in recovery and getting better everyday. Here is his photo (pre-surgery).

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During our time in Bolivia we met with so many great people. I’m positive I will work with them again to make a difference in their city and nation. For example, here is a photo of Miguel and his family. Miguel was my translator.

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Miguel is one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met. He’s a fellow YWAM’er and he shares my heart. Miguel encouraged me every time he opened his mouth. I’m positive he is my friend for life.

Then there is Eduardo, Remarcobija, and Matthew. Matthew is part of a movement called God In The Streets. The work he’s doing in Bolivia is unbelievable. These guys are also friends for life.

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An Unforgettable Youth Event

One of the highlights for me in Bolivia was speaking at a youth event the final night. I spoke about the potential each one of them has, and how they have a purpose with the true ability to change the world.

After the message Tannen and I offered to pray for them. We wanted to say what God is saying to them, to cancel the lies they’ve been getting all their lives in this world.

I have never been truly used in prophecy until that moment. I saw things about those kids and I had no clue where it was coming from. Just out of the sky, the messages kept coming!

Later they told us that every message was 100% accurate. It was the first time most of them had experienced anything like this. It deeply impacted everyone in the room including myself.

It’s cool to see how God never fails when you trust Him. When I decided to prophecy over the kids I was scared, but it was encouraging to watch God show up in my life like that when I had the courage to step out. Here’s a great photo from that night.

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Now, we’ve been in Peru for two weeks and I’m finally able to finish this blog. I’ve seen more doors opened here than ever in my life.

Into The Wild

Tomorrow I will begin a challenging 10-day trek! There are amazing stories that led to this moment, about how God has guided me to these mountains in Peru.

This is my first trek without a guide and my most courageous alpine adventure so far. This entire area is unexplored. I’m going to search for remote villages and I’m not even sure if they exist.

I’m going with old maps and rumors of villages. To get there, I will cross a glacier river with water temp just above freezing, sleep in the tents over a bed of snow, and reach around 18,700ft. Half of this trek will be above 16,000ft.

My goal is to find the villages and see if the passes between them is doable. Then I will map a circuit with my discoveries. This will make it possible for me to send other missionaries into these villages.

I don’t know where they exist or how I can help them, but I know that God is sending me to find them! If I don’t find them, there is a real chance that nobody ever will.

I’m thankful that Tannen is still with me. We’ve learned a few Quechuan phrases to survive. At least we can ask if we can camp in their villages. Quechua is the language of the Inca Empire, spoken in these Peruvian Highlands.

For food, we packed 10 days of cliff bars, canned meat, nuts, and dried fruits. We’re also bringing good gifts for the villagers, and a life changing smile.

I plan to post a blog as soon as I return. Until then, have a great life and talk to you soon. Pray for us over the next 10 days, and for the villagers we hope to reach. Thank you so much!