Well, it’s been a while. It’s been a long week… I can hardly believe it’s only Wednesday. Last night my family went to a Peru-people get together. Wycliffe is having a big conference right now and there are a bunch of missionaries from Peru here to attend. So we all got together with other missionaries who used to live in Peru but are in Orlando now and had dinner last night. It was a lot of fun. We swapped stories, talked about how Peru is right now, talked about where it is going.
Peru is one of Wycliffe’s oldest branches; Uncle Cam (founder of Wycliffe) came to Peru in 1946. He started with a center in the jungle (Yarinacocha) that grew quite large, and eventually missionaries started spreading out into other places in Peru, setting up centers in Lima, Huaraz, and Huanuco. Gradually, the work in Peru started wrapping up, and this year we are officially closing the jungle center. It is very good news to see so many translations being finished. In the next 14 months, they are expecting to see about 7 different dedications of either New Testaments or revisions plus Old Testament portions. It’s so exciting to see this! However, it’s sad that the jungle center is being closed. It’s “home” for so many people – not myself personally, but I could sense it the many times I’ve visited. It’s hard to describe to someone who’s never been there, but it has so much history, so many people were born and lived their whole lives on the center.
Wycliffe is giving the Yarinacocha center (the land it is on) to build a university, and that is like a continuation of a dream. In fact, last April (58 years to the day after Uncle Cam came to Peru) they had a big dedication to donate the property (although they aren’t officially leaving until July 1st). Jim Roberts, a missionary friend from Peru, told us how after the ceremony, this native man approached him (as the director of Peru Branch). He said, “I am from the Ashenika tribe, and I am here today to represent all the people of the jungle who have been touched by your presence here. I am a schoolteacher, and if it weren’t for you, I would not be who I am today. I would not have an education, I would not know the Lord. None of my people would have known the Lord, nor have education, nor be the people we are today. You have given your lives to helping us, and we are eternally grateful. Thank you so much.” As Uncle Jim told us this story, he started crying (he told it much better than me). Wow… it’s hard to imagine affecting people that much. My heart swelled with pride as I thought about all that God has allowed us to accomplish. Imaging, going into a country with almost 100 languages and being able to provide each of them translations of the Bible in 60 years! We watched a video that the media department in the center in Lima made, and it talked about how the Quechua people (descendents from the Incas) believe that their native tongue is not a real language, because it is not Spanish. They are ashamed of who they are, and often put their heads down as they are talking because of their shame. Yet here it is, God’s own word in their language! Imagine how much more that speaks to them? Imagine finding out for the first time that God loves you… and God loves your people too. That God loves you so much that He’s sent His followers to your land to make sure that you can understand all about Him in your own language, the same language you have been taught to be ashamed of!
As I sat listening to people talk last night, I realized how good God’s been to us. I have spent a lot of time being angry about being a missionary kid and growing up in a foreign country. Then I realized how neat it is to see so plainly how God is working! I am lucky to have these experiences. I know that I want to support missions in my life, even if I never go overseas… My dream is to use my design skills to help missionaries. Someday! God is good; He’ll provide a way.
Wycliffe’s vision is to have started Bible translations for every single language of the world by the year 2025. Peru is one of the first branches to really be “closing up” which is very encouraging! And it’s neat to be a part of that firsthand. :-) Here is an article about one of the more recent New Testament dedications in Peru.