Saturday, December 21, 2019

Christian Challenge Christmas Update!


Christmas is coming! We hope this advent season finds you eagerly awaiting His arrival. What traditions help point you to Jesus? What just adds stress or feels like an expectation/obligation?

We are back from the Himalayas/Eastern Europe and healthy again.



It was a great trip and Mike will get an update out on that hopefully soon. He is currently putting the video from the trip together so that we can share that in the next update.

He has also continued discipling his guys and leading the Summit Worship Night on campus.



Though it continues to be small, he has a really committed group of students that attend every Sunday night. It's definitely a good foundation to build on.

Going back to October, I had been wanting to host a hot cocoa bar on Halloween night to meet and bless our neighbors. This is something my parents have been doing successfully for years in their neighborhood.


We had crockpots full of cocoa and a few toppings to choose from. We also had a side table with free bibles and tracts. Our desire setting this up in our driveway was to meet neighbors and open the door to shine Christ's light, that they may see Him and come to know Him.

Our neighborhood does a fall festival in the community center conveniently located right behind our house. Families leave the festival and walk past our place. Even the annual hayride stopped right in front of the house to unload eager hot chocolate drinkers. We met many people and seven took Bibles! I’d say it was a successful evening. We look forward to doing it again.



After we cleaned everything up, a.k.a. throwing everything from outside inside, we crashed. Within thirty minutes, we had surprise trick-or-treaters from Christian Challenge, a crew of 12.


They came in, had cocoa, and hung out. One of the students even asked for a Bible after seeing them sitting out. So that was the eighth Bible of the night to go home with someone! His word never returns void!

November 16th, Rikako, who studied here three years ago, came to Christ, was baptized, and is now back in Japan, came to visit and stay with us for a week.


Another gal who God sent her way in Japan as a missionary also came to town to stay with us and visit her.


There was a lot of playing guitar and worshiping together. There was laughter, prayer, sharing the Word, and sharing our hearts. Rikako shared about the many people she has shared Jesus with back in Japan and her heart to see her country come to salvation in Christ Jesus. The time flew by with super late nights and packed days trying to see everyone who loves her.


Her last night in town was our Thanksgiving Family Dinner where 30-40 people packed into our house.



After the feast, Rikako shared her story, and the Gospel was preached that night. 75% of the students who attended do not have a relationship with the Lord.


So we are excited to see how God grows those seeds. One of the Japanese gals in attendance even wanted to talk to Rikako more afterwards about Rikako's faith in Jesus!

God has blessed us with this home. We love nothing more than to host people, share meals together, be fully present with them, and listen and speak truth as we grow closer to the Lord and one another. It's a place people want to come to, a place they know they belong. They are seen, heard, and known because of Jesus.

Oh and one last thing on Rikako... Just the other night while discussing things at our staff meeting to plan the next semester, we decided to reach out and offer Rikako a position with us on staff to help us reach the Japanese students who come to campus. Despite calling it her dream job, she still wanted to pray about it and talk with her family. If it all works out, we'd hope to have her here by the fall semester but there are some hurdles we'll have to figure out how to clear, like getting a work visa and helping her fundraise enough to be on campus and live in Durango. So we'll need you guys praying.



Updates on our adoption journey: we did our first fundraiser with t-shirts and made just over $1,000. Praise Him! Thank you to those who participated. We also just returned from Grand Junction to see a psychologist for our evaluations. Good news: we're sane. It was $500 cheaper there than in town here. We probably have 2-3 weeks left of the paper gathering segment of the home study, and then we will move onto interviews with our social worker. God has continued giving us favor as we move along!

We were also able to stay with one of our former students, Blythe, who now runs Christian Challenge in GJ while still running her ministry in Africa. It was great to be able to see her and encourage her during our short visit. I also was able to encourage one of her students who randomly stopped by. The student is a third-culture kid just like me who just recently had to move to the States when her parents' sending agency pulled a lot of their workers from the field. It can be a tough transition for kids so it was nice to be able to talk with her.


We appreciate each one of you and the part you play in our lives and in reaching college students with the good news of Christ! Because of you, many have heard for the first time. Many have come into the Kingdom. Many have been supported in their journey. We are so thankful for that!

With it being the end of year, would you prayerfully consider giving a one-time end of year gift? It helps us continue on in this ministry and is tax-deductible. Or perhaps you are led to start giving monthly. Almost everything we have goes into this ministry. We pay the bills and daily living expenses and the rest is invested back into the ministry. If you would like to give for the on-going ministry happening at Fort Lewis, please go to: Give Now.

Merry Christmas and God Bless,
Mike and Rachel


Prayer Requests:

Pray that God would continue to grow our student-leaders and help them find time to be more involved.  Unfortunately due to job and school commitments, we don't always see them a lot.  It would be nice to see them take a more active role in reaching out and pouring into the younger students.

Pray for our students that God would continue growing them and keeping them strong in their faith.  On the surface, it wouldn't seem like Fort Lewis would be an easy place for that to happen but despite that, God is still working in our students lives.  We're excited for the group of younger students God has given us this year.

- Challenge has our big Life Impact Conference coming up in Estes Park just after the new year that we'll be taking students to.  Two of our Japanese students will be part of that.  Pray that God reaches our non-Christian students coming and grows the Christian students we have coming.  Also pray for safe travels as traveling Colorado this time of the year can be pretty snowy.

- Being Christians, we are in a spiritual battle.  When you do ministry, you become a bigger target in that battle.  Keep praying for us and our team that God would protect us from any spiritual attacks.  Pray that God would give us the strength and encouragement to endure.  Also pray for everyone praying for our ministry because when you pray for the ministry, you become a bigger target as well.

- Over the years, our staff has had a lot of health issues that can really be a discouragement.  Even in the last month, our staff has had to deal with some major health problems.  Pray that God would keep our staff safe and healthy.

- With the size of our staff, it's easy for personalities to bump into each other and rub each other the wrong way.  Keep praying for our team that it would continue to mesh well.

- For years, Challenge has done everything possible to preserve unity on campus between us and other ministries knowing that division opens the door for the enemy to attack and try to tear down what God is doing.  Please pray that the different ministries on campus would have unity, being team players, with the common goal reaching FLC with the Gospel.

Pray that Rachel and I would not neglect the ministry that is our marriage.  We can be much more successful in our college ministry if our marriage is in a good place but it's easy to put that on the back burner when things get busy.

- The adoption process is in full swing.  Please be praying that things would run smoothly.  That there would be no snags or surprises with the adoption process.  Pray that God gives us favor throughout the process, and that He gives us a kid who is a great fit for our family.

Pray that God would open the door for us to partner with more churches and individuals.  That will need to be a focus of ours in the near future.  With us, Lord willing, adding another person to the family, we'll need to raise extra support to provide for the needs of the child.  Immigration also needs to see that we can provide for the child before they give their stamp of approval.  And though we have already raised a good chunk, we also have a ways to go in order to pay for the adoption.  Rachel and I trust God to provide for our family and the ministry but we'd appreciate you praying as well that the funding needs would be met. If you would like to give for the on-going ministry happening at Fort Lewis or the adoption, please go to: Give Now.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Christian Challenge New Fall Semester Update


Wow, the beginning of the semester is upon us already!  It's always an extremely exciting time for us in collegiate ministry!  Christ is ready to do amazing things on the campus of Fort Lewis College!

This summer, we've been busy taking care of all that our next trip requires.  We've been training, running and hiking.


For most of the summer, that's been difficult finding areas that are snow-free after the big winter we had.  (It's been a pretty drastic change after the fires last summer where we were trying to find areas that were smoke-free to train.)


We've also been trying to support raise for the trip.  I was able to speak in some churches and Rachel ran a garage sale that was very successful.

Speaking of Rachel, she's been slowly coming off of her sabbatical.  She's in a really good place right now.  The sabbatical was truly a blessing.  She'll continue meeting with a couple of mentors going forward and pace herself a little better as we enter the school year.

Rachel was in a wedding this summer up in Colorado Springs so we got to road trip up there for a short trip.  We've had a lot of friends and family in town visiting too.  Summer is kind of our time to catch up with people before we disappear back into the ministry for nine months.

On a sad note, we've been working thru the loss of our friend and Peruvian team member, Jaime, who passed away to stomach cancer in mid-August.  We had been working with him down there for years.


It was just a year ago that we were down there climbing nearly 16,000 ft. passes together to share the Gospel.  The cancer was something he had probably carried with him for a few years.  My guess is that it was just misdiagnosed until it was too late.  Despite his years of stomach issues, he was always excited to share the Gospel and have the love of Christ flow from him.  Most would have just stayed home which is understandable but not Jaime.  He powered thru.  He saw the need for urgency in sharing the Gospel.

With him graduating this life for heaven, it leaves a big hole down in Peru with those he was close to.  He was like a father to many down there.  Thru the miracle of Facebook and Google Translate, we've been able to have some really good conversations with our friends down there as they grieve.  They're definitely hurting, and it's been hard not to be there with them but thankfully, we've been able to still encourage them from afar.

If you haven't watched our last Peru video, there's some good footage of Jaime in the first half of it.  Give it a look: Mission Peru 2018.  We'll miss Jaime but we celebrate, despite the loss, knowing that Jaime is now more happy than ever worshiping Jesus in heaven.  He finished his race, a good and faithful servant.

On a lighter note, we've seen technology also play a role in one of the highlights of our summer.  Just recently, we were able to Skype with one of our former Japanese students, Rikako.  We were super encouraged.


Rikako is doing really well.  She continues to grow in her faith back in Japan.  She is not only learning to listen to the Lord but also following what God shows her.  She looks for opportunities to share her faith with her family and her coworkers.  She's stayed connected with some of our other Japanese students who became believers.  She's also found good Christian community with a solid church which is helping her grow.  It's an hour away from her home but she doesn't let the distance get in her way.  What can I say?  She's dedicated.  It's become a testimony to her family that her faith is that important to her.  Rikako will be visiting us in November for a week.  She's pretty excited and so are we.

In other big news, many of you know that Rachel and I have been trying to figure out why we haven't been able to have children.  We still don't have any more info on that despite the medical testing.  So maybe it's time to go another direction.  After a lot of prayer and thought, God's shown us some things.  We could spend all sorts of money trying to get pregnant with no guarantee of it actually happening.  But for us, we thought, "Why spend all that money trying to bring a new life into the world when there are already lives on this earth in need of a loving home?"

Either way, it would be a miracle if it works out.  And honestly, financially speaking, it will be a miracle if it happens.  Most adoption agencies want you to make a certain amount of money in order to adopt.  That's just one of the many hoops you have to jump thru to get approved.  But God is a miracle worker, and we trust that if it is His will, He can make it happen.  So that's the road we'll be traveling down once we get back from the Himalayas: international adoption.

Speaking of the Himalayas, all things are pretty much a go.  Despite the long wait, our visas finally came in.  We've got pretty much all of our plane tickets.  We've got guides.  We've still got about $400 to raise before we go but we trust that God will bring that in.  After hours and hours of travel, we'll finally touch down in the Himalayas.  That is weather-dependent though.  The last flight gets canceled a lot due to rain and clouds in the valley we'll be flying up thru.  If our flight gets delayed, we may have to spend a night in the airport.

Then, we move onto up to twelve days of trekking.  The highest we'll get up to is probably between 16,000-17,000 ft. in elevation, or maybe even 18,000 ft.  It's hard to know though as accurate elevation readings are hard to come by stateside.  I'm sure we'll also connect with old friends, meet new ones and really get to experience the people and the culture.

In looking at flights coming back, we noticed that they take us right over where Rachel grew up in Eastern Europe.  She hasn't been back in almost 15 years.

For all those years, she's been praying that one day, she could return to the countries she grew up in, reconnect with old friends, and also find some closure on that season of her life that she never really received when her family moved to the States while she was of middle school-age.  We've mentioned it in past newsletters but Rachel being a TCK or third-culture kid, that's been tough on her.  I won't go deep into TCKs but feel free to Google it to learn a little more.  Long story short, it's often recommended that TCKs in Rachel's situation go back and visit the country or countries they grew up in as an adult to find that closure so that they can move on.

With all that said, we've got a layover in Europe for a short bit.  She'll be able to show me where she grew up and introduce me to some of her old friends.  It will be a whirlwind of a layover trying to work everyone in but she is beyond excited.  We really hope that doors are opened for us to be a light while were are there too.

Thankfully, Eastern Europe is fairly cheap once you're there, especially when you know people.  And since we were passing thru anyway, it just sort of worked out and fell into place.

As you know, we also have the start of the school year coming up on campus.  Athletes have already been back for two weeks.  New students move in on Thursday.  Returning students are already trickling in and will continue until the start of classes Monday, the 2nd.  Here's a quick rundown of our upcoming schedule and things you can be praying for:

Aug. 29th--Freshman Move-in/Poster Hangup/Campus Prayer Walking/Slacklining
Aug. 30th--Orientation Fair/Slacklining/Hangout
Aug. 31st--International Student Dinner
Sept. 1st--Church/Campus Block Party/The Summit (Worship Night)
Sept. 2nd--Classes Start/Challenge Student Officers Dinner
Sept. 3rd--Staff Meeting/Student-led Event
Sept. 4th--Dance Lessons (Taught by Jen)
Sept. 5th--First Family Dinner
Sept. 6th--Night Hike
Sept. 7th--Coffee Crawl (Sampling every coffeeshop in town)/Student-led Event
Sept. 8th--Church/The Summit
Sept. 10th--Staff Meeting
Sept. 12th--Registered Student Organization Fair/Family Dinner
Sept. 13th--Scary Movie Night
Sept. 14th--Telluride Trip
Sept. 15th--Church/The Summit
Sept. 17th--Staff Meeting
Sept. 19th--Family Dinner
Sept. 20th-22nd--Regional Western Slope Retreat
Sept. 24th--Staff Meeting
Sept. 26th--Family Dinner
Sept. 29th--Church/The Summit

Hopefully, that gives you a good idea of how to be praying for us that first month.  Look for more specifics down in our prayer section below.

Over the years, God has really challenged me to be in prayer more for our ministry and to challenge our supporters to be in prayer more for the ministry.  We've seen huge fruit when we've focused on that.  This year, that challenge hasn't changed.

So without further delay, I give you guys this year's Christian Challenge Prayer Challenge...or The Challenge for Challenge.  I want to challenge you to give 5-10 minutes a day praying for the ministry.  If that sounds like not much, go for more.  I suggest praying for it during your mornings so you don't forget.  If the ministry comes to mind later in the day, pray for it then too.  I'm challenging you to do it for 14 days.  If you can make it that far, take it another 14 days.  I know I might be asking a lot but it's so important and so worth it.

If you're on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and up for an extra challenge, post the time, date and hashtag it #Praying4FLC and #Challenge4Challenge every time you pray for the ministry.  This will remind our staff and students that we've got people praying for us when we get on social media.  And hey, maybe it gets others who see it to pray for FLC as well.  If you're not into the social media thing, no worries but still be praying.

Thank you for all the support and encouragement you give! We are super thankful for that!  Keep us, the ministry, and the FLC campus in your prayers!

Cheers and God Bless,
Mike and Rachel

If the Lord is leading you to give, follow this link to our giving options:
http://thewallscall.blogspot.com/p/other-giving-options.html


Prayer Requests:

- We've lost a lot of student-leaders due to graduation. Pray that God would provide an awesome group of student-leaders this year.

- I won't go into it too deeply but it seems like the enemy is really trying to impede the work we're trying to do on campus. Pray against that and that we would find good favor with the administration.

- As the semester get busier, it's easy to neglect things big and small. We get so focused on ministry that we lose track of the things that help keep us going. We lose track of taking care of ourselves. Pray we have energy and get good sleep throughout the busy semester.

- Specifically, I've been struggling with my sleep lately. I normally have no probably falling asleep but wake up wide awake after only about five hours of sleep. Less than seven leaves me feeling pretty crummy. It would be nice to actually be able to fall back asleep if I'm woken while I should be sleeping. Pray that I could sleep thru the night and feel well the next day.

- With as many things as the ministry does, it's easy to take on way too much and get burnt out. This is especially true in the first month. By the end of September, we just sort of expect it. Pray that we would be good stewards with our time so that we don't fall into burnout.

- Throughout the year, the semester can wear on you and it can be easy to find yourself discouraged at times. It happens in just about any ministry at one point or another. Pray that God would keep us and our staff encouraged throughout the year.

- Being Christians, we are in a spiritual battle. When you do ministry, you become a bigger target in that battle. Keep praying for us and our team that God would protect us this year from any spiritual attacks. Pray that God would give us the strength and encouragement to endure. Also pray for everyone praying for our ministry because when you pray for the ministry, you become a bigger target as well.

- Atheism is a big belief system at FLC. On any given year, about half of the students we work with are atheists or non-believers. Pray that God would open doors for the Gospel to be received and understood. Pray that the Holy Spirit would be working on the hearts and minds of the students we are going to meet.

- Over the years, our staff has had a lot of health issues that can really be a discouragement. Our most successful years have been when we have good health. Pray that God would keep our staff safe and healthy.

- Pray that our team would continue to mesh well and adjust well to losing a couple of full-time staff.

- Pray that ministries on campus would be team players and work with each other to reach the campus for Christ. When ministries bulldoze other ministries on a small campus, it causes rifting and division which can hinder a campus from being reached effectively. Pray that the different ministries on campus would guard against that.

- We've got a lot of work a head of us with the adoption process. It at times feels like it's going to take a miracle to make it happen in many different ways. Pray that God works those miracles that we need to make the adoption happen.

- We praise God for the funding He has brought in for our upcoming trip. It's been awesome to see Him work. We are still about $400 short as of writing this...which is really almost nothing for God to bring in. We trust God to provide but would appreciate you praying as well that the funding needs would be met. If you would like to give for the coming semester or the trip, there is still time. Go to: Give Now.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Challenge Trip Update 2019


The Peru update is finally here!  There is a lot to update: from the trip, to the end of the semester, to what our next trip is shaping up to be.  I'll start it out with the end of the semester but try to keep it short.  Or at least shorter than it could be.

Campus:

It was a busy finish to the end of the semester.  Our two busiest weekends of the semester tend to be Easter weekend and graduation weekend.  Those, this year, just happened to follow each other.

For Easter, we helped out with a Good Friday service at the chapel on campus.  It was a joint effort between a local church, Challenge, and two other ministries on campus.  I didn't get an official count but my rough guess is that we easily had over 50 students there.  Part of the night was breaking up into discussion groups.  At the end of the night, one of the guys in my discussion group asked if I'd be open to discipling him.  Of course, I said, "Absolutely!"  That was really encouraging for sure.


The next night, we had our Easter Eve snowshoeing trip where we snowshoed up to a frozen lake at almost 11,000 feet in elevation as the sun set.



There, we built a campfire, roasted hot dogs for dinner, roasted up some Peeps s'mores for dessert, and shared an Easter message with the students.



We had a great spiritual discussion.  And nobody froze to death so that's always a positive too.


We followed our snowshoeing trip up with Easter Sunday.  We joined students at church in the morning, and then a family from another local church had all of our students over for lunch.  We had a lot of new students at that.  After lunch, Rachel and I had dinner with our local family that night.

After the busy weekend, our staff had meetings planning for the next semester.  That week, we also worked in our last discipleship meetings with our students before they headed home for the summer.  We finished up the semester that next weekend with five of our students graduating and all the graduation parties that followed.  And then that Sunday, we were off to Colorado Springs for our state staff meetings.

So ministry has been really good but really busy.  Things are starting to slow down though now where I can refocus on support raising and training for the next mission trip.

On a sad note, Ryan Evanyo will be moving on from our staff.  He committed to serving for two years after he graduated and his two years are up.


We were hoping he would stay on with us but he felt God leading him in a new direction.  We'll definitely miss him going forward but we're excited to see where God is going to use him in the future.

Personal Life:

I'm doing pretty well.  Just trying to recover and recharge a bit.  Just before the end of the semester, my hockey team won its second championship in a row.


I had a pretty good season as one of the leading scorers averaging just under a goal a game.



As a 36 year-old with painful torn cartilage in his hip, it's nice to know I can still compete against these youngins in their early to mid-20s that fill the league.




It's been a great ministry opportunity with the team this year and also keeps me in shape for summer mission trips so that I don't put on too much winter insulation after Thanksgiving and Christmas.


Rachel is slowly working her way back from sabbatical.  She's been meeting with a mentor from church, meeting with a counselor who is specialized in third-culture kids (TCKs), and going to physical therapy for pain she has in her neck and back that she's had for years but just toughed it out.  She's had scoliosis her whole life and broke her back when she was in high school which has set her up for pain issues.  So we're praying the PT helps with that.  All in all, she's moving in a good direction.


When she comes back officially this fall, her role with Challenge will look a little different to fit her strengths and giftings.  In a way, she'll be more in the assistant role for me which she is looking forward to.  For her, weekly staff meetings will be cut out as well as some other things to free her up to do other things in the ministry.

She'll focus on encouraging and building up our female staff.  She'll also be focusing on meeting with and building up former students that are still in town.  (It tends to be really hard for them in this town to find Christian community amongst those their age.  It's easy for them to become stagnant in their faith if they struggle to find places to get poured into.)  Obviously, Rachel will also use her encouragement gifting to encourage and build up our current students.  With the restructuring of her role, she's also hoping to have more energy to reach out to our many neighbors that God has opened doors with.  We're excited to see how God is going to use her in this shift of roles.

Peru:

Anyway, onto Peru!  It certainly was an amazing trip!  We were able to venture into the Cordillera Huayhuash with Climbing for Christ and minister to the people who live and work in the remotest regions of the high Andes Mountains.  God did so many amazing things!

I could talk or write about what He did for hours, and if you want to hear more after this update, I'd love to share more about those amazing things.  Let me know.  Until then, check out the video I put together on the trip: Mission Peru 2018!  I actually took a lot of video this year so it's more that just a slideshow this time around.  Click the link above and check it out!  It will give you a better look at what the trip was like and how God worked.

Now that you're back from watching the video, I'll give you some stories behind the video.

The night before we headed out of Durango, I was having a quiet time getting into the Word.  It just so happened to be on the shepherd leaving the 99 sheep to find the one.  It was perfect timing.  That's what our trip would be all about.  If our campus ministry is like the 99, then the people we were going to in the mountains of Peru were the one.

You don't find huge pockets of people in the mountains we go to like you would find in cities.  These were a small group of people living in very remote mountainous regions.  There might be just one family living in an entire valley and that would mean crossing many high mountain passes to reach them.


But someone has to reach them.  They are worth seeking out and sharing the Gospel with.  They are worth finding and encouraging them toward Jesus.  This parable of the lost sheep would be a theme throughout our journey.


The trek would be physically exhausting with long days on the trail backpacking up over 16,400 feet in elevation as we crossed many passes.


We would travel up to ten miles a day.


But God sustained us...even as team members dealt with illness along the way.

Rachel and I started out the journey with our students, Lexi, Aurora, and Ava.



We left Durango and after a couple of connections, we were in Lima, Peru waiting for the rest of our team to arrive.


We found our Peruvian team members thru the crowd at the airport.  We had plenty of time for introductions and catching up waiting for our team to arrive.  Eventually, Jordan and Jesse showed up from New York.  Being that it was really late, we headed to the hotel for a short night's sleep.


We left early the next morning and had a day's drive up into the mountains.




We arrived in Huaraz late that afternoon.




Being that we'd be up to 16,400 feet over the next two weeks while deep in the mountains, Huaraz at 10,000 feet in elevation was a nice place to acclimatize especially for our New Yorkers who were coming from basically sea level.

We'd spend the next two days on acclimatization hikes: the first hike just above the city and the second hike up to a lake much higher in elevation.


Each day, we averaged around ten miles of hiking.



It was a pretty good warmup for what we had in front of us.

Before the trip, a route was figured out by Edwin, our guide.  At the last minute, due to road closures, our route changed.  We'd no longer be able to exit the mountain range where we were wanting to.  It wasn't really a big deal.  We trusted God to get us wherever He wanted us.  On past trips to Peru, He'd always steer us thru a team member getting sick.  I had my suspicions He might work in the same way this trip.

And I was right.  Ava came into the the trip with a cold.  Before leaving Durango, she had just gotten back from taking teenagers to a Young Life camp with hundreds of other teenagers from all over the country.  She left camp with a nice souvenir, a pretty bad cold.  We hoped that it would remedy itself before we hit the mountains.  Once you're in the mountains, you normally don't heal due to the elevation and lack of oxygen.  But Ava had plenty of time to get better.  She'd be at least two weeks out from when her symptoms first came on.  Plenty of time to get better.

Unfortunately, she didn't get better in time.  But we kept praying over her hoping that God would heal her up as we headed into the mountains.  She was willing to tough it out and as long as she didn't get worse, she'd be okay.  We'd monitor her vitals throughout the day just to make sure.




As we progressed deep into the mountains and ministered as we went, Ava wasn't getting better.  Eventually, we had a day where we were in snow, sleet, and rain for hours on end while on the trek.  It soaked us thru to the core.  Unfortunately, there's typically nowhere to take shelter when you're that high up in the mountains.  You just have to tough it out and push thru till you get to the next camp.

When you're sick at high elevation, getting stuck in that kind of weather is the last thing you need.  It really did a number on Ava.  From there, as the rest of our team trekked, we put her on horseback to help her conserve her energy.



Even after that and putting her on some medications that we hoped would help her recover, her vitals kept getting worse.

After a lot of prayer, we finally had to make the call to evacuate her.  Her vitals were getting into a range I didn't feel comfortable with.  It was time to get her back to Huaraz where she could drop elevation and heal up.  Typically, a drop of 3,000 feet in elevation will make a world of difference.

My wife would accompany her back to civilization so that she wasn't alone.  After sitting next to Ava on the plane and sharing a tent with her, my wife was also starting to come down with what Ava had.  So it wasn't a bad idea for Rachel to head back and have some time to rest up as well.


Jaime, our translator and local missionary, would join them to make sure they could communicate if any issue should arise.

Our next step would be to figure out how to get them out.  How do we get them to a truck to extract them?


After looking at different maps, we found a way to get a truck in.  It wasn't really a road but it was enough to get Ava and Rachel out.

It was good news but that would mean our team's route would change again.  It would take an extra day to get the ladies to the extraction point.  The change would no longer leave us with enough time to make our extraction point days down the road.  We'd now have to find another way out.

It just so happened that the road that had been closed, which originally changed our plans, was now back open.  Our way out was jumping back on our original route.  I guess that's the route God wanted us on all along.  He was orchestrating a perfect path and perfect timing so that we could bump into specific families to share the Gospel with and give New Testaments to.

Even the fact that the ladies' extraction driver showed up in the wrong location, and much later than was planned, played a part in reaching a family on our way back to our day's route.  We saw two of them get saved and handed out five New Testaments to members of the family that had never had the Word.  These are people we would have never come across had the timing not been perfect, and had God not steered us in their direction.  I see God do that a lot on mission trips and every time, it still amazes me.

I could tell you a lot of stories about the amazing things God did but I'll leave you with two last stories: my favorite and Rachel's favorite.

For my story, we have to go back to my first trip years ago in the Huayhuash.  It was just after our team had split into two due to illness.  One team would take our sick team member back to civilization hoping that a drop in elevation would help in the healing process.  I'd take my team deeper into the mountains and carry on with our original route.

Upon arriving at our next camp, which wasn't supposed to have people living nearby, we saw a white building off in the distance.  We thought that we might as well hike down to it just in case there happened to be people living there.  From camp, it was about 30-45 minutes of hiking to get to it.


Once we arrived, we found it to be empty.  There was no one there, and it was all locked up.  As I looked around somewhat bummed out, I noticed a small homestead down valley off in the distance.  Then, I also observed some movement around the homestead.  There were people there.  I'd never have seen them had we not hiked down to the empty white building.

We hiked another 30 minutes or so out to the homestead.  A mother and her two young kids were living there.  They were fairly surprised that we stopped by.  We were able to pray with them and give them New Testaments.


They shared that nobody had ever stopped by their homestead: no trekkers, no missionaries, no pastors or even priests.  They were too far off the beaten path and hidden from the main trail.  Though they were believers, they were all alone out there.  So they were pretty encouraged that God would send us to visit them.  Before we left, the mother told us to stop back by if we were ever in the area again.  I didn't know if God would ever bring us back there but I told her if we could, we would.  If God brought us back someday, we'd love to visit again.

As we trekked thru the mountains on our latest trip, that story certainly wasn't in the forefront of my mind.  On our first day of trekking, my mind was more so on the exciting weather we were experiencing.  The weather nerd in me was shining thru with a big smile on my face.


I was loving the rain, snow, and sleet.  I think I was the only one on the team enjoying the weather.

We eventually took cover from the heavy weather when we finally found some shelter.


As I looked around, I noticed a white structure.


Immediately, my memories came flooding back.  I had been here before.  I knew exactly where we were.  Despite our camp still being 30 minutes away, I knew I needed to make it back to my old friends.


The weather wasn't going to make that easy.  The question was: do we go right away or do we make it to camp, get some soup and tea in us to warm up and then head back out?  Being that a lot of the team was struggling with the cold and wet weather, we decided to head to camp to warm up.  We'd send a small group of us back out in a bit.

While waiting under the shelter, we ran into a man named Edmundo taking shelter as well.  He was a local who had a heart to reach his area for Jesus.  When he found out what we were doing there, he seemed pretty excited.


He followed us the last bit of the way to our camp.  There, I felt the Lord lead me to give him five New Testaments.  I knew it would help him not just share the Gospel with the people living near him but also disciple them as well.  He was extremely thankful to have God's Word to minister to those in his area.

After getting some soup and hot tea in us, the ladies on the trip headed to their tents to continue warming up.  The guys on the team began to prepare for the long, cold, and wet journey ahead of us.  We layered up and filled our Nalgenes up with boiling water.  Those Nalgenes stuffed in a jacket will keep you warm for hours.

Lastly, we knew we should definitely pray for our journey.  We met up in the dining tent to keep dry while we prayed.  We each prayed, one after another, for a weather window for our journey.  We basically prayed the same thing but in our own words.  Each time we prayed, the precipitation would lighten up more and more.

Finally, our last guy arrived in the tent.  We told him that he should also pray for a good weather window.  He did and the rain, snow, and sleet completely stopped.  All I wanted was to have good weather to get to my old friends down valley...and God was answering our prayers and calming the storm.  It was like God was parting it around us.


We set out under cloudy weather but good weather.  Maybe 45 minutes to an hour later, we reached the first homestead where Edmundo and his wife, Justine, were sitting outside.  We asked how we could pray for them, and Justine mentioned that she needed healing for her head, neck, back, and legs.  Edmundo was in tears praising God as we prayed.


After praying, I asked about the family I had once met.  They should have been living right next to Edmundo and Justine.  The small rock house I remember the family living out of looked abandoned and really run down.  Edmundo informed us that the family had moved into the nearest town a little while ago.  I was saddened that I wouldn't get to see them on this visit.

After praying for Justine, our intention was to continue further down the valley.  We had heard that there was a man who struggled with alcoholism.  Edmundo told us that he had tried to get thru to the guy but he wouldn't listen.  We thought that since we're in the area, we might as well stop by and talk with the guy.  It would only be another hour and a half down the valley.

When we mentioned that we still wanted to see the guy, Edmundo became worried.  He warned us how far it was.  He worried that it would soon be dark and the weather could turn on us at any moment.  He didn't want us to get lost in the dark in bad weather with no shelter.  Despite the possible dangers, our team wasn't too worried.  Personally, I was excited for the adventure.  Anytime you get to have an adventure while sharing Jesus, well, that's a good time in my book.

As we left Edmundo and Justine's homestead, our window for good weather was seemingly closing.  It seemed like the further we went down valley towards the man we were looking for, the worse the weather got.  It was almost like the enemy was trying to discourage us or stop us from reaching this man's homestead.

The rain, sleet, and snow turned quickly to all snow.  Temperatures were hovering just above freezing but it was cold enough to stick to the ground and start accumulating.  I don't remember the exact quote but one of the guys on the team basically equated it to being trapped in a slushy machine.  A little bad weather wasn't going to discourage us.  We were men on a mission.  If this guy was home, we were going to find him.

As we hiked down valley in search of the guy, we came across many homesteads.  We'd check them for our guy but each one was abandoned.  There are hundreds if not thousands of years of history in the area.  In that, there are a lot of ruins still standing.  From afar, it's hard to tell what is still being lived in and what has been abandoned.  So that added a little time to our hike.

Eventually, we came across a house with smoke coming out of a stove pipe.  Our first sight of human life.  Someone was home.  We hollered toward the house, and a woman came out.  Then, she waved at her husband to come out.  This was the guy we had been looking for.  Apparently, he also has a wife.


According to them, both were Christians but neither had a Bible so we gave them both New Testaments.  After talking with them a bit, we prayed over them, and then it was time to head back.

Team members were frozen due to the weather, and darkness was coming quickly.  Thankfully, a new weather window was opening for us.  It was cold but little to no heavy precipitation.  It's a little interesting that the closer we got to this couples homestead, the worse the weather got.  Then, once our mission of reaching and sharing with them was accomplished, the weather was good again.

I look back and laugh at how God was using the weather.  If we had not had that first weather window, Justine would have been forced inside, and we would have walked right past her never knowing she needed prayer.  Had that weather window not closed as we hiked closer and closer to the couple down valley, they probably would have still been out with their animals away from their homestead.  We may have never connected.  We probably would have just kept walking further down the valley.  The enemy may have thought he was using it to keep us away but God was using it for His perfect timing.

As we hiked back, it was difficult trail-finding.  We had cloud cover, no moon, and high mountains blocking out any other light.  It was about as black as night can be.  It felt like we were deep in a cave, it was so dark.


When you have no trails, or have trails shooting off in different directions with creeks to avoid or cross, it's easy to get lost in the darkness.  It's easy to lose the way.

But then, a distant light shown in the darkness.  It was clear it wasn't a natural light.  It was manmade.  So we started following it.  I actually thought it might be people from our camp trying to guide us back.  (We had to do something like that at night the first trip to Peru when we were given poor directions, and day quickly turned to night.)  We had no idea how far the light was from us but we were just going to have to trust that it would guide us back to camp.

Finally, we reached the source of the light.  It was actually Edmundo.  He had been watching for us to return and when we didn't, his worry grew.  He grabbed his high-powered flashlight and began signaling for us.  He stayed out for hours signaling, making sure we were safe and could find our way back.  He was a light in the darkness.  It was a picture of what he is to his area.  He is a guy who has a deep desire to see his area come to know Jesus and isn't afraid to share with people.

When we reached him, we weren't quite back to camp.  He'd lead us the 30 or so minutes back to camp.  During that time, I just felt super blessed...and still do.  Whenever a person goes on mission trips, they want to be a blessing to the people they go to but I feel like we were blessed way more by Edmundo.  The fact that he cared enough to brave the storm and cold to make sure we had a safe return, it was amazing.


The next morning, we woke up, and Edmundo was already in the camp.  He brought us a wheel of cheese he had made.  He went around shaking our hands saying "Gracias, gracias."  I replied, "De nada." while thinking it should really be us thanking him again.  Then Jaime shared that Edmundo was actually thanking us for praying over his wife.  She had been healed of everything she was dealing with.  She woke up completely pain-free.  Talk about a day where God was just answering our prayers left and right.  It was awesome to see and extremely encouraging, an experience I'll always remember.

My wife also had one of those experiences on the trip.  I'll let her share her story in her own words.

Since our first trip to Peru, I had been hoping to visit some locals in their home because it gives you a deeper glimpse into their culture.  Most people we encounter are along the trail or in their fields tending to their flocks.  When we set up our camp that afternoon, just across the creek was a home.



Later that evening, we were invited to join the family living there.  Catalino, one of our donkey drivers, carried a lantern to light the way and held his hand out to help us cross the creek.

We arrived and were warmly welcomed.  The evening was freezing cold but their wood (or most likely dung) stove had warmed the place, and it had a wonderful smokey smell.  The family of five, the matriarch mom and her four adult children, were hanging out waiting for us.  We were given spots to sit on sheep skins lining a rock shelf that went around the perimeter of the inside of the home.

Jamie quickly introduced us and why we were there: to let them know God loves them.  He asked if they knew who Jesus was, and 4 of the 5 said they believed in Him but also their mountain folk religion.  Jaime engaged in a tense discussion regarding how God is the only God.

Something shifted and the son I was sitting next to started chanting under his breath.  I started praying for a spiritual breakthrough.  Within minutes the mood shifted, and one of the daughters said she understood.  She then asked if we could pray for her mother.  We laid hands on and prayed for healing.

Then Armando, the oldest son, said he had never believed in Jesus, and that he had been an alcoholic his whole life but if Jesus would take him, he wanted in.  Such a powerful moment seeing a 50+ year-old man wondering if God would want him, and the excitement that it could be true.  As we then prayed over him, the Holy Spirit took over.  It was powerful, bold, truth being proclaimed over him and that dark valley.

We spent more time talking, sharing scripture and blessings with this family.  They were very grateful, and we said our goodbyes.  I wish we could have stayed all night.  During our visit, Catalino had stood in the doorway the whole time listening to the discussion taking it all in.  He was not a Christian but the Holy Spirit was using the discussion to work on his heart.  Two days later, he gave his life to Christ!


Looking back, it was a pretty great mission trip.  We saw God do a lot of things on it.  The trip was filled with divine appointments, salvations, healings, and getting another 100 New Testaments into the area.

Despite the exhaustion and tough physical aspects of the trip, God moved and did huge things.  As we've found Him to do on these Peru trips, He used illness to steer our journey and line up divine appointments along the trail.  He put people in our path as we were hiking and brought them into our camps.  We would have never run into many of the people if it weren't for the illnesses our team members dealt with.  But God was working and even using that for His glory!


By the time we arrived back at the airport in Lima, it was clear how much God had blessed our team during our time in Peru.  It was a successful mission trip.  We had accomplished our purpose and our goals.


Our goals were simple:  To go where others haven't, to go where others can't, and to take the Gospel wherever the Lord leads us.  And this trip, that meant going to places just as remote as past trips.

As a missionary, it is said that often part of your goal is to work yourself out of a job.  You go into a place and build up the local people so that they can eventually take over for you freeing you to take the Gospel to new areas.

Looking at the work we've been doing in Peru over the many years we've been there, we are at that point.  The church building we'd been building in Chalhua has been turned over fully to the locals.


The two mountain ranges we've been working in are now pretty much fully reached with the Gospel.  We've backpacked with the Gospel into just about every valley in those ranges people live in and distributed hundreds of New Testaments.


It's now time for the locals to take a bigger role ministering and discipling their neighbors.

That doesn't mean we're never going back.  I hope to someday get back there to check in and encourage those we've connected with.  But that won't be this summer or even next summer.  It's time to let God water the seeds that were planted and see what grows.  We'll miss our friends, our brothers and sisters in Christ, down there dearly but Lord willing, we'll see them again one day.

With all God did, this trip wouldn't have been possible without you guys.  We want to thank you for all the support and encouragement you have given and continue to give! We are super thankful for that!  Check out our prayer requests below to find out where and when, Lord willing, our next mission trip will be and keep us and Peru in your prayers!

Cheers and God Bless,
Mike and Rachel

If the Lord is leading you to give, follow this link to our giving options:
http://thewallscall.blogspot.com/p/other-giving-options.html


Prayer Requests

For Peru:
Pray for protection over those that accepted Christ on our trip, and that God would grow them in their faith.

- This was an extremely tough trip physically.  We couldn't have done it without God providing us with the strength to complete it.  Praise God for the strength He gave us to fulfill what He was calling us to do in Peru.

- God changed many lives while we were down there.  Praise God for lives changed.  Also pray that He would continue to open doors for the Gospel to be received and understood as Jaime revisits the people we met and follows up with them.  Pray that the Holy Spirit would be working on the hearts and minds of the people we met.

Praise God for getting our team home safely.

Pray for Jaime's health. Over the years, he has dealt with different medical issues.  I know it can be discouraging when it gets in the way of doing ministry. Just recently, he had to leave the field to focus on getting healthy.  I know he probably can't wait to get back out there and share Jesus with the people out in the mountains.


Back Home:

Pray that God would keep growing our students in their faith over the summer. Going back home for the summer, we often see students backslide when they are away from their routine and support systems they have in Durango.  We hope and pray that students come back excited to continue growing in their faith and helping others do the same.

- We lost a lot of student-leaders to graduation this spring.  Pray that God would give us another group of student-leaders strong in their faith and ready to reach the campus with the Gospel.

- Over the summer, we'll be planning out what the worship night is going to look like in the fall.  We'll be brainstorming topics to cover and laying out an outline for the semester.  Pray that God would guide us in our planning of the worship night and provide us with ideas to teach on.  Also that we would fit our leadership into roles where they can best use their giftings for the Kingdom.

Be praying for Ryan Evanyo as he figures out what his next step is in following what God has called him to do.

- As most of you know, our staff has had many health issues over the years.  Pray that God would keep us all healthy over the summer so that we can be ready to go for the fall.

- In ministry, it's easy to get busy and neglect our marriage.  Pray that we would not neglect the important ministry that God calls us to within our marriage.

- In our last update, we mentioned the struggles we have had trying to have children.  Pray that God would give us wisdom on how to move forward with that, and that He would provide us with doctors that wouldn't just blow us off but actually listen to our concerns.

Pray that we would find time for training for the future mission trip, and that we would stay safe trail running and hiking.

- So the next trip... well, as I mentioned above, we won't be returning to Peru for awhile but we've had another opportunity open up possibly in the Himalayas.  Please be praying for the trip that God would guide us in our planning and keep our team safe while we're there.  Pray that the trip would be extremely fruitful as well.

We live trusting God to provide financially for us and the ministry.  We would appreciate you praying that God would provide.  If you would like to give toward the trip or the ministry we work with at Fort Lewis, please go to: Give Now.