Monday, January 31, 2011

Animals and Children

Animals and our children are quite a combination. Some would say that they can't tell the difference at times with looks and behavior. One of the blessings of living on the compound in Peru is that there are many animals. There are dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, turtles, canary birds, lamb (named Matthew), and even a horse at the compound. Of course our girls were sad to hear that most animals are raised for the purpose of eating but that doesn't stop them from playing friendly with them until there appointed time.
The picture of the llama was taken at the shopping center where our children saw their first llama while here in Peru.

Shave and a haircut two bits

Well our boys didn't need a shave but they definitely needed a haircut. Just down the road two blocks there is a market where there are a group of vendors for haircutting. I took the boys down and watched them get their hair cut and it only cost three Soles which is about one dollar. A hair cut in the States would cost me over ten dollars each. One more example of Peruvian culture.

Sunset from our apartment

One of the advantages of being on the third floor is to see the beautiful sunsets each night. The Pacific Ocean is only a mile and half west of our apartment. The weather here is usually always sunny and not like Michigan. Creation reflects the greatness of our God.

Moving upward in Peru

We have moved into our apartment that is on the third floor on the EFATA compound. We have taken the last couple of weeks putting finishing touches on the apartment so that we could begin moving our furnishings and getting settled. We are thankful to those at EFATA ministries who have worked on the apartment and helped us adapt to the culture. We have been using our luggage containers for living room furniture, closets, desks, shelves, tables, etc... for the last couple of weeks but now have mattresses, living room furniture, refrigerator, stove, and a washer/dryer in our apartment. Thank you to those who generously gave toward our transition fund. We are looking forward to getting bed frames, kitchen table and chairs, food pantry, and end tables made out of wood in the near future.
On January 25th-27th, the ministry here had a Pastor's Conference, where it was encouraging to hear the preaching throughout each day and see the Holy Spirit working in hearts. Please join with us in praying that the decisions would be sincere and steadfast before God. We rejoice with those who accepted Christ as their Savior as well as those who obeyed God's leading for their life. The Saturday following the conference we went out soul-winning where two ladies received Christ as their Savior. On Sunday, the church rejoiced together when David, one who they have been praying for many years, came forward during the invitation to get saved. Praise the Lord! What a blessing to see God working in hearts in Peru.

We have begun the process of paperwork for our resident visa's and will need to be patient for the next two months. We are praying that there will be no complications and that we will be approved to stay.

Thank you for your interest in our ministry and for reading about what God is doing.
May God be Glorified always!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Transition into Peru

We have made it to Peru safely and with quite an adventure so far. It all started by showing up at the airport two and a half hours before our 6:00am flight out of Detroit to find complications with the airlines who did not open the registration desk until 4:00am and had all their self check machines break down and needed to check everyone in individually. We were the first to the counter but were told we needed return tickets purchased in order to confirm our flight and needed to do this on our own. After purchasing the refundable tickets and approaching the counter, they had difficulty processing them and all of our luggage even though I called the manager and showed up at the airport a week prior to explain our situation to avoid such complications. Needless to say, time was escaping and it began to look as if we would miss our flight out of Detroit. We found ourselves at the counter still at 5:30am needing to get our tickets, go through security check, and walk across the airport to our gate to catch our plane which had already begun boarding. Not long after we got through security and began making our way to our gate, we heard our name over the intercom for "last call for the Harris group leaving for Miami" with still a ways to go. I wish I could have captured the moment on camera of us running to our gate being overloaded with carry-on bags with Matthew beating us there as they were shutting the door. Matthew told them that he was part of the Harris group and that we got held up at the counter. They allowed us to board as we all caught our breath on the plane. We than realized that this should be quite an adventure. We arrived at the Miami airport with an eight hour lay-over before our flight to Lima, Peru. We had a pastor in Florida who was gracious enough to pick us up at the airport and take us out to eat, provide us hotel rooms to catch some rest, and drive us back to the airport with plenty of time (and less adventurous) to catch our flight to Peru.

Upon arriving in Peru at 10:30pm, we came to the point where we have asked many of you to pray for a green light. Once you get off the plane you must check in with your passport and than pick up your luggage and approach the security checkpoint. After checking your paperwork they have you push a button which randomly turns red or green. "Green" means you can take your bags straight through without any check and no hassle, "red" light means that you would have to go off to the side and have every bag thoroughly searched and if you have not claimed any item that was suppose to be taxed over a certain amount they would confiscate that item with serious financial penalties. We loaded our 24 blue footlocker totes along with our carry-on luggage onto carts with airline workers helping us transport them to the checkpoint. They had Jon show the paper work and told him to push the button (who was hoping to pass that opportunity to his dad or someone else to blame). The light turned "RED" to everyone's disappointment. They escorted all of our luggage to the tables for the search that would take hours and be charged a huge tax. We had been warned by Gary Greenwood about his bags being searched upon his arrival into Peru with a huge fee. The airlines sent out a man who opened up the first three containers and searched them and asked if we had a list describing what was in each bag. We gave him our list which was written in English and explained that we were missionaries who were moving to Peru and therefore the reason for the extra baggage. He took our list into the office and came out about two minutes later opened up two other containers just to glance at the top items and than waived us through without any charges or further search. Praise the Lord!
God is good all the time! We were greeted out in the lobby of the airport by Missionary Joe Kotvas, his wife, and about six of his staff team who assisted us with our luggage and gave us a ride to their compound where we arrived just before midnight.

Our first day in Peru consisted of introductions, tours of the compound where we will be receiving our language training, and shopping for food supplies. Nisha is adjusting nicely as Jon and Ray each day breaks out items from their stored luggage to encourage her (Day 1 was her own pillow; Day 2 was the peanut butter M&M's; Day 3 was chocolate covered pretzels; etc...). Our children instantly made friends with the other staff children on the compound and enjoy the fact that there is a playground set, basketball/Soccer cemented area, and animals (chickens, dogs, cats, a lamb, a horse, birds, and butterflies). The hospitality and kindness of the staff here has been such a blessing to us. We are currently staying in a two bedroom dorm facility while our apartment is being completed and furnished for the next two weeks. Please pray for this to be completed before January 25 which will be the beginning of a Pastors conference held at the ministry here at EFATA Baptist Church. We praise the Lord for bringing us to Peru safely and find us all with good health and adjusting nicely. Our good friends from the jungle of Peru, Buddy and Loren Fitzgerald, have just came back from a medical leave in the states and have been able to visit the compound for a couple of days to get some work done before leaving back into Puerto Maldonado, Peru. Gary Greenwood also came down from the Mountains to do some paperwork and met us at the compound from Monday until he left early this Wednesday morning. The main missionary, Joe Kotvas, took the Fitzgerald Family, Gary, Nisha, and I out to Lima for shopping for furnishings for our apartment and a blessed time of fellowship. The coast-line of Peru has many modern conveniences to enjoy that the mountains and jungle doesn't provide but yet is so different in many ways from North America. It doesn't take long for you to realize that you are in a third world country with the landscape and the lifestyle. The driving is notoriously different with people cutting each other off and four lane roads being used as six lanes, horns honking, and bad road conditions which my dad will be returning with many stories I'm sure.

EFATA ministries is specifically directed towards the deaf of Peru. They provide a deaf church, orphanage, school, and institute along with having a hearing church as well. We are running into situations in which communication with the deaf staff members as well as Spanish speaking members becomes a challenging task especially when you are working together. We are in the process this week of filing out our paper-work, getting supplies, building our apartment, and getting involved with ministry being done here at the compound. Our hearts were encouraged on Sunday with the sound doctrinal preaching along with the conservative music and God honoring worship at the church services which were translated for us. I believe that it is God's Will for us to be here and that He has directed us to a place where we can grow spiritually as well educationally with language and culture training.

Thank you for all your prayers and support,

The Harris Family
Jon, Nisha, Matthew, Nathan, Becca, and Katie
Your missionaries to Peru

Christmas 2010

We send Christmas and New Year greetings to you and your congregation. We have been able to celebrate the holidays with Jon's family in Wisconsin where 35 gathered together. Christians have much to celebrate during the season for our Saviour was born! We have a message to share found in Luke 2:11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” and joy to share as the angels declared in Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

We have entered into what many have described as “crunch time” with much to organize, store, and pack before leaving on January 6th. We thank you for your support in prayers and financial gifts. We have seen God answer many of our prayers of good health, furnishings for lodging in Peru, safety while traveling, those coming to hear the Gospel and souls being saved.

Our missionary partners in Peru have asked prayer for Isai, a boy of 10 who has a brain tumor that needs to be removed; Jon Carlos, a newly saved teen who has decided to leave his rock band and friends to follow Christ; Juan Carlos and Bridget, newly married in the catholic church for family pressure but returning to a Baptist Church; Alfredo, a newly baptized father and husband wanting to grow and leave his struggle with alcohol; and Carlos and Julia, a struggling couple.

There is an awkward feeling for a missionary arriving into a foreign field with his family and their belongings to start a new beginning. I’m thankful to the EFATA ministry who has agreed to greet us and pick us up at the airport upon arrival. We have recently made arrangements for Jon’s dad to go with us in helping with the final construction of our apartment and assisting us with our children. We will be in Lima, Peru for one year in order to process our paperwork, purchase furnishings and supplies, learn the Spanish language with a private tutor, and learn the culture and customs while living at the EFATA ministries (a Baptist church, orphanage, and school). We will than be teaming up with a church planting missionary in the Andes mountains working in Andahuaylas, Peru for our first term. It is our desire to plant churches in other mountain villages, as God would lead.

After January 5th, it would be best to communicate by phone (734) 244-6567 or by e-mail ( as we will be out of the country and will find it difficult to receive hard mail. We will be communicating with you concerning our new Peru address and phone numbers when it is set up.