Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cusco, Peru

Cusco, Peru
After spending time with our Peruvian brothers, talking about strategies on how to proclaim the glory of Christ through the local church we want to start in Cusco, we found some very interesting things.  First of all, Cusco is known among the Peruvians as a missionary graveyard.  Whenever a Peruvian or foreigner moves to Cusco to start a work for the advancement of the kingdom of Christ, they end up only lasting 6 months or a year.  Cusco is a spiritually dark city of 350,000 people.  The city has a rich history dating back to the Inca people, which is very evident by the remains of Inca ruins inside and outside of the city.  After the Conquistadors from Spain invaded, conquered and slaughtered the Inca people, they rebuilt the city and introduced their Catholic religion and customs.  Now there is a mixture of Inca and Catholic beliefs that have been synchronized into a superstitious belief system.  Tourism is also a rapidly increasing, which is keeping the city alive financially, and can be seen by the many tourists that roam around the main Plaza and the new business's popping up with imported items.  The increasing popularity of Machu Picchu among celebrities and their mystical, New Age beliefs is bringing added superstition and, plain and simply, is reviving some demonic Incan beliefs.  Mysticism is becoming very popular in Cusco.
Wehrner Pancobo and I
Our Peruvian brother, Wehrner Pancobo, has stressed that although we will face many hardship and trials, we must start a work that is going to last.  Only by the grace of God is this possible and we are so dependent on Him in every area of our lives and this work.  Wehrner knows the city of Cusco very will since he grew up there.  He is familiar with the work that is currently going on so we narrowed down the area where we want to start the church.  The area consists of about 30,000 people and the neighborhood is considered poor.  Do you understand the need here?  There are 30,000 people and no biblical churches working in the area.  That would be like (for those living in Montana) the city of Helena with no churches.  If God provides for us to get a building, we want to have it on the edge of this area and the business district, which would allow us to minister to a variety of people. 

Police in Cusco with well used shields
Besides the spiritual darkness in Cusco there are other challenges for North Americans to live there.  In Costa Rica, where we live now, you can buy almost everything that there is in America.  It may cost double but it is here.  Cusco is a different story.  The availability of many things is just non-existent.  There is very little food that is imported and there are countless things that must be bought in Lima, which is about 400 miles through the Andes mountains, 18 hours by bus or an expensive 1 hour flight.  Our friends who live in Cusco told us that if you want to buy a car you will have to order it and it could take 4 or 5 months to get it.  Only about 2 dryers a months show up in the city so you have to keep your eyes open.  A large mattress must be ordered and shipped from Lima.  Things like refrigerated milk don't exist.  Tables, chairs, beds and any other wood furniture must be made and it can take 2 to 4 months for the construction.  Towels and bed comforters have to be bought in Lima. 
Wehrner, Walter Isse, Scott, Tim, Walter Gamarra
Other complications are the fact that you need a lawyer for just about everything.  Obtaining resident visas, buying a car and signing a lease for an apartment all require a lawyer. 

Overall though, I love Cusco.  It is very beautiful and is surrounded by mountains that make the Rockies look like foothills.  The city, which sits at 11,000 feet in elevation, has cool temperatures but the sun is very strong and it is easy to get burnt.  I am burdened by so many people who either have no access to the gospel in any way or that have never heard the biblical gospel.  I thank God daily for the immense privilege to be able to live and minister to the people of Cusco.  Our time at language school will be finished in a little over 3 months and we are all very ready and excited to make the move.  It will be a crazy 3 months after August but I pray we will be settled by Christmas.

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