Whew! Its been a busy two weeks since Carmen and I have returned to the jungle. The initial entry was a bit bumpy due to the water pump check valve going bad and leaving us without water for two days and some shipping mishaps with some things we sent from Arequipa. But, the Lord was among it all and with the help of our amazing church pastor, Pastor William and some helpful and patient customer service people here in Nauta, all is well.
*Except for the SPIDERS!! I am having to try and co-exist with these new roommates that have taken up residence since we have been gone. Please pray for my sanity and fear reflexes as they are getting quite the workout...haha!*
Carmen is now back in school and doing wonderfully. As she and I went to get her registered, Carmen was immediately whisked away by friends during recess and returned excited and happy to get back to school.
The church had a weekend retreat last weekend and Carmen was able to stay overnight with everyone and get back to being involved with the youth group here.
I helped get PowerPoint slides done so that now the church can start putting our worship song lyrics upon the wall. I think it is more to help us gringos learn the songs than for the church itself. But, the idea was that any new visitors or members would be able to learn the songs more quickly. Also, since our church hosts different mission groups from Peru and other countries then it will be helpful there as well.
The first weekend back Pastor Fransisco, President of the Co-Fraternity, visited us. It was a nice time to catch up and hear what has been happening in the jungle. The church in Dos de Mayo has been completed (we will do another post with pictures about that). Pastor Fransisco had attended a pastoral retreat in Nauta where they focused on knowing who Jesus was personally. Abram and the church in Santa Rita are going strong and really focusing on outreach. We have also learned that one of our Co-Fraternity pastors has had to leave his village to find work. We would ask that you would be praying for him and his family as his heart has always been in missions and serving so we know for him to have to find work things must be a struggle for him at this time. Please be praying that God will provide a way for him to return to doing missions and serving.
We have also heard from Pastor Orlando on the Chambira river. Pastor Orlando has attended the seminary training here in Nauta and now has two or three other pastors interested in joining the training in June. So please be praying for these men that God is lifting up.
Joel, who had to return to the US for the last minute trip due to family issues, will be returning to the jungle June 5th. Please be praying for his safe return because we are missing him terribly.
But in the midst of it all, there is God. With love and grace and help and peace. He has provided me the ability to use my newfound language skills and deal with things that Joel normally does. He has given us the help needed. He has given us the community and friendships and relationships that have carried us all through every day. Even a chance to enjoy a restful day with friends at the local pool. He has given Joel the opportunities to help where he is needed. Even in the simple everyday living beyond the mission, He is there with us.
by Amy McGee
Language- That word has a whole new meaning for me these last few months. Well, years really, if I'm honest.
My love of language started young. It has been an ever growing and changing relationship; very much like my love for the Lord.
My mom and dad always had friends from different cultures around the world, and they were able to speak another language. I was always so fascinated by the sounds and rhythms of all the different languages. But even in the differences, there was the same core to communicate and understand each other better.
Similarly, as I grew up, I moved a lot. Therefore, we attended many different churches and different denominations, and like language, they each had their own cultures with different sounds and rhythms. However, there was always the same core: the unconditional love and mercy of God and Jesus Christ.
I continued to love language and even studied it a bit in the short time I attended college. I would stop and listen anytime someone was speaking a foreign language. I still do, and I wish I could have them talk to me whether I understand or not. And the words themselves, I mean they have such rich history and purpose, ya know.
I guess I never really understood just how much until I started trying to learn Spanish. It's the same with other believers; I love to listen to their stories even if they differ slightly from mine; but, their stories have so much purpose and richness of God.
The thing that has impacted me the most is how much more rich and purposeful God’s Word and God’s people are to me now.
I know a lot of people have spent years reading God's word and looking at Hebrew and Latin translations to grasp the true meaning and depth of His word. But, I have never done that much. We have a wonderful man in our church who loves to look up and study the Hebrew words and meanings, and I am always in amazement at his knowledge and love for the language.
Right now in class we are reading Bible stories, and as I am learning the Spanish words and figuring out what they are in English, well, it adds a different dimension to me; like they are becoming 3D. The word they use might be different from the word I have heard used in English. And I am curious, why would they use that word? Why wouldn't they use the "correct" translated word? Well, maybe the actual Latin word (Because let's face it, Spanish is a Latin language) is closer to this. Or maybe what was being said here was closer to that meaning. But the fact is I am growing in God's word and gaining a more profound understanding of His love through His word here at the language school.
And, also, being out here on the mission field I am gaining a more profound understanding of His people and the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ through His people.
I am so grateful for the chance to study so that I can more clearly and deeply share God’s word and love to those He has called us to serve. You all have greatly impacted the kingdom of heaven with your prayers and support. You all are spreading the message of hope and love, and I am so thankful for each one of you that have supported us through encouragement, loving us, praying for us, and donating to this ministry.
Joel, Amy, and Carmen have roughly 3 more months left of their 6 month Spanish course in Arequipa, Peru, and they are already making huge strides with the language. The improvement in Joel’s communication skills was evident when he visited the jungle in December. We’re praising God for their progress!
- For us to stay focused on God's vision for the ministry as we head into 2018
- For Joel to keep his priorities in order: God first, his wife and family second, and the ministry third
- For Joel, Amy, and Carmen to get as much out of language school as possible
- That the benefits of knowing the language better will outweigh any disruption resulting from Joel being temporarily gone from our area of ministry
- That the new class of seminary students in 2018 will be faithful in their attendance and successful in applying what they learn
- For wisdom as we consider future projects in the villages
At JungleMaster we strive to use your financial contributions wisely and with the highest integrity. Your 2017 donations totaled $151,458. To the left is a summary of how expenditures were distributed over the year.
HUNGRY TO LEARN by Joel McGee
Pedro lives in a village located very deep in the jungle. This man is one of the leaders of the church in his village. JungleMaster is currently sponsoring Pedro and his family to attend the seminary training held by the Baptist Mission Society here in Nauta.
At a time when river conditions are right and the weather is good, it takes this family 5 days, traveling in a canoe, to reach Nauta. At one of the previous training sessions, Pedro had shared with me that it was going to be extremely hard to come to the training session to be held in early August, as August is the dry season and the river would be so low that traveling on it would be difficult.
The great news is that they did make it! When I asked him about the trip, he told me that it took the family seven days to get to Nauta. Because there was so little water, the first two days of travel were mostly spent walking, dodging stingrays, and dragging the canoe with his family in it. Praise God that they made it, and for the desire and hunger they have for learning more about their loving Father!
Continue to pray and to lift these villages and people up to God. Pray specifically that they will desire not only to learn the theology of God, but to have an intimate relationship with Him. For it is in this relationship that God not only gives us eternal life with Him, but will change our lives today.
|Pedro and his family|
RENEWED VISION FOR JUNGLEMASTER
Since becoming the official Director of JungleMaster Ministries in March, Joel McGee has thought long and hard about JungleMaster’s future role in the jungle. Because Joel lives in the Amazon, there are many worthwhile projects we could take on. But what is it that God wants us to focus on? After much soul searching, Joel has concluded, once again, that it’s the development of the cofraternity that should be the focus of our ministry in the Amazon. Although some of the cofraternity leaders have now received seminary training and a few among them are eager to be missionaries to other jungle villages, there is much to be done in order to bring them to spiritual maturity. Joel sees the need for him to provide the cofraternity with leadership: teaching and training the members, and providing them with much-needed accountability.
One event being organized to help further these goals is a 2-day retreat for the board of the cofraternity. Joel has enlisted the help of Pastor William, a native from the coastal area of Peru who has been working in Nauta for the past 11 years. Pastor William knows both the language and the culture, and actually specializes in the kind of training the ministry is looking for. The retreat will include one day of fasting, prayer, and self-reflection on each person’s walk with Christ, and one day of discussion on the how and why of boundaries. Please pray for God to use this retreat to deepen the relationship of each of these leaders with Him.
|Joel with some of the cofraternity leaders|
OUR MISSIONARIES TO BEGIN LANGUAGE SCHOOL SOON
Thanks to the generous financial support that is continuing to pour in from many, our missionaries, Joel, Amy, and Carmen McGee are now making plans to attend six months of Spanish Language School in Arequipa, Peru, beginning October 16, 2017. Gaining a better grasp of the Spanish language will aid Joel in having those in-depth conversations needed for guiding the cofraternity leaders along their paths to spiritual maturity. It will also help the entire family alleviate the feelings of isolation they have had while living for more than two years in a city where few people speak English.
Joel has been promised the flexibility to take long weekends once/month to travel back home to Nauta. In this way, he’ll be able to stay in contact with the cofraternity, even while attending school in Arequipa.
-For the last of the funds needed for language school
-For the McGee family’s transition to Arequipa
-For a successful 2-day retreat for the cofraternity board
-For Joel as he guides and mentors the cofraternity leaders
-For successful negotiations as we seek to sell our old boat
We have been praying since deciding to become full-time missionaries in Nauta, Peru that we would need to attend a language school so that we could learn the Spanish language. We have now been on the field for over two and a half years. Last year we attended language school for a month. Although that helped, we also knew that eventually, we would need to return to complete the full six-month course.
At times, it has been incredibly frustrating and scary to be living here with my family and not knowing the language well. We have often prayed about this and felt God telling us to trust Him, and when the time was right, He would open the path for learning the language. It was through this obedience to God that He performed many miracles in our lives. There were plenty of times when we would cry out to God in frustration because we had no clue as to how we were going to get something done without speaking the language. It was always in these times that God would send somebody, just the right somebody, to help us complete the task.
We don’t need to know the reason why God hasn’t allowed us the time or finances to go to language school. What we do know is that He has a plan and His plan is greater than our plan.
God has now made it clear to us that to deepen relationships and further continue God’s work here in the jungle we must gain a deeper knowledge of the Spanish language. We would like to start school in October of this year. The cost for us to attend language school is $15,000.00. Like we said earlier God has made it obvious to us and is telling us to take this next step, to put the burden of the finances on Him and that He will put the desire in people’s hearts to support us with this next step. If you feel led to financially support this, please indicate that the donation is for "McGee language school". If you would like to make an online donation, you can visit our blog at http://junglemaster.blogspot.com and use the donate buttons.
Thanks for continuing to support us with your prayers and financial support.
In Christ’s love,
Your missionaries the McGees
by Joel McGee
Praise God, a couple of weeks ago, Abraham, one of the brothers from the cofraternity, invited me up to the small village of Seis de Septiembre to show the Jesus film. Last year this cofraternity leader had been sponsored by Junglemaster to go through the seminary training. This visit would be my opportunity to come alongside Abraham as he put his training into practice.
About a year ago, Abraham had felt the calling to go to Seis de Septiembre to start bringing the good news of Christ to this village, a community that has no church and no godly leaders. Abraham now leaves his home for three days every month to go to this little village. There, he leads bible studies, holds church services in the house of one of the locals, and is mentoring one of the men from the village so that he can start leading the services.
It was such a blessing to have been invited to this village to show the Jesus film and to help Abraham. The gathering was small, but as I sat in this village of no more than 20 adults and 30 kids watching the Jesus film it reminded me of Jesus’ words in Mathew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
I'm so excited that God laid this burden on Abrahams' heart and that Abraham feels he has been given the tools and has the confidence to do this work.
July 25, 2017
Proverbs 19:21: "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."
Joel McGee never "signed up" to be the Director of JungleMaster Ministries. In fact, when he made his first trip to Peru seven years ago, he never intended to do anything more than fix boat motors. But God had other plans. Joel considers what followed to be a sort of "bait and switch" experience. Whoever imagined that he would end up living in Nauta, serving as JungleMaster Ministries' full-time missionary?
In November, after the sudden passing of our founding Director, Tom Clark, Joel took on the huge additional responsibility of leading the ministry: first as our temporary, Interim Director, and starting in March, as our official Director. This was yet another "bait and switch" experience. It was not Joel's plan, but God's. Joel willingly accepted the role and is doing a great job so far. But, although the transition is going smoothly, it has also been a challenge. Joel has found his new role to be both busy and exhausting. And, admittedly, without the accustomed camaraderie and the encouragement from Tom via their near-daily phone conversations, the path has been a lonely one for Joel.
- In March, after receiving reassurance that JungleMaster’s ministry in the jungle would continue as it had before, four more leaders began the seminary training in Nauta. This training will help them to be more effective in making disciples in their own communities and beyond.
- Pastors who have benefited from seminary training and/or teachings from past missions festivals are now putting their education into practice. In February, Joel and several representatives from JungleMaster traveled 200 miles upriver to the village of Dos de Mayo to see these leaders implement a program of bible studies, teaching, worship, and encouragement for that village.
- The cofraternity has put together a schedule of additional churches they plan to visit this year (3-4/month), and are working to achieve their goal.
- With funds from JungleMaster, the cofraternity was able to purchase a boat and motor that is making these trips along the rivers faster than before.
- The cofraternity has begun to receive a small monthly stipend from JungleMaster which is to be used for things such as gas to travel to other villages. The pastors will need to cooperate amongst themselves in order to agree on how this money is spent.
- The cofraternity leaders from various villages have also begun to cooperate with one another to achieve mutual goals, completing new churches in Mundial, Progreso, and Nuevo Union.
|Pastor Abram ministering to children in the village of San Roque|
Pastor Eduardo of Parinari, (at keyboard), his wife, and others leading worship in San Roque
|The cofraternity's new boat|
Besides making numerous trips upriver to meet with the cofraternity as well as to assist other missionaries, Joel has recently been involved with various other projects:
- Working with a filming crew, both upriver and in Nauta, to produce two videos for JungleMaster. These videos should be available to us within the next couple of months.
- Surveying a total of 60 villages along the rivers surrounding Nauta, collecting information about the communities we are serving in, as well as discovering new ones. We will be organizing and reviewing that data soon.
- Attending the ALTECO Conference in Colorado, a gathering focused on equipping South American missionaries to partner in ministry. The encouragement Joel received from this conference was invaluable.
- Hosting a team from George Fox University’s engineering program, whose plan was to install solar panels on the JungleMaster missionary house in Nauta. The purpose of this project was to open up the students’ minds to using engineering for things other than just making money.
- Facilitating needed repairs to the missionary house and yard
Once again, thank-you for your partnership with us in bringing God’s Word to the jungles of the Amazon!
· For strength (Phil 4:13) and encouragement (1 Thess 5:11) for Joel
· For follow-through with classes and community visits for the cofraternity
April 17, 2017
As we’ve mentioned before, JungleMaster places a high priority on partnering with others as we do God’s work in the jungle. One project currently in progress is a survey of community leaders in numerous villages along the rivers near Nauta. This project was born out of a desire, shared by Tom Clark and Joel McGee of JungleMaster, Laura at the Christian training center in Nauta, and a local pastor, William Sifuentes, to learn more about the communities they are serving in. Together, they decided on what information they would include in the survey. Because they wanted to get unbiased information, they thought it best that the survey be performed by someone other than themselves. Two students from Oregon, Steven and Daniel Lindstrom, who were looking for a month-long mission project in the jungle were available and eager to do this, with Joel providing the transportation. The survey, funded entirely by the students, is helping to gather information about the needs of everyone in the villages rather than just the Christians living there. A side benefit for JungleMaster is that Joel is discovering villages back off the rivers that he wasn’t previously aware of and is visiting villages he’s never had the opportunity to visit before.
|The survey team at work in a village|
The story that follows is an example of God’s help and guidance throughout a very difficult situation during this survey project. It is evidence that God is holding Joel and the survey team in His loving hands.
During the second phase of the survey project, Joel, the two students, and their interpreter had headed 2 hours up the Tigre River and were surveying villages on their way back down. They were near the junction of the Tigre and the Marañon Rivers, still around 40-45 miles from Nauta, when, with a “clickity-clack, bang, crash,” the lower unit of the boat motor froze up, the gears stripped, and “all things nightmares are made of” happened: They were dead in the water and at the mercy of the current!
Joel knew there wasn't much that could be done at that point to fix the boat, but the village of Miraflores was in sight. So, they started paddling. About halfway there, a man in a canoe with a peci peci motor on it approached them. He graciously asked if the survey team needed him to tow them down to Miraflores. When they gratefully accepted, he tied his canoe to their boat. Surprisingly, in spite of his tiny motor, he was able to move them along at a pretty good pace.
|Being towed by the canoe with the peci peci motor|
They successfully got the boat to Miraflores, where Joel was able to remove the lower unit, but the unit was so badly damaged that repairs were not possible. The team would have to leave the boat there. How would they get themselves back to Nauta? There was no one in Miraflores with a fast boat to take them there. However, they were told that in the next village, about 5 minutes downriver, there was a boat they might be able to hire.
|JungleMaster's disabled boat at a dock in Miraflores|
Thus, the same man who had pushed the survey team downriver to Miraflores also gave the group a ride toward this next village. On the way, they spotted a ferry heading down the Marañon. Knowing that this boat would take them to Nauta, they tried to catch it, but try as they might, the little canoe was not fast enough. The distance between it and the ferry was quickly growing. At that point, about halfway into the Marañon River, they saw another ferry coming. Thank God, they were able to catch this one! And so, the four men made it safely back to Nauta.
The breakdown of JungleMaster’s boat was a bad situation. Some might even have considered the trip a failure. But things could have turned out much worse! In spite of the difficulties, God had Joel and the group in his loving hands. Joel knew that He would guide them and work things out. God had a plan, and all would be okay as long as they were walking in that plan.
Since the trip, a missionary friend arranged for a small ferry to tow JungleMaster’s disabled boat back to Nauta. The bad news is that the lower unit, which was purchased used, is in very bad shape at this point and will need to be replaced. (The cost is $2800.) The good news is that the smaller 115HP motor from JungleMaster’s original boat is available as a temporary replacement until a new motor is purchased so that the survey project can proceed.
We at JungleMaster are thanking God for His loving provision for the group on their trip back to Nauta. Please pray for His continued physical and spiritual provision as the group continues the survey and for financial provision for the repairs to the boat.
ALTECO CONFERENCE 2017
Getting our work done in the jungle requires teamwork between multiple missions. And yet, for many reasons, missions (foreign and domestic) don’t tend to work very well together. This is why JungleMaster is a member of a coalition called ALTECO.
ALTECO, or Amazon & Lowland Tribal Empowerment Coalition, is a group that fosters partnerships between like-minded missions. On alternate years this organization hosts conferences in either Colorado or in Pucallpa, Peru. Tom Clark had always wanted to go to one of these conferences because he felt that they were aimed right at one of the issues we face while working in this region: How can we work together effectively with other missions in the jungle?
While the conference in Peru is aimed at the local indigenous people groups, the conference in Colorado, in the off-years, is focused on equipping the member missions organizations. The focus of this year’s 5-day Colorado conference, coming up in May, will be on teaching like-minded ALTECO member missions how to partner with each other. There will be speakers sharing about the various elements of partnering, about how to assess current partnerships, and about how to lay the foundation for the practicalities of working together. Among many other subjects, there will be instruction on biblical examples of working together, on why individual missions can’t get their work done alone, and on how we can become more partnership friendly. Best of all, this will be an opportunity for missions to network with each other right at the conference!
Joel McGee is planning to attend the ALTECO Conference this year. He is excited for this opportunity and is looking forward to the things he will learn at the conference to make JungleMaster’s work in the jungle more effective.
The total cost for Joel to attend the ALTECO Conference will be $2800.00. Many of you have asked to be informed of special one-time needs such as this. If you are interesting in helping sponsor Joel to attend this valuable training, please consider making a contribution. Thank you so much!
“Words are just words here in the jungle,” says Joel McGee. Face to face relations are the key to working together successfully in this culture…and “even those sometimes mean nothing.” This was the reason that Joel took his family and another missionary upriver to visit the cofraternity of pastors soon after his return to Peru last month.
|Meeting with the pastors in the village of Atenas|
When Joel assumed the role of JungleMaster’s Interim Director following the sudden passing of Tom Clark last fall, he called the cofraternity of jungle pastors to let them know that nothing would be changing with the ministry. At that time, he also encouraged the pastors to attend the seminary classes that would be held in Nauta, beginning in January. But upon his return to Nauta last month, Joel discovered that none of the pastors had come. Joel knew that a face to face visit was needed in order to determine the reason.
Why hadn't they come? It seems that Joel’s words of reassurance to them on the phone in November had not fully erased the apprehension the pastors felt over the future of JungleMaster. In the culture of the Amazon, it’s expected that a person will lie in order to save face. Because of this, there is a general spirit of distrust. This naturally carries over into their relationships with foreign missionaries. Was JungleMaster REALLY going to continue to sponsor seminary classes, as they had said they would? It takes at least one day of travel to get themselves (and their families) to the school in Nauta and then one day to get back, so the pastors were hesitant to make the trip. After all, with Joel being out of the country, they didn't want to risk arriving in Nauta after their long journey only to discover that JungleMaster was no longer planning to sponsor their training.
After their face to face meetings, the pastors committed to coming to the next seminary training session in Nauta, to be held in March. But, as Joel says, “You never really know until it happens.” Please pray that these pastors will feel reassured of JungleMaster’s continued commitment to them and that they will follow through on their promise!
|At the farm of Francisco, the head of the cofraternity|
|Meeting with a member of the cofraternity in the village San Juan|