Peter Stone : April 2004 Prayer Letter

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I arrived in Bogotá on March 29, where I will study Spanish for a year.  Bogota, a city of 7 million, is a sophisticated and modern city high up in the Andes Mts.  The air is cool, and the climate is appealing.  The pastor I am working for lives in Villavicencio, a city with about 300 thousand people located 65 miles Southeast of Bogota.  The church, school, and Bible institute I will be working with are located there as well. 

Villabo (Villavicencio’s nickname, pronounced Vee-jah-bo) is nestled up to the base of the Andes and is the gateway city that opens up to the blazing hot Eastern Plains of Colombia.  The following are excerpts from my journal, describing my first trip from Bogotá to Villabo, and my first week there: 

Wednesday, March 31  A faint trace of 10w-40 lingered in the taxi—a sweet, greasy, mechanical aroma—and it mixed with the floral-smelling blue hair of the elderly Senora Ilda sitting in the back seat. Eventually we exited the southern boundary of Bogota and began winding through the jagged peaks and the rippling sinews of the Andes.  The green peaks and cliffs looked like strange bony protrusions on the back of an ugly monster; and we were like little human bugs crawling through a rivulet in his fur.  The road continued to snake in and around the peaks, and gaping valleys and sharp grooves opened up hundreds of feet below the road.  The breathtaking views exhausted my mind. 

Patrols of camouflaged  troops with automatic weapons were positioned at various posts along the road.  They and their armored vehicles with massive machine guns mounted on top reminded me of the 40 year conflict in Colombia between a government hoping to emerge into a relevant world economy and a communist rebel army whose tactics wind up killing 3500 people each year.

We continued on the road, passing the scattered patrols, and entered into a tunnel that must have been a mile long.  It was a fuming, black hole, bored through the spiny back of the Andes.  Exhaust lingered in the tunnel as belching trucks and cars passed through.  I felt sorry for the road workers who spent the whole day inside.   

Exiting the tunnel we soon began an obvious descent.  As we criss-crossed down the mountains toward Villabo, I could catch glimpses of the broad Eastern Plain.  It was so expansive I thought I could almost see the horizon’s curve.

We entered the city and the driver dropped off the ladies.  We took a turn and started on a winding road away from the city toward the countryside.  After ten minutes we turned into a driveway hidden by green foliage.  Pastor Leonel waited for me at his porch and welcomed me to his home….

Thursday, April 1  His place is somewhat of a refuge—a compound of silence, meditation, and study shrouded in a green tangle of trees, flowers, and shrubs.  Peace falls on the air and presses into the lungs.  The air is heavy and stifling, but the natural surrounding and the seclusion are satisfying.  The property is green and lush, and there is a pond in the back covered with Lotuses.  Their broad white pedals open up at night, as if yawning at the stars, and then they close during the day, afraid of being scorched by the sun.  Two eagles live behind the pond, and feast on a variety of pond creatures all day long.  Strange looking birds with long, spindly, twig-looking legs step across the lily pads and jab their narrow beaks into the black water. 

I sat alone by the pond at dusk, and prayed and sang hymns from my pocket hymnal, wondering at what awaited me here in Colombia.

Friday, April 2  Last night, Pastor Leonel took me for a walk along the adjacent property.  For ten years it has been for sale, and for ten years he has been praying for the Lord to provide the money to buy it.  For $100k he could buy the property.  For another $100k he could build a compound that would permanently host a missionary training institute and sending base with dorms, a seminary, a Christian school, a Bible training institute, and a radio ministry—ministries which are each already underway.  All of this for only $200k.  The number rolled around in my head as we strolled in silence.  The night air was heavy and wet, and the frogs were deafening.  It was a beautiful moment walking in the darkness with the Pastor as the vision sank into my mind.  $200k for a 100 years of future Colombian missionaries is a pretty good investment. 

I spent today at the Christian school where most of the teachers attend the church, and most of the students are children of the church members.  The pastor’s vision is to train the children in truth, and to give them a vision from early on of reaching the Indian tribes of Colombia with the Gospel.  The children are beautiful. We played together, and I loved it.  They jumped on me and clutched my waist and squeezed my legs, and they asked me how long I was going to stay.  It reminded me of my own nephews and nieces, rolling around on the floor with them, and hearing their questions, “Uncle Pete, when are you leaving for Colombia?”  “How long will you be gone?”

Tonight I met many of the people attending the Bible institute.  They welcomed me like family, and were delighted that I had actually come to live with them in Colombia. 

Suddenly, after a day, the “ministry” I’ve been preparing to work with for the past year and a half has come alive to me.  The “ministry” is people.  People who will soon become my own, if they have not already.  They are people, just like me, who are awakening to a vision to live for the kingdom….

Sunday, April 4  I think the most beautiful moment I’ve had so far is when 13 yr. old Eliana, one of the daughters in the church, looked at me with dark eyes wide with excitement, innocence and joy, and said, “I want to be a missionary to the indigenous people!”  In that moment I began to see why the Christian school is so important to the long term vision of the Pastor.  Oh, it is so beautiful what is happening in the hearts of the people of this church and ministry!

I feel privileged beyond words to be here.  My heart is so full of joy and gratitude.  I feel as if I have stumbled into an opportunity—a work of the Spirit—that  is greater than I ever could have hoped it to be.  I feel as though the Lord’s hand is moving in a profound way through this people, and that there is great potential for wide impact.  How is it that God would allow me the privilege of taking part?

Saturday, April 17  As I write this from Villabo, the rain is falling heavily on the tin roof, pounding out a range of strange tones, like some kind of jungle pipe organ.  I look out the window and all I see is a thick tangle of green through the mist of pouring rain. As I often do, I am thinking of you, my friends and supporters.  I am wondering how it is that God would give me the privilege of working for him here.  And I am thanking him for making it possible through you. 

From the bottom of my heart….thank you. 

Love in Christ, your servant, Peter.   

PRAYER POINTS:

* I have begun my language studies in Bogota, and am living with a non-believing family for a month.  The opportunity to be a living testimony is tremendous.  Please pray for grace to be like Christ to the family, my classmates (from Europe and the U.S.), and my professors. 

* Please pray for good language learning.

* Please pray, more than anything, that I would remain close to the Father’s heart.

Note to Supporters:

Please make support checks payable to NEM, write Peter Stone on the memo line, and send them to:

NEM
10600 SW 40th St
Miami, FL 33165

Peter Stone
1803 North Hills Blvd.
Knoxville, Tn 37917
peterpaulstone@hotmail.com
(865) 522-2585

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