Virtual School is easier with a computer

Here we are, five months into that “two weeks to flatten the curve” thing. Lots of plans have been cancelled, including a long-planned visit by the Wenatchee Church of the Nazarene, who were planning on bringing us some new laptops for the girls to use in their schooling.
Those would be really handy right now, with everyone studying online, due to the lock down in response to COVID. But the trip was postponed, those computers never came, and we have more need for them now than ever. We were blessed with ten refurbished laptops several years ago.

Those are the laptops the girls are still using. Originally operating with Windows XP, but upgraded to Windows 7. They’ve been going belly up, one by one. Hard drives die. Screens go black. And sometimes it’s just software problems. I’ll be trying to get a couple of them up and running again, but right now the girls are sharing two laptops. Yep, just two.
They’re looking more like this now, after 4 years and lots of use by 40 different girls:

Missing some keys, pretty slow, and having to be shared by all the girls.
With everyone studying online now, we really, really need some new computers. We’ve talked about it some, and we’re thinking of buying some desktops, so that the keyboard, mouse, monitor, and even the hard drive are easily replaceable. Besides, they don’t need to be portable, and desktops are cheaper and easier to maintain.
Of course, the problem is that we don’t have money for buying computers. So we’re coming to you, and asking for your help once again. This need is so important at the Torre Fuerte home, where we strive to provide a quality education as one of our chief goals.
We’ve found GoFundMe to be an excruciatingly slow way to get funds here, so we’re asking you this time to just give directly to the regular PayPal account we already have set up.

Please pray about what you or your church or organization can do for this need. Computers cost a little more here in Arequipa, since there are no WalMarts or BestBuys, but I think we can get a solid desktop setup for under $1000, and maybe as low as $800. It would be a great help to be able to get 4 or 5 new computers, and would really help our girls with their learning.
If you have questions, just respond to this post and we’ll try to answer asap. To donate, just click the Donate button to the right (or at the top of the page) and again under the Torre Fuerte logo. And please let us know that you’ve given to this fundraiser, by a message here, or on our fb page, whatsapp, or email as shargrove@yahoo.com
Thank you for all you do to help us, and to help the girls at the Casa Hogar Torre Fuerte!!

Time to park the bus

We have a bus at the Torre Fuerte home. With 30 girls plus the staff, a bus is a necessary piece of equipment for the ministry here.
But our bus is a 1989 Hyundai. In the last couple of years we’ve repaired – and then replaced – the transmission, had major engine work done, and replaced parts of the floor.
We have new holes in the floor, right over the driver’s side rear wheels. That bright light on the floor is where the metal is separating and allowing the outside light to come in.

Now we find that the insurance company is not happy with our bus. We’ve had insurance under the “student transport” category, but the insurance company says our bus is too old for that. So even after fixing the problems, we’ll have to change insurance to something much more expensive.
So… we’re thinking it’s time to raise funds for a “new to us” bus. Something newer, nicer, safer, more reliable, and insurable. Would you consider helping us with this need? We realize that the goal of $50,000 is pretty daunting, but it’s not a huge amount for a bus.

We have a GoFundMe campaign started. Please check it out here: gf.me/u/wrvad9

Neither White, nor Blue

It’s Christmastime, and while you’re bundling up for the cold, here in Arequipa we’re just getting into summer. The girls just finished their school year yesterday, and are now officially on summer vacation. It takes some time to get used to a warm summertime Christmas.

Another challenge here is that we work with girls who have been separated from their families for various reasons. In almost every case, that makes for a sad and lonely time of year. We’ve had lots of help this year from good-hearted people who have helped to keep things positive.

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One group brought a ton of used clothing that they had gathered for our girls. A ton!

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And this group brought fun, snacks, elves, more fun, games and smiles!

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This group of co-workers got together to bless our girls with panetón (a Christmas sweet bread), chocolate milk, and a wrapped gift for each girl!

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This group brought office supplies and hygiene items. Lots of stuff we need!

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A family group brought a very nice lunch for the girls, and even the Christmas tablecloths. They also brought a wrapped gift for each girl, and a brand new video projector and laptop!

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And finally, a group from the USA raised money to buy a bag of gifts for each girl, and also paid for the annual trip to the beach in February. The gift bags will be used as beach bags!

Yeah, the beach. Remember…. it’s summertime here! So while it’s certain that we won’t see a white Christmas, we won’t be having a blue Christmas, either. Thanks to all who have brought so many blessings and smiles this year. Thank you for reaching out and thinking about others. It’s what Christmas is all about: “For God so loved the world, that He gave…”

It’s Not What You’ve Heard

I’ve been thinking about the words of Jesus in Matthew 7, about the wise man and the foolish man. You’re probably familiar with the passage, and maybe you’ve even sung the song. We think of it as a children’s lesson, but it’s really more than that:

Matthew 7
24 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 

26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

 

The point is not that smart people are more righteous, or even that we should build on a solid foundation, as good (though vague) as that sounds. The issue is what we do with the truths we learn.

We go to church and enjoy the praise music and a good message from the pastor. We listen to uplifting music and Christian radio. We read devotional books, read the Bible, and even memorize verses.

But, according to Jesus, a solid foundation is really not all about what we take in. It’s not about what we listen to, what we read, or how many verses we’ve memorized.

Both the wise man and the foolish man hear the words of Jesus. The difference is not in what they take in; the difference is what they do with the information they receive.  They both hear the words, but one “puts them into practice”, while the other “does not put them into practice.”

The believer who hears, reads, sings or memorizes the words of Jesus – and then puts them into practice – is like a wise man who builds on a solid foundation. What have you heard, and how have you put it into action?

James 1
22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

 

Our current roster

Especially for those of you who have visited the Torre Fuerte home, and know some of our girls… here is our most current roster. Ten of these girls have been with us for over a year, and several have lived at the TF home for several years.foto sheetCould you pray for our girls? Daily? Here are some ideas to help you pray:

1. Pray for emotional/spiritual healing. Kids are resilient, but abandonment, abuse, and neglect are tough problems to get past. We see girls who are withdrawn, girls who are aggressive, and everything in between. Sometimes just a picture or a spoken phrase can bring back memories and move a girl to tears.

2. Pray for hope. Most of these girls have been in “survival mode”, and have given no thought to their future. We try to help them dream, plan, and pursue goals, especially focusing on a career. Pray for them as they study and learn to dream.

3. Pray for peace and harmony within the TF home. With so many girls from so many backgrounds, and with so much hurt, it is inevitable that we have occasional conflict. We work a lot on improving conflict resolution skills.

4. Pray for the staff. One of our dorm mothers recently left us, expecting to have a new baby in June. She has been a real blessing to our girls because she saw her work as more than just a job. She loves our girls. Pray for us to always find staff that will understand the nature of the ministry here and love the kids.

Thanks to all of you who support us, pray for us, and pray for the girls at TF. We appreciate the love and support you give. Come visit us sometime, we’d love to give you the chance to see the work first hand.

 

Christmas musings #5

cross-in-mangerWhat was the message from the angel to the Shepherds? (Luke 2:10-11)

Do not be afraid. This is one of the most repeated commands in the Bible, possibly second only to ‘Praise the Lord’. When a powerful celestial being suddenly appears, lighting the sky above you with his presence, terror is an understandable reaction. To witness the glory of the Lord, whatever that might look like, is all the more spectacular. But God was sending these shepherds a message of hope.

“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Good news, of great joy. Not a new set of rules, another philosophy of life, or advice for clean living. Good news. That is what the Church has been given, and it is the source of the word “evangel.” In Old English, the word is “Gospel.”  Good news.
If you’ve heard that Christianity is a list of fun things you can’t do, you’ve heard from someone who’s doing it wrong. The authentic message of the Church is one of freedom, forgiveness, transformation, and eternal life. It’s Good News!

And to make the point as clear as possible, the angel was sent to common shepherds instead of the rich and powerful, with a message for “all the people.”

But the angel had more to say. “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” In Bethlehem, the town of David, a Savior – the Christ had been born. The Greek word “Christ” is a translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah”. The angel was telling the shepherds that the long-awaited Anointed One – God in the flesh – had finally arrived. The Messiah who would save us from our sins.

There is one more phrase in the message that we must not miss. The angel did not merely say that a Savior had been born, but ‘born to you.’ He did not say ‘born to Mary’, or to Mary and Joseph, but ‘to you.’ The concept was not new, but it was – and still is – amazing. We see it many years earlier in the writings of Isaiah, where it was not an angel speaking, but a man. One of us.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”    Isaiah 9:6-7

Did you see it? ‘To us.’ ‘To us – a child is born, to us – a son is given.’ The Bible is clear on this idea. Jesus was a gift from the Father, to us:

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16

Christmas musings #4

angel-resized

We tend to think of everyone in Bible times as a shepherd, but the reality is that it was a job for boys, old men, or those without other options. They were unskilled workers who smelled like they hung out with animals. But while the Magi were led by a star, those common shepherds had an encounter far more profound. Consider this:

Nearly two thousand years earlier, when Moses ascended Mount Sinai, the glory of the LORD covered the top of the mountain. (Exodus 24:16)  The people watched from below, terrified.

After setting up the tabernacle in the wilderness, “Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:35)

And one thousand years before the shepherds, at the dedication of the new temple, “when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’S house.” (2 Chronicles 7:1-2)

In each of these significant events in the life of the nation of Israel, we see God’s direct presence in the somewhat mysterious phrase, “the glory of the LORD.” It was an uncommon occurrence, and one that marked an incredibly important point in the history of God’s people.

With that in mind, we come to this:

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” (Luke 2:9)

We can hear the passage so many times, and become so familiar with it that we miss the whole point. The glory of the Lord shone around them! Jesus, the Son of God, is worthy of greater honor than Moses (Hebrews 3:3), than the temple (Matthew 12:6), or Solomon (Matthew 12:42)

And so we understand the terror a little better and we understand that something important was happening; something that would, once again, change the course of history.

“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son…” Galatians- 4:4-5

Christmas musings #3

three-treasuresInstead of bibs, pacifiers, and rattles, the Magi brought Jesus strange gifts that don’t make it into the typical diaper bag these days. But their gifts reflect a familiarity with ancient prophecies and an understanding of the One they came to honor:

Gold. Who gives gold to a baby? Who gives gold to anyone? It’s not a typical gift for a carpenter’s son. Gold is given by aristocrats; the wealthy, the powerful, royalty. It is a gift fit for a King, and it was a King they had traveled to honor.

Frankincense.  Surely a stranger gift for a baby than gold. It’s a resin derived from the sap of a tree, and burned as incense. It was used in the special mix of incense used in the temple (Exodus 30:34). It was a gift regularly offered to God, and so we read that they bowed down and worshiped the Christ child.

Myrrh. The strangest gift of all, if it were given to an ordinary baby. It was used to make the holy anointing oil used to consecrate the tabernacle and all of its utensils and set them apart for sacred use(Exodus 30:23ff). The next time we read about myrrh is when it was offered to Jesus while on the cross (Mark 15:23), and then when Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus used it to anoint his body for burial (John 19:38ff).

The Magi understood that this child would one day fulfill another important prophecy:

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah 53:5

The Magi seeking the newborn King remind us that His birth was the fulfillment of thousands of years of predictions, descriptions, and expectations by the ancient wise men and prophets who looked forward to his coming. And as it has been said, wise men still seek him.