I have been excited all week, just waiting for Saturday so I could continue my story. Because of all my other responsibilities I had to refrain from writing. But now I can go all out and tell you about the ripple effect of the picture I posted in my previous blog. I could never imagine what a joy it would bring to the family my miracle-soup story was about.
I also found out what kind of soup it was, and no wonder it multiplied. I made pea soup! If you’ve never made one, let me tell you what happens. You soak the peas and they swell! I chose too many peas and had to add more and more water to make it a runny soup and not a paste! I also had to change to bigger pots as I went along and the soup swelled. Praise God! That’s how I could bring a “miracle” to the Martinez family
The oldest boy, named after his father, is my friend on Facebook. He saw the picture and was overjoyed. Why? The family does not have one picture of their father, but now they do! When I found out this I went through my files from Tarma and found some more pictures, which I posted on FB. The comments and feedback have been overwhelming. So, let me tell you some miracle stories from the time the picture with ripple effects was taken.
Dad moved his family from Arequipa to Tarma thinking it would be a strategic place for the teaching ministry he was planning on having in the central part of the Peruvian Andes Mountains. On arriving, they (I had stayed behind in Arequipa to finish my school year) stayed at the Tourist Hotel and almost immediately someone knocked on the door asking if they were missionaries. One of the waiters said there was a group of believers waiting for their arrival so they could start a church. That wasn’t in Dad’s plans but certainly in God’s plans.
Here you can read Mom’s story: Our Move to Tarma: Chap 36 A Life of Adventure
They started a church and invited Julio Martinez to be the pastor, so Dad could visit the churches in the mountains to have Bible studies.
This is the rented place, on Main Street, where I preached my first sermon. Dad and Pastor Julio were away on a conference so Mom was in charge. But she was very sick the day for the mid-week service so she asked me to do the service. I was thirteen at the time and very happy to preach my first sermon, of 20 minutes! I still remember the text, from Matthew 6:25-34. That passage has been a theme for my life, and my husband and I chose Matthew 6:33 to build our marriage on, to seek first God’s Kingdom!
God performed many miracles for Mom and Dad as they were building the church in Tarma. I was very much involved, mostly in Sunday school and youth ministry.
We had a portable organ which Mom played for the services but when she wasn’t there the organ stood quietly in a corner. I had taken piano lessons and could read notes and play simple pieces on the piano, buy no hymns. Then I decided to ask the Lord to teach me to play! I prayed that I would be able to play hymns, because that is what we sang in the services. This miracle I will never forget. From one day to another I could play hymns! Not by ear—my sister Agneta can do that—but using the hymnal with the printed music. What a blessing that turned out to be!
The church building was a miracle for sure. Dad found a lot, signed a contract to pay it in a year, and sought a building permit. With the weekly offerings collected for the building fund it would have taken 25 years to finish building.
Dad is a man of faith. He hired some men to work on the construction. On Fridays he would tell them to look for another job because he had run out of money, but then in the Sunday mail there would be a check and he could re-hire them on Monday. This went on for months!
The first few month of the year is the rainy season in the mountains. Dad started building in February. That year it only rained at night. Not one day did they have to stop the construction because of the rain, which was really a miracle!
Some Christians in the jungle donated a tree! Dad only had to pay for the transport. The wood from the tree was enough for trusses, doors, and benches. Dad built the benches!
When it was time to buy sheet metal for the roof, the money came as a donation from a church in Los Angeles.
On July 28, Peru’s Independence Day, the church building, called Casa de Oración (House of Prayer) was dedicated. What a joyous occasion! Two and a half years earlier Dad had come to Tarma with no plans to build a church, but God had other plans.
That was a very happy time in my life. I was totally devoted to spreading the Gospel. One of the girls in the church was Olga and we became best friends. We would walk the streets giving out tracts, which were not very well accepted. Sadly, every week we would find most of them thrown in the gutters, but I figured that some seed had to take root. We visited the prison and we visited the hospital. I even gave blood to and old lady who didn’t have anybody to help her. I didn’t know I shouldn’t have done it, since I’d had hepatitis.
Olga and her Mom had a big problem. The dad was an alcoholic and when he was drunk he would beat them. That man didn’t respect anybody and was a nuance in town. But there was someone he respected, and that was my dad. He didn’t even respect the Catholic priests, that religion being the predominant. He said Dad was a man of his words!
Would you believe it! He also respected me! That was the scary part. Olga and her mom would ask me to come and sit in the middle of the room, because when I was there the dad didn’t beat anybody. They only had one room, and the man would go lay on his bed quietly. I would sit in the chair, trembling inside, hoping he would not start beating me. He never did. And that chair saw a lot of me in 1961.
Olga was the oldest of many siblings. One of her many responsibilities was to wash the clothes, which she did in the irrigation canal close to her one-room living quarters. One day, Pastor Julio’s wife, Luz, decided to take the kids in the church on an outing. Olga wasn’t going to go because of the washing. Luz decided to help, so we all pitched in.
My time in Tarma set the stage for my life. When we had to leave in 1962 I cried my heart out. Mom had to literary “tear” me away from my friends. I loved those young people so much!
One incident stands out. In the one and only room Olga and her family had for living quarters some lady made it hers also. I can’t remember the detail but I know I had to talk to her several times about moving. It would have been fine if she contributed something, but, no, she lived on those people and they were what we consider “poor.” Sometimes there wasn’t enough food for the family, much less for another mouth to feed.
I read 2 Thessalonians 3:10 to her: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” But that didn’t help. She just stayed on, and didn’t want to work!
This week I’ve been working on a story based on that verse. Cristina has done the cutest little pictures so we have a PowerPoint. It’s almost done. Just wait and see!
I praise God for the privilege of being a part of those first days of Casa de Oración in Tarma, Peru. Here is the “miracle” building today. Who knows? Maybe this picture also will bring ripple effects!