Preparing for Earthquakes

16 Oct 2011

Living in a highly seismically active area means we play some unusual games. This one is called "Sismo" (tremor in Spanish). In the game we have to quickly get to an earthquake safe spot. The kids play this in their kindergarten regularly too. It's fun but there's also a serious side to it. Every few weeks a (gentle) tremor reminds us of this.

Stories from last major earthquake

The last major earthquake hit Arequipa in 2001 with a magnitude of 8.4. It was devastating, destroying about 17,000 homes. 2,500 people were injured and 75 people lost their lives including 26 with the Tsunami that hit the coast.

AnaLou, a teacher at our language school, was in the upper part of Arequipa when the earthquake struck. She described it as terrifying. They could see over the town and as the dust rose from the shaking it looked like the city was sinking into the earth which caused even more panic. Mobile phones wouldn't work - the networks were saturated. Public transport came to a stand-still. Everyone just wanted to get home to get together with their families and make sure everyone was okay.

Julio, our grammar teacher, was outside when it happened. He said the ground had waves running through it, like someone lifted a carpet and shook it. Pipes had broken spraying water into the air. Cars were bouncing in the streets. When he looked towards the volcano that towers over the city, it had disappeared in a cloud of dust from what he later realized must have been caused by avalanches. Julio described the most terrifying thing about an earthquake was the incredible noise. In his home cupboards had opened and cutlery smashed on the floor, his fridge had fallen over but the important thing was that no one was hurt.

A week after the earthquake a team of doctors arrived from Germany and were staying close to Julio's home. Some of these doctors, after seeing the effects of the earthquake, spoke about wishing they had experienced it first hand. Julio couldn't understand why anyone would want to experience an earthquake. But anyway, these doctors got what they wished for! After a major earthquake, there are often serious after-shocks. At around 3 am one morning an earthquake with an magnitude of over 7 struck. As the doctors fled the house, many were still in their underwear, standing outside in the cold. A couple of them were so shaken by the experience they wanted to fly home immediately. They'd changed their minds evidently. 

How we stay prepared?

We have regular drills at home and in our language school. In an earthquake the power is automatically cut so we keep torches and candles handy. We also need some emergency water, a few cans of food and a radio with batteries.

When an earthquake strikes, it's important to react quickly and find a safe spot close to where you are. Under a table or in a safe zone away from glass windows or objects that can fall. People's natural reaction is often to run out of the building. This is generally dangerous and many injuries have occurred when people have tried to run down stairs. Most of the buildings in Arequipa are built to withstand earthquakes so it is best to find a safe spot within a couple of seconds of where you are standing. Once the quake is over it is time to go outside being careful of broken power lines.

Earthquake Secure Zone Safe zones that are marked in all public buildings

Should we be worried?

We trust that God has things under control. Wherever we live he is in control of when we live and when we die. We will take all the precautions necessary and keep in perspective that while the risk of an earthquake is high, the risk to our lives is extremely low. I feel that it's easier here in Arequipa to understand that we are every day in the hands of our Creator.

Here comes another weekend ...

14 Oct 2011

Gearing up for the taxi-ing, organisation, motivational roles my husband and I play - not only to our churches, but also for our kids!!!

This afternoon I leave for Lyon to continue with my Christian Counselling course. The topic is 'Sexual Abuse' - how to recognize the signs, describing the victim and the perpetrator, the psychological processes, how to accompany the victims in particular. I think it's going to be quite heavy going given the damage sexual abuse causes.

My husband will manage family life until I return Saturday evening. He'll have his Sunday commitments to prepare as well.

Sunday is a big day - Christmas choir rehearsals (I'm not really a highly qualified musician, but I know how to organize and lead, so it will be a group effort!), church service (thankfully, I don't have any Sunday School teaching this week), then a quick lunch before doing the final session of Neil Anderson's 'Freedom in Christ' course with a young lady. Followed by a dance rehearsal for our girls for the Christmas presentation and a play rehearsal for our young people until 7pmish. Pascal and I keep our eyes on things but are not the people in charge.

Home to eat and try and spend time 'en famille'; do the ironing so Luc goes back to boarding school with a clean kit; check homework, notices, etc for school then finally off to bed. The next morning Pascal takes Luc back to his school leaving at 6:45 am!

That's the busyness side. But behind all this is the desire to help people go further with the Lord. Discipling and mentoring have become our leitmotifs this year, but it takes time and energy before people are able to detach themselves from our accompaniment. We are conscious of wanting to accompany our own children as well, so need to make time for them.

We are particularly concerned by a certain passivity in our country parish. We would so like them to be more stimulated to reach out in their community. After 3 years here, we are still negotiating the cultural barriers to creating a more vibrant, Spirit-filled community. (I had used the words 'Christ-centred' but I think it is the case, but there isn't the responsiveness.)

As the Aussies say: "Havagudweegend!"

May the Lord be your motivation and inspiration this weekend.

God is Mission

12 Oct 2011

God is not a loner. Social being is the name of his world because, although he is one, God has never lived as a hermit. He is love and love can’t exists in a vacuum but is always reaching outwards. This is seen in the perfect love the Father, the Son and the Spirit have for each other. Creation shows the outworking nature of God, because he gave us a chance at existence when he created humanity in his image. Evil, Satan and death had messed up God’s creation, but he does not just throw us in the rubbish bin. He loves his creation and planned to resolve its problems through his Son. This love is also seen in that Jesus the carpenter of Nazareth is declared to be the Word, who existed in the beginning, was with God and was God himself. A word is an audible or written expression of the hidden thoughts of the mind so as to be a bridge of communication to others. God the Son is a missionary, being clearly stated in Hebrews 3:1 where Jesus is called an apostle (sent one). Jesus himself constantly stressed that he was sent by God and his purpose was to sacrificially love humanity, to die and rise from the grave for us.

After creation, God did not leave us in the dark, but gave humanity guidelines to tell us who he is, what he has done, what he wants of us and what the conclusion is. On rising from the dead, Jesus explained the purpose of Scripture: “Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself”. (Luke 24:27, 44) Mission is Christocentric! God has righteously loved all humanity from the beginning of creation and invites us to repent and be members of his family. Those who respond are called priests and witnesses to stand between God and humanity to declare his praises. (1 Peter 2:9, Acts 1:8) We too are to be outreaching. The body of Christ is mission; being like its head, Christ. This centrifugal nature of God is also seen in that he created humanity for his glory and he wants to share his glory with those who believe (Rom.8:17).


About the Author

Dr. Grahame Martin has worked in missions for over 40 years. He served as a missionary with Pioneers in Papua New Guinea, taught Missions at SMBC and at BCV. He currently heads "Train to Teach" ministries that provides training through short-term missions to Papua New Guinea. 

Well, that was the weekend ...

09 Oct 2011

When many people are counting on the weekend to relax and wind down after a week's work, the Girard family is in full swing.

  • contacting people
  • rehearsing for the Christmas presentation
  • checking things are in order for the Sunday services
  • we have even been known to spend Saturdays preparing the service or sermon or teens' group teaching ......


Along with the church side, we taxi our 3 children around to their sporting and music commitments and try to communicate with each other so everyone knows what's happening for the next week.

Sound familiar ? We are no different to any missionary/ministry family, and probably any other committed family helping out in their local church.

Once the kids are back in school on Monday, we breathe sigh of relief, but our official day off is Wednesday, which is also the day the kids don't have school when they are at Primary age, and where they only have school in the morning at Secondary level.

Our eldest child is at boarding school during the week in order to qualify as a car mechanic.

We live and work in a country area in the upper middle part of Ardèche, a hilly, mainly agricultural part of France. We'd like to make the most of the quality of life here, but find our busy lives keep us concentrated on ministry and opportunities for ministry.

Each year we determine to be less activist, yet we always end up coordinating, leading, mentoring, witnessing, organising, preparing, doing ..... Our aim is to train leadership in our 2 churches to share the work and responsibility, and to encourage our church members in outreach.

Please join us in praying that the French church continues to grow, and that all our efforts do bear fruit for the Kingdom.

Pray also for down time for us so we can be wise in our activities.

When is it okay to keep people waiting?

07 Oct 2011

If you are a salesperson in a shop and there is a queue of people waiting to be served, what do you do when a friends pops around to say hi? In Peru it's perfectly acceptable to now have a conversation with that friend. The people in the queue will wait patiently while you have a good chat.

Vegetable Shop

I (David) was in our local market the other day purchasing some vegetables. I handed over the money to the lady for the vegetables. Midway while getting my change a friend of this lady came by to say hello. They began to have a great conversation while I waited patiently for a small amount of change (less than 10c). Soon I began to suspect that I had just made a miscalculation and had already actually been given all my change. Why else would this lady launch into a conversation? So I headed off and to a different part of the market. About a minute later the lady from the shop came running. She'd left her shop to find me and give me the rest of the change.

Friendships are more important than time, here in Peru. We've now gotten to know this lady in the vegetable stall and she stops to say hi to us even if she's in the middle of a transaction with someone else.

What's on in SIM

06 Oct 2011

SIMWORLD 2011 VICTORIA    8th October

Mission – where do you fit in?
Ever wondered if God is calling you into world mission?

If you have what it takes?

If your skills and experience could be used in cross
cultural ministry?

How you can be involved if you aren’t called to go?

SIMWORLD is designed to help you explore
those questions. Experienced missionaries
and SIM staff will be available to chat with you
and there will be six creative and interactive
workshops to choose from. Ask questions,
fi nd out about the opportunities that exist for
ministry in Africa, Asia and South America
and enjoy fellowship with like-minded people.

Please write to:
PO Box 206, Box Hill Vic 3128

Telephone the office : Victoria : (03) 9898 1693

A form will be sent via email or post.

You can also register online
coming to SIMWORLD2011


05 Oct 2011

Hi everyone,

Thanks for praying for Sean's sermon, there was really positive feedback from it. 7 church members went to the mosque we mentioned afterwards to interact on a learning level from Muslims, and found it really helpful in terms of understanding how a Muslim thinks.

We've got some current prayer points, will let you know how they go over this month:

1) This month we are meeting with two couples who are considering joining WEC long term, pray that our time will go well with these couples and that they and we will know if WEC is the right path for them.
2) We are in the midst of working on the new WEC website - it is being designed by a graphic designer but we need to write / bring over all the content and check it -please pray for this process.
3) Clarissa has her stress test on October 13th 915am (Sydney time), pray that she will be able to complete this test and that her heart will continue in sinus rhythm for the whole test.  Please pray too, that the cardiologist will look at her results soon after the test and that her final test can be scheduled this year.
4) Pray for Clarissa who has her school orientation on the 14th Oct, 21 Oct, 28th Oct and 4th Nov, for 1 1 /2 hours each day, pray that she will settle in well and begin the transition to school.
5) Pray for Sean as he edits and brings together the WEC magazine for the printer by 18th October .
6) We are running our next Missionary for a Weekend November 11-13, so please pray that we will be coming in contact with potential participants for this in the next few weeks.

God  Bless,


Unexpected answer to Prayer

29 Sep 2011

Christine: Well God has answered a prayer in an unexpected way.  We were looking for a gymnastics class for the girls but could not find one. We ended up finding a ballet school 20 minutes walk down the road.  I never imagined taking the girls to ballet but they love it. And how is it an answer to prayer?

I have been unable to connect with local mums or find friends to practice Spanish with because of the time needed for language study and just managing the kids. Also they don’t seem to have playgroups or mothers groups like we have at home. But what I have found at the ballet school is a captive audience of mothers who wait the whole hour for their girls twice a week in a small room. We are not allowed to watch the class so we are forced to chat with each other.  How nice! So today I wrote down a few of their names. I met a teacher, dentist, accountant and, of course, stay home mum’s like me (well, excluding language study ). Of course some topics are universal for mothers: breastfeeding, how you fared in your pregnancy and what cute thing your kid did yesterday. To my surprise I can understand a lot of what they are saying. Sometimes the lady closest to me kindly repeats the key information more slowly and simply for me, but none the less, it is all in Spanish. They have encouraged me and say I am doing well for such a short time in the country. This is great to hear as in the language school I am reminded constantly of my mistakes. I cannot use all the tenses we have learnt yet but slowly and with practice I am sure I will get there.  The ladies said they are happy to help me and I am more relaxed in this situation of immersion. 

I am going to look forward to Monday and Friday afternoons sitting around with other mothers of little ballerinas. Who knows where God will lead our conversations in the future. Please pray for opportunities and praise God for answered prayer.  The ballerinas get a lollie at the end of each class – to which Annabelle asks ‘Why did I get a lollie?’ It’s definitely a win win for everyone (though maybe not their teeth).  

Reaching out to Street Children

28 Sep 2011

These boys are abandoned and were previously street children. They are now in a government orphanage. Some have come from family with alcohol problems or with sexual abuse and as a result have hate and anger in their hearts. Many have drug addictions eg. sniffing halucinagens. They are in need of the love of God. So next November I will start a Bible study twice a week to disciple and share God's love. We have permission from the social worker for this.


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