Dan Henry - Peru Conventions Letter - 2001

Today over 500 friends gathered in the tent in  this mountain region called Coyunde....and there was not one wheel, bicycle, car, or truck on the grounds.  Two horses were tied to a tree at the entry, the rest of these people had all walked from their homes.  Those from "far away" places stay with nearby friends, others walk two to three hours home after the afternoon meeting to take care of their chores.

At 10,000 feet, we are above the altitude where coffee, corn, or bananas will grow...but potatoes flourish. Different varieties are blooming with white, lavender and deep purple blossoms, and one new variety called "Revolution" matures in 3 months while the others take up to 6 or 7 months. McDonald's could start a new revolution too if they ever served French Fries with potatoes from Coyunde...they are "hors du monde."
Monday morning we left Olmos for a 2 hour hike up the trails to Acuchinga that led past these potato patches to Praxede's home for breakfast.  The effort to climb in the thin air (1,550 ft) made a guiny pig and popcorn breakfast taste mighty good. And then back down other trails to the west to Coyunde.  Each day we have hiked out for dinners in homes up and down these ridges.  No camera could capture the depth of beauty of the scenery we are seeing everyday...from the grandeur of mountain peaks 50 miles to the West or down to the most miniscule, vibrantly-hewed wild flowers. And at every other step along the trail, you seem to find a new one prettier than the last.
Part of the trail between Olmos and Coyunde runs on the continental divide...I tried to imagine the water flowing from those springs starting, it's several thousand mile-long journey to the Amazon and the Atlantic Ocean to the East!  And the stones of this trail mark part of the "highway" that ran between Quito, Equador, and Cajamarca, capital of the Inca Empire in Peru. Inca armies traveled this route and just behind one of the friends homes is the never-excavated remains of a station over a 1000 years old where they would stop over on their manoeuvres.
The Inca never developed a written language or the use of the wheel. But "chasqui" long distance runners ran this same trail throughout extentions of the Empire with memorized messages and "quibos:"  rods of wood to which were tied cords at different intervals and of different lengths, knotted in specific points, relaying a message in secret code that has never been deciphered until this day...lost with the arrival of the conquering Spanish. Today over 500 people of this mixed ancestry sat together in solid unity, hearing, and understanding the same language spoken in Haiti and obviously moved by the message...that would still be "quibu" to those whose ears haven't been opened by the Spirit's voice. It's true that we've heard of the cattle thieves who turned to the Lord in these parts. Looking over the crowd I couldn't see ...one. Their testimonies have been clear and with special depth.  Wednesday morning  9:00 a.m., twenty seven (Don Reynolds is in South Africa for convs. and Lillia Latorre is recuperating from surgery in Lima) workers and the five visiting workers met in an adobe dirt-floored room of Carlos Zarate's home that serves as the dining room for convention for a workers' meeting.   High on this mountain side (10,000ft), it reminded me of the cream of Peru in the quietness of the morning rising to the top (though I've not seen any of them considering themselves cream) for a few  of special fellowship and now ready to enrich the lives of the Lord's  people here and mix daily with a lost, dying world.  Many are sons and daughters of those we heard of as "cattle thieves."   But I don't think I 'll ever forget the clarity of their purpose expressed one by one that day.  Over 1000 friends live within an 8 km radius. The Coyunde country school has over 100 professing children out of 250 in class. Opposition to this work has not died (they threw a big rock through the tent during the night meeting at Olmos last week) and the children bear it bravely. But Carlos helped the situation with the school director when he and several other men quietly replaced the Director's leaking roof over his office over the weekend, when the others in the community refused to do anything about it.

Several years ago, a man came to buy potatoes and left his 12 year old son with Carlos to gather up more potatoes to be ready when he came back  with the horse in a few days.  The boy attended the fellowship meetings while waiting for his dad's return and then begged to stay with Carlos' family to be in the meetings.  He's grown now and has a couple years of working in Lima behind him...and will likely be starting in the Work when Don returns. Carlos shared the story of the community men getting beaten with egg-sized hail stones while waiting for the workers to pass through a thick timber on the trail to Olmos, pledged to kill them with their shotguns. That day those brothers, Derick Clark and Robert Wood, were planing the planks of the floor that I am sitting on right now. One of those men, later called on Carlos to ask the workers to have his little daughter's funeral and later professed and confessed that he was there. Carlos told me he left the workers working on the planing and went and prayed three times that day...feeling so heavy that something was wrong but they wouldn't hear not going for their evening Gospel meeting.
The storm that finally came, came with such a fury that had never been seen before or since and was so strong it stripped the trees bare of leaves and left the men bruised and beaten and in the open. The priest down in Chota was so jealous of the Work that he gave orders to men up here to stop it.  We were in Olinda Diaz' home (began in the Work in 1994 ). One night in this home, men gathered to plot their strategy and drank for courage and then left in the dark to kill the brothers. On the way they began to argue amongst themselves whether to kill Carlos or the brothers....the dispute turned sour and one man shot another, so one ended up in the hospital and the other in jail...and the brothers slept through the night in peace.

When every other attempt failed, the priest plotted with two brothers from Chota to persuade their lawyer brother in Cayamarca to go to the Immigration Offices in Lima and have the workers put out of the country. This brother agreed and they left Cayamarca at 9:00p.m. One hour later, they crashed into the back of a semi-trailer truck left broke down on the highway and all three died on the spot. As Trevor said, "How can we fear the future..."

Tomorrow morning we begin the 3 hour hike, 3,000 ft decent to Lajas and then some of us to Chota.  Tues. morning we divided again into three groups, mine going to Ramoscucho. They have been preparing me for what is ahead....cold (heavy frost every morning) and over 12,000 ft. altitude.  Last evening, Trevor said he was giving me his sleeping bag and some glucose tablets for the long hikes ....just in case. This field with about 100 friends now, was pioneered by sisters, and one of them, Lillia Perez, will be returning for her first time since leaving there. 

They walked ten hours to get there in the beginning...now a road will take us within three hours.  This area was the "stomping grounds" of a famous cattle thief from Coyunde. After he professed, he felt he owed it to these people to be able to hear the Gospel, too. He sold his land here and bought land in that high country where it's difficult for anything to grow and moved there in a desperate effort to persuade the workers to go. I'm looking forward to meeting him. 

The speaking list for Sunday at Ramoscucho is Sunday November 25, 9:30 a.m. Dan Henry, Lynette Lee, Almansor Diaz, Angelita Guevara----1:00p.m. Johan Marais, Elsa Zarate, Lillia Perez, Hector Diaz.  Plus Gospel Meetings every night in different parts. 

Next Monday we travel again, this time towards our final convention in Peru.....Lima.  Tomorrow I hope to check mail in Chota. Lyle is sitting across from me.  He's kept well, but fighting a sore throat and cold tonight.  He is enjoying all of this as much as I.  He's been very helpful in all the meetings....as we would expect.

Supper is called....french fries....can you believe it!! 

Your grateful brother....Dan