Let’s do this!

10 Mar

So last week was pretty difficult. We spent a lot of time feeding the bureaucracy. This is what I posted on FB:

Inbox 34. Trying to make it under 21 tonight. 13 seems far away. I ask myself how I can possibly be this busy when I am producing virtually no income. Then I remember: Immigration, whole day blown. Received an offer on our house, updated seller disclosure, countered, put the house up for rent (more paperwork). Tried to become manager of my Peruvian company, back and forth with Registros Publicos. Tried to submit missing document to unblock the company bank account and failed because I’m not the legal manager (thanks to Registros Publicos). Taught 2 Android classes to 2 students. Two visits to the accountant, two to the office where I’m sometimes able to meet with the lawyer who’s been helping us. I forgot all the trips to the notary, getting copies made, etc.

In the US, it was a blessing to use the Internet to eliminate phone calls. Here, it would be a blessing to understand Spanish on the phone so I could eliminate trips across town. Business is incredibly inefficient and paper-driven, and I’m about to give up on understanding Spanish on the phone. If I can’t get it soon, I’m going to go crazy.

Thankfully, the kids actually had a pretty good first week at school. I think they are handling the challenges much better than Vicki and I are!

The hardest part for both Vicki and I has been language. I can hear and speak a lot now, but still lack confidence on the phone and that means I get to walk a lot. I enjoy walking and use the opportunity to learn the city and meet people in local businesses, but it’s not very efficient, which has led me to wonder at times whether we will ever have time for useful work.

It turns out that we have come to Peru in perhaps the most difficult way possible. The easiest way is as a tourist, and many of our friends in language school do exactly this, coming for only six months at a time. But my objectives to help train Peruvians require a more permanent presence. If we had come with an organization (such as a missions organization, NGO, or employer), the organization would have been able to help us with process and contacts. But we were unable to find an organization that was a really good fit for what I’m trying to do with my gifts in technology and communication.

[Queue Fur Elise] Thus, we took the route of starting a business in Peru and working for that business. There is a business visa (we now know) which I could have obtained in the States which would have facilitated the process. However, it requires the help of an international law firm, which is quite expensive. By learning as we went and doing things locally, we have saved many thousands of dollars, even with all the mistakes. It just hasn’t been easy, and in fact, probably would not have been possible without the help of our friend Steve, whom we had not even met when we arrived (one of the many reasons I believe in Providence). Furthermore, the path we have taken requires that the Peruvian company actually earn enough money to support our family, which poses a challenge for the coming year. Living expenses are significantly lower (about half of the US), but wages are lower still. Thus, I may have less time to devote to pro bono projects, not more. Fortunately, technical training still has strong income potential here as long as you stay away from the universities!

With all this in mind, Friday night was probably the lowest point of our time here. We’ve now been here six months. I have officially completed language school and Vicki is close to finishing, yet we still can’t understand most phone conversations, so our day-to-day efficiency is low. We’re still feeding the bureaucracy on the work and visa fronts. We haven’t yet found long-term renters for our house in GA (largely due to our indecisiveness) and are thus lacking much of the income we’d anticipated while getting started in Peru. I’m starting to earn a little income through my US company, but none through the Peruvian company yet, which, as I mentioned, is important to maintain our status here. I’ve found only three developers who are prospective trainee / workers, but they are indeed promising and you have to start somewhere.

[Queue very loud fireworks at the neighbor’s–a regular occurrence here] In the midst of the disappointment, I decided to take Friday night “off.” Vicki and the kids took a taxi to chess club while I stayed home to watch messages from LIBERATE 2014. There is nothing like the consideration of God’s free and sovereign grace to cheer the heart. My biggest problems have been taken care of, and this earthly stuff is in the noise. The Sovereign of the universe calls me friend and brother. I needed to let that sink in for a while.

On Saturday, we met with our new-found friends from Alaska. As I talked through our plan and struggles with Mike, I began to hear myself saying things I’ve said before: “I can’t plan my way out of a paper bag. I’m never going to sell anything to anybody. Nobody needs a developer / trainer like me. There’s no way for me to make a living in any country on earth and still have time to give to Kingdom projects or personal ministry…” Then I remembered the last time I had said such things: it was after I left Intuit and had spent six months building RememberOneAnother.com with no prospect of income in sight… and about two weeks before I got the best job of my entire career (as a direct but totally unanticipated consequence of the work I had been doing). Hmmmmm. For me, that was not an isolated incidence, but rather the most recent instance of a pattern I have seem many, many times in my career.

If I understand the pattern correctly, it works like this:

  1. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” Step out in faith to act consistently with the Lord’s calling (as evidenced by current gifts and opportunities). This looks different for everyone. For me at this moment, it looks like working on technology projects in Peru that directly or indirectly benefit the Kingdom of God.
  2. Work the plan and trust the Lord for results.
  3. “…and all these things will be added unto you.” Get blown away as He meets every need in a “more than you can think or imagine” way.

So… by God’s grace, I’m on it. Language school is wrapped up, the company is almost operational, I have a few developers to train, and I have a long-standing unfinished task to bring RememberOneAnother to completion, including a mobile app. I’m going to work the plan and trust the Lord for results. In the mean time, I also plan to offer some courses through my Peruvian company in hopes of satisfying the income requirements here. This is also a step of faith but one which I believe to be consistent with my calling.

Vicki and I have been asked to lead the Tuesday night section of Arequipa English, which is part language study, part Bible study, and a great opportunity for personal ministry. With newfound clarity regarding priorities, there is no longer any hesitation to accept this. We both enjoy it, too.

As for today, I went to the immigration office this morning before it opened at 8am. There were already 7 people waiting outside, but I caught Sr. Fernando as he got out of the taxi and started to hand him the papers. Thankfully, he was in a good mood this Monday morning and motioned for me to follow him into the office. I had to put my body in the door to prevent another worker from closing it on me since the office wasn’t open yet, but Fernando intervened, looked over the papers for all of 30 seconds, and said I was all set! I am very, very thankful that it went so quickly. Now we can pray there will be no problems in Lima.

Then I went to town, had coffee at a nice little cafe whose staff I’ve been getting to know. The barista speaks some English and told me he’s planning to come to the English class I told him about Thursday night. On to met Steve, who made a special trip into town, at the bank, where the company papers where accepted. With any luck, I’ll be able to withdraw funds on Thursday.

Finally, I met the attorney who has graciously been helping us at a notary downtown. He was accompanied by an official from the Arequipa Bar Association, representing Arequipa’s 6,000 attorneys (!). I watched amusedly and tried not to giggle as the big dogs used the tools of their trade here in Peru, scissors and glue, to carefully cut the already notarized document and paste it into my company’s already notarized book of corporate records, in order to obtain yet another notarized document confirming that it had been duly cut and pasted. With said confirmation in hand, Lord-willing, we will proceed to Registros Publicos in the morning to pay $7 more and wait 7 days more in the hopes of becoming the official company manager for real this time.

Even though not everything is complete, I accomplished three unrelated things today, which makes it a rare “triple play” day here in Peru. And I had time to eat lunch and a delicious Thai meal made by Vicki for dinner, have two Google Hangouts with companies in Lima, drop in on David J’s software class at Cafe Berea for an hour, look at some potential classroom facilities for upcoming courses, and help Daniel with his homework in propositional logic, which is thankfully quite similar to the Boolean logic I know so well from computers. AND I had time to write this blog post.

We are grateful and anxious to see what the Lord will do.

3 Responses to “Let’s do this!”

  1. Michael Keating March 11, 2014 at 2:57 am #

    Praying God would continue to manifest His love and faithfulness there.

  2. Juan March 13, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    I suggest you to train your ear hearing a bad recorded tape of a local speaker with a known text so you can “catch” words off hearing, and repeating.

  3. Luna Jan March 13, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

    Hi David!

    My name is Janet. I’m from Lima but for the last 10 years I’ve lived Germany and Newnan GA! so I’m familiar with PTC and Tyrone area. But now my husband got relocated for his work to Arequipa and we are excited for our new beginning. We are planning to go to Arequipa in the middle of April… It is not sure yet, how you know the Visa process can take time. My husband is German so that is the reason for the work Visa. Don’t worry about the language, you will get it, don’t pressure yourself, just enjoy what you are doing and believe that Lord will take care of everything. I wish all the best for you and your Family!

    God bless,

    Janet

    Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 03:43:29 +0000 To: lunagirlfriend@hotmail.com

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