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Ready to return

Polly and I  return to Lima on September 8.   This means packing and planning.  We are also completing our visits to supporting congregations.  We now find ourselves having more congregations than we are able to visit in one summer, which is an interesting problem of sorts.  I love visiting our supporters as it is encouraging both ways.  I really enjoy seeing how God is at work in local churches.  I find that our ministry encourages them.  I have been told several times this summer “I could not do what you are doing!”  For me the answer is complicated because God only asks us to do what we are capable of, however that is when he increases our capacity, stretches us and gifts us anew with the Holy Spirit.  Also for every person sent, in our case to Peru, there are hundreds of senders.  Ultimately what God calls you to do He will equip you – TRUST HIM!  This all assumes that we are both listening and willing to be obedient.

One of the joys of each summer is going to the Diocese of Albany and especially the Christ the King retreat center (CTK).  This was the vision of Bishop Dan Herzog.  He received a lot of flack for doing it.  However it is an amazing resource and a gift not just to the diocese but also to those who live close enough to use its resources.

Bishops Love and Herzog of Albany - two of the greatest and my most favorite bishops in TEC

Polly and I try to go to the healing services at least once a month on Tuesday mornings.  These are led by Fr. Nigel Mumford and his wife Lynn.  They are an amazing couple and triumphs of grace who minister faithfully at the healing center there at CTK.  Next door is the Convent of St. Mary where the dedicated sisters live, practice hospitality and pray.  They pray for our ministry in Peru for which I am hugely grateful.  Whenever we go we run into holy people – not least Bishops Love and Herzog and sometimes Bishop Bena.  It is a joy to be there and to be refreshed.  We usually try to take someone new so that they can discover this incredible resource and gift to the Church.


Last year I was asked – at sort of short notice if I could prepare a video talk on Mission as a mark of discipleship.  Here it is!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTp3zi4F3CY&feature=related.  The whole series is well worth watching and using in the local Church.  It is called “Marks of Discipleship”  – click this title and there are you tube segments and a study guide, introductions etc.  It was an honor to be invited to give one of these talks.  My prayer is that you will be blessed.

I also want to report that we survived tropical storm Irene.  We lost internet, phone and TV, but not power.  It was an amazing and devastating event for Vermont and especially our area.  Roads were washed out, bridges destroyed and some homes ruined.  However Vermonters just got on with the work of helping each other and working hard.  Gravel trucks and road machines have been working all day, every day.  For a while we were isolated by the rising Williams river.  However three hours after the crest the waters subsided and we could get out again.  We are safe, the world is uncertain and we are in God’s hands.  Thanks be to God!

Looking towards Brockways Mill road

Our neighbor across the river flooded out

Polly on Williams Rd.

Chester, VT washed out road.

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England – my father, family, London, Oxford and St. Mary’s Church near Cambridge.

Dad - Hector Montgomery

I arrived in London on Fathers’ Day, three hours late and weary.  My brother Andrew met me and off we went to see Dad.  He was in fine shape and we had a brief visit.  On Wednesday we returned and spent a bit longer.  Dad recognized me instantly and recalled early memories which is where his mind is these days.  He is well cared for and happy.  He is now 94.  God willing I shall try to get back for his 95th birthday next April as next summer will be crazy in London with the Olympics.

On Tuesday I made a pilgrimage to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Behind the high altar at St. Paul's

I was made a deacon there in September 1975 and then priested at the end of June in 1976 – so this was an anniversary.  When I was able to enter – the Queen was there for a special service and I did see her drive by – I was able to sit reflect and remember.  It was a very special time.

On Thursday and Friday I stayed with Bishop Henry Scriven of CMS (Church Missionary Society).  We had been made deacons together in 1975 at St. Paul’s and have stayed in touch over recent years as we were both in the US and now work with CMS and SAMS.  Not only did we catch up but also were able to work on a number of things affecting Peru.

Martyrs' Cross in Oxford

No visit to Oxford is complete for me without a visit to three places.  Blackwells, Brown’s Cafe in the market and – MOST IMPORTANTLY – the martyr’s cross in the Broad Street where Latimer and Ridley were burned at the stake in 1555.

On Sunday I was in Buckden, near Cambridge with my cousin Richard Noble and his wife Rachel.  They had called friends and family and we had a wonderful reunion over the two days spent there.

St. Mary’s Church in Buckden is old and lively.

Celebrating Holy Communion at St. Mary's

I was invited to speak at the Family Communion service.  The Rev’d Ally Barrett hes designed this service for once a month and it involves the children as well as adults.  It was fascinating how she helps weave it all together.  I had a board of pictures up as a story board.  For the prayers she gathered the children under the Holy Communion Table and there they used a heart, a circle and pictures of people being prayed for.  This included lots of Peru pictures as I was introducing the congregation to what God is doing in Peru.

Speaking at St. Mary's

No visit to London is complete with out a visit to my nephew David’s pub.  It is called the Ladywell Tavern in Lewisham.  We had a wonderful family time as Andrew’s three – plus Julie and including Natasha’s boyfriend Patrick – gathered for dinner, quiz night and drinks.  It was fabulous.

Andrew, Julie, David and Chris at the pub

I am now safely back in the USA – writing this while I await my flight from Detroit to CT where Polly will meet me.  I am thanking God for a great ten days with family and friends, remembrances and, amazingly, flight upgrades to make the trip home easy and comfortable.  God is so GOOD.

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Cabanaconde – with Fr. Alejandro and a team from St. Philips, Frisco, TX

Polly in traditional costume with me

It has been a joy this week to be in Cabanaconde, high in the Andes above the Colca Canyon.  The village is at about 11,000 feet and is accessible by road having driven over a high pass at 16,700 feet.  Fr. Alejandro, assisted by Deacon Justo, minister to this flock and to  some villages on the far side of the Canyon.  These latter are only accessible  either by foot or mule.  This week we participated in an evening of ALPHA as well as a teaching session attended by six villagers from the far side who had walked for two days to get to the San Felipe mission.

Bishop Godfrey and Padre Alejandro

This mission was initiated by Bishop Godfrey and Fr. Clay Lein, the rector of St. Philips, Frisco, Texas over six years ago.  Since that first time when the ground was consecrated teams from Frisco have built a two story ministry center.  They are building a church, where we held an open air communion service.  Meanwhile a general purpose room serves as a chapel.  San Felipe has asked the diocese for permission to complete the church building and then they hope to generate church income by giving hostal accommodation for trekkers.

For me, one of the highlights was being able to share the gospel and give a bible to one of the local park rangers.  Several of us were sitting at the canyon rim and chatting while awaiting part of the group who had gone exploring.  He, Onofro, wanted to know who we were and then more about Anglican Christianity.  He was thrilled to have a bible.  It was a bi-lingual one that had been given to me earlier in the year by Bishop Godfrey.  Onofro has promised to read and he will chat with me in October or November when I return, though by then I am sure he will have had some great conversations with Padre Alejandro.  When I return he has promised to take us to the villages on the other side – we will travel by mule, I hope.  What a joy and blessing.  Please pray for Onofro.  In this village, tradition tends to insist that people be Roman Catholic. even if nominally so.

Ian with Onofro, proudly showing off his new Bible.

Polly and I return to Vermont May 25 – Please pray for safe and easy travel.

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Polly blogs again – she is amazing and on this Valentine’s Day I am blessed by her love.

Today is Valentine’s Day and I am so blessed to be married to Polly.  Here is her latest blog , full of wisdom and peace.  She blesses me so much and I love her truly.  We are now getting towards  35 years together – amazing and grace filled years.  The adventure goes on!  She first got to love me as I played then guitar – now I entertain her on the banjo – life gets better and more fun.  Thank you God.

Do read Polly’s blog from today – it is great.  http://montgomerymusings.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/chicken-foot-soup-critters-and-ocean-waves/

Ian singing to Polly - Love songs anyone?

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More Godly Play from Polly

Check this one out – Polly has added more here http://montgomerymusings.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/more-godly-play/

 

 

Polly chatting with Ruby

 

 

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Polly’s latest post – a great read – Godly Play

Noah's Ark and animals made locally for Godly Play

Over a year ago Bishop Godfrey asked Polly to take a fresh look at Sunday School for Children.  Polly spent hours and days, then weeks and months cataloging and analyzing all the ways that children have been taught in Sunday school.  Her conclusion was that she would study Godly Play.  This she did, carefully, prayerfully and in great depth.  She is now teaching Godly Play here at the cathedral in Lima.  Her blog article is here

http://montgomerymusings.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/teaching-kids-about-god/#comments

What Polly omits is that the attendance seems to have doubled and the kids are both learning and enjoying it hugely.  I have fun helping with the bits and pieces that help the telling.

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Lima Public Transport – a blessing

Collique from Mision - Jusus Fuente de Vida

Yesterday afternoon Polly and I went to celebrate and speak in Collique.  This shantytown mission has been the work of Edith Varillas and her husband Jerry Acosta.  Polly is working on her own blog about this so check hers out.

Jerry Acosta, on the left, Polly front right - worship

Both are seminarians and Jerry was a Pentecostal minister.  Together they have built up this ministry in an area on the northwestern fringes of Lima.  They meet in the downstairs of a borrowed home.  They educate, feed and nurture a wonderful group of adults and children.  I have only been able to visit a few times as it has been so difficult to get there, even by taxi (which could get expensive!)  Lo and behold, as of a month ago, Collique is accessible by public transport.  It takes the best part of two hours.  First you take a microbus to the Metropolitano – ten minutes.  The Metropolitano is the newest of Lima’s public transport projects.  Its new gas powered (green) long buses whisk you past miles of churning, often stalled, traffic.  We go to the end of the line and there – after fifty minutes travel – there is a bus awaiting in their feeder system that works at either end of the main route.  There is a bus to Collique that takes another twenty minutes.  From there a microbus takes us the last few blocks uphill and we are there.

Enough raving about the transport!  However it does mean that I shall be more regular out there as it is so easy to travel there.

It was such a joy to worship there with these youthful and vibrant folk.  Polly was able to spend time talking with folk after the service.  As we walked downhill to catch the bus home she chatted with Marisol and Ruby  They are in the plaid and the yellow blouses in the picture on the left.  Ruby was sharing how she committed her life to Jesus Christ just a very few years ago through Edith and Jerry’s ministry.  She is mother to a teenager.  Marisol is a volunteer who now lives in Collique so as to be near her ministry – she works  in town.

Before we gathered for worship Edith showed Polly where they hope to acquire some land so that they can build their own “Capilla.”  It will take a lot of hard work, but that is what Peruvians are good at and this congregation is devoted to the Lord and they will clear and build with their own if the opportunity comes to them.  This is also the type of project that is great for a mission trip or more.

Showing Polly the hoped for property

I am thanking God for this wonderful congregation and the dedicated work of Edith and Jerry, AND that it is accessible thanks to the Metropolitano!

More pictures below: –

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RIP Marge Cooper – Remembrance Sunday

Marge Cooper - RIP

This afternoon Polly’s mother died in her bed.  A week before we had a huge alarm but she survived and spoke with all the children and some grandchildren over the last week.  THAT is a HUGE blessing.  Marge was an incredible Christian woman.  Fun, committed, fiercely independent, loving and I will miss her hugely.  Polly, Jon and Peter even more.  Katherine took the picture on the right.

The funeral will be later this week and Polly and I fly up tomorrow night.  We will stay a week.

This morning at the Cathedral in Lima I preached on Remembrance Sunday.  In many ways it was an apt day for Marge to pass on.  Joe, who died in 1974 was in the navy.  I am attaching my sermon FWIW.  Please pray for the family and traveling mercies as we reunite in Cleveland, Ohio this week.

Remembrance Sunday – November 14, 2010

Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, Lima, Peru.

Canon Ian Montgomery

I am the son of a paratrooper, a red beret.  When I was born in 1944 my father was “missing presumed dead.”  News of his being alive was received on Dec 12.  He was wounded (he lost an arm) and a guest of Hitler.  My late mother, who was MI5, had been widowed in 1939, my maternal grandmother in 1917.  I was born into a family deeply marked by war, by death and by the ideals of service and duty.

My first memories are of bomb wrecked England and Germany.  We were part of the occupation of Germany from 1945-49.  I still have vivid but fragmentary memories of Hitler’s destroyed Bavarian residence.  As late as 1965 I visited East Berlin and saw the same types of ruins and devastation.  War is horrible – war destroys.  Yet in the midst of war we remember those who went to fight and die.  They went, not as a superior warrior caste.  They were ordinary people like you and me who sought to serve and be faithful; to defend their loved ones, their country, freedom as they understood it.  They fought in terrible places.  Many survived and many did not.  My mother used to tell me “we fought and sacrificed so that you would not be a slave to Herr Hitler.”  War was and should be only a tragic necessity – a last resort – to preserve peace and justice.

I share this personal background because then you may be able to understand why I believe it is so important today to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for us, for me.  I come out of the WWII community, where some of my friend’s parents bore the tattoos on their forearms that marked them a survivors of the concentration camps – Jewish survivors of the abomination called now the Holocaust.   It also may explain why I am a Christian and a padre.  I was brought up in this context to understand concepts of service, duty, faithfulness and obedience.  As a Christian I serve Christ who embodies obedience, service and selfless love.

As a schoolboy I sat in chapel next to the Memorial board.  At the end of the roll call was the text John 15:13.   Greater love hath no man than this, that he give his life for his friends.

These questions are always present: –

  • How shall I live?
  • Do I live for myself or for others?
  • What do I seek to achieve?
  • Do I believe in an ultimate good?
  • Will I pay the ultimate sacrifice, if need be, for the sake of others?
  • Do I live in hope or despair?

Today we remember those who answered these questions with their lives.  I want to paraphrase/mutilate the author Susan Howatch’s description of “Stainless steel Saints.” These whom we remember were not heroes who effortlessly bear intolerable burdens but ordinary people whose real heroism lies in doing the best they can in the most difficult of times.

Many years ago, as part of my vocational discernment, I looked very hard at being an Army chaplain, a Padre.  I was especially struck by the testimony of a Sandhurst trained Army officer.  He stated up front that he could serve as an officer in Her Majesty’s Royal Army unless he was a committed Christian.  His faith sustained him daily as a soldier.

WHY?            He served, not as a warrior, but as a dedicated servant.  He was serving Queen and country.  He was serving us, serving me, in order that we might be protected and be free.  His convictions were born out of what we call the Great Commandment.  It is found in Mark 12:29-31.  I am quoting from the BCP 1662.

Our Lord Jesus Christ said:
Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord;
and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.
This is the first commandment.

And the second is like, namely this:
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
There is none other commandment greater than these.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

The word that we so easily use – LOVE – is a word full of meaning when used by Jesus.  It means the utterly selfless love that seeks only, and will sacrifice all, for the sake of the beloved.

We live in a world that celebrates success over service and self over others.  We follow a form of social Darwinism that regards self-sacrifice as weakness and death as a kind of failure.  Those we remember today served in war and paid the ultimate sacrifice.  Not all were Christians, though they united to confront a common enemy.

I speak as a Christian in a Christian Church.  As Christians we follow a different “drummer.”  We exalt service.  What the world calls weakness we believe to be strength as God strengthens us.  Christians call themselves servants, bondservants, even slaves of Christ.  We do it for LOVE –

God willing with God’s understanding of that word.

St Paul grounded this kind of LOVE when he speaks of the marriage.  He says “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her.” (Eph. 5:25)

Those we remember loved us, served us and died for us.  They were ordinary people who gave themselves to save us, keep us free, in my mother’s words about WWII, to save us from slavery.  God called out some extraordinary leaders and we thank God for them.  Most of us would simply have been those led, as were my parents, grandparents and their generation.  Since then wars have not ended.  Many more have died.  Sadly many more will die, as the world seems not to change much.  Perhaps the big wars are over – I hope so, but am not holding my breath – however small wars proliferate.  The war on terror is worldwide.  Some fear a return to dark ages of religious wars, intolerance and incivility.  Many in the West seem willing to parlay their comfort for their freedoms.

Jesus speaks to this.  In our passage today from St. Luke’s Gospel we hear these words:  (also repeated in Mark and Luke’s Gospels)

When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21:9-11)

Jesus is putting all things in perspective.  The grand buildings of which their civilization was so proud would fall.   Christians – his audience would be persecuted and betrayed.  Eventually an end will come.  After the END there will be a new beginning that we call NEW CREATION.  The passage ends with these words:

By standing firm you will gain life.

Those we remember stood firm.  They have left us a legacy of both freedom and sacrifice.  We must never forget them and what they died for.  In my first parish in London there was a memorial rood screen.  On the screen were carved the words of Revelation 22:1:

The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

The image is of fallen leaves.  In autumn the leaves fall off and the trees look barren.  In the spring comes new life.  This is their gift.  Will we use it well?

As Christians we have what we call HOPE.  This is not simply a heavenly home in the bye and bye.  It is a hope born of the knowledge that Christ has died to save us from our sin and granted to us forgiveness.

By Christ’s sacrifice and death we are granted forgiveness and a new beginning.

By Christ’s resurrection we are given the sure and certain hope of eternal life.

Christ was obedient unto death, death on a Cross and we are bidden to follow him, confident in the power of God to bring us through death to life – life in all its fullness.

Christ wants to give us his Holy Spirit so that we may be changed from the inside out and given the strength of His living within us to be different and to live no longer for ourselves but for God and our neighbor.

Is this your hope?

Today we remember those who have died.  We give thanks for their sacrifice.

We will never forget them.

They have given us a legacy.

Today God calls us to embrace lives of self-sacrifice and self-giving.  May God give us that strength and will to make a difference.

May God help us to stand together.

The battle continues but the victory is Gods.  Stand firm – make a difference – love God – love your neighbor.

Thus, we will honor their legacy.  To do otherwise is to make their sacrifice, their deaths, meaningless.

WE REMEMBER.  WE GIVE THANKS.

AMEN

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I have walked away

We follow the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night

As of this morning – October 22, 2010, I am no longer serving as the executive director of Amigos del Peru.  It is my belief that as a fund raising entity AdP will be better served by someone resident in the USA.  I will continue to serve AdP as Bishop Godfrey’s assistant.  I will continue to establish relationships in the USA so that our bishops can effectively raise funds for what God is doing in Peru.  I will continue to produce newsletters, Noticias (our official Diocese of Peru newsletter) and be Bishop Godfrey’s contact in Peru for partner relationships.  None of that changes.  The title changes and serving the board of AdP changes.  I continue to be passionate about what God is doing in Peru and as a missionary I continue to serve my primary calling which is the serving of the clergy as they grow in spirituality and skill, to teach in the seminary and to assist Bishop Godfrey.  I will continue to serve AdP under Bishop Godfrey’s direction in my capacity as Canon of Development for the diocese.

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Back home again – in Lima

Am I really back? YES everyone is speaking Spanish!

Here we are again!  Back in Peru and loving it, though frankly–a tad overwhelmed.  It is not that Lima has changed much in three months; it is simply a case of culture shock, again, and adjustment in the midst of what feels like a whirlwind.

We arrived on Thursday night in the wee hours, stayed with friends and wondered why our Spanish was so rusty!  Never fear, this is immersion!  On Saturday we moved into our new unfurnished apartment.  For the next ten days it was still in process with Maestro Luhan working to get it finished for us.

View from the apartment

The apartment has been made available to us by one of the ex-pats from the cathedral where we worship and minister each week.   The apartment is large, the rent modest,  and the location wonderful – Praise God!  It was unfurnished so we have been buying the basics – beds, stove, dining table, chairs and sofa.  We have put up curtains.  We have been blessed with guests and daily visitors from the first week we were here – see Polly’s blog here.  It has been a joy – if a tad crazy.

The Saturday after our move we celebrated the consecration of our new missionary bishop – Mike Chapman.

+Mike Chapman

The house was full.  I was the designated photographer and you can see my results here, and here.  It was a wonderful time of celebration and new beginnings.

Bishops, clergy and seminarians after the consecration

It was a time of renewal and fellowship in this wonderful Anglican community on mission here in Peru and South America.  The service began at 6:00 p.m. and ended about 8:30 p.m.  It was followed by a huge reception and then dinner at 10:00 p.m. at Bishop Godfrey’s home (yes they eat late around here).   We got home around midnight.  I had promised to preach the next day and celebrate the early services at the cathedral, so very groggy but hugely energized I did so. Then I enjoyed a long nap.

We have been taking it a bit easier this last week; however, we are both very involved with ALPHA now at the Cathedral.  I am also trying out for the Christmas pantomime, which is performed at the Cathedral every year. This year, it is Cinderella.  We shall see if my stage skills are still there as I acted my way through high school.  It is a fun to be involved in the larger community, and this is a great group of ex-pats.

Reuniting with the clergy has been a joy.  I am invited to assist at some of the shanty town missions.  It is a privilege and they say that they want me to come because I “connect” with the people.  This has to be a gift of God as my language skills are still iffy.  Basically I just love to hang out with the people, chat a bit, and share the God’s love.  We shall see where and how I am used.  I love these people and am so thrilled by what God is doing.  I am continually amazed that I am privileged to be a part of what God is doing here.

Fiesta familiar, Lima Sur. Bishop Godfrey, Deacon Pat and folk from Nazareno missions

Yesterday I attended a great parish and youth gathering in Lima South where all the Anglicans gathered for fellowship, football (soccer) and volleyball.  It was a grand time.

A delight and privilege since returning has been gifting banjos.  There is a guitar, too, that I will be able to give next week to one of the churches.  I was given two banjos to gift down here and had another that I was able to give away.

Padre Benjamin toca su nuevo banjo conmigo

This instrument, which is my delight, is fairly novel, even exotic, down here.  They love it and I have loved playing it here in the midst of worship.  There are some amazing musicians, and it is a joy to see some of these players adopt this new instrument.  The guitar to be gifted was paid for by a supporter in Milford, Connecticut.  One of the local missions had asked for a guitar, and he responded with a check.  God bless you donors!

Please continue to pray for us here.  Those who support us in prayer and $$$ are all partners in this ministry.  Please do not stop!  The cost of furnishing and setting up the apartment has been huge. Furniture and appliances are often more expensive than those in the U.S.  Where possible we have bought used.

Paul Tester - CMS missionary and youth minister - hanging out for Jesus

We continue to be on the front line spiritually– evangelizing, discipling and teaching the people here in Peru.  Our “banner” is “Bringing Jesus to People and People to Jesus.”  This is what we are about here in Peru as part of a fantastic team and a wonderful Church.

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