In 2008 two families, the McKinzies and the Smiths, arrived in Arequipa with the mission of planting churches supported by several people and churches. They also wanted to work in development. Meanwhile, I was in Arequipa working in development as Coordinator of the Peace Corps. As a man of faith I do not believe in coincidences, I believe that God prepares us for what his work should be. That is why everything in my personal and working life worked together to stay in Arequipa and together we started to work to form what CUDA is today.
The Christian Urban Development Association works for justice, joy, and wellbeing in the city of Arequipa. Urban poverty is a different type of poverty. We want to break the cycles of poverty that don’t allow kids to have a chance. We’re training teachers to improve reading comprehension strategies so that the kids they teach will know how to read, and who knows, maybe they’ll grow up to be teachers that already know how to read and can teach reading—and many will experience wellbeing because of it.
It all started with a small community library in the “Señor de Huanca” area. There Megan McKinzie, founder of Living Libraries, elementary science teacher and curriculum specialist, designed Living Libraries’ work model until 2011. Then the experience matured, and in 2012 the project took a new direction, becoming an educational intervention a school’s reading plan. Our pilot program: the boys’ school Gerardo Iquira Pizarro in Miralfores. I joined Megan’s team and together we adjust the curriculum for this new experience and so began the project of Living Libraries with the stamp of approval of the Regional Ministry of Education who certified the teachers who graduated our program.
This year has brought a lot of new changes for us but along with that many blessings. We started the year with the birth of our son, Kinney, on January 3 and Adileen has been a big sister in love with her little brother ever since. In February we began our new work with Harding University Latin America (HULA) study abroad program welcoming 29 students to South America
Hello to everyone! We have had such a good last several months. We celebrated Christmas with some neighbors on December 23, again with some other neighbors December 24, and then again as a team on December 25! Jaclyn and Katie cooked 4 turkeys in a span of 2 days upping the total number of turkeys cooked in their lives to 4. It was such a special Christmas spent with these friends and neighbors that have become like our family and treat our girls as if they are their own. Lots of pictures in this post!
This was our 5th Christmas to celebrate in Peru and over the years we have had to adjust to the different ways it is celebrated here. For one thing, it never FEELS like Christmas because summer vacation begins in December which also means December is usually one of the warmer months of the year. So, no white Christmases here. Christmas is celebrated here the 24th. A late dinner (beginning anywhere between 10PM-midnight) is served and fireworks across the city are shot off at midnight. Also, the Santa decorations that you see decorating houses either have Santa climbing a ladder or with a parachute. I guess since there aren't chimneys or snow there is no need for a sleigh.
In November, the church here held its third annual cookout for the children at the orphanage. We started by gathering together for singing and a time of worship. Then the kids were set free to play on the playground or the soccer field. While the kids played, several of us prepared lunch. At one point I stepped back just to watch as they laughed and served together. It was a special moment to witness and made me reflect on the Christian call to service. I could see four reasons why we serve coalesce in that one moment.
This is a time of year where I’m especially thankful for Living Libraries and the impact they’re making in the lives of kids, teachers, and their families here in Arequipa. Our team is phenomenal—Lucia’s leadership and Nancy’s artistic spirit combine with teammates and volunteers to make a huge impact. It makes me thankful for all of you who follow along and support us with your constant giving, donating books, and praying for us as you share Living Libraries’ story with others along the way. Thank. You.
When Jaclyn and I decided to be missionaries, two years in a foreign country seemed like an eternity. That commitment soon got stretched to three. Surely three years would be enough to change the world, right? When the three year mark drew close, we felt like we were just beginning to hit our stride in ministry in Peru. So at that point, after much prayer and counsel, we decided that we would stay until sometime in 2019.
Ten years ago Team Arequipa moved to Arequipa, Peru. At that time Team Arequipa consisted in Greg, Megan, and Ana Mckinzie and Kyle, Larissa, and Shaye Smith. Four years ago the Blairs and Daggetts joined Team Arequipa. Thank you to all of you who have supported Team Arequipa for the last ten or four years. You have been such a blessing to us and to the work here. Also, PICTURES!