This Christmas was our 4th here in Peru. Which also means it was our 4th Christmas away from family, away from our traditions, away from the cold that actually makes it feel like Christmas. I am still not used to Christmas being during the hottest time of the year. It just never really FEELS like Christmas.
As a small house church network we're trying to be more intentional about serving. Of all the things that make Jesus's followers recognizable, service should be at the top of the list. Several months ago we started going to a girls' home and a boys' home each week to help the kids with homework and start building relationships with them. I go to the boys' home in Characato each week and have slowly gotten to know the 17 boys who live there, from 8 to 17 years old. Because of that ongoing relationship, I was invited to go with them to camp at the beach for a week. It was an awesome, exhausting experience.
Our 2018 has started out busy but really great. It is summer time so things usually slow down as far as planning things go because a lot of people travel or go to the beach (it is only about 2 hours away). Thank you to all of you for your continued support and prayers. Please continue to pray for our neighbors that we are studying the bible with that God will be opening their hearts to him so that they can be a part of the Kingdom here in Arequipa.
On a level with C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy is one of those books that reframes everything you know about following Jesus. Read it yourself and buy another copy as a Christmas present for a friend or relative. I’m sure you’ll enjoy talking about it as you both read through it.
One of the biggest challenges for our family living in Arequipa is being so far away from family. Despite the distance, however, we’ve experienced the tremendous blessing of Adileen getting to know her grandparents. Katie’s mom, Ann, got here the day Adileen was born and stayed for a month! Katie’s dad, Kin, came for a visit during that time as well. Then my parents came for a week when Adileen was a month old. Since, they’ve both been able to come for another visit and we’ve also gotten the chance to visit them in the US, as well as Adileen’s cousins, aunts, and uncles. Throw in FaceTime and Adileen can recognize and (on a good day) name all of our family. All of this and Adileen doesn’t turn two years-old until January!
Over the past several years we, as a church, have had the goal to serve others. There have been several newsletter article references to our work and relationships with Pastor José Ingalls and the children in the orphanages that he runs (Paty's article "Being A Church of Servants", Sarah's article "Casa Verde" and Greg's article "McKinzie Reflections on CUDA 2016"). This August we started to visit the kids once a week and help them with their homework. I go with Paty every Thursday to the girls’ orphanage and Jeremy goes either by himself or with others to the boys’ orphanage. This has been a fun opportunity to strengthen our relationships with the children and the "tias" or caretakers.
Sunday October 22 was Peru's national census day. What this meant was that it was forbidden for anyone to be outside of their home on this day starting at 8am until 5pm because an army of over 1 million volunteers was walking around the country filling out the census reports by hand. A country of more than 30 million people was put on hold for a day. It was forced to rest.