Alfredo, Kyle, and I arrived yesterday after our stateside promotional tour. It was a whirlwind trip. We arrived in Dallas and began setup for the Global Missions Conference, where we had an informational booth and a scheduled presentation. Our number-one goal for the trip was to get the word out about CUDA. That is a hard goal to measure, but I think we had success. Aside from the booth and presentation, we also sponsored a track of classes, so CUDA branding was featured in the published conference materials. We focused on the loan program, with the secondary goal of generating new micro-lenders. The loan program is at a point where it will begin to grow exponentially as long as we have the lender base to sustain it. Many of the loans we posted on http://cudaperu.org before flying out have been filled, and our expectation is that other new lenders will get on board in the coming month, so that feels like an initial success.
The conference was a great networking opportunity in general. We were encouraged by so many others committed to God's mission fellowshipping together. There was also a great deal of helpful material presented. In particular, I recommend Daniel Rodriguez's keynote address, which you can order here: http://www.dovecassettes.com/conferences/gm/gm11.html. We are really thankful to have had Tim Henderson, Joel Abrahams, and Bryan Tarpley accompany us and help out in a variety of ways. They made the trip even more worthwhile for us.
From Dallas we went to Tyler to be with the Shiloh Road family on Sunday. It was good to be home for a day, and we were encouraged by our Shiloh partners. And it was a special moment when Alfredo stood before the church and spoke thanks and blessing on behalf of the Arequipa church.
We drove Monday to Harding University in Searcy, AR. There we got to stay with our team mentors, Bill and Holly Richardson. We caught up with the past summer's Harding interns Monday evening. Tuesday included a chapel announcement advertising the loan program to the entire student body, meetings with smaller student groups, "teaching" a missions class, and a full presentation that evening. Wednesday was a 9 hour drive to ACU in Abilene, TX, where we went through the same process Thursday. Friday morning we got to have breakfast with former ACU interns, and then we headed out to Dallas, to spend the evening with family before flying out Saturday.
We also began conversations with some potential board members during the trip. The CUDA board of directors will be significantly transformed in 2012, as we formalize operations even more. The opportunity to have face-to-face conversations was a significant return on our investment. There were many other places and people we would like to have visited, but 12 days away from family and the work in Arequipa was all we could manage. Overall, it was a good beginning to a new phase in the work's development.