After our team’s first research trip to Arequipa I wrote an article about ‘Divine Contacts’ that had been made. So much has happened that I think this concept needs revisiting. Entering the “mission field” of Arequipa we felt very confident that we were supposed to be here. We had signs point to a ripening field for harvest in the city and we experienced God’s love and provision through our supporters in the states. Even still I think there has always been a few questions about how things would get started. We have our five year plan mapped out with reachable goals (with God’s help), so you can say we came prepared. A few signs of affirmation never hurt though.
We have talked at length about the blessing of our language school, and though we have ended our classes there the teachers that helped us so much in the beginning continue to bless our lives and work today. One in particular, Alfredo, has offered us his help at just the right time. Alfredo has been the director of Peace Corp’s southern Peru division. He has years of experience developing and implementing projects to meet the needs of the poor in and around Arequipa. Alfredo has offered his assistance to us as we begin to research the needs of the people we seek to serve. With his experience and contacts we now have an Arequipeño sounding board to make sure we gringos aren’t missing something or messing something up. He has already shared some project ideas that we are going to consider, and we look forward to meeting with him as a team very soon.
Years ago during our research trips we pinpointed Miraflores as a potential neighborhood for our long term settlement and work. We didn’t box ourselves in, but during those years we mentioned this neighborhood during conversations and presentations. While the girls were still in school we decided to walk three neighborhoods that we had identified as possibilities for our settlement. The three were Miraflores, Mariano Melgar, and Socabaya. In short after walking the three we all agreed that Miraflores was still where we wanted to be. One of the reasons we chose Miraflores was the proximity to the poor surrounding neighborhoods. Thanks to some advice we began looking for office space in Miraflores or the adjacent neighborhood of Alto Selva Alegre (ASA). After scouring the paper and calling all of the realtors, we had not found a good location for our office. One day Greg and I were walking through the main square in ASA and across the square I saw a piece of paper on a wall. I had seen this a week before but hadn’t gone to look at it. Something made me want to read it, so we did, and it was a posting for an office for rent. We couldn’t have found a better place than we have now. Located on the main square (called Holy Spirit Park) we have great access to the poor areas and to the people of ASA.
Last but not least are Alfredo and Emilio from our hotel of choice, El Roble. We have stayed in contact with them in the hopes of reaching out to them in the future. You may remember that Emilio is the one who told us to find him when we returned to Arequipa so that he could study the Bible with us. Well we’re back and guess what we found out upon talking with Emilio? He lives only a few blocks from our office in ASA. Pray for us as we develop our relationship with Emilio. As for Alfredo, he has always made us feel welcome as friends, and so a week ago Greg and I went and had a drink (cokes) with him. During our conversation he let us know that he would like us to study the Bible with him. Praise God for these two men who have been our friends and have helped us immensely! That Alfredo would ask us this is very humbling and honoring.
More stories are sure to come!