This past Sunday, November 21, was one of the best Sundays I have experienced in our time here in Arequipa. I have witnessed lots of beautiful Sundays here, but I think the timing of this past Sunday is the reason that it felt like such a blessing. Two things…
We got up Sunday morning to be out at Naranjal by 9 am. Sunday was the inauguration ceremony of a new library, and it has been my favorite by far. I have taken part in four library inaugurations up to this point, but the reason this one stood out is because it was Naranjal. If you keep up with our work, you realize the significance of this event. We have established "amistad" (or in English "friendship") with this community. We have had a presence among the people in Naranjal for close to three years. This is the first library where this is the case. The words spoken by the community leader were words of thankfulness for all that has been done. The people are excited about the library. Alfredo, our Christian brother, spoke on behalf of the Arequipa Rotary Club and CUDA. He explained that a library is a place to discover new things and read about other worlds. Our dream is that this library will encourage the children and older generations to dream big about the future. It is an exciting time. Because I am mostly involved with the library work, I feel like I can have more of a personal impact on that community with the library ministry. I wish that all of you could have been there to see the children and parents looking through the books that so many of you back home helped to contribute. After the inauguration, we shared in a time of communion, singing, and teaching with the community. God be praised for what he has done, is doing, and will do in this beautiful place!
I am thankful for my mother-in-law's visit to see us. We were worn out from being at Naranjal all morning. Our house church meets at 2 pm in the Porvenir library location. On a Sunday where I would normally dread going to the meeting (because my kids would be grumpy and I would spend the whole time keeping them quiet through the meeting instead of participating), my mother-in-law offered to keep them at home--all you moms out there be ever so grateful for nurseries and free child care that the churches offer. Greg and I went to the meeting, and instead of carrying a huge diaper bag I carried just my Bible. All but two of our members came to the meeting. It was absolutely the most encouraging meeting I have been a part of. We shared in a time of singing, and after many songs we began to share about our week. Our group has used this month to fast and pray about various aspects of the church life here. One of those things is personal opportunities for evangelism. I sat there and listened to five of my Peruvian brothers and sisters share about the opportunities that have presented themselves to them in just this month. I cannot tell you how exciting it is to listen to their testimonies and pray with them about God furthering his Kingdom through them at this time. I couldn't help but think that this is what the church is for. Edification happened that Sunday. Prayers were offered and prayers were spoken in praise because of God answering our petitions this month. We sat around a table and broke bread in remembrance of the one that this life is all about. We ended our meeting by trying to memorize Galatians 2:20 for the coming week, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
I write these things to encourage you all at home. I wish that you all could sit at the table and share with the family here. I am indebted to you for allowing me to be one that experiences these things. Thank you so much for the blessing of these three years of ministry in Arequipa. God is amazing, and I can do nothing else but sit back in awe.