Hello and goodbye! ¡Hola y chau!
Whichever way you understand it, we have said it. On the 14th of January, we officially celebrated our first year in Arequipa. What a journey we have been on and it’s only the beginning! While we do have mixed emotions about this past year—saying all those good byes along with the challenges before us for this next year—we are confident in God’s provision. He has been faithful and will continue to be our Guide.
As I think about our first year’s journey, I remember living right below the McKinzie’s apartment for a few months. From there Briana and I would take turns caring for Evan while the other went off to language school for four hours. I remember learning combi routes, thanks in part to our teammates, in order to find grocery stores, restaurants, and team-members’ houses. The day nearly all of our things arrived from the U.S. was a crazy rush of excitement along with a lot of hard work!
It was a unique experience this winter (your summer!) to witness the life and rhythm of five interns from Harding University, Abilene Christian University, and Oklahoma Christian University and all the hard work that goes into hosting and caring for them. The smiles and tears of seeing our families for the first time in over seven months was a blessing that won’t be too quickly forgotten. Some of my fondest memories will be our transition into the church life here. Of course everyone welcomed us warmly and slowly our Spanish allowed us to develop the beginnings of lasting relationships. The songs, communion, and fellowship between our church family always set my heart and mind in focus. This is what being reconciled to God through Christ is about. Sharing time and space with brothers and sisters while remembering the awesome sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This is why we have come. There are more here that need to experience this reconciliation through Jesus Christ. What a journey we are on as God calls us to help him build up his Kingdom here. This is his mission, and we are excited about being his servants and his ambassadors in Arequipa.
The last thing I want to mention about my first year is God’s faithfulness. I prayed for a friend and God answered. I wanted to practice speaking conversational Spanish and to understand more of the culture that bombarded me every day. God’s faithfulness showed up one night at a youth event. Juan was the first one to arrive that night, five minutes early which is really strange for your average Peruvian. From that moment on, Juan hardly ever missed an opportunity to hang out. He started coming over to our house regularly and his visits became a part of our family time every week. We would go to the park with Evan and it was always great watching him interact and play with Juan! We even went to a free German movie sub-titled in Spanish!
Juan is definitely seeking a relationship with the Lord and I am so glad God brought him to us. Sadly, Juan has applied and been accepted as an exchange student in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is a wonderful opportunity and we are already connecting him with other missionaries that are serving there. Just as God was faithful in bringing Juan to me, I pray that God sends him there in order to bless the lives of others like he did mine. Chau for now, Juan!