In all likelihood, this will be my last Team Arequipa newsletter article. Back when we began our newsletter (check out Our Story!) in 2005 I gave absolutely no thought to the final article. Over the years I’ve written about a lot of things. Church planting, discipleship, fundraising, Sunday meetings, micro-finance, libraries, baptisms, furloughs, fundraising, struggles, joys, fundraising and more. As the vast majority of my articles have been about our development work through CUDA, it is fitting that I make my last contribution on the same topic.
If you have followed along with TA over the years you have heard us talk about culture shock, and just maybe you are hoping I won’t say much more about it now. Roughly two years into our time in Arequipa I was struggling. Struggling with Peruvian life and the differences that were (and some still are) so aggravating, learning a second language and always stuttering while my teammate and good friend spoke fluently, recovering from a miscarriage on foreign soil, and more. These struggles resulted in a period of…for lack of a better term “extreme grumpiness.” Though I put on a good face amongst Peruvians, among my teammates and my family I was often in a foul mood. As you would expect this came to cause problems on our team. Again to cut a long story short I found myself going into our first furlough at odds with my teammates, my work, my family and myself.
Over furlough I was ministered to through conversation and prayer, and the time away from our teammates served to give us the break we needed to refocus and move forward. I was shown a lot of grace, which allowed for needed changes to take place. Upon our return our team met and through discussion and faith we decided to, in a sense, specialize our time. Greg committed the brunt of his effort to church planting/planning/leadership and I was commissioned to focus on CUDA (then ICDU), the micro-finance program/libraries/working with Alfredo, and later Paty. Since then I’ve been honored to work with CUDA and its Peruvian directors in project development and execution, help launch and manage CUDA businesses and serve on the Board of Directors as President of the Board.
What began as four American missionaries sitting around a living room with one Peruvian listening to his ideas for development projects has grown into something much bigger. In 2009 we had one library functioning with an impact of around 20 people, in 2015 we will impact at least 650 lives in the library program alone. We have helped over 200 small business owners through loans, business management training, technical training and private management counseling. We installed latrines and solar panels in a poor neighborhood. In 2014 we began the Pura Vida health project, screening 500 patients for diabetes and assisting in 4 community health campaigns alongside the city’s clinic doctors. God has done more these last six years than we ever imagined, and shown us that there is so much more to come.
As we enter into our last month on the field, my role with CUDA here in Peru is diminishing each week. I have four more weeks to finish up a project outline with Paty, meet with Alfredo about overall direction, joke with Lucia and Nancy about their crazy (and amazing) library antics. Sure I can do these things over Skype from the US, but, it isn’t the same. This has been one of those experiences that, in every way, changes you. I will miss this.