Many of you may already know Manuela through the Smiths or McKinzies. She has worked for them for the last six years and has been a part of the church for the last five, but she also has worked as a seamstress making sweaters, as a caretaker for the elderly, she has cooked food that she then sold on the street, she has had a small convenience shop, and has made paper flowers to sell for people to put on graves. She is a woman of many talents and getting to sit down and talk with her the power of Jesus and her faith in Him shine bright.
Manuela grew up in Arequipa, has two kids, five grandkids, and six “gringo grandkids” (she calls the Smith and McKinzie kids her own). She owns a home here in Arequipa where she lives part time with her kids and grandkids and she also has been constructing a home on the outskirts of town for about 9 years now where she lives on the weekends. She laughs at the fact that she now owns two houses because she said she never even dreamed of owning one house and “now I have the house in Naranjal!”
Manuela raised her two kids as a single mother, working hard to provide food and school fees. She will admit that she has had a hard life, but she quickly follows that with, “but God never abandoned me.” This has become her testimony.
I asked her when she became a follower of Jesus, expecting a month and year answer. But she answered, “When I took off the blind fold and saw the reality of Jesus.” Manuela became a Christian in 2009 but she will admit that God had been working in her life before she even knew, and looking back she can see it because “I never lacked anything.”
Other than dancing at fiestas, Manuela states that one of her hobbies is reading the Bible and this is where she has received her strength. Her favorite book of the Bible is Proverbs because when there is something going on in her life that she doesn’t understand, she will search Proverbs and find something that speaks to the situation and this gives her tranquility. She said, “The Bible makes me strong although sometimes on the inside I am hurting, but I know that God won’t leave me, and this helps me to go on.”
She wanted to make sure that all of you knew that “it is worth it to come to Arequipa. It is a beautiful city and the people here are very welcoming.” Her advice is that everyone should learn to read and understand the Bible.
Manuela has a beautiful heart, full of love for God and His word, eager to learn more, but with so much to teach all of us about faithfulness to God through the tough times.