Etelvina wakes up each morning at 4 a.m. to take a shared taxi from her house to Avelino, the biggest market in town, where she buys fresh chicken, meat, vegetables, and other food items to carry back to her store and sell to her neighbors. Round trip takes just under two hours but she gets back in time to open her store by 6 a.m. Jeremy went with her on this excursion two years ago for one morning, but she has been doing this for 16 years now. That is around 5,840 mornings of waking up at 4 a.m. and making the same trip down to the market in order to provide her neighbors with the freshest meats in their neighborhood.
Coming in at just under 5ft. you wouldn’t know it by looking at her, but Etelvina is tough. And she has had to be. She raised her two kids on her own while searching for God. She had been a faithful Catholic for her whole life before she realized she was missing something. This began her journey to start a true relationship with Jesus.
After leaving the Catholic church she became a member at another church here in Arequipa for several years before switching to a different church. She said during this time her two kids would tease her about going to different churches but she would answer, “I just haven’t found what I’m looking for yet.” In 2010 she met Team Arequipa through one of their community libraries, began studying the book of Mark with them, and not long after was baptized. She said she didn’t remember the exact date of her baptism but that it was a “día maravilloso”.
Since then she has been a pillar for the church here in Arequipa and a great example for all of us. She loves to read her Bible and to study it. Joy is her favorite fruit of the Spirit and rightfully so because she has a joy that is contagious. She said, “Sometimes I cry, sometimes I sing, sometimes I laugh. But I rejoice in the Lord.”
Each morning at 4 a.m. while walking from her home to catch her shared taxi she recites Psalm 23. This has always been her favorite Psalm because she says there have been times where she has been surprised with her own strength and didn’t know where it came from, but she knows that it is Christ that gives her the strength. “In my toughest moments, I have felt Him with me.”
She asks for all of you to pray for the church here. She wants to see it grow.
Etelvina has found joy through her life and felt the presence of God with her through it all. She truly delights herself in the Lord and she wants everyone to find the strength from God that she has been able to find.