After our retreat with other missionary families in March, I felt refreshed and encouraged to get back to work in Arequipa. I’ve always felt that my calling was to focus on making a few, strong, fellow disciples of Jesus; quality over quantity, so to speak, if one must be chosen over the other.
This Christmas was our 4th here in Peru. Which also means it was our 4th Christmas away from family, away from our traditions, away from the cold that actually makes it feel like Christmas. I am still not used to Christmas being during the hottest time of the year. It just never really FEELS like Christmas.
As a small house church network we're trying to be more intentional about serving. Of all the things that make Jesus's followers recognizable, service should be at the top of the list. Several months ago we started going to a girls' home and a boys' home each week to help the kids with homework and start building relationships with them. I go to the boys' home in Characato each week and have slowly gotten to know the 17 boys who live there, from 8 to 17 years old. Because of that ongoing relationship, I was invited to go with them to camp at the beach for a week. It was an awesome, exhausting experience.
We have now lived in our current neighborhood for 2 years. In the past two years God has blessed us with some true friends and great neighbors. However, there were still some people that live on our street that we didn’t know yet! So that is why we decided to throw a block party and invite all of the neighbors.
Just over a year ago, our relationship with Renso and Paola, Camila and Nicholas grew from a casual greeting on the street to the beginning of friendship when we were invited to Renso’s birthday. Several months later, after more times spent in each others’ homes (think pizza nights, among other things), times of conversations regarding faith, vocation, and family, they approached us about getting together to read the Bible with their family. We took our time reading through the story of Jesus recorded in Mark, being confronted and challenged by Jesus’s teachings, love, and authority. You’ve gotten glimpses of this growing relationship.
A little over a year ago Justin and I were discouraged as we repeatedly found ourselves standing by helpless, watching our efforts slowly fizzle away. We began praying for God to show us where he was already at work, Peruvian established services we could connect to, where we would become his hands, feet, and voice.
About eight months ago the pastor of an orphanage our church has served in contacted us.