Today I walked with Adileen to school. Slowly. Her preschool is just about 14 blocks from our home, a distance I can walk briskly in 12 minutes or so, but a distance that at Adileen’s pace usually takes between 25 and 30 minutes. Special thanks to Katie, who discovered that Adileen could walk the whole way to school holding her hand while I was on a trip recently. There’s part of the walk where 5-foot sections of the wall are painted, each in a different color. I was filled with joy watching Adileen run to one, shout “Azul!”, and move on to the next, shouting “amarillo”, and “verde”, and “rojo.” So. Fun.
One of the biggest challenges for our family living in Arequipa is being so far away from family. Despite the distance, however, we’ve experienced the tremendous blessing of Adileen getting to know her grandparents. Katie’s mom, Ann, got here the day Adileen was born and stayed for a month! Katie’s dad, Kin, came for a visit during that time as well. Then my parents came for a week when Adileen was a month old. Since, they’ve both been able to come for another visit and we’ve also gotten the chance to visit them in the US, as well as Adileen’s cousins, aunts, and uncles. Throw in FaceTime and Adileen can recognize and (on a good day) name all of our family. All of this and Adileen doesn’t turn two years-old until January!
It's hard to believe that August is a year old already! This year has been full of love and learning.First birthdays are a big production here – food, gifts, party favors, clowns, decorations, cake, and games. We had August's party at a big park near our house. Planning and preparation was a cultural adventure in itself! It took several days to get everything ready. Many friends and neighbors came together to help us make it all happen. It was truly a beautiful picture of community.
One year ago I had recently graduated from Harding University with a degree in Spanish and Missions. I was looking forward to an exciting new year spent with Team Arequipa. However, I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into, and I mean that both in the sense of how I would be filling my days and with all the events that would happen over the next year. In the past year, I have come to love this city and culture, improved my Spanish skills, been in the midst of two missionary families transitioning back to the States, lived alone for the first time, eaten incredible arequipeño food, learned how to cook (kind of), avoided rabies, learned I was allergic to the rabies vaccine, climbed a volcano, seen a world wonder, read a few impactful books, learned how to share my faith, worked with house churches, come to a better understanding of what holistic ministry is, seen the various parts of what makes CUDA a great NGO and ministry, and experienced what life as a missionary could be like -- and I could keep listing things all day.
At the end of April we all flew up to Lima to meet up with other missionaries from Peru for a retreat. There were missionaries from Lima, Huancayo, and Cusco in addition to our three families from Arequipa. Gary and Francis Green, who work with Barnabas International, were also at the retreat to lead us in spiritual formation time. It was so neat and refreshing to get to be with the other missionaries that are all in different stages of their time in Peru but who all understand what each other are going through.
I am 7 months into my one-year apprenticeship with Team Arequipa, and time has definitely flown by. This time has been very formative and will continue to be, and I’m continually grateful for the opportunity to be here learning and working with the team. While there are some things I wish I had done differently, I did not know what to expect when deciding to spend a year in Arequipa, Peru. Much of the first half of my time here was spent getting used to the culture, living with 3 of the 4 families, and jumping around to experience and learn about the various aspects of ministry that each of the families is involved with. Here are some highlights from the past 7 months and what I have learned from them.
ne thing we try to do here is find things already present in the culture that we can use as a way to make relationships, deepen relationships, and share about Jesus. Believe it or not, Christmas here is pretty focused on Jesus. Even people who the rest of the year may have nothing to do with him will have a nativity set up in their house or business. Jesus is everywhere this time of year, so we decided to take advantage of that.
Jake and I are so happy to say that our sweet daughter, August Adele, is now two months old and doing very well! The transition of having a new life in our home has been packed full of love and learning. When we found out we were expecting we were thrilled. The creation of new life is amazing and is a strong reminder of how God works beautifully within this world. As some of you may know, shortly after finding out I was pregnant, my sister's son, Jackson, passed away suddenly at the age of four. The past seven months have been a whirlwind of emotions. On one hand we are grieving the loss of a beautiful life and on the other we are celebrating a new one. Trying to reconcile those two extremes has not been easy, especially being so far away from my family. These two significant events in my life have caused me to ask deep questions about faith and how God works in this world.
We have been in Peru for 2 years now! The past 2 years have flown by! It really seems like time moves faster here. Two years ago we said goodbye to family and friends, got on an airplane and moved to Arequipa as a family of 2. It took months for me to learn the language, figure out where was the best place to go grocery shopping, where to go for certain imported products, to make friends, meet neighbors, and I think it has taken the whole two years to make it feel like home.