teamAREQUIPA has already begun its work in the mission field: the Tyler, TX mission field. And while some of the work, done by the two young moms on the team is sort of behind the scenes, I believe it will have a significant impact on the future none- the-less. I am writing from a mother-of-a-possible-future- missionary perspective.
When I tell people that I will be moving to Peru for 10 years, among the first questions that inevitably follow are (1) Why? and (2) How can you take that precious baby that far away and for that long? Allow me to answer.
On the “why” front, there is the obvious answer of “to teach people about Jesus Christ.” My intention is not to be flippant with this response but to assume that we are on the same page about the obvious and that the question is aiming for a more personal answer.
I desire to focus my time and attention on a particular section of the population: the children, specifically those who have no family to call their own. It’s not just about food and clothing for the needy. It’s about finding them to be as vital to the kingdom as Jesus would have and going well out of my way so that they know I am there on purpose, for them, because of Christ.
Imagine being an orphan in a city in South America. This would probably be due to your parents dying or being in jail or just disappearing. If you are on the government radar at all, you would be tossed into an orphanage, which is basically a juvenile detention facility for the kids who haven’t actually gotten into trouble with the law...yet. Your “play” time would be when the workers drove you out to a fenced-in field and let you run around. I picture animals being let out of the barn to pasture for a while; how about you? The reason for this secure entertainment time is that the facility would get in trouble if you ran away, so they can’t risk it. The workers really do the best they can, but there are too many kids and not enough adults to guide them.
And then there are those who aren’t in the orphanage, living on the streets or still with abusive or drugged out parents. They survive, but life is very empty. We talk easily about letting kids be kids, but they don’t have that luxury.
Imagine next that the government takes you out of that setting, either one, and moves you to a Christian children’s home run by an American mission team. You wonder why they are there in the first place, and they tell you that it is because of Jesus. Your family was just Catholic enough for you to recognize the name, but you don’t understand why He would be a reason for an American to come give you a home. They explain that Jesus told everyone who believes in Him to take care of those who are alone. And out of all the places in the world, they chose to come to Arequipa and find you.
I have been praying for the children of Arequipa for years, because I realized that most of those I will meet had already been born. They may already be broken. They may already be lost and alone. I can’t explain it fully, but I miss people that I have not met. I have cried for pain in their lives that I haven’t experienced. I long to hold them close, but I don’t know their faces or voices or laughter. All because I have prayed for them and love them.
This informs the answer to the second question. How can I take Shaye so far away from home and family? Because I cannot bear the thought of meeting one of those Peruvian children in heaven and being asked, “Why didn’t you come?” Any answer I might want to give - “Because I wanted an easier life” or “Because I didn’t want to miss family moments” – just is not good enough. God has burdened me for those little ones, and I cannot refuse that call. I have a job to do. Jesus loves the little children, and I must make sure they know that.
Our fundraising journey has been one of faith and disappointment. We have been in ‘fundraising’ mode since January 2006, and the trip has been bumpy. There were times we thought we saw
clearly what the next turn would bring only to find out, yet again, that we are not in control. I believe God has used this process to stretch us, mold us, and form in us a testimony to His power. It turned out that all along He was preparing our home churches, our families, to partner with us in Arequipa. As we near the end of our preparation time at Shiloh I can see that all of our other plans were not quite as perfect as this one.
So far I haven’t told you anything new, I hope. Both Shiloh Road and Cedar Lane have committed to supporting the work in Arequipa, Peru for five years. We have been humbled and encouraged by their faith and trust in us. Though budget processes for both churches are still ongoing (though almost completed) it looks as though our salary needs will be achieved through their support! We are actively seeking support for our work fund and relocation expenses with the help of both churches. We have limited our seeking, as of now, to the Tyler and Tullahoma areas hoping that churches will rise up there. We envision two communities of churches partnering in a common cause and creating greater unity in those areas.
I haven’t given out any figures in this update; that was intentional. If you would like to know specifics feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I also want to let you know that our website has been revamped and has a few new features. On the main page (www.teamarequipa.net) you will find a “Support the Work” link. Clicking this will take you to a page where you can donate funds to us using PayPal. This is a secure way to give to the team and it has the options of being a one time or recurring donation.
We covet your prayers more than your dollars. We are finally learning to trust in Him for all our provision and the financial support takes care of itself. If you feel moved to support us financially know that you are an answer to prayer and we thank you. If you feel moved to pray for us know the same, we need your prayers. Together we will see great things done in Arequipa to His glory.
Many of you have asked what the food is like in Arequipa. Peru is known throughout the world for various foods. If you are a fan of french fries, pizza sauce, or sweet potato casserole, you have Peru to thank. I hope you are learning more about Peruvian cuisine by reading through the recipes featured each month. Aside from those dishes, in the next couple of newsletters I want to highlight some of the food that Peru is known for, specifically the food in Arequipa.
Peruvian cuisine is considered one of the most diverse in the world. Thanks to its pre-Inca and Inca heritage and to Spanish, Basque, African, Sino- Cantonese, Japanese and finally Italian, French and British immigration (mainly throughout the 19th century), Peruvian cuisine combines the flavors of four continents. With the eclectic variety of traditional dishes, the Peruvian culinary arts are in constant evolution, and impossible to list in their entirety.
Suffice it to mention that along the Peruvian coast alone there are more than two thousand different types of soups, and that there are more than 250 traditional desserts.
The great variety in Peruvian cuisine stems from three major influences:
- Peru's unique geography.
- Peru's openness and blending of distinct races and cultures
- The incorporation of ancient cuisine into modern Peruvian cuisine Peru is considered an important center for the genetic diversity of the world's crops:
- Maize (AKA corn), 35 varieties
- Tomatoes, 15 species 3. Potatoes, 4,000 varieties. The International Potato Center, which goes by its Spanish name's initials (CIP short for Centro Internacional de la Papa) that is devoted to the investigation and genetic conservation of the potato, is located in Lima, Peru.
- Sweet potatoes, 2,016 varieties
- Fish, 2,000 species of fish, both freshwater and saltwater (more than any other country on Earth)
- Fruit, 650 native species. It is also famed for its large number of species of bananas. The variety of climate itself can provide for the bringing of fruits from all over the world.
From Peru, the Spanish brought back to Europe foods which would become staples for many peoples around the world:
- Potatoes: Potatoes, originally from Peru, were considered livestock feed in Europe until French chemist Antoine-Augustin Parmentier began serving dishes made from the tubers at his lavish banquets. His guests were immediately convinced that potatoes were fit for human consumption. Parmentier's introduction of the potato is still discussed in Europe today.
- Maize: Maize is native to all of Central and South America.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes were introduced to Europe from Latin America.
“Early Peruvians immediately identified with the festival of Christmas due to the rural nature of the nativity story, where the baby Jesus was born in a barn. Andean Christmases began taking on characteristics of their own, and it is probably the most important celebration of the year. The Andean people put together Nativity scenes in churches and homes, perform dances and plays, and cook typical dishes.
“Paneton (a cake/ bread filled with fruits) is very
popular as are hot drinks of chocolate. In the week preceding Christmas, it is also popular for communities, churches or organizations to organize "chocolatadas" where people who are better off make a Christmas gesture to poor children by offering them a cup of hot chocolate and perhaps a small gift” (Amauta Spanish).
“The Andean Christmas celebrates the birth of the Christ with a Peruvian flare. Art and food highlight the celebrations and nativity scenes play a big part in the Christmas celebrations. Many of the scenes are carved out of the soft and pure form of alabaster marble called Huamanga stone.
Craftspeople also create Christmas retablos images. Retablos are a style of miniature carvings that when put together create a world of their own. The retablos consist of tiny human figures, animals, Christian saints, pre-Colombian deities, stars, mountains, lakes and anything the craftspeople can imagine. Beautiful carved gourds called ‘mates burilados’ decorated with Christmas scenes are also made.
“Gifts are not normally exchanged during the Christmas celebrations, but most communities continue the festivities until la Bajada de los Reyes (the arrival of the three wise men), celebrated on January 6th. Gifts are exchanged on this day” (Earthy Family).
As for Christmas sights that would be familiar to Americans, there are plenty of Western traditions in Peru. Christmas trees and Santa Claus in full garb are part of the holiday experience, although evergreens are not indigenous to the country, and December in the southern hemisphere is summer time. Not least, Christmas turkey is a popular and growing phenomenon in Peru. A recent article states that Peruvians will eat twenty-four thousand tons of Christmas turkey (Living in Peru).