Meet the interns and hear what they learned spending two months with Team Arequipa.
One of the assignments of my internship with Team Arequipa this summer was to do a project related to missions in an area of my own interest. I chose to survey missionaries from around the world with some questions related to language acquisition. My objective was to understand how missionaries learn new languages and the specific ways in which ministry goals and cultural adaptation are contingent upon language acquisition. I sent out my ten-question survey through SurveyMonkey to as many missionary contacts that I and my mentors for this project could think of. A mix of 26 short-term and long-term missionaries from 11 different countries and territories shared their cross-cultural experiences as it related to language learning as well as cultural/ministerial goals. I explain some of my most interesting findings in this article.
For the past three summers (and the Smiths and McKinzies before that) we have taken interns from several different universities from the States. This year we welcomed four interns at the end of May who will have been with us for 8 weeks. During these 8 weeks they have gotten to take Spanish lessons, do a week long homestay with a Peruvian family, visit the Living Libraries, experience Arequipa, and be involved in the Bible studies and work that we do.
The interns are here, the interns are here! Every summer starting in the summer of 2009 Team Arequipa 1.0 hosted interns from various universities. We decided as Team Arequipa 3.0 to continue this work. This year we are hosting 4 interns for 8 weeks. We have 2 interns from Harding University, Lizzie Tripp and Paola Quijano, 1 intern from Oklahoma Christian University, Hannah Henley, and 1 from Abilene Christian University, Sam Jones. We are excited to be working and learning with these students for the 8 weeks they are here!
Every year Team Arequipa invites interns from the States to join the team for two months. They come on their Summer Break and live with the families in Arequipa. This year we have 5 girls with us through three different universities' programs. The internship provides interns with the chance to see what a missionary family looks like, get involved in projects, practice Spanish and make new friendships with locals. It is also a wonderful experience for their worldview to be broadened and see how faith looks in another cultural. They are part of a weekly discussion over assigned readings mission, and take part in cultural studies where they reflect on missional experiences. They are encouraged to be part of all the projects giving them a chance to see projects in works. Each intern is also mentored by a missionary which helps them attain spiritual and cultural goals. Please pray that the interns be safe during their time here and that they learn see God in a new way.
If you haven’t read Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts, I highly recommend it. She talks about the Greek word “eucharisteo.” It means “to be grateful, feel thankful, give thanks.” She takes the time to list 1,000 things (some little, some big) that she is thankful for as she lives her daily life and lives with a perspective of “giving thanks in all circumstances.” Whenever I am tempted to complain in a situation, I know that the Spirit is leading me when my thoughts are guided by eucharisteo. One of the girls from the Harding research team this month led our ladies‘ day in this thought. Not knowing exactly what I would write for this month’s article, I decided to share some of my eucharisteo moments.
1. Enjoying making mini-apple pies for Cafe Connection
2. Our 2013 interns
3. The Harding group helping with one-on-one reading in the library
4. Bill and Holly (our team mentors) coming to Arequipa
5. Attending the inauguration for Mujeres del Misti (a small community development project that CUDA is launching) and seeing two of the kids that attend the school where I work in the library
6. The eldest male teacher in the library program excitedly pulling me into his classroom to show me his word wall (the project he had to complete to receive his full credit for this month’s staff development hours). He stood with his students proudly showing me the wall and having them spout out the answers to different vocabulary words.
7. Mentoring our very first CUDA Living Library intern, Lisette
8. Hearing from Areli, who I have helped to disciple since her baptism earlier this year, share that she has a friend who is interested in studying the story of Jesus with her. We have been praying for this friend for two months, and it is so neat to see the prayer answered.
9. Having my first Bible study with the friend that I mentioned in last month’s newsletter and hearing her mother ask if she can join us at the table because what she is hearing is “bonito” (beautiful).
10. Celebrating our middle child’s 4th birthday, and knowing that Peru is the only home she has ever known.
We are in the final week of what has been the most action-packed Arequipa internship yet, and it was a long time in coming. The story, as I must tell it from my perspective, started thirteen years ago.
I came to preregistration at Harding University in the summer of 2000 intent on a degree in missions. At that time my home congregation, Shiloh Road Church of Christ, had just sent a couple to Jinja, Uganda. My summer missions experiences with the high school youth group in Mexico had been a major part of my decision to become a missionary, as well as my decision to engage high school Spanish more aggressively than I would have done, yet my imagination abounded with visions of tribal Africa as I pulled up to Harding's campus for preregistration. My previous tour of the missions department had already made it apparent that African missions was very influential in the program, so I was quickly forming assumptions about where I would end up in the world.
Incoming freshmen were assigned advisors in the Bible department based upon the first letter of our last names. So I came to meet my advisor, Bill Richardson. Dr. Richardson was at that time an associate professor of Bible and missions. He had spent his years in missions in Latin America. So his eyes lit up when he read my registration documents and realized I was a missions major who had tested out of basic Spanish. At that first meeting, he advised me to do a number of things that set the course of my life. First, he suggested I do a Spanish minor. Since I was granted credit for 101 and 102, it would be that much easier. Thus, we looked ahead at the courses I would need to take each semester. Second, he suggested I attend the Spanish congregation in Searcy if I really wanted to progress in the language. I ended up attending all four years; La Casita was my home church in Searcy. He also told me about the summer mission campaign in Venezuela. At the time, it was the only Latin American option. I went to Venezuela the summer after my freshmen year. Bill let me in on a secret as well: Harding was working on a new study-abroad program in Viña del Mar, Chile (HULA: Harding University in Latin America). My junior year, I did go to the pilot HULA semester. So did Megan Bills, who eventually became my wife. Finally, Bill invited me to attend the Latin American interest group that he hosted in his home. Over the course of four years, that group evolved into a mission team committed to Arequipa, Peru. In retrospect, I can describe that meeting with Bill as nothing less than providential. He and his wife, Holly, have remained our team's mentors and friends.
Those of us in the Latin American interest group at Harding swam against the African missions current. It's hard to describe exactly why that current was so strong. One of the reasons for momentum among students, though, was undoubtedly the phenomenally successful African internship. A comparable experience was lacking for Latin America, where Harding internships were essentially nonexistent and traditional "evangelistic campaigns" were the norm. This situation (in part) compelled Bill to envision a new kind of summer experience for students interested in Latin America: a research trip. He began preparing a group of about ten of us to travel to various cities the summer after my sophomore year, in order to gather logistical and strategic information on large Latin American cities that needed a missionary presence. The first trip included Trujillo and Arequipa, Peru and Cochabamba, Bolivia. A number of the participants on that trip were part of the nascent South American team that had formed out of the Latin America interest group, and on the basis of the information gathered, we chose Arequipa as our destination and became Team Arequipa. A couple of years later, another team used the research to chose Cochabamba. Members of the Cuzco mission team were on a subsequent research trip. Another group came to Arequipa with Bill after our arrival and helped us with the research that launched CUDA, and some of those researchers are now part of the second wave of Team Arequipa. Megan and I have reflected on how wonderful it has been to witness what God has done through Bill and Holly's labor.
The internship this year is the latest chapter of the story. Perhaps the last ten years of investment have had an effect similar to the African internships. Or perhaps the Lord is calling more students to Latin America. Or maybe some other factors are at play. I suspect it is all of the above. But whatever the case, this year far more Harding students sought internships in Latin America than could be placed. Altogether, they composed a highly-motivated, unusually Spanish-proficient group of seventeen students. To meet this demand, Bill conceived of a "traveling internship," which was a mixture of experiences including intensive language school, mission church plants, a national church plant, developmental ministry, and research. Two weeks were spent in Arequipa, learning about CUDA and house churches. This group crashed our regular internship, which includes four other students: two from Harding, one from Oklahoma Christian, and one from Abilene Christian. It was a tumultuous two weeks, but we were glad to get to know these students, some of whom will undoubtedly be back in Latin America as missionaries in the future. Our regular interns generously accepted the disruption a group that size naturally causes and even formed some meaningful friendships.
I realized after the traveling interns departed that I was feeling my age for the first time: not too old to keep up but old enough to realize I needed to keep up. Their energy was infectious, and when they left I missed it. But their presence was also a sign of hope that I cherished. These are students intent on serving God, many of them in Latin America. They aggressively seek understanding and wisdom, they dream and plan, and they love the people around them in the process. Likewise, our regular interns have taken these two months to learn what full-time mission is like week in and week out, persevering through ups and downs while learning language and culture. These are short-term experiences meant to be long-term investments. And that is the truly exciting thing. I pray that God will continue calling more and more students to dream missional dreams for Latin America.
During June and July we have had seven interns from the US living and working alongside us. They came well prepared to be learners and servants; we have been so impressed with them. While here they have worked at the cafe, served in our house churches, built solar panels, covered library books, visited borrowers and more. Always ready to help, each one of them did their part and helped us out during a very busy time in our development ministry.
Each of the interns were encouraged, and required, to choose a specific facet of our work to dedicate themselves to during the summer. For Emily and Sean that project was the libraries. Almost every week they accompanied Megan to the different libraries to work with the classes on their reading projects. Sean was even asked to sponsor one of the classes during a recent celebration at one of the schools. In the boys class the students were divided up into groups and tasked with choosing a book, reading that book, and presenting the story to the whole class. Sean and Emily were in charge of planning the party that the kids earned from doing a great job on their projects. It was your classic kid party - snacks, ice cream, and soda - and they all had a great time.
Two other interns focused more on our micro-loan program. Taylor and Rebecca are both business majors studying at Harding University and decided to come to Peru to see what our loan program is all about. While here they were able to participate in forming a loan group from the very first interview to handing over the loan and signing the contract. As their major project they will lead two meetings of this group. In the meetings they will facilitate relationship and trust building, teaching on business principles, and receipt of the weekly payment. During our meetings this summer they have helped me refine some of our processes, solve problems with various borrower groups, and start forming a more comprehensive entrance and exit interview.
Extensively trained or not each year’s interns bring something unique to our team. Fresh perspectives, extra hands, willingness to serve, business acumen; whatever we are lacking God provides. Thank you Sean, Katie, Rebecca, Ann, Emily, Taylor and Jordan. The work in Arequipa, the Peruvians you came to know, and our families have all been blessed by your presence.
When I was at Harding as an undergraduate—and as I turn 30 I'm coming to the realization that it's been longer than I was imagining—I remember wishing that there was an internship for Latin America comparable to the one for Africa. Africa was the primiere destination for the missional student, and it seemed that the program was pretty great. I began to dream then of creating a comparable internship, once we got to the field, that could provide students interested in Latin American missions another opportunity. I'm guessing that the Africa internship at Harding is still the main event, and for good reason. But it's been fun to see our efforts here evolve into a multi-university, seven-intern experience.
I thought you might like to meet the students who have given their summer to learn and serve in Arequipa.