March 2013

Cafe Connection

In late 2011, we asked for help in funding a new facet of our work here in Arequipa, Café Connection.  Thanks to your help we were able to obtain a building for not just the cafe but that would also serve CUDA in a variety of ways.  We opened the cafe in February of last year in what we thought would be its home for a long time, but plans often change unexpectedly here and this was no exception.  Due to problems with the building’s ownership, we were forced to look for a new place, resulting in our current location in downtown Arequipa.  Strategically, this location is far superior and we feel blessed to have found it, and to have gotten such a good deal from the owner.  After only three months of regular operation in the new location, we are seeing more clients and higher sales than we had begun to have at the previous location.
This is important because we didn’t open the cafe just to have a place to hang out, nor to drink delicious coffee.  We opened this business to begin generating income for the organization as part of a long-term strategy of sustainability, and to open new avenues for spreading news of our social justice projects in Arequipa.  It is quite rewarding to see how far the cafe has come after a year in operation, especially considering that four months ago we changed location.  Already the cafe is nearing self-sustainability and with the added traffic of being downtown, the cafe workers are having lots of opportunities to share about CUDA projects.  Just today, a couple from Florida, who had visited the cafe yesterday and learned about us, dropped off books for the library program.  They had brought books with them to donate to a voluntourism agency, but after learning about our work yesterday decided to leave them with us.  We’ve made contact with other NGOs, tourist agencies, and businesses with whom we might partner, all thanks to the cafe.  The cafe has also served as a place for our churches to host events such as women’s meetings, parenting seminars and college student gatherings.  
So a big thank you to all of you who have prayed for Cafe Connection to be a success both financially and ministerially.  Keep praying!  Soon we’ll officially launch a language school, our next step toward keeping CUDA as self-sustaining as possible.  You can stay in the know by following CUDA and Cafe Connection on FB or Twitter.

Creating a Culture of Literacy

This March has been an exciting month for the Living Libraries leg of CUDA. One must understand when working in Peru that patience is key. If someone tells you that it can happen in a week, just go ahead and expect a month. If someone schedules a meeting for you “first thing in the morning,” expect to wait the majority of the morning to be seen. This can all be very frustrating, but God knew that I needed five years of living here to expect this four years into the program.  I have had to demonstrate a lot of patience this month, but things are slowly coming together, and it is so exciting to see it unfold...

Church in Arequipa: Commitment

In the November 2012 newsletter, I explained our ceremony for committing to one another (rather than placing membership).  Ceremony is probably too grandiose a word for Christians sitting around a table, each taking a turn to speak.  But you get the idea; it’s a thing we do.  

One Way to Look at It: Light vs. Fire

If you ask a Christian what their responsibility is toward the world, many would use the image of light.  Thanks to the popular children’s song, we all know we need to let it shine and not hide it under a bushel or let the devil blow it out.  Jesus used this idea to clarify for his followers their purpose, which is the same for us now.  
Be a light.
What does that mean?  Well, what does light do?  It touches everything nearby, showing the truth of what it is.  Only in darkness can anything hide; light defines and causes serves to illuminate the existing reality.  
The problem is when we attribute tasks to ourselves that have nothing to do with that task.  What does light not do?  It doesn’t cause change.  It doesn’t purify.  It doesn’t harm or benefit whatever it shines on, besides the natural consequence of being shown.  
Fire does that. Fire changes whatever it touches. Fire purifies. It does cause harm or benefit, depending on the substance. Light is the result of fire, not the other way around.  
God presents his power through fire throughout the Bible, as He led the Israelites through the wilderness as a pillar of flame.  The Bible describes God as a consuming fire when the Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land. His power over Baal is shown by the sheer force of the fire that He sent down to Elijah’s soaked altar after Baal failed to show up.  The Psalms use imagery of purification by fire.  Shadrach, Meshac and Abednego are unharmed by an extremely hot fire thanks to a holy presence.  
Being fire is God’s sphere.  Being light is ours, and even in that, we do best when we remember that we reflect Jesus and have nothing to show without Him. 
And yet it is easy to spend our effort and attention on trying to do God’s job.  I get it.  It’s natural that we would want things to be better, more in line with His kingdom. But He gave us our part to play and we would do well to trust Him with the rest.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ.
— Paul, Ephesians 4:15