September 2014

Hard To Say Goodbye

In case you missed it, about a month ago, CUDA decided to close Café Connection. Those of us who have been with it since birth are sad to let go. It was a fun venture and we had high hopes for it as a sustainable source of income for the NGO, but in reality it fell short. It simply required too much investment of time and resources without generating consistent profit. We chose not to renew our lease of the space and found another location to house our offices and language school, with new ideas for ways to use it to generate income. It will house a snack area for workers and language students, so we have one cafe employee making the move with us and we'll still offer bagged coffee and to-go drinks and snacks. We'll miss the sillar walls and familiar feel of this place that has served as a hub for the last couple of years, but it's the right time to reconsider our best approach. 

There is no change with coffee sales in the States, so be sure to check out Luminous Coffee and figure out which of our varieties is your favorite. 

Expanding Language

As I near the end of my language school experience, I am thankful that we have been able to support CUDA during this process. But I am most grateful for the friendships I have formed as CUDA has done an amazing job with choosing their language teachers. Each of us (Morgans included) have formed friendships with the teachers throughout the past 7-8 months, relationships we will continue to develop throughout our time here. 
As mentioned earlier, big changes have come to CUDA with the termination of the cafe. Another development is that Passport Language School is introducing home stays. Home stays are available for those who wish to speed up their language learning by taking classes that are then applied practically by living with Peruvian families. Total immersion is the best way to learn a new language, and CUDA will now be able to offer an even fuller experience toward that end. Perhaps the most exciting part is that home stays will commence with the arrival of the two remaining team couples arriving by the beginning of October!


I have been attending a new church plant going on in the part of the city where we are working with the Health Initiative. They are meeting in the home of a sister from another group of Christians. This is an exciting new work. Part of the reason it is exciting is because this group meets so close to the clinic where we are working. When volunteering at the clinic I sometimes have the opportunity to speak about the mission work here in a more comprehensive manner and can invite people to come join us on Sunday nights. It’s also exciting because people from the community are coming and it’s slowly growing. We are acquainted with this other group from occasionally meeting together, and this is just another way to come alongside them in unity.
I would like to expound a bit on the fact that the work I am privileged to do through CUDA’s Health Initiative allows me to be connected with this new house church plant. Part of our strategy as a mission team is to work holistically in God’s kingdom here in Arequipa. Part of what that means is sharing our faith as we teach people how to prevent Diabetes. I often have the opportunity to mix the physical, emotional and spiritual in a short 15-minute conversation with someone. I really do believe that God cares about each part of us. For example, in Mark 2, Jesus heals a paralytic and forgives his sins at the same time. Later in Mark 6 Jesus feeds the 5,000 while he teaches them valuable spiritual lessons as well. If Jesus blended the spiritual and the physical, then I think we should as well. After all, why focus so exclusively on the spiritual while every other part of the man suffers? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to do it that way. Yes, the spiritual part of the man is the most important, but the other parts of a man are still important and still a part of him and all parts are interrelated. It’s amazing to see God working in this way. I certainly didn’t plan for this church plant to start up so close to the clinic, but it is a blessing and an opportunity.

Family of Misfits

One Sunday each month, all of the family gathers to worship together. I can remember, six years ago, rotating between our house and the Smith house each Sunday, and it was just our two families. We prayed to experience family with Peruvians. Slowly but surely, Peruvian brothers and sisters came into the story. People come from all walks of life interested in the story of Jesus. They have different social and religious backgrounds, but all who come to the table are thirsty and hungry for the word. Sometimes it is hard to put a group of misfits together and call it “family.” But that is certainly what God calls us to do as his church.
A missionary’s dream is for the disciples to feel like family to each other and be united in Christ. But this can take time. Peruvians are very slow to trust others, so if you put a group of them together that have nothing outside of knowing the missionaries in common, it can feel a bit awkward. And believe me, in our small, informal, house-church setting, we have all experienced the awkwardness. One way you can tell that people don’t trust one another is that they don’t share with one another. Prayer time can be super awkward if no one wants to share about their lives.
This Sunday morning was beautiful. Our house churches all met together for our monthly celebration meeting, and it was a beautiful testimony to see what God is doing through our Arequipa family. The kids had been sent out of the main meeting to work on some coloring sheets to be used later in the lesson. The adults had some quiet, uninterrupted time to talk about church life and share about our journeys. We rejoiced and we cried, and it felt like family. I wanted to share a few of those moments with you.
One of our members was absolutely distraught a couple of months ago. Her family had a financial crisis (having to do with one of the many of the injustices that play out here). She had no one to turn to, but she came and shared the burden with her church family. The church decided to fund an adobada. (An “adobada” is a popular type of fundraiser here in Arequipa, where a group of people get together to sell tickets for selling bowls of Adobo—a famous Arequipa dish served on Sunday mornings. Once tickets are bought, the group buys all the ingredients, and makes the dish on a chosen day for pick-up.) This morning, she was one of the first ones to share. She wanted everyone to know that her family had finally repaid their debt. Our church was so involved in the process of helping her, we were overjoyed. We applauded. We thanked God for helping her family, but we knew that we had played a role as her spiritual family.
Another member decided to express her thankfulness to everyone that her grandson would be starting at the university. You all know how much work I put into the Living Libraries project here. If you follow why we have that program, you know that good education is a luxury for so many in this nation, much less higher education. This member came from parents that didn’t receive a university education; she never attended the university; her children didn’t have the opportunity to attend the university. It is a huge deal for this young man to be the first to study something other than how to drive a taxi. As a church, we rejoiced with her. This grandmother is the first to become a Christian, and we are praying for her to affect the generations in more ways than just education (because I know she has actively supported her grandson to attain that goal). We continue to pray for her family members to know Christ, and she recognizes that we will support her in any way that we can as family.
Then someone shared out of the blue— my husband. Greg expressed our desire for prayers during the upcoming months for our transition out of Peru. I have been keeping the emotions in for quite a while around my Peruvian family. I mean, if I avoid talking about it, I won’t feel anything, right? I won’t turn into a blubbering mess. But his words were something that we needed to share with our family here, and in that moment, my heart broke. I have a feeling it will break a couple hundred more times in these final months for us. I was sitting next to a dear sister, Manuela, and all I could do was lay my head on her shoulder and cry. She is family to me.
Family in Christ is real with each other. Family rejoices and weeps together. Family holds each other up. Family loves and trusts. This group of  misfits— it feels like family now. And when we get on that plane to come “home” in a few months, I am going to bawl my eyes out. Because leaving family is hard.

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
— Mark 10:29-31