Last newsletter we left off with the question, how do our contextual ways of being together as family manifest? Or, how do we move from our theological claim about what the church is (the family of God) to a lived experience? In order to pose the question in one more way, I’ll share a story.
Once again it is December and Christmas is almost here. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is always my favorite time of year. It isn’t Christmas day that I love, so much as the time of preparation before Christmas day. It is the baking and decorating. The shopping and Christmas carols that play over the radio and in the malls. There is a feeling of anticipation and expectation that is felt in the month or so before Christmas that is unlike any other time of year.
If you read my article in last month’s newsletter you know about the big changes taking place here in Arequipa. Some of those big changes have already started to take place. We have now signed a contract on a three story building that we will put to use in a variety of ways. We have also worked out the details of Alfredo’s employment and he will begin working for CUDA full-time in January. Here on the field these changes seem monumental and extraordinary. We are moving from an informal NGO run by two families to having Peruvian leadership and planning two businesses that will begin to generate an income for our organization. Big changes.
You know how almost every home in the states has a Christmas tree this month? Well, here in Peru, almost every home has a nativity scene displayed. It is hard not to think about the story of Jesus’s birth when I see the nativity scene everywhere that I go. Peruvians can relate to the story of baby Jesus and theVirgin Mary. I would like to share a personal story with you relating to the Christmas Story.
Living in a foreign culture for years is an odd thing. At first, everything was either extremely interesting or extremely annoying, because we were evaluating all experiences against our own and determining whether new things should be accepted or merely endured. I’ve been writing this column for two years, which means I’ve spent lots of time paying attention to the things I experience, trying to put my finger on their value to a Peruvian’s life and extrapolate the value I should integrate into my own.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and as the weather in the states grows cooler, your family might be making plans to go visit grandparents or relatives. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because not only do I get to eat as much pie as I want, it also provides an opportunity for me to thank God for all the blessings that he has given me. Surrounded by family, friends and great food, it is hard not to be thankful for God's blessings in our lives.
The New Testament employs a variety of metaphors to represent the church’s essence. One of the most significant is certainly family. Family is an expression of the real relational dynamic that exists among followers of Jesus. We articulated our vision over five years ago: God’s family celebrating and serving in Arequipa.
As a reader of this newsletter, I’m sure you know that a large part of our developmental ministry is doing micro-loans, which just means small amounts (by our definition) loaned to small businesses. I’ve recently done more thinking than usual on this subject due to some conversations with Anna Heikkilä about her thesis topic options and realized some cultural trends that I had simply not noticed before.
Here’s hoping that the rapidly approaching end of 2011 finds you well. We are experiencing significant success in Arequipa right now and find ourselves prepping for a big year in 2012. However, we have some very specific needs that we are bringing to the people in our lives to seek the support we need to make it happen. We ask that you prayerfully consider making a donation to CUDA by the end of the year or a pledge for 2012 so that we can launch some big changes in the very near future. There is plenty to be excited about around here these days!
This past Sunday, November 21, was one of the best Sundays I have experienced in our time here in Arequipa. I have witnessed lots of beautiful Sundays here, but I think the timing of this past Sunday is the reason that it felt like such a blessing. Two things…