We’ve been talking for months about all the changes surrounding our team and our families. However, we shouldn't overlook the effect that it is having on our church members as they see the “founding members” moving away and find themselves in relationship with new missionaries, wondering what is going to be left when the dust settles. To help with the transition we have been trying to build bridges between the new missionaries and church members.
As I sat in our planning meeting the other day, it dawned on me that my new job as a volunteer with CUDA is to spend all of my time doing, in my opinion, the best part of these doctors’ jobs because they don’t have time. I couldn’t help but feel downright giddy about the prospect. What a gift from God!
The time has come. This is my last Team Arequipa newsletter article. I was listening to “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” the other day while washing dishes. The weirdest feeling came over me. I remember bawling through that song our first Christmas here, because I missed my home and family so much. I know that many of my new teammates will be experiencing this same emotion this Christmas. But this seventh Christmas in Perú, the sentiment is different. Arequipa has become our home, and we are about to say goodbye to all things familiar to us here. The song causes me to bawl my eyes out but not in the same way.
Another one of the changes and a part of our transition into life lived here in Arequipa is forming new traditions. This is somewhat difficult to do especially when it’s the holiday season and you are missing family and special time spent with them each year around this time. Sarah, my wife grew up in Italy and I grew up in the United States and now we live in Peru. There are a lot of traditions, especially holiday traditions, to mix into the pot. We genuinely want to learn and make Peruvian traditions important and meaningful to us, but also not forgetting some of our own important ones from Italy and the US.
CUDA has had a language school for a while now, but a little over a month ago added a homestay option. What the homestay option offers is full language and culture immersion by living with a Peruvian family. This is a great option for extra language learning beyond what happens in the classroom and gives the opportunity to use Spanish in a real context, every day.
Jeremy and I moved to Peru over a month ago knowing we would be spending our first several months in language school full time, which is four hours a day, one-on-one with a Peruvian language instructor. However, we also knew that we wanted to do a homestay with a Peruvian family to reinforce what we had learned that day and to make us have to use Spanish outside of class. So, when CUDA started offering the homestay option we signed up right away.
The four new families that are part of Team Arequipa are not our replacements. They are the next wave crashing toward the shore as our wave begins the slow fade back into the ocean. For a little while, you can’t tell that both are happening, but standing in that water reveals the push and pull occurring simultaneously. Their effect will be similar, but new. They are a blessing to our team, our church, and the city of Arequipa.
As I scroll through my twitter feed I am keenly aware that the spiritual discipline of prayer is trending. With Tim Keller’s new book on prayer and the requests for prayers that include the Ebola outbreak, the Ferguson trial, or efforts to build wells in Africa, I am once again reminded that Christians are called to be people of prayer. I am grateful for the people of prayer that I have witnessed and ministered alongside of. They have taught me what it means to pray while challenging my own fledgling prayer life. Which begs the question, why is prayer so difficult?
This month marks the long-awaited arrival of the remaining members of Team Arequipa. Since our last newsletter, two more families arrived - Jeremy & Katie Daggett and Jake & Jaclyn Blair. We are now a seven-family team, which means we all have some new dynamics to get used to for the brief months we are all together. We appreciate your prayers for our time, that we will provide for each other the exact balance of support and challenge that we need to grow and pursue the mission of God as it plays out around us here in Arequipa. Also, that we cover all necessary and relevant topics before the McKinzies make their transition back to the stateside mission field in early January.
I participate in the health team meetings with lots of questions and input but the project that I hope and pray I get to be a part of is in its very beginning stage: the dreaming stage. Truly, it's one of my favorite stages, but not a very informative one. I was encouraged, however, to share my dreams. To show you once again, from a newbie perspective, what it's like to dream and plan and learn to work on Peruvian timing mixed with the big ideas of a new missionary who is in the middle of cultural adjustment with life 'busy-fied' by two small children! As you read, envision with me and join me in prayer for God's hand, his wisdom and guidance to be completely integrated into this project.