Incense. Candles. Live bands. Fireworks. Veils. Popcorn. Cotton candy. Barefoot reverence. Purple vestments. Dueling bands. Balloons. Crosses. Flowers. Candied apples. Priests. Banners. Crucifixes. Ornamental street tapestries. And people. Lots of people. Men dressed in purple are carrying a massive painting of Jesus on a heavy pedestal. Others dressed in purple are following close behind, reciting their prayers and showing their devotion to the Lord of Miracles, some by walking barefoot.
Let’s do something different. It’s not that STMs are wrong, but it’s our priority placed on them (more than a billion dollars annual) and what we do while on them that obscures our vision of the Kingdom of God. With great emphasis I have stated that the Kingdom of God has no “short-term” and is always moving, always loving, and always serving. Let’s be a part of the mission of God for the long-term. Yes that sounds cliché, but it’s the very thing we, as Christ’s followers, are called to do.
About six months ago we had the idea to start an exercise group for the patients we see in the clinic. We discuss the benefits of being physically fit with the majority of our patients and we wanted to give them a free resource to learn and participate in exercises. I wanted to create something that women of any age and fitness level could be a part of. I also wanted to build a space where relationships can be made. Katie has also been a huge part of this exercise group and has co-led with me.
Three years ago this program opened its first library in an all-boys elementary school in a neighborhood called Miraflores. CUDA, through the Living Libraries program, is striving to increase a love for reading while bettering reading comprehension in kids throughout public schools. CUDA provides the books for a library within an elementary school if the school agrees to provide a space to put a library. Also as a part of this program the teachers are required to attend training workshops throughout the year to learn strategies to be able better to teach reading to their students.
Liliana is someone we came to know through Alfredo, a friend in the church. She is someone we have gotten to know over the past 10 months or so. As a lonely person, she has found a refuge in the church here. She has a complicated and difficult past. God has used some of my fellow missionary coworkers and me to reach out to her even though it has not always been very easy to do so.
Arequipa’s parks fill up on weekends. A busy work week gives way to a day or two of rest in which parents and grandparents take their kids to the park to enjoy Arequipa’s beautiful, springy climate. On Sundays in Arequipa, the park is one of the places where life happens. Naturally that’s where we want the church—God’s presence as reconciled family—to be.
I went to the store today to buy bread. I was in a hurry. I had a lot of other things to be doing and to be preparing. I wanted to run in, ask if they had bread, buy the bread, and then hurry back home so I could get on with what I needed to do. However, I arrived at the store, asked if she had any bread left, only to be answered with, “Buenos Días!” This was my reminder that I had forgotten to greet her. My mindset changed immediately. I then returned the greeting, asked her how her family was, she asked how Jeremy was and what I had done that morning. THEN, I asked if she had any bread.
Great Cities Missions is an organization that equips and sends mission teams all over central and South America. They host a missionary conference called “Connections” every two years for men and on alternate years for women serving in this part of the world. Even though we aren’t associated with Great Cities, they graciously invited us to participate in this conference. Chase, Justin, and I were able to go to Sao Paulo, Brazil in early October and were greatly blessed by our time there.
The adults on our team have done extensive pre-field work and have had numerous conversations on spending dedicated time on culture learning (especially the first two years) and being prepared for culture shock and its effects on our families and our personal selves. We did, however, leave the kids out of these conversations. Maya was five months old when we moved here and has suffered no visible culture shock. Lorenzo and Evan did go through periods of adaptation, each at their own pace. It has been beautiful to watch how natural and theory-less their inculturation has been.