Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter. We always love hearing from those of you who have read it! It is very encouraging to us to know we have so many people praying for us. These have been a busy couple of months. We have included some pictures in this newsletter from the past month. Mother's Day is always a big holiday here in Peru and we were able to celebrate it with some of our Peruvian friends.
For the past three summers (and the Smiths and McKinzies before that) we have taken interns from several different universities from the States. This year we welcomed four interns at the end of May who will have been with us for 8 weeks. During these 8 weeks they have gotten to take Spanish lessons, do a week long homestay with a Peruvian family, visit the Living Libraries, experience Arequipa, and be involved in the Bible studies and work that we do.
The time has come for a season of transition for my family. We have worked here in Arequipa with hopes to make ourselves available to God and bless this city in whatever ways possible for 3 and a half years and have decided to move back to the United States for the next phase of life that God has in store for us. We believe it is the right choice and the right timing for our family and our ministry here.
Professor Gottman and his team has conducted strategic, scientific research for decades. It can now boast of "forty-two years of longitudinal data on the importance of marital friendship". His work has confirmed the universality of the Seven Principles and this book is the culmination of this work. His research, through the use of the "Love Lab", has taken into account an incredible range of factors from hormone release, cardiac rhythms and sweat production to questionnaires, observations and interviews. The Gottman Institute also provides therapeutic and educational work that has helped countless couples.
Just over a year ago, our relationship with Renso and Paola, Camila and Nicholas grew from a casual greeting on the street to the beginning of friendship when we were invited to Renso’s birthday. Several months later, after more times spent in each others’ homes (think pizza nights, among other things), times of conversations regarding faith, vocation, and family, they approached us about getting together to read the Bible with their family. We took our time reading through the story of Jesus recorded in Mark, being confronted and challenged by Jesus’s teachings, love, and authority. You’ve gotten glimpses of this growing relationship.
At the end of April we all flew up to Lima to meet up with other missionaries from Peru for a retreat. There were missionaries from Lima, Huancayo, and Cusco in addition to our three families from Arequipa. Gary and Francis Green, who work with Barnabas International, were also at the retreat to lead us in spiritual formation time. It was so neat and refreshing to get to be with the other missionaries that are all in different stages of their time in Peru but who all understand what each other are going through.
The Program for the Care and Education of Diabetics (ProCED) is a community development program designed to 1) prevent diabetes and raise awareness in the community, 2) identify people who are at-risk or who have diabetes but don’t know it, and 3) holistically support diabetic patients and their families with the information and resources they need to manage the disease and prevent complications.
Before I knew that the technical term “narrative theology” existed, I knew that it was important to understand the Bible as narrative – as story. I learned that important lesson a while back from this simple little book. That’s the beauty of it: no technical theological jargon. It’s written to simple people like me and it cites not Karl Barth or Stanley Hauerwas but Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee. The basic premise is that the Bible tells a story and we have a role to play whether we know it or not. If we don’t know what’s going on in the story of heaven and earth, we’re going to feel very lost.
I'd like to give you all an update on our exercise group. We started this group in July 2015 and you can refer back to my first article about it. Things have been going really well lately. There is a group of about 6-8 women and they recently asked if we could meet more than just once a week. So now we are meeting on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings.
March in Arequipa means the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. For CUDA, that means the beginning of a new year of work with the public schools who are part of our Living Libraries project. This year, we’re working with 4 schools, 30 teachers, and 560 kiddos and their families. Two of the schools are in their third and final year of the program, one school is in its second year, and we have one brand new school.
How much of our lives do we live somewhere else? We think about the weekend, or next month, or our trip in a few months. Or we think about the next job, or when we will finish school, or when we’ll finally be doing that thing we want to do. Dreams aren’t all bad. It’s good to think forward, to make goals, to make plans, and to hope. But if we live only there, we’ve missed it.
I am 7 months into my one-year apprenticeship with Team Arequipa, and time has definitely flown by. This time has been very formative and will continue to be, and I’m continually grateful for the opportunity to be here learning and working with the team. While there are some things I wish I had done differently, I did not know what to expect when deciding to spend a year in Arequipa, Peru. Much of the first half of my time here was spent getting used to the culture, living with 3 of the 4 families, and jumping around to experience and learn about the various aspects of ministry that each of the families is involved with. Here are some highlights from the past 7 months and what I have learned from them.
While on furlough, I was asked to speak on three consecutive Wednesday nights at our supporting church in Bonne Terre, Missouri. I took them through some of the things we have been learning as a church in Arequipa about sharing our faith this past year. We did the “my gospel” exercise and the Bonne Terre church agreed to set the same goal as their brothers and sisters here in Arequipa – to have shared their gospel with at least one person at the end of one year.It’s almost been one year already since we set this goal here in Arequipa.