AG—5 years old

It is hard to believe we have been parents for five years. Ana chose a princess theme this year, and instead of a party with friends, we invited our close neighbors to eat a meal of Ana’s choice, and took cupcakes to school on her actual birthday.


Here are some highlights from the celebrating:

1. You wanted a princess theme so we bought lots of stickers to use as decoration. Your large princess poster from Christmas served nicely as decoration on the wall.


2. You wanted chocolate cake with peanut butter cream frosting. You had never tried peanut butter frosting, and I never suggested it. But that is what you chose, and I was happy to make it for you (I love that combination).


3. I asked you what you wanted for your birthday meal and you requested Manuela’s Atomatada. “You know you’ve lived the majority of your life in Arequipa when…” That is Momma’s favorite Peruivan dish so I didn’t mind that selection at all.


4. Since you didn’t have a party with friends, I told you I would make cupcakes for your class. You were so excited. I asked your teacher the week before how many students there were (thinking 10-12). She said, “28 and 2 teachers.” You were so excited, though, so I made 34 cupcakes! For you, it was worth it. But I was sick of baking cake by that point. Your cupcakes were chocolate with buttercream frosting and sprinkles.


5. You received some nice gifts. Nadia got you some stickers and new glitter glue. Anita got you an Iberica chocolate bunny. Alex and Staci got you a brand new princess lunchbox. Gram and Pop got you a Rapunzel set for your dollhouse, and Daddy and I got you 2 new box sets of Junie B Jones and 1 box set of The Magic Treehouse series.


6. After school on your birthday I had planned to take you on a surprise date to the 5 star hotel to swim with one of your gringa friends, Baylee (who turned 6 on your birthday). It was too overcast and cool so we went and ate together and got ice cream afterward. Here you are with your frsh fruit juice of maracuya and strawberry. Yum.


P.S. That crown you are wearing in every picture came with a Barbie that Areli bought for you. You wanted to wear it for every birthday festivity. 🙂 You are such a girl!

Things about you as a 5-year-old:

1. You are so independent as a 5 year old, and I think that has so much to do with our lifestyle. You started going to school every day when you were 17 months old, you have learned to adjust to the culture of our family and the culture of Peru. You know 2 languages. You are constantly meeting new people whether they are visitors from the states, interns, other missionaries, Peruvians in the church, Peruvians just coming over to visit, etc. It is our norm, but when Pop was here, he commented on how independent you are. I can totally see it.

2. You are a great big sister. You love making Maggie laugh. You two have giggle wars when you are supposed to be going to sleep. You love playing “baby and momma.” You two have gotten married several times where you have been the novio and the officiant. Making a tent from every random blanket you can find is not abnormal.

You love asking to go to Cohen’s room when he has woken up, and you can get Cohen to cackle at you like no one else. He loves you so much. There are times when I need you to watch Cohen. You are already a wonderful baby sitter. Sometimes you say, “Mom, not again. I already watched him.” You are SUCH a big help to me with your siblings.

3. You still love art. Daddy asked you what extra class you wanted to take at school. There is dance, cooking, art, soccer. You requested art without hesitating. It doesn’t take you long at all to use a pad of paper. You immediately started making thank you notes to people after your party.

4. Princess Memory and Strawberry Shortcake Memory are 2 of your favorite games to play.

5. You have discovered The Incredibles. That is your favorite movie right now.

6. You are a fashion diva. You do things in your own artistic way (like wearing a scrunchie on your bicep as an arm band). You crack me up some days, but you are confident in “looking cute.”

7. You enjoy taking a bath with Maggie, but you have started requesting more showers. This is a sign that you are older.

8. Reading Junie B Jones with Daddy at night has become a bedtime ritual.

9. There isn’t a day that goes by that you don’t ask for ice cream or candy. You have a serious sweet tooth. You are also a bottomless pit. You will eat all of your lunch, eat a banana or apple 30 minutes later, want a peice of bread 30 minutes after that, etc. Your metabolism is incredible.

10. You seem to be built like me… short waist, long legs.

11. I always sing 2 songs at night, your request and Maggie’s request. This last month you have been requesting a song that you have made up. It is most always to the tune of “Oh God You Are My God,” but you make up the words. You refer to God as your King and Queen which I think is absolutely beautiful that that is how you see God. It is usually always a song of praise to God for who he is and what he does.

12. When you pray, you always pray for the kids that don’t have mommies and daddies and the people that don’t have houses or clothes. I used to wonder what bringing you to Peru would do to you. I am amazed at your worldview, and your compassion for the poor. You are such a beautiful example of this to me, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

13. You can’t wait to see your cousins and grandparents when we go to the states. You mention them a lot like you think a lot about them.

14. You love having a count-down calendar for special dates. You religiously mark the days off every morning.

15. You are such a beautiful young lady, and we are so proud of you as our first child!


AG—5 years old

CT—11 months

You turned 11 months on Monday. I can’t believe we are a month away from you turning one! Since I wrote your 10 month post so late, I don’t have a lot to add. So I will go picture heavy on this one. Honestly, I can’t get enough of you. You are in the cutest stage. When people say, “Oooo, I just want to SQUEEZE ’em!” Well, I say that a lot to you in this stage. 🙂

1. You can officially climb the stairs. Big trouble when I forget to close the gate downstairs.
2. You are cruising more and more and enjoy walking with our help.
3. You love being outside (as most babies do). I put you in the exersaucer up on the roof while I hang laundry, and you love it.
4. A new favorite food for you is strawberries. You could eat an entire container in one sitting if I let you.
5. I looked up a new phrase today: “nursing strike.” Apparently, you do the exact opposite of your sisters when it comes to teething. You have been having some major teething issues, and it has resulted in you refusing to nurse (which you LOVE). Since I plan to wean you in this last month, you might just do it to yourself. You had your first cup of cow’s milk today because of it, and you liked it. We all know you need to add some more pounds. (huge wink)
6. Everyone here thinks that you are “GRANDE.” Etelvina calls you “Super beb.”
7. You have started calling Daddy, “Da.” That makes me smile.
8. You have taken a liking to chewing on crayons when you find them. I am not a fan. Your sisters get in big trouble when they leave them out.
9. We bought you your first pair of Big Boy shoes. They have Elmo on them.
10. You love bathtime with your sisters.
See this look? He thinks he is going to get the camera lens he sees dangling.


What happens when you have two older sisters around.


cruising at the baby gate. Good thing it is there.


a close-up. Aren’t you just the cutest thing ever!


McKinzie Three bathtime


so sweet with those two little bottom teeth (I have a feeling that some more will pop out very soon)


CT—11 months

Back to School 2012

March is back to school here in Peru. Ana started Kindergarten and Maggie started her first year of preschool. They were both beyond excited, and they both had a great first week. Ana loves school. I wasn’t worried about her. I wondered how Maggie would do, but she went and returned to the house just fine. She is such a little independent thing! They both go from 8:30 to 1:30 every day (Mon-Fri). It is a different world in my house. It has been quite some time since I just had one in the house. Cohen is now my little morning buddy, and I love it! I can totally remember having Ana and thinking, “How do people do this with more than one?” Well, two kids later, and I am THANKFUL to have one. I can actually get some quiet time in the morning while Cohen naps.

Here are some pictures from the first week. One pic is of all the books that I had to put clear, plastic covers on. This doesn’t include the notebooks and trapperkeepers! It took me forever. Their Christmas present from Pop and Gram this past year was monogrammed backpacks. Aren’t they cute? There they are on the first day. I cannot believe that Ana started Kindergarten, but she has been in school full-time ever since she was 17 months old. We are so proud of Maggie. She has taken the challenge, been a big girl (we got her potty-trained during the summer break), and hasn’t cried one time. It will be fun to see her speak more Spanish. This is where she will learn it. I told them the other night when tucking them into bed, “I know that one day you two will be able to talk about me right in front of me, and I won’t be able to understand.” Pretty soon, Maggie’s Spanish will surpass my abilities. 🙂

the books…


I cracked up when I saw that my almost 3-year-old will have technology class…


Can you see their names?


If I have a say, they don’t get much cuter than this! (AG-almost 5 and MK-2 1/2)


For journaling purposes, every day that Maggie came home last week, I would ask, “How was school? What did you do?” Her answer, “I had fun. I play in DIRT!!!” They have a sandbox and she thinks it is the best thing ever. Is this a city girl or what? She isn’t going to know what to do with herself when she visits the farm later this year. 🙂

Back to School 2012

CT—10 going on 11 months


This is the first time for me to get this far behind on a month post for a child. Sorry, Cohen. I took the pictures, but life got the best of me on this post. I am still posting it before your turn 11 months! I have pictures of when you were exactly 10 months. The biggest news was that you met your Pop for the first time. He thought you were precious, and this was one of the most precious moments I captured of the two of you while he was here (you fell asleep in the taxi on the way home from playing all morning at City Toys):


You are way past 10 months, but here are the things I want to remember about you from this stage:

1. You are a monkey. We have never had a child that constantly turns when having their diaper changed. I always thought it was odd that people had to belt their children down on the changing tables in public bathrooms. Now I know why! You are crawling, pulling up, and crusing all over the place. If there is a cabinet or drawer to be opened you will do it. You are a mess. Your favorite things to do that are against the rules are play in my kitchen cabinets, go in the bathroom (and you are known for getting into your sister’s training potty-yuck!), and into the living room buffet.

2. You are flirting with climbing the stairs. You can climb one. It is only a matter of time.

3. You are our least verbal child. Well… verbal in the sense that you are making out words. You only say Mama. But you can squawk and scream with the best of them when you want attention (this usually happens when you are out of food).

4. You are a pig. I have never in my life seen a child eat so much. When people say “boys are different” they couldn’t be any more correct in describing you. For example, you wake up and nurse. When your sisters eat breakfast, you join them and eat (this is only about 30-45 minutes after you have nursed) a little banana, an entire peach, a large egg yolk, and one slice of buttered toast. The saying “eating you out of house and home” is an understatement with you. You love just about everything we put in front of you. You especially like Tortellini soup, Ritz crackers, cheese, bananas, yogurt, and any juicy fruit. And you eat like a pig. You eat in fistfulls and your get food all over your face and ALWAYS in your hair. (see last picture below)

5. You are ticklish and flirty and love to giggle with us, BUT you can be so serious. Which reminds me of your daddy.

6. Speaking of your daddy… you look a whole lot like him right now. You are almost a mini-boy version of Maggie, and many say that Maggie looks like your daddy. I think you are super handsome. You especially remind me of your daddy when you look up at me with your eyes squinted and your nose scrunched.

7. You were sleeping through the night for months, but this past month you decided to wake me up a lot in the night. We are working back toward the all night schdeule again. You don’t act like you want to give up nursing. You are sure to end your day with it and start your day with it.

8. You go to bed at 7 if naps allign correctly throughout the day. You take 2 naps, one at 10 am and the other at 3. You do not sleep well when we are out so Sunday mornings at Naranjal are not good mornings for you.

9. You only like the bath for a little while, because you want to climb out after about 5 minutes.

10. I love your little head of boy hair. It has come in thick, and you have curls in the back. Gram gave you your first trim around the ears when she was here.

If I think of anymore, I will add them to the 11 month post. Here are some pictures from this past month…




you at exactly 10 months when the coffee shop opened:


and we didn’t have any water in this picture… (lovely!)


CT—10 going on 11 months

Pop and Gram 2012

We had a wonderful time with my mom and dad this past month. For fun, here is the picture we took the last time my dad visited us in Arequipa in 2010:


Here they are with those same girls on this visit (a lot has changed):


And we happened to add one more in the mix for this visit. It was my Dad’s first time to meet grandchild #9:


It was such a blessing to have Dad and Mom here. The timing couldn’t have been better with my Dad meeting Cohen. Dad isn’t a “baby person,” so meeting Cohen as a 10-month-old was just right. His comment in seeing Cohen, “Why can’t they all come out just like this?”

Grandparents are at the top of my list for things I miss. I love our life here, but it always makes me sad to think that we can’t make a weekend trip to see grandparents (that includes you too, Memaw!) or even have a weekend to ourselves and leave our kids with the grandparents. Skype is a huge blessing, but seeing them and hugging them and listening to Gram read or Pop tickle them, those are the precious moments. And we had lots of those.

We went to the park, visited a pool one day, took the kids to City Toys (a kids play area in the mall), watched movies, hung out with the church, and ate and ate and ate. 🙂 Greg and I always look forward to the marathon show we will watch. This year, Dad brought his HBO series of John Adams which we thoroughly enjoyed, and then they got us hooked on to the new series, The Firm. Oh, and I should add that Cafe Connection opened while they were here. It was neat for them to see the inauguration.

Dad and Mom, we love you, and we enjoyed our visit with you so much. Cohen is still warm and cozy in his clothes that Gram brought him, Maggie always talks about you being in the airplane, and Ana cannot wait for September. Greg and I are already talking our farm meal up… fried catfish, fried ocra, fresh garden tomatoes, hush puppies, Granddad’s slaw, and Granny’s blackberry cobbler. Can’t.wait!

For those that don’t have Facebook (Deborah Bills!), here is the album of photos from their visit… Facebook Album.

Pop and Gram 2012


My TA Newsletter article February 2012:

This past week, in a Bible study with a searching friend, we finished the time of Jesus’s ministry in Mark 10. We have read the multiple stories of Jesus revealing himself as Lord over demons, disease, nature, and death. Sometimes Jesus asks the person with faith to not tell anyone what he has done for them. Sometimes, he instructs them to go back home and tell everyone what has been done. One of my favorites stories, the story of the demon-possessed man in Mark 5, is an incredible example of this:

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you. So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.” (Mark 5:19-20)

Wouldn’t you have loved to hear his story? I cannot imagine. It is no wonder to me that the word used to describe the people’s reaction was “amazed.”

This past week, we had a really good conversation. Chapter 10 opens with the Pharisees trying to catch Jesus with a divorce question. From that encounter, Mark jumps to the little children and Jesus. But then comes a story that to me is the fireworks of Jesus’s gospel message: the story of the rich young ruler. Take a few minutes and read it again to refresh your mind

I asked my friend, “Was this young man good or bad?” The obvious answer is good. Jesus lists the commandments and the young man states that he has kept all of them since he was a little boy. Also, what exactly was the young man asking? Here he has come to Jesus. He calls him “Good teacher.” Throughout the study we have been answering the question Mark constantly throws in our face, “Who Is Jesus?” This man has obviously heard about Jesus and the good things he has done. I don’t think that he truly knows who he is after reading the outcome of the story, but he thinks that Jesus may know the answer to a question that many people still ask today, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” I think it is interesting that Jesus lists off the commandments as if the young man is tallying all of them in his head. How many want a check-list? Isn’t it easier for Jesus to just tell us what to do so we can check it off of our list? The young man thinks he is covered. He has been a good person keeping the commandments since he was a little boy. But no. That is not where Jesus stops. Jesus DOES tell him what to do. “One thing you lack. Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” We all know how the story ends.

So my friend and I talked. We discussed what exactly went on in this story. Now, I think that there is an entire sermon series on Jesus commanding us (not asking) to take care of the poor. Jesus does not tell the man to simply get rid of his possessions. He tells him to sell his possessions AND give to the poor. I think it is very important to emphasize that point. But to stress something else in this story, I want to ask, “What do you want from Jesus? What are you taking away from Christianity? Have you followed the commands? Do you believe in the ‘Good Teacher’? Have you secured your place in eternal life?” I believe that many can list off the things they have done to make sure they can answer that question with an affirmative. But “Have you been saved” is NOT the gospel message of Jesus.

Jesus asks the man to do one thing. The thing that has been keeping this man from truly doing what God has been professing throughout the Old Testament and through the message of the Christ. And after he has done that one thing, he is told to do what? Follow. Following Jesus is the theme that runs throughout the entire book of Mark. It begins with those fishermen that left their nets and happens to so many people touched by Jesus throughout his journey. The man goes away sad, and Jesus has one of his most incredible “teachable moments” with his disciples. They talk about the rich and how hard it will be for them to enter the Kingdom, but something clicks with Peter:

“Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you.” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied. “no one who has left home or brothers and 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 10:28-31)

What a promise! Accepting the message of Jesus is not checking things off a list. Accepting the message of Jesus is not simply believing in a “Good Teacher.” Accepting the message of Jesus is believing in him and choosing to follow him whatever the cost. Many believe. Few follow. Following is not easy. Even in Jesus’s encouragement of “a hundred times as much,” he inserts “along with persecutions.” He makes it loud and clear that he understands the cost, he will reward you for what you give up, but it is not an easy journey.

But Mark does not stop with this story. Chapter 10 ends with another blind man that Jesus heals. Unlike the blind man in Chapter 8, he immediately restores sight to this man. Everything is becoming more and more clear to the disciples. (God is a literary genius.) So at this point, my friend speaks up and says something that tells me she has been paying close attention. “Megan,” she starts, “Jesus doesn’t tell him to go away or go tell people back home. It says, ‘Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.’ ” My heart couldn’t have been happier at that moment. Mark was emphasizing the point that a person who truly knows Jesus will want to FOLLOW him. That, my friends, is the gospel message of Jesus. Whatever the cost.

(an addition that wasn’t in the article)

Something else clicked with me the day after I studied this. It is amazing how it takes my eyes a second time to see (like the man in Ch. 8), because I have grown up hearing these stories my entire life and not understood them correctly. NT Wright wrote a book called Surprised By Hope that talks about heaven being the here and now and not some place “beyond the azure blue.” It has radically changed the way in which I read the Bible and read about heaven when it is mentioned.

When Jesus tells the rich young ruler that it is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom I have always pictured the rich man standing outside the pearly gates and Jesus standing there saying, “I am sorry. You can’t come in here. You were too rich. Please step aside and allow the camel to come through, though.” “The Kingdom” was heaven, and “Heaven” was “that place up in the clouds where we try to go after we die.” Now that I think of Heaven as the Kingdom, but that Kingdom is right here on earth and was started by Jesus, I read this story entirely different. Jesus’s kingdom is about justice, well-being, taking care of the poor. Of course it is impossible for a rich man to enter into that kingdom if he is unwilling to sell his possessions and give to the poor. The man in this story has placed his “heaven” in his material things. In order to FOLLOW JESUS, one must be willing to give up the things that keep one from participating in the kingdom. The rich young ruler was not willing to let go and follow.

So the question is, “In order to follow Jesus, what do you need to let go of to fully participate in his kingdom?”


January 2012

Meg’s TA Newsletter article 2012:

Chapter by Chapter

What an exciting January! We have so much going on, and to be honest, I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. First, this September marks the beginning of our final year in the contract. Please be in prayer with us over the future of the work here and the future of where our families will be. Also, both families will be traveling to the states for furlough. The Smiths leave in early March and my family will leave in mid-August. We are excited to see our supporters and hug on some people we haven’t seen in quite a while.

CUDA seems to have started rolling, and it isn’t slowing down. I am elated that Alfredo Oporto, our brother in Christ and the first person we met in Arequipa, has taken the reigns of executive director. Kyle, Larissa, Greg, and I are all volunteers now. I attended my first library meeting early this month to discuss the future of the program. I was an expert volunteer called in to help with curriculum development for the reading literacy program. I cannot express how wonderful it is to see the Peruvians take charge of something that we began 3 years ago. Sustainability has always been our dream for this work, and with Peruvians in charge, that is the first major step to making it a reality.

We are planning a team day retreat. We have a long strategy document listing the goals and dreams we had for this work year-by-year. The elderships all signed on to it, and as a team, we are revisiting the document to pray and dream further about where we are and what the future holds. We can plan all we want, but his ways being higher than our ways becomes quite a reality when you can look back over four years of the ministry.

This month has also been a month of good-byes. Anna and Sakari, the Finnish couple that worked with CUDA for 4 months, left on the 21st. One of our friends that was associated with the mine here left on the 24th (we had a ladies Bible study group in English that she was part of). And, Rachel Steele is preparing to leave on February 15. Her two year commitment has come to an end. So, though sad to say these good-byes, it is a reminder to me that God’s story is full of new chapters and we learn to go with it.

January 2012

December 2011

TA Newsletter Article December 2011:

A Christmas Story

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 the Virgin Mary. I would like to share a personal story with you relating to the Christmas Story.

As you know, my Spanish is mediocre. I can extrovert with the best of them, but when it comes to explaining myself or my faith in vocabulary words of a mature adult, “lacking” would be the word I would use to describe my Spanish. God has a way of humoring us, doesn’t he. Two months ago, a friend that I have made in my new neighborhood came and knocked on my door. She was wanting to know if I could work with her on conversational English. She has a really good English foundation, but still lacks in conversation and common vocabulary we would use in conversing. I agreed, and she has been coming to my home for one hour, twice a week.

In our first meeting, she asked me a lot of specific questions about our work here. I wasn’t shy to explain why we are in Arequipa. I explained why we moved here, about the church, and talked about the developmental projects with CUDA. She went on to explain about her family and the faith that she has grown up with. She is Catholic, but both her mother and her sister have converted to evangelical Christian groups. There are a few things she is still uncertain about, but she told me that she was interested in “experimenting” in Christianity. Talk about an open door. I asked her if she would be interested in reading the Book of Mark with me in English. She could practice reading, recalling what she read in English, and listen to me read aloud in English. I gave her NT Wright’s little commentary, Mark for Everyone, to read as her homework. God sent me a friend here in Peru to lead through a study of Mark in English! Isn’t he funny.

I have loved our time together. She has become a sweet friend. We converse a lot (which is what she wanted), and we have made it through the first part of chapter 7. We have discussed “Who Is Jesus.” But the first part of chapter 7 describes a scene where Jesus returns to Nazareth, his home, and is teaching in the synagogue. The people realize that he is teaching with authority, but it doesn’t take long for the gossip of the townspeople to spread and decide, “Who is this guy kidding? This is Jesus, Mary and Joseph’s boy. He grew up here.” (my version, obviously) My friend and I had a conversation about knowing Jesus. Here we have read six chapters of a gospel account of Jesus’ time on earth, and Mark has made evident that Jesus is Lord over demons, sickness, nature, and life itself. But now Jesus enters his own hometown and he is merely seen as Joseph and Mary’s boy. Mark says that Jesus was baffled at their unbelief. Yet, these people had known Jesus his entire life… but had they?

So many Peruvians, and people throughout the world have “known” Jesus their entire lives. They can tell you the Christmas story. They can even recall the gospel account and the crucifixion story. But my friend and I conversed about something today that I hope resonates in her heart tonight. I shared with her, “I can’t help but read this and think, do I really know Jesus? Do I know him not as Baby Jesus or as the main character in all of these Bible stories I have grown up hearing, but do I know him as Lord over everything? When someone knows Jesus as Lord over everything, their life can’t help but change.”

I am reading through a book right now called The King Jesus Gospel. It is reshaping my view of how I share the message of Christ with others. Jesus is King. Jesus coming as a baby is part of that story, but the beginning happened long before that with the people of Israel. This Christmas I have been able to share my faith with a friend. I don’t know where she is on her journey with God, but I am confident that God is using me to help guide her in that process of seeking him.

So this Christmas, when you see the nativity scene, don’t automatically think in terms of, “Oh, I see this every year.” Think about the fact that the glory of God took on flesh and became a baby born in the most humble conditions. He dwelt among us in order to fulfill the prophesies of the Old Testament and to teach us that he is the King of Kings. That is an incredible Christmas story.

December 2011

November 2011

TA Newsletter article November 2011:

A Beautiful Sunday

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…

We got up Sunday morning to be out at Naranjal by 9 am. Sunday was the inauguration ceremony of a new library, and it has been my favorite by far. I have taken part in four library inaugurations up to this point, but the reason this one stood out is because it was Naranjal. If you keep up with our work, you realize the significance of this event. We have established “amistad” (or in English “friendship”) with this community. We have had a presence among the people in Naranjal for close to three years. This is the first library where this is the case. The words spoken by the community leader were words of thankfulness for all that has been done. The people are excited about the library. Alfredo, our Christian brother, spoke on behalf of the Arequipa Rotary Club and CUDA. He explained that a library is a place to discover new things and read about other worlds. Our dream is that this library will encourage the children and older generations to dream big about the future. It is an exciting time. Because I am mostly involved with the library work, I feel like I can have more of a personal impact on that community with the library ministry. I wish that all of you could have been there to see the children and parents looking through the books that so many of you back home helped to contribute. After the inauguration, we shared in a time of communion, singing, and teaching with the community. God be praised for what he has done, is doing, and will do in this beautiful place!

I am thankful for my mother-in-law’s visit to see us. We were worn out from being at Naranjal all morning. Our house church meets at 2 pm in the Porvenir library location. On a Sunday where I would normally dread going to the meeting (because my kids would be grumpy and I would spend the whole time keeping them quiet through the meeting instead of participating), my mother-in-law offered to keep them at home–all you moms out there be ever so grateful for nurseries and free child care that the churches offer. Greg and I went to the meeting, and instead of carrying a huge diaper bag I carried just my Bible. All but two of our members came to the meeting. It was absolutely the most encouraging meeting I have been a part of. We shared in a time of singing, and after many songs we began to share about our week. Our group has used this month to fast and pray about various aspects of the church life here. One of those things is personal opportunities for evangelism. I sat there and listened to five of my Peruvian brothers and sisters share about the opportunities that have presented themselves to them in just this month. I cannot tell you how exciting it is to listen to their testimonies and pray with them about God furthering his Kingdom through them at this time. I couldn’t help but think that this is what the church is for. Edification happened that Sunday. Prayers were offered and prayers were spoken in praise because of God answering our petitions this month. We sat around a table and broke bread in remembrance of the one that this life is all about. We ended our meeting by trying to memorize Galatians 2:20 for the coming week, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

I write these things to encourage you all at home. I wish that you all could sit at the table and share with the family here. I am indebted to you for allowing me to be one that experiences these things. Thank you so much for the blessing of these three years of ministry in Arequipa. God is amazing, and I can do nothing else but sit back in awe.

November 2011

October 2011

TA Newsletter October 2011:

Some trust in chariots

In the three years I have lived here I feel that I have seen a lot. Poverty has a way with staring one right in the face. Two of my best friends traveled to Arequipa to help me with the kids while Greg is gone to the states. I was explaining to them that I have grown here in a way that I might not have grown in the states in the area of complaining. Whenever I complain or sense the urge to complain, all I have to do is think of someone worse off than me and it immediately puts me back in my place. It isn’t too hard to see “that person” that is worse off than me in this city of a million where many are without work, public education is one of the worst in the world, and justice does not play out in many situations. Over the past month I can recall three ways that I was touched by circumstances I hadn’t personally encountered before. I knew these situations existed, but they became more real to me through people that I interact with in Arequipa.

While Greg has been gone I take Ana to school with the three kids in a taxi every morning. You can imagine the English conversation that goes on in the second seat. It makes many taxi drivers curious, and many times, they ask where we are from or why we are here. One particular morning last week, the taxi driver tried to speak a little English with me. I applauded him for his language skills and began to ask him where he learned English. He had taken English classes while studying to become a high school teacher in history. He said that he needed to continue his classes but he didn’t have the money. I asked him where he taught. He explained that it was very hard to find a job in his profession and the jobs available paid very little money. He had to resort to driving a taxi because it paid more money than teaching and he has a family to support. His passion is to teach history to high school kids, but he has become very pessimistic in thinking that his dream would ever become a reality.

One of the few news stations we get here is CNN International. They have had a series of documentaries on the problem of sex slavery in the world. I realize that it is a huge problem, but I had not been “touched” by it until this month. One of our church member’s sister went missing the end of last month after his brother testified against a gang member. The brother was threatened to watch his back along with his family. Our brother in Christ greatly worried about his sister, because it was evident the gang members had taken her, not even 15 years old, and would sell her into sex trafficking if the police didn’t find her first. Praise be to God, the police did find her, and she has returned to her family. Unfortunately, she has physical and emotional scars to live with the rest of her life, and the gang members got away. The family continues to live out their lives in fear of something else happening to them.

One more story a sister in Christ has been sharing with me that she has an illness that does not have a cure. She has searched the internet for a possible solution, but all she can find is remedies involving plants from other countries. One day she explained to me that she would tell me about her illness some day. That day came, and aside from the details of how she contracted the disease, she shared that she is HIV positive.

I don’t mean to write a depressing article this month. I guess what God is teaching me is that in this life, so many hardships exist. It is hard to explain why it is so hard for some people. We live in a broken world, and I don’t have all the answers for why things happen the way that they do. My sister that is sick has accepted Christ, and she has truly experienced what it means to have a new life. Although she lives with very tangible evidence of her past life, the old has gone and she has been renewed. This is an incredible testimony to me. Our Christian brother that has been threatened by the gang has a choice to live in fear or live for the one that says, “Do not fear for I am with you.” He came to the church asking for prayers and I believe that he knows that we serve a God that does away with fear. In my conversation with the taxi driver, he shared with me that he is a Christian and meets with a body of believers that is like family to him. When his life seems dreary and unfulfilling, he can call on his Christian family in times of need.

So what is the point of all of this? Life is hard, but God is there. What will I do, or how will I handle myself when hard circumstances are staring me in the face? I have accepted to follow Christ. What does that mean, and how does that translate when things don’t go as planned? My article doesn’t hold a lot of answers. I just wanted to share three stories of people that have been dealt a pretty ugly hand in this life. But they have hung on, and they continue to walk with the Spirit. Personally, I don’t have much to complain about. But when I do, I will remember the Peruvians that have taught me a little glimpse of what it means to persevere and trust in the name of the Lord our God.

October 2011