Trip to Lunahuana

These past couple of days I went with Pastor Herb Burch (my supervisor here in Peru) and his wife, Markie on a visit to the villages of Lunahuana and Lúcumo (about three hours south of Lima, where we live) to continue our work at reconnecting with people down there. There had been a strong Lutheran mission presence in that area in the past, and we are looking at restoring our presence there so that more and more people can hear the Good News of Jesus Christ–how we can have forgiveness and life through faith in him.

 

Elvis family in Lunahuana
Visiting with a family in Lúcumo
Lunahuana Aug 2016 2
Walking through Lúcumo
Lunahuana Aug 2016 3
Examining some things that the former Lutheran missionaries had left with one of the families in Lúcumo
Lunahuana Aug 2016 1
Catechesis: Training up the next generation in the deep truths of the faith…which is something that has been missing in Lunahuana in the past couple of years…

Levi Karth–August 2016 Video Blog!!!!!!!!!!!!

You won’t want to miss this latest episode in my video blog!!!!!!!!!!

Also, here’s a story (from my newsletter) on my work in Lima:

The pale, gray sky above fit well with the dusty, run-down factory buildings that I passed by as I navigated past crowds of people, street vendors, stray dogs, and a homeless beggar. After scurrying across a busier street, I turned a few corners, and found myself passing through the neighborhood park. Many parks in the nicer neighborhoods of Lima, Peru are clean, shiny, and pristine, with well-watered grass that is always green and nicely cut. However, being in La Victoria, one of the barrios (poorer neighborhoods) of Lima, such care of the parks was not expected. The grass was a lot more yellow, trash was scattered around the park, and the playground equipment definitely wasn’t as shiny as similar equipment in parks in other parts of the city.

Park in LV

Getting past the park, I traveled just one more block before running into Miss Magaly, one of the teachers in our Castillo Fuerte (Mighty Fortress) Mercy House program. The Castillo Fuerte program in La Victoria is the main way that we reach out to the people of La Victoria, especially focusing on helping the kids in the community through acts of mercy. Through all of that, we find ways to share the Gospel with the kids, their families, and the larger community.

Miss Magaly was heading to the park to find our regular kids and play with them for an hour. After dashing into our Castillo Fuerte site (a few rooms that we are renting out of a factory), greeting the other staff, and then dropping off my heavy backpack, I hurried back to the park to join Miss Magaly and Miss Janette (one of the other teachers). I soon found myself in the midst of a growing cluster of kids, all of whom were already occupied in their play.

After an hour of bouncing around a ball a few dozen times, tumbling down the large, yellow slide, and trying to keep kids from getting too out of hand, the kids got in a somewhat haphazard line (it only takes one kid to throw the whole line off) and followed Miss Janette back toward our Castillo Fuerte site, while Miss Magaly and I followed along. Arriving outside, the kids waited in their line, as one-by-one they talked with Jeancarlos, the director of the Castillo Fuerte site in La Victoria (and also one of my best friends here), and paid him 1 Peruvian sol (about 33 cents—very affordable!) for lunch. Meanwhile, I bounced back and forth between conversations with the different kids, continually building my relationship and rapport with them.

I was soon sitting with the kids, gulping down the delicious food whenever I wasn’t chiming into the random conversations of the kids. Every day they seem to be serving a different Peruvian dish for lunch, so I long ago forgot to ask the exact name for what I am eating, though I am pretty sure that the soup that the kids started out with included different sea food elements (one kid found a fish eye in her soup!) and some noodles. The main dish included rice (a staple food item here in Peru), some kind of beans, and fried fish.

Aug 5 2016 lunch time 2

The clang of forks and spoons mixed with the care-free, joyous noise of excited children chattering away in Spanish, while the teachers moved around, picking up empty plates and bringing in the next dish. Most of the kids went off to their classes, I stayed behind with the slower kids, waiting for them to finish their food.

Not long after that, I got to help teach the daily Bible class to the younger kids. Being the musical missionary, I decided to teach the kids El Señor Resucitó, Aleluya (“Jesus Christ Is Risen Today, Alleluia”), playing along on my guitar. I’ve found working here that music has the power to draw in kids’ attention better than almost anything else, so I try to use music as a teaching tool whenever I can.

A few minutes later all of the kids headed downstairs for La Capilla (chapel service) and got a chance to pray together, confess their faith together in the Apostle’s Creed, hear a Scripture reading, as well as a few other things. After Jeancarlos, who is also one of our pre-seminary students, pulled me up front to quickly explain the Scripture reading, I grabbed my guitar and lead all of the kids in singing El Señor Resucitó, AleluyaAfter saying goodbye for the day to many of the kids, who were headed off to their homes or back to the park, I wrapped up just a few more things before heading home myself.

I could say that what I just described above is an example of what a “normal” work day looks for me…but every day is so different, and I work at several different mission sites, and not all of them are even in Lima. However, two of the constants in my work are that we are always wanting to share God’s Word, and we are always seeking to create relationships with people so that we can lead them to Christ and the good news of new life that we have in him.

Some photos from La Victoria

CF LV Aug 4 2016
Doing some exercises while learning about motor skills

This past week I’ve been hanging out at the Castillo Fuerte (Mighty Fortress) Mercy House in La Victoria (one of the poorer neighborhoods in Lima), helping out with the mercy ministry there. Since the schools have been having these past two weeks their equivalent of the United States’ Christmas break (meaning that the kids are out of school), the Castillo Fuerte has been doing some extra programming, opening its doors to our kids both in the morning and in the afternoon (usually we only have programming in the afternoon, after the kids get out of school). Through the different educational classes, the relationships being formed, and the Word of God being shared, we have been ministering to these kids, preparing them for life in this cold, harsh world while also showing them how, through faith in Jesus Christ, they can hope and look forward one day to being with God in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

CF LV Aug 4 2016 otro
Working hard (hopefully) in the ESL class
Aug 5 2016 lunch time 2
Enjoying the low-priced lunch offered at Castillo Fuerte
Aug 5 2016 lunch time 3
Jeancarlos Ramirez, Director of Castillo Fuerte in La Victoria (the guy standing up on the right) checking on the kids during lunch time.

Aug 5 class time

Levi Karth–July 2016 Video Blog!!!!!!

Hey everybody! Check out my July video blog episode:

July Video Blog Episode

You can also find my latest newsletter here: LCMS Levi newsletter July 2016

So how has life been for me this past month? I’m glad you asked! Here’s a good story that summarizes what I’ve been up to:

The thick city air became even more difficult to breathe as I entered a combi (a small bus in Lima) and found myself packed in a very full combi—not surprising, since it was a busy Saturday afternoon. With no seats left, I had to hunch over, hold onto the rail hanging down from the ceiling, and avoid hitting people with my small (but very stuffed) backpack. As I rode along and tried to track where the bus was taking me, I prayed, “Lord, please use me to reach these people with your good news.” I had been in Peru for a few weeks already, and I wanted to get straight to work, telling anyone and everyone about Jesus and the hope that I have in him.

Just then…I noticed that I was lost! I had no idea where my bus was taking me! With great difficulty I managed to get my hand down to my pants pocket without brushing against any of the people next to me, pulled up the GPS, and found that the bus had taken a different turn than I had expected. I hastily moved toward the door and got ready to get out at the next stop. I then was lost in one of the market places in Lima (Gamarra) for a good 10 minutes before I found my way to the church that I was going to. “Dummy!” I told myself, “You have to learn the culture first if you really want God’s witnessing through you to be effective! And that includes learning how to use the bus!”

The next Saturday afternoon, after learning the bus routes to that church a lot better, I was enjoying the ride on a larger bus, which had plenty of open seats. As I was reading through the Bible passage that I would be helping to teach that night, the man next to me (undoubtedly noticing the wooden cross that I always wear, as well as the pastor’s robe that I was carrying for one of my fellow missionaries) started asking me if I was a priest. “No, not quite,” I said smilingly, while giving him my full attention so I could understand what he was saying in Spanish. Soon we were having a lively conversation about what the Lutheran church is and what we believe (that we’re saved by God’s grace alone and brought into a relationship with God through faith!), and I noted that at least one other person was listening to our conversation.

As the bus continued along, the man asked me where I would be getting off. Now knowing the route, I only had to glance out the window for just a moment to know where I was at. “So, you know this area?” the man asked me. I smiled and nodded, very glad that I had taken time to learn that one part of the culture (as well as many other things), because it had truly had had an effect on my witness—I would have been too busy following my GPS if I didn’t know the bus route! Right before I came to my stop, I handed the man a tract about the resurrection and eternal life. After I got out of the bus and started to head to the church, where I would be helping to teach kids about Jesus, I looked back to see it driving off. Waving at the man, I hoped and prayed that he would read that tract, visit our church, and maybe even come to faith in Jesus and have the hope of eternal life with God.

For this one you need English skills…

image

…which is why I’m glad that a short-term (short as in “brief”, not as in “not tall”) team from the States is visiting the mission here in Peru who can English (do English? say English?), since I’m not necessarily the best at Englishing (doing English? speaking English?). This week, we (the Peru mission team) have been blessed by having a team of 8 people from the States come and stay with us for a week. They’ve been working in San Borja–one of the middle class neighborhoods in Lima in which our Mercy Ministries (that help people with their physical needs) simply aren’t needed. Obviously, EVERYBODY needs the Gospel, and as such we want to connect with the people of San Borja. Since many people in San Borja (and Lima in general) desire to learn English (which can lead to better job opportunities), the team from the States is putting on an English camp at our church.

The goal behind their work here is to give us (the Peru mission team) a chance to create a relationships with people living near our church, and through that to find opportunities to share the Gospel and bring people to Jesus through our church here. We already had a super-fantastic-awesome turnout yesterday, and the short-term team had a few opportunities to share the Gospel with people, telling them that we can have a restored relationship with God because of Jesus’ sufferings, death, and resurrection (instead of because of anything that we have done). Please keep us in your prayers as God opens more and more doors.