Levi Karth–September Video Blog!!!!

Hey everybody! Check out my latest video blog episode if you want an up-close look at the mercy work of our Castillo Fuerte Mercy House program in the district of La Victoria in Lima:

Sept 2016 Vlog

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

Dodging in and out of the hectic, weaving traffic, Pastor Herb Burch navigated the van that we were in past busy intersection after busy intersection until we finally got to the familiar street of Aviacn. As Pastor Herb made a turn onto Aviación and pulled up to yet another busy traffic light, and while the electric train on the track above zipped by, I glanced at my watch: it was 3:39pm. “We’ve got plenty of time!” I said to my fellow missionary, Deaconess Caitlin Worden. “We’ve got 6 minutes! We’ll for sure be able to get to Castillo Fuerte in time, before the kids’ Bible class starts!”

The three of us—Pastor Herb, Deaconess Caitlin, and I—had earlier that Tuesday afternoon already made a visit to one of other Castillo Fuerte sites in the district of Chorrillos, in the southern part of the city of Lima. Our Castillo Fuerte—Mercy House program is our mercy ministry here in Peru, through which we share God’s mercy with people by helping them with their physical needs, and through that we also have opportunities to share the Gospel with them. Our new and developing program in Chorrillos is right now a daycare that we run, providing childcare for single mothers who are developing their job skills through a different organization, Krochet Kids. Our program in La Victoria, which we were about to arrive at, is our oldest Castillo Fuerte site, and its main focus is on helping children with their educational needs. In addition to the classes and homework time that we offer to the kids, we also are exposing them to God’s Word through a daily chapel service and a Bible class.

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Chapel Service at Castillo Fuerte in La Victoria

Although we didn’t quite tuck and roll when Pastor Herb pulled up his van in front of the Castillo Fuerte site in La Victoria, we definitely scampered out of the van, as Caitlin hurried upstairs to the classroom to teach her 15 minute class to the younger kids. It also just happened to be one of those days where I got to sub for the older kids’ class, so I soon found myself in action, standing in front of a bunch of elementary to middle school age kids. While utilizing a whiteboard and a puppet that I always try to have with me (puppets really help when teaching kids), I asked some questions to the kids, helping them understand more about the work of the Holy Spirit.

Soon, Caitlin and I had both ended our respective Bible classes, and we all met downstairs, as Pastor Herb led chapel service that day. After I finished the chapel service by leading the kids in a Christian song, most of the kids started to head off home, while a few stayed behind to work on homework, being tutored by the hired staff of Castillo Fuerte.

Glancing into the homework room and seeing one of the younger girls by herself, playing with a set of dominoes, I swooped over and soon joined her in playing a few games. As the homework time came to a close and we had to stop playing Jenga, the girl explained that she wasn’t sure what to do, because she usually came with her older sister, who could walk home with her. However, that day her older sister was busy and not there, yet she herself couldn’t cross the street by herself to get back to where her parents worked. Deaconess Caitlin and I soon agreed to walk her home so she wouldn’t have to cross the streets by herself.

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Playing Jenga

Before heading back to our Castillo Fuerte site, Caitlin swung by a restaurant and got some take-out chicken and French fries. Just that night we were having our first ever youth group meeting for the church in La Victoria, and the food was to be used for our fellowship time with them.

The sun was beginning to set when the first few youth showed up, and we were soon gathered around a small table, sharing the food and telling jokes. After the meal, we moved into Bible study, during which we focused on our brokenness and sinfulness as sinful humans, but also how the grace of God that comes to us because of Christ’s death and resurrection brings us the promise of forgiveness and of eternal life with God.

By the time we had finished the youth group meeting, washed the dishes, and escorted a couple of the youth home, it was already around 9pm. Though not all of my days here in Peru are quite so hectic as my Tuesdays tend to be, with all of my work my hope is to see people come to learn about God and the grace that he has for us through his Son, Jesus. This includes our times teaching and explaining the Bible. This also includes doing simple things like playing a game with a child or walking someone home, as I develop a relationship with that person, and through that relationship share Jesus with them.

Building Community With Our Ladies

Last weekend my fellow missionary, Deaconess Caitlin Worden, hosted a women’s retreat for all of the women in our different congregations in Lima. They met at our church in San Borja to spend time together in fellowship and in study of God’s Word.

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And of course I had blast providing daycare for the moms during the 6-hour event, having some fun with the kids.

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Coloring time
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At the nearby park

 

More photos from La Victoria

I’ve been busy in the last couple of weeks, helping out with the Castillo Fuerte Mercy House program that the Lutheran Mission here has in La Victoria (one of the districts in Lima). Here’s a few photos, highlighting what I’ve been helping with:

El parque Aug 2016 4
On Fridays, we like to spend extra time in the nearby park, playing a lot of games with the kids, and attracting new kids to get them interested in our program
El parque Aug 2016 3
Games in the park
Tarea LV CF 1 Aug 2016 2
As part of our activities with the kids every weekday, we have an hour or so set aside so that we can just help them with their homework
Tarea LV CF 1 Aug 2016 5
Working on homework
Music time at CF in LV Aug 2016
Since coming here, I’ve found that music has been a powerful tool for engaging, teaching, and captivating kids. This is me from earlier today, singing some Christian songs with the kids (who were just a bit more to the right than the camera could capture) while waiting for their next activity
Capilla LV CF Aug 2016
Every weekday we have a chapel service, during which the kids get a chance to hear God’s Word proclaimed
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On Saturday nights, I get to help with the Children’s Bible class. Deaconess Caitlin Worden (who is in charge of the children’s class), busy teaching the kids
Church in LV Aug 2016
Deaconess Caitlin Worden and Pastor Eddie Hosch, drilling the kids on their sermon notes after the church service this past Saturday night

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
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Walking through Lúcumo
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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.