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