So I guess people weren’t sure how I was doing…so here’s a quick little update to let the universe know that Levi is fine:
This past week Peru was suffering from the effects of El Niño, which is a weather phenomenon that every now and again brings heavy rain falls to Peru. In this case, the vast majority of the rain fell not in Lima but in other parts of Peru. However, people in Lima are specifically suffering since our main sources of water are the rivers that come from the highlands, which is where the heavy rains have been falling. Long-story-short, there’s a whole bunch of factors that go into it (and I don’t want to bore you ’cause who wants to be bored?), but basically that has resulted in the river flooding in parts around LIma, and has also resulted in a lot of water being contaminated, which means that a lot of places this weekend throughout Lima were without water, including my house. Actually my house (which is also the guest house for the mission here/the mission office/one of our church buildings) has been without water since Wednesday evening.
THANKFULLY, as you can see from the picture above (of the bottled water) I have more than enough drinking water to get by in terms of not suffering from thirst.
I’m also ridiculously blessed not only in that 1) I still have a house (lots of people who lived near the rivers can’t say the same thing), 2) I have drinking water right at my fingertips (also not something that everyone has), 3) I live in the mission office, which has plenty of dehumidifiers…which (if you know anything about dehumidifiers) pull in water from the air and place it all in an easily-removable plastic tray…which means that I have a virtually free (minus the electricity needed to power these things) infinite source of non-drinking water that I can use for cleaning/cooking/etc (and no, I’m not so smart as to think of using dehumidifiers–that was the idea of one of my fellow missionaries). So I’m ridiculously blessed…and I’m doing fine…but please do keep the people of Peru in your prayers, because a lot of people don’t have water right now.
One of the most encouraging things that I’ve ever experienced in mission work is when I can see people actually getting it, when I can see people actually catching onto what God has been using me to teach them. For the past couple of months, God has been using me to walk through the Gospel of Mark with the youth group that meets at our church plant in La Victoria, a district of Lima, Peru where we have one of our Castillo Fuerte (Mighty Fortress) Mercy Houses. As we’ve been walking through it, I keep asking them the same question: What does God want? What does God desire? What is God’s will?
At first they would get stumped and I would have to keep reminding them of the answer: God wants us to have a relationship with him. God wants us to have faith in him. God wants “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4 NASB) God wants us to be in his presence for forever. And for that reason he sent Jesus Christ—to save us from our sins and bring us salvation by grace through faith in him so that we could have all of that.
Now, however, they’re getting a lot better at thinking through it and seeing that Gospel in thestories that we are reading through. Just a couple of weeks ago I was even hearing one or two of the youth that normally zone out during Bible study finally thinking through it out loud.
In addition to simply reading through the Gospel of Mark with these youth, Deaconess Caitlin Worden (my fellow missionary who started up the youth group with me) and I have also been a lot more intentional about working to build community among these youth. With the Peruvian school year starting up this month, the youth group has changed radically with the addition of a bunch of new youth (most of whom had been regularly coming to the children’s programming at Castillo Fuerte last year).
Thus, we have been working to get them more comfortable with each other as well as more united as a group. A lot of my previous experience working as a camp counselor (working at different Lutheran camps during my summer breaks when I was in college) is really starting to pay off, as I use different tricks and activities that I learned from my camp experience. Some of these activities will hopefully soon involve things like trust falls and other more advanced activities that (when done properly) can help youth (and people of all ages) think through better how they can do life together.
Another big part of our work with this youth group in our church plant in La Victoria has been helping them see how all of the stuff that we have been teaching them applies to their daily lives. Part of this includes showing them what an active prayer life can look like. Just a few weeks ago, at the start of our Bible study, Caitlin and I asked one of the youth to pray for our whole group, but they all told us that they were too scared because they “didn’t want to say the wrong thing.” Thus, we have been showing them how they do not have to be scared of prayer, but rather should be glad to have this amazing gift—communication with our God and Savior.
Besides all of my time spent with these youth (which I really enjoy, if you couldn’t tell), I’ve also continued working to bring together more people at our church plant in San Borja for a weekly Bible study. The numbers are constantly fluctuating, and there is still plenty of work to be done with all of that, but thanks be to God every Friday night there is finally at least a small group coming to learn more about God’s Word.
Our Castillo Fuerte Mercy House in La Victoria took a couple of weeks of vacation since my last newsletter, giving the teachers a chance to take a break from our summer programming and then get things ready for our programming during the school year. Our normal school year programming has now started up again, and it’s great to be able to be interacting with the kids multiple days a week, teaching them more about God in our daily Bible classes as well as building my relationships with them more and more.
The Castillo Fuerte (Mighty Fortress) Mercy House + Church in La Victoria this past weekend had more than its fair share of events, just as the summer is starting to come to close here in Peru. On Friday, Castillo Fuerte celebrated its “Clausura” (“Closing”) of the summer programming:
Castillo Fuerte will be starting back up again in just a couple of weeks (since the school year here starts around March 13).
We also celebrated an adult confirmation at the church in La Victoria this past Saturday:
AND FINALLY, this past Sunday, one of my fellow missionaries, Deaconess Caitlin Worden, hosted another women’s retreat. With the help of some visiting deaconess students and professors from the LCMS seminary in St. Louis, Caitlin united women who are connected to our four different congregations (in Los Olivos, San Juan de Lurigancho, San Borja, and La Victoria) to hear God’s Word…and do womensy retreaty stuff. Beyond studying God’s Word, I’m not exactly sure what they did, since (not being a woman, so I couldn’t actually be a part of the retreat) I got put in charge of taking care of the kids of any of the mothers who were at the retreat:
After all of that…I was just a bit tired on Monday.