All posts by levik

Levi Karth–September 2017 Video Blog

Hey everybody!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here’s my latest video blog episode:

Sept Video Blog

And here’s an excerpt from my latest newsletter:

Many afternoons at our Castillo Fuerte Mercy House in La Victoria, I can often find myself juggling multiple things at the same time. One Tuesday afternoon not too far back, shortly after we had our chapel service, I was trying to have some kids practice playing music, since for a while now I’ve been working on raising up worship leaders among the kids so that there will be people to keep playing music after I leave. When I have the kids practice music (especially the keyboard), I usually have been playing along with them on the guitar to help them keep a beat and concentrate on the song. However, I have been letting them play on their own more and more so that they learn how to not be dependent upon me—which is really the whole idea, since my hope is that they won’t need me in order to have music in church.

Cristo Me Ama en Capilla Sept 2017
Levi, playing music with some of the kids at Castillo Fuerte during chapel

So, at the exact same time that I was letting kids practice on their own, I also was trying to get some good bonding with the youth groups kids, since they usually get out of school around that time and start showing up at Castillo Fuerte. And, of course, I was also trying to get stuff ready for our youth group meeting later that night…as well as a few other things. While the kids were being watched by the Castillo Fuerte staff, I ran to a nearby fruit vendor to get some food to prepare for theyouth group meeting. After getting some food and then walking back into the Castillo Fuerte building, I soon had a big smile on my face. I saw three or four kids huddled together, playing some of the musical instruments, while at least a couple of other kids were gathering around, singing with them. As they worked together to make music, they were keeping a great beat and were hitting all of the right notes! So I could see that they are already able (at least with that song) to play music without my help.

Of course, in addition to all of my time spent helping them get better at playing music for church, I’ve also still been greatly enjoying the large amount of time that I get to spend teaching the Bible, including the Bible study for our youth group. Probably for at least seven months now (if not more!), the youth group kids have been pleading with me almost every week for us to talk about the book of Revelation (these kids, at least in that way, aren’t that different from kids in the United States!), since they had obviously poked into before and were fascinated by all of the weird things going on inside of the book. However, not wanting them to simply get lost in weird stuff that they weren’t quite ready for, I kept the study on some more basic stuff (like the Gospel of Mark and the book of Acts), even as they kept pleading and pleading with me.

David and Goliath Sept 2017
Levi, teaching on the David and Goliath story during one of the Friday afternoon Bible classes at Castillo Fuerte.

Finally, this past week, I realized that I would really need to get started on Revelation if I wanted to get through it before my internship here in Peru ends in December. Thankfully, I’ve read through Revelation with people on other occasions, so instead of getting lost in all of the weird things going on or getting confused by all of the questions that people ask (e.g. what exactly will the end of the world, and the steps leading up to that, look like?), we were able to stay focused on what (or really, who) the book is all about anyway: Jesus Christ, our risen Savior, who will one day soon come back for us to take us home to be with him for forever. And, as we pulled in different passages from the Bible that are connected with Revelation, the Scriptures began to speak for themselves, and Jesus’ centrality in the book became clearer and clearer.

With my DCE internship here in Peru ending in just a few months, and with all of the pledges and donations that I have received being more than enough, I’m not seeking any new financial support. However, I would definitely appreciate your prayers as I seek discernment and wisdom from God as to where he is calling me after I finish my time here in Peru. Thanks for much for supporting me during my time here in Peru!

Advertisements

LEVI’S AUGUST VIDEO BLOG!!!!!!! IT’S HERE!!!!

And here’s my latest video blog episode!!!! CHECK IT OUT (well, only if you want to–you don’t have to…but if you want to get a quick peek at what I’m doing in South America this is probably the easiest way)!!!!!!!!

And here’s an excerpt from my latest newsletter:

Here’s a good example of what a typical day looks like for me…

As I scurried over to our Castillo Fuerte Mercy House in La Victoria, quickly dropping off my backpack and saying “¡Hola!” to some of the staff, and then hurrying back to the nearby park, I breathed in the crisp, winter air (which really wasn’t that cold since it rarely even gets below 55 Fahrenheit, though the humidity makes it feel a lot colder). Soon, I was back in the park, joining a few of the teachers and a bunch of kids in a good game of “Monkey in the Middle”. After playing that with the kids for a while, one of them suddenly noticed that the basketball court was open (it also serves as a soccer field, and earlier there had been other people playing on it), and so suddenly the kids went off in a mad dash to claim the court, quite excited to be playing what is currently their favorite game.

Hula jumping August
Having some fun in the park

Though I’m not very good at basketball (don’t expect me to ever actually get it in the hoop!), I do greatly enjoy playing it with the kids, so I was all geared up to play. We were just about to split off into teams when…well, kids are kids, and sometimes that involves a little bit of drama. So I soon found myself waving off at the rest of the kids, telling them to start playing without me, as I stood by the side of the basketball court and talked over why we shouldn’t have a cranky attitude with a very cranky kid. Making sure that people are reconciled is often a pretty big deal to me, so the two of us missed out on the entire game as the kid worked through her crankiness and finally (as we walked back to the Mercy Center to eat lunch) she was ready to offer a few necessary apologies.

After lunch, while most of the kids played board games upstairs as they waited for their classes to start, I pulled aside a couple of the kids to work on their music skills with them. Having been practicing for a couple of months now, they’re actually better on the electric keyboard than I am, but (being kids) they still need someone playing along with them (which usually means that I’m playing with them on the guitar) as they gain more and more confidence in their playing abilities. It has been really exciting to see how much they are progressing, especially as they little by little are participating more in the music ministry during our church services. My hope is that the kids will be able to continue on playing without me after my internship here in Peru wraps up by the end of this year.

Hot Incense August 2017
One of our more elaborate Bible classes…as the kids act out the story with puppets, with lots of props included, too (like that Ark of the Covenant replica in the background behind me).

Finishing up with the music time, I headed upstairs to the big kids’ classroom and tried to keep the attention of a dozen or so kids for 15 minutes as we talked about prayer. It seems like too many kids (and maybe people in general) get quite intimidated at the idea of praying, which was definitely the case that day as I told them that we would go around in a circle and ALL have a chance to pray. Whenever a kid would protest, “But I don’t know how!” I would remind them that, seeing that they were just then talking to me, they could also pray, because prayer is simply talking to God.

And there were many other moments that day (as there are most days) to not simply talk about the love and grace of God (which he offers us freely by grace through faith in his son, Jesus Christ), but also to live it out and model it for the kids, showing them God’s love. And I don’t just want the kids to know God’s love and grace, but I really want to see them sharing it, too.

 

 

Two headed child August
Me and…well, they claimed to be a two-headed child, but I’m pretty convinced that they were just two girls huddled together in the same sweater to stay warm.

July Video blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hey everybody! Here’s my latest video blog episode:

And here’s an excerpt from my latest newsletter:

One of my favorite events in the past few weeks was the visit of my university supervisor, Dr. Jacob Youmans. Dr. Youmans, director of the Director of Christian Education program at Concordia Texas (the university that I graduated from), came at the end of June to spend about a week with me. Bringing his family with him, they got to follow me around and see what my life as a missionary here in Peru is really like, as well as the work that God is doing through me here.

Youmans visit 7
With the visit of my supervisor, there was actually someone to take photos of me! Here’s me with some of the kids at Castillo Fuerte during a Saturday evening Bible class.

Since the entire Youmans family is quite musical, one of the especially enjoyable parts about their visit was how much they were able to help me with the music ministry aspect of my work that God has put into my hands. On one of their first days here, they headed with me down to my favorite part of Lima—the music market at la Plaza Dos de Mayo (I’ve mentioned that market in previous newsletters). There, we got an actual electric keyboard to use for the worship at the mercy ministry of Castillo Fuerte in La Victoria.

After bringing the keyboard (on the crowded bus!!!!!!!) over to our mercy ministry, the Youmans family (who has a lot more piano skills than I do!) was able to better show some of the aspiring kid musicians how to properly play it. In other words—just with that, they were a huge blessing!!!

One part that I especially enjoyed from the visit of the Youmans family was the feedback that I got—because an outsider’s perspective can often be quite insightful and encouraging. Dr. Youmans especially encouraged me to keep on training kids to be worship leaders, which could help them get more involved in the life of the Church.

Ark of the Covenant lesson June 2017
Me, during one of the Friday Bible classes, during which the kids at Castillo Fuerte are learning about different Old Testament stories.

Since then, the kids that I have been training in music have continued making great strides in their learning. Just a couple of days ago, one the kids was confident enough in her skills to play along to “Jesus Loves Me” (in Spanish, of course) during our music time during chapel. It’s exciting to see how these kids continue to grow in their skills!

These past few weeks have also been really crazy with quite a few changes in the lives of the missionaries, and we would all definitely appreciate your prayers as we get used to those changes. One such change is that one of my fellow missionaries, Deaconess Caitlin Worden, just a couple of weeks got married to a Peruvian man, Jeancarlos, who has been a member of our church here for quite some time. While obviously quite exciting, this of course also means that there are a lot of new things for them to get used to.

There’s also a lot of transition going on with some of my fellow missionaries. Just a couple of months ago we got two new missionaries, Pastor Cullen Duke and his wife, Deaconess Jackie Duke. Even as they are transitioning to life here in Peru, we are also having to say goodbye to a different missionary of ours, Pastor Herb Burch, who is transferring to the Lutheran mission in the country of Belize to help the mission work there. So with all of these transitions, prayers are definitely appreciated.

June video blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Check out my ^June Video Blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Also, check out this excerpt from my latest newsletter:

Setting goals is a lot easier when one has a specific time limit. After figuring out in the past few months that my time here in Peru is limited (my DCE internship here ends around the end of December), I have in some ways found myself more freed than limited, because it has helped me re-evaluate what I am doing and what my goals for my internship here are. And you’ll probably remember from my last newsletter that one of those goals is to leave behind some trained musicians who can bless the churches here with continual music in the church services.

Playing the melodica June 2017
Kids practicing with the melodica

After getting interested in the charango (the ukulele-like instrument that you probably saw in my last newsletter), and then seeing its limitations, I did some more scrounging around one of the musical instrument markets here in Lima, and eventually stumbled upon the melodica (see picture above). As you can probably tell just from looking at it, the melodica works a lot like a piano in that it has the same keyboard system, with the one big difference being that, instead of making music by electric speakers or by strings being knocked, this is used by blowing through a tube.

So what am I doing with this melodica thing? Besides simply using it to teach some of the basics of music theory to some of the kids at the Castillo Fuerte site in La Victoria (where I’ve already been spending a large amount of my time), it also is a good starter instrument to get kids interested in being church musicians. And, once again, seeing that I’m trying to focus more on specific goals (since my time here is short), helping kids learn music is one of those goals.

Of course, simply teaching how to play music for church services would be a very empty goal if that was all that I was doing with these kids. One of my other main focuses (which has been my focus for almost a year now) is continuing to be a part of the formation of the kids at the Castillo Fuerte Mercy House in La Victoria. A lot of that work involves simply spending time with those kids, showing them how much God loves them by letting his love shine through me. As a Peruvian pointed out to me, a lot of those kids just need a lot of love.

Board game time June 2017
Some of the kids at the Castillo Fuerte Mercy House in La Victoria, being kids, playing a board game and having fun

Obviously, continuing to teach these kids about Jesus is the other big part of the equation. Some of this involves just answering their questions. Not too long ago, instead of picking a specific topic for a 15-minute Bible class that I was going to teach, I just let the kids ask questions about anything related to the Bible (which meant that the question about the existence of zombies did not get answered in great detail), giving them a chance to satisfy their curiosity, and giving me a chance to see where they could grow more in their knowledge of God’s Word and his plan for our salvation.

Besides simply teaching the basics of the faith to these kids, these Bible classes have been a good opportunity to cast a vision for these kids. Specifically in the Saturday evening Bible class at the church in La Victoria, I have been walking with them through the stories in the book of Acts. It has been an awesome opportunity to help the kids learn more about how God empowered all of his people with his Holy Spirit and send them forth to be witnesses “to the end of the earth” (see Acts 1:8). After all, now is the best time to get them thinking about the Great Commission and how they too are a part of that mission, since God wants to use all of his people (including kids!) to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the whole world.

I’m also having a lot of fun helping the Bible come alive for these kids, especially in the Friday afternoon Bible class that I help to teach them. As we go through different stories in the Old Testament, I have been able to use a wide variety of elements to help the kids really imagine what it was like (for example) for the Israelites to cross through the Red Sea on dry ground (see Exodus 14). Of course, beyond simply having really interactive classes, the point is to make sure that they’re engaged so that we can remind them how the whole Bible points back to Jesus Christ and how he came to this earth to live, die, and rise again to give us the hope of eternal life with him.

Friday Bible class, the Exodus June 2017
Some of the kids acting out the story of the Exodus during a Friday afternoon Bible class
Crossing the Red Sea June 2017
Acting out the crossing of the Red Sea

Levi Karth–MAY VIDEO BLOG!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hey everybody!!!!!! It’s that time of month again!!!! Here’s my latest video blog update:

May Vlog

Also, here’s an excerpt from my May newsletter:

Even a trip to window shop for a charango can be an opportunity to share the Gospel. And I guess I should first explain what a “charango” is before I tell the whole story so that it makes more sense. Here’s a picture of a charango (which is a Peruvian stringed instrument):

Charango
charango

So what’s with the charango? I got interested in them this past month as I began to focus more on the musician part of my job. Before I got here to Peru, the church in La Victoria had no musicians, and everything was sung a capella. Since I’ve gotten here, God has been using me to run the music ministry there. However, rather than simply running the whole thing myself, I really want to train up more kids at the church in La Victoria, teaching them how to play different musical instruments. That way, the music ministry isn’t dependent upon me being present.

Learning about music May 2017
One of the kids in La Victoria learning about music notation

Knowing about la Plaza Dos de Mayo (a certain area in Lima where there are a lot of music stores), I decided to ride the bus for an hour and check it out. After getting there around 12:30pm, I poked my head into just one music store, looking around at what they had. Walking out and past a few more stores, I eventually walked into a second music store, looking over the different stringed instruments that they had. I was especially interested in the charangos and similar instruments since I assumed that they would be cheaper than guitars and maybe easier to play.

Right after I entered the store and started looking at the different instruments, the shopkeeper—a middle-aged Peruvian man—saw me and rushed over. After asking just a couple of questions about the different instruments (at that point I didn’t even know what a “charango” was called), he opened up the display case and, one-by-one, pulled out a few of his different instruments and began showing me how to play them. Next, he took me to a backroom in his shop and showed me a bunch of music sheets that he had for the charango (which was the instrument

that caught my eye the most). Then, he showed me even more of his instruments. Finally, he took me even further back into his shop and showed me the room where he actually made most (if not all) of the instruments that were sold in his shop.

And somehow, in the midst of his excitement to see me all of that, the question came out about what I did for a living, and I soon found myself talking with the shopkeeper about theology. He quickly bewildered me for a moment when he talked about God being love, and then suddenly seemed to change what he believed and he declared that “God does not exist”. After getting more of a grasp on his very round-about way of explaining things, I finally realized that he was talking about how (entirely in his opinion), God does not exist in time and space, since (once again, in his opinion) God is spirit. He also had some really interesting views on who Jesus was/is.

His sister, who was also in the shop, quickly warned me that I wouldn’t be able to talk sense into her brother when it came to religion. Thankfully, I remembered that, no matter how much I put my own effort into it, I can’t bring anyone to faith—that’s really the work of the Holy Spirit as he works through the Word of God. So I simply relied on pulling out different Bible verses, trying to connect the dots for the shopkeeper, talking about how God himself took on a human body when the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, was born as a baby boy, and how he did that as part of God’s plan to give us forgiveness, salvation, eternal life, and a relationship with him.

After quite some time of us going back and forth around this topic, while being interrupted occasionally by other customers, I suddenly realized what time it was—2pm! I had probably been talking with him for over an hour! And I had to get to Castillo Fuerte in La Victoria by 3pm to teach the daily Bible class there. So, after about ten more minutes of chatting with him, I thanked him for his time and headed off. While walking toward the bus station, I realized that, in terms of window shopping, I hadn’t been very efficient with my time (seeing that I had only visited two stores), but that God had obviously had a different purpose for my trip there.

CFEC class 5,13,2017
One of the children’s Bible classes at the church in La Victoria

After rushing to get to the Castillo Fuerte in La Victoria, I had just a few minutes to greet all of the kids and teachers before I found myself teaching the older kids’ class. I had them read 1 Peter 3:15: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (NIV) Using that verse, as well as my story of my conversation with the shopkeeper, I talked about how they, too, can be used by God to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the world.

APRIL VIDEO BLOG!!!!!!!!

Hey everybody!!!! Here’s my latest video blog episode:

April Vlog

Also, here’s an excerpt from my latest newsletter:

Even vinegar can be a tool to share the Gospel. The week before Easter, I really wanted to be serious about teaching the kids and youth at our Castillo Fuerte Mercy House in La Victoria about Jesus’ sufferings and death for us. So the Monday before Easter, I needed some strong-smelling vinegar for one of my Bible classes with the kids. After searching in the mission office (where I live) I only found a bottle of really diluted vinegar that barely had any scent. So I ran over to the tienda (a small grocery store) just a few hundred feet from my house to find a better bottle of vinegar. After completely butchering the Spanish word for vinegar as I asked to buy a bottle, I brought it back to the mission office and asked our Peruvian secretary to smell it (my sense of smell is horrible so I needed a second opinion).

No, this doesn’t smell very strong,” he told me in Spanish. “What if you tried buying a bottle of red vinegar?” So I hustled back to the tienda and ordered a bottle of red vinegar (which I was hoping would be stronger). As the lady at the cash register (who had also sold me the first bottle) was walking over to grab me a bottle, she asked, “What are you cooking?” At first I just said, “Oh, it’s for a Bible class with kids.” Obviously, that wasn’t a very satisfactory answer, so I ended up explaining to her that I wanted to teach on Jesus’ time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before he was arrested (check out Matthew 26:36-46), specifically talking about the “cup” that he was asking be passed from him, i.e., the cup of God’s wrath that Jesus received on the cross when he took the full punishment for our sins. So a quest for the perfect prop for a Bible class became an opportunity to share the Gospel.

Cup of wrath 3 Holy Week April 2017
Utilizing some puppets to tell the Bible story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

I never ended up finding a more potent bottle of vinegar (everything I could find was really diluted), but thankfully I found a few other odd ingredients to mix together with the vinegar in a cup, and it ended up having a very nasty stench. So during the Bible classes that day, God used me to talk with the kids (after they had all gotten a smell of the vinegar-potion and gagged) about how much nastier our sins are, as well as how much Jesus suffered for us on the cross to save us and give us a relationship with God by grace through faith in him.

Cup of wrath 2 Holy Week April 2017
Here’s the initial reactions of some of the kids as they smelled the vinegar-potion during Bible class
Cup of wrath Holy Week April 2017
You can also check out my video blog if you want to better see their reactions.

The next day (Tuesday) I got to use the nasty smelling potion (which I had made sure to save) again. Deaconess Caitlin Worden (one of my fellow missionaries) and I had the youth during our youth group meeting go through a Holy Week meditation activity. I set up different stations where the kids would sit and read a Bible passage from the story leading up to Jesus’ death (from Matthew 26-27). Additionally, there were some extra words to meditate on at each station (often verses from one of our hymns), and the youth were also encouraged to take time to prayer. There were also different objects to see, touch, and smell (the nasty-smelling vinegar-potion!) that would help to illustrate each part of the story.

Holy Week Meditation April 2017
At youth group, during the Holy Week meditation activity

Holy Week Meditation April 2017 2

It was awesome to see how much the youth enjoyed all of it. They spent over an hour reflecting and praying as they moved from station to station, and a lot of the girls in our youth group were actually moved to tears as they pondered the story of what Jesus suffered to save us. After it was all over, Caitlin and I sat down with them and processed with them what they had experienced and learned, while having them read through some Bible verses to truly remind them why Jesus did all of that, like the following verses: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself….” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18 ESV).

Life is also exciting as God continues to use me to build relationships with different adults who are connected to our church plant in San Borja. During our Friday night Bible studies (which is the main gathering time when I see a lot of these people) I often have to be ready for a wide range of questions, since a lot of them have read just enough of the Bible to have some really good questions about different confusing topics. Through it all, God has been using me to emphasize the clarity of the good news of Jesus Christ—that he came to suffer, die, and rise again to live for us, so that through faith in him we could have forgiveness of sins and eternal life for forever with God.

He is risen 4,15,2017
One of the kids at the church in La Victoria, showing off her craft that she made at our celebration of Easter.

Flooding/Ridiculously Blessed

DCIM100MEDIA
Bottled water in my kitchen

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.

 

DCIM100MEDIA
Dehumidifiers in my living room

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.

Levi Karth–March VIDEO BLOG!!!!!!!!!!!

Hey everybody!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Check out my latest video blog episode!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Also, check out this excerpt from my latest newsletter:

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.

Bible class Feb 2017
Some of the  youth from La Victoria during one of the daily Bible classes in Castillo Fuerte

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.

Never Have I Ever 3,14,2017
Deaconess Caitlin Worden playing a game with some of the youth at the church in La Victoria during one of our youth group meetings.

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.

Teaching Bible class Feb 2017
Me, teaching the kids during a daily Bible class at Castillo Fuerte

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.

Wrapping Up the Summer

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:

closing-of-the-summer-at-cf-feb-2017-2
Some of the kids at the Clausura in Castillo Fuerte, talking about what they learned in their classes during the summer.
closing-of-the-summer-at-cf-feb-2017
Watching one of the kids present during the Clausura at Castillo Fuerte.

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:

confirmation-at-lv-feb-2017
Pastor Josh Gale leading the confirmation ceremony during the normal Saturday night church service at the church in La Victoria.
confirmation-at-lv-feb-2017-2
Reading along while listening to the Bible being read during the Saturday night service at the church in La Victoria.

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:

womens-retreat-at-lv-feb-2017
Deaconess Caitlin Worden, leading the women’s retreat
womens-retreat-at-lv-feb-2017-4
The kids of the moms at the women’s retreat…having some fun in the park.
womens-retreat-at-lv-feb-2017-2
…And also having fun with some inside games.

After all of that…I was just a bit tired on Monday.

Levi Karth–February 2017 VIDEO BLOG!

Hey everybody! It’s that time of month again!!!! Check out my latest video blog episode!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Feb. Video Blog

Also, check out the following excerpt from my the February edition of my missionary newsletter:

There’s a lot of stories that I don’t end up putting in my newsletters simply because the vast majority of my work is with people, and people deserve their privacy. And with that, a lot of the people that I am getting to know here in Peru also can read what I’m writing and posting on my blog (the biggest fans of my video blog probably are the kids in La Victoria, who discovered my channel on YouTube a few months ago, if that gives you any idea of how public what I publish is). So whenever I’m putting in vaguer stories in my newsletter, you can be assured that there’s a lot of other details that also need prayers for…and thankfully God knows the needs, even when I can’t tell you everything via my newsletter or even show you photos of some things.

One of those needs is the increasing outreach work that God is doing through me—outreach work based in our oldest church plant in Lima, in the neighborhood of San Borja. A part of this outreach work has been picking up some work that other missionaries left behind when they left this mission field in Peru for different mission fields. Using the metaphor of the Apostle Paul (from 1 Corinthians 3:5-9), other missionaries planted seeds, while I am now watering those seeds, connecting with different people that those other missionaries had built relationships with. Of course, as Paul himself pointed, God is ultimately the one who is making those seeds grow.

So, God has been using me at our church in San Borja to start spending more relational time with different people, seeking to start up more studies of God’s Word. Right now, as I try to deal with multiple people’s schedules, it’s all about being flexible. Sure, it would be fantastic if I could say “We’re going to meet on Monday night every week” and expect that to always work for people, but that’s simply not how the culture here works. While following the clock and sticking to a plan on one’s calendar is a way of life for many in the United States, people here in Peru simply aren’t as focused on their watch or their day-planner, and are a lot more focused on what is right in front of them. So I can already tell you lots of stories of how I’ve had to remind myself that being flexible is a big key when it comes to doing mission work. After all, this work is all about people coming to know and grow in Jesus, rather than simply about offering programs and classes, and we have to be flexible if we want to connect with people.

cfec-be-fun-2112017-2
Levi, with some of the kids at the church in La Victoria, acting out a story with puppets during the Saturday night Bible class

Of course, my work (or, I should say, God’s work through me) continues at our Castillo Fuerte (Mighty Fortress) Mercy House in La Victoria (and the church plant that is alongside of it). Since late December to early March is the summer break from school, we’ve taken advantage of kids having their mornings free to offer an extra, hour-long Bible class. I’ve been teaching about two of those classes per week, in addition to helping out with the 15-minute Bible classes that we also offer Monday-Friday.

dying-of-laughter-at-youth-group-2172017
My fellow missionary, Deaconess Caitlin Worden, laughing with some of the youth in our youth group after a comical moment during our Bible study

In addition to that, I’ve also continued to help lead our youth group that we have at our church in La Victoria. With the new school year just around the corner, Deaconess Caitlin Worden (one of my fellow missionaries, who has been leading the youth group with me) and I decided just a couple of weeks ago to start opening up the youth group to our kids who are about to be freshmen en la secundaria (“in high school”). We’ve been spending a lot of time just doing life together with these youth, growing our relationship with them, as well as studying God’s Word together. We’re focusing right now on walking through the Gospel of Mark with them, helping them learn more about their Savior and the grace and life that we can have in him.

dce-mid-year-internship-reflection-january-2017
Levi Karth, with his fellow DCE interns + professors, at their reflection event at Concordia University Texas

In addition to all of that, I’ve also had a few chances to step back, reflect, and process my experiences here in Peru thus far. One such chance was when I took a brief trip back to my alma mater, Concordia University Texas (in Austin, Texas), at the end of January. Being a Director of Christian Education (DCE) intern, technically my time here in Peru is part of my DCE internship, and this past month at Concordia Texas there was an intern reflection event. I was able to meet up with my DCE professors, as well as my fellow interns who are serving right now in different churches back in the States. It was a great chance to share with each other what God has been doing through us, as well as to be refreshed and get some new ideas for what to do in the future. It was very encouraging to see how God is using his servants all over the world to share the good news of Jesus Christ, and to be reminded that this is his mission, and I’m just one of his many servants in that mission.