End of a Season

It’s the end of August and we’re finally able to come up for air after this year’s volunteer team season. It is always a good feeling to be on this side of the season knowing that life is going to be slowing down, suitcases have time to air out and a resemblance of a routine starts to form.

This season we hosted 14 volunteer groups from across the United States and Scotland. Hundreds of volunteers arrived at the Lima airport and spent the next week or two working at our Girasoles homes. We had some great interns who helped us by traveling and translating for the groups.

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And as always, the house parents at each of the Girasoles homes were welcoming and organized some fun activities. The final night groups were at the home in Ica, the house parents Sabino and Esther coordinated a cena de gala celebratory dinner for the group and Girasoles. It was a candlelight dinner on the patio where new friendships were celebrated.

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And the usual evening activities in Kusi ensued.

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We spent a lot of time at the Lima airport – either to meet a group or traveling to Iquitos or Cusco.

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And ate many pollo a la brasa meals (yum!).

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We helped with translations and testing water samples.

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And we got to spend a lot of time with the children in our Girasoles homes.

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Each volunteer season there are always special moments that remind us why we are here or make it evident that God is working in these children’s lives. For me, it was one afternoon while in Ica.

Each time we take a group of volunteers to the city of Ica to work in our Girasoles home, we rent a water truck to go out into a nearby shantytown to deliver free water to a community that doesn’t have electricity, running water or sewage system. The houses are built out of 6×6 feet straw mats and the streets are just dust and sand. Very easily the people that live in this part of town could spend up to 50% of their income on water alone.

When I go with groups to deliver water, I like to take some of the boys that live in our home with us. They are extra hands to help carry heavy buckets of water and they can help spread the word that free water is coming.

This particular day, Sabino and Esther, the house parents in Ica had 10 boys accompany us to Tierra Prometida, the community where we would be passing out water. For two of the ten boys, it was their first time going out to deliver water. After quick instructions and an explanation of why we were there, the boys joined the group gathering empty buckets and returning them with free, clean water.

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I can’t even begin to express how proud I was to see these boys generously serving their community. They carried countless heavy buckets without being asked and worked together like I have never seen before, all without a single complaint about how hot it was under the desert sun or expecting something in return. As high school kids who live in a children’s home, they are always the beneficiaries. More often than not, they only have their time and strength to give. It was amazing to see the young men that Billy and I normally serve going out and serving their community with what they had to offer.

We all have something to offer whether it be your time, talents or treasures and we think it is important that the kids we work with realize that they have something to contribute as well and can become servants of a world in need. Our message to each child in our care is that they do not have to be defined by their past or current situation. Instead we share that God created them in His image with a specific purpose.

For that reason, they have infinite value, are worthy of being loved and are worthy of sharing that love with others.

– Kate & Billy

PS. Would you consider helping us continue working here in Peru? You can find out more about us and give online through United World Mission by clicking here.

4 years.

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Monday marked 4 years of living and working in Peru and it’s hard to believe that another year has passed.

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Year 4 was different than the previous years since we spent about 5 months on home ministry assignment visiting supporting churches, friends, and family. We definitely enjoyed our time in the States but are also happy to be back in Peru.

I’ve traveled 65,854 miles (that’s 885 hours or 36.88 days of travel) over these past four years here in Peru, going to & from Scripture Union’s seven homes for abandoned & at-risk children. I have met many people from around Peru and all over the United States that come as short-term volunteers.

I can’t remember how many times I’ve lost my voice translating games with the boys. Or how many times I’ve sat at a table with friends to eat the Peruvian classics. Or how many fields and dusty paths I have walked in the same pair of trusty Chacos. Or how many fútbol games I have watched on dusty soccer fields under the setting sun. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have laughed or smiled with the Girasoles boys and staff.

Both Billy and I are so thankful to the individuals, families and churches that generously support us with prayer and finances. We would not be able to continue working here without your help.

I can’t wait to see what the next few years bring to this ministry and the lives of the children we work with. The best is yet to come.

– Kate

National Conference in Kawai

Earlier this month, Scripture Union Peru hosted it’s third national conference in Kawai for all of it’s staff members, volunteers and directors. Since the conference was just a few weeks after our return to Lima, it was a great opportunity to see all of our friends and co-workers all in one place and be able to catch up with them during the week at the beach!

The theme of the conference was “Somos Familia” (we are family) and all of the sessions talked about the history, principles and ideology of the movement. It was a great opportunity for each of Scripture Union’s six ministries to interact together (something which doesn’t typically happen on a daily basis) and for staff members all over the country to get to know each other.

Each ministry director led a morning devotional and each day an invited speaker was asked to present something relating to the theme of the week. One of the most principle ideas of the Scripture Union movement worldwide is the use of volunteers to expand the ministry and many of the sessions talked about the importance of volunteers.

I was asked to document the week-long conference and wanted to share some of the photos from the sessions.

The week started with an inauguration ceremony in the chapel in Kawai.
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The inauguration ended with flags representing the departments where SU Peru is currently working.
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National director, Juan Alvear
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Paul Clark, sharing about the beginning of SU in Peru
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Celebrating 25 year of ministry in the jungle city of Iquitos
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Billy translating for Clayton Fergie, from Scripture Union International
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Just a small part of the great Girasoles team that work at SU’s seven homes for abandoned and at-risk children
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It was a great week with friends while we learned about the history and principles of Scripture Union’s work in Peru.

– Kate & Billy

This Christmas…

2014 has been a very different year as compared to the last five years that I have spent in Peru.

As you know Kate and I have been in the States on furlough since September of this year. We are almost four months into our time away from the field and have just over a month left before we head back to Peru. Mainly, our time away has been full of visiting churches, schools, and many other friends and contacts to share with them about the work we are blessed to be a part of in Peru.

Participating in Ward Church’s missions festival, Compelled by Love.
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Sharing about the Girasoles Program in South Carolina
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Participating in Living Water’s for the World’s training “Clean Water U”
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Seeing some sights in Philadelphia on a weekend trip to share about the Girasoles Program
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We have been working very hard over these last few months to raise funds necessary to keeping the homes open and operating. We are so thankful to so many of you who have given to our personal support, which has enabled us to continue to work on behalf of the children in our homes. We are also thankful to those of you have supported the ministry in Peru directly, a wonderful blessing for each of the children under our care.

January will be another month full of church visits and meetings to continue to promote Scripture Union’s work in Peru, but these next couple of weeks are a welcome pause in our busy schedule. Kate and I are blessed to be home with family during this Christmas season — our first Christmas together in the States (we’re desperately hoping for a white Christmas!). Yet as we look forward to Christmas with family, we are also missing our friends and the children that we have grown to love back in Peru, and we urge you to continue to keep them in your prayers this season. Here are some specific ways that you can pray:

— While this is a season of joy as we come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior, the Christmas season can also be an emotionally difficult time for the children in our homes. As many families pause to spend time together, our children are reminded of the family they do not have. Pray that our ministry staff and volunteers would be able to create a family environment at the home and pray that each child would come to understand the true meaning of Christmas. It is no coincidence that many of our kids hold Psalm 27:10 very close to their hearts. In their Spanish Bibles it reads “Even though my mother and father abandon me, the Lord will receive me into His arms.” Another version reads “…the Lord will adopt me as His child.” Christmas is a time when we remember that our Heavenly Father sent His only Son to Earth to fulfill the law that we could never fulfill on our own, to take the punishment for our sins and to die in our place that we may be called children of God. Pray that each of our children would come to know the love of their Heavenly Father who receives them into His open arms and adopts them as His own.

— Pray for the boys who are graduating from high school this year — that the Lord would be preparing them to take their next steps. You might remember that this past year four of our recent graduates applied for a new scholarship program that the government is offering to young adults who have grown up in children’s homes, the Beca 18. All four of them received the scholarship, and they are all continuing to work toward their degrees. December marks the end of the Peruvian school year and the beginning of the next round of scholarship applications. We have a number of kids who have shown interest. Pray that they would have the courage to follow through and that the Lord’s blessing would be upon them throughout this process.

— Last, we ask that you would continue to pray for the Lord’s provision for this ministry. The last couple of years have been very tight financially while the costs of running the homes has also gone up significantly. Pray that the Lord would continue to provide for the children’s homes, and pray that He would open doors for Kate and I to share this ministry in our last month in the States.

Once again, we want to thank each and every one of you for your continued prayers, support and involvement in our ministry.

May the Lord bless you as you come together to remember His gift to us all this Christmas season.

– Billy & Kate