More Flooding in Lima

Peru is in a state of emergency right now and we really need your prayers.

There are major landslides affecting many cities across the coast which are destroying homes and whole towns. Hundreds of families have already lost everything. With Lima being in the middle of a desert, the city is not prepared for these amounts of rain.

Our heart breaks as more images show the devastating effects of the flooding and mudslides currently happening here in Lima and along Peru’s northern coast.

This video was recorded yesterday in Punta Hermosa, about 15 miles from our apartment. If you watch the whole video, you’ll see a few cows caught in the water and a woman who emerges from the water and debris at about 2:35.

A landslide like this happened in at least 9 different places in Lima yesterday.

Water has been shut off again in Lima, which causes its own panic and chaos for the 9 million people here. This morning Billy went to 3 different grocery stores looking to buy bottled water and found empty shelves and long lines at the cash registers. Schools in Lima have are closed at least until Monday and there also has been talk of sporadic electrical cuts to the city as well.

Thankfully the landslides have not affected the neighborhood where we live, but we are without water until it is reinstated. Our building does have a reservoir tank so we do have a slow supply but between the 5 apartments in the building who knows how long it will last (Sedapal, the government water company has said that it will turn water back on for just a few hours each day which hopefully will be long enough to fill our reservoir).

Please be praying that the rains and flooding would stop and pray for the families across the country being affected by the landslides.

– Kate & Billy

Julio

Over the last couple of years, we have really enjoyed the opportunities when we have been able to spend time with and mentor several of the graduates from our children’s homes who are now living here in Lima while they work or study. We are passionate about walking alongside them as they transition towards independence and about encouraging them to continue their walk with the Lord.

Billy & Mauro, one of the boys from Scripture Union’s home in the Sacred Valley

In 2016, apart from meeting with a few of the young men regularly, we have had the opportunity to celebrate birthdays together, help one of the guys to navigate the confusing Peruvian health system as he needed to receive daily treatment for Tuberculosis, help some of the boys look for jobs, host a few in our apartment as they get accustomed to Lima, and invite many them to attend church with us.

As I think about these interactions from over the past few months, specifically a young man named Julio comes to mind (though I have changed the name to protect his privacy).

Julio left one of our homes in early 2014 under less than ideal circumstances. He had not finished high school yet, but his older brother along with a number of his older friends graduated from the Girasoles program and had moved on from the home. Julio was 16 at the time, and therefore was old enough to make the decision to leave with his brother and move to Lima despite our encouragement for him to stay at the home and at least finish high school. He planned to finish his final two years in Lima, but his plans didn’t really pan out and he needed to find a job to sustain himself. But, finding a decent job at his age without a high school diploma is a steep task — and one that didn’t leave any time for him to continue studying. Eventually he dropped out of school and got involved with the wrong crowd. A string of bad decisions led to some legal troubles that scared him enough to give us a call in July 2016. He felt like he had hit rock bottom.

Since then, we have had some hard conversations, and he has shared many of his personal struggles. The underlying issue is that he just felt very alone. Kate and I have had the opportunity to continually be present in his life. He lived with us for a couple of months while we helped him through some of his legal issues. He has since found a job and a room to rent. We are helping to support him as he works on finishing up his last year of high school (he graduates in April 2017), and he has become active in our church’s youth group. He still has struggles, and he doesn’t always understand God’s plan for him, but he knows he is not alone. We are so proud of Julio, and thankful that the Lord has given us the opportunity to be a part of his life!

Please pray for Julio and all of the other young men who have transitioned or who are getting ready to transition toward independence. Pray that the Lord would direct their path, and pray the He would place people in their lives who can continue to guide them.

– Billy & Kate

Rain & Flooding in Lima

Greetings from sunny Peru!

Since we are south of the Equator, we’re in the middle of a very hot and humid summer here in Lima right now. The last few days have been unbelievably hot and we’ve found ourselves seeking out air conditioning at the grocery store, the mall or just anywhere we can find fan to catch a breeze. The strong air conditioning inside the bank sure makes standing in long lines less of a chore!

While it is hot along the coast, it is the rainy season in the Andes Mountains and the region as a whole has received more rainfall than usual. The added rain is causing some of the worst flooding and mudslides in its recorded history not only in the mountains but here in Lima as well. The river beds in Lima that are normally dry or with very minimal water year-round have turned into raging torrents.

Apart from the excessive rain in the mountains, the city of Lima has received several inches of rain in the last few weeks (a typical year is about 1 inch total). We know that “several inches” of rain does not sound drastic, but it is devastating for Lima which does not have the proper infrastructure to handle even these small amounts.

The situation is so bad that Sedapal, the government water company, periodically shuts off water to the entire city of 10 million people for certain hours of the day. There is so much debris in the river water from the landslides that they cannot open their water intake lines without damaging the system. Last week we they shut off water for about 12 hours and again right now it is off until 6am tomorrow. It sounds like this will be a recurring event while it continues to rain in the mountains and city, which could be through March. Thankfully many buildings (including our apartment) have water storage tanks which fill when the water is on ensuring we have a constant supply. We still need to ration our water and end up filling a couple buckets just in case, but it still is a little worrisome.

While the flooding is primarily affecting the outskirts of Lima and has not reached the part of town where we live, it is a great concern for the city as a whole. Roads have been closed, some bridges have been washed away and many people have had considerable damage on their homes. The Central Highway, which takes you out of Lima towards the east and to Kimo (one of Scripture Union’s campgrounds) has been shut down because of flooding and landslides. This video from the El Comercio newspaper was taken about 1 mile from the Scripture Union Peru office downtown.

The city of Ica has also been affected by heavy rainfall in the mountains. Again, being a desert city that receives very little rainfall each year, the infrastructure is not set up to receive flash flooding or landslides.

Thankfully, the Girasoles home in Ica is on slightly higher ground and is not affected by the flooding, but surrounding areas like the neighborhood where the boys attend school and the shanty town where we used to deliver water with work teams are flooded. The river, which normally sits dry year round, is far above flood stage right now.

Please join us in praying for Lima and all of cities that are affected in this natural disaster. Pray that the rains will let up, the streets will dry up and water levels in the rivers will go down. It is not only hard for people to get around the city, but the water is also filthy and unhealthy. Pray for the safety and health of those living in these flooded areas.

– Kate & Billy

Christmas & the New Year in Lima

Happy 2017!

We started our Christmas celebration on the 22nd with a day at the beach just south of Lima. Frank, who used to live at the Girasoles Kusi home joined us for a day of sun, sand and salty water since he was unsure if he was going to have to work when we did our Christmas celebration. It’s still hard to get used to Christmas in the summer but we had a great day!

Unlike in the States, Christmas is celebrated here on the evening of the 24th and the celebration continues into the night and the 25th is a day of rest. Like last year, we invited a few of the boys who are in Lima on the government scholarship to come over on the 24th for the traditional Peruvian Christmas celebrations. Billy and I spent the day cleaning the house, making a bunch of sides and Christmas cookies and getting things ready for their arrival.

Jesús, Frank, Huberth, Landeo and our friend Carmen arrived between 7 and 9pm and we all sat down to have Christmas dinner with a mix of American and Peruvian foods about 10:30pm.

After dinner, we all headed out to the street at midnight to watch all of our neighbors light up the sky with hundreds and hundreds of fireworks. It really is quite impressive and one of my favorite Peruvian traditions.

We returned inside and like everybody else in Lima sat down to open a few presents. For the first time, we did a Secret Santa gift exchange where everybody brought a 20 soles gift (about $8) to exchange. We weren’t sure how this would go since none of the 4 guys had participated in one before but it ended up being great! It was fun to see their creativity in what they brought.

We were also able to give the four guys a couple other presents thanks to a donation made by the parents at Ward Church’s summer day camp this year. It is super common to receive a canasta (Christmas basket) from friends or employers. Typically the basket is filled with typical Peruvian food staples like rice, vegetable oil, noodles, evaporated milk, lentils et cetera. Knowing that most of the guys just rent a room here in Lima and do not have a way to cook their own meals, we took the traditional canasta and turned it into something like a care package you would send a college kid.

We spent the rest of our time together talking about Christmas traditions and reading the Christmas story from Luke 2 before everybody got quite tired and decided to head home.

For the first time we did not have a volunteer group between Christmas and New Year so we were able to take advantage of the office being closed to visit with some friends, work on various projects and take an impromptu getaway from the city.

We returned to Lima to ring in 2017 with our friend Carmen. We spent the evening catching up before yet another fireworks show at midnight!

As we look towards 2017, we are excited for what will be this year. We will celebrate our 4th anniversary and 8th and 6th years here in Peru. We will also welcome our first child this year and all of the excitement and new that comes with a new child. 2017 will be a big year for us.

Would you join us in praying for the following things?

– Grateful for a wonderful Christmas celebration with some of the older boys here in Lima.
– Grateful for some slow time together between the holidays.
– For Kate’s health in these last few weeks of her pregnancy and a safe and healthy delivery for both her and the baby.
– For the 2017 year and what God does through us in our ministry here in Peru.

– Kate & Billy

Happy Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-2016

As we celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and family today, we are thankful for the blessings in our lives and for our supporters and prayer warriors who have partnered with us over the years. We’re thankful for each one of you and for your contribution towards our ministry in Peru.

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.
– Henry van Dyke

May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

– Kate & Billy