A New Peruvian!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017, was a special day for me. Almost five years after applying for Peruvian citizenship, my wish was finally granted!

The entire process took seemingly endless amounts of paperwork, multiple visits to the Peruvian immigration office downtown, regular phone calls to different officials who had a hand in this process, and a final signature from Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the current president of Peru!

It wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon, that I was finally informed that my naturalization ceremony was to be held the following day in celebration of Peru’s Flag Day. Kate, Will and I were with a short term mission team in Ica, about five hours to the South of Lima. We jumped in the car Tuesday afternoon and drove home so that we could all attend the ceremony the following day. Wednesday morning we were joined by a few good friends here in Peru who were also able to share this special moment with us.

The ceremony was short and sweet. After hearing some words from the Superintendent of Peruvian Immigration, 21 of us were sworn in as citizens and then presented our naturalization titles and a copy of the Peruvian constitution. To end the ceremony, we all sung the national anthem together as new citizens!


New Peruvians


with the Superintendent of Immigration

I had no idea that the ceremony was going to be covered quite extensively by all of the national news channels here in Peru. Kate, Will and I were immediately approached by all of the reporters present (I think they chose us because they fell in love with Will — we can’t blame them!), and I had a chance to share how happy I was to finally call myself a Peruvian. Our interviews aired across the country that evening and again the next morning. For the last two days both Kate and I have been approached by multiple people to tell us that they saw us on TV. Kate was even approached by two strangers who recognized her and Will from the news! I guess we will just enjoy our 15 minutes of fame!

None of the reporters took notes so they have some interesting spellings of my last name!


Interview on América TV.


Interview on Panamericana.

In all seriousness, this is really a blessing and an answer to prayer. While I still retain my US citizenship, I am also proud to identify as a Peruvian and to officially become a part of the country that we have grown to love so much. Thanks to everyone who joined us in praying for this process. Once again, we can see the Lord’s faithfulness in our lives!

– Billy

PS – An English article was shared on Andina News here in Lima. Read it here!

6 years.

Today marks six years of living and working in Peru.

72 months of doing life in Spanish.
2190 days of being a part of the Girasoles abandoned children ministry.

While this past year has consisted of less travel than the first five years due to being pregnant and Will joining our family, I still was able to spend a bit of time with the boys at the Girasoles homes. Now that Will has been traveling with us to the homes, I love seeing how he interacts with those around him and how the staff and boys spend time with him 🙂

Both Billy and I are so thankful for the opportunity that you have given us to be part of this ministry here in Peru. Thank you for your generous support through prayer and donations. We would not be able to continue working here without your help.

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

– Kate & Billy

UWM South America Retreat

A couple weeks ago, Kate and I had to opportunity to attend United World Mission’s first ever retreat for all of their missionaries located in South America.

Thankfully, the retreat was held here in Peru at Kawai (the same Scripture Union retreat center where Kate and I were married), about 1 hour south of Lima. Kawai’s close proximity made our first trip with a two-month old so much easier!

The theme of the retreat was “Rest and Rejoice.” The verse for the week was Exodus 33:14, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

This retreat was the first time we had to opportunity to meet other UWM missionaries in South America. We had a great week of bonding as a community, sharing with the UWM staff from main office in Charlotte, and resting in the Lord.

Will especially enjoyed the view during his morning feedings and being held in our arms or the Ergo carrier while sleeping through sessions. He did not enjoy touching the ocean water for the first time. Maybe next time…

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