An Election, Graduation & Birthday

This past month has been busy with the usual Zoom meetings, curriculum development, lots of preschool activities and Billy’s birthday! Like all of our birthdays this year, we celebrated with picnic at a local park.

A couple weeks ago Peruvians went to the polls to elect a new President and members of Congress. There were 18 presidential candidates and no clear leader. The day before the election, the front runner had only 12% of the vote in the polls! Since there wasn’t a candidate that received a 51% majority after the first round (which rarely happens), there will be a second election on June 6th between the top 2 candidates. The new elected officials will take office on July 28th this year.

It has been a tumultuous year with 3 different Presidents leading the country during 2020. Now that there are 2 candidates to pick from in the second election, join us in praying for wisdom as each person fills out their ballot. May the next President lead the country with integrity – something that unfortunately has not been evident over the last 30 years.

Will and I have been busy with Zoom preschool every day. This year Will has four or five different classes (depending on the day) between 8am and 12pm. It’s amazing to see how much he is learning, how his scribbles have turned into drawings and how he is becoming more confident in his Spanish.

Participating in karate class over Zoom

We’re in the final preparatory stages of the Center of Excellence trainings that we will begin leading next month for the staff at the children’s homes in Ica and Urubamba. Every Tuesday and Wednesday we will meet with each home for 90 minutes to lead a training on best practices for working with the children in the home. As of right now, the training program is 10 modules with 5 weeks per module. Billy and the two other trainers are currently working furiously on preparing materials and slides for the first couple modules.

Last week we held a virtual graduation ceremony for one of the young men in the Tigre Program. He had recently completed a 12-week online course called “Skills for Life”. It was really fun to share our pride in his great achievements.

The goal of Tigre Program is to walk alongside children’s home graduates as they transition into adulthood and begin to identify the path God has opened before them. As we continue to develop the program into a sustainable ministry, one of Billy’s tasks this month was to “interview” some of the Girasoles graduates who are now young men. The phone and Zoom calls quickly turned from “interviews” into long conversations remembering stories from our visits to the homes, catching up from the past four years since we left for Wheaton, and a lot of laughter. He called 8 young men from different homes, ages (some recent graduates, some that left 10+ years ago) and who have experienced different lives after leaving (some went to university, some right into work, etc) to talk about their experiences after living in residential care. The resounding theme from all of the conversations was for the desire to have somebody they could count on, who could be a guide as they navigate a new life after residential care.

As part of the Tigre Program, we have created the Comunidad Girasoles – a private Facebook group where ex-Girasoles can create community and walk alongside each other as they go through life. The young men in the group share similar past events and bring a unique ability to assist others through their shared experiences. The goal of the community is to empower the participants and to share resources they need as they now navigate the freedoms and responsibilities of living “on their own.”

At the beginning of the month we read Will in on a little secret we have been keeping… after a closed international border and date modifications, we’re finally heading to Michigan at the beginning of May! To say we’re excited about spending time with family and friends after 20 months is an understatement! We made a chain to countdown the days and since Will found out, we have answered daily questions about what we’ll do in Michigan, discussed how much he loves going on airplanes and he’s packed and repacked his little backpack dozens of times. We all will need a negative COVID test so we can enter the US, so pray for negative results, smooth travels and no delays!

Excited that our countdown chain is getting shorter

Practicing wearing his face shield – something we will need to wear in the Lima airport in addition to double masking

As always we very much appreciate your prayers for us, our ministry and for the country and people of Peru.

– Kate, Billy & Will

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