New Beginnings

Well, it has been an embarrassingly long time since our last update and quite a bit has happened since November! As I sat down to write it all out, a new beginnings theme kept popping up.

In December, Billy finished leading the Trauma Competent Caregiver training for staff at the Puericultorio Pérez Araníbar. Seventeen staff members participated in the 9-week training to become better equipped to work with the children and teens that are living in the home. This was the first part of launching our mentor program with the children’s home. (Last month, the first volunteer mentors met with their mentees at the Puericultorio and officially started the mentor program. More on this later.) Here’s a short video we made to share on Paths of Hope social media:

December also is the end of the academic year here in Peru. Will wrapped up his first year of in-person school and graduated from Kindergarten! He thoroughly loved being a part of the Fish class and his teacher Miss Magy.

The same week that Will was finishing and graduating from school, we moved to a new apartment that is closer to Will’s new school. The old apartment was the only place I lived here in Lima, it’s where we lived as newlyweds and where we brought Will home as a newborn. It was sad to drive away one last time, but after many years of searching and visiting prospective places, it is nice to finally have a place that is ours!

Everything packed into boxes for the move.

Last photo in the old apartment.

And, literally just a couple days after moving apartments, we packed our suitcases and headed to the States for a few months to visit with friends, family, current supporters and to raise some financial support. Originally our plan was to arrive in January, but since Billy is lucky in finding deals on flights, he found a great price on tickets for before Christmas. We were happy to be able to spend the holidays with family in Michigan before hitting the road. We even had a few snow days in Michigan, and Will loved going sledding, making snowmen, and building snow forts.

Will got to go to his first hockey game with family while Billy and I were traveling.

For the rest of our time in the States, we visited with current and potential supporters. We spent our weeks traveling to Tennessee, Alabama, Indiana, Oregon and North Carolina speaking at church services, Sunday school classes and small groups. We also were able to share with the congregations at our home churches in Michigan. We are thankful for the people who helped coordinate these events for us, the families who graciously hosted us in their homes and for the opportunities to share about the mentoring program and how the Lord is at work here in Peru.

In mid-February we returned to Peru to our new apartment. My mom ended up traveling back with us on the same flight – unbeknownst to her when she bought her ticket that she would be helping unpack an apartment during her visit!

During the first two weeks back we celebrated Will’s 6th birthday (!) and traveled to Arequipa for the first Perú por los Niños network conference.

Recreating a photo from a trip to Arequipa in 2018 with baby Will.

For the first time, Perú por los Niños hosted a nation-wide conference for organizations, churches and individuals who work with orphans and vulnerable children. Billy assisted with some of the conference coordinations as part of the Perú por los Niños leadership committee, while I helped promote the event and coordinated registration.

About 100 people from across the country of Peru attended the 2-day gathering to learn more about how they can improve the quality of care they provide. Leaders from different organizations presented about the work they do and the role of the church in caring for orphans and vulnerable children. Speakers shared on topics such as trauma and attachment, and the Secretary of Ministerio de la Mujer y Poblaciones Vulnerables (MIMP), Nancy Tolentino, shared her vision for how organizations can collaborate with the government to improve care for vulnerable families and children. MIMP is the federal government office that works for the well-being of women, children and vulnerable populations in Peru.

Conference attendees participated in a interactive workshop called “Life in Limbo”. The workshop gives participants the opportunity to step into the shoes of birth parents, child welfare workers and displaced children to learn what it feels like to live their lives.

Secretary Nancy Tolentino (red jacket) with the Perú por los Niños leadership committee.

The conference was received well and we’re starting to lay the groundwork for another gathering next year.

At the beginning of March, Will started the new school year. Now that he’s in first grade, he no longer goes to the same campus as last year and now spends his days at the “big school”. The big school campus is where the primary and secondary students all attend (1st through 11th grade) and is considerably larger than the preschool campus. We’re thankful that he loves going to school and excited to see what he learns this year and how he grows.

Also in March, Billy went to the Puericultorio with two of our mentors to join them as they met their mentees for the first time. Huberth and Patricia have committed to meet 2-4 times a month with their mentee for at least the next year. Both are paired with teenage boys who are going to be leaving the home soon as they transition into adulthood.

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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