Retreats and Family Visits

And just like that another couple months have passed!

A few days after our last update we headed to Colombia for the bi-annual United World Mission South America retreat. Since the retreat ended up being during Will’s mid year school break we were able to spend a few days visiting a few different cities before heading to the retreat center in Armenia.

The UWM retreat was 5 days of fellowship and meetings with staff from the office in Charlotte, NC. We were able to spend time with families we met in December 2021 at the small Peru-Bolivia retreat that was here in Lima. It was a refreshing time to learn about what other UWMers are doing in South America, spend some time talking about support raising, and finally meet UWM staff in-person!

The last large UWM retreat we were able to participate in was here in Peru in 2017 and Will was just 2 months old. This time, Will loved going swimming in the pool and spending time with the other TCKs (third culture kids) who were from Bolivia, Colombia and Paraguay.

Since the retreat was held in the coffee region of Colombia, one of the days we visited the Parque del Café, a coffee-themed amusement park. Will very much loved the roller coasters and the cable cars to get around the park.

On the final night, UWM staff recognized various families for their years of service on the field, ranging from 10-35 years of service.

The third Sunday in August is Día del Niño (International Children’s Day) and is a big holiday in Peru. According to Will, it’s like a birthday for all kids on the same day! To celebrate our little boy, we took him fishing in a bay in the ocean where he caught a bunch of fish and the following day, he invited a friend from school to come to the celebration our church hosts every year.

Always curious, Will asked if the seeds inside an apple would grow into a tree and produce apples, so we planted the seeds to see what would happen…

We spent a mid-week holiday at Lomas de Lúcumo hiking into the clouds.

After a few months of our mentors meeting regularly with their mentees at the Puericultorio Pérez Araníbar, a few of our volunteer mentors hosted an event for all of the teenagers at the home. It was a great afternoon socializing with the residents, getting to know them through sports, board games and painting. Since this event, we have added a 2 more mentors to the program.

At the beginning of September Billy helped lead a forum about mentoring for youth. It was a great conversation about how it is important for residential care graduates to have a person who can guide and advise them as they navigate life after leaving the home. This was part of the monthly virtual forums hosted by Perú por los Niños where organizations, churches and individuals in Peru can share and learn from each other about how to improve the care they provide for vulnerable children.

We recently participated in a Sunday evening Bible study at Ward Church. Before he passed, this is the class that Billy’s grandpa faithfully led for many years. Since the pandemic the group has been meeting on Zoom which made it easy for us to join in from Lima. It is always a joy to see the familiar faces and share about what Paths of Hope has been doing!

At the end of September Billy traveled to the States for 10 days. He was able to meet with prospective supporting churches in the Charlotte area and participate in the annual Paths of Hope board retreat. The board was able to reflect on the year so far, to plan for 2024 and to hear from Billy in person. Board members hail from Michigan, Tennessee, South Carolina and across North Carolina so it was a special time to fellowship and meet together instead of the regular Zoom meetings.

After the board retreat, he traveled to Oklahoma City to attend the Christian Alliance for Orphans’ annual conference. It has always been a wealth of information and provides many opportunities to meet other like-minded people and organizations working with orphans and vulnerable children. Between the pre-conference intensives (where Billy learned about recent research on family strengthening programs and also transitioning from residential models of care toward family-based solutions) and 3 days of workshops and general sessions, this year’s gathering did not disappoint.

Some of the organizations that make up Perú por los Niños were also able to attend the conference.

Since Billy was going to be in the States for a couple weeks, my mom came to visit and accompany Will and I. We were able to take a tour of the Palacio del Gobierno (Peru’s equivalent of the White House), spend time together in Lima and visit all her favorite spots.

Saw a beautiful bougainvillea tree in a parking lot and had to take photos with it.

Shortly after Billy returned, we hosted some of his family for a visit. Since it overlapped with Will’s spring break we headed north to Máncora (about 2 hours from the border with Ecuador). A week of sun, sand, salt water and sunsets was splendid. Will went surfing for the first time, we saw humpback whales daily playing off the shore and it was a nice week with family. Billy’s parents stayed for a second week and were able to take Will to school and help with some projects around our apartment.

Last week we traveled with the Living Waters for the World group from Nashville who were here visiting sites where they have installed water filtration systems. In 2015 the Living Waters team installed a system at the boys home in Ica and we were part of the install trip. Thanks to a teacher in-service day we all were able to make the trip to Ica for the night and assist with translation and teaching about the importance of clean water.

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

– Kate, Billy & Will

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