Unexpected goodbye

A couple of weeks ago, after just six weeks of being back in Peru, we received the sad news that my grandpa, Dr. Bill Greenman, had passed away at 93 years of age. Since then, life has felt like a whirlwind—making coordinations to come back home for grandpa’s funeral and then spending the last week and a half here in Michigan seeing friends and family again far sooner than we ever expected. We even had an opportunity to meet our new nephew, Easton, who was born the day that Kate, Will, and I began our move back to Peru! Will enjoyed the chance to meet his new baby cousin. Overall, it was a blessing to see friends and family as we came together to celebrate the life of a man that I love and admire very much.

I had the opportunity to share some words at grandpa’s funeral as we honored and remembered him together, and I share those same words below.

Grandma Pat with her 6 great grandchildren all wearing their Great Grandpa Bill t-shirts

When I think about grandpa, I am flooded with many fond memories. I remember the quick-witted man who always had a one-line joke up his sleeve—albeit a joke that we may have heard over and over again. Even if he couldn’t make us laugh at his jokes anymore, he was always guaranteed to crack himself up! He would always ask me how I was doing—my natural response: “Pretty good.”—then I would cringe immediately, knowing that my automatic answer just gave him the ammunition he needed for the same joke that I had heard a thousand times before. Already chuckling he would answer, “You might be good, but you’re not pretty!” I think, for grandpa, playfully picking on someone was his way of telling a person just how much he loved and cared for them. Sorry grandma, we all know that he loved you the most!

I remember walking through the halls at church, talking to people who would ask, “Are you Dr. Bill Greenman’s grandson?” When I replied, “yes,” I would often be met with words of sympathy for having to put up with all of his jokes over and over again! But I would inevitably also learn how much this person appreciated grandpa and how the Lord had really used him to touch their lives. I have constantly heard so many people who really appreciated the wisdom he shared in his Sunday school class. People tell me that it was always packed and that they had to show up early if they wanted to get a seat because it was often standing room only. I also fondly remember his Sunday school class, though I was never present for the teaching part of it. I remember excitedly darting out of my children’s Sunday school class, trying to make it to the gymnasium in time before all of the donuts were gone! His class was the best!


Grandpa teaching during Sunday school

I also remember the man who we always used to call scrooge at Christmas—he never wanted any gifts. It was all we could do to get him to open up a Costco sized tub of peanuts on Christmas day. He wasn’t really a scrooge, though. On the contrary, he loved celebrating the day that God became like us and entered the world to save us by emptying himself and serving us. He would always happily volunteer to read the Christmas story from the Scriptures.

As I grew up and got to know grandpa even better, I think I can honestly say that I haven’t ever known another person who loved and cherished his time in God’s Word like grandpa did. He loved God fervently, and his passion was to share and teach that which he learned from the Word. As he grew older and struggled to get around as easily as he could before, it just gave him more time to spend reading and studying the Word and praying for his loved ones.

As Kate and I have spent the better part of the last decade serving in the ministry in Peru, grandpa never stood in our way; on the contrary, he was always one of our biggest cheerleaders. I know it was difficult for him to see us living so far away, meaning that we had less time to spend with him. But even when it came at a cost to him, he always encouraged us to pursue the Lord’s call on our lives. He supported us 100%. He always had time to talk if we were looking for advice. He always looked for ways to show us that he was thinking of us and that he loved us.

When Kate and I decided to get married in Peru, one of the saddest parts of the decision was the reality that grandma and grandpa probably wouldn’t be able to come down to witness our marriage. Boy, were we wrong! The invites went out, and we almost immediately got a response from them that they were, indeed, coming. So, at 87 years of age, grandpa boarded a plane to take him all of the way down to Peru, where he not only witnessed our wedding, but he performed the ceremony for us! It was such a privilege to share that day with grandma and grandpa, and I know how difficult it was for them to make it all of the way to Peru to support us.

He would also support us with small gestures. I have to laugh; at one point he found out how hard it was for us to get peanut butter down in Peru. There was a season when he and grandma were some of Big Boys’ best customers, and each time they had breakfast there grandpa would faithfully collect the individually packed portion of peanut butter that he was given for his toast, take it home, and deposit it into his, now empty, Costco peanut bucket. Each time we would come home to visit, grandma would meet me at the door with buckets full of Big Boy’s peanut butter, rolling her eyes, saying PLEASE TAKE THIS! JUST GET RID OF IT! It was far more than we could ever carry back to Peru with us, but it was just another way that grandpa showed us he loved us and supported us.

A couple of days ago, I was putting our 2-year-old son, Will, down to bed. We have a bedtime routine of reading a couple of stories from the Jesus Storybook Bible and then saying our prayers. Will has just started saying his own prayers at night, and after a day full of us sharing memories of grandpa as a family and going through old pictures, great-grandpa Bill was on his mind. Will took some time in his prayer to thank God for great-grandpa Bill. He also thanked God for Noah and Moses.

In the storybook Bible that evening we had just read about Christ’s promise that he is going to prepare a place for us. It was a beautiful opportunity for me to share grandpa’s legacy—that he lived for Christ—and that we know beyond the shadow of a doubt that grandpa is now moving into this wonderful place that Christ went first to prepare for him. He is delighting in the perfect fellowship of his Savior.

We love grandpa, we cherish his memories, and we look forward to seeing him again.

We appreciate your continued prayers and support as we continue to grieve the loss of grandpa—and as we make, yet another, long journey back to Peru with Will.


Billy and Grandpa Bill


4 generations of William Greenman – August 2017


4 generations of William Greenman – January 2019


Right before we returned to Lima in September 2019

Back in Lima

I think it’s safe to say we all can agree on how fast time flies.

When we left Lima in August 2017, we knew we were going to spend 2 years in the States for Billy’s studies and that we would be returning to Lima when he finished. Leaving Lima with a 6 month old Will, it was hard to imagine everything that we would do in 2 years and how much he would grow, learn and change from a baby into a little boy.

While some days were long (especially with papers due and a baby who wasn’t sleeping well), the years definitely were short. Looking back on those 2 years, we are extremely grateful to have been able to spend good, quality time with family and friends. Our last couple weeks in the States were filled with mixed emotions – excitement for getting back to Lima and our friends here, anticipation for everything that needed to be done to pack our belongings/unpack our storage items in Lima, and sadness as we said goodbyes to family and friends. The goodbyes have gotten 0% easier, even after all of these years.

We arrived to Lima about 3 weeks ago on September 16th with a very tired little boy who was an amazing traveler during the trip. Thanks to Billy’s searching, we found an itinerary at a great price (like 1/3 of the price of flying out of Detroit) but it meant having to leave out of Toronto. At 4:30am we woke in our hotel, headed to the airport and proceeded to spend the next 23 hours traveling.

From the airport in Lima, went directly to our old apartment. (Before heading to the States we thankfully found a fellow missionary who was interested in subletting our furnished place while we were gone meaning we didn’t need to sell all of our furniture/dishes/appliances/etc!). Those first couple days were surreal to be back in our apartment but still living out of suitcases as we slowly unpacked our bags and items we left in storage.


Our messy kitchen as we unpacked what we stored in the pantry


Morning walk to the bakery for some fresh bread


Walked one evening to the neighborhood bodega for some ice cream sandwiches – Will now always points out if the bodega is open or closed when we go past it!

Our first week was spent getting things all set back up – new cell phone plans, home internet hooked up, replacing some appliances that had stopped working, and lots of cleaning and unpacking. One thing Kate was looking forward to was participating in the Conferencia Ellas women’s conference that our church Camino de Vida puts on every year. This was the 6th conference the church has held and the 4th Kate has been able to attend (just missed the 2 while we were in the States), and it was great to be back in casa. We also were able to spend some time with our dear friends Carmen, Sabino, Esther, Hector and Maritza while they were in Lima since the women also attended the 2-day conference with Kate (Sabino and Esther are house parents in Ica, Hector and Maritza, house parents in the Sacred Valley).


Carmen, Maritza, Esther, Héctor & Sabino


Conferencia Ellas

We’ve started to reconnect with friends over meals and playgrounds (so much easier to talk while Will is happily eating or playing!) and Billy has had the opportunity to visit a friend who is in jail about 2 hours outside of Lima (more on that in a future post).


Will and Valeria


Walking in the park after dinner with Huberth


Stacy

Last weekend we made the 9 hour trip into the mountains to attend a friend’s wedding in the small town of Caraz. Jusephi, who we have known since 2006, married Yanerin in a lovely outdoor ceremony that Billy translated into English for a couple of foreign guests and we spent the evening celebrating the couple and watching Will play and dance with some of the now-young men we used to work with.


Stopped at Conococha, just over 13,500 feet above sea level


Will and Andres, one of the former boys from Kusi


Billy and Andres


The bride & groom – Yanerin and Jusephi


Dancing during the reception

As we have settled in a bit more and now that Linda (our Peruvian partner) has returned from a trip, we have started the process of defining who we will be meeting with and developing relationships with over the next few months in an effort to identify our first church-school partnership for the mentoring program we wish to begin next March with the school year. Thankfully Linda has already been making connections and slowly building relationships through prayer groups.

Would you join us in praying for the few things:

– For our family as we continue to make the transition into life back in Lima. Enough is the same that it feels like we’re returning to a familiar place, but enough has changed that we need to relearn (in a small example, they have completely rebuilt our local grocery store that is now 3 stories instead of just 1!)
.

– For Will and his little mind as he processes his new life, home and experiences. On the outside, he appears to have adjusted to being here but sometimes asks to go to places we frequented in Wheaton or Livonia, or when we are going to go to a grandparents house, or see an uncle/cousin/etc. May God work through him as this starts to become his new normal. 


– For our meetings with potential churches and schools over these next few months as we define our first church-school partnership for the mentoring program.


– For connections with new potential financial supporters and for the continued support and encouragement from our current supporters.

We are thankful for each and every person who is supporting our ministry – whether it be through financial giving or prayer support. We would not be able to do what we do without your help.

A big hug,
Billy, Kate and Will

PS: We have started researching preschool programs for Will since he turns 3 next February. As we have discovered, preschool is a little different here than in the States – it’s 5 days a week from 8:30am-1pm(ish) depending on the school and typically where you go to preschool is the school you continue through high school graduation. Unfortunately for where we live in Lima we don’t have a public school option, and frankly, public school is not a quality education here in Peru. We have always felt strongly about making sure Will is prepared to go to college (whether it be in Peru or in the States) and that he is able to fluently speak, read and write in both English and Spanish. As we are researching and visiting potential schools, would you keep us in your prayers? It seems like a daunting process to pick a school right now where he could spend the next 13 years!

If you are interested in joining our team of supporters or for more information, please click here.

Merry Christmas!

May the wonder of Immanuel – God with us – fill you this day.

As we gather with family, may you remember the most incredible gift of all— God became man and dwelt among us so that we might know His love forever. Because of this, we are truly blessed.

We are grateful for your prayers and support during this past year.

Merry Christmas to you and your family and God’s abundant blessings in 2019!

– Kate, Billy & Will

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. -Isaiah 9:6

Happy Thanksgiving

We are grateful.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and family today, we are thankful for the blessings in our lives, our little Will, 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.

May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

– Kate, Billy & Will

Halfway Through

Gosh, it has been waaay too long… we’re sorry about that.

This last year has been quite the whirlwind for our family. It seems ironic that one of our first big events after being granted my Peruvian citizenship was to temporarily move back to the United States, but that’s how our story has played out!

As we have already shared, I am working on a two-year master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Wheaton College. It is hard to believe that my second and final year begins in just a few days!

I am really enjoying the program thus far, as we study what it means to have meaningful relationships. I am also really enjoying getting to know the faculty and my classmates as we go through this together. God has quite literally brought us together from all over the world, and it is an incredible opportunity to learn as we share our unique cultural and personal perspectives and experiences. I also really appreciate the opportunity that we have at Wheaton to wrestle with what it looks like to integrate our Christian faith with our profession.

During our first year, apart from class, we had the opportunity to observe live therapy sessions from behind a one-way mirror for a couple of hours each week. I feel that this experience was really helpful as I try to envision and conceptualize my approach to therapy.

In June, I began my clinical internship at Outreach Community Ministries and have started seeing my own clients two days a week. In addition to having a wise supervisor, one thing I have greatly appreciated about my internship is the ability to provide therapy in Spanish. I am the only Spanish speaking therapist at the office and there are a number of clients who have desired therapy in Spanish. It is great to be able to gain practice as a therapist and also to be able to do it in the language I’ll be using in Peru. My internship will continue through the school year, so please pray for us as I juggle my days at Outreach, classes, homework and being able to spend time with Kate and Will.

It has been such a blessing for us to have this time where I can concentrate on developing my professional skills so that God may be glorified through our work when we return to Peru. We continue to ask Him to lead our steps through the rest of our time in the States and as we look toward returning to Lima.

In other news:

We can’t believe our little boy is already 18 months old! He loves Elmo, going to the little zoo in Wheaton and dancing to music, and he absolutely loves to read books. He has learned how to climb up on our couch, and we will frequently find him sitting there flipping through pages with two or three books next to him. Now that he is walking, he definitely keeps us on our toes!

We are really enjoying being closer to our families. They have been able to come visit and spend time with us which is definitely something we are enjoying – even if we know they are coming primarily to see Will! We were able to enjoy a good old American summer full of pools, popsicles, road trips, friends and lots of zoos!


Visiting St. Louis

Spending time with cousins!


Playing in the backyard


Loving the slide


Visiting Katie in Grand Rapids

Shortly after settling in, we started attending Wheaton Bible Church. In January, we joined a small group and participated in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course. The small group and Financial Peace course have helped us meet some other families at the church, and Will is enjoying playing with the other kids in the nursery.

Will, Kate and her mom, Ann, have just returned from a quick trip to Peru to renew Kate’s visa. Unfortunately, because of my internship I was unable to join them, and since both Will and I are Peruvian citizens it wasn’t necessary for me to go. In order to keep Kate’s residency active, she needed to be present in the country for a few days. Right before returning to the US last fall, she was able to change her residency to ‘permanent resident’ which requires her to be in country at least one day out of the year. While they were there, they were able to visit with a few different friends. Will was a great little traveler and really loved his first, real taste of Peruvian food. While we are enjoying this time in the States, being back in Lima made Kate realize how much we have been missing our life there!

Would you join us in praying for the following things?
– For the Lord to continue to develop us as parents and role models for Will.
– For Billy, as he learns to apply the theory he is learning in class in the context of therapy.
– For Billy’s internship. Pray for the clients that he will see and that the Lord would use him as a conduit of healing in their lives. Also, that Billy would learn to trust in Him and not be anxious about leading sessions.
– Continued financial and prayer support while we are in the States.

We cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for our family and our ministry over the next semester and months, and we look forward to sharing His testimony in our lives along the way!

A big hug,
Billy, with Kate and Will