Happy Thanksgiving

As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, we are thankful for the blessings in our lives, for 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 prayers and support of our ministry in Peru.

From Peru, may you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

– Kate, Billy & Will

October in Peru

This month has been busy with the usual Zoom meetings, curriculum development, lots of preschool activities and some weekend adventures in and out of Lima.

This past month, Billy was the primary trainer for the Center of Excellence training program we are developing alongside Health Bridges International. He created the four weekly lessons about attachment and its importance in relationships and working with children who have experienced trauma. He then led the sessions twice a week for the homes in Ica and Urubamba. This next month, the Center of Excellence training team will finally have the opportunity to travel to the homes and lead an in-person retreat which will be a completely different experience than over Zoom!

Billy has also been walking alongside three young men who are currently in prison in Peru. Normally, communication is over the phone and only when they call, and before COVID, Billy was able to visit periodically. Prisons closed to visitors in March 2020, but in the last few months visits have been coordinated over Zoom. Billy recently was able to talk “face-to-face” with one of the men for about 15 minutes and it was such a surprise and blessing for both.

Billy, Jocabeth and Linda recently met with the staff from Hope House to share about our Caminando Juntos (Walking Toegether) mentoring program and discuss next steps. Hope House is a girls’ home in Lima and is our first children’s home partner. Through Caminando Juntos, members of a local church will walk alongside and serve as mentors to girls in the home. Billy will lead two trainings – one for the staff at Hope House, which begins in November, and another for mentors, which will begin in January. After the 6-week trainings end, we will officially launch the program with Hope House!

Paths of Hope held their second Virtual Ministry Update from Peru where Billy shared what the organization has been doing thus far in 2021. We encourage you to watch the recording on the Paths of Hope Facebook page (and give us a like while you’re there!)

Every October, Taking Route, a community of women living overseas, publishes a 31-day global series that allows readers to compare different aspects of life overseas. This year “This Global Walk Outside” explored what outdoor space is like across the world. I recently wrote about our outside space (or lack of it) and how we make it work in a large city with a 4-year old as we aim for 1000 Hours Outside.

Click on the image above to read my contribution to “This Global Walk Outside”

At the beginning of the month, Will had a week off from school for what would be our equivalent of Spring Break. Thanks to a thoughtful gift, we were able to spend the week at the beach in northern Peru. It was our first time being so far north on the coast, and it was a lovely week of sun, sand, salt water, sea animals and sunsets.

One day we went so far north that we straddled the border between Peru and Ecuador (Peru is on the left of the photo, Ecuador on the right).

We also reached 600 hours outside in 2021

Billy and Will went tubing on the ocean – a little different than the lake in Indiana.

Will continues to participate in Zoom school and is getting more and more comfortable in Spanish. We are thankful for the teachers he has had thus far who genuinely care for our little boy. His favorite show to watch of late is Octonauts which isn’t a popular show here. Originally a BBC kids show, it’s now on Netflix and follows 8 animal characters who take care of various ocean animals (the amount of facts we all have learned from Octonauts astounds Billy and me). Will frequently talks about Octonauts with his teacher Miss Angie and she coordinated an afternoon watch party where she, Will and her son could watch an episode together.

One Saturday, we spent the morning climbing to the top of a mountain (really though when you live so close to the Andes, this is just a hill here) and got a different view of La Molina, one of the districts of Lima.

As soon as we switched the calendar to October, Will insisted we put up some decorations for Halloween. Halloween isn’t a big holiday here like it is in the United States and despite only having been trick or treating twice, Will has proclaimed it is his favorite holiday.

He did put on his Woody costume (from Toy Story) for us to take a photo of him in front of our building.

For only the second time since school started in March of this year, Will got together with some of his classmates to celebrate Halloween. They are so used to seeing each other daily on Zoom that it was nice to see them running around together and interacting in-person!

Since it was a Halloween get together, Will wanted to prepare little candy bags for all his friends ahead of time

We made a quick trip to Lunahuaná, about 3 hours south of Lima. It’s just high enough that it is not covered by clouds in the winter and therefore sunny all year round. We had some great outdoor time and went white water rafting with Will. The rapids were quite mild but we still managed to get wet.

As COVID restrictions have been loosening up in Peru and now that anybody 12 and up is eligible for the vaccine, we’re hoping that more in-person events will be able to begin again. Will’s school started having the elementary and high school students meet in-person for a couple hours each week and in November the preschool students will start going in person for 1 hour a week. They hope that when the new school year starts in March 2022, there will be more in-person opportunity for the preschool/Kindergarten students. Hopefully, Paths of Hope will also be able to transition from less Zoom meetings to more in-person meetings.

Would you join us in praying for the following requests?
– For the training program Billy will be leading with the Hope House staff.
– For the three young men in prison that Billy supports.
– For the upcoming Center of Excellence retreat that will be held in-person at two of the boys’ homes.
– For Will, as he starts 1 hour of in-person school each week for the remainder of the school year.

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

– Kate, Billy & Will

Two Months Back

The last two months have been busy with the usual Zoom meetings, curriculum development, lots of preschool activities, and some weekend adventures in and out of Lima.

Billy and I have continued to meet weekly with the staff at the two children’s homes that are part of the Center of Excellence training program that is being developed with Health Bridges International. Billy has helped with the curriculum development, has taught a few of the lessons and also assists with translation when an English-speaker is teaching. We’re encouraged by the questions that are asked and what the participants share during the lesson exercises.

Wayne, the director of HBI, was in Peru and was one of the first visitors in our house post-COVID

We are also in the preliminary stages of starting the mentoring program with a girls home here in Lima and the church that they attend. Paths of Hope will train volunteers from the church who will serve as mentors to the girls in the home. Billy has met with the house director, pastor of the church and the staff at the home to discuss the mentoring program. Next step will be to identify the volunteers and then lead a training, using the Trauma Competent Caregiver material created by Trauma Free World. Join us in praying for committed, loving volunteers who will be positive influences on the girls at the home.

Meeting with the staff at the girls’ home

When we’re not in Zoom meetings or Zoom preschool, Will and I have been spending quite a bit of time at the playground. Playgrounds were closed in March 2020 due to the virus and remained closed for almost 16 months. Most simply had orange snow fence and caution tape around them, but some districts went as far as completely removing the structures from the park. When we returned from Michigan, we were pleasantly surprised that many of the playgrounds near us have reopened and are full of kids. It is great to see Will running around with other kids and his Spanish has exploded in the last couple months as he interacts with them.

We also were able to get together with a group of his classmates at a little playground. The 8 kids (of 14 in the class) were able to see each other face-to-face for the first time ever – despite being classmates since March 2021 (or March 2020 for some of them). They greeted each other with big hugs, played together like they have been doing this weekly and all enjoyed a snack together. We spent almost 2 hours at the playground, and Will talked about it for days afterward.

Will continues to participate in Zoom preschool. They are learning how to write numbers, write their name in cursive, play fun games and do lots of art projects. He recently had to share a talent and showed his classmates how to make chocolate chip cookies.

Celebrating the first day of spring at school

Showing his classmates how to make chocolate chip cookies

On the weekends, we try to add as many hours as possible to our #1000HoursOutside challenge for this year. We made the 2 hour drive to the Lomas de Lachay on the north side of Lima. During the winter months, the clouds are low and cover the hills. The clouds bring just enough moisture to cover the normally dry, sandy desert hills with lush green plants. Another weekend we drove an hour east to Cieneguilla in search of sun. We also met up with Will’s teacher from last year to spend the morning at the park together.

Miss Dani, Will’s first preschool teacher

A neighboring district held a kids’ movie in the park

Now that the Paths of Hope team here is fully vaccinated, Billy was able to get together with Jocabeth and Linda recently for their first in-person meeting since they became an official team in February. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and brainstorming for future projects.

Last month we had an unfortunate experience when we returned to our car and found our rear passenger window had been broken and our things were stolen from the car. We’re thankful that the thieves did not take anything of great value but it was disappointing that some of the things they took were items we had just brought back with us from the US. The hardest thing about it was processing the event with Will for days and weeks after the fact.

September also marked 2 years of returning to Peru after our time in Wheaton. COVID and quarantine aside, these last two years have been very different than our first 8 years pre-Wheaton. Will and preschool has brought a stability and more time in Lima than we’ve ever spent before. That evening we celebrated God’s faithfulness and provision as we continue serving here in Peru.

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

– Kate, Billy & Will

A Michigan Summer

A couple weeks ago we touched back down in Lima after spending almost 3 months in the United States. We’re happy to be back at home but, at least for me, it always takes a few days for my heart to catch up.

Double masks and face shields were required at the eerily empty Lima airport

We originally planned to visit family and friends closer to Christmas in 2020 but due to an abundance of COVID cases and not being able to get vaccinated, we made the hard decision to postpone our trip to the summertime where hopefully positive cases would die down as more and more people were vaccinated. Thankfully Billy and I were able to get vaccinated right at the beginning of our trip – a privilege we do not take lightly as we are still not eligible to be vaccinated in Peru.

And, since 95% of our work and Will’s school is virtual right now we were able to continue being in ministry – just with a different Zoom background from Billy’s parents’ house in Livonia!

Mother’s Day celebration with Will’s class

Billy completed the week-long TBRI (Trust-Based Relational Intervention) training with the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development and became a TBRI practitioner. This will be instrumental in Paths of Hope’s ministries working with children’s homes and churches here in Peru. Using the principles of TBRI, we will be able to help the staff and mentors navigate working with children who have experienced trauma.

Our time in the States was filled with outdoor dinners, Christmas and birthday celebrations, playgrounds, cousin dance parties (per Will’s request), zoos, hikes in the woods, boat and tube rides, trips to Target and Costco (Will was happy the samples came back!), hours of swimming in the pool, lake and beach and lots and lots of ice cream. We loved the long, sunny days and added many hours towards our 1000 Hours Outside goal for this year.

We spent time with our families out west hiking the Zion, Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks, boating and tubing in northern Indiana, and swimming along the northern Michigan coast.

We hugged friends we hadn’t seen in almost 2 years, went to a Tigers game and were able to attend the wedding of a long-time friend who 8 years ago traveled to Peru to stand up in our wedding.

Until the next time, we’ll miss beautiful Michigan and most importantly all our loved ones who call it home.

– Kate, Billy & Will

Happy 200!

Today, Peru is celebrating 200 years of independence from Spain.

On July 28, 1821, General José de San Martin proclaimed independence from a balcony in Huaura – about 2 hours north of Lima.

Today, the country is also inaugurating a new president for the next 5 years. The last 3 months have been tumultuous in Peruvian politics as the first time candidate, Pedro Castillo, rose in popularity in the last week before elections in April and managed to win the election with 18.95% of the vote. Since there were 18 presidential candidates in the election, no candidate received the necessary 51% of votes and we went to a second election in June.

Castillo and the second-place candidate, Keiko Fujimori (who received 13.4% of the vote), could not be any more different from each other. One is extreme left and the other extreme-right. Castillo is an unknown public school teacher from the provinces and Keiko has been a long-time presence in politics as the daughter (and former first lady) of a previous Peruvian president, Alberto Fujimori – who escaped to Japan, then Chile and then extradited back to Peru and is currently in jail for crimes against humanity.

The country was very divided between the two candidates – with the city of Lima (about 10 million) leaning more towards Keiko and the mountains pulling for Castillo. Castillo’s platform is heavily influenced by socialism/Marxism-Leninism and Keiko follows a right-wing populism/social conservatism/economic liberalism agenda, and has received allegations of corruption from her years of service in Congress.

On June 6th, Peruvians returned to the polls to make an important decision regarding who would lead the country for the next 5 years. Since the country was so divided and every vote needed to be counted, it took days before preliminary results were announced. The results were so close that both sides contested the results claiming voter fraud and fraudulent ballots being cast.

It took weeks – 6 in fact – before the entity that overseas elections announced that Pedro Castillo was the winner and would be inaugurated 9 days later on July 28th as the new president.

Join us in praying for this country and its people. The country has experienced a lot of trauma in Peruvian politics over the last 40 years through terrorism, huge inflation and corruption. Some are worried what the future holds for the country.

Also, join us in praying for Castillo as he takes leadership amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Pray for wisdom as he makes decisions to bring the country out of the pandemic and to navigate in the midst of a struggling economy.

We love this country and pray that this new administration leads with integrity.

– Kate, Billy & Will

*In our next post we will share about our last 3 months in Michigan!*