December in Lima

The first few weeks of December in Lima were unusually quick and busy!

We spent the first weekend at the United World Mission retreat for missionaries that are working in Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay. We gathered with four other missionary couples for a three-day retreat at an Airbnb about an hour from our apartment. Peru currently has very few UWM missionaries; we are one of two couples in Lima and there is one couple in northern Peru. Since we’re such a small group, we were also accompanied by a couple from Bolivia and another from Paraguay. It was a nice weekend to meet others who are serving in South America and learn more about their respective ministries. Will was the only child attending the retreat and loved spending time exploring the backyard and playing with the dozens of snails he found in the plants.

The school year also ended in December and Will finished Pre-Kinder. Because Will’s birthday is in February and during the summer break, his teacher, Miss Angie, made sure to include a little birthday celebration for him in a class at the end of the semester. He was so excited to celebrate with his teacher and classmates, even if it had to just be on Zoom. The last week of school was full of Christmas crafts, some baking activities and end of year presentations. We’re proud of what Will has accomplished this year and can’t believe he will be in Kindergarten when school starts in March!

We also were able to attend church in person for the first time since February 2020! Churches have been closed since the beginning of the pandemic and things were getting better enough for our church to decide to open for some in-person events; starting with the annual Christmas program. It was so nice to be back in person, even if it was just for a brief time. The church planned to resume limited capacity in-person services on December 26th, but unfortunately, due to the Omicron variant, they have postponed a reopening date until further notice.

Since we planned on traveling to Michigan for Christmas, Billy spent a lot of time in the week prior to leaving visiting many of the young men that we are helping. He was able to spend some face-to-face time with each of them and give them a Christmas gift. He also was able to finalize plans for the upcoming mentor training that begins in mid-January. There are ten people signed up for the training. Please join us in praying for the participants and for Billy and Joca as they lead the six three-hour sessions.

We traveled to the United States on December 17th and will share about our time there in our next update.

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

– Kate, Billy & Will

On The Road Again

Gosh, I feel like I just wrote a monthly update!

November seemed to fly by and now we’re just weeks away from the end of the year!

While I could start with my usual line of, “this month has been busy with the regular Zoom meetings…,” we can finally say that we had a few in-person events this month, both with work and Will’s school!

After six months of training via Zoom, Billy and the Center of Excellence training team had the opportunity to travel to two homes for abandoned and at-risk boys in Ica and Urubamba. For Billy, this was the first time he was able to visit both homes since leaving Peru in mid-2017. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible to visit earlier and, of course, has prevented opportunities for in-person training.

The team spent two full days at each home answering questions and reviewing topics such as non-violent communication and attachment. More importantly though, the Center of Excellence team was able to encourage and train the staff as they work day-in and day-out with the boys at the homes.

Training with staff in Ica

Training with staff in Urubamba

Will started attending in-person school this month. In August, his school was one of the handful in Lima who was approved to start bringing students back into the “classroom.” They started slowly, working their way down the grades, starting with high school and finally made it to preschool this month. It is a very, very slow transition to in-person since he only attends for 1 hour a week on Wednesdays. After more than 600 days, Will was very excited to finally go back to school, meet his classmates and teacher, Miss Angie, in-person! Leading up to the morning, we reminded Will that he would need to wear two masks the whole time he was there, to follow instructions and to not touch anybody and give people space. When he saw Miss Angie, the very first thing he did was to run right up to her and give her a big hug! Nevertheless, he has thoroughly enjoyed going to school and asks every day if it is Wednesday and time to go back!

Had to retake the traditional “first day of school” photo

Waiting to check-in for the first day

Finally meeting Miss Angie in person

Billy started leading the Trauma Competent Caregiver training with the Hope House staff. The six-week training will culminate in December. The staff has been enthusiastic about the training and the mentoring program in general. This is the first part of launching our Caminando Juntos (Walking Together) mentoring program. In January, Billy will train the mentors from a local church and then pair them with girls from the home.

As a family, we traveled to Cusco and the Sacred Valley to celebrate Thanksgiving. Will and I had not been back to Cusco since June 2017, when he was just four months old! We visited the staff and boys at the Girasoles home, spent lots of time outside and took advantage of discounted train tickets to take Will to Machu Picchu for the first time. Will thoroughly enjoyed all the different animals we saw and loved pointing out all the llamas.

With Héctor and Maritza, house parents at the Urubamba home

2017 — 2021

As we prepare for Christmas and our upcoming visit to Michigan, would you join us in praying for these few things:

– For negative COVID tests. Despite being vaccinated, we will all need a negative test to enter the United States and are doing our best these next few weeks to minimize exposure so we can travel.

– For safe travels and a time of rest with family and friends this holiday season.

– For Will as he wraps up the school year next week. We can’t believe that he will be a Kindergartner next year!

– Praise for the opportunity we’ve had to visit the boys’ homes recently. Pray for the staff, that they can apply what they are learning during training in their daily work.

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

– Kate, Billy & Will

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