God’s Hand in Making Connections

Recently Billy finished leading a 4-week Trauma Competent Caregiver training at a Christian Missionary Alliance Church in Breña, which is close to downtown Lima. This was our first in-person training with prospective mentors for the Caminando Juntos mentoring program since previous iterations of the training have all been online.

The story of how we connected with the CMA church in Breña starts way back in 2020, and it is yet another reminder of how God has been at work for years through various organizations and individuals, preparing the way for us to build the Caminando Juntos mentoring program. It starts in Guatemala of all places!

Back in mid-2020, Billy had the chance to participate in a virtual mentor training hosted by Somos, a Christian organization based in Guatemala. Due to the pandemic, the training moved from an in-person event to an online format, opening the opportunity for many different individuals and organizations across Central and South America to participate for the first time. As they started to receive multiple requests for information about how to become a mentor from people outside of Guatemala, Somos reached out to Paths of Hope and asked if we would be their point of contact in Peru since they do not have a presence here.

Shortly after, they put us in touch with Ana, a Peruvian psychology student who lived in Lima and was currently volunteering at a children’s home. She shared her heart for working with vulnerable children and teens, and she signed up for one of our first Trauma Competent Caregiver virtual trainings. But that was just the beginning!

A few months later Ana mentioned she would like to introduce us to her old youth group leader, Pastor Adrian, who is now the head pastor at the CMA church in Breña. She felt like he would be a great partner for Paths of Hope, as he has a long history of working with at-risk youth and is an adoptive father himself. Over the last couple of years Billy and Pastor Adrian have met a few times to talk about their shared vision to see the church take a more active role in this ministry.

Fast forward to March 2023 and we have now launched our mentoring ministry at the Puericultorio Pérez Araníbar. As we considered how to grow the program and recruit more mentors, Pastor Adrian and his church were at the front of our minds. We set up a meeting with a few specific asks in mind. First, would they be willing to start a mentor ministry as a church to serve the Puericultorio. Second, could they offer their church building as a place to hold an in-person Trauma Competent Caregiver training (which the first step in becoming a mentor). Third, did he know of other churches and pastors that Billy could reach out to since the cold calling had not been successful.

Yes, and yes were quickly given as answers to the first two questions. The third ask – for contacts Billy could reach out to – was a total God moment. Adrian told Billy that he should get in touch with two friends of his from seminary, César and Ramiro, who are now pastors at other churches close by. Years ago, they had all been involved in a ministry that worked with kids living on the streets in Lima. As Adrian shared, he had no idea that Billy already had plans to meet with those very two pastors the next day!

Before his meeting with Pastor Adrian, Billy had been cold calling pastors that were close to the Puericultorio, searching for others who were interested in becoming more involved as a church. Of the 15 or so that he reached out to, one pastor, César, responded almost immediately. He said that he was interested in meeting over coffee to learn more about the mentoring program and even asked if he could bring another pastor from a different church, Ramiro. The meeting was set up long before Adrian gave us their names, but it was clear to see how the Lord had been preparing the way. Adrian’s recommendation was confirmation that we were walking in the right direction.

It was a bit surreal to start the 4-week trauma training with the 22 participants that represented the 3 participating churches, and it was humbling to see that the plans for this unbeknownst to use started way back in 2020 when Billy participated in the mentor training hosted by the Guatemalan organization where he first met Ana.

Join us in praying for the training participants as they determine their next steps in becoming mentors.

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

– Kate, Billy & Will

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

Happy Thanksgiving

We are grateful.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, we are thankful for the many blessings in our lives, for Will, and for our supporters and faithful prayer warriors who have partnered with us during the 13 years we have been serving in Peru. We’re thankful for each one of you – for your prayers and support of our ministry.

From Peru, may you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

– Kate, Billy & Will

CAFO Summit & Puericultorio Training

We started October with a quick trip to the States to attend the Christian Alliance for Orphans annual summit in Atlanta. This was the third year that Billy and I have attended the CAFO Summit and this year proved to be as beneficial as previous years. It was 3 days of learning from organizations around the world who are doing similar work with teens and young adults aging out of residential care. We also were able to participate in a session for all organizations and individuals specifically working in Latin America which meant we finally were able to meet some people in-person that we have communicated with previously only over Zoom. This year’s theme was “Planted, Not Buried” and one of my biggest takeaways was a quote one of the workshop presenters gave, “Relationships are the soil we want our youth to be planted in.” The quote fit the conference theme but also particularly spoke to our desire for the young adults we are working with. Relationships are critical and we want them to develop profound roots within their community.

Billy met with the Trauma Free World staff – the organization that created the Trauma Competent Caregiver training he leads

After CAFO we headed to Charlotte, NC for meetings with the Paths of Hope board. It was a lovely weekend of fellowship and planning as we look forward to 2023 and beyond.

We ended our quick trip with a few days in Michigan to visit family and have a few days of Midwest fall. When you live somewhere that basically has 2 seasons and humid all the time (hot summer and cloudy winter), the dry crisp air, changing leaves, blue skies, pumpkin patches and cider mills are just missed.

It was just warm enough for Will to go for a ride on the tube with the cousins and great grandma!

Will went on his 50th flight while we were in the US and has mastered the art of moving 3 carry-on suitcases at once.

Upon our return to Lima, Billy started an in-person Trauma Competent Caregiver training with the Puericultorio Pérez Araníbar (PPA). As we have mentioned previously, the PPA is a children’s home that is operated and funded by the Municipality of Lima and there are approximately 250 children from birth through 18 years old at the home. As of this week he is halfway through the 10 week sessions and it has been a positive experience. The staff participating in the training have been coming prepared with questions and great contributions to the training material.

We made this short reel to share on Paths of Hope’s social media after the first session:

At school, Will’s class performed a play that they wrote together. It was about 20 minutes long with choreography and a story that included 4 languages. His class this year is quite multicultural with students from France, Spain, China (2) and Will “from” the US. Will was the wise tree and was on stage throughout the whole play!

Halloween is slowly becoming more of a celebrated holiday here but is still not as big as in the States – but somehow it has become Will’s favorite holiday. There are no pumpkin patches to visit but some grocery stores in Lima will stock a limited number for about 2 weeks at the beginning of October – or until the foreigners have bought them all for pumpkin recipes! We bought a few ourselves and invited friends over to carve pumpkins and roast the seeds. Knowing ahead of time that trick or treating also isn’t a thing here, we asked the neighbors within our small apartment building if they would be willing to pass out candy that we provided them. At 5 years old, Will is the youngest child in the building (next youngest is 16!) and they were happy to share a little Halloween magic with our little magician.

We are so grateful for each of you, for your prayers, encouragement, and financial gifts, and how you allow us to remain on the field and be healthy here as a family as we work to build the Kingdom alongside you!

While support raising to continue to stay on the field has its challenges, we have learned more and more what it looks like to live each day conscious that we depend on God. Over and over again, the act of support raising has brought us to reflect on Matthew 6:25-34, where we are reminded that if He provides even for the birds of the air and the lilies in the fields, then why need we be anxious—knowing that we are infinitely more valuable to him than they. Time and time again, the Lord has reminded us of his faithfulness and of his provision as we pursue his calling.

We would also be remiss if we didn’t include an opportunity for year-end giving. Your donations are truly what makes our work possible, and any amount is so appreciated. In the next few months we are needing to raise about $1500 in ongoing monthly support so that we can continue in this work with Paths of Hope. We invite you to consider partnering with us! We’d be so grateful if you would prayerfully consider giving a year-end gift or beginning a new monthly commitment.

You can give online with a one-time gift or recurring support, through United World Mission, here.

Also, in January and early February (Will’s summer vacation from school) we will be in the United States to visit with supporters and build relationships with new churches and individuals who may want to consider partnering with us. If you know of a church, a small group, or a person who you think would be interested in joining our team, please reach out to us. We would love to connect and talk more!

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

– Kate, Billy & Will

A New Partnership

It has been another busy few months since our last update!

Peruvian Independence Day is at the end of July and it also coincides with the mid-year school break. This year Peru celebrated 201 years of independence and Will’s school spent the week prior to vacation doing all sorts of celebrations. Every class performed a dance from either the coast, mountains or jungle and this year Will and his classmates danced Los Caporales, which is a traditional dance from the Puno region (mountains). The students rented dance outfits based on their chosen dance and performed for the parents. Will’s dance included boots with big bells on the sides and I can only imagine how noisy it was in his classroom with 13 five and six year olds all wearing these boots.

Later in the week, Will also participated in the Peruvian Cajón group. He and another classmate were chosen to represent his class in the group.

Will and his teachers, Miss Judith and Miss Magy

At the end of July, we had our last meeting with our board games small group. We normally would meet for a few hours on Thursday evening but since everybody had the day off for Independence Day, we offered to host the group at our apartment for a longer game of Risk. It was a great afternoon (which turned into late evening!) to close out the small group series. Throughout the weeks, we enjoyed getting to know the others in the group and learn a few new games.

At the beginning of August we traveled to Arequipa for a week for vacation and to attend a wedding of a friend and co-worker. We all have been to Arequipa before but this was the first time the three of us went together. We spent a few days in the Colca Canyon, which is the deepest canyon in the world, and another few days in the city of Arequipa. Billy and I agree that if we were to live in another city that wasn’t Lima, we would pick Arequipa.

From my first trip to Colca in 2008, compared to 2022.

Will standing at the same window in the Santa Catalina Monastery in 2018 and 2022.

While in Arequipa we were able to see our friend Alex and finally meet his wife and two children. We know Alex from our time working with the Scripture Union children’s homes and were happy to be able to meet up with him again!

In August, we participated in an event hosted by Perú por los Niños in Lima. The event was about promoting a transition from residential to foster care and was geared for churches, children’s home staff, government staff who work with vulnerable children. The speakers were the director of foster care from the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations and staff from Casa Viva in Costa Rica. Casa Viva is an organization that started with children’s homes but has successfully transitioned into a foster care model by working with local churches. The event was informative, inspirational and helped the participants to envision a similar type of care for children here in Peru.

We have recently signed a partnership agreement with the Puericultorio Pérez Araníbar in Lima. The Puericultorio Pérez Araníbar is a children’s home in Lima that is operated and funded by the Municipality of Lima. It was founded in 1930 and at one point was home to upwards of 1000 children. Currently there are 200 children and teens that are residing in the home. Starting next month, Billy will be meeting with the staff weekly for 10 weeks to provide the Trauma Competent Caregiver training and we will begin the mentoring program with a handful of teenagers at the home. Participants from the previous Trauma Competent Caregiver trainings that Billy has led on Saturday mornings have volunteered to serve as mentors.

Signing the agreement with Andrea from Pérez Araníbar.

Last week Billy held an informational meeting with volunteer mentors from the Caminando Juntos mentor program

The 3rd Sunday of August every year is Children’s Day and there are tons of activities for kids across the city. For the first time since 2019, our church was able to celebrate Día del Niño in person with a service completely geared towards kids. Will’s school celebrated a few days prior with some special activities during class.

Part of Will’s class got together for a weekend lunch with their teacher Miss Magy, and the extra curricular teachers (gym, dance, karate, technology and music).

We also had a special couple weeks with a visit from my brother Randy. It was fun to have him here and to be able to spend time together which we don’t get very often. Knowing that it would be the only thing he would focus on, we didn’t tell Will that his uncle was coming until a few days beforehand. He spent an afternoon making welcome decorations for our guestroom and the rest of the time asking how much longer until Uncle Randy lands!

Billy and Jocabeth (our co-worker at Paths of Hope) traveled to Ica for a couple days to spend time with the staff at the Girasoles home to work on the Comunidad Girasoles program. Comunidad Girasoles is a joint project between Paths of Hope and Health Bridges International and the goal is to prepare the youth for transition into adulthood, focusing on necessary life skills, and building connection to their local community and systems of support that they can rely on as the look to life beyond the homes. At this meeting, Billy and Joca met with the staff to develop the working plan.

This weekend is the final session for the Trauma Competent Caregiver training. It is the third and final iteration of the 6-week training for mentors this year and Billy was able to train 35 people throughout the course of the year.

Next week we will travel to Atlanta to participate in the Christian Alliance for Orphans annual summit. This will be the third time that Billy and I attend the conference and it has always been a great place to meet other people working with orphans and vulnerable children, learn from other organizations and to be inspired about what we can do here in Peru. After having to miss the last few conferences due to COVID, we’re looking forward to being back at this one!

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

– Kate, Billy & Will