First Day of School

Tomorrow is Will’s very first day of school.

Billy and I are a mix of emotions over tomorrow. Will is excited to meet new kids to play with, and we’re looking forward to seeing his Spanish vocabulary increase exponentially. But at the same time, it’s the beginning of a whole new rhythm for our family and something about it feels like our little boy is growing up so quickly!

Since we’re south of the Equator and seasons are flipped, the school year starts at the beginning of March and ends right before Christmas. That means ‘summer break’ is primarily in January-February and then there is a 2-week break at the end of July/beginning of August (mid- school year) that coincides with Peruvian independence holidays.

We mentioned the school search at one point last year when we moved back to Lima. Before doing much investigating, Billy and I thought that we would enroll Will in a preschool program that would meet 3 half-days a week – something similar to what we would find in the States – and then after a couple years he’d start school for kindergarten. In October, after talking with some friends here about Will starting school, we quickly realized that there was no such program and that we needed to figure something out ASAP if Will was going to start in the coming school year, March 2020! We didn’t want to wait too long to enroll him because we find value in the socialization of school and know that is where Will will get a strong foundation of Spanish language since we primarily speak English at home.

We began scouring school websites in Lima looking for options for where to send Will. Unfortunately, for where we live in Lima, we don’t have a public school option. 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. Apart from a quality bilingual education, we needed to make sure the school was close enough to where we currently live so we’re not spending 45-60+ minutes each way in traffic to get there!

As we researched and set up school visits, we discovered that preschool is a little different here than in the States – it’s 5 days a week from 8am-12:30pm(ish) depending on the school and typically where you go to preschool is the school you continue through high school graduation. Knowing that Will could potentially spend the next 13 years at the same school made the decision more complex – the preschool is great but what about elementary/high school offerings? Thankfully the school tours we went on covered all of the grades and we were able to see each campus/infrastructure for all of the levels.

After many visits, pros/cons lists and much prayer, we decided to enroll Will at the San Ignacio de Recalde School’s preschool called Coloring Dreams. The name is a little silly but the school is what we were looking for for Will and we think it will be a great fit for him.

He’ll be a part of the 3 year olds class and one of, if not, the youngest kid in the class. He just turned 3 less than 2 weeks ago and most kids will turn 4 during the school year! We met his teacher, Miss Daniela, recently and he’ll be in the Dinosaurs class. He has a uniform to wear each day that consists of a white polo shirt, navy shorts (during summer months), and all white tennis shoes and has his backpack all ready to go. He will go to Coloring Dreams for 3 years and then when he’s 6 years old, transition to the main school for 1st grade.

Walking with his new backpack

Trying on the warm weather uniform

Buying school supplies

So tomorrow Will begins his educational career. Join us in praying for him as he embarks on a new adventure and grows in so many ways. Pray for his teachers, classmates and the three of us as we adjust to this new schedule and rhythm for our family.

Merry Christmas!

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

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 2020!

– Kate, Billy & Will

PS. If you missed it, please read our update letter from the second half of 2019 here!

Looking Back and Moving Forward – Part 1

It is hard to believe that we have already been back in Peru for three months! We have a lot to share, so I am going to break it up into two blog posts over the next few weeks.

It feels appropriate that as we come to the end of the year, we take some time to reflect and look back, sharing a little bit more about our sense of calling and how the Lord has led us to where we are in ministry. (If you were at either of our goodbye events in Michigan in September, then this first post might sound familiar, but we wanted to write it down and share with everyone). The next post, at the beginning of next year, will share more about where we are now along with some exciting developments and plans for the year to come.

As I think about our sense of calling in ministry, it feels fitting to share a testimony with you of how prayer has impacted and how it continues to impact our lives in ministry. If there is one thing that I can say about prayer, I find it to be a constant, helpful reminder that I am not living for myself but for the Lord. God uses prayer to mold us to see others as He sees them. Prayer is a present reminder that we serve a God who is sovereign over all things.

Kate and I have both been involved in work with abandoned and at-risk children in Peru since high school. We have been at it full time for almost ten years. As we have served the children, praying for them has been a constant part of our routine. We would pray together as a staff for the kids, we would pray as a couple, and also on our own. As I pray, I notice that it allows me an opportunity to really slow down and pay attention to what is happening on a deeper level. I find that as I pray for others, it frees me to live more intentionally rather than just floating through life focused on myself.

Having traveled to Peru for the first time in 2001, we have literally witnessed a generation of children grow up and move into adulthood. The opportunity to walk alongside many of these kids and to build long-term friendships with them has been a great blessing in our lives.

Long-term relationships, though, are not just lived in the happy moments. As God has given us the privilege to know kids who have gone through unimaginable experiences of abuse and marginalization, we have also grown more in tune with their deeper struggles — struggles of depression, of suicidal ideation, struggles of identity and purpose. While many of the kids have been deeply impacted by the love they receive in the context of the children’s homes, and many of them have quite literally encountered God, we have also witnessed many of the kids struggle as they move toward independence in late adolescence and early adulthood.

At this crucial transition, past struggles seem to come present again. They are met with the stark reminder that they cannot rely on their biological family as they wish they could. Many of our kids have faced this challenge of leaving the home around the age of 18 and feeling a deep sense of loneliness. While the staff at the children’s homes continually do their best to keep up with the graduates, it becomes less and less feasible as they are still charged with caring for all of the kids at the home and as the graduates move farther away.

In the last few years, Kate and I have felt the Lord calling us and moving us to dream about ways that these young adults could continue to be surrounded by a sense of community and support, and prayer has been a central part of that discernment process. For me, personally, I feel that the Lord has matured me through the process of prayer. Often times I have started praying, “Lord, help them… or be with them… or protect them… or guide them.” But as I continue to pray for others and draw closer to some of their struggles, I notice a shift—almost a sense of indignation. My prayer turns into a more pained conversation with the Lord, asking, “Why?”

Why does Javier have to continue to struggle with depression to a point that he had to drop out of classes and lose his college scholarship?

Why does Luis make destructive choices and push friends away because what he wants most is also his biggest fear—a deep, long-term friendship; a sense of family? He pushes people away because he is afraid of growing close and then losing it as he has so many times before.

Why did Diego and César have to end up in jail because they fell back into their old patterns of life on the streets out of a sense of having no other option?

On one hand, these prayers show my personal struggle with God, asking WHY? He can handle it, though. As I look back, I can see that these types of prayers are the ones that God uses most to conform my heart to his. Things in this world are not the way they are supposed to be. We have all been affected by brokenness and sin. I believe these “Why?” questions are actually a part of the process of Him growing a sense of yearning within me for His Kingdom to come. Rather than just living in a sense of ignorance, focused inwardly on myself and avoiding the pain around me, these why questions force me to yearn for something different.

Eventually, “Why?” starts to fade and “What?” or “How?” begin to take precedence:

“Father, what would you have us do as we are faced with these realities and as you have given us a heart for these people?”

“God, how can I play a role in bringing your kingdom’s culture into this broken world and these broken lives?”

It is those questions that have driven us to spend the last two years in the States concentrating on higher studies, personal and professional development. It is those questions that have guided our plan for ministry as we returned to Peru — working to build communities around these young adults as they move toward independence and working to support and preserve families who are in crisis and on the brink of breaking apart.

Our family covets your prayers as we work to build this ministry in Peru.

Perhaps the Lord is working in your heart to pray for us, that the Lord would guide our path and protect our family as we return to Peru; that God would give us strength in this time of transition; that he would provide a strong community for us in Peru. Know that these prayers are greatly appreciated. We are very conscious that we can accomplish nothing if God does not go before us.

Perhaps as you hear about the struggles of the kids that we work with in Peru, you find yourself asking, “Why God?” If that is the case, I encourage you to lean into it that rather than ignoring it. Wrestle with that question and trust that God is big enough to accompany you in that pain. Pray that the Lord would continue to mold your heart to see these kids—and to see the world—through his eyes. My prayer for you is that you would come to know that the pain you feel as you wrestle with these questions is the same pain that God carries on his heart for his people. It is this very pain and deep sense of love from which he sent his Son to die that we might be restored and reconciled to him.

Or perhaps you are asking what you can do. How can you be a part of the work that God is doing in Peru? If that is the case, then we would love to talk more with you. Feel free leave a comment or respond to this post with an email to continue the conversation. We’d love to hear from you!

An immediate need of ours is to continue to build a team of individuals and churches who are faithfully committed to praying for our ministry and also financially supporting the work that we are doing in Peru. You can find more information here.

In any case, we are so thankful for your willingness to follow us in this journey, and we look forward to sharing more about the path ahead in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

– Billy, Kate & Will

Happy Thanksgiving

As we celebrate Thanksgiving 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 in Peru.

From Peru, may you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

– Kate, Billy & Will

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