There are mixed emotions in the air as we begin to anticipate our homecoming in 6 weeks. Some are discussing 'what and who' they will miss. Some are looking forward to certain 'foods', yet others are wondering how we will get from WA DC back to the house. All of us are excitedly looking forward to the 'special' people we have missed while in Peru.
This was our first Christmas where the entire family was not together. Being in a foreign country may have helped because there was very little that actually felt like our traditional Christmas season in the states. A few businesses had lights and decorations. Very few houses were decorated. We saw one Santa Claus! Winnie the Pooh seems to be the preferred dress-up. The children here are not taught that Santa Claus comes down the chimney and brings presents. Instead they are taught to fight for 'tickets' because these tickets get you toys. The businesses and some churches hand out these tickets and then on an appointed day, the kids come to a program where Winnie the Pooh (churches) or Spiderman (businesses) is there to entertain the ninos. They are served hot chocolate (made with chocolate, flour, milk) and paneton (a sweet bread). In fact, every street in Iquitos has hot chocolate & paneton for the ninos. But not every street has the toys. The tickets are what gets you the toys.
We are here to build a building and it is hard to do a whole lot of 'ministry' also besides building relationships with those who God brings into our lives. However, we did feel led to participate alongside a group of young Peruvian men who translate for doctors and have started their own ministry called Blessed to Bless Ministry. We served hot chocolate, paneton, & gifts to almost 500 ninos. We were able to share the gospel message about the 'true meaning of Christmas' ...not the toys..but the best gift of all which is Jesus Christ. Hopefully a seed was planted that day into even a percentage of them. Most of these 'poor street kids' were there for the toy. These young men would like to 'disciple' these ninos but do not have money for curriculum. When we get home, this will be something we can look into. If anyone sees Spanish curriculum at a sale, they will accept any materials and use them. The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few Matt. 9:37.
I (mom) was able to finish another semester of college work. Larinda and Lindsey also worked on some college classes. Lacey is here now which even though she may wonder at times if she is accomplishing anything, her presence has lifted some of the inward responsibility I have been carrying (gulp..tears). Our time in Peru has been a Ministry 101 class and we have learned much about the ins and outs of the mission field. I have made two good American women friends which helped turned my domestic responsibilities from a nightmare into actual doable tasks. Now that we have it all figured out, we are looking at the end of the road feeling the hardest part is over. The rest of the girls have worked on schoolwork everyday and have learned to be very creative at playtime. Kitt is up and down, trying to figure out if he is a Peruvian or an American.
Willy works, sleeps, eats, studies Rosetta Stone Spanish (lately) in the evenings/Sundays.
Praise God the building has gone up beautifully with extra money from the project so Willy has decided to work on fixing up the surrounding wall and courtyard. He will definitely be leaving his workmanship/leadership talents for many to admire to the Glory of God. Hopefully, many pastors will come here to study and then go back out to their remote villages to share the gospel message of Jesus Christ to those that have not heard. Continue to lift us up in prayer as we begin an 'extra' project building a pastor a new home. His home was blown over and one of the Teams that came here to help, sent money for us to oversee the re-building of a new home for Pastor Jose. The last two weeks of January are dedicated to building 4 churches with Kingdom Alliance. Still have much to do but the lights of home are in the horizon....
All of our love to you! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!