Eyes of faith

For over 18 months now Rafael and I have been living in Perú as Comboni Lay Missionaries. Some people consider this a strange or brave thing to have chosen to do. To us, we are ordinary people doing small things, attempting to live out our faith and baptismal call in solidarity with a marginalized community in the slum of El Porvenir, on the outskirts of the city of Trujillo, Perú. In the short time I have been here, I have met many individuals who I look to as models of ordinary people living their faith in small but extraordinary ways, whose actions alone show me what it means to have complete trust and reliance upon God. [Read more…]

Teacher, do you speak Spanish?

We are long overdue for a blog update. We have had a busy, but good beginning of the school year here. When we last wrote it was summer vacation, and the children were on break from December until March. During the break we took the opportunity to get involved with teaching English at vacation school, getting to know our neighbors, and helping interpret for a large medical brigade of U.S. doctors who came primarily from MN. Emily also kept on baking with the women’s baking cooperative during the summer. They are a determined group of women who didn’t want to take the summer off! We also took a small vacation to Ecuador, which was an incredible experience. Here are some updates about our ministries for the 2013 school year. [Read more…]

Welcome to El Porvenir

When Rafael and I first arrived here to Perú on January 26th of this year, we spent a few weeks living with the Comboni Fathers at their house in the city of Trujillo while we settled in and became more familiar with the area. In March we moved out on our own, to the housing that the Comboni Fathers have provided us within the district of El Porvenir, a slum on the outskirts of the city. Living in this district are an estimated 164,931 people, in an area just over 22 square miles. We live among the people here in the neighborhood of Grand Chimu. This name comes from the leader of the Chimu culture, which thrived here in the northern part of Perú, until they were conquered by the Incans in 1470. We live in a couple of rooms on the second floor of a small parochial school for children, teens, and young adults with disabilities, which is next door to a small chapel that is cared for by the Comboni Fathers. [Read more…]

Living out our dream

Emily and I are slowly but surely adjusting to life here in Peru. We are truly blessed to have such a privilege where we can uproot ourselves and have an amazing experience of being lay missionaries in Peru, South America. Many people have told us that it is amazing we have chosen to “suspend” our lives so that we can “give” to others less fortunate. The truth is we feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to be living in Peru. [Read more…]

A bunch of bananas

A bunch of bananas, some flour, sugar, a couple of eggs, oil, a little bit of baking soda and baking powder, a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. With these simple ingredients and an oven, I made a loaf of banana bread, here known as “pastel de plátano,” and with it began the start of something beautiful that I never intended nor predicted. I simply made it because I thought it would be something fun to do and be a nice treat to share with the neighbors.

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The desert

To me as a Catholic, Lent is a time to reflect and pray just as Jesus did in the desert 40 days before His death. It is a time for self-reflection and to gently strip away some of the things that separate us from God to create a more intimate relationship. As I recently heard one of the Comboni Fathers here in Trujillo say, in prayer and in fasting we have to look at our intentions. Fasting during lent is not about prayer and fasting with the intention, for example, of losing weight, but whatever it is that we do, no matter how big or small, we must do it with the intention of it bringing us closer to God.

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Disappearing childhoods

I feel like Mr. Holland in the movie “Mr. Holland’s Opus”. Except instead of standing in front of crowds of cheering ex-students, I am watching a 13-year-old girl run to me with her report card. She has an A in math and all B’s in her other classes. She is so happy and so proud of herself. She is the tallest girl in her class. She had a hard time at the beginning of the year since she felt self-conscious about being the only 13 year old in a class of 4th graders, but she kept going to school and now her teacher says she is the best student of the class.

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Letting us be Church

Serving as a lay missionary in a community on the outskirts of Trujillo, Peru, my job title changes by the day. At times I am the liturgy coordinator, other times community animator, director of music, or young adult leader. Through each of these roles I am being stretched, I am in process, learning new ways to live in our world.

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She didn’t need to carry the bitterness

Since the Peruvian government is considering enacting the death penalty as punishment for convicted terrorists, I thought it would be interesting for my bible study group to reflect on its morality in light of the scriptures. I must admit I wondered what the ladies would think of the topic since we rarely talk about larger scale social issues; we mostly talk about daily life.

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My hands are full

My work is changing a bit from 2006. Since I can talk to people more now, I am working in more complex situations, and that I enjoy very much. The priests have asked me to oversee a construction project in one of our chapels, Santa Isabel, starting next week. It should tax my language and other abilities a bit. We will be building a perimeter wall and two classrooms for a preschool there. This chapel is in a poorer area than where we live and sometimes is a bit hair raising to get there by public transportation. As careful as I am here in Rio Seco, I must be very diligent regarding crime in this area. But, we have been very lucky so far and for that I am very grateful. God is watching over us!

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