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.

We feel our lives are not suspended but only enriched by being and sharing with the Peruvian People. My life experience has taught me that any time something is done out of love, it will undoubtedly be returned in great and unexpected ways. A part of mission is about giving and just as important, mission is about receiving. It may be returned in ways not expected or desired but nonetheless deeply rewarding. No matter where we live, when we give of our time and love, we will always be rewarded in many unexpected ways.  Mission is also about making one-self vulnerable and creating opportunities for others to be able to make them-selves vulnerable and able to share their gifts and talents with others as well.

It has been a while since I last wrote a blog so I thought I would at least update what I am up to these days. On a daily basis I learn more and more what my jobs consist of and how I can do them to the best of my ability. Emily and I work at a school for children with disabilities called, Santa Rosa. It is at this school where we are starting to deeply root ourselves with our ministry. I will reflect on my ministry and Emily will in a later blog reflect on her ministry.

At Santa Rosa, some of the children have autism, down syndrome, hearing impairment or mental retardation. I work as a phys-education teacher. I definitely did not have this particular job in mind before arriving but to my great surprise, I highly enjoy it. I feel without a doubt the children give me so much more love than I could even give them. They always greet me with great big smiles and hugs and are always ready to participate with eagerness in the phys-education classes.

I am also teaching English classes at a different Catholic school called Virgen Del Carmen, to 5th and 6 grade students. This was a bit a challenge initially as I have very little experience as a teacher. The children had put me through a series of tests and I found it very hard to teach and felt I had little control of the classroom. Much of this was attributed to the fact that I felt under qualified. Through the months, I have gained more of their trust and have also gained more confidence so that I can do a better job. I am slowly accepting the hard realities of the poverty here and seeing how one of the first things to be affected is the educational system. Lack of economic resources can penetrate practically every inch of ones life. Most children at the school I teach at live in extreme poverty. Parents work demanding hours and often times the children are asked to work as well just to make ends meet. There is little to no academic support in most homes because of the demanding working hours and/or lack of education. Frankly, English homework is not a priority compared to putting food on the table.

I have recently started an after school English program which has become very popular. All the students are invited to participate. It is a time to have fun and play interactive games of the material taught during class. It is going very well and I am happy that many students show up eager to play games and be praised for their progress.

On Wednesdays and Sundays, I coach soccer to neighborhood children. This I thought would be the easiest ministry but it has proven to be the hardest ministry for me. We live in a barrio where there aren’t any organized activities for children outside of school. Once the school day is done, most children go home to an empty house as parents are still working. For this reason, many children spend lots of time in the streets. I coach children with very difficult backgrounds who have never had formal coaching and want to do as they wish on the soccer field. I am slowly gaining a little of their trust and hope to eventually have a more organized soccer team.

Emily and I also help with tutoring on Thursday afternoons at a different neighborhood not too far from where we live called Kumomoto. This is a good way to get to know other people, network and build bridges. In Kumomoto there is a tutor named Johnny whom I consider an amazing Peruvian lay missionary. He has an amazing faith and goes to tutor the children every day without fail. He does not get paid and never complains. He does it out of love for God and the children. I look up to Johnny and admire his humility and example of what it means to serve others.

I am happy to be a Comboni missionary and feel privileged to have to opportunity to share my life with others in Peru. Missionary life is never boring and it changes constantly. I am excited to see what the rest of our time here in Peru will be like as Emily and I live out a dream we’ve always had; a dream of sharing our lives with the Latin American people less privileged than we are.