I am sitting here in the dull light that the one small candle shines throughout my one room hut in the middle of nowhere…
My family and I have read stories of great missionaries from the past since I was a little girl. I know about Gladys Aylward, who risked her life in China to save almost a hundred children during a Japanese invasion. I also know about more recent missionaries, Martin and Gracia Burnham, who served in the Phillipines for 17 years before they were kidnapped and spent over a year in captivity. Eventually, Martin was killed in the same firefight that allowed Gracia to be freed. When I think of missions, this is the image that fits into my mind; great heroes of the faith. And when I look at what I am doing here in Arequipa, Peru, it does not even begin to compare with the amazing stories that I know. I live in a fairly nice apartment [which I’m so thankful for, especially the security guards we have in our neighborhood!], and [besides ranch dressing] I lack very few of the things I am used to in the States. So, I’ve taken a step back and thought about what I’m doing here….
My primary reason for coming to Arequipa is to support the English ministry that is here. The IMB (International Mission Board) needs translators for the many groups that come to Peru each year. My roommate, Sarah Junco, arrived in Arequipa about a year ago, and has spent that year making contacts, teaching English, finding translators, and creating a network of English speaking Peruvians on whom we can rely. My job is to support her and do what she needs me to. Right now that includes being in charge of teaching the Bible Study style English classes since she’s on vacation.
I’ve realized that I may have come to teach English, but really I am here to learn. I am taking Spanish class 4 days a week so that I can better communicate. I am learning about the customs and culture of Peru. I am learning about other mission organizations, other missionaries, and what God is doing here. Some days wear me out simply because my brain cannot take in any more information.
I come from a city of 400,000 or less, and a university town of 50,000 when the college students are in town. I now live in a city of over a million people; in which everyone warns me to watch my bag, my things, my person. While I have gotten past the paralyzing fear that I often felt the first few weeks I was here, there are still times that I am afraid. There have been nights where I have forced myself to turn off the light, lay down, and trust that my Jesus is watching over me.
…On my Heavenly Father first of all. He is my All-in-All. Secondly, I am relying on those of you who are praying for me. It is such an encouragement to know that I am being lifted up before the throne daily. It’s especially wonderful when I receive a message or note letting me know that I am being prayed for. I have amazing friends and family who I know are always there for me. I have been blessed to have been “adopted” into several families here, as well.
Through all of this, what I’ve discovered [so far] is that my life right now, my work as a missionary, consists of me… simply… living. I am thankful that here there are no rules on what I can or cannot say about my faith. I can especially be open in our English Bible studies. I know that not everyone who comes is a Christian. Yet, they come to learn English, and I get to share my beliefs. Along with the Bible Studies I volunteer in an English Institute with conversational English. I have made it a point to not hide what I believe. Because of this we have had some interesting conversations about Christianity, marriage, and life. In my free time I have been volunteering at a children’s home on the outskirts of town. I have understood for a while that my role as a Christian in the United States is to do my best to show Christ in my daily life. Little did I realize that that’s exactly what I would be doing here as well.
I’m about halfway through my time here… I’m kind of surprised that my brain hasn’t exploded yet with all that I’ve learned. I can’t even imagine what is left for me. I covet your prayers as I continue on in this amazing time in my life.
Specific prayer requests are:
– Always for safety.
– That my Spanish would continue to improve.
– For our English classes…. that they would continue to be well attended so that others will hear God’s Word.
Thanks for everything!