It has been just over a month now since I arrived in Peru, and so much as happened in my life. Things have been incredibly busy since the moment I arrived; I haven’t had much time to write an update to you all. Before I write about the things that haven't happened, I thought I would start by telling you what I have been learning, and what God has been teaching me.
Around the time of leaving Canada I started reading the book “The God Ask” by Steve Shadrach which was recommended to me by my friend in missions Erica Byleveld. Starting to read this book was incredibly timely. I started reading it because asking for financial support has always been something I struggled with. Embarking into mission work has created a need for me to get use the idea. I now see that God has been using the learning I have gained from this book to help prepare me to support the national team here in Peru. In nursing there is a running principal that many nurses joke about. It goes like this…”See One, Do One, Teach One”. While this is not the typical progression of skill development, I feel that sometimes we don’t always feel fully equipped to do the tasks asks of us...yet, when called by God to do something, HE does the equipping. I thought I was reading this for my own personal development, but it turns out sharing that learning with others was also in the plan.
Shortly after I arrived in Peru this year, Alex and I had a great conversation about the needs of the team here and by the end of the conversation he was asking me to teach the team about writing newsletters and how to develop more meaningful relationships with supporters of the ministry here. One of the roles I was asked to fill while being here was the development of a new website for Isaiah Projects (iProjects). While not an expert in this field, I am excited for the opportunity because I know the impact this project can have for the future of iProjects and the Equipo de Suenos team (the Peruvian team). I know that the ability to share stories, testimonies, pictures and videos is one of the most powerful means that Holy Spirit uses to touch the hearts and lives of others. In the book The God Ask there is a really great diagram that demonstrates the relationship between the Holy Spirit, the ministry worker and the supporter. This three part relationship has transformed how I now think about asking for support and my new drive to want to tell people about what is happening here and how they can partner with us. What God has taught me can be summarized like this:
The ministry worker is called by the Holy Spirit to ministry. Their responsibility is to respond in faith and to take action.
The ministry worker is responsible for communicating what is happening in the ministry/field...wherever that is and whatever that looks like. This includes the challenges experienced, the needs and the moments of joy and celebration!
The Holy Spirit can use the reports and stories from the ministry worker in the field to touch the heart of the supporter. It is the responsibility of the supporter to follow the Holy Spirit's prompting and respond as they feel their are being led.
For many I am sure these concepts may be completely natural and ingrained in why you give to certain charities, ministries and causes. However, I think for some of us (at least I know for me), I often get caught up by my lack of ability to help everyone and every cause. I get overwhelmed by the thought of the needs across the world. Furthermore, I feel trapped by the idea that I might be supporting an organization or person who takes advantage of me and misuses the money donated. At times the mistrust leads to not giving at all.
I see things more clearly now. My responsibility as the supporter is to give when and where the Holy Spirit prompts me. I need to give responsibly and investing in relationship is one great way to ensure I am confident in the Spirit’s prompting. However, I also recognize as both the supporter and the person in ministry, all money and resources belong to God. Our responsibility is only to use the resources we are given wisely.
This is what I have been learning, and the developments I have had personally here in Peru so far this year. For some time I have questioned myself with “Why Peru? Why not some other cause, country, people?”. I feel more confident now to say...because this is where I am planted, and this is where God has called me...it’s that simple! Everything after that...the money, the time, the needs...that is all up to the Holy Spirit to provide.
Now I can tell you a little bit more about what I have been up to....
It is a bit of a different partnership, and one that has been complicated to explain, but the first two weeks of February I was directing a Canadian Day Camp experience here in Peru. This opportunity came through a contact I had while working at Brock as a Camp Director. The idea was inspired by the desire to develop sustainable financial resources from within Peru for the building of a medical clinic in one of the poor areas on the outskirts of Lima, where he has been working for many years. The kids that attended the camp were from the more affluent community, and paid us for the excellent experience we provided. The camp ran for 2 weeks, and was ran by myself and 10 other Canadians instructors who had experience with camps and kids (including my sister). This was the first time anything like this was done here. This moment of novelty came with A LOT of hard work, stress and incredible challenges beyond what I had imagined I was getting myself into. The entire concept was so different from anything that the parents and kids had experienced. However, the end result was incredible and I have a great sense of accomplishment. Through the experience I developed an true appreciation for what we have in Canada and am more proud than ever to call myself Canadian. If you want to see a video of the camp, you can watch it on youtube: Canadian Summer Day Camp
At the end of this camp, we had an unfortunate incident. Half of the team was preparing to return to Canada, while the other half were taking the opportunity to travel Peru. On the night of departure for the first half of the team, we were robbed by four armed men in masks right outside of the retreat house compound where the camp team was staying. This is a different location than were the Bethany and iProjects team stays, and is considered by many here to be a “safe” area. As difficult of a situation as this was, I do see God’s provision for us, and am so thankful that no one was hurt physically. Emotionally the team, including myself, are a bit shaken by the incident, but that too could have been much worse. Four from the team lost their passports and most everyone lost valuables, wallets, phones etc. I had all my ‘valuables’ in my backpack which was on my back and it was not taken as I was able to get away from the robbers. Because I had my phone, and all the documents etc I needed on google docs, I was able to contact the Canadian embassy that night and the support we were given was incredible. Another reason I am thankful to be Canadian!! The four that lost passport where able to get emergency passports created and spent a few extra days hanging out with me here in Lima. Now everyone is back home, safe and recovering. Please pray for them and me as we process the situation and the impact of this experience. I no longer think of prayer for safety as a passing sideline request!
After dropping this team off at the airport, I headed back to my normal residence to continue working with iProjects and Equipo de Suenos. iProjects was here with two back to back construction teams. I joined in with the second team and got to work with continuing the construction of the church/house in Pachacutec. This is the same project that I had been involved with last year when I was here, so it was an incredible week of seeing progress and development. The building has come so far from where it was last year. It is a testament to the hard work of the local guys who have been working with the mission this year. Bethany provided $7,500 last year from the desert auction to support the salaries of these men. I am so impressed with how well they have done this year, and the progress they have made. And this is only one of the projects they have been working on. There is also two other churches that they have been constructing.
I wish I could tell you more... but I am aware that this update is now EXTREMELY long. I hope you enjoy the update, and I hope to provide more stories and details for you in future updates.
I will leave you with a few prayer requests:
Please pray for consistent donations for the team here. There are several projects that are currently being evaluated to determine if they can continue. There are eleven feeding programs which Equipo de Suenos supports, but not all of them are receiving sufficient funding. In addition there is a foster home in the jungle that is on the brink of being closed (more on that in another update). One time donations are ALWAYS appreciated, but consistent donations on a monthly basis provide the team with confidence and the ability to plan for the future. As well, consistent monthly donations demonstrates to the team here the desire to build relationships, and opens the doors to act on the concepts I discussed earlier in this update.
Please pray for safety and healing for myself and for the camp team. I am not living in fear here, because I know I am here because this is where God has called me to be. However, I also know that I am not as emotionally stable as I could be...so I need some love, time, and prayer for healing.
Lastly, please continue to pray for Equipo de Suenos and for iProjects. Everyone involved in these teams have huge hearts for ministry and for the work that is being done. Please pray that they find encouragement in the difficulties they face, and that they continue to experience joy in the calling they have from God.
Thank you for all the support and love from Canada!