The sun is out, my t-shirt wearing days are back, Christmas trees, decorations and music fill the shops. All this plus talk of chocaladadas and paneton means only one thing- November has come to an end and December is here! Living in the southern hemisphere gives me a very different feel for Christmas. It’s a helpful reminder that Christmas isn’t all about frosty the snowman or decking the halls with bells of holly. It is the celebration of Jesus Christ coming to earth so that we may have life, eternal life.
This past month I have had the chance to speak in some bi-lingual schools about the work of A Rocha Peru. Not only has it been great to speak in English, but also the response and enthusiasm for wanting to get involved has blown me away. Please pray as we look into how to best to follow up and continue this contact, especially as the schools are about to break up for their summer holidays and do not go back until March. I am also continuing to try and get all the materials I have been working on finished. Praise God that most of the lessons I thought I had lost, have now been recovered by the computer geek/genius Juan Carlos.
On the 11th November I took part in another 10k race with other members of Latin Link. It was great fun and this time I had no injuries. To celebrate finishing the race we had frozen yogurt and then lunch together. Who knows my next race may just be a half!
This month also saw me celebrating the anniversary of my birth! I had a fun day and the sun was shining! I went out for lunch with friends and colleagues at A Rocha Peru. We went for a very tasty ceviche (Peruvian dish made from fish), where they sang happy birthday to me and presented with me a sugar-filled crepe for pudding. On returning to the office, the people downstairs greeted me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, except it wasn’t from them. It was from my Dad and Joan!!! To say I was overjoyed is an understatement. To satisfy my Britishness, I went out for afternoon tea, as such, with some ladies of Latin Link to celebrate. I feel very loved by all, thank you for all your lovely messages, cards and parcels. It really does mean a lot to me.
The weekend just gone I went with some friends to a big central clothes market in Lima. What an experience! There were people everywhere I looked. Streets-sellers advertising and selling their wares, friends chatting, the coins tapping on the ice-cream sellers lids letting you know they were there, children keeping up with their mums as they weaved through the crowds into the next block, people trying on the clothes in the midst of chaos and two ‘gringas’ trying to take it all in and keep up with Carolina as she looked for some new clothes in the various small malls and shops. The market is incredible; you can literally buy all sorts of clothes, from swimsuits to formal dresses and everything in between for women, men and children. It has about 20,000 small shops in about 30 square blocks, enough to keep you going for days. The one and only thing I purchased was a traditional marinera skirt!
Last year in November I was introduced to Thanksgiving when I was living with the Shelleys. What I really liked about it was that it made us be thankful (as well as getting to eat very tasty food!). Recently I have been listening to the Matt Redman song, 10000 Reasons and realising I have way more than 10000 reasons to worship and praise our living God, yet how often do I stop to praise and worship Him? So my challenge over the coming advent period (countdown to Christmas) is not only to open one of my advent calendar windows each day, but also to record one thing I am thankful to God for and praise him for it. The main reason I am telling you now, is so that you can keep me accountable!
I am now starting to think more seriously about coming back to the UK and my next steps. I land at Heathrow on 9th March, which is becoming scarily close. I’m very much looking forward to catching up with family and friends in the UK, though will be very sad to be leave Peru and all my friends here.
Thank you so much as ever for all your support, you really do make a difference.
For those that pray –
– For all the experiences that I am having, all that I am learning and being challenged by. It feels such a privilege to be here in Peru.
– For all that God is doing through A Rocha Peru, for the responses of the schools we have been into and for the new projects starting in 2013
– For a lovely birthday celebration despite being so far from family and friends in the UK.
– For all the work that I need to get done before I leave, that I would be able to manage my time and work to the best of my ability.
– As I consider and pray through future possibilities that God would be guiding me and that I would be listening.
– For all the events planned in the run up to Christmas and New Year. That the real message of Christmas would be shared and celebrated.
After some language training to improve my Spanish I will be taking up the role of Short Term Coordiantor (STC) for Peru. The STC coordinates the Latin Link Step (teams) and Stride (people) programmes, placing them in projects lasting from a few weeks to two years. Based in Arequipa, I will be getting involved in a local church and my local community.