Happy New Year!
I hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas time and that 2012 has gotten off to a good start! Looking back it seems that the busyness of December brought with it a cross-cultural phenomenon! December was a month of non-stop activity full of learning and laughter as well as a few tears.
The opening for the garden in Fonavi San Martin was held on the 17th December. We worked at great speed to get everything completed on time. I’m particularly grateful to God for the help and support of my good friend Jacqui for all her help when she visited. She kept me calm on many occasion! The day was such a success! The children with whom I’ve been working presented the garden and introduced the special guests Sarah-Lan and Angeles, the A Rocha Peru Executive Director and acting-President who came to open the garden. I feel privileged to have seen how some of the children have developed and grown through their participation in the project. One boy in particular wouldn’t even say his name in front a small group of children at first- who would have known that by the end of the project that he would open the whole event! After the opening, we hosted a joint Christmas outreach in the garden with a local church in Ica. We put on a puppet show exploring the true meaning of Christmas, something all the children enjoyed.
On the 18thDecember we held our Ica A Rocha Christmas party. It was a fun night. I made mince pies for people to try-some people
liked them, others didn’t (of course there was nothing wrong with my baking!). Being a multicultural team we shared some of the different ways we celebrated Christmas in the UK, USA and Peru. I introduced the volunteers, my church and the Shelley family to the Christingle and explained the meaning of the different elements that represent the story of Jesus Birth and why he came to down to earth.
On 23rd December, my church put on a Christmas outreach event in 12 de Marzo (the area in which we hold the Friday night youth group). Over 150 children and youth came along to hear the gospel message. It was amazing! The story of the bible was present as a play based in a toy factory. At the end of the play we broke into small groups to explain that they could chose to have a relationship with Jesus. At the end of the evening we gave out traditional Peruvian Christmas goodies: Panettone and hot chocolate (what they would have instead of mulled wine and mince pies!).
I spent Christmas Eve with the Shelleys. It was such a lovely day! I got to open my presents early and was delighted to find that they’d manage to find Marmite, Cadbury’s Crunchies, dark chocolate and proper English tea in the USA. I felt very loved and they obviously know me well! In Peru, the main Christmas festivities start at midnight on Christmas Eve so at 10pm I went round to Pastor Jose’s house and celebrated Christmas with him and his family. At midnight we went out to watch the fireworks before settling down with panettone and hot chocolate whilst reading Luke 2. I then managed to grab a couple of hours sleep before jumping on a bus to Lima to celebrate with the Latin Link Lima team. We had a traditional British Christmas lunch-it was so yummy. We rounded off the festivities with some games. I had been apprehensive about spending Christmas Day far from home, but I enjoyed my day and I am thankful for all the new friends and family I was surrounded by. All celebrating the joy that God came down as a baby so that one day he would die on the cross so that we could have a relationship with him.
I kicked off 2012 with a day at the beach with my church. On the morning of the 1stJanuary, 12 people were baptized in the sea and then we spent the rest of the day celebrating at the beach. I enjoyed playing with the teenagers and as I was one of the few who can swim I kept an eye on the younger children in the waves as well.
On the 7th January I left Ica to move back to Lima (with a short break in Trujillo before starting work at the A Rocha office). It was strange to again be saying goodbyes to people who I have built friendships with and shared my life with. The good news is that the Huarango Project I worked on has received funding for a fourth year. This means that my ties with Ica will not come to an end and that I will visit every so often to help co-ordinate the educational side of the project. This news is particularly exciting because the funding body don’t usually fund project for more than three years. They liked our project so much that they contacted us offering further support! How Great is Our God!
I am now based in Lima, where I will be working at the A Rocha Peru Head Office as the Environmental Educational Coordinator. I will be responsible for producing resources in Spanish for schools to use on looking after God’s creation and helping coordinate the children’s education side of our projects. I am excited and somewhat daunted by the task ahead so your prayers will be greatly appreciated.
It has taken a while to find someone to share an apartment with in Lima, but God has provided the perfect flatmate- a girl from Edinburgh! Christine is in Peru as a strider (just like me) and working alongside students in Lima. We are in the process of looking for somewhere. Please ask God to provide us with a home that is safe and a place of rest but also a place where we can invite and welcome others into.
As I have moved to Lima, I have a new address which is-
Thank you so much for your ongoing support, it really means a great deal to me.
I wish you a very Happy New Year!
For those that pray-
-That God clearly has been working in and through me these last 10 months-we truly have an amazing God!
-That so many people got to hear the true message of Christmas.
-That A Rocha got funding for a fourth year in Ica.
– That I get to stay in Peru for an extra year.
-That Christine and I would find a flat as quickly as possible- one that is reasonably priced, in the right location for us both and what we need.
-That I would trust God that he would continue to provide for all my needs-friendships, strength, and financially.
-That I would settle into living in Lima and my new role with A Rocha Peru.
-That I find and settle into a church in my local community.
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.