I have now been in Ica for two months. Ica is situated four hours south of Lima and surrounded by desert. It is called the land of eternal sunshine, which is so true. We are just coming out of winter here yet the sun has shone everyday since I have arrived. It is a city that was badly damaged by the 2007 earthquake and many buildings still lie in ruins. Today we get small tremors about once a week, something I am getting use to. Whilst such things have now become the norm, there are still plenty of things that continue to surprise me. Daily I learn more about the culture, the local area and the Spanish language. I continue to enjoy discovering and finding out more about the city, Ica, the country Peru, the culture and life here through conversations with people or exploring the area.
I am continuing to learn to trust God each day and to be strong in His mighty power. Joshua 1 v 9 says ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go’. God is faithful to his promise – wherever I am in the world God is with me-how great is that! I am never alone, I am never without hope and never without God by my side. When I am scared or feeling lost, I have a loving heavenly Father holding me fast. With the creator and sustainer of the universe in me I have no need to fear. What an awesome truth. I pray that I would know this promise, through all the challenges and joys I face I would not be terrified and that I would be strong and courageous.
Work with A Rocha continues to be fun and is going well. I am really enjoying working with a group of secondary school girls and a group of children in a local community on Saturdays. As well as planning and preparing their green spaces together we play games, do creative eco-activities and learn about the importance of looking after and caring for God’s creation that we live in . With some of the A Rocha volunteers I have been planting Huarango trees in rural areas of Ica. Huarango trees are native to the area and amongst the most threatened ecosystem in the world. For years they have been destroyed for fuel and large-scale agriculture. It’s also a great chance for me to see more of rural life here in Ica. I am amazed by the huge sand dunes that just go on for miles. We continue to plant new seedlings of native trees and fruit trees in the nursery. Over the next few months we are planning several events with school children and university students. I am particularly excited by an environmental themed week in one secondary school. There are now 10 student volunteers with A Rocha, which is great and I am having fun getting to know them and building up friendships with them. We have had several social events that have been great fun and they are very keen to introduce me to places of interest and typical foods of the local area and Peru.
Pastor Jose and his family who I live with continue to be such a blessing to me. They are helping me with my Spanish and learning more about Peruvian culture. I am trying to learn a new slang word each day at the moment. This often causes much laughter on both sides. They have such grace with me and I feel part of their family in so many ways.
I have started helping out with an outreach programme on Friday evenings in a local district called 12 de Marzo with my church here in Ica. We have started a youth group and are getting about 10 youth each week. We are singing songs together, playing games and learning from the Bible. This is great fun and I am enjoying getting to know the youth here. I am also being to feel I know people better in the church here in Ica. Everyone has been really friendly and I feel included in the church family and life here.
I was very fortunate to have a few days back in Arequipa, not only to meet up with my wonderful mentor, Ruth, but also to celebrate Arequipa day. There were parades of different dances from different areas of Peru, there were different brass bands often playing the same tune and floats from different companies and districts in Arequipa. Peru certainly knows how to celebrate!
Thank you once again for all your support, it really means so much to me. I cannot do this in my own strength at all but with God all things are possible. Emails, letters and parcels also help !
For those that pray:
– For Pastor Jose and his family, that they have accepted me into their family and continue to have patience and grace with me.
-For all the relationships that are forming, with the A Rocha volunteers and with people in the church
– That I had the opportunity to go back to Arequipa for a few days to catch up with friends and celebrate Arequipa Day.
– That God has brought me to Ica and for all that I am learning and experiencing.
-For the continual building up of friendships here in Ica.
-That I would be a witness to the A Rocha volunteers that do not know Christ yet.
– For all the planning that needs to happen for the up and coming events which A Rocha Peru in Ica are organising over the next few months.
-Pray for the youth group in 12 de Mazo, that the youth coming along each week would come to know God as their personal saviour.
-Please pray that I would be able to balance my time well and that I would get the rest I need.
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.