Perspectives from Peru
News, Hi-lights, and Resources from PC(USA) Mission Co-Workers Jed and Jenny Koball
In this Edition...                                                                                FEB 2015
  • U.S. Presbyterians and Peruvians Unite to Affect the Climate Crisis (a letter from us - Jenny and Jed)
  • Young Adult Volunteers Play, Pray and Persevere
  • New Learning Resource for our Trade Reform Campaign
  • Peruvian Young Adults Call for the Church to Prioritize Creation Care
  • Fair Trade Artisans Create New Designs for Valentine´s Day
  • We will be in the U.S., March 9 - April 19. Check out our Itinerary! 
  • You´re Invited to Peru! Join us for an 8 Day Reflection & Action Trip this June!
U.S. Presbyterians and Peruvians Unite to Affect the Climate Crisis 
(a letter from Jenny and Jed)
¨Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation¨
- Mark 16:15

Every morning before the sun rises Gregorio gets out of bed and goes to his stable to collect 50 pounds of fresh cow manure. After gathering the manure he mixes it with 120 liters of water and pours the ripe concoction into his newly constructed bio-digester buried in his backyard. The bio-digester (a simple technology that is reminiscent of a giant inner tube) allows for the mixture to be converted into methane gas that then flows through plastic tubing and connects to a one-burner stove in his kitchen (as opposed to escaping into the air). Shortly after the sun rises Gregorio´s wife, Irma, lights the stove and cooks breakfast over a blue flame. “It may be a small thing,” says Gregorio, “but it is part of our contribution to stopping global warming.”

The urgency of addressing global warming and resulting climate change could not be felt more strongly than in the rural areas of the central Andes where Gregorio and Irma live. Peru has more than 600 glaciers, which account for 70 percent of all glaciers found within the tropical regions of the world. These 600 glaciers and the 12,000 mountain lagoons that they feed are the source of water for the 30 million people of Peru. Sadly, these glaciers have lost 40 percent of their surface area over the past 20 years due to increasing global temperatures and subsequent melting, making Peru one of the three most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change. What this means for Gregorio and Irma is that the mountain streams that feed their community and thousands of other communities like it have lost up to two-thirds of their volume in recent years. By 2030 the glaciers will be gone, but the crisis has already begun.

It is this climate crisis (water shortage, plagues, floods, droughts, unpredictable weather patterns, rising sea levels, super storms, and more) that inspired our partners Red Uniendo Manos Peru (Joining Hands Peru) and the Presbyterian Hunger Program to organize a delegation of Presbyterians to come to Peru in early December at the very same time that the United Nations was holding its Climate Change Conference (COP-20) in Lima. Twenty-five Presbyterians—pastors and lay people, young adults and older adults, from rural and urban contexts—including the moderator of the PC(USA) General Assembly, Heath Rada, and his wife, Peggy, joined us for a 10-day Reflection and Action trip in which we visited with communities in both rural and urban areas being affected by climate change, learned from scientific experts in areas of adaptation and mitigation, dialogued with government, non-government and religious leaders, joined in prayer at an interfaith vigil, and joined our voices with tens of thousands of people on the streets of Lima in the largest climate march ever in Latin America.

What our partners and those we spoke with and millions of others around the world are calling for (demanding!) is an agreement among the nations of the world to be signed one year from now that will set out an enforceable course of action to rapidly reduce carbon dioxide emissions on a global scale, principally by reducing the use of fossil fuels. Without such urgent measures, the average temperature of the earth will continue to increase, leading to even more catastrophic results. It is the impoverished peoples of the world who will feel this impact most immediately and most dramatically. This is why the director of Red Uniendo Manos Peru, Conrado Olivera, says with great conviction that climate change is the greatest and most urgent problem the human race has ever faced. As trip participant Colleen Earp noted in a presentation she made in Lima, "the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is right now."

So, what does urgent action look like? Raising our collective voice to encourage our governments to find the political will to reach a binding agreement is certainly an important aspect of such action. But the message that came through most clearly to all of us, Peruvian and North American alike, is that any meaningful attempt to address climate change begins with our own attitudes—our own daily actions and commitment to changing the way we live. Until we as a human race demonstrate the individual will to adapt to a new lifestyle, our governments will fail to find the political will to make the necessary and difficult decisions that our partners and neighbors are calling for.

This new year, 2015, is a landmark year for the human race.  This is the year the nations of the world must come to an agreement. This is the year we either choose to live into our collective calling (
our first calling!) to be caretakers of God's creation, or it will be the year we collectively announce our disregard for the Garden of Eden once and for all.

After 10 days of travel through the Andes we have great hope that the Garden will bear fruit for days, years and generations to come. We have such hope because Gregorio and Irma, Conrado, Colleen, Heath and Peggy and tens of thousands of others we walked alongside of are paving the way forward. We invite you, (we urge you!) to join with us—through prayer, through daily living, through raising your voice, through offering your financial support, through sharing this story and many others like it. For this and so much more, we thank you.

With grateful and hopeful hearts,

Jenny and Jed

More Resources and Reflections from Trip Participants

Sue Smith, member of First Presbyterian of Rumson, NJ, Treasurer of Presbyterians for Earth Care, and current student at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, offers both reflections and actions steps in this blog post.

Tricia Tull, Biblical Scholar and former professor at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and author of Inhabiting Eden continues to share her thoughts on the experience in Peru.

Joe Tobiason, former YAV in Peru and professional photographer donated his time and talents to both keep a photo journal of the experience (including the photos below) as well as create this creative video.

Young Adult Volunteers Play, Pray, and Persevere
Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” –James 1:2-4
With the Young Adult Volunteers instead of talking about Culture ¨Shock¨ we often speak of the Culture ¨Wave¨. It is the idea that the impact of living in another culture and context is not something that comes suddenly and without warning, rather it is a gradual process that often drags one down into an emotional and spiritual emptiness and even despair. Upon arriving to a new country for a year of service, the first weeks are full of excitement, curiosity and enthusiasm as one rides adventurously on the joyful crest of the emotional culture wave. After a month or two, the newness and excitement wares off and the stark realities of everything that is different and perhaps disturbing begin to frustrate and drag one down like an undertow into the troubling trough of the wave: different understandings of time and space, different ways of communicating or expressing emotions (in addition to language challenges), different customs and traditions, different reactions to conflict and ways of handling it, different senses of humor, different theologies, different ways of celebrating holidays, even just different ways of making coffee or washing dishes. Everything is different, and it takes a toll on the human spirit. As the end of the calendar year and the holidays approach the YAVs can often be found sliding into the trough if not already treading water, sometimes questioning their purpose and their motivation. This year, at precisely this time Jenny organized a retreat in the life-giving atmosphere of the high-jungle of Tarapoto to reflect on the challenges of cross-cultural service and to renew spirits to respond again to God´s call and claim on our lives. Following the holidays and some vacation time, the YAVs met again on the desert beaches of Paracas to welcome in the new year, relax, be restored and arise again to the calmer waters of a new day and a new routine as they returned to their sites to engage faithfully and courageously in the everyday life of service. Of course, the YAVs themselves can share their stories much better than we can, so we encourage you to read their blogs!
  • In her most recent blog, Rachel reflects wonderfully on the need for perseverance and the power of prayer to carry her through.
  • AJ shares about the YAVs´ holiday travels, and in response reflects on what ¨simple living¨ implies. He also includes some great photos! 
  • And, Kyle offers insightful thoughts about the spirituality of fasting in response to the grave issue of climate change that has tremendous impact on the most vulnerable in Peru. 
Jenny leads Kyle, AJ and Rachel in worship and reflection during the Tarapoto Retreat. 
Jenny, AJ, Rachel and Kyle welcome in the New Year in the coastal desert of Paracas. 
New Learning Resource for our Trade Reform Campaign

¨In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence and you sinned¨ - Ezekiel 28:16
In January, Jed teamed with the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness to lead a training webinar on reforming international trade agreements. In his presentation, Jed hi-lighted the case of La Oroya, Peru - one of the 5 most contaminated cities in the world due to a smelter owned by a U.S. company that has taken advantage of excessive rights provided to foreign investors through trade agreements that allow it to undermine Peruvian law and put tens of thousands of people´s health at risk. To learn more about stopping this injustice, listen to a recording of the webinar!
Peruvian Young Adults Call for the Church to Prioritize Creation Care

In preparation for the United Nations´ Conference on Climate Change held in Lima in early December, Jed co-led a day-long workshop together with our Joining Hands Peru partners for a group of 40 seminary students and young adult church leaders about the relation between our Christian faith, our communities, and the care of creation. Jed provided a biblical-theological foundation for prioritizing creation care in the ministry of the Church. As a result of the workshop, the young adult attendees collaboratively wrote the following declaration addressed to their local churches and denominations: 
A Declaration to the Church  
by Peruvian Young Adults
We, members of diverse churches and institutions, gathered for the youth workshop ¨The Young Church and the Care for Creation¨1, after deep reflection and study, express our concern about climate change and its effects that threaten life, especially the life of the least favored and most vulnerable.

We declare:
  1. Climate change is the result of a mentality and a human ethic that considers humans to be the owners of creation and creation to be an object of domination, exploitation and manipulation.
  2. From the Christian tradition, we recognize that some understandings of our faith have contributed to the human history of fomenting anthropocentrism and a merciless exploitation of creation. Each church must first commit itself to study, a re-reading of scripture and a critical revision of its interpretations with regard to the responsibility given by God to humans with respect to humanity´s relationship with creation. In this regard, we need a better comprehension of social, historical, theological and ecological paradigms that we live with and utilize each day.
  3. We must recuperate indigenous peoples wisdom and lifestyle that once escaped the consumerist logic and sought harmony with all of God´s creation. We hope that our ecclesiastical and spiritual leaders will provide an example of entering into a process of self-awareness and conversion towards the end of safeguarding life on planet Earth. In the same way, churches must also play an important role in this process by creating awareness about this problem within its own context and in the larger society.
  4. We request that responsible religious, political, economic, and scientific leaders take urgent measures to respond effectively to the effects of climate change upon creation and to insure the basics of an abundant life for everyone, especially for future generations. We trust that the Conference of the Parties (COP-20) that with will take place in December of this year in Lima will be a momentous event for the future of humanity.
  5. As members of diverse churches and institutions we commit ourselves to implement within our spaces of participation, a spirituality based on eco-justice and to work towards changing the mentality, ethic and consumer practices (individual and collective) of ourselves and those around us; in this way we are responding to the principle environmental and climatic challenges that afflict us.  
1 The workshop ¨The Young Church and the Care for Creation¨ was a day-long event organized by Joining Hands Peru, Fraternidad Cristiana, and the Seminario Teológico Wesleyana, carried out on November 15, 2014 in Lima, Peru. 
Fair Trade Artisans Create New Designs for Valentine´s Day 

It´s not too late to order a unique gift for someone special while also supporting the fair and sustainable entrepreneurship of Peruvian artisans who work with our partner´s Bridge of Hope fair trade program. Place your order today! 
We will be in the U.S., March 9 - April 19!  
We will be sharing stories, successes, and challenges of the ministry we share with our Joining Hands partners in Peru. We will also be present to prayerfully discern together with you and your congregation about becoming more creatively and strategically involved in mission partnership. Below are the metropolitan areas where we will be visiting churches, universities and other organizations on this trip. Feel free to be in contact with us for more details. We hope to see you there!
March 9-12           Birmingham, AL
March 13-17         New York, NY
March 18-23         Columbus, OH
March 24-31         St. Louis, MO
April 1-10             Holy Week and Easter Celebrations  
April 11-12           Philadelphia, PA
April 16-19           Baltimore, MD
You´re Invited to Peru! 
Join Us for an 8 Day Reflection & Action Trip this June

May 30 - June 7  

Troubled Waters to Righteous Streams of Justice
Participants in this 8 day Reflection & Action trip will explore how free trade agreements, the mining industry and climate change are causing and exacerbating economic, environmental and health crises throughout Peru. Participants will learn how they can engage in addressing these crises in Peru and globally through advocacy work in the U.S.  

Learn more and SIGN UP HERE


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