by Kyle Smith
People sometimes ask us why we, as a development organization seeking sustainability, hired three full-time Peruvian employees last year. Sometimes they ask us this to lead into a follow-up question: Does CUDA intend to hire more full-time national workers? The short answer is yes.
Our Peruvian directors (Alfredo, Abraham, and Paty) have begun the search for our next full-time worker who will be trained and then placed in charge of the library program. We are quite excited at the potential candidate for this position, and for the sustainability and growth it will mean for our program.
As an organization we have had to make many decisions that not only affect our current situations but also will help direct the course of CUDA and its projects for many years. One primary decision we made was to not take on high cost, short-term projects. We believe that development requires time, dedication to goals, and expertise. Instead of deciding to make our yearly budget project-heavy we decide to invest in experts. To that end we hired our three Peruvian directors - Alfredo, Abraham, Paty - who have years of experience in their fields and a desire to promote the projects and goals of our organization. By hiring them, we made an investment in the future of CUDA. Instead of those high cost programs our goal is to create long-term yet low cost projects. We want them to be easily reproduced in any Peruvian context so keeping costs low is important. Our full-time employees ensure we have the manpower to reproduce our programs in multiple areas of our city without the need to seek non-experienced volunteer help.
In order to ensure the future of the library program our Peruvian directors determined that hiring a full-time director of the the program was the way to go. The selected individual will be trained by Megan and eventually take over the planning and execution of the program. The library director will be hired by and will answer to CUDA’s Executive Director, Alfredo. At the moment we have a presence in two schools but with dedicated employees promoting the program that number can and will grow. We see many opportunities for growth with a full-time, empowered, passionate, Peruvian employee heading up the program.
So here’s where I ask you to pray for this process. Alfredo, Paty and Abraham are beginning the process this week of refining our criteria and seeking out candidates. As they work together to prepare and then interview the candidates pray that God would provide the right employee who will not only share our passion for literacy promotion but would also share our passion for the Kingdom of God. We’ve seen Him provide us with the right people so far and we trust He will do so again.
by Megan McKinzie
This month, I turned 31 years old. It was my 5th birthday to celebrate in Arequipa. I decided this year that I wanted a “night out” with some girlfriends on my big day. I wanted to share a picture from that night, and tell you why each of these relationships are special to me during this time.
Nadia is my neighbor, and if you have kept up with our story here you know that Nadia was baptized last year. She is such a dear friend to me. We both share the same profession. She has volunteered with me in the library program at times, and I love having a Peruvian friend to talk to about cultural differences in the school system. Also, we started our friendship right at a time when I needed someone just like her. She came requesting English classes (I desperately needed those conversations in my native tongue). Our English class turned into a Bible study. Nadia was the first person with whom I shared the story of Jesus. I will never forget that. During furlough, I found a Willow Tree Angel holding a book. I bought it for Nadia and gave it to her for her birthday in November. I told her that she would always remember me when she saw that little figurine on her table. For my birthday, she gave me a little figurine that she bought in the market here. You can bet that wherever I am living in 50 years that little figurine will be in a place that I can see.
Sitting next to Nadia is Areli. What a beautiful personality that girl has! She is Etelvina's daughter. (Etelvina is a dear sister in the church who we absolutely love to pieces.) The thing I love about my relationship to Areli is that we are kindred spirits in laughter. If you know me, you know that I love to laugh. Sometimes, when crossing cultures, it is hard to feel like you understand jokes or are able to be funny around those from a culture different than yours. That is not the case with this amiga. I find such joy in hearing her laughter, and it is contagious. We don't need to sit together in a meeting where no noise is allowed. Ha! Areli and I have been studying the book of Mark together. She is such a good person, and she is earnestly seeking something deeper for her life. It is my prayer that she decides to follow Christ whole-heartedly in the near future. God has blessed me with a friend to laugh with, and I am so blessed by her friendship.
That gringa you might not recognize is named Katie Daggett. Katie and her husband, Jeremy, are part of the team moving to Arequipa in 2014. They decided to come to Arequipa and take 2 months of language classes to better prepare themselves for the field. What is really special about the two of them is that they are where Greg and I were 7 years ago. Jeremy is studying at Harding School of Theology in Memphis, and the two of them are about to work with the same Hispanic church where Greg and I worked during our time in Memphis. It has been such a blessing to get to know them better, to share dreams about the future work here in Arequipa, and to answer the many questions they have about moving here. For me, Katie symbolizes the things to come in Arequipa. I am excited that my family's remaining time will overlap some with her family, but I am even more excited to see what God will do through them and the rest of their team in the years to come. Pray for Team Arequipa 2.0. We are so excited about them joining the work here.
Next to Katie is Emilia. Oh how I love Emilia. She has been a Christian for many years, and she recently moved to Arequipa from Lima. Her joy and fervor for the Lord are contagious, and she has such a passion to work in children's ministry. Larissa and I know that Emilia was a God-send to our church in the realm of working with the children. It is wonderful to see a Peruvian that is mature in faith. She has blood family in the city, but she thrives on spending as much time with her brothers and sisters in Christ as she can. She knows a little bit of English, and we get such a kick out of her practicing and asking questions. She is so much fun to be around. My children love “Bible class with Emilia,” and I thank God for a Christian sister that is equipped to help teach them when the church is together.
You should recognize that other gringa. I told Larissa the other day that it will be so hard to know life without her family in our lives (as in the same city) when the day of our departure comes. We shared our time in Memphis with the Smiths to prepare for our mission work. We shared in the joy of having our first children in Memphis (there is only a 3 month difference between Ana and Shaye). We moved together to live for 6 months in Tyler and 6 months in Arequipa. We have not known this work without the Smiths. We love them dearly, and we have been through so much together in our time here. Larissa knows a part of me that no one else can understand. We have lived, grieved, rejoiced, waited, misunderstood, been confused, and celebrated as missionary wives in Arequipa, Peru. There just aren't too many people that I share that with. I love her dearly, and it will sadden me greatly when the day comes that we separate. But I am so grateful for her service to the kingdom in this city. I am grateful for how she strives to be a good wife and mother. And I am grateful for her friendship as a friend, but much more so as a sister in Christ.
It was a very special group of people that night. It is hard to imagine that I only have one more birthday left to celebrate in Arequipa. But God has certainly given me a reason to celebrate life here.
Church in Arequipa: Part 9
by Greg McKinzie
Decision-Making and the Offering
After months of studying the offering, at our last general meeting the Peruvian disciples made some decisions about our collective practice of giving as a network of house churches. Each group will have an envelope available at every Sunday meeting, placed somewhere out of the way, in which those who wish can discretely place their offering. Two people will count the offering together after the meeting, seal the envelope, record the amount, and both sign the envelop. The church elected Etelvina, Paty, and Alfredo to administrate the money received. They also voted on uses of the money, which will be divided into three equal parts: charity, evangelism, and savings. Quite a few voted that our charitable cause be the support of orphans, and the evangelism category included ideas such as bus fair and printed materials. The savings will be allocated according to a future vote.
A number voted that we save funds for a building. Although some of those votes were from visitors who have not participated in our house church model, others were from members who still view house churches as a temporary measure. It turned into a good opportunity for discussion. One one hand, those members who have become convinced of the value of intimate Sunday communion were able to express themselves to the whole church for the first time. On the other hand, the missionaries seized the moment to explain publicly for the first time why we did not simply acquire facilities with American funding as so many missionaries do. I viewed the whole experience as a victory. The church moved from Bible study to practice and made its own decisions about how to give and what for. The missionaries coached the leaders who facilitated the discussion but were able to step back and let the process happen. There was open discussion, in which we demonstrated that the church’s leadership is not authoritarian as is so often the case in Peru, and the church voted in an way that brought out the voices of those who would not normally have stated an opinion.
I was especially proud for Etelvina, a wonderful friend and sister who was taken aback by the church’s vote of confidence. She already had mine, so it was a joy to count the landslide of votes that affirmed her integrity and trustworthiness—and to see the shock on her face. Because the misappropriation of funds so plagues churches in Peru, it was a solemn moment when we laid our hands on our Paty, Alfredo, and Etelvina and commissioned them to administer the church’s offering faithfully.
One way to look at it: Climb
by Larissa Smith
The task is simple. Climb. And carry what you’ve been given.
There are paths weaving and crossing their way up the hill. There is the Door at the bottom, where the One stands, assigning crosses to be born while ascending.
He knows. He was the first.
The paths are littered with followers. Some press on, one small step at a time. They barely look up. They feel that they will never arrive, but they never stop either. Others plow ahead in bursts, then stop and gaze upward, pausing too long in their wondering of how long will it take to get all the way up there?! Some seem to walk in circles, or go up one stretch only to turn downward in another.
There are those who focus on the crosses shouldered by others. Some find their own crosses too light and worry that they aren’t doing their due by carrying so little, and in doing so risk confusing the mercy of a light load with not shouldering enough. Others find their crosses too heavy and have come to a halt, complaining that until someone makes it easier, they cannot be expected to push forward in this endeavor, forgetting that it is always and forever a choice that they can walk away, but whether they stay or go, their own feet must take the steps.
Then there are the routes available. Some are smoother. Some are far more treacherous, strewn with loose pebbles that make the very ground move under a footstep. Each can choose their own direction, though most are communicating in one way or another - warning against a hard way, encouraging toward a good one, even complaining that those who are not walking the exact same patches of dirt must not be heading toward the same end, must surely not be as earnest in their intention to honor the example of the King.
But progress is not to be measured in speed, trajectory, population, burden or lack thereof. None along the way can accurately determine the value of another’s path combined with their burden, strength, conviction and influence.
The task is simple. Climb. And carry what you’ve been given.