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Peru

Fried Chicken and French Fries

It all began with fried chicken and french fries. That’s what the Holy Spirit prompted me to go and eat at a street stand in Peru. I’ve learned that when prompted by the Holy Spirit, it’s best to listen and be docile. This particular day the Holy Spirit wanted me to go to a street food stand not far from where I was staying in the city of Tarapoto.

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A Testimony of Faith

My life in the Catholic faith changed completely in 2015 when I met a marvelous missionary family, Jonathan and Teresa Kiehl and their kids. Through them, I began to learn more about God and His wonders.

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Dignity of Work

We have been able to employ some of the local men here. Four of them have been able to work full time, which has changed their lives in such a wonderful way. We have also found Mr. Sanchez, who is a woodworker, living a bit further up the mountain. We have employed him to make the home’s 19 windows and 19 doors by hand from his little humble dirt-floor home.

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More Than Just a Handout

In an effort to assist the poor in a sustainable way, several missionaries have helped those in need to build their own sources of income. Starting a business can be a slow and patient process, but it’s also fairly straightforward and common in many of the countries in which we serve. People simply need some starting cash, perhaps a little training and guidance, and a good dose of encouragement.

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Unexpected Joy

Only five months after our family’s arrival at our new post, we found ourselves in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, locked away from those we were sent to serve. Jesus, being who He is, still led us to the poorest of the poor. He opened so many closed doors—both literally and figuratively—for new ministries to flourish, despite the repercussions of the virus. 

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Unexpected Joy in an Uncertain Year

Only five months after our family’s arrival at our new post, we found ourselves in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, locked away from those we were sent to serve. Jesus, being who He is, still led us to the poorest of the poor. He opened so many closed doors—both literally and figuratively—for new ministries to flourish, despite the repercussions of the virus. 

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Solidarity in Peru

Peru shut down fast. With less than 24 hours notice, all flights in or out of the country were cancelled and everyone was ordered to stay home. In the cities, the quarantine and nightly curfew were being enforced by police and military.

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Learning the End of the Story

Isaura asked me what the Resurrection was. Angela and I looked at each other shocked, realizing that this couple, who had a large image of Jesus’ Cross on a poster above their table, had never heard of the Resurrection. The Resurrection changes everything, and this man was about to die without knowing about it.

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Lockdown Ministry in Peru

I never knew living in solidarity with the poor meant being locked away from them for weeks! I think about what St. Paul must have felt when he was imprisoned: his ministries were halted by the authorities and he was unable to share the Good News as he planned. However St. Paul did not sit idle during his confinement.

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Forget Not the Poor

I burst into tears. Perhaps one of the hardest things about being a missionary is seeing that, in spite of our efforts to live in solidarity with the poor, there exists a world of difference in the opportunities available to us and to them. Try as I might, I’ll never truly understand the plight of the poor.

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How Kids See the World

We’re in a large port city off the Amazon River called Iquitos. One of the poorest areas that we’ve been visiting often is called Belén. I just learned that Belén is the Spanish word for Bethlehem. That realization was so profound to me because we have encountered Jesus in His poor and lowly stable every time we’ve gone to this Bethlehem.

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Anything But Ordinary

I passed by a simple concrete home where a woman was standing outside sweeping. We exchanged customary greetings, and when I asked her how she was, she responded with something about being in her home all alone. That was a clue from the Spirit that I need to stop here.

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In the Amazon

It’s been almost two weeks since we moved to our new mission post. From the jungles to the “Heart of the Amazon” (as it’s known by its inhabitants). It was a 10-hour drive through Peru and its mighty mountains, where our new home awaited. We arrived safely with only the belongings we were able to fit in our truck.

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Proclaim the Gospel

Early on into our time in Peru, I heard about this youth receiving her Sacrament of Confirmation, and that youth her Baptism, and yet another who would be receiving all three of the initiation Sacraments. But I never heard about any classes to teach what the Sacraments were. A man who was supposedly the Catechist told me formation was happening every Sunday. Sundays came and went, and I never observed any classes. Four months had passed: it was time to get to the bottom of this Faith Formation mystery.

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Pay Attention

But talking to Segundo was not merely an outward act of Christian bravery or heroism that only foreign missionaries can do. This is common courtesy. This is acknowledging and encountering other human beings because they matter and because God loves them. This is how we love others, by paying attention. And this is a call for everyone.

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