A Wedding in Nuevo Chimbote
Our friends Lider and Dolly in Nuevo Chimbote have three children together, two boys and a girl. Lider is 43 and Dolly is 32. When we ﬁrst came into town sixteen months ago, neither of them had an interest in the Church. Lider was a drunk. Their relationship was strained. And then JESUS happened!!!
Taylor, who had no idea that Lider was struggling with alcohol and his faith, and Padre Paco asked Lider to take on the role of the town animador, the Catholic minister in the community. An animador leads the Liturgy of the Word service, visits the sick and dying, and catechises the community. They are responsible for the security of the chapel and must attend meetings with the priests three times a year. It was through this new role that God called Lider back to Him.
We led a class every Tuesday evening and every Sunday morning. Lider came to every single class. He started reading his Bible daily. We would spend time having Bible studies together and also we would study our faith. We presented the Kerygma to the community and taught them how to pray. We taught them their ﬁrst hymns and led them in their ﬁrst Liturgy of the Word service. Lider was excited to grow in his faith. He asked many questions and always looked forward to our next visit.
For much of the first few months, Lider came without his family. Then Dolly started attending the classes. She would bring their two youngest children. She would come but she wouldn’t participate. She was often sitting in the back by herself watching and listening. Over the following months Dolly started participating. She was seen sitting in the front singing and answering questions. She also started bringing more people to the classes. A young man started attending who we later learned was their 17-year-old son. Dolly now always had a smile on her face and was excited to see our car pull into town. Even a deep wound on her foot from a machete wouldn’t keep her away from the church.
When the chapel was being built, Lider spent every day working on the chapel instead of in the rice ﬁelds working to feed their family. They knew that God would provide their needs as long as they did His work. Lider also started participating more in the Liturgy of the Word services and the classes. He started sharing with the community what he learned from reading the Bible and children’s catechism books. He was also open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. There were many times that he shared what he felt God was leading him to share and he was no longer shy and timid.
On September 24th, the feast day celebrating Nuevo Chimbote’s patrona, Our Lady of Mercy, Lider and Dolly were married in the Church! There were also eight baptisms, eight ﬁrst communions, and two conﬁrmations. This beautiful day was the ﬁrst time that the community had ever celebrated their patrona in such a religious way. Fittingly for a pueblo dedicated to Our Lady of Mercy, Lider has shared many times that the Lord has showed their community mercy by bringing us to them.