Monday, February 20, 2017

Rising waters

We are asking for prayers for the community of Nuevo Egipto. They are very special to us. We have worked with them for almost two years now. Their community is off of the beaten path. They are surrounded by rice fields which employs most of the town. On one side of the town is a canal and on the side is a river.

Last week disaster struck Nuevo Egipto. At 2:00am on Wednesday the canal overflowed its banks and swept through town. As it swept through town the excess water overflowed the outdoor bathrooms which then contaminated everything.

Many people spoke of waking up because the rising waters soaked their beds. It was then that they started alerting their neighbors and the cleanup began.

We received a call midmorning from Max, our fellow missionary, explaining the situation because his family lives there. Taylor immediately jumped on his motorcycle and headed to Nuevo Egipto. When he arrived he found a mess. Houses that were built out of mud bricks were partly swept away exposing the sticks used to frame it. Houses without cement floors now had a soppy wed mud floor. The feces was mixed with everything which will cause illnesses if not removed. No one really knows how many items were lost when the flood waters went through. But it is our guess that many people lost clothes, shoes and their personal belongings as well.

Taylor came home to report on what he found and to call in backup from our fellow missionaries. When I heard his report I broke down in tears. This community is so beautiful. They have a living faith and they willingly give all they have to anyone in need.

Taylor, Andy, Max headed back to Nuevo Egipto to assist in the cleanup along with two visiting nurses from Spain. They spent the afternoon moving contaminated mud and assisting wherever they were called. Taylor helped a single mother with young children spread gravel in her house to create a new floor. Her floor was a sloppy muddy mess but as they laid the gravel it made walking possible. At one point Andy and Taylor had to move a paralized man from his bed. His family had no way yo move him out of their waterlogged home. The water level was to the mattress on his bed. His family abandoned the home knowing that if the waters continued to rise he would most likely perish but they could not move them on their own. The family was overjoyed by the help they received from Andy and Taylor. They were able to move the man across town to a family member whose house was not badly damaged.

Unfortunately none of our missionaries thought of taking photos during their time helping the community. They were so focused on helping the people in need that it did not cross their mind until after they returned home.

Please pray for the community of Nuevo Egipto. Please pray that the waters reside and that the rain stops for a bit so the cleanup can finish. Please pray that the people will not get sick from working in the unsanitary conditions. We are also asking prayers for the people who need to rebuild.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Is just one soul worth it?

This past Sunday we had another opportunity to celebrate a first for a community. The small community of Nuevo Canal received mass for the first time ever. It was such a joyous event!

Padre Paco celebrating the first mass in the community of Nuevo Canal Sunday February 12, 2017.
Nuevo Canal is a little community that Taylor initially found by searching on Google Maps. Taylor enjoys looking at our zone through this application. It was during one of his searches that he stumbled upon the little pueblo. Upon further investigation through the church archives it was determined the community was never visited by anyone from the church partly because it was not on any maps. With the permission of the priests Taylor decided to head out to the community to see the state of their faith. 

When Taylor and Max arrived they were greeted by Damel. He was so excited to see them and so happy to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. Damel lives in the pueblo with his family and two other families. Taylor, Max, and our whole family has spent many days ministering to this community. We have brought them their first Bibles. We have taught them their prayers. But most importantly we have taught them about our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Max, Taylor and Gamel the first time in Nuevo Canal.

When people first heard that Taylor was driving out to the pueblo to minister to the three families the response he received was it wasn't worth his time. ''Only three families?'' ''They can travel to one of the other pueblos to attend mass and receive catechesis.'' ''Why would you trouble yourself and waste a day traveling and teaching the people when there are so few of them?'' 

As we thought of these questions we remembered Abraham and his courage in interceding before God for Sodom, see Genesis 18:16-33. It was here that God shared His plan to destroy Sodom for its wickedness with Abraham. Abraham boldly asked the Lord if He would spare the city from destruction if there were 50 righteous men. Abraham continued to ask the Lord if He would spare from destruction if He found 45, 40, 30, 20, and lastly just 10 righteous people. The Lord agreed to spare the city if He found just 10 righteous men. For just 10 people the Lord would have spared a whole city from being destroyed. Even though the city was destroyed God did save the only righteous people in the city, one family.
Taylor leading a Bible Study in Gamel's house.

Jesus Christ would have also died just for one person. If everyone but one person in history rejected Him He would have willingly gone to the cross for only that one soul. His love for us is so great that He willing went to the cross for each one of us. He knew our names and each of the sins He was dying for. So why can't we have that same sort of love for just one soul?

The answer will always be "YES!" Just one soul is worth. When we write and prepare our studies we are hoping that many people will come to our study but if just one soul has a personal encounter with Christ everything we sacrificed to get there is worth it!! 


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Happy 1st Birthday Asencio!

Today is a day to celebrate! Little Asencio is turning one! I do not think that anyone expected him to 
turn one when he was born a year ago. Praise be to God that Asencio was healed and has made a full recovery. If you have forgotten his story you can Read his story here
Here is a picture of Asencio from February 11, 2016

Those trips to the hospital were worth it though! I spent hours in Tarapoto with Keisy and her sister-in-law. We talked about family and I fought with the doctors to have Asencio's tests taken quickly. I know I talked about God's love. I remember bringing Keisy a bible to read while she waited those long hours day in and day out. I do not remember all that I said and I am pretty sure that what I said in those moments did not even matter. I think my example spoke more than my words. 

During those days I showed Keisy and her family what God's love actually meant. She was able to feel it. My words matched my actions. My words were LIVING through my example. I held her as she cried. I listened. I spoke with the nurses to help us speak with the doctor. Much of my time was spent waiting and praying. But I was present and I was there. 
Keisy, Asencio and Stiven. My has he grown!

 A few weeks later Asencio was cleared to go home. He could leave the NICU and join the rest of his family in Caspizapa. That day there was much rejoicing in their house. It was then that Taylor and I learned how God was using those days to call this family to Him. Keisy and Henri asked us if they could enter the church through the sacrament of marriage. Henri said he wanted to be this example for his three small children. Keisy and Henri were married on October 8, 2016 and Asencio was baptized into the faith  as well. It was a emotional day for everyone in attendance!
His first birthday party this afternoon.
Faustina and Adele enjoyed dancing and eating all of the snacks!

Asencio returned to the hospital in the middle of last year. His urinary tract was blocked. This was a huge complication. Unfortunately it couldn't be treated with medicine. Asencio ended up needing three surgeries to repair this problem. Since his surgery he has not had anymore complications. He is doing well and growing fast. We are all so excited to say "Feliz Cumplea├▒os" today!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Year In Review

Here is an update from the mission field in Picota, San Martin, Peru

We first want to thank everyone again for your prayers. Our mission thrives on the prayers and the sacrifices of our friends and family.

God has been ever-present in our mission since our return in October 2015 after the World Meeting of Families. Shortly after our return to Peru our fellow missionaries returned to the United States for three months leaving a mission full of work. This time was so blessed for our family. We spent much of our days traveling to different pueblos evangelizing. We also had the opportunity to teach the people about advent and to help prepare them for Christmas. Typically in years past all of the present missionaries, priests, and sisters returned to their countries to be with family during this time. This left a big void for the people. Many had not heard the Nativity Story before, but God called us and Padre Paco Delgado to stay and minister during this time. We spent the weeks leading up to Christmas teaching the people about Christ's birth. We showed the movie "The Nativity Story" in the pueblos. We also helped the youth learn Christmas songs and showed them how easy it was to do a living nativity. For the first time in years the people had a celebration centered on Christ. Padre Paco spent his time saying three masses a day in different pueblos that are normally without the sacraments during this time.

We were also blessed to participate in their local custom of waiting up all night on Christmas Eve. The people sit outside their houses chatting until midnight. At the stroke of midnight they then go house to house wishing their neighbor's the sign of peace. They return to their homes open all of their doors and eat dinner. We asked the people why they did this. No one new the reason. It was just beautiful to see that God is imprinted on their hearts even when they do not know it is Him. We spent the time explaining how when you add Christ to these customs everything makes sense. The doors a flung open to welcome Christ into their home. They are the first to celebrate the birth of Christ with a feast at midnight. The waiting reflects the waiting of advent. And wishing people the sign of the peace is for the Prince of Peace.

We also learned in December that we had been approved for a five year religious visa. This gives us the opportunity to stay in Peru for five years without having to leave the country every six months as our tourist visa required. With this new found freedom we could free up much needed funds to bring the Gospel to those most in need of it.

In January 2016, our family spent a week on retreat to reflect on our mission in 2015 and to ask the Lord's guidance for our mission in 2016. It was during this retreat that we heard the Lord ask us not to return to the US to visit. Throughout the week God kept bringing us back to the focus of our mission- to evangelize and to make disciples. We reevaluated our ministries to make sure they met this focus and proceeded to prepare our schedule for the year. It was also during this retreat that God put it on our hearts to officially disciple a young Peruvian man named Max. During 2015 he had grown much in his faith and God led us to continue to help him grow and possibly one day participate in our mission with us.

At the end of January 2016 our fellow missionaries returned to Peru. We also welcomed two new families, a single man, and a single woman to our team for the first time. Our month was very full with our continued ministries as well as helping the new missionaries adjust to their new life in Peru. Most days had Taylor leaving to help the new missionaries while Katie and the children went in the other direction for our ministries. This month was exhausting but God was preparing us for the months ahead.

We spent much of February tending to the sick. Katie travelled back and forth to help provide the funds needed for the medicine and specialist care for a premature baby. Praise be to God that little Ascencio was healed and is doing well. Through Katie's witness of God's love during those long days Ascencio's whole family came into the church this past year. His parents were married and the three kids all now are baptized. On February 9, 2017 Ascencio will celebrate his first birthday.

Katie also ended up needing medical care in February. Due to her travels to the hospital in the rain Katie came down with pneumonia. We are blessed to serve with a Salesian sister from Africa who is a nurse. She was able to direct us to a doctor who could treat Katie and after two weeks of bed rest she was able to return to her duties of wife, mother and missionary.

During Katie's illness Taylor also had to help with someone's medical needs. A young man in our town was in a motorcycle accident and he suffered a brain bleed because he was not wearing a helmet. When Taylor found out about this he immediately went to the hospital to be with him. As he arrived the hospital staff was in the process of discharging him because his family was unable to pay the bill. Taylor quickly paid the bill and they brought him back into the room to continue his treatment. After a few days he was able to return to Caspizapa but his mother was given the instructions to keep him up during the night because of the bleeding on his brain. The doctor warned her that if he fell asleep he would not wake up. This woman is a single mother. Angela was exhausted from helping him during the day and also staying up all night. When Taylor noticed she had no family to help he offered to take the night shift to keep Jhoel awake. Every night over the next two weeks Taylor would leave our house at 9:00pm and return at 3:00am. During his nightly visits Taylor would tell stories of his childhood and also share the faith with Jhoel. They would also read the Bible together. At the end of the two weeks Jhoel was preparing to have surgery to stop the bleeding. Angela asked Taylor to pray that the bleeding would stop on its own. The three of them went to the Lord with this petition and the next day the doctor confirmed that the bleeding had stopped with a brain scan. God heard their plea.

In February we also had the privilege of celebrating an Ash Wednesday service in three of our communities for the first time ever. It was a great honor for us to explain Ash Wednesday to them and to give them this opportunity to participate with the faithful throughout the world.

February also brought us our first overnight missionary trip. Padre Leopoldo had asked our family to also pray about visiting a valley further in the jungle. These pueblos only receive mass once every year or every other year depending on the weather. When we went to prayer we felt the Lord confirming that this was His will for us. Why else are we hear other than to bring the Good News to those who do not have access to it? Taylor did a scouting run on his motorcycle with Max, the young man we were discipling, a few weeks earlier. They learned that indeed the valley was very much in need of God's Word since many pueblos had never been visited by a priest, sister, or missionary. We loaded up our car with water, Bibles, rosaries, prayer cards, and anything else we thought we would need and we headed out. Over those two days we encountered two pueblos who had no Catholic Church community. It was during those visits that we explained we are here to help start one if they wanted. Joyously they said yes. We also led a celebration of the Word service for each of their communities. We gave out bibles and taught the people how to read them for the first time. We scheduled return visits and classes. We have never felt more like a missionary than when we went to bed at the foot of the cross on the floor of the church exhausted from working but filled with God's joy.

March brought a visit from ten of our friends from Holy Family Parish Brillion WI. Our ten friends stayed two weeks and helped with the construction of two churches in pueblos who had none. During the two weeks our friends also had many opportunities to participate in our daily ministries as well as visiting with the poor. They also had the opportunity to participate in the day of adoration that Pope Francis asked all of the faithful to participate in. Through the many experiences our friends explained that they had felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and also could see Jesus in the poor for the first time. Many of our friends had been going to the Dominican Republic every year but they said this was the first time that they were able to actually be with the poor. At the end of the two weeks you could see a change in our friends. They were radiating joy. Since their return to the states many of them have continued seeking out the Lord in their daily lives and have been boldly proclaiming His Good News. We are looking forward to their return trip to Peru on February 23 just 22 days away.

April brought us the opportunity to prepare our communities for Easter. We once again had the opportunity to celebrate firsts for our communities. Holy Week gave us many chances to bring the saving message of Jesus Christ to the people. We spent the week driving to our many pueblos trying to bring this message to as many people as possible. For the first time in the community of Nuevo Chimbote they celebrated Good Friday. We gathered in a house since the church wasn't complete yet. As we read the readings solemnness fell upon the whole house. During Taylor's sharing he continued with the Salvation Story. It was during his sharing that Hope once again filled the air. As everyone went to kiss our Lord new meaning came upon this story. They fully understood what He did for us in that moment. The sorrow was their but the light of hope was burning in their hearts because they knew now that He rose again and He did it for them.

In May we decided to try to go into the deeper part of the jungle because the rains had stopped and the road was dry. Typically this doesn't happen until June but God had made it possible. We loaded up some things we thought we would need for our one night trip five hours into the jungle in the Bombonajillo Valley. God had different plans for us. As soon as we arrived the rains started. This meant that our time there was probably going to be longer than we expected. To make the most of our time we decided we wanted to walk to the next pueblo which was only a few hours away up a mountain, covered in wet slippery mud, in the middle of a rainstorm with six small children. We quickly realized that this was not possible since everyone including Katie was having a difficult time staying on their feet. We turned around and started our climb back down the sloppy muddy mountain. Needless to say the way down was much worse. It was during this part of the trip that Katie fell and broke her tailbone but just at the moment she thought she couldn't go on God sent her an angel to help. One young girl from the town was hiking back and she gladly took little Faustina down the mountain so Katie could slide down without worry. It was then that we realized that we were there to minister to the town of Nuevo Chanchomayo so we planned to offer talks throughout the day for the community. At one point during the day we looked out over the plaza and we felt we were in the Wild West. The houses were made of faded wood, horses were tied to posts and people were pitching chamber pots out the window. After an extra day God blessed us with an opportunity to head back home. It came right on time since we were out of dry long clothes and the babies were catching a cold. We learned that the journey to Nuevo Chanchomayo was a ministry better suited for Taylor and Max on their motorcycles than it was for our family. Taylor and Max continued to head out once a month for four days until Taylor got sick.

May also brought the completion of the churches we had been asked to help fund. It was so amazing to see the completed projects especially since a lot of our blood, sweat and tears went into the projects. Our friends from Holy Family Parish Brillion were so excited to see the pictures of the completed churches. We were very elated that Bishop Rafael came to the small towns to bless the churches. It was especially special for the town of Nuevo Chimbote since prior to our ministering to their community, they had been forgotten about. Now they were celebrating a flourishing Catholic community as well as the first mass celebrated in their first church.

On June 1, 2016 Joseph Summers, director of Family Missions Company, called us to ask if we could become the community leaders for all of the FMC missionaries in Peru. The family that had been community leaders asked to step down and he felt that we could handle the challenges of the new role as well as to continue with our regular missionary activity. We both thought we did not want to do this. We enjoyed our missionary life as it was but we took the question to the Lord in prayer. Both of us felt that the Lord was asking us to say yes to this new responsibility. We found peace in the decision and we accepted the new role. We quickly transitioned into the role at the request of Joseph. At that moment our mission changed slightly. Our mission field was no longer just the local people we had come to serve but we felt the Lord calling us to also minister to our fellow missionaries.

The next few weeks we were busy trying to manage our new responsibilities with our old ones. We determined that we needed to revise our schedule. In our new schedule we wanted to include more prayer time. We penciled in more individual prayer time as well as family prayer time because we know that with all the new responsibilities we needed to rely on the Lord even more.

June 23 brought the first baptisms to the community Nuevo Control of Bombonajillo Valley. Padre Leopoldo celebrated the mass in the humble carpenter's shop where the people gather to learn about Jesus through our classes as well as to celebrate the Liturgy of the Word on Sunday's. We were honored to be there to celebrate the first mass in their community. Our friends Rafael and Exhilda were so excited to open their home and his workshop for the community. Padre, the Salesian sisters, and us were so blessed to share a meal with them on this joyous day.

July brought more consistency for Team Peru as well as for our family. Our schedule was a big help in bringing this consistency especially for our children. Taylor and Max once again went back to the far pueblos in the Bombonajillo Valley along with a visiting nurse and another single woman missionary. There they were blessed to find that a woman who they had prayed over had been healed of her flesh eating disease. Her foot not only was healed from the disease but she also had full range of motion and feeling through all of the scar tissue. The nurse determined that all of this should not have been possible. She should have died from the illness. The only thought that came to our mind was your faith has healed you.

In August Taylor and Max once again headed back to the far pueblos in the Bombonajillo Valley. This time they ran into a problem. As soon as they arrived a rainstorm did too. For five days it rained and they couldn't leave. Eventually they determined that if they didn't leave during the next break in the storm they could be stuck for a month. They left at the next opportunity but their journey home was not a walk in the park due to all of the mud. It took nine hours for them to return home much of that time was spent removing the mud from their tires but they made it.

Taylor also had the opportunity of meeting with Bishop Rafael to discuss our mission and ministries, our desires to form missionary disciples, the possibility of having a missionary training facility here, and also our desire to form local people as communion ministers. Bishop Rafael was so kind to make the time to speak with Taylor. Taylor was very blessed by his conversation with him. Bishop Rafael said that he has been very pleased with what we have been doing. He was in agreement with our desire to form missionary disciples and also for having a missionary training facility here in the future. He also has seen the need to form local communion ministers. We presented him with our three year formation plan and he approved it.

September brought us the opportunity to celebrate with us once again in Nuevo Chimbote. This time we were able to celebrate the first wedding mass in their community.

In the weeks leading up to the wedding our friends, Lider and Dolly, shared their testimony with us. Lider confessed that when we first came to town in June 2015 he was a town drunk. He drank away their money and he fought with Dolly all the time. He initially only came to see the gringos. He didn't want a relationship Jesus and he definitely didn't want to change. Taylor mistakenly assumed that Lider was the animador because he didn't realize that his name was actually Lider. This forced Lider into participating in our bible studies and our liturgy of the Word services. Week by week he came and slowly God's Word and mercy penetrated his heart. Over time he drank less until he didn't drink at all. He started studying the catechesis books and reading his Bible everyday. He fought with Dolly less and he started to be a father. He found what he was missing in Jesus and he desired to change. Dolly initially was skeptical of Lider's change. She didn't believe it because they had been living together for so long. She started coming to the Bible studies to see what they were about and slowly the Lord took her heart as well. It was then that they both desired marriage and for all three of their children to enter the church as well. Lider and Dolly still have struggles in their life but they now know that the Lord is there with them through it all.

The beginning of October was very sad as we prepared to say goodbye to Padre Leopoldo. He had completed his four year commitment and his Bishop in C├│rdoba had assigned him to a parish there. We tried to spend as much time with him as possible. Our whole family were touched by his love for the people and especially for us. We will miss him terribly.

We also had the privilege of celebrating in a big way with our pueblo in which we live. This year Padre Paco celebrated eight weddings in Caspizapa. Many of the couples were our friends. It has been an amazing journey with them. We were so excited to welcome them fully into the church and they were so excited to finally be able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.

On October 14, 2016 our mission took an unexpected turn. Taylor had chest pains. We were very concerned since he had never experienced this before. Our teammates watched the children so we could focus on Taylor. We travelled to the closest clinic in Tarapoto for answers but all we got were more questions. Taylor spent the next week and a half visiting clinics and seeing doctors to determine what was wrong with him. It was also during this time that Katie found out she was expecting another baby. Initially the doctors diagnosed him with hypertension but through further testing they found that he needed to have surgery to remove his gallbladder. Unfortunately we would have to wait a month to ensure that there was no problem with his heart.

On November 14 Taylor had his gallbladder removed. It was an eyeopener for our family as we have only experienced medical care in the United States. The surgeon explained that Taylor's gallbladder was poisoning his body and it was very good that he had it removed when he did. It was determined that Taylor's hypertension was a symptom of his gallbladder problems. Since the surgery he has not had any more problems with his heart.

Taylor was told that he would need six weeks of rest before he could return to normal activities. This was very difficult for Taylor once he was able to take the hour and a half journey back home. He desired to continue his ministries and to play with his children. It was very hard for him to lay in bed and rest. As a result an infection started in the site of his sutures. We found out from many of our friends that the best place to rest is on the coast because the humidity and temperature in the jungle was a breeding ground for infection. Through prayer we determined that we would travel to the coast and spend three weeks in Trujillo. We were hoping this would give Taylor enough time to recuperate and our family to pray about the upcoming year.

During our time in Trujillo Taylor spent his time reading, praying and resting. The children and Katie did their best to occupy their time each day. It was during this time that we heard the Lord asking us to return to the States to deliver our baby. Katie has a bleeding disorder that requires special medicine after she delivers a baby. We also learned that it is incredibly difficult for foreigners to receive the baby's Peruvian passport in a timely manner. We learned that if we gave birth to our baby in Peru we would not be able to return to the States for the wedding of Taylor's sister.

As we prayed about returning to the States we felt that it was the Lord's desire for our family. This we not our desire though. We felt spiritually at peace but our desires were different from the Lord. We knew then that we would follow the Lord even though it made no sense to us. He has a plan so we will follow.

We will be returning to the States on April 19, 2017 when Katie is 30 weeks pregnant. We  have purchased our return tickets to Peru for September 12, 2017. We will be in the States for just under 150 days. It is our desire to pursue ministries to participate in while we are there.

Please continue to pray for us. Our next few months are incredibly busy preparing the rest of our fellow missionaries before we leave. We will also be blessed again to have our friends from Holy Family Parish Brillion here to build another chapel.


In the Love of Jesus,
Taylor and Katie Schmidt
Malachi, Ruth, Leo, Anthony, Faustina, Adele

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Flood of Tears

This weekend I experienced a flood of tears. A really big flood of tears. They actually followed me along the way.

On Friday we started to tell our friends that we will be moving. Padre Paco had asked us at the end of last year to pray about moving to another pueblo. When we first moved to Caspizapa we committed to living and working here for two years. Our two years will be complete in April. We can't believe it. It seems like only yesterday we moved here and started our missionary work.

Padre Paco asked us to pray about moving to the pueblo of Buenos Aires. This pueblo is on the other end of the zone of Picota. See map below. The pueblo of Buenos Aires is in need of missionaries to teach them how to have a relationship with Jesus. We will also have the responsibility of working with sixteen pueblos that are part of two valleys in the zone of Buenos Aires.
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When we went to the Lord in prayer we were conflicted. We love Caspizapa. We have friends here. Our children have friends here and we have ministries. Moving to Buenos Aires would mean that we would have to give all of that up once again. We would have to start fresh. The thought of leaving was painful. It also means that we will be turning over our current ministries to our fellow missionaries or to the people. We have loved our ministries. We have enjoyed our time in the other pueblos and we have also found friends there. Is the Lord asking us to give this all up once again?

Yes. We could hear the Lord asking us to once again give up our friends and family to follow Him. He called us to bring the Good News to those most in need. The people most in need now are elsewhere. It is time to say goodbye and to follow His plans.

Saying goodbye is never easy. It most often ends in tears. Well for me it does.
Ruth's friends Joany and Ivon are in the upper left. Charo is sitting in the middle of the picture in the upper right.

We decided to start with the first person in Caspizapa that understood us and offered to help- Charo. We have employed Charo since we have been here. She washes our clothes twice a week. Our relationship has grown to friendship. We watch out for one another and we enjoy taking time to just sit and talk. I knew this conversation was going to be difficult and I was dreading it.

It was really hard to sit and make small talk for Taylor and I. Charo knew something was up because we were not our normal cheerful selves. That was when we broke the news to her. It broke my heart to say the words. Charo grabbed me and we sobbed in eachother's arms. We just sobbed and the. She told her daughter Ivon. Ivon immediately grabbed me and sobbed too. Both said that they loved us and they didn't want us to leave. After we were done sobbing Taylor and I explained why we were moving. Charo understood that we needed to move. She agreed that the pueblo we were moving to was in more need and that the faith here was alive. She made us promise to visit and she offered to come to Buenos Aires to once a week to continue to wash our clothes.
Dilmer and Adela on their wedding day.

We decided it was best to continue telling our friends instead of putting it off any longer. We made our way to Dilmer and Adela's house. They welcomed us into their home as always. It was then that we broke them the news. They too were shocked and saddened that we were moving. They didn't want to hear it. Adela said "No you can't." As we explained why they understood but they still didn't like it. We explained that it was our choice and no one was forcing us into it. Again they understood but they didn't like it. As we talked they decided we would have to visit and they were going to visit us. We absolutely agreed this was possible since we are not moving to a different country. By the end of the conversation they were still upset but understood that this is our call.
Lleri and her husband Martin on their wedding day.

Lleri was the next person we talked with. She heard us but it took a few minutes for the words to sink in. Once it all registered she was concerned and sad. She was going to miss Adele and Faustina. Her family has adopted us and we are going through miss them. She knows of a good family that lives in Buenos Aires that can take care of us. She wants to make sure that we are not without family.

The last person we spoke with that night was Marta. Our amazing animador who has been such a blessing to work with.  We have been prepping her for the possibility of our moving for months now. The news was still a shock for her though. Just like Lleri it took awhile to sink in but when it did she started to cry. What are we going to do? Can you still help? Will you visit ever? Question after question through tears. Praise the Lord I can understand Spanish now because tears make it more difficult.

We have found comfort in moving through Jesus's teachings in Matthew.

Jesus said in Matthew 8:20, " Jesus answered him, 'Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head."' Our Savior has also called us not to put down roots and to be prepared to go when He calls.

Jesus said in Matthew 10:37-38, "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." Jesus has asked us to love Him more than anyone or anything. He has also asked us to follow Him. He asked us to carry our struggles, joys, and sorrows and to go where He leads. Without even knowing the way or the reason. All the faithful are asked to do this.

Jesus said in Matthew 19:29, "And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and inherit eternal life." We have left our family and friends in the States and the Lord has given us more here in Peru. We know that no matter where He calls us He will give us the friends and family that we need.



Friday, January 20, 2017

Leanor's Great Faith

Last year I was introduced to Leanor for the first time. I only knew her in passing. She was the lady who sat on the corner of our street watching the days action pass by. Much like my grandfather had done when he was alive.

I was not fully introduced to her until one day when her great-great niece Ivis came to our door asking for me to visit her. Leanor was not feeling well and she could no longer leave her bed. I went and prayed with the children who are always at our house. We prayed for Leanor and for her family. I knew instantly when I walked in that she was near death.

When I returned home I called Padre Paco and asked him to come and administer the Anointing of the Sick. That evening Padre Paco came after mass to administer the sacrament.

When we entered the room you could sense the sadness from Leanor's family. As Padre Paco started preparing to administer the sacrament he asked her family for more information about her. Leanor was 95 years old and the only sacrament she received was baptism. Her husband had been dead for over twenty years. At that Padre Paco asked Leanor if she would like to receive Jesus' body in the Eucharist. She nodded her head. After a short lesson on the Eucharist and the sacrament of confirmation Padre gladly confirmed her and gave her her First Communion. He then administered the Anointing of the Sick. He encouraged her to continue to pray and to trust in Jesus. He kissed her head and left.

It was a week later that I returned with Communion. Leanor looked much better and by the next week she was back to sitting out front of her house watching the day past by. The Lord had healed her!

At the beginning of the year Leanor was in the hospital. Her body was shutting down. She couldn't eat or drink. She couldn't move or talk. All of her fingers and toes were incredibly swollen and blood was starting to pool on the back of her legs and arms. The doctors determined there was nothing left for them to do so two weeks ago they sent her home to die.

When she returned home her family asked if Padre could once again anoint her. Unfortunately he was on a retreat with the Bishop and he wouldn't be returning for a week. We offered to bring her Communion and to pray for her. That night after our Holy Hour we brought her Communion. Being that she couldn't eat or drink we brought her a tiny piece of out Lord. Through the grace of God she was able to consume him. During the prayers her family was crying. As we left we reminded her that she had just received Jesus and that she should continue to trust in Him. She should trust that He is either going to call her home to be with Him or that He is going to heal her. As we hugged her we told her we would be back.

The following week Padre Paco was able to once again come to administer the Anointing of the Sick. As soon as we stepped in the house I knew something was different. Her children were filled with joy and they were smiling. When we walked into Leanor's room she was sitting up and talking. She was so excited to see Padre Paco. She joyously replied yes when he asked if she wanted to receive Jesus.

God has healed her twice now. Many people have commented that she must still be around because she did something wrong. On the contrary, we know from the Bible that God blesses some of His faithful with long lives. He has chosen to heal Leanor to remind our pueblo that God still works miracles. He has also shown our town the power and graces of the sacraments. He also shows them how He works through those with incredible faith. How many countless times did our Savior say "Your faith has healed you?"

Friday, January 6, 2017

Ugly Evangelization

The Ugly Side of Evangelization


In this missionary life we love to share the glory stories and the happy times but sometimes there is no glory story, sometimes we just have a story of ugly evangelization. The mission in which we work has zones that have been without the presence of the church, without the presence of the Gospel and without the message of Mercy. When we come into these rare places what we often find is not beautiful but indeed very ugly, saturated in sin and to some without any hope.  For this reason I think they persist in this state because those who come to them, many times from the Church, look at them and say to them this is too ugly. There is no hope here and they move on to another place. They are passed over year after year, and their souls are ever longing for the mercy of Jesus to come to them.  Yet as the years pass they fall further and further into the pit of sin and despair with a lack of Jesus in their life. 

Now one could ask, Taylor how bad could it really be?  Well in one such town many of the people are living in polygamous homes, with many cases of normalized rape and incest. For me what was worse was they had no hope of salvation. When we first arrived they asked us not to waste our time with them. They told us they couldn't have a Christian community in their town because of their sin. After listening and getting to know them over the next couple of months we came to understand why they would say such a thing and why so many before us just moved on.  Their stories were filled with abuse and neglect, they were sad, ugly and I too thought of running away like so many have.  How do you find resolution to mend lives that are so twisted?  How do you bring people into the light that have been in the dark for so long?  There is only one answer… the Mercy of Jesus!  


So we started with the Kerygma, which is Salvation History 101. After hearing this a little spark of light appeared in the darkness and they wanted this Jesus and His Love. This Love was unlike the love they have known and they were very skeptical that they could receive it. They desired to know more and how they can be apart of this Love. 

As we studied they got more and more excited. It was then that they asked about the sacraments. It was during our classes on preparing for the sacraments that again things get a little ugly.  The norm here is that when adults come into the church they receive all of the sacraments they are missing in one day together (It could be a combination of any of the sacraments- baptism, first communion, first reconciliation, confirmation and marriage), but in the room most of the couples then asked, Who do I marry? You see in this room most couples were one man and two wives, both of whom have children with him and depend on him finically. So the discussion that followed moved to a brief and intense class on the Theology of the Body for beginners. By the end the wives were crying and very happy having heard about true love for the first time and the men were very angry and for a moment I did fear my well being.  Although this was a great moment for this community of new believers, it didn't make this easier but in fact just a lot more complex. Now all of these women want to enter the church and in full communion with God, but they all share a husband. The reality is like I stated in the beginning this is an ugly situation and to this day there is no good answer; just that they now have the message of Mercy, the Word of God and the never ending TRUE LOVE of Jesus (that they have always had but now can see).  

There is no magic button or perfect ending because there is an ugliness to sin and the longer we live in it the messier it is, but Jesus came, died and was raised from the dead for ALL.  NOW its our job to get down in the gutter and do some ugly evangelization with the people who others think are too far gone.  Bring them the message of Mercy and the Hope of Jesus Christ today!