Monday, January 22, 2018

Mussels, toads, and cockroaches

  These are what we found in our cement water tank. All I have to say is I am thankful to have boys who don't mind any of them. If I was in there I would have been making all kinds of yips at any sign of movement.

Living in Peru has changed my idea of some things this includes what is my idea of clean water. Buenos Aires has been working on a water project since we arrived here in September. The goal of the project is to make running water available to every home. This meant that any water service the town had been receiving was cancelled.

 It was our understanding the town pumped water to the homes once a day for three hours. The water was pumped directly from the Huallaga River. The river is brown and at times it smells worse than others.

Since the water service was cancelled we have been paying men to bring barrels of water from the river to our house. They fill our bottom tank with the river water. We add bleach and let the water sit a day before pumping it to the top to let it settle.

In anticipation for a trial run of the new water system Taylor and the boys decided to clean out our bottom tank. Taylor was too tall for the job so the boys joyfully climbed in the tank. Taylor lowered a bucket tied to a rope down and the boys
filled the bucket with the remaining water but also the thick layer of sticky mud that was on the bottom. The boys scooped up the mud with cups and their hands. When they finished with the mud they mopped up the rest of the bottom with bleach and rain water. We use rain water because it really is our only source of "clean" water beside our drinking water.

When it was all said and done they bottom was more visible and a little less brown. All of them were proud of their hard work and went down to river to wash off the mud before taking a shower.

The town turned on the water system for a trial run. We all anxiously waited by the tank to see if the town pipes were properly installed. Then the water started pouring in. Brown, dirty water. We all just laughed. The water system is in place but the filtering system is not connected yet. That should be installed over the next few months. There is talk that the water will be potable when it passes through the filtration system. When it is time for the clean water to come in we will have to clean out the bottom tank again. At least it shouldn't be as dirty. Hopefully the boys won't find mussels, toads and cockroaches again.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Church #3

Taylor sharing a little about our friends and Our Lady of Good Help.
 Last year our friends from Holy Family Parish in Brillion WI came to Peru again. They came to work on some projects and also to be with the poor. One of the projects they raised money for was to build a church in Santo Tomas. The group did not have an opportunity to work on the physical church while they were here.

On December 24 Padre Paco had the privilege of celebrating the first mass in the new church. What a beautiful way to celebrate the birth of Christ than to have mass for the fourth week of advent.
Getting ready for the ribbon cutting. The community
put up a giant tarp outside to give us shade.
 We are excited to have an opportunity to work with the people of Santo Tomas. We learned when Padre asked during mass that most of the catholic community are without their sacraments. We spoke with the animador, local church leader, after mass. She is new to the role and is excited to have our help.

We are hoping to visit their pueblo every other week to evangelize, catechize, and train Rosario in her new role.

We want to thank everyone who donated to build this church in late 2016 and beginning of 2017. This would not have been possible without you!!

The windows depict Saint Martin de Porres- left, Our Lady of Good Help- right, Saint Rose of Lima- center, and the Holy Spirit- small circle

Faustina found refuge from the hot sun. What better place than a church?

Very interesting brick work
Some of the teens from Buenos Aires joined us for mass. They helped lead
hymns for mass. 

Customary after mass photo with Padre Paco

Monday, January 8, 2018

Película, Panetón, and Pop

Getting creative with popsicle sticks and Christmas cards.
Christmas is such an exciting time of year for us. We absolutely love sharing the Good News of the birth of Christ.

Christmas also ends up being our busiest time as missionaries. This is because there are less customs to prepare for Christmas than there are for lent and Easter.

 We have also found that the people have very little knowledge of the Birth of Jesus. Part of the reason for this is that the area in which we live and work is still very very young in the faith. There has only been priests living in this zone for ten years. Occasionally a missionary priest would travel through the area but much of the zone was not evangelized let alone catechized. Still after ten years not everyone has been reached. Our zone covers 132 pueblos. Some of which involve a few days journey to reach and many can not be reached during the rainy season. This is the reason we are here, to evangelize those who have not been reached by the two priests in whom we work under.
Painting the popsicle stick frames.

The finished products
The finished products.
 During Advent and Christmas we take the time to focus on the upcoming birth of our Savior. Taylor so beautifully summed it up during one of his many talks and studies "Advent is a time of preparation. Why? Because baby Jesus is coming. We need to prepare a place for Him in our hearts just as we prepare a place for our new children in our homes. We take the time to create a safe space for a new child when there are other young children in the home. We make sure the baby has some clothes, a blanket to keep them warm, diapers, and eventually we will need food for that child. With the same love and care we should be readying ourselves for the upcoming birth of Jesus Christ. This is the time to look at our lives to see if Jesus will be sustained in us. Do we need to purge some not good habits? Do I need to take on more prayer in my daily life? How am I going to feed my faith? We should take this time during Advent to evaluate our faith life and see where we need to grow. Do we read the Bible daily? No. Then now is the time to start reading five minutes a day. Do I pray during my week outside of the Sunday Liturgy of the Word? No. Then add one hour of prayer during your week. If you already pray an extra hour during the week then add another. Prepare yourself to receive baby Jesus. He IS coming. Are you ready?"

The week leading up to Christmas is always very busy. It brings a joyful exhaustion! During this week we spend our days traveling to our pueblos with fruitcake, soda, and the movie 'The Nativity Story.' We start the class by asking the children what Christmas is all about. The responses vary between Santa Claus, fruitcake, presents and toys. We were surprised that none of the children even mentioned Jesus (We are in a new zone that needs to be evangelized). Malachi and Ruth then shared the birth of Christ. We asked each of the youth to try to find the important people in the movie. It is always exciting to hear the whispers as this story comes to life right before their eyes. At the end of the movie we then ask again why do we celebrate Christmas. Everyone can answer and they then understand why they receive gifts in memory of Christmas.
We spent the week leading up to Christmas traveling to our new pueblos.
We took this opportunity to teach the youth what Christmas is truly about
using the movie 'The Nativity Story', fruitcake and soda.

This makes everything worth it. This is why we do it. As hard as it is to be away from family and friends especially during holidays we are thankful to be here serving the Lord in this manner! ~Katie
Our nativity was a little battered here in Buenos Aires. So I decided to
restore the pieces as best as I could. They turned out so nice. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Taylor's New Year's Eve Reflection

On this the last day of 2017 I would like to challenge us all in this new year to see people for what they are sons and daughters of God the father, saved and redeemed by Christ Jesus. Not liberal or conservative, white or black, enemy or friend, poor or rich, one religious flavor or another. If we make an effort to stop and listen in order to truly understand the other we may still not agree but we can sympathize and love the other for there true nature. That is child of God, because if Jesus can love you for who you are and how you are with all of your sins and good deeds you have lived in this year can we not extended that same mercy to others who are like us trying to make our way through this unforgiving world to find the love of a merciful Lord. So tonight at your new years party go find the person you normally avoid and only ask them questions and do not respond with advise or opinion just kindness. You may just find if you truly listen, not listen to respond but listen to understand, that we are not all that different. We are just all lost children trying our best to find our way. So for this year I say patience,gentleness and kindness because understanding is better then winning. 
Happy New Year and The blessings of the child Jesus be with you

Thursday, November 16, 2017

I Love a Rainy Night Update

Bags of the items we collected in Buenos Aires
It has been two weeks since the awful disaster of mudslides and flooding that struck Tres Unidos and Shamboyacu. Fourteen days of hard work with days that have brought more rain to already beaten down communities.

The first few days following November 2nd were long and exhausting. Taylor left early every morning and returned home after dark each evening. His goal each day was to bring hope to the people who had lost everything. He did this by bringing the love of Christ with him. He took the time to listen teach person's story and prayed with them. He also brought in things that were desperately needed water, food, clothes and even a tent for a family who lossed their home.

Hygiene bags for families
November 3rd Taylor helped organise a truck to bring in drinking water and food to the community. He also went around asking what else the people needed. Taylor also asked the community in which we live to help support the flood victims. There was overwhelming support from the people of Buenos Aires. Throughout the whole day on Friday people knocked at our door bringing donations of food, clothes, shoes, blankets, jackets and cooking supplies. I was so touched by the generosity of our community.

A few people I spoke with explained why it was so easy to help. They said it could have been them in need and they would want someone to be generous and help. They also explained the great fear they all have whenever the rains come. One woman shared how fear overtakes her whenever she sees clouds forming in the sky. She said the only thing more terrifying is the sound of rain at night. Not knowing if this rain will be enough to bring a flood crashing through her door at 2:00am. Can you imagine living in this constant fear?
Our youth group from Buenos Aires and the donations.

That evening five members of our youth group came to our house to sort through the items collected. We wanted to separate the clothes into their proper category before arriving the next day. We also wanted to make sure that only the clothes free of holes and stains made it to Tres Unidos. How many items do you think we needed to discard? Just ten items. Only ten of the hundreds we received were not in the condition to be donated. Incredible. The people of Buenos Aires gave the best to the poor.

Taylor and the youth had to walk across this tree to get to Pairiso
One of the young men sorting through the clothes spoke up. "This is mine" he said as he laid his own clothes on the piles to be brought to Tres Unidos. What a testament and what a beautiful sight.

On November 4th Taylor and twelve teenagers from our youth group brought the donations we had gathered. In one day our pueblo of Buenos Aires was able to fill a truck which also included ziploc baggies filled with personal hygiene products to be given out to families.

The youth were excited to help not knowing what to expect. For many of the youth this was going to be their mission trip let alone their first time out of the district of Buenos Aires. What the youth found in Tres Unidos was something none of them had seen before. As they pulled into town they came across the house of a family that had six feet of water running through it when the flooding hit. That water took everything they owned but Praise be to God they were able to get to safety before it happened. In the streets everyone had what ever belongings they had left strung out on lines to dry. Somber dirty faces.

The view as they were hiking to Pairiso
Half of the youth group stayed in Tres Unidos to hand out the donations they brought as well as to pray with people with some fellow missionaries. The other half left Tres Unidos with Taylor in an effort to get to the man who had lost his family. This man lives in the pueblo of Pairiso which is an hour drive from Tres Unidos. The bridge leading from Tres Unidos was washed away in the flood. Thankfully the river was low enough that they could drive through it to get to the other side. The drive to Pairiso was uneventful but the moment they arrived to their destination another mudslide hit. Taylor had a split second decision to make- Do they abandon their mission to Paraiso and raise the mudslide down the mountain to cross the river again before it gets to Tres Unidos? or Do they continue on as planned and just trust that God will work everything out?

The mudslide rushing in

Taylor decided to continue on with the plan in search of the man who lost his family. This man was on the family farm higher up the mountain when the disaster struck. He learned his parents, his wife, and their two children died when he returned to Pairiso. As you can imagine he was devastated. They were able to locate the man where his house once stood. Nothing was there except two rocks laid to mark the graves of his family. The youth group sang to this man and prayed with him. Taylor embraced him and tried to bring him the hope of Jesus Christ. Trying to console someone who had lost every earthly possession is extremely hard. What do you say to someone who has only his life and the clothes on his back? Without the Holy Spirit there is nothing you can offer him. The Holy Spirit gave Taylor the message He wanted the man to hear.

The return trip was much more difficult because of the new mudslide but it was all worth it! Being able to bring a little comfort to a suffering man made all the struggles seem so easy.
This is where the house stood in Pairiso. The two stones on the bottom right mark the grave
of the people who died during the mudslide.

Please continue to pray for the people of Tres Unidos and Pairiso. There is still a lot of work ahead to rebuilding their lives. It will take many months especially now that we have entered the rainy season two months early. The community of Tres Unidos will need to rebuild their church as well. Please pray that the help and support they need will come. Our hope is to continue to journey with the people over these upcoming months since there are no missionaries currently living in that zone.

If you feel called to help support these people you can do so here.


The people of Tres Unidos trying to dry whatever they had left.

Padre Francisco celebrated mass in the plaza of Tres Unidos on November 5th
because the church needs to be taken down due to a missing wall.

The river crossing before the mudslide. 

A house frame is the only thing left standing.
The special forces arrived to help bring supplies and to rescue people.

The waterline on the house is where the dark brown meets the light brown.
It is over the door at about six feet.

Part of the missing wall in the church in Tres Unidos

More rain coming in
Hiking back to the truck

The youth handing out donations to the people of Pairiso.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

I Love a Rainy Night

Rainy Nights. The cool breeze and the soothing sound of rain drops on the roof normally sends me to sleep. The sound of rain is a welcomed sound in our house. Living without clean water is hard and something that our family has become accustomed to. We have safe drinking water Praise God but we do not have access to clean water to bathe in. Our family has come to depend on the rain! Typically at the sound of rain there are screams of joy heard throughout the house. Whatever we were working on comes to a complete stop and everyone runs to their station to help collect the rain water. Once we have filled all of our buckets and garbage cans we all change into our swimsuits to bathe.

Last night around 1:00am the rain started to fall. Taylor and I both awoke to the sound. Quickly Taylor ran outside to position our buckets to collect the rain. We both dozed back off to sleep happily knowing that in a few hours when we awoke once again we would have plenty of water for awhile. Joyously we went about our morning praising God for hearing our prayers and for providing the rain for our pueblo.

That joy soon ended when we received word of the utter disaster some nearby pueblos were in. The rain that was a godsend for us destroyed houses, hopes, dreams, and lives of others.

The zone of Tres Unidos is where the single men missionaries have been living over the past three years. Tres Unidos and their alturas, mountain villages, were hit hard by the rainstorm. We were told that the rains caused mudslides in the upper pueblos and traveled down the mountain. At the same time the river next to Tres Unidos grew and swelled beyond the banks. The river swept through town in the middle of the night taking houses, animals and belongings along with it. What it left behind was mud and tears. The community is grieving the loss of things and hope. But praise the Lord no one lost their life there.

Unfortunately that was not the case for many other communities. The community of Paraíso suffered a lot including the loss of a family of five. It is believed that over the next few days more people will be found dead or severely injured.

Currently no one is able to reach any of the communities beyond Tres Unidos due to the fact that both bridges were washed out. The president sent in the military today to rebuild the bridges and to search for the deceased. The hope is one of the bridges will be complete tomorrow so the missionaries can go in and access what is needed in each of the pueblos.

What do the people need right now?
 Prayers! They lost everything. They have lost their hope amongst all of their possessions. 

Food and clean drinking water. Taylor and the Carmody family spent the day bringing in food and clean drinking water to everyone that needed it. Tomorrow they will be returning to bring in more food and drinking water. They will also be taking the time to pray with the people and remind them that God is there with them amongst their sorrow.

What will the people need over the next few weeks?

More Prayers! It will take time to heal from this and to rebuild. They will need many prayers to help them see the good in all the sorrow and also to help them see the need of everyone around them.

Medical Supplies and medicine will be needed over the coming weeks. There is a good chance that the people will get sick from contaminated water. Many people have outhouses and when the water rushes through town it takes the sewage with it contaminating everything. 

Clothing, shoes, and school supplies. Families lost all of their possessions. We will be bringing in all of the clothing that our friends from Holy Family Parish gave us. This will help many people but there is a chance it will not be enough.

Bibles. We will be bringing in Bibles again since many people lost their Bible.

A new church. Unfortunately the church in Tres Unidos was damaged beyond repair. The mudslides took out one of the walls supporting the church. Since then the church has been slowly collapsing all day. We will need to take down the church for the safety of the community.
Cleaning out the church. 

Please consider donating to help with the flood relief for these communities. You can do so by following this link Please write in the comments box "flood relief." We will be updating you all as we know more.

Please pray for Taylor and our fellow missionaries as they help with the disaster relief efforts. Please pray that God will protect them from any illnesses that they might come in contact with.
~ Katie

Sunday, October 15, 2017

And we are back

Wow it has been some time since we have blogged. Sorry about that but we figured blogging while we were in the states would have been pretty boring.

We returned to the states in April to wait for the upcoming birth of our latest child. We had to return by the 30th week of pregnancy due to flying restrictions here in Peru. We spent the first few weeks visiting doctors as well as taking some time together as a family. On June 26 we welcomed our newest child into the world. María Araceli was born without complications and has been an absolute joy for our whole family. We were not sure how the twins would handle a new baby but they love her!

We returned to Peru on September 12th. You might be asking why wait so long. Well we had to wait for María's passport and we did not want to miss the wedding of Taylor's sister Anna. She was married to her husband on September 8th. Please pray for Anna and Steven as they adjust to married life!

Since returning to Peru we have kept busy. In all honesty we hit the ground running. A few days after we landed we led a marriage retreat for engaged couples among many other classes. We also moved to a new town 20 miles from our previous mission. Our new town is called Buenos Aires. It was named this by a priest who was passing through from Argentina. Along with working within the pueblo of Buenos Aires we have also been given charge of the two valleys that are part of the zone. The valleys have sixteen pueblos between them with eight of them yet to be evangelized. We are excited to begin bringing the saving message of Jesus Christ to the people.
María Araceli