Sunday, December 30, 2018

Why so many pictures of hot chocolate and fruitcake?

We have been posting quite a few pictures of people drinking hot chocolate and eating fruit cake this past advent season leading up to Christmas. Some people have asked why is it that we are drinking hot chocolate in 90+ degree weather. That is a very valid question and sometimes we wonder why we enjoy drinking it when it is so hot as well. Some other people can't believe we are serving fruitcake to children.

For the record it isn't too bad, but it is definitely not my grandmother's fruitcake. I am one of those people who enjoy fruitcake. I especially loved the Christmas season because my Grandma Jane would make fruitcake with my godmother LeAnn. It was so moist and delicious and I always looked forward to eating it. Oh how I miss my grandma and her fruitcake!!!

Sorry I got sidetracked. The answer to these questions is simple. We do it out of love! Love for Jesus and love for the people we have come to know over this past year.

You see we work in the zone of Buenos Aires. This zone or district has 17 pueblos in it. Only a handful of these pueblos have been somewhat evangelized. The majority have not. The reason is simple for these pueblos going unevangelized is because the two valley roads are a nightmare to travel on especially when it is raining. Just ask Monica or Tony, Taylor's parents, they would be more than happy to share their experience with you.(Or read their blog post here)

Recently one of the valley roads has been recut through the mountain and it has been improved by putting gravel down. Surprisingly this has been a huge help. This gravel road takes us to the town of Mirador from there we then have to travel either by foot or with our horses and mules to the other towns further in. We have to travel four hours one way to reach one pueblo. This is the real reason why the towns have not been evangelized.

When we started visiting and ministering to all of these forgotten or unknown towns we learned that no one has visited them. We also learned very few people have baptism because the only time they have had baptism is when the families walk to Mirador. We also learned that the children and many of the adults have never her the birth of Jesus and the town does not have any Christmas traditions.

We wanted to help the people change that. We wanted to help the people start a real Christ centered Christmas tradition. From there came the hot chocolate and the fruitcake.

Hot chocolate is a very special treat. You see the town comes together to make the hot chocolate. Everyone contributes what they can. If someone in town has milking cows that person donates the milk, this is a sacrifice because that person will not receive pay that day. If someone has cacao, this is the bean chocolate is made from, a person will donate that. This is another sacrifice because the price for cacao is high. Other people will contribute sugar and clean water as well as flour. If the town does not have fresh milk or cacao the people will buy canned milk and chocolate bars.

You might be wondering why we would ask the people to sacrifice in this way. We explain that as a faith community they can come together and through their community they can help each other through prayer but also through action. In the beginning the families are skeptical that they will be able to handle making it by themselves, but as each family brings their collaboration they start to see the end result they desire is within reach. Then their spirits are lifted and everyone joyfully prepares the chocolate. It is after the chocolatada that the faith community starts to take ownership of their faith and it helps unify them together.

Fruitcake is a special treat that is only available during advent and Christmas here in Peru. It is sold in many stores but many people in the far villages have never had the opportunity to share this with their family because of the cost. It costs $6.00 for one fruitcake. This fruitcake can be divided into ten generous pieces. The average daily wage for a person is $7.00. This is the reason why most people are unable to purchase one.

When we said we would supply the fruitcake for the pueblo and also bring a movie the people were so excited. Not only would we all be drinking delicious hot chocolate a rare and special drink, but many children would have the opportunity to eat fruitcake for the first time.

When we arrive to town on our animals carrying a box full of fruitcake the kids are always excited. Then we setup a white sheet and our projector and the rest of the town gets super excited because they get the experience of a movie theatre as well.

It is during this event where we get to talk about the real meaning of Christmas. I really enjoy watching our friends reactions to seeing the Birth of Jesus for the first time. I love hearing them compare their lives with the lives of Mary and Joseph. I love how after Elizabeth gives birth and the women in the movie are celebrating my friends also celebrate in the same way with them.

I also get to experience the newness of this story all over again. The amazement that Jesus is man and He has shared in all of our experiences or joys and our sorrows. The beauty of Mary's yes without doubt. The self-sacrificing love of Joseph. God's never-ending love for man through his sacrifice of his beloved son. And what a true family is reflected through Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

I hope that this blog answered the questions you might have had regarding our hot chocolate and fruitcake pictures. If not please reach out so I can explain a little more in a future post. ~Katie

Friday, December 21, 2018

A nice breath of fresh air

When we decided to make the change to become missionaries as Servants of the Good Help we felt it necessary to define ourselves as a missionary family. Which means that if our whole family of nine are not invited to participate in a ministry or event we will kindly decline.

This new outlook on missions made us reevaluate how we have been evangelizing. There were many times prior to our change in April where Taylor and a friend, usually Max, would travel hours to minister to villages deeper in the jungle over a three day weekend. The rest of the family would be left at home to carry on with our daily activities and ministries by ourselves. After looking at this we realised just how un-family mission activity this actually was.

That is when we decided to approach missions from a different point of view. We decided to try to go out to the far pueblos as our whole family as crazy as that sounds. We packed up the truck and drove an hour to the end of the gravel road. Once there we learned of quite a few more pueblos that can be reached by hiking. It was then that we decided to try to make the hike with everyone in tow. 

This is a picture from the beginning of our first ever hike to Nuevo Chachapoyas.
Needless to say our first hike was not glorious or for that matter pretty. There was a lot of crying, tantrums and complaining but we made the hour long hike to Nuevo Chachapoyas. And you know what, the people didn't care that the kids were crying and we were exhausted. They were just happy to have us in their town. In actuality that first trip was just to coordinate for our second trip back. 

I have to admit that the hike back to Mirador would have been a lot more ugly had the town people not shown us the short cut along a mountain ridge on the way back. There was still way too much complaining and crying, this time from me as well because I didn't wear boots and there was a lot of yucky stinky black mud on this trail. 

When we made it back to town we all shouted for joy. We had just completed our first mountain evangelization hike. Who would have thought we would have completed sixteen more mountain hikes since then? In all actuality we have made hikes to Nuevo Chachapoyas eight of those sixteen times. Our other hikes have been to pueblos that require two hours and even pueblos that take four hours to hike to. I can honestly say that I did not think our family would have been able to do any of this after that first one.

Julio the horse(front) and Molly the mule(back). We purchased
them with the money from selling Taylor's motorcycle
I have to give the credit where it is due! God is our motivation to go and do it. He is the reason we journey. To bring His love to His beloved little ones.

This photo was taken at the midway point of our first two
hour hike to Nuevo Piura.
I also have to thank Taylor. He is a great encourager. When someone gets tired he is there encouraging them to continue walking through prayer, song or by telling a story. He also had the foresight to sell his motorcycle to buy animals for the family to use to transport the little ones and also our supplies. When Taylor sold the motorcycle he had been using to evangelise with he was closing the door to serving missions as he had previously done but God used it to open wide the door for our family to serve together.

I can honestly say we have grown so much closer journeying over those mountain ridges. We have learned so much about each other and the Lord has used such moments to reveal little parts of His ways with us. These missionary journeys have blessed us abundantly and I am so grateful for them.

Tomorrow we will be mounting up the four animals again to vista Nuevo Chachapoyas and I can tell you everyone was excited when they went to bed last night knowing that Friday and the weekend was coming which means our weekly missionary journey into the jungle is upon us.

I like this new journey. I am very much blessed by it. i enjoy being able to experience it with my children. I especially love hearing them relate themselves to the first apostles as they went forth to spread the Good News.

This photo was taken after our two hour return trip from our first trip to Nuevo
Piura. Notice everyone's pants and boots are covered in mud. Yep it rained
and we fell down a lot in the mud. But we are still smiling!
Please pray for our far communities. They were the ones where the church had not arrived before us. Please pray they will continue to desire a relationship with Jesus and they will grow in their faith. Please also pray for our family as we make the journeys. Please pray for Mike and Molly our two mules and Julio and Gringa our two horses that they will stay healthy and no injuries will happen to them during our travels. Please pray that our family can stay healthy so we do not miss any of our appointments. Please also pray for our Christmas celebrations with these communities for some of them it will be the first time that they are celebrating Christmas.


Getting ready to leave Mirador on our four hour hike with Molly the mule,
Boaz (our protector the american bully), Bosco (our parrot) and Capitan
(our capuchin monkey). It was an overnight trip so the needed to come along.
Still hiking on our four hour hike but this time through the jungle. We are all
still happy!

Heading out on three of the animals. At this point we still hadn't purchased
Gringa. She came a few days later when someone knocked at our door
looking to sell her. Julio is Taylor's horse and Anthony is his riding partner.
Molly is Malachi's mule and Faustina is his riding partner. Gringa is Ruth's
horse and we rotate Adele and Leo as her riding partner. Mike is my mule
and Maria is always my riding partner. My other riding partner is whoever
is not riding with Ruth.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Long time no see.... and the reason why

It has been awhile since I last posted. In fact our most recent post from September was a guest post by my mom (aka mother-in-law) Monica. It is not due to the fact that there haven't been anything worthy to blog about. On the contrary we have been very busy spreading the Good News to many different town. I have just had a hard time sitting down to write the stories of the people I have come to know, the times I have come to cherish but most importantly because I have come to love them.

I have in fact written a few blog posts which I have deleted because I did not deem it appropriate for me to share intimate details about my friends lives especially their hurts, their falls and their sufferings. Intitially when I started blogging over four years ago I only shared our stories and then at some point I started sharing intimate details about the people who we came to serve. Initially it was out of pride and excitement of our missionary life and what God was doing. Then it seemed like it turned into a necessity. I realise now that those are the wrong reasons. I also see how I might have hurt my dear friends by sharing such intimate details of their lives. I am deeply sorry for my offenses.

I have decided once again to return to detailing our family's missionary journey. The good, the bad and the sometimes ugly. If any of my friends do feel the desire to share the story with you I will ask them to be a guest writer just as Monica was.

I want to thank you for your support and for your continued prayers for our family. We definitely need them and can feel them! Please keep them coming!!!!!! ~Katie

I was trying to keep Maria quiet during one of our classes when Taylor was talking.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Guest Post by Monica Schmidt

Mom and dad have been here visiting and participating in the mission since the 14th. We thought it might be interesting to get their perspective on our mission life. 

Presenting the cross in the church of Buenos Aires

The following is Monica's thoughts from our day yesterday.

"Taylor made an amazing breakfast sandwich with cheese, meat and eggs. It had an awesome sauce. I am going to bring some home. 

This is a panorama of a coffee farm
Church in town was at 8:00am. It was a beautiful communion service. Even though we didn't understand Spanish, we could follow along with the service. Tony and I donated a beautiful crucifix. Leo saw it in the priests store and wanted to buy it for the church but of course he does not have any money. We also bought one for ourselves to pray for the church.

The views were simply breathtaking. The pictures just don't do it justice. 

After church Taylor took us all to a pueblo over 3200 feet above sea level. Taylor and Katie live 700 feet above sea level. The road was like driving on a plowed field. Seriously we were bouncing and flying all over the road, the roots and stones. It was only a one lane path and the cliff edge was right there. It felt like there was no room for error when driving. Taylor is an amazing driver who keeps his family safe. I really think he likes the rusticness of it all. As a child Taylor always loved the outdoors. 

All of a sudden out of nowhere this town appeared at 10:15am. About 180 people are living the way the pioneers did in the late 1800's. They are all making a living selling what the grow and make on their farms. Everyone was very happy and dressed in their best clothes for us. The people in Nuevo Bagua built their own church by hand. It was so beautiful. Everyone is just so hungry for Jesus. Taylor and Katie are preparing them for baptism, confirmation and marriage. Only one couple is married in the church and a handful of people were baptized. 

Taylor and Katie told them they will come back every other Sunday. They had one mass in the church  last year with Padre Paco. Two weeks ago Taylor and Katie brought the new priest, Padre Rafael, there for a mass. 
This little girl will be getting baptized!
Entertaining María while it was raining

When we went into church it started sprinkling which was no big deal. Then out of nowhere it started  pouring for two hours. It was so windy and such a heavy down pour I thought we were in the middle of the tornado but they don't have those here. After the class we started praying the rosary. No one could leave the church due to the storm. The rain continued after the rosary so we prayed a Divine Mercy Chaplet. It was vicious. The doors of the church flew open. It was like the devil was screaming 'Get out of my town. I have these people without their King. I rule this town.' They had no rain for months and they are not in the rainy season. The townspeople could not believe the rain we were receiving. It startled everyone.

These beautiful children want to thank everyone who donated the shirts and
dresses. They are all very grateful to receive them.

The girls absolutely loved the pillowcase dresses!

Waiting out the storm in the church

After the rain let up, a family made us a wonderful lunch of rice, chicken, potatoes and plantinos. They served us first and after we had finished they then ate lunch. We spent some time discussing how and if we were able to get home. Taylor and Katie said we would sleep in the church if the way down was bad because it is all clay and we would slide. We spent the next three hours talking laughing, playing made up games and sharing stories. After three hours we decided to take a walk to see how the road out was. Katie, Tony, the four older kids and I hiked up out of town one way and then past town the other way. The mud stuck to our bare feet and created sandals for us. We were little hobbits. 

After lunch we waited out the rain some more

Waiting out the rain. We were finally cool enough. No more sweating.

We entertained the kids by sinfing 'Dancing in the Rain.'
At 4:00pm Taylor said our only chance to get home would be now. It would take us twice as long to get down the mountain since we were planning on going in first gear the whole way down. A family asked if they could come with us. The two adults and five children loaded into the bed of the truck with their belongings. We prayed the rosary as is Taylor's and Katie's custom when they travel anywhere. 

When we made it down the mountain to the next town we still had daylight. The family who asked to come with us tapped the top of the truck and asked to get off. We then continued on the way home singing and laughing. We enjoyed a nice meal of pork and potatoes which I had prepared the night before. We spent the evening before bed sitting around talking and laughing.

During the night it rained some more and this morning when we awoke we looked up to the mountain and it was covered in grey rain clouds. It was raining again in Nuevo Bagua. We made it out during the only break in the storm. Had we spent the night we wouldn't have gotten out and who knows how long we would be here in Peru."

Monday, July 2, 2018

Off the Beaten Path

We headed off the beaten path again. This time we went in search of a pueblo which we were told did not have a church, a church leader or a christian community.

All packed up and ready to go
We learned of this pueblo on May 12th. As we searched for more information regarding this pueblo we learned that it was not on any maps and it was not considered part of our region. Upon learning this we needed to call the priests who minister to that region. Taylor spoke with Padre Juan Carlos and he happily gave us permission to investigate further.

We scheduled an overnight visit to the pueblo of Mirador for June 16-17. Our plan was do spend some time ministering to the community of Mirador and also to search for the community of Nuevo Puira.

And here we go
Our family was super excited to have an overnight in a pueblo again. It had been two years since the last time we had this opportunity. We were better prepared this time though. We had an idea of what to expect. We knew that it would be much colder than the weather we are accustomed to and we also knew we should bring snacks and extra blankets. We filled up all of our water bottles and we packed our few cold weather clothes. Everyone slipped on the boots in anticipation for an adventure.

We arrived in Mirador as scheduled but due to Peru playing in the World Cup the pueblo was not ready for us. We understood their excitement for the game because the same thing happens in Wisconsin when the Packer's play in the Super Bowl! The animador showed us to a store room where we would be spending the night. They were kind enough to bring a mattress for the children to lay on. It gave them an opportunity to get off of the mud floor where the chickens were scratching. We unpacked the truck and watched the game with our generous hosts. Unfortunately the game ended in a disappointing loss for Peru.

Hiking for Jesus!
After the game we were able to convince the animador to be our guide to Nuevo Piura. Unfortunately we learned the whole family would not be able to make the hike. We were under the impression it was only a short twenty minute walk. The animador quickly informed us that it was going to be an hour and a half hard hike to get there. He recommended only Taylor and the older kids should go. Reluctantly I stayed behind. I was really looking forward to hiking through the jungle. But the Lord had other plans.

While they were hiking the little ones and I spent the afternoon teaching the children and youth about Jesus, salvation and His great love for them. It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon with these children. We were also blessed to eat lunch with a young family.
Top of the mountain ridge view
Taylor, Malachi, Ruth and the animador hiked literally up a mountain. The hike was exhausting but God's beauty was rich. Their hike also took them through the jungle where the trees reached the skies and the animals were abundant. Monkeys were swinging through the trees around them. They saw a woodpecker and the giant toucan. They also learned to stay away from any tree which has large red flowers because of the ants inside. The bites from the ants are very painful and can result in death if a person is bitten too many times. This type of venomous ant is a different one than the one that bit Taylor. In fact, the indigenous people used to use the ants as a form of punishment. If someone committed a horrific crime and was found guilty the town people would tie them to the tree. Once secured everyone would use rocks and sticks to bang on the tree to anger the ants and the ants would come out and bite the person to death. We will be avoiding the tree with big red colors at all costs!

Mid hike break
Taylor, Malachi and Ruth arrived to Nuevo Piura to find the people excited. The town was founded 20 years ago and in that time no one has come to evangelise the people. Our family was the first representatives of any Christian church to ever come to the town. The townsfolk are happy to know that they are not forgotten. When talking with the people Taylor learned Nuevo Piura was not the only town without a church community. He was given information about two other towns yet to be visited.

From the top of the mountain we could view three different regions
Taylor talked with the people and encouraged them in the faith. One lady asked if he could baptize her child. He explained to her that we will prepare the people who desire baptism but that we will need to schedule a sacrament mass with the priest when everyone is ready.

Taylor scheduled two return visits with the town. One short day trip in July and an overnight trip in August because by then the mountain pass should be dry enough to drive our truck all the way there. Hopefully after that trip we will be able to schedule a sacrament mass so all of the little children can receive baptism. Our intent is to continue visiting and teaching the people so the young adults and married couples can receive their sacraments as well but their prep is more intense and is over an extended period of time.

Taylor and the kids returned tired, hungry but very happy. I was overjoyed to hear about their hike and of the excitement from the people of Nuevo Piura. I was surprised to learn about the other pueblos who have no church community.

View in Nuevo Piura
We arrived!
That night I led another class for the children and some of the adults of the community while the rest of the family snuggled and rested. The kids loved the sleeping arrangement on the floor. They also enjoyed the fact we all had to snuggle in close to stay warm. Thankfully we had enough blankets to layer with the ones they gave us and the ones we brought.

The next morning we were served bread and milk. The milk was fresh from the cow that morning and the warmed it up to kill any bacteria.

The group of kids who attended my studies
We did one last teaching before heading out. We taught the Kerygma. It just so happened we could not find the key to the church so we stood outside teaching the children. As we shared with the children we quickly noticed the children were not the only ones listening. Adults began sitting on the stoops of their houses. Passers-by stopped to hear the message. By the end the key was found and the church was opened but God wanted all of His children to hear His word that day.

When we arrived home we were all exhausted. I think for the first time we were thankful to be back in the heat. We were so thankful that God brought us to His children in Mirador and Nuevo Piura.

Kerygma study in the street
Tomorrow we will be traveling to the region of San Jose de Sisa to speak with Padre Juan Carlos about Nuevo Piura. We will be showing him a hand drawn map explaining the regional divides and where all of the pueblos fall as well as how each region has access to each of the pueblos. Padre Juan Carlos will have an opportunity to decide if he would like us to work with the families of Nuevo Piura or he can choose to minister to them since they are in his region. Either way the people of Nuevo Piura will have a faith community and will come to know God's love and mercy!


Our new map

Our sleeping arrangements

Leo found a bug

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

There are no good excuses

Last Friday I encountered a woman who collapsed in the afternoon just outside of our house. She is a young mother with two small boys. She had been selling her homemade bread throughout the pueblo and was just returning home when out of nowhere she dropped to the ground hitting her head. Her little three year old boy was at her side. At the sight of his mother laying on the ground he cried. 

Initially I tended to her son. I spoke with him and led him outside of the room where the crowd brought her. We talked a little about pre-school and how silly my twins are in his class. I reassured him that Jesus loves him and the Jesus knows how much he wants his mommy to be better. In a few minutes he was able to smile and we once again entered the house. 

I then directed my attention to getting the young woman the medical attention she needed. As I listened to the people attending to her I learned that she had donated blood earlier in the day. She also only drank chicken broth with a glass of milk for lunch before heading out to sell her bread door to door in the heat of the day. As I asked a few questions I also learned that she suffers from almost daily migraines and she should not have donated blood in the first place. She then had a hard time keeping her eyes open and her feet were cold. I decided to run home and get my medical kit to do a quick exam on her while we were waiting for any medical professional to pick up their phone.

Thanks to the generosity of one of our friends they gave me a stethoscope and a blood pressure cuff. They also taught me how to use it while they were visiting. We were also gifted with an oxygen reader and diabetes testing supplies. I took her blood pressure and it registered low. Her oxygen level was fine and she was not suffering from diabetes as many people here do. We spoke with her and kept her awake while waiting for a nurse to arrive. I asked if I could pray over her. She agreed and I placed my hands on her. I asked for the Lord to come upon her and that He heal her. I begged that He would guide the doctors so they could make the correct diagnosis. As I prayed she suddenly had to throw up. We sat her up and she spat up. As she spat I prayed in my heart for His help.

When the nurse finally arrived she retook her blood pressure. It was now registering in the normal range. Some of her other symptoms had changed as well. Her feet were no longer cold and she was more alert. She no longer struggled to keep her eyes open. The nurse advised that she return to her home and that she lay in bed while she tried to contact the hospital in Picota to see what they should do. We walked her slowly back to her home. After the walk she had more difficulty keeping her eyes open. Her head throbbed but we did not know if this was a symptom or if this was a result from the fall.

Later on that evening she seemed to take a turn for the worst. The hospital in Picota would exam her. They loaded her up in a motocart along with her two sons and started to Picota twenty minutes away by car. 

Today she collapsed again in front of our house. This time it was 8:00am and she was walking in the shade. She again hit her head. Taylor called to me to tell me she had fallen. I went out to see her. Just like before she was sluggish and could hardly keep open her eyes. Talking was again difficult and she needed to be supported by two people so she could sit up. I was able to learn that the doctors determined she was suffering from tachycardia. They had given her some medicine to help with it. 

We once again walked her home and waited until the nurse and doctor could arrive. While she was laying in bed her boyfriend gave her chest compressions. They were told to do this when an attack came about. Three times he gave her compressions with the hope that they would send her heart back on normal rhythm. We waited and chatted hoping that this would pass quickly. Her head was once again pounding and her feet were freezing. She was not alert yet. Her boyfriend informed me that they had an appointment to see the cardiologist this week. This was a pleasant surprise since it can take well beyond a month of waiting before being able to see a specialist. He also informed me that there was a chance this could be caused by the lack of nutrition in her diet.  I listened to how she ate and suggested that if it was indeed caused by a poor diet I would be more than happy to teach her how to prepare a cheap and balanced diet. Her boyfriend liked the idea and agreed to let me know how everything would turn out.

I went about preparing the church for Padre Paco's meeting with the animadors and arranged the flowers for mass. As I was getting ready to leave the church I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to ask if she wanted Padre Paco to visit with her and to anoint her. I didn't even know if she was catholic at this point. Up until now my only concern was getting her to the medical professionals. I returned to the house and explained that padre was coming to town to give a teaching and to say mass. If she wanted and padre could visit with her and pray with her. She was still unresponsive and couldn't answer for herself. I asked her boyfriend if she was catholic and if they wanted me to invite padre. He accepted and said they would wait for him.

When Padre Paco arrived I greeted him and quickly told him about the sick young woman. He agreed to see her and left his items in the church and followed me to the house. We arrived at the same time as the doctor and the nurse. We waited outside her room as the attended to her. I took this time to recount what happened to him. 

After the consultation we were able to enter the room. She was still very drowsy. Padre explained who he was and that he wanted to pray with her. He then asked if she had received any of her sacraments. She responded no. He asked if she was baptised. Again she responded no. At the sound of her no my heart sank. She wasn't baptised. I became sick at the thought that she could die today without knowing Jesus and His great love for her. How could this even be possible? 

Taylor reminded me that this was precisely the reason why we are here. We are to reach the people of the fringes of society. We are to search out the lost and forgotten. 

There are no good excuses as to why this woman has not been evangelised. 

Yes it is true that for many years here where we live was under the control of the cartel. God, medicine, and education were no permitted into this area. It wasn't until the 1990's when the cartel was pushed out, that missionaries could reenter and evangelise once again. When you live so long without something it is so hard to show the importance and value of it. 

There are three different churches here in Buenos Aires, all of them alive in God with pastors and congregations. We have lived here eight months. Before us there were missionaries who lived here for a year. And yet none of us have taken the time to share the love of Christ with this one person. 

Please pray that God will enliven a missionary spirit amongst all of His faithful in our community of Buenos Aires. Please pray that we can be a living example of His missionary call. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts of everyone in Buenos Aires who does not know Jesus. Please especially pray for this young mother that Jesus will heal her illness and that she will receive Him as Lord of her life!!!!

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Holy Spirit's love for a widow

 The Holy Spirit has a great love for us. He desires us to be in union with Him and the Father and Jesus. He will go to great lengths to bring that Joy to those without it, especially for the widows and orphans. He did just that for a widow named Delfilia and her children. He called us to participate in bringing her the Good News that she is loved!

On Saturday, April 20 we were told there was a widow with young kids living in Fortaleza. We were told she was poor and she was in need of help. Fortaleza is a pueblo in one of our valleys which we hadn't visited yet. We knew that we had to schedule a visit soon so we could search for this woman and her children.

Sunday morning when we awoke we could feel that the Holy Spirit desired us to go in search for her that day. As we prepared breakfast we also started packing care package bags. We searched through the generous donations from Brillion and Reedsville, which friends from Holy Family Parish brought down in February. We grabbed some stickers, rosaries, and prayer cards to also include in the bags. We quickly prepared for mass and we headed out the door.

We had the blessing of attending mass in Porvenir a pueblo in the same valley as Fortaleza. Due to heavy rains the road was muddy in many spots but the worst part was right in front of the church. We had to walk through it to get to the church. Needless to say our little piggy, Adele, was more than pleased by this. In fact she squealed with delight when we told her to walk through it. We took off our shoes, hiked up our pants and skirts and squished through the mud. When Padre Paco arrived he shouted out his window if anyone wanted to carry him, no one took him up on that offer. He too trudged through it.

After mass we headed to the truck to make our way down the road to Fortaleza. This time the kids took time getting nice and dirty. Why did they need clean clothes anymore mass was done? A quick wringing out of the clothes and we headed in the direction on the pueblo.

As we were on our way we said a prayer to the Holy Spirit to guide us to the woman who needed His help. We had hope that we would find the woman in need in the pueblo without a problem.

We drove through Nuevo Trujillo and Firmesa, the two next pueblos in the valley, both of which we knew. We were excited to travel further up the valley. The road was surprisingly nicer than some roads along the Huallaga. There were only to washouts from mudslides but both were easily manageable. Scattered along the drive were an occasional house on a family farm or chacra. The views grew more beautiful as the drive went on.

After driving an hour we were starting to wonder when we would come to Fortaleza. Then the thought of finding one family in a town with no name to go on hit us. How would we find here? The only description we had was she was a widow and mother. We had no first name nor last name, we didn't know her age, how long she had been a widow or even how many kids she has. How can we help someone that can't be found?

Again we said a prayer to the Holy Spirit to lead us to her. We prayed he would guide us and to show us the way. As we came around a bend we saw a house with a woman drying her coffee in the sun. She was turning it over on the big black tarps using a rake so it would dry thoroughly. We felt the need to stop and to ask for directions. We pulled off the rode and stopped next to her. As we explained we were looking for Fortaleza she said we had just entered the start of the town. We then went on to explain we are catholic missionaries searching for a widow in the town. Someone had mentioned there was a widow living there and she was raising young children. We had the desire to find her and to give her some clothes for her family. At that moment a smile crossed her face. She explained she was a widow raising her four children and her grandchild. We immediately started praising God. The Holy Spirit led us to her front door.

As she led us to the back of her house we introduced ourselves. Her name is Delfilia and she is forty-two years old. The moment we turned the corner our breath was taken away by the beauty of the scenery surrounding her house. Her house was placed on the top of the valley. Below were flowers and trees. The landscape was dotted by their cattle. The sun and the shadows played beautifully on the mountain across the way. God blessed her with this gorgeous view.

We sat and chatted as our children explored the landscape and played with her young son and grandson. Her older children we down in the chacra working. Delfilia explained her husband passed away in January after a three year long deterioration after a fall from his horse while working in the chacra. She was now left alone to raise the children, to work the chacra and to sell their produce. She confessed that she did not know how she could do this all by herself. She felt overwhelmed. She was alone and all the children depended on her. The weight of all of this was suffocating her. It was then that we shared she was not alone.

We explained that God truly loved her. That he had sent us in search for her and because of Him we found her. We had brought clothes for the children, which she confessed they needed, but that we were also bringing the Good News and the love of Jesus to her as well. Jesus sought her out with the help of the Holy Spirit. He wants her to give the pain and the worry to Him and He wanted her to know that He will help provide their needs just when they needed them. I also explained that she is not the only widow that has had to raise a child bu themselves. I reminded her that Mary also raised Jesus by herself. She took care of him, taught him, dressed his wounds, bathed him and fed him by herself. Mary knows her pain. She knows what it is like to lose her beloved spouse. She knows how hard it is to make sure all of the child's needs are met and how exhausting it can be. But Mary trusted that God would take care of everything, she need not worry. She could raise Jesus in faith that everything would be alright and Mary would walk alongside Delfilia just as she did for Jesus on his way to Calvary.

Delfilia thanked us for the visit. She was happy to know that we are here praying for her. We begged the Lord for a few days without rain so she could dry her coffee. We invited her to visit us when she is down buying supplies in Buenos Aires and promised we would return again.

Delfilia has visited us once in our home since April 20th. This time her face radiated joy. She greeted me with a smile. We joked about my prayer since it was not answered right away. In fact it rained again shortly after we left. She said she was doing well and she was thankful for us. We also returned to Fortaleza for a visit on May 12th. Again she had a smile across her face. She was happy. We chatted and she was so gracious to give us bananas. A special treat for our family since they are only grown in the mountains. Maria ate two on the way home.

God loves Delfilia and He stopped at nothing to show her that!
~ Katie

Delfilia is pictured with her youngest child and her grandson. Members of the youth group joined us on this adventure.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Why we do what we do!

Eight months ago I met Walter for the first time. We had just moved to Buenos Aires and he had just been released from the hospital. After our Sunday service a group of parish members, our animadores and our family went to sing to him and to share the daily readings with him. Just before we arrived at his house someone pulled me aside and told me that Walter was dying of stomach cancer. The doctors could no longer help him so they sent him home to die. I was also told that his family hadn't told him that he even had stomach cancer nor did they tell him that he was dying. He was under the impression that he was just a little sick and he would get better soon.

That day we all sang for him at his house and it was when we were officially introduced. Walter and his wife Doris lived next to their daughter Rosa and their granddaughter Leslie. Walter was 80 years old, fit and he had a huge love for Jesus. He had faithfully been living his faith for 30 years. He shared how painful it is for him to not be able to go to church due to the pain he has and his inability to sit for extended periods of time. I encouraged him to continue his love for Jesus and I explained that God knows his desire to go so he should not worry.

Over the course of the following months Taylor and I took terms visiting with Walter on Sundays. We ended up spending hours visiting with him and his family. We encouraged Walter to stay grounded to the Lord and that there was purpose for his suffering.

Shortly after Christmas Walter tried taking his life. He was in so much pain and he could not understand what he had done to cause God to abandon him. He felt useless and decided to give up. He was still able to walk short distances at this point and he still had upper body strength. He was able to take hold of a knife and he stabbed himself in the chest. His family had tried to stop him but were unsuccessful. He was rushed via motocart and taxi to Picota twenty minutes away. There they were able to dress his wound and stitch him up. He had just missed his artery. We did not learn of the incident until our next home visit. I prayed with Walter. I told him the Jesus loves him and that he still has purpose. I asked him if he wanted me to call Padre Paco to come out to hear his confession and to anoint him. He did desire that. Upon arriving home that afternoon from my visit I called Padre and he quickly agreed to come out to see Walter.

When Padre arrived a few days later, Walter cried upon seeing him. He was so thankful for the opportunity to confess his attempt on his life and to be absolved of his sin so he could once again receive Jesus in the Eucharist. After his confession and the anointing of the sick a peace fell upon Walter and a smile once again returned to his face.

Over the course of the next two months we spent our Sunday's visiting Walter and his family. We spent are time listening to his stories, his heartaches and his desires. We continued to encourage him to stay strong in his faith. We prayed with him, brought him communion, and explained that he is a beloved child of God.

Once again Walter fell into the deception that his life was not important. He made another attempt on his life but because he was so weak his family was able to stop him before he inflicted any injury to himself. This time the family came right away. I went over and prayed with him. I asked again if he desired Padre Paco to come and hear his confession. Again he desired the sacrament. Padre was available that evening so he came immediately to hear Walter's confession. Walter once again looked peaceful after his confession.

I continued to visit Walter weekly. Sometimes during the following weeks I would pop in unexpected to see how he was doing, to encourage him and to pray over him. I asked the Lord to heal him specifically to heal his hurting soul.

Our conversations turned from his hurts and his pains to his desires to be with Jesus. I took those opportunities to ask him to seek out those that he had hurt and to beg for forgiveness. I also asked him to give forgiveness to those he had withheld it from. We talked about the Lord's mercy and how we need to continue choosing Him until the end.

I also explained to his family the importance of reading him the bible and to pray out loud for him and with him since he was entering the time of the final battle for his soul. They shared with me some instances of him screaming out in terror and repeating the Lord's name. I also asked them to pray that the Lord would give him the strength to not fall into the devil's trap once again in regards to his worth.

Easter Sunday I brought Walter communion and shared Jesus' glorious triumph over death. It was then that I could see the end was near. Walter had stopped eating the day before and was growing weaker. His circulation was poor and his legs were swollen. I then explained to Walter and his family that the Lord was close to having his room completed in Heaven. Walter was happy to hear that the Lord was going to call him home soon but I explained that until Jesus does call him home his pain would increase horribly and the temptations would as well. I explained to the family what they should expect to happen to Walter's body since he was no longer eating. I asked that they continue to give him something to drink and I begged that someone would always be present in his room praying or reading the Bible to give Walter strength to continue to run the race.

On Divine Mercy Sunday, April 8th, Padre visited with Walter one last time. He gave him the anointing of the sick, kissed him and promised to see him soon. Walter was so weak. He could hardly talk, he couldn't sit up without help and the pain was much worse. He had now stopped drinking and it was day nine without eating.

Monday morning Rosa ran to our house and said it was Walter. I nursed Maria and headed out the door. I prayed with him and his family. I encouraged him to keep searching for Jesus because He is coming for him. His pain was so intense. I bought some pain medication but no one certified would administer the shot because they were afraid if he died the family would sue them. I begged but no one could be found. Walter was left to suffer a painful death.

Tuesday morning his granddaughter came for me. Walter was no longer talking or opening his eyes. He was only moaning. I once again ran over with my rosary in hand. As I held his cold hand and prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet his eyes opened. His beautiful cloudy eyes stared up in mine. He started to pray the prayers with me. Doris, his wife, was so excited to see this response. Taylor was able to come in and hold his hand and to encourage him to keep confessing Jesus as Lord of his life.

Tuesday afternoon I returned to pray with him and his family. His pain had increased severely. His body was so hot to the touch. His moans so loud and there was nothing we could do to take away all of his suffering. We placed him at the feet of the Lord and prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet for him. Throughout the prayer his moans subsided. Peace fell upon him. As I left I told Walter the end was near and that his fight was almost over. He just needed to endure a little longer and then he would receive his joyous reward.

That night after everyone was in bed I returned to Walter's house. As I came up to the house I could see people waiting. Here in Peru people wait with the family for three days after the death of a loved one. I said a quick prayer hoping that the Lord would grant Walter the opportunity to die with prayer and I had hope that he was waiting for just that.

As I walked into the bedroom I found him lying on a mattress on the floor. The floor is much cooler and he seemed much more comfortable. He no longer had a fever and his moaning was not as intense. His daughter Rosa was sitting on the floor next to his head. She stood up so I could be next to him. I spoke with Walter for a few minutes. I was able to smile as I explained his room was complete in Heaven and Jesus was calling his name. Jesus was waiting for His beloved Walter. I then sang "I have decided to follow Jesus" for Walter. After the hymn I asked Walter to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet with me. As I prayed I was hoping that the Lord would end his suffering and to call him home. As the prayer went on Walter no longer moaned and his breathing started to slow down. As we were nearing the end of the prayer I knew that Jesus was going to take him at the conclusion of the chaplet. I was filled with such joy at the thought of this. A few minutes after we concluded the prayer Walter breathed his last. Doris was at his side. He was surrounded with many loved ones and family. When we confirmed his death everyone was so touched to witness such a beautiful, peaceful, prayer filled passing. I was so humbled to pray with him until the end.

As Servants of The Good Help we have three focuses. We pray for the conversion of sinners, we search God's little ones and tell them what it is they need for salvation, and we pray for the healing of mind, body and soul. All of which were incorporated in my time with Walter.

You see Walter was one of God's little ones who needed to hear the Good News. He was also an unrepentant sinner like many of have been in our lives. We prayed that he would convert and turn back to Jesus. He did. He let go of the hatred and the anger, he gave mercy and received God's mercy. I prayed for healing over Walter. God is a healer. God always heals what is necessary for our salvation. For some it is their body, others their mind, but everyone who asks He heals their soul. He did just this for Walter. You see God used Walter's illness to heal his soul so that they could be united in Heaven.

This is my only picture of Walter. Eight months of visits and not once did I bring anything to take a photo. I don't need a photo to remember him though. Those memories of our times together are enough. I will need be able to forget his piercing eyes. Until we meet again Walter!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Mission Changes

We wanted to update everyone of a change that has recently taken place in our mission. We have decided to leave FMC and pursue missions as just our family.

We will be continuing to serve here in Peru as a family in missions. Monseñor Rafael has given us his blessing to continue to work under the direction of the Córdoba priests assigned to Picota.
 We will be continuing the mission that Our Lady Queen of Heaven gave to Adele Brise in 1859 when she appeared to her in Robinsonville WI, now Champion WI, and gave this young Belgian girl a message to go out to the wild countrysides to teach the little ones what it is they need to know for their salvation and also to pray for the conversion of sinners. 
We will be serving under the name Servants of the Good Help. We have come to develop three focuses for our work. The first is to go out to the wild countrysides throughout the world in search of His little ones to teach them what it is they need to know for salvation by bringing the Good News to them. We also pray daily and offer penance for the conversion of sinners. We also have felt that we need to use intercessory prayer to ask the Lord to heal mind, body and soul of those in need. 
Our main focus has always been to evangelize and with these focussed points it will continue to be our primary goal. We will also continue to search out those in need and help them with their earthly needs as well. It is our desire to serve in the capacity of being living examples of "Mercy In Action." 
Since stepping out in faith with the Lord to follow His will we have been bathed in His peace. The Lord continues to affirm this desire of His for our family. He has showered us in blessings and graces. He is bringing people to our door, creating ministries for our family to work on together, and He is allowing us to see quick fruit from His work. 
We are excited to continue this mission He has placed before us. ~ Taylor and Katie