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