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.