Thanksgiving 2016 Newsletter

Greetings, All:

It's Thanksgiving Day in Copacabana, and we’re feeling reflective.

We send our thanks to all of you who have supported us and the communities we serve here, over all these years. This past year has been no exception.

We first arrived in Lima, Peru, on April 10,2011, (Far left), but couldn’t have imagined then that we’d still be living and working here five and a half years later. Sometimes we wonder how things might have turned out – for us as well as our local friends and the communities we serve – if we had left when we were originally scheduled to in December of 2012, or when things got tough here and Copa was making the news. (Above right: April 2013, 500 troops defended Copacabana from angry protesters. Below: One of the many blockades we have needed to cross en route to or from La Paz).

Thanks to last year’s Day of Giving and the gifts we received throughout the year dreams have been realized and problems and suffering alleviated. Some dreams were small, such as sponsoring youth leaders from Copacabana to attend a national conference, or helping support a family of five children whose father left them and whose mother recently died of burns sustained in an accident. Some have been quite large such as completion of the Manco Kapac church (Left: Inauguration May of this year) and acquisition of land for two other churches in communities where we’ve offered services or done projects.

In recent months, Church District leaders organized two big, upbeat fund-raisers to help defray construction costs. First, they dug a big hole, placed the future cornerstone of the church in the hole and, for a pledge to the building fund, attendees could drop in shovels of dirt in symbolic anticipation of the official ground-breaking.

You may recall reading about a small town called Siripaca. The mission offered lens fairs and dental hygiene programs there, and built green houses for the local public school and the high school (Left: Bishop Sally Dyck, Northern Illinois Conference, visited Siripaca in August 2013). Several months ago some residents formed a Methodist congregation, and recently started construction of their church. The mission helped purchase a small plot of land in the gorgeous valley where the town nestles.

At a separate event, church leaders bought four fancy cakes which they studded with thick, paper tabs attached to colorful ribbons. Members from all the churches in the district could accept a slice of cake, along with its corresponding tab on which was written a commitment to cover the cost of certain building materials, such as a bag of cement, or 5 pieces of steel re-bar, or perhaps “two listones,” (wooden roof support structures). The church folks – and we – loved the event!

The start of construction at Siripaca is exciting for us and the congregation there. It will be the fourth church construction project in which we and mission funds have been instrumental; Here is a quick summary:

  • Nueva Esperanza in Huacuyo Valley (Right) – Church is roofed and enclosed; we and the congregation hope to raise funds to enable installation of flooring and interior and exterior plaster and paint. (7,974 Bs.)
  • Manco Kapac – This project was started by a mission team before we arrived in Bolivia, and later was abandoned, leaving the unroofed church exposed to weather damage. We and the Bolivian national church funded a recently completed roofing project. The congregation is looking to the mission to help cover costs of interior plaster and a wood floor. (6,250 Bs.)
  • Santa Ana Church (Right) was started and enclosed in 2015. The congregation hopes the mission will be able to help pay for a wood floor and gutters because the church is located on a steep hillside where water runoff poses a threat to the building. (5,862 Bs.)
  • The Siripaca church will be the largest of our anticipated 2017 projects, which we estimate will require 30,961 Bs. (about $4,500 USD) from the mission to cover costs from ground-breaking through roofing and enclosure. As usual, all labor costs will be offset by the local community. (Below right: The first work day for the new church) In addition, the congregation has raised 4,230 Bs (more than 600 $USD) for materials, meaning local contributions will cover roughly 35% of the total estimated cost of construction.
  • In the past few months three “avanzadas” (church plants) have formed and are starting to dream of new churches. Two of these new congregations formed in response to people’s appreciation of the mission’s community outreach efforts; the third is an expansion of an existing church.

As we quickly approach this Tuesday’s Day of Giving we give thanks to each and every one of you. We are very blessed to be here doing this work, which we couldn’t do without all of you! If you are inclined to give, please visit this link and follow the prompts:

http://www.umcmission.org/Give-to-Mission/Search-for-Projects/Projects/3...

These last few photos are from the first days of the Siripaca church construction as well as their estimate as to the mission’s cost – Thank you Zulma Choquevillca, Directora de Finanzas, Distrito Copacabana!

Many thanks and Much Love,
Deb and Jeff

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