Peru Project 2021

Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

In this year’s message for the start of the Peru Project, I wanted to help students to understand both the impact we have had on this school, as well as the fact that in countries like Peru, where we find great burdens, a little help often results in outcomes we could never predict.  During my time in Peru, I came across many inspirational life stories which show how a little help can transform lives.  I would like to share with you all the story I shared with the students. It involves four of my wife’s cousins: Johnny, Richard, Luis and Carlos. 

When the boys were young, their father disappeared from their lives.  This left their mother, Rosa, in a difficult situation.  She had no education beyond high school and as such had no skills to work in a job which would support four growing boys. 

The only solution for Rosa and her four boys was to accept help from family. They moved in to Aunt Yolanda’s house on the street Lloque Yupanqui (I give this name because the house, which was a hub for the entire extended family, is often referred to as  Lloque Yupanqui or just la Lloque).  The house on Lloque Yupanqui was small. About 1300 sq ft on the floor Aunt Yolanda lived on.  When the five moved in, there were already nine people living in this modest space. 

Yolanda had one small room at the back where the boys and their mom slept; the boys on one bed, Rosa on another.  It was agreed that Rosa would clean, cook and go to the market for the household in in exchange for a roof over their heads and food.  Yolanda worked, but did not earn enough to pay Rosa and she was helping others in the family at the same time.  When I first met the boys, Johnny was hoping to study business administration and accounting in the national university.  While the university is free, books and school supplies weren’t, and this looked to be a rift too wide to cross.  No one in the family had money for the books.  This was when my father-in-law was able to help.  For the first time in his life, he was making enough money to take care of his family and have a little left over.  He saw that he could help Rosa and her boys carry their “burden,” and committed to buying books and supplies for Johnny’s studies.   

Johnny wanted to own his own business, a dream he shared with his younger brothers.  When Richard, the second oldest, graduated from school, he wanted to go to Argentina to work.  He’d heard that in Argentina, as compared to Peru, he could make enough money to live and save each month.  However, like Johnny, Argentina might as well have been on the moon.  He didn’t have the money for the bus ticket and based on a typical wage in Peru, no way to earn it himself.  Again, my father-in-law was in a position to help and gave him money for the trip.

To make a long story short, family members pulling together in small ways to help the five “carry” their burdens, had big and far-reaching results.  Johnny graduated and started a business with a friend in a small, rented store front in the market area of Trujillo.  They sold bulk food like rice, flour, cooking oil and sugar to market owners.  Richard in the meantime went to Argentina and found a job washing windows for a company.  With time he developed a rapport with clients and started his own company.  When he returned from Argentina (leaving Luis, who had joined him, in charge of the company), he had saved enough money to buy a truck.  With the truck they were able to go directly to the sugar plant and buy their sacks of sugar without paying someone else to do it.  This was only the beginning.

It was tough going for many years, but they worked hard and with Johnny’s business experience, slowly and intelligently expanded their business over the years. The boys now are involved in almost every step of selling sugar (all four, plus mom work in the company).  They decided to buy more trucks, so that they could actually bid on harvests of sugar cane and transport that cane to be processed.  Once processed, they then transport the final product to the store to sell at a cheaper price.  A few years ago, Richard bought land where he grows sugar cane.  It is planted, harvested and transported to the factory by people who work for him.  Johnny then picks up the sacks of sugar and sells them to other bulk food sellers in Trujillo. They each are raising their own families in houses they built.  Aunt Rosa has her own apartment.  Perhaps more significant in all of this, they have in turn helped at least three more children from la Lloque to get university educations.  Each of these now grown children are on their own with stable jobs and families. 

Can we see this kind of outcome from our modest yearly donations to the preschool?  The answer to this isn’t clear in the same way Aunt Yolanda and my father-in-law’s help had big results.  We are helping preschoolers, not high school graduates.  However, there is one thing we can trust: based on the changes that have taken place in the quality of education at the school, we can be sure that we have touched many lives in significant ways.  This can be seen in the “before and after” photos below.

When you look at the difference in the classrooms and the other areas of the school you have to keep in mind these facts:  In the ten years we have been helping the school, it has gone from being the worst preschool in the area, where people were embarrassed to say their children went there, to the best preschool in the area (this includes Las Delicias and neighboring Moche, and even is better than most public preschools in the big city of Trujillo ).  Enrollment has doubled, from 22 to 54, in that time, and they actually have to turn children away.   They originally had 2 teachers (Teacher/Principal, and a teacher).  They now have 5 including the principal—who has been an answer to all the prayers students, parents and staff have lifted up on behalf of the school over the years.  The principal, Lola Kong, is an educator and experienced principal.  She knows how to find donations and make the most of our donations.

As you look at the pictures below please keep in mind as well that we are talking about learning spaces and not aesthetics.  The truth is the preschool as it is isn’t beautiful.  It has been put together piece-by-piece and has suffered devastating rain damage which is not our place to fix.  However, if you look at what now takes place in this space, you will see the amazing difference.   The children have covered areas where they can have P.E. without time restrictions due to having the sun beat down on them.  They have plenty of PE equipment (balls, jump ropes, cones, etc) to do so.  They have a play structure where they can let their imaginations run wild and further develop their coordination.  They have a garden area where they learn how plants grow and about concepts like photosynthesis and the water cycle (Lola’s idea).  They have two classrooms equipped with big screen TVs for educational programs which help them get a jump start on math and reading.  They have new shelving to organize the plethora of games, learning tools and school supplies we have donated.  They have desks and chairs of age-appropriate sizes.  And each student receives a hot meal each day which is cooked on equipment donated by St. John’s, and cooked in a kitchen space St. John’s built.  They have a recycling area.  The walls are covered with educational posters and the teachers have a sense of pride in their work and where they work because they have desks to work at, supplies and tools to teach with and custom-made uniforms which carry both the logo of their school and that of St. John’s. 

God willing, we will be going to Peru this summer.  My wife and I are hopeful that we can find the tablet devices we saw advertised on the Peruvian channel we watch.  Putting these devices into the hands of preschoolers will give them a huge head start, not only in terms of the learning they receive from the programs on the devices, but as well the knowledge of how to use touch screen devices.  This is something which only the most elite preschools in Trujillo offer to their students.   And as well we will be working closely with the Principal, Lola Kong, to see what other needs the school has which will help these students break from the cycle of brutal poverty they live in.  The donation cycle for this year has again been generously given to include chapel through February 24.  Our goal once again is $4,000.  If you would like to see more images from over the years, please visit the website:  http://perunuevaesperanza.weebly.com/

God’s Love Endures Forever

The phrase, “His love endures forever” is repeated 5 times in Psalm 118 showing us that God’s love is unchanging in the midst of changing situations.  In Psalm 136, it is repeated 26 times as a reminder of God’s never-ending love for us.  As my class reflected on God’s love enduring forever, they also reflected on the things for which they are thankful. 

After brainstorming a “thankful list” on their own, each student wrote a psalm of thanks and repeated the phrase, “His love endures forever” after each item.  It was a great way to think about all the good things that God has given to us, even during these uncertain times.  As we continue to live and adapt in this ever-changing pandemic world, it is with thankful hearts that we can praise God for his endless love, mercy, kindness, and faithfulness that never fails.

Give thanks for the Lord, for he is good.  His love endures forever. Psalm 118:1 and Psalm 136:1

“He has made EVERYTHING beautiful in its time.”

It has never been more important to take care of our own mental and physical health so we can be there for our children’s.

“He has made EVERYTHING beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

What a trying time we are all in right now. Anxiety and depression are at an all-time high. As parents our job is to protect and guide our children but in this temperamental and unpredictable world, it can seem quite challenging at times, especially in 2020. If we don’t know what the future holds, how can we guide our own children through it?  It has never been more important to take care of our own mental and physical health so we can be there for our children’s. All we can do is take care of today and leave the rest of our worries at the foot of the cross, HE has got you and your entire family in His hands. His love for you and your family is unconditional and more than we can ever imagine.  

When you are anxious or stressed, take a moment to think of one or two things that you are thankful for. I am so thankful for the students at St. John’s, I say this with sincerity. As the PE and health teacher for elementary-aged children, I see students in grades K-6 each week and every day they make me smile. Their smile and excitement brings me back to the basics in life. Thank you for trusting us at St. John’s with your sweet children!  As we pause and head into Thanksgiving break, share with your children things that you are thankful for. Ask your children what they are thankful for. Get outside and spend time in nature, being in nature can ease anxiety for people of all ages. Take this unprecedented time to spend time with your loved ones, be active together outside: go on a hike, a walk, go to the park, the beach, or the mountains. We are truly blessed to live in a place where it doesn’t get too cold in the winter, we can still enjoy the outdoors. 

Yes, this is a challenging time, we are all feeling it in various ways, but God is transforming us and our children. He has not left us, this is one of His many promises. We will come out stronger through this, God has each of us in the palm of His hand. Remember, diamonds were not formed overnight, they were formed over time under extreme pressure. Just like diamonds, God is making us beautiful. 

Have a blessed Thanksgiving St. John’s families. Praying for each of you.

In Him,

Mrs. Christine Miller

For ideas for hikes in the area download the app called “All Trails”  😊

Honoring our Veterans

In Mrs. G’s First Grade we have been learning about our country and special fall holidays. We are learning about Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. We did a chapel about men and women who helped protect our country by being in the military. We thanked all the branches of the service for their dedication to God and our country.

We are thankful for the military service members give our country. We continue to pray and think about them and their sacrifices that keep the USA safe. In addition to the Veteran’s Day Holiday we are learning about Thanksgiving and how our country was started by brave men and women who came to our east coast to start a life that included worshipping God. We also made Native American hats to think about how they helped the Pilgrims through their first winters in America. Thanks you God for our Country and all the people who protect it and us. 

We read many books about the beginning of America. Happy Fall!

By: Mrs. Glaeser, 1st grade

A Mighty Fortress is Our God!

A Mighty Fortress is Our God!

This week in third grade we have been discussing how our God is a mighty fortress. Students enjoyed creating a 3-D fortress and background. This activity allowed students to be creative and artistic in designing and setting up their fortresses! 

By: Natalie Ramsay, 3rd Grade