A Beautiful, Unforgettable Experience

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On the third weekend of September, thirty girls and women from the EA community attended a women’s conference at Camino de Vida church in Lima.

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Read how the conference impacted Paloma, Irma, and Nataly.

“My experience was beautiful, unforgettable, an experience that made me reflect on how Jesus insists to enter my heart. The word of God nourishes our souls. We have to live in His grace and mercy. Let Jesus take control of our lives and walk on the good path, leave our boat of failure and rejection. We as God’s children can show our love for Him. Tell Him how much we love him, worship him, speak with him. I loved the conference. What I learned I will put into practice, “Let Jesus come into my home,” into my heart. I also learned that what God promises, he does. His word has power. He is our Heavenly Father, our Creator.” -Paloma, 17

On Sunday morning, I woke up thinking about Revelation 3:20 crying, weeping because I understood the following: On December 5th, it will be 25 years since I recieved Jesus in my heart; but the sad thing is that I did not welcome him. I kept living according to my will, taking control of my own life…and I have suffered the consequences. I am thankful for this conference and it seems like it was designed to open my eyes. That same morning I was comforted by Jesus and I dried my tears and I got up on my feet to welcome the King of Glory so that he could make his home in my house. Since then I have a new start and I have come up against the challenges of life without fear because the King of Glory is with me.” -Irma, director of EA

“I loved the word that Andi gave, that when God takes us from where we were lost we don’t have to go back to that place.” -Nataly, 14

This conference was a time of rest, returning, retreat, and renewal for the lives of all that attended. We are thankful for the time we spent together worshiping and hearing from God’s word.

Desire for Faith

Emerson recently shared his thoughts with Irma about a movie that he saw at home.

Death wanted to take a father from his children. When Death came the first time, the oldest child confronted him. You can’t take my dad yet, leave him alone for 10 years. Death agreed and left.

After 10 years, Death came back and spoke to the next child. Now I will take your father. The child replied. Not yet, leave him alone for 5 more years. Death agreed and left again.

Five years passed and Death came back. This time the youngest child spoke to Death. I am going to light this candle and when there’s nothing left of it then you can take my father. Death thought to himself. This is the dumbest child yet. The candle will go out in no time at all. I will take this father from his children very soon now.

But…the child blew out the candle. Death had to leave. The candle was never used up, so Death never came back to take the children’s father.

Emerson was excited and questioned Irma. Isn’t the candle like faith? Faith will never go out. The candle was never used up and so it never went out. This is what I feel in my heart. I want my faith to be like that.

This story is evidence of God at work transforming the mind of a child. We can rejoice! Our Father will honor the desire of Emerson’s heart as He promises, because the desire of Emerson’s heart is the same as the desire that God has for him.

Pray for Emerson to have growing faith. Pray protection over his mind and body. Pray that he continues to be Spirit-sensitive and be able to hear what God is telling him, teaching him, and where he is leading him. Celebrate with us, the good work God is doing in Emerson!

Party!! for Kids

Peru celebrates Día del Niño, Children's Day, in August. Universally, it is a day to promote children's well-being and help them understand their rights. Festejando (from the word fiesta) or celebrating is an important part of the culture in Peru. Everywhere you turn there is a special event for children on this day. Parks have free entrance, theaters have shows for kids, the circus shows up, too.

We celebrate with our children every day, each small victory. An important part of their growth is teaching them the satisfaction of an accomplishment.

You can participate with us in helping children grow through sponsoring a child. The most important role of a sponsor is to pray. Your financial donation will always be used to COVER critical needs:

  • Crisis intervention for children and families
  • Opportunities to experience and hear the Gospel
  • Vital protection, healthcare, food and nutrition
  • Education, including remedial needs
  • Recognition of personal value and gifts from God

If you would like more information about sponsoring a child, head on over to our sponsorship page.

Authorization to Travel

The Dyer family have sponsored Nataly for a long time. Last year they shared their desire with us to have Nataly be a part of their family. Nataly had been clearly communicating that she did not feel settled where she was, so we wondered...O dear Jesus, are you answering prayers in this? 

In January, Summit Christian Academy (SCA) board and staff began praying about inviting Nataly to be a part of their International Student Exchange Program. Later that month, she was officially invited to apply. In February, we sent in her application. She was accepted by the faith-filled community of SCA. 

The first F1 student visa interview at the U.S embassy in Peru was in May. Her visa was denied. In short, she didn't come from a wealthy enough family. 

Not knowing what exactly God was doing through this and concerned that Nataly felt left stranded, we offered to become her legal guardians and bring her into our home as a grand-daughter, forever.  She loved the idea. Her step uncle and aunt were fully supportive. These few months have been some of the sweetest we have known. We have laughed and cried together as we learned to parent a 17 year old girl and as she learned to confide in us within our new covenant relationship. 

The second visa interview was July 19 and her visa request was provisionally accepted! Shortly, we received an email that the visa was being printed. 

We hoped to receive it by our scheduled travel date, August 8th. It was recommended to us to go to the DHL location where we were designated to pick it up, sometimes the email with the tracking number never comes, they said. We went to DHL on SEVERAL occasions. 

Nothing came. A couple of frustrating weeks of getting no answers from the US embassy passed. Then we learned that the email saying the visa was being printed was an error. It was still under review. 

We cancelled our plane tickets, cancelled scheduled visits, began to homeschool, and practiced waiting with joy and trust in the adventure. The reality that the visa could still be denied hovered in the back of each of our minds. 

On Thursday, August 23rd, we received another email that Nataly’s passport had been officially approved. We felt some relief, but after the experience of the erroneous email, doubt remained.

Early on Friday morning DHL indicated we would have the visa by Monday. By then we knew well when DHL received deliveries from the embassy; we knew it could be available for pick up Saturday afternoon. Should we buy plane tickets for Saturday night? Sunday night? Nataly's school had started the week before and we didn't want her to miss any more days than necessary. We decided to be safe and purchase to fly on Monday.

Before we got the tickets purchased, around 10:30am on Friday, we received confirmation that the visa had arrived! Would we really find it there this time? And....yes!!!! We purchased tickets to leave Friday night. 

We repacked and flew to the airport, pun intended. We checked bags, passed through security and arrived at immigration.

Do you have an Authorization to Travel? At this point can I just say, "what the hell is that?"

We were missing a document that we did not know that we needed. It was all very gray, they wouldn’t say you need Form “Such & Such”. We were stuck. And we couldn't go backwards through security without filling out forms and having a special escort. 

It was after midnight, Saturday by then, but we still called our lawyer who we hoped could help us with the "form". He said we might be able to get the paperwork needed that day, Saturday, but most likely it would be Monday before we could get it notarized.

The Dyers put us up in an airport hotel, we slept a few hours, and began hitting notaries, not literally, but I wanted to!

The first notary couldn’t do it until Monday, the second wouldn’t do it all all because he didn’t trust the Ministry of Public Registry. The third notary was a friend of a friend. They said if we could get there with all the appropriate documents they’d get it done but...we only had until noon. It was already 10am. Have you ever been in traffic in a city of 11 million people? If you have ever lived in Peru, have you ever had all the "appropriate documents" for anything? 

We were missing an original of Nataly’s mom’s death certificate. We had a copy in our legal guardianship document, but that wasn’t enough. Bless Dina Anton, Eddy Ochoa, and Nataly's step aunt and uncle. They raced around with us and we got it done!! 

We went to the airport again Saturday night, zombies. Would we really get out? Was it the right document-form-whatever-thingy? We approached immigration with our big-adventure attitude. This will be what God has planned for us and we’ll enjoy it no matter what. We watched the immigration officer review the documents and raise her eyebrows. We held our breath. In less than five minutes we were through, and with certainty, on our way at last. 

We spent our first night in St. Louis and then drove into Kansas City. When we arrived at the Dyer's home we sat and stared at each other still not able to believe we actually made it. 

With the chaos that is immigration in the United States, God still sits sovereignly on his throne. He provides. He made a way for one of His precious children.

We know He raised up the best family in the world, in Tim and Andrea, to care for Nataly's heart in this next season of her life. 

Power to Shame

 Re-inacted image public image. 

Re-inacted image public image. 

How does some shaming look right now in our small patch of God’s world? Teachers, adults in positions of power, are overwhelmed by student’s behavior and unable to control their classrooms. Without support, training, and sufficient resources they are using their cell phones to take videos of children in moments when children are acting out their frustration, confusion, and personal pain. 

J is nine years old. He wasn’t doing the class assignment, copying from the blackboard into his notebook. In front of all of his classmates, his teacher singled him out, video-ed him and told him she would be showing his bad behavior to his dad. When she showed the video to his dad in front of J, they both felt shamed. On a following day when his teacher began videoing him, J lost control. He went after his teacher, his pencil was in his hand. He ended up jabbing her with it. 

L is 13 years old. She returned home, to her safe place, from school one day. Her mother was there waiting for L with a video sent from her teacher. L fell on her knees and begged her mother not to send her back to her school. 

K is 15 years old. He is L’s brother. He is constantly being threatened that all of his actions are being taped by the cameras recently installed in the classrooms. Feeling powerless against the constant threat and invasion of privacy, he climbed up onto the roof of the school and cut the internet cable. 

We have worked with teachers, individually, and talked to the school administrator. If the environment of threat, violation of privacy, and shaming does not improve we will move to report the school. In the meantime, we are working with children and parents to understand their rights and God’s way to walk out the situation with their children and the school. Alongside parents we are evaluating current available education options. 

We have 44 children enrolled at this school and we are only half way through the school year. The environment there is quickly deteriorating. 

Please pray protection over the hearts and minds of our children and their parents. Pray for the teachers and the administrators of this Christian school. Pray for EA’s staff as they walk with each child and parent through the pain, fear, and feeling of powerlessness. 

Our Father, we cry out to you. See your children. O LORD, you have moved to rescue them by placing Esperanza de Ana near. Now give us wisdom and clarity to know how to fight for justice on their behalf. Take out teachers whose hearts cannot find love for the children that they serve. Rescue teachers who desperately want to provide for each individual child the care that they need. Give insight to the school's administrators, too. We need to see your mighty hand and outstretched arm working to deliver today. In Jesus Name. 

Healthcare Heals Hearts

First Baptist Church of Hudson and the McBurney family made a huge impact at EA during their two week mission trip. 

The focus of Week One was medical exams for 60 students in the Esperanza School program. Kirsten, team leader and nurse, led the team in checking hearts, lungs, and vitals. They gave the students a series of physical challenges to check the basic health, too.

Most importantly, they went slow and showed value to each child. Hearts begin to heal through Christ's love when children begin to know their worth.

Week Two welcomed Doc McBurney. Kirsten used her Columbian spanish, medical skills, and life experience to work with our staff on a pilot program focused on educating our parents through evaluating their health in 7 different areas: physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, environmental, and occupational. There is cross-over in this holistic view, but breaking health into these areas helped us to make parents aware of their needs and the needs of their children. 

This pilot program also allowed for the development of new relationships and the deepening of "old" relationships. Again, valuing people through loving relationships and communicating Christ's love is the path to healing hearts. 

March Madness

On July 28th, Peru celebrates Independence Day. In rural areas in the month of July few classes get done, students practice marching for hours everyday. The most "creative" students find places to hide to avoid the strict monotony.

But marching is a way for children to show and develop patriotism for their country. It is a tradition in Peru and many other countries, with every holiday being celebrated with a parade. Sometimes all students, sometimes just the best marchers, march in town parades.

Check out EA students, many of whom earned special roles because of their discipline, leadership, and marching  prowess. 

Building Prayer Teams

In April of 2016, First Baptist of Hudson (NC) gave a major gift toward to the Esperanza de Ana Scholarship Fund which allowed us to begin serving more children and families. Last year, in November, they held a sponsorship drive. 

We now have 19 sponsors from Hudson First and six of them came to visit this year!

Child sponsorship at Esperanza de Ana is about building a prayer team for each child, people who also help cover the cost of the services that they receive through EA. You can read more about our sponsorship program here

Your commitment to sponsor a child is an investment in the kingdom of God. Our Father is accomplishing His purposes through this mission work, through each child, and through families in ways that we do see and in many ways that we do not. 

If you are reading this and are one of our sponsors, thank you! Thank you for your commitment to Esperanza de Ana. Know that you are in our hearts. We lift you up in prayer every Thursday morning. We love thanking God for you by name. Thank you for loving us and supporting EA students.

Painful Conversations, Shared Grief, Dignity

Angel-girl is one of 80+ students in EA programs this year.  As we continue to grow we are constantly looking for more ways to express to each of them how precious and valuable they are. We know that setting aside quality time, and listening well, are both important ways to communicate value. 

Many of our students live in a kind of war zone. They fight against conflicting emotions that they do not understand. Most want nothing more than to belong in family and be seen, but growing up in a fragmented, abusive, or chaotic family, allows little space for feeling valued. Another pain that grows inside them is that of watching their parents suffer, and feeling powerless to help. 

We are watching one of our own in just this place right now. She is 15 years old. She makes great decisions one day and horrible ones the next. 

Recently, angel-girl, Irma, Ana and I (Tony Kay) sat down together. We wanted to hear this angel's heart. Beginning with a few words of reassurance and offering her the respect that she needs to grow in confidence, we began. 

Precious angel-girl. We are here to walk with you, to support you as you find your way through. You have a voice that should be heard. There has been some tough stuff going on in your world, lately. You have taken some risks; we’ve helped you find some peace in the aftermath. What is weighing most on your heart right now? Are there some plans that you would like to make? Are you thinking about staying overnight at Casa Esperanza still? 
Yes, I want to. 

She says quietly, under her breath, head bowed down. 

We love having you here in the evenings, sweetheart. You are a blessing to our EA family.  The resources required to care for your personal needs and your school uniform are here for you. We want you to stay, be well-fed, and be able to focus on your studies. But, love, in order to be able to offer you this support you will need to agree to begin taking birth control. With your decision to become sexually active, we cannot risk the lives, the reputations, of the men who work here or of the institution itself should you become pregnant. 

She responds empathetically, clearly understanding the risk to people that she cares about. She understands the importance of the reputation of the institution too. She cares about its ability to continue to provide service to others, including her younger siblings. Her spirit is closing down right in front of us. 

There is silence for a moment, all of us with heavy hearts. Everything inside us wants to protect this angel. But this is her life and she is determined to retain whatever control that she can. We must respect her attempts, counsel as she will allow, and commit to being there if she falls. 

I will stay home, then. She is resigned to it. 
What are your thoughts about school, honey? 
I want to keep going, to finish. 

I smile. She knows what I am thinking and returns my non-verbal message with a shy smile. 

Angel-girl, you are so stinkin' smart. Ever since you were little you have excelled in school, always at the top of your class. You amazed me when I first heard you pick up a book and read out loud. That was almost seven years ago. You brought the book to life with your voice. The scholarship you receive from EA for your school tuition is well invested. You can learn whatever profession you would like to do. But your attendance. . .it has been sporadic this year. To keep your scholarship you have to make it to school on a regular basis. You know, honey, that there are others who need the scholarship that you have. We have to be just.

There is no hint of manipulation in my words. I share with her adult to adult. She understands. Her heart is beautiful. Her mind is stubborn, self-protective, and it is so hard for her to make and keep commitments in the world in which she lives. 

She suggests maybe she should just attend the community school as often as she is able to do so. We can see that she feels threatened and defensive. Who wouldn't? We work to re-assure her and give her time to think about options. But it is too much, really, right now. And we understand. 

Let’s give it to the end of this month. Your tuition is paid through then. We can talk again and see what you are thinking and if you have some other ideas that we can support you in accomplishing. 
Esperanza School is open to you, whatever you decide. Please come here to study, enjoy mealtimes, and continue friendships.

The conversation is just plain painful for all of us. We all feel sad together: Irma, Ana, me and angel-girl. 

Sweetheart, no matter what, we are committed to walking with you. You have our love. It won't go away. Through the Launching Leaders program Ana is available to help you reach your education and career goals. But beyond that, her heart is here to listen, to offer guidance where you have doubts. 

She smiles. She knows. But her head is still hung low. 

What else is on your mind, sweetness? 
I am worried about my mom’s health. 

She goes on to explain the symptoms that concern her. 

My heart cracks open so wide that I don’t think I can bear it. She loves her momma. I have never been sure. But she does. She loves her momma. Despite it all, she loves her momma.

Oh honey, you know how much I love your momma, too. She has been a special person to me for almost 10 years now. I am so sorry. We will strategize together to find a way to let us help her. We are not going away from her either. 

We empathize with her. We all love her strong, funny, crazy, stubborn momma. She knows it. We talk together and express compassion as a team, the four of us.

Then she lifts up her head. She makes eye contact. She is one of us and she feels it. She experiences community and shared grief. 

Pray with us for this angel-girl. Her situation is desperate. Pray for the national and missionary staff at Esperanza de Ana. Almost everyday we live second-hand trauma and it takes its toll. Even in the grief we find gladness. Everyday we lift our eyes to see God on His throne. Everyday we remind ourselves that we are His servants and that He will be the one that completes the good work that He began. 

Who am I?

This year Jim has challenged our team and visitors to dig into the Word and find our identity as God speaks it.

The desire for identity is not unique to one individual, but a need for everyone. Everyone has asked themselves, ‘Who am I?’ at some point in their lives. We know that as teenagers and preteens this desire for identity is stronger than ever in their lives and hitting them at a pivotal time. Our desire for our kids is the same one we have for ourselves, that they reflect on God’s word and find in it the answers to their questions. ‘Who am I?’ Well, what does God say? We know that a firm identity is rooted in the truths found in the Bible.

We were able to expand on this idea through a self-portrait project. Our friend Eden was at EA for a few days and she led the kids in a workshop, first teaching them how to draw their faces, position their facial features, then how to add details using paint, picking their own skin color and decorating according to what styles and colors they liked.

In the process of this project we got to see many of our kids find a love for art, a desire to draw and paint, and many got to find the simple joy in self-expression. The only guidelines for this project were that each one was to draw a self-portrait. No one was told they had to do it a certain way. Because of the simple instructions, each child was able to draw themselves as they are and see the beauty in creating something, finding the beauty in themselves.

These self-portraits now hang above the sinks in our public bathrooms. Every day our kids pass by and get to look at their own artwork and take joy in the finished work of their hands. They get to find their own faces and see the collective beauty in the final mural.

Thank you, Eden for your guidance in this project. We could not be more pleased with the final result.