Lima

yarn bombing and paint fumes

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You may say I’m a dreamer... but I’m not the only one

Dreams. We all have them, but we don’t always get to see them become reality. But that’s the beautiful thing about being a dreamer: there is always something to push towards, something to strive for. Our team had the incredible opportunity to help a vision and dream come true. Krochet Kids intl. launched their Peru location over a year ago, and an awesome man named Blake led the way. He, his wife, and four kids moved from Southern California to Lima, Peru, building the Peru factory from the ground up.

Krochet Kids? What is that?

If you haven’t heard of Krochet Kids intl. yet, then pay attention! This organization is really amazing. Now, there are few things that excite me more than social entrepreneurship. I’ve had the pleasure of working for a really amazing company that sort of launched the philanthropic business model into mainstream America, and I love seeing what these companies can do. Krochet Kids is all about sustainability (among other things). What sets them apart from the rest of the companies that go into other countries and set up factories, is that not only do they provide jobs for the people who live in the area, but they also set out to educate and mentor them so that they can take what they learned and bring it into their community. Empowerment!

The dream

Because mentoring is such a big piece of what Krochet Kids does, Blake had a vision for what their mentoring space would look like. He and Danny schemed and dreamed together, and came up with a blueprint/plan for what the space could look like. It involved tearing down walls, building walls and doors, repainting the entire space, and yarn bombing. They also wanted to provide chairs for the women (previously, they would have to bring their chairs from the factory across the street, up the stairs that can only be described as a steep climb, and into the room in order to sit on something).

There was a question as to whether our team could complete the project. Not any doubt in our abilities, but genuine consideration for the short amount of time that we would be at the worksite. To get a better grasp of what the space looked like when we arrived, here is a picture:

before What you don’t see are the 10 chairs that we had to sand and repaint, the three counter/cupboards that needed to somehow get into the space and sanded and refurnished, and the art that we wanted to include to brighten up the space. It may have seemed like a daunting task, but we were up for the challenge!

Hi-Ho... Hi-Ho

Each morning when we arrived, we assessed what needed to be done and then got to it! There were a few hilarious, yet dangerous moments. Like when Josh and Jose perched precariously on a ledge three stories up as a team of men lifted really really heavy counter/cupboards up to them. Or when Alicia, Josh and Andres experienced an electrical fire and someone (ahem) tried to fix it by sticking a screwdriver into the open wires. Or when our entire team was inhaling paint fumes for hours on end... it was only until Danny was giggling that we realized we probably needed a break!

It was hard work, for sure. And there were times where we weren’t sure we’d be able to get it done! But the beauty of it all was how our team of rag tag people (some more muscular than others) banded together, and did what needed to be done. There was no complaining, just picking up a paintbrush if something needed another coat or handing the hacksaw to Josh when something needed to be cut. We lifted, sanded, sawed, hammered, painted, and scrubbed. It wasn’t all work, there were definitely moments of joy. Like, when Kori, Amy, Kelly and Grace yarn bombed two of the posts in the room. Or when Lauren and I hammered in nails to create a KKPeru wall hang. Or when people started singing along to Justin Beiber when he came up on my playlist!

All I know, is that when Thursday noon hit, we had somehow created a beautiful space for the women to use, to learn and be mentored in. It’s almost crazy how different the after picture is:

after

So now what?

We had an awesome “reveal” for the women on Thursday, which also happened to be our Fourth of July. We had rotisseried chicken and potatoes, and showed the women the space for the first time after the remodel. It was just an incredible moment, seeing all of our work come together and then getting to spend some time with the women and their kids.

At the end of the day, this is what “missions” is about. I put the word “missions” in quotes, because technically we are called by God to serve the poor, the needy, the hungry, the orphaned, the widowed, as a part of our every day lives. So our time in Lima was just another opportunity to be mirrors of Christ (remember my Justin Timberlake post?). But this is what it is. Partnering with other believers, figuring out what needs are in the community, and then finding ways to address those needs.

On the surface, the KKPeru project was a chance to beautify a space. Goodbye lime green walls, hello bright yellow curtains. But in reality, it was much more than that. Because of the additional room we built, the mentors will now be able to double their time with the women. Instead of only being able to work with one person at a time, both mentors can sit down and teach, listen and help two women. The counter space allows the KKPeru team to keep notes and binders where the women will be taught. And instead of lugging chairs from the factory to the mentor space and back, that time can be added on to the teaching time.

Ultimately, revamping the space was our way of telling the women of Chorrillos that what they do matters. The Krochet Kids doesn’t just care about the product they put out, but wants to invest in their lives and their community and their futures. I wish that there was a better way for me to articulate all that we processed through on that last day at KKPeru. But this is the best I can do. That and include a nice little picture collage, per the usual. :)

collage

Thank you for all your prayers!

-Phyllis

it's like you're my mirror

Taken completely out of context, I sometimes imagine that God is singing this over and over again to us. Obviously how this post relates to Justin Timberlake is next to none... but I couldn't help but let that line from the song roll around in my head after our morning team devo time this past Saturday.

what are we doing here?

That is the question that many of our team members got from friends, family and loved ones. It can seem strange, to spend thousands of dollars and travel thousands of miles to Lima, Peru, just to spend time in an orphanage and painting walls in a factory. It doesn't always make sense to everyone.

But what are we doing here? We all have different reasons for why we came to Peru - but when it boils down to it, we were motivated by the same thing: God's love. We've experienced it and know it, sometimes more deeply than other times. There is so much joy that comes from experiencing His love with others and sharing it with others. (even that can seem a little selfish v selfless - because we know that when we leave Peru, we will have experienced God and how he loves in a new way).

On a practical note, this trip is also an investment. The time we spent cleaning and fixing the missions house is an investment into future missions and the teams that will follow. The time we spent with the kids and beautifying the orphanage is an investment in the orphanage and the children who will one day live there. The remodel and design of the Krochet Kids Peru mentor space is an investment in the women who work there and the women who will one day work there.

reflecting God's image

Genesis 1.26-27 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

I love this. These verses tell us that God was so intentional about creating us in His image: a reflection of Him living and breathing on earth. Our example was Christ. In Colossians 1.15, Scripture tells us that Jesus is the image bearer of Christ. He is our example of what it means to love others as God does. Now, we get to be reflections of Christ. To others who may not have experienced the love of God, we are the image bearers, mirrors. And we get to experience Him through one another as well. Thats why we are called to first, love Him with all our heart, soul and mind, and then to love others as ourselves.

to close, I just wanted to share a bit of our time at the orphanage. This orphanage is very close to the hearts of Danny and Steph, and their two girls. It was an amazing blessing to spend time with the kids, just playing with them and getting them out of bed. One of our team members, John, even cut their hair! This orphanage is not government-funded (Peru has many of those) and they take in children who have mental or physical disabilities. Many of these children were left to die at hospitals because their parents abandoned them and the hospital couldn't take care of them. But as we were reminded before we arrived, each child is made in the image of Christ and loved dearly by God.

It was so much fun. We got the kids out into the play area, into the ball pit. We drew pictures and played catch. We joked and told stories. For those who were not able to move from their portable beds, we stroked their hair, held their hand and just let them know we were there for them. It was a humbling experience and opened our eyes to just how blessed we are as Americans, living in the United States. I don't think we will ever forget their faces and their spirits.

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prayer requests: our team is sick! pray for healing!

I'm excited to share in the next post, the work we are doing at Krochet Kids Peru!

- Phyllis (or Joceline, as Danny calls me...)

#peruvida

How far can you get in 22 hours? Our first Peru short-term missions trip traveled more than 4,000 miles in 22 hours to arrive in Lima at 1am on Friday morning! Coming from Minneapolis and Nashville, our team of 12 arrived exhausted but excited to see what the Lord has in store for us for the next 9 days. Here are a few things we knew before our trip:

  1. The line at immigration was going to be crazy - at least an hour and a half of waiting with the hundreds of other travelers arriving in Lima
  2. Our hosts, Danny and Stephanie, are awesome (and so are their two little girls, Madeline and Macy)
  3. Due to the location of Lima, fresh fruit and fresh seafood are some of the best here
  4. Lima is known as the foodie capital of the Americas
  5. Within the city limits, there is a huge financial disparity among the 9 million city-dwellers

It was definitely difficult to retain any information when we arrived (we were in a daze from being up for so long), but we were picked up by Danny and two others who brought us back to Danny and Stephanie's house in the neighborhood of La Molina. Danny's two pieces of advice: watch out for geckos, but don't kill them... watch out for scorpions, and definitely kill them. With those thoughts dancing around in our heads, we went right to sleep in our guest house on the hill.

Friday was a whirlwind. We did some cleaning up around the guest house (which will be used to house short-term missionaries from Substance and other organizations in the future), which included sledgehammering and swinging an ax. Sanding chairs were involved, chairs that will brought to Krochet Kids on Monday when we start our work helping them build a mentoring space.

We met as a team in the morning, to get more information about our week and to get to know our hosts a little better. Danny and Stephanie moved to Peru two years ago as missionaries, with their two girls. They are both pastors at Vida en Surco, a portable church in the Surco neighborhood. Their passion for missions and their love for God was infectious and got us excited to serve in whatever way we could for the time we are here.

expectations

What do you expect when you hear about or go on a missions trip? This was the question that we were asked. Are you expecting incredibly crazy miracles where limbs grow back and water comes bubbling out of a dry well? Are you expecting hundreds of people to hear the gospel preached and for many of those to make public declarations of faith?...

God does amazing things, there is no doubt. But Danny reminded us that miracles aren't necessarily in the spectacular, but sometimes the miraculous happens in little ways. It can be in the few hours that are spent with children at the orphanage, loving on them and playing with them. It can be in the roof that is built so that the kids at Krochet Kids can play outside in the summer. It can be in the short, but sweet conversations that we have with the women who work at Krochet Kids.

It is easy to miss these moments, if you are only looking for the spectacular. But we are excited to share with you over the next week and a half some of the miraculous that happens in the little ways.

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Peru - Day 1

(left to right)

1. arriving at the airport at 1:30am 2. breakfast included 3 different avocados 3. our hosts, Danny and Steph 4. chatting at the breakfast table 5. getting ready to do some work 6. alicia is doing some sanding 7. trying Inca Cola for the first time 8. tasting fresh fruit from the market

- phyllis

The Future of Lima

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My last day in Peru took me to visit an area of Lima that is quickly developing as the urban sprawl expands, Chorillos. It is home to Peru's future entrepreneurs, educators, doctors and much more, including Krochet Kids. Chorillos was an area in Peru where many squatters settled during the reign of terrorism in Peru during the 80's and 90's. Today, there are areas of the region that are now recognized by the government because permanent buidlings have been built and it has become much more developed and established. There are also areas there that are still unrecognized though because there are still squatter communities that are not developed enough to be considered 'recognized' by the government. 002

Krochet Kids is one of the bright spots in the developing area of Chorillos. It's an organization that was started in Gulu, Uganda as a way to train vulnerable women in skills that could help them get out and stay out of poverty, as well as meet their emotional, spiritual, physical and material needs. When Krochet Kids got a contract with Nordstrom's they knew they needed to expand their workforce. Because Lima not only has a large population of women living in extreme poverty, Lima is also a great location for exporting goods and Peru is known for its background in textiles. So Lima was the perfect location for their second factory. In Lima, Krochet Kids works with women who live in the squatter communities.

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Krochet Kids was launched in Lima 2 years ago. Women work there for 3-5 years and upon leaving either start their own business or seek a job as a well-trained textile worker. While at KK, women not only learn job skills, but they also get to be part of weekly large group training, as well as one-on-one mentoring.

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Today, KK has contracts with clothing companies like Nordstrom's, Volcom, and Vans Shoes. It's amazing to see vulnerable women not only learn skills that will benefit them, their families, their communities and their country for years to come, but also to see these international clothing companies support local development in places like Lima and Gulu. Now this is globalization. :)

Lima is on track for becoming a powerhouse in South America. It is not only the culinary Capitol of the Americas, but also has tons of natural resources (like gold, oil, silver, and cotton) as well as 90 micro climates (making it one of the most biodiverse countries in the world), and more varieties of potatoes and corn than you can even imagine!

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Though Peru is still considered a less developed country, the next couple of decades will see an incredible amount of development for everyone living here. It's an amazing time to be partnering with people in Peru to continue to bring the Kingdom of heaven here!

A Sunday in Lima

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It's Sunday in Lima! Another gorgeous sunny day! This morning we headed to the Cultural Center in Surco (a district of 450,000 people within 17 square miles) where the community Vida en Surco ('Life in Surco') meet on Sunday mornings.

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Last weekend, Vida en Surco celebrated their 1 year anniversary! It was so fun spending the morning with them and meeting so many in the community. I cannot wait to come back in 6 weeks to spend more time with them!

Mother's Day is a HUGE deal in Peru! It's literally one of the biggest day celebrations in the country. Restaurants are packed out, and there are flowers, balloons and presents everywhere! We opted to stay in for lunch and had a fabulous meal at home with Danny's family.

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Don't worry, my mom didn't miss out by me being here on Mother's Day. Since we're proud of our Scottish heritage, we celebrated Mother's Day last weekend by going to the Scottish Fair and out to dinner with my dad. :)

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After spending the afternoon getting schooled by a 9-year-old in Dutch Blitz, Danny and I went to the last service at Camino de Vida. This church was started by Robert and Karyn Barriger.

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Like many churches and church plants, they are currently going through a building transition as the building they've been meeting in for years was recently bought. So they're now having to meet in different spaces and locations. Such a common story among churches in urban areas.

So excited to check out Krochet Kids tomorrow!