The picture here is a lovely prayer letter sent from Cecilia at St. Thomas in Menasha where she is part of the AWANA group. What a privilege it is to know that we are prayed for and supported by so many people in so many places. Thank you.
This has been a month of change. I turned 65 and Polly gave me a mariachi guitar to celebrate. Bishop Bill Godfrey serenaded me at the clergy Christmas party.
One of the things that we are learning is not to depend on plans, as everything changes from one day to the next. Somehow God tells us to be ready and take a day at a time. Bishop Bill has given me a new task.
This Christmas the Bishop has asked the seminary faculty – I am counted among these – to spend three months being the interim clergy at a wonderful mission is Lima South. The Church is Jesus el Salvador in the district called Villa el Salvador. It is a gritty community where a wonderful Peruvian pastor – Juan Carlos Marces and his English wife Penny have established a church. They have linked up with Compassion International to do midweek ministry amongst the very needy children. Juan Carlos and Penny are moving to another church, so they now have four clergy and four seminarians to take turns holding down the fort. That should tell you a lot about how hard and well Penny and Juan Carlos have worked these last fifteen years!
We clergy take turns celebrating communion, and the seminarians plan worship and often preach. I am going to try personal testimony my first Sunday. The worship band is great – drums, keyboard and guitar, and I add the banjo when appropriate. The congregation is vital and ardent. They carry their bibles, look up references and interject their Alleluias and Amens. They pray fervently, too.
Just before Christmas we celebrated the new ministry of Padre Anderson Sanchez. Anderson became one of my best buddies in 2008 while showing me around Lima. He has been an assistant and now is priest in charge of two churches. Prayer really works – he has grown from a wildish young man from Lima and Los Angeles, where he was a truck driver, to a fine priest, husband and father. His wife Isabel – had prayed for him and prayed and prayed and then prayed some more. God brought Anderson back to Lima, they married, and now have two great children.
New ministry celebrations are a great time to get together and we really did.
One last picture – courtesy of Joe who, with Virginia, visited us between Christmas and New Year.
I am wondering if this is the praying llama just released by Noah from the ark in the Andes?