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Pat Blanchard link letter no.12 May 2017

 Dear friends,

I hope that you had a happy Easter! We started celebrations with an open air service for Palm Sunday in a local park and during Holy Week we had many different activities planned to remember and celebrate all that Jesus has accomplished for us. We were also promoting living the resurrection life day to day, with hope in these times of problems and frustrations.


A recent training course that I attended, with the diocesan bishop and Rev Marvin Bowers from the USA

Here in Peru we have been facing extreme weather conditions, with flooding in many areas and over a hundred killed as a direct result of the heavy rains. Relief agencies estimated that 700,000 people have been left homeless in 12 of the country’s 25 regions and the cost to Peru’s economy in lost productivity has been estimated at $3.1 billion, or 1.6 per cent of the country’s annual output of goods and services.

As the rains come to an end, the stagnant water raises the risk of disease, particularly those borne by mosquitoes. None of our churches were directly affected but in Lima we had up to five days without water. Thankfully Shalom has an underground tank so we were okay and were also able to give water to neighbours when the situation was desperate. For several days there was no bottled water to buy anywhere! Things have now improved and we have since cleaned our underground tank and are keeping it filled just in case! The diocese has formed an emergency committee to help organise our support and we are helping in an area near Chosica, Caraponga, in the north east of the capital providing a community kitchen and essential items. Please continue to pray for Peru, for all those affected, for the ongoing relief effort and for the situation to improve rapidly.

Sadness accompanied the end of the year following my last link letter. Etelvina´s husband, Faustin, died suddenly of a heart attack at the beginning of December. Praise God that he knew Christ. Both Etelvina’s and Melany’s moving testimonies at the funeral spoke of their joy that for the last few years of his life, Faustin was with them in the church and was living out his personal faith in Jesus.

I went away to the coast with Anna Sims (a fellow CMS mission partner) after Christmas but we had to cut short our trip due to the death of Thiago aged three who had spent many months in intensive care with a brain tumour. His parents, Edgar and Maria, are still strong in their faith and continue to share their testimony with other parents.

In February we lost another child from the Shalom family, Mileny. She was aged 12 and had Down syndrome; she died from heart failure after waiting for her pacemaker to be replaced.

I have booked my trip to the UK in mid-May for deputation. Thanks to all who have responded and it’s great to have dates in the diary. If you have not been in touch to organise a visit, please do so soon so I can finalise my schedule. My schedule should be on the CMS website (www. churchmissionsociety.org) or get in touch if you need details.

We now have seven therapists working in Shalom, as we have three morning sessions and five afternoon sessions, so there seems to be a lot more to organise – especially with more than 100 children attending therapies each week. Pray for all the staff, especially Luisa and others, who will be helping out in my absence. Liz, a volunteer from the USA with HBI (Health Bridges International), has been helping in the art workshops and we did several creative projects with the aim of presenting an art exhibition during Easter week. Thankfully she is around for a while so can replace me whilst I am away.


A Palm Sunday outing for the shalom congregation

We have started a skills training course with a local NGO, Kallpa, for young people with disabilities, in order to equip them for potential employment with local businesses. Having recently received a donation of bio mechanical aids, we have been able to continue to help those with disabilities, providing walkers, crutches and wheelchairs as available – as this year’s physical therapy campaign is not planned until November. Talking about crutches, during my last visit I was able to dismantle some forearm crutches (that some of you donated) to fit into a suitcase for Peru. Please get in touch, prior to my visit to the UK, if you have any more equipment to donate.

Recently we have received various visitors – some teaching courses to clergy and lay leaders, others encouraging future alliances and support as well as a delegation from Worcester Diocese, several dioceses from the United States and the South American Primate Bishop Greg Venables. This month, Bishop Tito from Chile will be here so it is a busy time but all very positive, encouraging unity and vision for the future. The diocesan synod took place on 21-22 April with Felicita representing the Shalom congregation. There were many topics for discussion and voting as the diocese seeks to re-establish its statutes and canons. Despite difficulties I am encouraged as we move forward with many consolidating plans for training and unifying initiatives within the diocese.

The Shalom congregation

Last month, Danna aged three, with Down syndrome, and her older sister Valeria, were baptised. We have known the family for some time and they have been attending church regularly for the past few months. On 21 March we also celebrated International Down syndrome day. The neighbourhood children have started attending church, which is an answer to prayer, so we have initiated Sunday school again – and other spontaneous afternoon activities – when they come in off the street.

Church member Lourdes, a widow invited to Shalom by Felicita just over a year ago, lives in a small 5m x 3m wooden structure in a plot of land shared with six siblings. She recently had to relocate her home due to family issues so we helped dismantle the house and relocate it but it still needs some work to reinforce the roof and fit the doors. Pray that we can find friends and neighbours to finish the rebuilding so that Lourdes can return home. Ricardo, one of Shalom’s young people, helped with the work and he recently celebrated receiving his official disability certificate which means he can obtain government disability registration and thus apply for work. He was also excited as his baptism was on 30 April. On 1 April, we saw Shalom filled to the brim with young people for a joint meeting of every Anglican Church within the south of Lima. It was an encouraging time of worship, teaching, drama, fun and games as well as snacks!


Relocating Lourdes’s home

You may remember me mentioning a book “I Have Seen God” a couple of years ago about a mission hospital in the Peruvian Andes. Well I was finally able to spend a couple of days visiting and meeting with the visionary who began it, Dr Klaus John. I travelled with Carmen Zavala (HBI) and it was interesting to see the medical and educational initiatives in the Quechua-speaking communities. Patients travel from many cities in Peru to be treated and the hospital has state of the art equipment and facilities. We attended the devotional service, which is held each morning for the patients before the clinic opens, and then toured the hospital to see the facilities. It was all most impressive. The visit highlighted several issues for me concerning the Shalom project, its planning, development and organisation. Dr Klaus John will be in the UK at the end of June and is keen to present the vision and ministry to interested church groups; please get in touch with him directly (klaus.john@diospi-suyana.org) if you want him to come to your church to speak.

Please pray for my family. My mother is now living in a residential home in Bournemouth and has adapted well after her move. My brother in law, Tony, is unwell at the moment and will be having an operation at the beginning of this month so please pray for him, and my sister Vicki, and also my sister Christine and her family. I have tried to schedule in some family time, retreat and holiday during my trip so pray that I can recharge my batteries and hear what God is saying before returning to Peru mid-August.

My mobile number whilst in the UK is 07724 896592 (I think!) although this number might change if has been deactivated since my last visit.

Thanks for all your support and prayers

With love and all my thanks

Pat