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Pat Blanchard link letter no.13 December 2017

Dear friends,

It was good to see so many of you during my recent visit to the UK. Thank you to all of you for your hospitality, support, encouragement and interest in the ministry here in Shalom. I am very happy to report that all was okay in my absence, both with the church and the project. I was especially encouraged by church members who came along on my first afternoon back to report answers to prayer etc., and share how well they had done in my absence! Praise God!

Freddy has made good progress and is now walking with just a cane. He has also come on leaps and bounds with his faith and is the first to arrive at Bible study on Wednesdays. He has told us that he used to play the guitar so he wants to regain the use of his right hand following his stroke so that he can lead worship in church. It’s great that God has given him this aim! He is currently suffering from stomach problems and losing weight but is awaiting results from the local hospital.

I hope that you have all seen the article in “The Call” newspaper from CMS, featuring an interview with me. It’s called “from shame to Shalom” and the links can be found here: churchmissionsociety. org/our-stories/shame-shalom and churchmissionsociety.org/ call-autumn-2017

I am still trying to see what the future looks like for the Shalom project, especially as the end of 2017 looms. We have only been able to cover about 60 per cent of our running costs this year and continue with approximately a 20 per cent “no show” in our children’s attendance. During the winter, many children have been ill with colds and flu symptoms as we have had some very damp, cold weather, but now that spring has officially arrived we are seeing some sun (even though the evenings are still cold). We are also experiencing frequent earth tremors and water cuts.

On Saturday 7 October, women from three churches, Shalom, Jesus El Nazareno and Santisima Trinidad, joined together in Shalom for a morning of prayer and reflection. It was an encouraging time and for me it was particularly powerful as we all stood and praised God at the end of our time and shared what the morning had meant to us. As I considered the situations of some of those women – losing a husband suddenly, the death of a three year old child, a son killed in a recent traffic accident, to name just a few of their personal experiences – I considered the testimony of God’s faithfulness and his care of these women. Psalm 20: 8 came to mind: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall but we rise up and stand firm”. Felicita was also present, standing spiritually and present in her wheelchair, continuing firm in her faith and service.

We have been holding confirmation classes after the Sunday service, preparing, studying and sharing together with three keen candidates – Freddy, Ricardo and Lourdes. The service will possibly be held in November or early December with diocesan bishop Jorge. We also hope to receive two or three people as members who attend Shalom regularly but who have received their confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church. The celebration may coincide with the anniversary of 11 years of my ordination as a deacon on 26 November.

I am still trying to delegate tasks in the church so that others take responsibility and I am also planning to secure a more positive participation in the project with mothers and families as they gather each day for their children’s therapies. We also have some new people in the congregation, a family who has a son with learning difficulties and a neighbour who has been attending services. Plans are also already underway for the Christmas celebrations and we are grateful for the offer of help from different contacts to organise parties and gifts for Shalom’s children and young people.

Ricardo has taken up his responsibility as the youth representative in Shalom with a lot of enthusiasm. He attends youth leader meetings and is a great help at all the events. In mid-September, Anglican churches celebrated a youth festival with games, music and fundraising activities and Ricardo helped by throwing a large dice for the bishops’ Bible competition. At the end of October there was also a youth evangelistic event at the Good Shepherd with musicians from different Anglican churches, games and an evangelistic speaker. I took a group of young people from Shalom, and once again Ricardo formed part of the organising team.


Ricardo and the giant dice he threw for for the bishops’ Bible competition

October proved to be a busy month, with celebrations for the International Day of the Disabled with a special Sunday service on October 15, activities held in Shalom on October 16-20, and then concluding with a party on Friday 20. In conjunction with the local government disabled network, Shalom participated in a street parade on wheels on Saturday 28 October and young people participated with skateboards, bicycles and scooters and Ricardo gained a medal (and prize) for coming third in the bicycle race! The local mayor gave out prizes and we ended the morning with dancing with clowns and balloons.


At the street parade on wheels on Saturday 28 October, with a local councillor and other friends

In September, the local government offered Shalom a sports teacher so I invited more young people to come along on Fridays but the teacher never turned up! To compensate, I have been running sports – parachute games, tennis and five-a-side football. I was goalkeeper the other week and now have a swollen knuckle from a great save!

We also began preparing items for sale at the Christmas bazaar in the Anglican cathedral to be held on Saturday 18 November so that the young people can gain some income. We also are using our afternoons to make new candles from recycling used and old candles and painting decorative wooden items. In the midst of all these activities, I also managed to squeeze in my birthday celebrations with about four cakes – not all at the same time I hasten to add – and just as many parties and gatherings!

I recently attended seminars on autism and cerebral palsy, which was interesting as I gained more understanding on these diagnoses and enabled me to encourage Shalom parents with new information and insights. I have also been busy coordinating with local government and health authorities in order to obtain disability credentials for children and young people in Shalom. This includes preparing paperwork, opening clinical records and coordinating with doctors who are qualified to sign off on the official documentation which then gets submitted to CONADIS (the government office for disabilities) so as to issue registered disability status. On 31 October, five people received their official disability certificate, which should enable parents to get improved attention for their children and for young people and adults to possibly gain access to training and/or employment. However, once again sadness accompanied our ministry with the loss of two children from the Shalom family – Grace aged 15, and Deysi aged nine, both with cerebral palsy – who passed away recently. Please pray for their families at this time.

Shalom will host the MMI (Medical Ministry International) physical therapy campaign on 20- 21 November and then the team will move onto other centres in north Lima. Please pray for all the team and patients who attend the campaign, especially those who will receive a wheelchair or other apparatus that will help them in their mobility, quality of life and social participation.

You may know that Bishop Henry Scriven, my boss at CMS, is retiring at the end of this year and Paul Tester, a fellow mission partner in Peru, will be his replacement. Paul, Sarah and their family will continue to live in Peru and will run a CMS Latin America desk from Lima.

Thank you for your prayers for my family. Sadly my mum Betty passed away peacefully in the early hours of 16 November in the care home in which she lived. I will be travelling to the UK to be with my sisters, Christine and Vicki. Please pray for all the arrangements.

My brother in law continues with his treatment; pray for wisdom for the doctors attending him and also for my sisters caring for the family.

The year will be over before we know it and so I pray that we will be able to plan for the future here in Shalom and that this important ministry can continue to impact lives and share God’s love.

Thanks to you all for your support and I wish you a very Happy Christmas and blessed New Year

With love and prayers

Pat

The Call in Action

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