1. The first week of March I received Amy and Sabrina. Two beautiful and bright women who also happen to be awesome pediatric occupational therapists (OT)! I met Amy because she is the OT who provides therapy to a few of my cousin’s kids in Texas. Sabrina is her friend. They both decided to come down here and help me in any way that I needed it. They helped me in a HUGE way! They helped me finalize the setup of the therapy room! They cleaned, and organized and labeled….until everything had its place. They also brought me an entire suitcase of donations they received from others. The other incredible thing they did was bring a pediatric wheelchair that was specifically custom built and donated (by a man named Jeff, who is a wheelchair rep in Texas) for one of the little boys, Adriano, in one of the orphanages that I go to. All I can say was that seeing Adriano sitting upright in that wheelchair was the highlight of that week for me. This wheelchair not only provides postural support for Adriano, but it also helps him to use his hands and vision in a more developmentally appropriate manner as well as social-emotionally puts him in a better position to be more a part of the world around him. THANK YOU Amy, Sabrina, and Jeff for making this all happen!
2. Week 2 of March brought a team of 4 from Texas. Two couples who have personal and professional experiences working with children, adults and families with special needs. Brad & Karen and Meaghan & Michael. The purpose of their trip was to learn about what Camino de Vida is doing for people with disabilities including the program at the church for children with special needs, the therapy room, and providing wheelchairs to those in need of mobility through the partnership with Free Wheelchair Mission. This was a scouting trip for them, to see how they can return with a team and help support and grow what we are already doing at Camino de Vida. Their time here was incredibly encouraging and helpful to me and I look forward to the future partnership we will have with their return teams. One of the highlights of their visit was that we were able to connect with Cynthia, who serves as a buddy at one of the church campuses. She happens to be an owner of a small business who employs adults with special needs to run a food truck and free standing kiosks that sell empanadas (that by the way taste AMAZING). We had the privilege to go on a fieldtrip to learn why she started the business, see the kitchen and then visit one of the stores to have a taste test. Her sister Nataly has Down Syndrome and as she grew into an adult there were no options for her sister to work and make a living. This is very common here in Peru. You do not see many people with disabilities working even if they have the ability to do so. Cynthia saw in her sister and many others their ABILITIES and found a creative way to help them use their strengths to work and make a living. If you want to see more about this awesome food truck, the website is www.empanacombi.com
3. Week 3 visitors came from California. This group was a family who came for a dual motive. To meet kids they supported from Compassion International and spend some time with me seeing what I have been doing here since my move here in 2013. The really fun part about this family was that Steve and his wife Clara were the leaders of my very first trip to Peru in 2010. They were there before I even stepped foot in Peru and have been a support to me ever since. It was really fun to be their host and show them the fruit of their labor of leading others on a short term mission trip. A highlight for me was being able to participate with them in a large wheelchair distribution where for me, it all started 6 years ago. Thank you Steve and Clara and family for being here for me over the past 6 years!
4. The final week of March was something of a grand finale of an incredible month. The visitors I had in this week were the most special and unexpected of all. Unexpected because I never thought it would actually happen for various reasons, and even as I write this, I am in complete awe of God’s goodness of making it a possibility. My guests were my parents. It was only their 3rd time in an airplane and their first time out of the US, (unless you count Canada which was only a 3 hour drive away from home). They handled the flights and customs and the language difference with ease! Our time together was unforgettable. I had the opportunity to show them the church and all the areas of service I get to be a part of here. They met many of my dear friends and got to even spend a day at the beach. Minus the fact that dad got sick with a fever the 2nd to the last day and mom got it the day after she returned home, the entire trip was full of sweet memories that I will always remember. One of my favorite moments of our trip was being able to sit next to my parents in church and worship The One who made this all possible. The second was seeing my parents interact with some of the kiddos in Padre Martinho orphanage. One of the young men, Moises (pictured with dad) had been so excited about the arrival of my parents, he was counting down the weeks a month before they arrived.
As always, I could not be here doing what I get to do without the spiritual and financial support of all of you. Thank you for making it possible for me to be there. Blessings and love to you!