“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lam 3: 22-23
The last two weeks have been an amazing journey of blessing, mercy, and HARD WORK for the Kiehl family! God is so good. We left the US on the 18th with a new family, the Carmodys. After arriving to an empty rectory (the priests are in Lima for a few weeks doing the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius), we began setting up the new family in a town called San Hilarion (Saint Hillary, pray for us). We signed the lease to rent a beautiful blue house downtown. The neighbors who were so nice are also a new family in town. The father is the new Pentecostal pastor who just moved to the town. They invited us in and we talked about our shared faith and testimony of the goodness of Jesus. The community came out and helped the Carmodys get things for their new place and also brought all sorts of household items to share. Their generosity has been overwhelming as also their great joy at finally having missionaries of their own (there are over 8 other denominations of missionaries in the small town of 4000 inhabitants). By the end of our first full day we were heading back to Picota to get our things for the return to Pucacaca.
On Thursday morning we went out to Leoncio Prado to see the homes of both the other new family, the Thibideauxs and our own home. We discovered that one home was now being rented and the other needed a lot of work t make livable. We entrusted ourselves to God’s mercy and He did not disappoint. Within minutes another lady, Layla, spoke to us in tears. Her son died one month ago at 28 years old. He had a brain aneurysm. He left a wife, Rosi and a 3 year old daughter, Natalia. We all cried together and remembered our own son who passed not so long ago. She knew our story from some family members in Pucacaca and asked us to live in her house. She and her husband were moving into a smaller house and so didn’t need it. We agreed wholeheartedly. As we prayed we felt led to invite the Thibideauxs to settle in Pucacaca.
We had planned on continuing the Ezekiel Home ministry in Pucacaca but now to have a family living there was a great blessing. The Thibideauxs eagerly agreed reminding us that they had lost their daughter years back and had heard the call to missions after reading our story of our precious child. They told us they would take over the home and we could work together on the Ezekiel Home Project. What a blessing it was.
It was an emotional return on Thursday as we returned to the Pucacaca community. Many of us cried in joy at seeing the kids crowd the house and hug us so tight. Some kids wouldn’t let go of us so we just hugged for awhile. It was so beautiful. Nevertheless the meeting was bitter sweet because we knew we would soon be leaving them to go further out into the jungle to an area that has very little contact with priests and never Catholic lay missionaries. We told them the news in morning prayer on Friday but also that a new family would be coming in our place.
People were sad but brought new tables and items for the new family. They were so happy to hear that the Ezekiel Home would continue and we would still be together on a weekly basis. We spent Friday and Saturday cleaning the house and clearing out our stuff in preparation for the new family.
On Sunday we went out to Leoncio Prado in the morning and celebrated the Liturgy of the Word. We handed out Bibles and songbooks and greeted the community. We also spoke of our intentions to open a children’s home there in Leoncio. The community welcomed the news.
A few days before leaving the US, our son Elijah broke his arm falling out of a tree on Avery Island (where they manufacture Tabasco). The doctor in the ER in Iberia, LA gave him a temporary cast but we had to get a new one in Peru. God led us to a place where we were able to get it changed. It took most of the day to go to Tarapoto and figure everything out but by Tuesday we were ready to welcome the new family and the single girls team.
God has been so good to us. We got the Thibideaux family moved in last night. Today the single girls will, Lord willing, move into their home in Buenos Aires. Tomorrow we have 2 liturgy of the Word celebrations then Monday we can finally move into our new home!!!
Please pray for the Peru community. God is going to do such great things here this year.
In the joy of Jesus,