To Give you a Future and a Hope (Jer. 29:11)

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Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:9

Last Tuesday our family got off the plan in Port au Prince Haiti to what has been an amazing experience living among the beautiful people of L’Asile, Nippes, Haiti MAP

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L’Asile is in the southern arm of Haiti

Our first day Tuesday was mainly a day of extensive traveling as we arrived in the afternoon and spent over four hours driving from Port au Prince to L’Asile.  Port Au Prince was unlike any place I have ever seen.  The numbers of people on the street was startling.  People selling whatever they could to get buy crowding cars whenever you stopped or slowed down enough for them to crowd around.  There were piles of trash every where.  One image sticks in my mind of a small stream completely swamped with plastic bottles, Styrofoam, plastic bags, all sorts of trash.  It literally looked like a river of trash.  Here and there a large pigs wandered in and out among children who looked for trinkets as their mothers sat and sold charcoal or dirty fruit.  I was overwhelmed immediately by the magnitude of destitution I saw.  I found myself praying for guidance and hope.  I still remember the colorful and crammed  trucks with French and Creole proverbs and verses with rainbows and expressive paintings driving by as we tried to figure out the best way to weave our way through the traffic and get out of the city before dark.  We eventually arrived in L’Asile around 7PM so weren’t really able to see much of the town where we would be living for most of our time in Haiti.

 

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Wednesday morning we awoke to sheep grazing in the trash in front of the house.  Young people from all around came to visit to see the “Blan” which is a Haitian word that literally means “white” but has come to mean “foreigner.”  The most common word here for man is neg.  I was fascinated immediately by the Kreole language.  Micah was running about the local kids with a pad and pen trying to figure out some words to be able to make friends.  I was so proud of the kids who seemed so desirous to speak to the locals and learn the language.  After morning prayer and a breakfast of hardboiled eggs and avocado (pretty much every day breakfast here), we walked about the town.  It was very similar to Leoncio Prado in many ways.  We tried a local fruit called Kenep which was like eating a RedBull energy drink in a fruit.  It was so good.  One of the locals named Bibi

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Thursday we went out to visit the sick in the surrounding villages.  The people and landscape were so beautiful in the midst of tragic poverty.  There was a profoundly humble genuineness in the people.  The smiles, often missing teeth, shown out without shame.  We drove out on a rocky dirt road to a village where we picked a lame man and brought him to the hospital to receive care.  We prayed over him in the truck as we passed family after family washing clothes and bathing in the shallow streams nearby.  Donkeys, sheep and goats roamed throughout the country side freely.  I have never seen such brightly colored houses.  Some of the houses seemed to glow with pinks, blues, yellows, and blazing greens.  Later that evening we went down to bath in the river (in our clothes!).    img_2972On the walk we passed another tarantula (they are all over here).  Later that night God treated us to one of the most beautiful sunsets and we felt like He had brought us to this broken land to open our eyes to His great love for us.  

 

Friday morning Dave and I went to Mass at 530AM.  Immediately following Fr’s homily Dave jumped and we both looked down to see a large tarantula that had crawled across his foot.  All the people just watched until one man squished it (it was very messy).    Friday we went to the smaller market and got some fruit.  That night we did Spiritual Warfare and a rosary.  

 

Over the weekend we began planning out the Ezekiel Home project.  We also asked Father to help us find the poorest of the poor so we could help them with floors for their houses.  He directed us to a village in the mountains called “Ravi Mitan” with means Middle fo the Ravine.  Visiting Ravi Mitan was perhaps the most blessed thing we have done so far in Haiti.  We found five families (one with nine kids), who we are going to give floors to.  Yesterday we went up to a town called Aquin to get all the cement for the Ezekiel Project and the floors for the poor (90 in all).  IMG_2788.JPG

New Ezekiel Home Building

I also started Creole lessons last Monday employing a local man named Ronal who needed work.  He comes to the house each day at 630 AM and teaches Teresa and I his language for an hour.  This has been a blessing.  Fr. David (from France) has asked to introduce us in Mass tomorrow.  We are determined to introduce ourselves in Creole.  He was very pleased with this.  It is so funny because Teresa and I met in French class but never really used the language in missions but it is a big help here with Creole.  I want to write another blog to tell you about the village where we are going to lay out the floors.  It was so amazing.  God has been, is, and ever will be good!

 

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“I Lift My Eyes Up Unto the Mountains”

“Buscando mis amores,

Iré por esos montes y riberas;

…Decid si por vosotros ha pasado!”

“Seeking my love,

I will head for the mountains and for the watersides;

…tell me, has he passed by you?

Saint John of the Cross

 

img_2407The roosters had just began their Monday morning crowing when it was time to get up and prepare for the day.  Our family awoke quickly preparing a small snack breakfast before Fr Leo, Sr Marie Eugenia, and a religion teacher named Garvin came to the house to pick us up on our missionary adventure to the mountain communities above our town of Leoncio Prado.  One of my missionary partners, Taylor and I had gone up to the communities for the first time this year in June and now weather was permitting for another visit, this time with a larger group.  We were heading up to a group of five communities high up in the mountains and far removed from modern life.  They lack electricity, running water, trash service, sewers, and doctors among other things.  There are very few motorized vehicles, all the houses are made of wood.  It was like traveling back to the wild west.  Fr. Leo and I whistled the tune to The Good Bad and the Ugly quite a few times.  It took us a few hours to arrive at the first communities Capirona, Porvenir and Libano.  img_2412In Libano we got out and immediately started singing and teaching local kids, who had come out of school to see the visitors, songs and hand motions and inviting them to come to the celebration of Holy Mass. img_2417 More and more people began gathering from the local community men and women boys and girls.  The church was made of wood and had a dusty dirt floor.  You could see the knee marks in the dust.  We led songs and worship for about an hour while Father confessed those who desired it and the Sister visited some families.  Later we celebrated Holy Mass and some of the local children were baptized.  img_2564After Mass we ate lunch at a local woman’s house- rice, yuca (which is kind of like a stringy potato) and chicken.  img_2539Later we headed to Porvenir where we repeated the same thing as in Libano.  We also visited a man in the local two room clinic who had cut off his thumb with a machete. img_2490 Finally we left Porvenir at about 3 o’clock to head out to Corazón de Jesús (Heart of Jesus) which was about an hour further out.  We arrived a little after 4 and were received by nearly all the community.  img_2561They were so excited!  The church was painted and had a few balloons on it.  The people had been waiting 2 years for this celebration!  img_2566These mountain communities only get to celebrate Holy Mass once a year and last year the road was impassible so they had to wait another year.  As Father prepared the altar and confessed people Jonathan went with a friend from Libano named Ronal.  Ronal lives part of the year down near Leoncio Prado.  We saw much of the surrounding area and the small grade school.  

 

img_2568Nearby and in many areas of the region you could see the destruction of the forest and locals look for new land to use for agriculture.  We have seen so much destruction of the forest out near Leoncio Prado and in the entire Valley of Ponaza.  I think of the words of Pope Francis from his 2013 encyclical Lumen Fidei:

 

By revealing the love of God the Creator, [faith] enables us to respect Nature all the more, and to discern in it a grammar written by the hand of God and a dwelling place entrusted to our protection and care. Faith also helps us to devise models of development which are based not simply on utility and profit, but consider creation as a gift for which we are all indebted.

 

We realized the great need not only of the people to hear about the love of Jesus but also to hear about the “Gospel of Nature”  which teaches us about our Lord and even gives him praise (Psalm 19:1).    

 

I reflected on this theme as we sang in the church and worshiped God who became man and later became wheat and grapes in order to draw near to us and to His creation which He intended to be “very good” (Gen 1:31).  As we have at times forgotten our identity as children of God and heirs to the kingdom we also have forgotten our call to protect and care for God’s great gift of nature which speaks to us and with us about Him.  (Romans 1:20)

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We spoke with the locals about the possibility of our family visiting these communities monthly next year Lord willing.  They found a house where we could stay for a few days each month.  We began praying at that moment that God would provide a way.  The people seemed so hungry for Jesus, hungry for a living faith, thirsty for the water of life.

 

As we headed down the mountain back to Leoncio Prado I had a lot to reflect on.  God is doing such wonderful things here in Peru and throughout the world in small communities often far from the lights and public notice.  Please continue to pray for our family as we seek His Will and pursuit the means to follow Him wherever He calls us.

 

Jonathan

Hogar Ezekiel Floors for the Poor Three Week Update

20160317_124050Wow what a blessed few weeks it has been in Leoncio Prado. God is so good to His children. The last few weeks we have been wonderfully busy working on floors for some of the families we serve through the ministry of Hogar Ezekiel. We wanted to let you in on some of our joy and some of you reading this have helped make possible.

In our last blog we wrote about our good friends Crespo and Sarina Armas and how God had blessed us and them with a new project idea and some possiblilites for a work that would give Crespo a much better paying job and help local kids in our poor town who live in mostly dirt houses with little sanitation. Since we last wrote we have been blessed to be able to help 5 other families through generous benefactors and prayer partners.

One little girl Colin attends Teresa’s drawing and painting classes. She has been an integral part of our church choir since its inception and has a beautiful smile and cheerful disposition. Her brother Kris suffers from a large tumor in his leg. We are still unsure of whether it is cancerous but are hopefully praying that God will heal him and/or help him get the appropriate medical attention. His father, Chicle, told me last night that they have to bring him to Lima to be looked at and are hoping to raise enough money for the airfare. We know God will help them. We were so blessed to have Tony and Monica Habashy contact us desiring to partner with us in getting them a floor and also pray for them daily that God will be present in their lives and help them with their needs. I remember the day we laid out the floor we were brought to Colin’s grandmother’s house down the street who raises Guinea Pigs (here called Cui). Micah immediately grabbed one up as the other kids ran about the room chasing the 20-30 cui that live in her kitchen. It was a bit wild. As a side note guinea pigs are great eating!! I think we all preferred them to giant jungle snail;)

20160318_193536Our third project was in Jorge’s house. Jorge is one of our older choir members and has one of the most beautiful smiles. He has been a great example for the younger kids always cheerfully helping out with church services and clean up. Last Sunday he was head of the church clean up and set up crew for our Sunday morning service. He also is currently in catechesis and we are so excited to think that he will receive baptism and First communion this September for the feast of Saint Martin de Porres, who is our town patron saint. When we worked in his house his mother Silya prepared us some Yuca chicha with salsa on the side. It was strange and good. You basically take a spoonful of the salsa and then drink the slightly fermented yuca juice which combines to give a very unique flavor. They call it masato. This project was helped by Jorge’s prayer partner Susan Taylor. Thanks to her generous gift Jorge can actually sweep out his room and keep clean. He came over immediately after the project to tell us how much he love his floor. I smiled thinking it was so strange to us in the US to think of a young man receiving a floor as a gift. It was beautiful seeing his gratitude.

IMG_1773The fourth floor was given to the Cordoba family. I was contacted by Gemma’s godparents, Mike and Angela Larkin who were glad to be partners in the project. Their son Drew is one of the semenarians in the Savanah diocese. The project was actually funny because Roberto, the father, who is our town’s main hunter, was going out into the mountains to hunt so couldn’t help out for the whole project. He showed us a small mountain cat fur and some unspecified jungle meat that he had brought back form the night before. It was interesting. He and his wife, Margarita have three girls, Corey, Nikita and Ruth. They all share the same bedroom. When we mentioned the project to them you could see their eyes light up. They were so surprised and began to apologize for not being more faithful church goers. I told them this was not a payment for going to church but rather a free gift of God’s love and grace. They were so happy. Margarita made us a wonderful salad out of a vegetable they grow here called caiwa.Descripción caigua It tastes kind of like a mix of bell pepper and poblano pepper. It was an amazing treat.

Yesterday we put in a floor in the Davila house. They live near Crespo and Sarina. The father Polidoro helped us out with the project. He and his wife Mercedes live in the house with their three kids, Jhon (spelled that way) Gerson, and Vilianita.  Gerson participates in our church choir.  Gerson’s mother is a seamstress and his father works in the chacra (farm or large garden). He actually was one of the hardest workers we have worked with. He seemed so thankful. His wife, Mercedes, made us chicha from slightly fermenting corn (which is more common here than that of Yuca). I had to leave a little early to be home for Gemma when she got out of school (12PM). They actually brought us lunch in their personal bowls. Probably our favorite part was the caiwa salsa that we put over our split peas. They had a puppy that would not leave us alone. It seemed to know exactly where to go to be in the way and get attention. This project was partnered by John and Christine Brooks. Thank you so much for your prayers and generosity.

This morning we put in the sixth floor in the Garcia house. We met Eylin and her mother Estefita earlier this year when a number of nursing school students from Benedictine Collage came for a medical mission. Eylin needs glasses and has been had been having problems with her eyesight. Their house is particularly dark and she was having real issues finishing her homework. I remember feeling touched as both she and her mother cried. Estefita felt ashamed that they couldn’t do more for their daughter. Estefita earns a living cooking for the neighborhood when she is able. She once sold me something called “mountain soup” which was basically oily water and armadillo meat. It wasn’t our favorite but we were thankful for her giving us an extra large helping because we were missionaries:) Eylin has a lot of hopes for her education. She is one of the few girls in our town who definitely hopes to go to the university after high school. We were blessed to be able to do this project with the help of Saint John’s CYM.

So far so blessed. Please continue to pray for us as we seek benefactors and prayer partners to keep working to give young people here more safe and clean homes. Pray that they come to know more deeply the great love Jesus has for them and that they would come to realize their important identity as children of God and disciples in mission.

P.S. to see more photos of our work please visit Jonathan Kiehl’s facebook page.

The Armas Family and a New Project

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The Armas Family and a New Project

When we began the new Ezekiel Home in Leoncio Prado we began praying and searching for a cook and someone who could fix a few things around the house to make it more kid friendly before recieving so many young people into our home. How blessed we felt when God decided to bless us doubly by sending us the Armas family.

I met Crespo during Holy Week when we needed a cement floor put in the house because John was so dirty from the dirt floor. He and I worked well together and we really got along talking throughout about Crespo’s life and his time in the army. He has a great since of humor and is a true optimist. His normal occupation is a pig farmer in which he makes 10 soles (3 dollars) a day. This is low even for San Martin, Peru where the local wage average is about 50 soles a day for a skilled worker.

Crespo’s wife, Sarina, is one of the most gentle and serene souls we have met in mission. She is a great cook and although she cannot read or write she has a mother’s wisdom and a great way of dealing with tough situations. She can cook almost anything. When we first met she offered us mountain soup (a local soup for the poor made from armadillo), she has cooked giant snail (not my favorite), majas,

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Majas

and even fox. We really wanted to help their family but struggled to find a way to help them without hurting their sense of human dignity. They don’t like charity so we hired Sarina to cook for us during Hogar Ezekiel and she also helps out with the laundry. It is a true blessing.

Crespo and Sarina received the sacrament of matrimony on May 14th.

The wedding

Crespo and Sarina’s Wedding

Sarinas baptism

Sarina’s Baptism

Sarina was baptized during the wedding and both Crespo and Sarina received first communion. It was beautiful. They have continued to come faithfully to church on Sundays and whenever Father comes into our area to celebrate Mass.

Their oldest child, 10 year old Nashely, has been coming to Ezekiel Home from the beginning and is a classmate to Micah. She has a radiant smile and loves to hold little John. One of her favorite foods is the Juane. It is a lump of rice with a small piece of chicken (often the head) inside and one or two olives. It represents John the Baptist’s head and his sacrifice for the sake of justice. For the feast day of Saint John the Baptist most everyone makes Juanes at home and shares them with their neighbors. It ends up being all we eat for days! Yum. She is part of our church choir and participates in Teresa’s drawing and painting classes on Wednesdays.

Jenco the TerrorJenko is 2 and a handful of trouble. We first met little Jenko when his mother Sarina came to a one day health clinic that a number of Benedictine College students set up during their 1 week visit earlier this year. He was so thin and sickly. Sarina told us he haden’t been eating and was losing a lot of weight. We brought them to see the sisters in Picota (who have a little clinic there). They did some tests and found out he had a high number of parasites inside him that were making him very ill. The sisters gave him some medications and he was soon back to normal.

One of the issues that face many of the families here is that they have dirt floors and walls that house and breed all sorts of bad bugs and diseases. Peru has the largest cockroaches in the world and they are very present in the dirt floors and walls of the houses here. Many of the youngest children are the most vulnerable to health problems because they crawl around on the dirt and then put their hands and whatever is in them into their mouths.

We wanted to have a cement floor put into our house and soon after we realized the great blessing it was to not have to worry so much about little John getting sick or ruining his clothes. We could wash our cement floor which helps to get rid of unwanted flies, ants, spiders, etc. that tend to congregate in the dirt floor houses. You can sweep the floor without worrying about making holes in the floor. You could also spray diesel and water on the floor which is a local remedy against disease carrying mosquitoes and biting gnats.

Thinking about all these things, we remembered that during our first year in missions some of our fellow missionaries, Sammy and Lindsey Romero, had started a project called Floors for the Poor. They were able to bless a number of families in the Philipines with new cement floors for their houses. We also were able to put some floors into houses we worked on our first year of mission in General Cepeda. We realized Leoncio Prado and its surrounding communities were perfect for doing floor projects. Within days we had contacted Sammy and Kevin Granger, our sub-director, and gotten permission to began an Ezekiel Home/Floors for the Poor project. We would like to make sure that all the kids who attend our Ezekiel Home can live in a home with a cement floor. It’s a way to help these beautiful young kids have a small buffer against the local diseases that affect our local kids so much.

This project also will help Crespo who, if you remember, currently works 10 hour shifts as a pig farmer for a mere 3 dollars a day! Crespo will recieve 20 dollars for every floor we put in together. This is a good wage down here where the average wage is around 16 dollars a day. We can do a floor from start to finish in 4-6 hours.

We would like to invite anyone reading this to help us help these great kids. For $150.00 you can give a family a cement floor in a room of their house. Many of the homes here are only one or two dirt rooms so it maybe that their whole house gets a new floor. Those who donate will be given a photo of the family they help so they can be praying for their Peruvian Partner Family who will also get a photo of the donor(s) that help put in their floor so they can also be praying for their American Partner Benefactor(s). We are hoping that this can lead to a beautiful spiritual solidarity that transcends mere charity or monatary donation. We want the children here to know that people in the US love them and are praying for their well being. We want the families here to began to realize they can be part of something bigger, that the family of God is global.

Thank you all for your help and support. We couldn’t do this without you.

SPECIAL THANKS – A special thanks to Michael and Lena Vrazel for helping us with our first project putting in a floor and some walss in the Armas family house!  More to come soon!!!

The Most Beautiful Words

 

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Our Pucacaca next door neighbor, Jhon, on Hogar Ezekiel opening day, Pucacaca.  (We now live in 2 different cities)

I am not sure if you all realize that we missionaries believe our ultimate goal in every location is to work ourselves out of a job.  Well, poco a poco it seems that we are starting to do just that!

 

Yesterday we reopened the Ezekiel home in Pucacaca.  After months of God-sent setbacks we were so excited to be back with the kids we have come to know so well.  It was a beautiful reunion singing God’s praises together again and praying on our knees the Divine Mercy Chaplet in the front room again.  We were so overjoyed at God’s generosity.  Yet His most generous gift came later on in the evening.  Teresa and I had just put the kids to bed and were cleaning up when we heard a loud child’s voice in the house next door.  We both stopped and listened.  It was our little neighbor Jhon (yes that is how it is spelled) was praying.  We were so astounded.  This is boy we have been neighbors to since we got here.  He lives with his grandmother, Laylita and no other adults.  His 10 year old sister Lleri (pronounced Jerry) often has had to miss school to stay at home with Jhon and his two brothers Jordan and Abyu.  He has always been a bit of a trouble maker but we really like him.  He is Isaac’s best friend in Peru.  Here he was praying speaking to the God who loves him and his poor family so much.  We both felt we were hearing something sacred.  He prayed for a long time:)

 

Another blessing just as beautiful happened 2 weeks ago.  About a month ago, Teresa and I were trying to figure out various ways to evangelize the adults in our community.  We recently had a marriage with four couples from our town who had their marriages blessed in the Church.  Before them there was only one married couple in our town.  The adults prefer to simply live together without marriage.  We decided to offer a communion service at 8:30 AM on Monday for the moms so they could start their week of with Jesus in a special way.  Teresa and I went for two Mondays and not even one mom showed up.  We felt like the idea was good but seemed to miss the mark somehow.  Then 2 weeks ago some of the young men from the high school asked us if we could do it earlier because they wanted to come.  We knew it was Jesus asking us to give a little more to the youth so we changed the time to 6AM.  The young people here often go running at 3:30 AM, yes AM.  I have gone twice but let’s just say I am not quite used to getting up so early and running a couple miles.  Since they are used to getting up so early and school starts at 7AM, the 6AM service has worked out so well.  We get 5 or 6 young people who want a little more from Jesus.  Some of these youth have never even been baptized but they have such an amazing faith and desire.  God is so good!

 

I have realized the most beautiful words said by man are not those we often cherish in great collections of masterworks, they are not even written down on paper or stone, they are simple words of a loving heart seeking the one it was made for.  I pray each of you will also encounter the great desire to encounter Jesus in the great adventure, Love’s encounter and love’s embrace.

Do Not Live in Fear, Little Flock

One of the first messages God spoke to Genie Summers, one of the FMC founders, has really spoken to my heart this week. When contemplating whether or not to sell their possessions and live a life of Gospel Poverty, Genie and Frank were struggling to accept and understand such a deeply counter cultural and total call to dependence upon Jesus. As she prayed one night, she shares, “God’s presence surrounded me. In inhaled His love. I opened my bible and read ‘Do not live in fear, little flock.’” She goes on to interpret what God was saying, “I thought, ‘Little flock,’ this is a term of endearment. Jesus is peaking to someone He loves and is responsible for- He’s offering them the best He can give- the kingdom of heaven, a never failing treasure!…I heard His unmistakable interior voice saying ‘Genie, you are one of my precious sheep. Have no fear!” (Go, You are Sent 116) I have also felt the liberating call to fearlessness. God has truly been calling Teresa and I to pray more, worry less, ask Him for more, depend upon Him more. This year has been such a profound opportunity to trust in and wait upon Jesus, our Shepherd, to provide for our every spiritual and physical need.

Yesterday one of our neighbors, Silvio, died at 86 years old. We met Silvio on a home visit while we were blessing houses in the community. Last week his family asked Teresa and I to visit him. They knew his death was near. We arrived to the house and entered the small dirt room where Silvio and his wife, Joanna lived. It was dark and smelled like urine. There was one bed and a few buckets next to an old bed table. The floor was uneven and had deep impressions where it looked like dogs had dug holes in the middle of the room. Their family had started to gather and were standing and sitting about the room. Teresa immediately went to hold Silvio’s worn drooping hands. He was so thin. There was an air of despair in the room. Joanna just sobbed and begged God to forgive her. She seemed to think his death was a punishment for her sins. We held to couple for a few moments and began to pray laying hands upon Silvio asking God to make His presence known. After a few moments I open my Bible and read John 3: 16-18. I spoke to Silvio of God’s great love for him and his family. That nothing he ever did, no sin he ever had committed was too great to be forgiven. I read to him Revelation 3:20 and I asked him if he realized that Jesus was present at that very moment asking him to let him come into his life and be with him. Silvio said he understood and that he wanted to let Jesus in.

I told his family that Jesus wasn’t present to condemn Silvio but to save him from each and every sin that separated him from God. One young man just buried his hands in his face and cried. Silvio held Teresa’s hand and I gave him a crucifix. I told him to keep it and to remember Jesus’ great love. I asked him if he was ready to ask Jesus into his life. He said yes. I asked him whether he believed that Jesus loved him and died for him in order to give him eternal life. He said yes. I traced the sign of the cross on his forehead and claimed him for Jesus. Last night Father Paco came and entrusted Silvio’s body to our Lord. Today we are celebrating his funeral at 3PM in our church here in Leoncio Prado. I realized that God had called Silvio to the same Gospel Poverty that he had called our founder. True Gospel Poverty is not simply to let go of material possessions but to let go of our portion of life to cling to and hold Life itself. True Gospel Poverty demands that we lose ourselves in His death in order to life in Him, “the way, the truth, and the life.” Genie was right, Jesus is offering each of us like Silvio the very best he can give “the kingdom of heaven.” As this new day dawns I want to be the first to accept again His offer of eternal life and I pray you will do the same.

Our First Ten Days Back in Peru

“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,

Jonathan