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Laura-Lee Lovering

November 2023

Happy Advent

Hi folks,

Warm greetings for the start of Advent! As in many countries around the world now, there are Christmas trees and fairy lights starting to appear around the city centre and the shopping malls - but no sweaty-looking Father Christmases, yet. Perú put its particular flavour on things by warming up the festivities with a 'chocolatada'. Ostensibly these are celebrated for the benefit of children, but I've yet to see an adult turn down a cup of sweet hot-chocolate and a wedge of well-buttered paneton sweet bread. What I may miss in mince pies and mulled wine this month will certainly be compensated for.

In my last newsletter, I spoke amply about the El Niño phenomenon, its impacts here in the region of Piura and the local plans to host some workshops on disaster prevention and response. As is often the case here, the schedule can get moved around at relatively short notice and we have had to postpone the workshops, which will now (God-willing) start at the end of December. Hopefully we will still get it in before the rainy season begins in any serious way and we all continue to pray to be thoroughly under-whelmed by it when the rains do finally arrive.

In the meantime, it's been a little sad to say 'good-bye' to the participants of the online Eco-Crisis and the Gospel course with IBTS, after ten weeks of grappling with profoundly concerning facts about our current world reality and the many different facets of what a positive, practical response looks like - including how to engage the Church in each of our distinct contexts. Now it's time for the End of Course evaluation and thinking ahead for 2024 when I sincerely hope IBTS will be willing to run the course again. One of the challenges this year (as I suspect it was for my predecessor last year) has been to find enough people with the interest, expertise and time to join me on the team of tutors. I'm incredibly grateful for the support of A Rocha France and Canadian Baptist Ministries who provided a volunteer each, as well as the Baptist Union Environment Network's Dave Gregory. I've had the privilege of sitting-in on all the contributions each week and have encountered something new, from the other tutors and participants, every single week.

A week ago, I had the pleasure of receiving my BMS colleague, Michele Mahon, here in Piura after having travelled about 8 hours by coach from the city of Trujillo. We had both been invited to participate in a children's mission conference, 'Niños Sin Fronteras!' ('Children Without Borders'), hosted by one of the larger Baptist churches in the city, with the help of another mission worker with the International Mission Board, who came up from Lima. It was another good time of collaboration as we served alongside the local Peruvian team to provide a stimulating day of international travel for about 100 children and young adolescents. Each of us had 20mins to present a different country, speaking on cultural topics of food and clothing etc. and some of the challenges to the Christian faith, finishing with a prayer. Michele spoke on Nigeria, where she is from; I spoke on Morocco, where I am not from but have visited a couple of times and where the challenges to Christianity are very real, even if the culture is relatively liberal for a Muslim country. The children were divided into groups and taken to each country scattered around the church premises. Originally we had been told to expect to deliver our 20min presentation about seven times. I lost count; Michele says she counted 10 times. I was impressed at how well the children managed to stay reasonably attentive, even into the third hour of travelling!

It was great to spend time with Michele and I'm planning to visit her and her family in Trujillo later in the month before they travel for Home Assignment. I also have a couple of friends in Trujillo who I hope to be able to visit, which will be a bit of a treat before Christmas. I will be here in Piura for the 24th and 25th and will be spending my second Christmas at the home of a friend from church. This year we are going halves on a whole turkey, which we will enjoy in the traditional way, with rice, in the evening on the 24th.


Please do continue to pray for Perú, especially this north coast region which is most vulnerable to El Niño impacts. Pray that the rainy season defies all fears and passes through relatively calmly. But at the same time, pray that we can deliver a useful workshop on 29th December which will encourage and facilitate the churches to form their Civil Defence Committees.

I'm thankful for the ongoing enthusiasm of the young people and the wider church community to engage with simple environmental initiatives and I'm keen to find ways to expand these ideas to the rest of the regional association, ideally driven by the young people themselves. Pray for patience and discernment on my part and a continued deepening of understanding on the part of the church community.

Finally, pray for clarity as I am in conversations with A Rocha Perú and a local rural church plant about a possible eco-stove project for early next year.




And if it's not too early to say it, may you have a blessed and joyful Christmas, celebrating the arrival of the King - the real one! Praise Jesus!

Love Laura x