"Thanks" from the Teens in San Hilarion

When we first arrived here in Peru 18 months ago we did what most new missionaries do and went looking for ministries.  There is no shortage of need, so we definitely found plenty of people to help. In hindsight, we realize that not all our efforts were Spirit led. As we've learned to surrender more completely, we're a bit better at allowing the ministries to find us.

Earlier this year Katelyn, Anna, Jack and Michael received funds from members of Team Carmody who wanted our kids to have money for their own ministries. Falling back into old habits, the brainstorming began. Without any great ideas jumping off the page, they impatiently resigned to the fact that the Spirit would hand-deliver the ministries for which these funds were to be used.

A few weeks ago we helped facilitate a three-day retreat for the lay church leaders of our 140+ villages.  During that retreat, a group of young adults from a local pro-life organization gave an incredible presentation on how to minister to those struggling with issues related to abstinence, natural family planning, STDs, contraception, adoption and abortion. They concluded by inviting everyone to a Christian concert that they would be hosting in Moyobamba a couple days later.

It was as if the Holy Spirit hand-delivered the promotional flyer... As soon as it hit our hands the ideas started reeling ~ there are SO many teens in our community that have no idea how amazing it feels to be head-over-heels in love with Jesus. Christian concerts can be so inspirational and life changing, especially those designed for young adults...

In the lower left corner of the flyer it indicated that student tickets were only fives soles ($1.54), which is SO affordable!! Moyobamba is a three hour drive through the mountains. How could we get the kids there? If the concert starts at 8PM, we wouldn't get back to San Hilarion until almost 3AM - would their parents let them go? Would we have to spend the night there? They don't have money to buy dinner, so what could we feed them? So many questions....

Little did we know that the Holy Spirit had everything worked out.

All of the kids that Anna and Katelyn invited were available, eager and allowed to go.

The kids piled into the back of the nuns' new truck, where they snuggled up to keep warm in the brisk mountain air during our three hour drive.  We "stumbled across" a restaurant offering dinner for six soles ($1.85). After filling our tummies, we raced across town and arrived at the venue just as the opening act was starting.

At first, our Lost Sheep were a bit skeptical of the enthusiastic crowd. They huddled together in the back of the auditorium as if a hungry wolf was prowling. When our daughters insisted on moving closer to the stage, the group remained huddled with their arms crossed. Their eyes darted from one cluster of young adults to the next, unsure of what to make of the uninhibited laughter and outpouring of joy which surrounded them.

Apprehension was overcome by curiosity, which slowly transformed into participation as the headliner moved from one hit to the next. When I saw "our kids" swaying back and forth, clapping and singing the lines posted on the big screen, I couldn't hold back my tears. "They're enjoying themselves," I said to myself between sniffles, "they're really enjoying themselves!"  Are these the same guys that take and sell drugs? That have gotten expelled from school? In between songs the singer talked about the importance of choosing life. He invited us to join him in prayer for all those who have had abortions - which hit really close to home for one member of our group.  She was visibly enduring a roller coaster of emotions and couldn't stop crying - at times her tears were filled with joy, other times sorrow, confusion, anger. At one point, she pointed to a woman who had been dancing and singing nonstop and said, "I hope that someday I love Jesus that much!"

Toward the end of the concert the headliners encouraged the audience members to thank their mothers for choosing life. For those without mothers present, he invited us to affirm our companions for the gift we are to each other. I hugged my own children, but continued on to embrace each of my Peruvian children and thank them for allowing me to be their adopted mother. In the strength and sincerity of their hugs I realized that our growing love is mutual.  

To say we've given up on making plans is a bit of an exaggeration, but we try our best to wait patiently for Him to guide us each step of the way.

Katelyn and Anna are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to give their friends such an incredible experience. 

The kids here were excited to say, "THANKS" as well - in both English and Spanish.  To see their short videos, click on the YouTube links below:

Here's their thank you in Spanish:

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