Thursday, November 30, 2017

I Saw a Parasite by Michael

Do You Know What This Is?

When we were hiking in Chanchomayo my friend found a parasite squirming by the side of a puddle. Before this I could  never imagine what parasites look like, but now I know.

I know that there are parasites in the food and water and even on the ground.

We have to try to keep the parasites out of our bodies.

When we wash our hands the parasites get killed.

We  have to cut our nails a lot so there isn't a bunch of dirt under them.  

It is easy for parasites to get underneath your nails. Then they eat through your skin and get into your body.

We need to use bottled water to drink and to brush our teeth because there are really tiny  parasites in the water. 

When they get in your body they grow big like the one in the video. 

When the parasites are in your body it's bad because they eat all the nutrients in your food and you don't get any.

If you you don't wear shoes the parasites will crawl under your nails and into any little holes or cuts you have on your feet.   

It's hard to remember to put my shoes on because everybody just forgets their shoes in the house and plays in bare feet.

There is no way not to get parasites because they are everywhere.  When we have diarrhea, we're really tired and we don't want to eat anything we know we have parasites in our body.

You have to make diarrhea in a little sample cup and take it to the doctor.  He checks the sample to see what kind of parasites you have and then gives you medicine.  In about 4 days you will feel better.  

I just found out that I have E. coli.

My parents and brother and sisters have parasites too so we all need to take medicine.

Now that I've seen a parasite I know what it is and I don't want to have one in my body.  I wash my hands more and take showers more.  I clean my nails and cut them. I know I should wear my shoes, but it's really hard.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Baby Amir Sebastian Died

Daily, people come to our door requesting help with a wide variety of issues. Sometimes they need food, while other times it's gas to cook their food. If a pregnant woman needs emergency care, we rush her to the hospital. In each situation, we do our best to follow the Spirit.

Despite the assortment of hardships there is one thing that remains consistent - WE NEVER GIVE ANYONE MONEY.  When someone needs a new steel roof panel, we go to the hardware store and buy it with them.  When a kid needs crayons and pencils for school, we head to another shop in town.  So far, this probably all sounds pretty straight forward, and it is... until the Holy Spirit asks us to break the rules.

We've come to learn that following the Spirit is all about making exceptions and breaking rules. It requires us to disregard the status quo, do what is seemingly illogical, and attend to the needs of the person before us, who we know to be Jesus in disguise.

Amir Sebastian was exactly this type of exception. His grandma, who we know well, came to us last May asking if we could possibly buy her grandson a special type of formula that the doctors believed would help him to grow.  Given the intimidating price tag of this American made product, we were a bit reluctant.  However, after she explained that Amir had a life threatening condition in which his body experienced extreme difficulty gaining and maintaining weight, we agreed. We looked and looked for a pharmacy nearby that sold the formula, but there were none.  With a bit of apprehension we gave Amir's grandma money so that she could buy the special milk product in the big city.  We weren't hesitant to buy the formula, we were hesitant to give someone money - even if it was someone we've come to trust.  Afterall, it was against the rule which we had so valiantly defended. Two weeks later Grandma returned with reports of success.  The formula was working and Amir was gaining weight. At 8 months of age, he no longer weighed in at 4 kilograms, but had increased to 4.5 (about 10 pounds). The doctors were hopeful and encouraged Amir's parents to continue using the same formula.  So, we continued sending money with Grandma so that she could buy what her precious grandbaby needed.  We wanted to visit this family, but every time we were "in the area" or had some free time it seemed that Amir was in the hospital battling a setback. There were times that we questioned ourselves, we doubted and felt afraid that we were getting taken advantage of - until the day Rolando, Amir's dad, appeared at our door hopeless and afraid.  Amir was in critical condition and there was nothing the doctors in Tarapoto could do.  They advised Rolando to rush his son to Lima where he could be seen by pediatric specialists, but without money (or a credit card) that was impossible.  Without delay Chris got online and ordered tickets for the very next flight.

Over the course of the next several months we continued buying Amir the special formula that he needed to thrive.  We would hear that slowly, his weight was increasing and everyone felt encouraged.  However, he would experience some difficulty and lose the weight he had worked so hard to gain.  It was an emotional roller coaster for Amir's parents and older sister, who were sacrificing everything to care for this precious little child.  In addition to the formula and medicine, we also bought plane tickets each month which allowed baby Amir to see the specialists in Lima with one of his parents.  We gave them extra money for taxis, food and a cheap hotel, knowing that Lima is outrageously expensive.  Although we always asked for receipts, we never really got any kind of proof of their expenditures.  However, we fully trusted that Rolando and his wife were using every single sole that we gave them to care for sweet, sweet Amir Sebastian.

Finally, in July we got the chance to meet Amir Sebastian for the first time. He was 9 months old and weighed less than my son Jack at birth.  As he sat in my lap he'd giggle and wriggle his skinny little legs. When he grasped my thumb with his tiny little fingers I started bawling. It was love at first sight!!  After just a few minutes of playful interactions Amir lost his strength and started fussing. His mom told me that he'd used up all his energy and needed to rest. Wanting to hold this little boy in my arms forever, I felt really disappointed when Amir's sister scooped him up and took him in the other room.

We continued supporting Amir's family as they worked tirelessly to provide him with the care he needed. We'd talk with his grandma regularly about his condition and prayed for him when it seemed he needed a little boost. In October it seemed like Amir was in the hospital more than he was home. Just a couple weeks ago I asked Grandma how her sweet little boy was doing and she informed me that he had taken a turn for the worse. He was "turning purple a lot more than usual", she said.  Although I'm no doctor, I knew this couldn't possibly be good. I asked if he needed to go to Lima again, but she didn't think anything was going to help.

A few days ago our precious little Amir Sebastian, who was only 13 months old, died in the loving arms of his mother.

They laid him out in the front room of his grandmother's home here in San Hilarion. When I walked in and saw the tiny little casket, I crumbled.  All I could think of was the day that he sat upon my lap giggling and wriggling about. It seemed like he was going to be fine...

The caskets here have solid covers, albeit a small glass window which allows the face of the deceased to be seen. This is because bodies are not embalmed and therefore begin to decompose quickly after death, especially in the intense jungle heat.  The glass window helps to contain the odor.

When people felt it was too hard to say "good-bye" through the glass, Rolando would lift the top off the casket so that mir could be seen more clearly.

This was really hard (for me) because the odor would immediately fill the room. Nobody else seemed bothered; they would simply wave small bottles of rubbing alcohol under their noses to prevent vomiting.

Also, as you can see in this photo, they put cotton swabs into the nostrils, mouth and ears once bodily fluids start to drain out. This helps to minimize the smell as well.

When we visited Sunday night we were able to spend time with the family and lead everyone in prayer.

The following day the family planned to begin the burial ceremony at 3PM; however Rolando came pounding on our door asking if we could start early because of the approaching storm....and so we did. 

It was really hard to stand by and watch Amir's sister and parents say their last good-byes. 

We left their home and walked in procession to the cemetery.

Michael and another boy carried Amir's commemoration poster at the front of the group.

As we walked through the streets we sang and cried, cried and sang.

At the cemetery Chris did a great job of leading the funeral service. He shared sacred scripture as well as a personal reflection. He led the group in song and then invited the family members to share.

 As Amir's uncle (the man in the gray shirt with shiny green sunglasses) talked, he kept referring to his nephew as "his little fighter", which brought us all to tears. He spoke of his calm demeanor and silly disposition.  Despite the pain and suffering, Amir was a bundle of joy for all that knew him.  Both his mom and grandma shared as well, professing their faith that Amir was resting in the arms of Our Lord. It was beautiful to see the strength that came from their complete trust in Jesus. 

When it came time to put the casket in the ground, Amir's mom and grandma were hysterical. They bellowed and wailed.... it was so hard to see them suffer so greatly.

Nobody wanted to rush anything, but everyone could see the black storm clouds quickly approaching. By the grace of God, the men were finishing Amir's burial as the first big drops began to fall.  After a beautiful arrangement of flowers were set upon his grave everyone left the cementery in silence.

Our hearts were heavy, but there was nothing left to say. We can only pray that during this very, very difficult time Amir's family is able to find their rest in Jesus.

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to support us financially so that we can continue serving
the people here in Peru, please visit:
or call Family Missions Company at
(337) 893-6111

Our Lost Sheep Received Their Sacraments

November 26, 2017 
This date has been starred, circled and highlighted on calendars all around town for almost a year. With eager anticipation about 150 people filed in, found places to either sit or stand, and waited patiently for the celebration to begin.  The joy in the church was tangible.

The murmur of voices created a buzz of excitement as family members and friends visited while waiting for Father Paco to arrive.

The ceremony began with a procession of candidates. Although there was an obvious mixture of excitement, curiosity and apprehension, it seemed that all the kids were happy to be wearing their new, special clothes.

Thanks to Team Carmody, all our Lost Sheep had new dress pants and a sporty white shirt. Those that needed them even got new shoes and underwear. I kept their new clothes in our home until their big day to eliminate the temptation for them to wear the clothes ahead of time.  It was important to all of us that their outward appearance be as spotless and new as their souls would be after receiving baptism.

When we were shopping, most of the guys choose either black or dark gray pants, which is what I encouraged, because it's practical. Not only would they look handsome for our sacrament day, but they could wear the pants in the future without having to worry about them getting all dirty and stained. 

Jherson, however, was only concerned about his sacrament day.  He wanted everything to be white, including his shoes, socks and undies. Given Jherson's dark past, he felt especially eager to be cleansed and made new by the waters of baptism. He wanted his outward appearance to represent the purity that he so greatly longed for on the inside.  As so it was, Jherson wore all white.

Father Paco invited the kids to the front to talk with them about the sacraments that they had prepared to receive.

Being "Christ the King Sunday", he explained the importance of recognizing and accepting Christ as our one and only King.  We honor Our King. We love Our King. We live in service to Our King. 

As Holy Mass got underway, it was affirming to see the teens who had received their sacraments last year participate in the celebration. Our friend Isaac read the psalm prayers and did a beautiful job!

Knowing that this day would be replete with tears, I never imagined that the readings would make me cry.  How though, could I keep a dry eye when the first reading was about lost sheep and the gospel spoke of our final judgement when all will be separated like sheep and goats?  As I glanced over at my own Lost Sheep it hit me in a profound way that the Word of God is truly alive!! 

My heart broke open as Jhordan (a.k.a. "Lucifer the Wedding Ring Thief")
bowed his head for a blessing.  As Father anointed him my mind raced... 
Could this possibly be the same guy that sat in my home a couple
months ago fashioning weapons out of clay? In the bible
St. Paul says that all things are possible in that I say AMEN!

As part of the Catholic baptismal ceremony the priest uses holy oils to bestow special blessings upon the recipients. First, their heads are anointed, as described in Psalm 23:5, "You anoint my head with oil."  In Old Testament times, the Jews used holy oils to signify a special designation from God; as anointed ones, they received the honor of being His beloved servants.  We too receive that honor during baptism.

The Oil of Catechumens has been used since A.D. 215 when St. Hippolytus, in his Apostolic Tradition, wrote of the "oil of exorcism" used to anoint a candidate immediately before his baptism. Still to this day, priests offer the prayer of exorcism and then anoint the person on the chest saying, "I anoint you with the oil of salvation in the name of Christ our Savior, may He strengthen you with  His power, who lives and reigns forever and ever." This blessing was visibly powerful for our Lost Sheep; perhaps because of past occult associations.

Finally, Father used holy chrism, which is an aromatic resin mixture of olive oil and balsam, to anoint each person as "priest, prophet and king".  This ancient tradition of sanctification has been used for several thousands of years.

As the waters of baptism splashed  over the heads of each of our Lost Sheep the Holy Spirit came in power to cleanse and purify them of all their past misgivings.

As I stood with my hands upon their backs and shoulders, I could feel the Spirit moving through them. When I opened my eyes it seemed as though I could see their sins being washed away.  Despite my effort to  maintain control of my emotions, it was impossible.  Tears of joy erupted from the depths of my soul. I was overwhelmed with gratitude, that Jesus trusted us enough to call us here to the jungles of Peru for these kids. As sub-contracted shepherds, he sent us out looking for His lost sheep.  All praise be to God that we not only found them, but with the help of His Spirit we've been able to guide them back to their true shepherd, Jesus Christ.

Next, Father Paco gave each person "the light of Christ".

Together, they lifted their candles and we all sang "Esta la Luz de Cristo", which is the Spanish version of "This Little Light of Mine".

During the Confirmation ceremony Father Paco asked that the church be silent.  Together, as a unified community, we begged the Lord for an incredibly outpouring of the Holy Spirit.... was powerful!!

As the confirmation ceremony continued, Father invited each kid to the front of the church where he talked with them and gave counsel.

Using holy chrism, Father traced a cross on each one's head signifying that he is now ready to profess his faith openly and practice it fearlessly. With the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Father reminded them, there is nothing that they can't do.

During confirmation, the priest or bishop always follows this anointing with a traditional (gentle) "slap" on the cheek, which signifies that the person must be ready to suffer anything, even death, for the sake of Christ.

When Javier received his blessing a flood of tears fell from my leaky eyes as I recalled Michael saying to me, just a couple weeks ago,

"Mom, when I was praying Jesus told me that He wants Javier to be a priest." 

During our formation at FMC we were taught about the importance of each individual soul. Before we left, they told us that Jesus may have called us to give up everything (our very lives) for the salvation of one person. If we weren't willing to "give it all" for one person, we ought not go.  Sometimes I feel like Javier is that one person...

It was incredibly emotional to be with each of the guys as they received the Spirit...

Next, several of them received their First Holy Communion.

In addition to the celebration of Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Communion, we also had the privilege of celebrating a marriage.  It was beautiful to see the community gather around to witness these two lovebirds profess their commitment to live in fidelity until death. 

When Father Paco gave us all his final blessing I realized that Holy Mass had taken almost 4 hours. It's amazing that the time passed so quickly.  I suppose it's because each moment was just so exciting!!  It's incredible to me that, despite the fact that everyone was drenched in sweat, nobody complained about the length of the service or the searing heat. Everyone was simply filled with love and joy, appreciative to have a priest available to celebrate the sacraments.

We tried to gather everyone for a photo, but many had already left with their families.

I think our final count was around 45 people who received sacraments this day.

Karen - Ivan - Jherson - Javier - Copo - Esbranller - Alex
(Jhordan wasn't available because he had left with his parents.)

Filled with joy and excitement, I was hoping for one last photo of the guys who have become known around town as my "Peruvian kids", but they were all too tired.

Everyone left and went home to rest and have lunch.

Later that afternoon we gathered at the covered soccer court to celebrate.

We all took turns: the moms and girls, the younger boys, and then the teens.

Laura is a single mom in our village who earns a living by selling food outside her home.

She prepared food for all 60 people who came to celebrate with us on Sunday. She made grilled chicken, chaufa, onion salad, yucca and homemade maracuya juice.  It was delicious!!!

Our teens want to say, "THANKS", to Team Carmody for making it possible for our family to be here in Peru with them!!   They want to say, "THANKS", for supporting them in their journey of faith!!

During the Life in the Spirit retreat, our teens learned that
this three fingered hand gesture is an international sign for "I LOVE YOU".

They want to say, "THANKS", for accepting them despite their faults and failings!!

They want to say, "THANKS" for loving them just as they are!

We too thank you for making all this possible.  We are truly blessed to have such an amazing team!  We ask that you continue to pray for our Precious Sheep, knowing that they still struggle with drug addiction.  Despite the spiritually uplifting experiences that we have together, they return to broken homes and abusive situations. They are attempting to evangelize their friends who constantly try to drag them back into the darkness, which is SO hard!! Finally, I ask that you pray that each one of them passes their respective grade in high school, which ends for the year on December 22.  We've been helping them with their homework, but the bigger challenge they face is trying to change their reputation with their peers and teachers.  Our moto is "One Day at a Time." 

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to support us financially, please visit:
or call Family Missions Company at
(337) 893-6111

Friday, November 24, 2017

Presenting ~ Shambo Dance Recitals 2017

After months and months of preparation, the big night finally arrived. Excitement filled the air...

It all started with Holy Mass in the chapel, which is located in the center of the orphanage.

So many people attended that there was standing room only.  People spilled out into the corridor in front of the chapel and filled the adjacent hallways.

Not enough space in the church? What a great problem to have!!!

After Holy Mass the band from the local high school performed some traditional "pep rally" type songs because later that night Peru would be playing a very important soccer match which would determine whether or not they qualify for the World Cup.

(We're happy to report that Peru won and will be playing in Russia in 2018. This is the first time in 36 years that Peru has qualified for the World Cup.  Everyone is VERY excited!!!)

Our priest, Father Paco, kicked off the festivities by inviting one of the nuns to a traditional Spanish two-step of sorts.

Next, he gathered all the girls into a conga line and paraded around the courtyard.

Although they pretended to be embarrassed, we could all tell that they were having the time of their lives!

Finally it was time for Anna's recital. 

Here's a clip of their routine:

When the girls were done they scurried about in excitement. 
It was hard to get them all to stand still for a photo...

Thanks Team Carmody for purchasing the girls funky, fresh and MODEST polos
that they will be able to wear to Mass and around town.

Next up was Katelyn's group.

Here's a clip of their dance:

I could tell by the twinkles in their eyes that the older girls were really excited about how well their dance went.  They had worked hard and it showed! We were all so proud of them!

Team Carmody also purchased polos for each of the older girls. These shirts served as their costumes
for the recital, but more importantly gave them another MODEST shirt to add to their small collection.

This beautiful night was bitter sweet. After spending another whole year together, our relationships have grown into something very special. It was fun and exciting to celebrate and we left eager to begin again in March with the start of their next school year.  However, our "good-byes" were hard for many reasons. In December, when the nuns return to their countries of origin for the holiday, these orphaned young ladies will return to the households from which they came, most of which are horribly abusive (sexually) and severely dysfunctional.  It absolutely breaks our hearts to know the terror that awaits them and devastates us to know there is nothing we can do to save them from that misery.  It's also hard knowing that there are some of the girls that we'll never see again. Our opportunity to teach them about the unconditional, eternal love of Jesus has passed.  It's natural to wonder if we helped them at all.  Were they able to gain even a bit more appreciation for their own dignity and worth as beautiful princesses of Our King? Will they remember our talks and activities, which we designed to help them draw closer to Jesus, who is ultimately all they need? We ask that you join us in prayer as our precious princesses venture back into the den of lions.  We pray for their safety, their fortitude and ability to persevere through all the hardships that will likely come.

We thank God for every penny that people have been willing to share with us because without that support, this mission would not be possible!

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to support us financially, please visit:
or call Family Missions Company at
(337) 893-6111