In April of 2006, St. Matthew’s Cathedral sent its first bilingual mission team to Arequipa, Peru. Working with SAMS missionaries Fr. Ron and Vicki Robertson, this bilingual team worked with locals to paint Cristo Redentor, the main Anglican church in Arequipa. As the song says, we left our hearts in Arequipa, falling in love with the people there and inspired by their dedication to spreading the good news of the Gospel.
Every year since, St. Matthew’s has sent a bilingual team to Arequipa. One of the delights of each trip is getting to know the children at the Anglican orphanages, called Casa Hogares. The children in these two orphanages received our team with open arms and quickly bonded with our team members, enjoying activities such as building things with puzzle blocks.
In 2008 the team visited a new residential area of Arequipa known as Villa Ecologica. Amidst these modest dwellings with no electricity or running water, the Anglican Church had purchased ten acres of land with a vision for building a church to serve the needs of these families. Our team caught the vision, and with lots of prayer and the approval of Dean Kevin and Bishop Stanton, we pledged to help make that new mission church a reality.
So the church Santiago Apóstol (St. James the Apostle) was born. The following spring our team dug a trench for the foundation (one meter deep!) and cheered when the first pole for the supporting structure was raised. In 2010 a team of eight people returned to continue helping them build the walls and bell tower out of sillar (a local white stone) and bricks. In 2011 the floor was laid, and in 2012 the roof and doors were completed.
Although progress is slow, the work continues in our absence, and we were thrilled to visit the Santiago blog (http://santiagoaqp.blogspot.com/ ) and see a picture of the Eucharist on Pentecost Sunday, which included the very first baptism at Santiago Apóstol!
We plan to continue our support of the Anglican Church and SAMS missionaries in Peru through prayer, financial support, and another mission trip in 2011. To find out how you can be a part of this mission, contact Fr. Tony Muñoz or Deacon Betty Barrios.