If you were to ask Kristin what she loves to do, she would be hard-pressed to select specific things or activities. But this year we have been learning together how she thrives when she can “harmonize” with those around her. Harmony requires a melody, and what Kristin loves to do is come alongside and fill in around the service and work of others, which she does here on a daily basis. To catch up with Kristin is to do so constantly…
During May, we celebrated Mother’s Day, and Kristin and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary (May 23rd). Both occasions mark the constant testimony of God’s victory by His grace through Kristin’s presence in our family. I (Mark) want to take this space to provide a closer look at Kristin’s service here in Peru.
It begins in our home, where she constantly helps me and our children with our daily responsibilities. She and I have always been a team since we got married two decades ago, and the collaboration only increases with what our life here requires of our being and doing…together. With our kids, she keeps them on track with school and also provides extra opportunities with music and other areas of exploration and growth.
In our the Mission TEC Care Center program, Kristin has started a music class. The response from the children has become a constant enthusiasm. They have grown in their confidence, specifically in playing recorders. Check out the two videos below for the tangible testimony of their improvement. The first video comes from one of the first classes, and the second from a recent Mother’s Day presentation. What a difference!
She also helps regularly with a group of young moms that live in our community. This includes participating in their gatherings, and it extends to her responsiveness to practical needs and ways to encourage them. Some of the young moms group enjoyed an evening out to celebrate Mother’s Day. By living here in this community, we have constant opportunities to help mothers and their children. Kristin often serves as the point person for these conversations and the coordination of how we can help.
Our family enjoys our extended missionary family here in Pucallpa, specifically through the South America Mission Academy, where Caleb, Jacob, and Rachel will soon complete 7th, 5th, and 3rd grade. Kristin coordinates our children’s constant social calendar around the many birthday parties and fun outings presented through the SAM family. Here is a recent photo of a SAM Academy mother-son outing.
Kristin serves as the Sponsorship Coordinator for all of Kids Alive Peru. This means that she is the primary contact with the sponsorship team at the headquarters in Valparaiso, facilitating constant communication and the completion of projects at all five of the Kids Alive sites here in Peru. Kristin leads a team of four site coordinators that work year-round to maintain the connection between children and their sponsors. The sponsorship program plays a significant part in making this ministry possible to all the children we serve in Peru. Kristin took these photos at a recent birthday party at the Orchard Children’s Home here in Pucallpa.
From our dating days until now, Kristin has led the way in scheduling outings to explore and learn about the areas we visit. On our recent trip to Chiclayo, a coastal town in northern Peru, we visited an archaeological site called the Royal Tombs of Lord Sipan. In archaeological circles, this discovery ranks second only to King Tut’s Tomb. Who would think that a pyramid exists beneath this mound in the photo? Numerous tombs have been discovered, and this world-class museum houses the remains and treasures from these tombs. It was a sobering experience to learn about the idolatry that held this community in bondage, inspiring us to read Scripture’s warnings about idolatry with constant alertness. We also visited a beach in Chiclayo, where we saw their unique local
As a constant friend, Kristin rejoices when new friends become old friends. While in Chiclayo, we re-connected with new-old friends who were our classmates while in language school four years ago. They will soon return to their home in Sweden, so our visit provided a very special reunion with them.
Kristin made arrangements with some other very special friends of ours to keep our children while we traveled to Chiclayo. They were actually the first family we met when we arrived in language school, and we have constantly grown together during our shared years so far here in Peru, as they also live in Pucallpa. We had the opportunity to return the favor and keep their children during a recent trip for them. This meant that our home church Sunday service (once-a-month when we have guard duty at our base) included special guests.
Living cross-culturally presents constant challenges that push us outside of our comfort zones. Kristin held down the fort for nearly a month during my travels from April into May. This made it possible for me to teach a graduate course at Lancaster Bible College/Capital Seminary, called “Missional Families in a Global World.” At the end of that week in PA, Caleb and I experienced a very meaningful time together camping at the Gettysburg Battlefield to mark his 13th birthday. Thank you to Mr. Bruce Hoover for spending a day with us, sharing his passion and expertise for the story and for understanding “what was bought” through unimaginable loss and sacrifice in those fields. It was not easy for Kristin to be away from her oldest child and first teenager when he turned 13, but she supported this adventure, knowing how significant it would be in Caleb’s life.
In the midst of our travels, Kristin also coordinated a very emotional visit with some of our closest Peruvian friends who live in Lima, the Rios family. Our hearts are heavy with grief, as this was the last time we were with Samuel. He is the father and grandfather in this picture, who just passed away after a brief and intense time of suffering with cancer. It is very difficult to imagine life in Peru without Samuel Rios, who along with his family, has been a constant part of our family since we met in 2005. He provided critical logistical support to us in navigating Peruvian processes, but even more, he is the one who taught us the phrase and embodied the truth of our shared “Kingdom culture.” As my dad recently put it, it is difficult to imagine Samuel not being on this earth, but it is easy to imagine him in the presence of our Father.
By God’s grace and strength, we constantly go out as a family, along with our supportive partners. While Kristin held down the home front in Peru, I was able to participate in some strategic meetings in the Dominican Republic at various Kids Alive sites throughout the island. Most of our meetings focused on the growing and excellent ministry to and through service teams. Alongside of these meetings, I met with missionary leaders in the DR on the themes of missionary care and trauma training. It was so encouraging to meet the broader team that we serve with around the world with Kid Alive International.
From the first part of May through the middle part of July, our ministry site constantly hosts interns and teams, one group right after another. Our guests encourage the ministry and team here in many ways, even as they themselves are changed by the experience. In our home, this means many logistics for Kristin to handle as she assists the team host coordinator, and we ourselves welcome many guests around our table. Kristin remains the heart of our family’s hospitality. Here we are with our first group of interns, eleven students from Azusa Pacific University, during one of our weekly Bible studies.
While in the DR, our group visited Santo Domingo, where Christopher Columbus landed to discover the New World. The first church of the New World is pictured here, which Columbus built on a subsequent journey. This September will mark four years since we moved to this “New World” for us in Peru. Like the photo of Columbus’ statue, I often find myself pointing to the vision before us, and Kristin holds the anchor (held by Columbus’ right hand), carrying it with us that she might drop it where we land, ensuring that we are always at home. She is a constant gift to our family and others, and we give thanks to our Father, and in His Son we have our rest.
Kristin, Mark, Caleb, Jacob, and Rachel Coté
Director of Discipleship and Development, Kids Alive Peru
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