Convergence. For our family this concept testifies how life and calling meet together as marked by God’s fingerprints. While transition brings much vulnerability, God’s kindness remains a constant in our lives. We give thanks for His victory that makes it possible in the whirlwind of transition to both stand firmly in one place while stepping forward to a new place.
Standing in Peru, we see a Kids Alive Peruvian leadership team embracing for themselves the job description of Judah’s king: “Administer justice every morning; And deliver the person who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor, that My wrath may not go forth like fire and burn with none to extinguish it, because of the evil of their deeds” (Jeremiah 21:12). Each of these five site directors with their spouse have committed to practical and essential steps to establish a kingdom culture of authenticity, accountability, trust, and excellence, all with the goal of transformation for the children and families served throughout Peru. Some highlights of key initiatives advanced and/or launched through a recent leadership retreat include:
- The priority of a leader’s (shepherd’s) personal well-being and integrity to protect from feeding off of those receiving ministry (the sheep).
- A country-wide and Christ-centered focus on a discipleship curriculum founded upon God’s love as outlined in 1 Corinthians 13, applied to identity and key beliefs and behaviors that result. This curriculum first applies to leaders, staff and their families in order to be passed relationally onto the children in the ministries.
- Introductory training in trauma-informed caregiving to be covered at all five ministry sites with all staff by the end of June.
- Accompaniment of children and families with professional emotional and legal support through the complex processes related to seeking justice for abuse and abandonment.
- The systemic implementation of a financial operation detailed in a newly created KA Peru financial procedures manual under the direction of a newly appointed Peruvian Director of Finance.
- The development of plans for providing adequate rest for caregivers.
- Agreement upon a vision and process for establishing a therapeutic team of counselors and social workers that serve children and families at each ministry site.
- Strategic priorities for keeping families together in the communities where KA Peru has a presence.
In a very recent letter from Dan Anderson, KA Peru’s Country Director, he described for a KAI Vice-President the capacity of this Peruvian leadership team that makes his own travels outside of the country possible in order to build new partnership connections for the ministry. Our freedom to step forward ourselves into a new role echoes Dan’s assessment:
“The good thing about all of this is that I feel comfortable leaving the ministry here in the hands of our leaders for these times. That would not have been true last year, but reflects their good leadership and the current stability. This was my goal but I did not know we would get to this point so quickly.”
From where we stand at the Mission TEC Care Center in Pucallpa, we see the successful launch of the Familias con Esperanza (Families with Hope) program that welcomes moms of children in the programs three mornings a week. It spans three mornings because of the high interest and turnout, meaning that each morning is a different group of moms. This discipleship experience teaches the moms how to sew, with a year-end goal of them beginning to work out of their own home. These moms also learn about helping their own children face their traumatic experiences, which means sharing the hope for healing for these moms who have themselves been abused. One such participant recently shared how she herself was a victim of trafficking as a very young teen, and is now facing the effects that this has had on her and her family. One tangible evidence of the progress of her healing is how she and her children have taken a stand to stop the abuse occurring in their own family.
Standing in this Pucallpa Care Center, we see how a recent visit of a team of 30 from Valley Christian School in Wisconsin, led by our good friend, Sean Freund (VCS Principal), helped with the facility expansion to accommodate the growth of the FE (Familias con Esperanza) outreach ministry. This new space will allow the training for moms to also include culinary skills. The vision for expanding this outreach also includes reaching out to the fathers through discipleship that will include carpentry, etc.
Standing in Peru, we see a highly anticipated therapeutic team taking shape country-wide. We have helped identify and recruit a visionary and highly qualified Peruvian leader to lead this team. In Pucallpa, a psychologist has been hired to serve both the Orchard Children’s Home and the TEC Care Center, and a social worker has begun at the Orchard and there is also one working at TEC. The social worker accompanies the children and their families through the grueling and emotionally taxing processes of navigating legal processes related to abandonment, abuse, and re-unification when possible. Stories abound of suffering families and children who are not alone but now experiencing support through the faithful presence Kids Alive Peru’s staff. Members of this therapeutic team are included in this recent Orchard Children’s Home redemptive family portrait!
Standing in Pucallpa, we see the beginning of a country-wide training initiative for all staff in the 9-part Spanish-based program called Trauma-Competent Caregivers. This introductory training through June. Mark launched the first two modules for all Pucallpa staff in April, and now he can pass the baton to three different Peruvian trainers who will complete the next seven modules. This will be followed by the more detailed and ongoing training of the Trust-Based Relational Intervention® from Texas Christian University, of which Mark became the first practitioner in Peru, and now there are three in Peru (and more from the Kids Alive Latin American region) who have been trained through this TBRI® at TCU connection Mark was privileged to pioneer.
Standing in Pucallpa and connecting country-wide, we see a child sponsorship team in place with greater efficiency, connectedness, and accountability with the international office. Kristin’s leadership of this team has served the life-giving connection and communication between many children and their sponsors, and now this team is poised to continue forward in this vital part of the ministry.
Standing in Pucallpa alongside the newest missionary family to join the team, the Howes, we see a couple and family marked by humility and thoroughly prepared to serve as team and intern hosts. They are well-positioned in the ministry with their unique giftings and significant experience in missions. Working with them during the first part of 2019 has been a true privilege and joy for our whole family, and we look forward to how God will continue to love them and love many through them going forward.
Above all, from where we stand in Pucallpa and from what we see throughout Peru, the focus on strengthening families centers on following Jesus and being family according to His kingdom’s purpose. From the jungle to the mountains to the coast, the tables have been re-set in Kids Alive Peru to welcome more royal ones to the table where justice and righteousness are kindly and lovingly served.
At the same time, stepping towards Mark’s cross-organizational role in Kids Alive International, supported by Kristin and our family, we see it taking shape around our vision, heart, and gifting. Mark’s efforts have increasingly had broader influence in Peru and beyond, so there is excitement for these next steps in Peru and beyond.
Stepping forward toward this re-location to Valpraiso, Indiana, we see Kristin’s vital role to confirm steps into our new home and community, ministering comfort to the family and looking forward to how she might build upon her work both in Kids Alive and community circles. So we have begun to pack-up our Peruvian house (pictured here with boxes being moved out), and we have found a house in Valparaiso to serve as our next home in this journey. From there, we envision extending the hospitality that connects all of our homes from Pennsylvania to Virginia to Peru and soon-to-be Indiana, that others might pass through our door and leave refreshed and strengthened to return to their neighborhoods and the nations where they serve. We are also enrolling our children in schools in Valpo, trusting God for influential teachers, good friends, and opportunities to shape Caleb, Jacob, and Rachel’s lives and learning.
Through it all, God continues to amaze us as we step through this open door, with so many confirming words of encouragement, wisdom, and knowledge for how to freely go into this next season. A primary expression of His presence with us comes through the people He has sent to walk with us. Recently, Worship Center (Lancaster, PA) sent three ladies on a pastoral visit to check-in with us in-person and encourage us in this work—a true gift! And so He both comforts us in this vulnerable season, and He calls us forward. With Him together with those He so sends, we discover the true meaning of convergence: Immanuel.
May God be with us all,
Mark, Kristin, Caleb, Jacob, and Rachel Coté (more pictures below!)
Discipleship and Development, Kids Alive Peru
Click here to partner with our family through support of Kids Alive, which sustains our missionary service. Click here for prayer requests related to our family and service. Click here to receive e-mail notifications of new posts on our Glordinary Goings blog.
Our mailing address:
P.S. We find playing to be a best-practice approach to transition, and life in general! Our kids continue to help us play as they keep growing. Caleb turns 14 on April 19th, so we celebrated early because of some upcoming travels.