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Christmas Joy in Santana, Northern Peru

Angela Anderson

In my village, large families share one bedroom in small homes with dirt floors. Chickens run through the house and either pigs or goats are right outside the door. The delicious smell of stew cooking in a large pot over an open fire in the yard calls everyone in from the farm or rice field to gather soon for dinner. My people in the village in Santana, in northern Peru are happy and peaceful, and what I anticipate most is my yearly visit to bring them all the essentials and help that I can provide.

As a native-born Peruvian, I have lived in Texas for 29 years. It’s always been a strong desire of my heart to take the message of God’s love back to my own people and village. Although I have been preparing for years, I never considered myself capable of being a real missionary. Eight years ago my husband and I began returning each year to Santana, population about 1,000, to build our “dream home” mission center there. In my free time I worked to complete my one-year training course in Bible studies; I gathered donated clothing and toys to take there each year for the local children, and I’ve prayed daily for the opportunity to go to actually minister, for some kind of a breakthrough. And it would have all remained just a “dream” if I had not just taken that big step of faith this time, to just GO!

The breakthrough came when I realized that I didn’t have to do it alone. I saw that partnering with Luz, a dear Peruvian friend and mentor with years of missionary experience, would greatly increase our effectiveness. I received priceless on-the-job training with Luz, while receiving the wonderful blessing of seeing so many children and people light up with hope and happiness. It was truly the most Christmas joy I have ever experienced!

Our original goal was to visit the Santana village schools, but our mission grew to reach as many schools as we could both within Santana and in the entire surrounding area, to share the real meaning of Christmas. We knew we would need to come bearing gifts, and with the generous help of Activated Ministries, we received a donation of children’s books, bi-lingual card games, coloring books and color posters to share with each school group. Our itinerary grew as the word spread that two “foreign ladies” were doing presentations in local schools. We at first had to get permission to do a school program, but the news suddenly spread so that we had open invitations to every school, of all grades and ages in the entire area.

Without the added help of our local volunteer team, we could have never covered so much in so little time. One volunteer was my 23- year- old nephew, Juan Francisco. My husband and I sponsored his tuition to law school, an opportunity almost unheard of there, which he has almost completed. Juan accompanied us to the schools as well as the market where we requested the vendors’ help with donating candy and traditional Christmas cake, or “Panatonis” to serve at each classroom. Marlyn, age 19, though from this simple village, is an aspiring reporter, and she proved to be a great photographer and camerawoman.

Never did I dream how eager and ready these students would be to listen to everything we shared. In six week days we visited five schools, distributed snacks and character-building materials from Activated Ministries, and had special prayer for every classroom. Mothers who heard we were coming would bring their younger children into the classrooms to join us. The whole school staff would respectfully attend. School principles invited us to return any time, and many requested prayer for their needs and responsibilities.

Altogether, at least 500 souls were personally touched by this Christmas program in the villages of Santana, Puente Quiroz, Torno, Suyo, Las Lomas, and Puira.

The most unexpected surprise was an invitation to speak on a Radio Program that reached a few thousand listeners. We could see it in their faces and reactions, but it’s hard to describe here what it meant to the local people of Peru for two of their own people to return to their homeland from Texas USA, to share a special Christmas message of love, hope and joy. On top of that, it meant so much to me and Luz to be used as God’s vessels to impact so many lives, these very remote and precious simple, people who would otherwise not heard about true Christmas Love.