The Testers in Peru

Paul and Sarah Tester Link Letter no.22 December 2020

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out” – John 1:5

After months of strict lockdown, but still with one of the highest COVID-19 death rates per capita in the world, Peru has been in some dark places this year. As we began writing this letter, the president had just been impeached in what many here saw as a congress-led coup. After massive protests of thousands marching in the streets and thousands more banging pots from their windows (“cacerolazos”), the interim president stepped down. Sadly it took the death of two young protestors at the hands of riot police to finally force this change. As we finish writing we expect a new president to be chosen by congress. There are huge economic, political and public health challenges for the country as we approach the end of 2020.

“When this is all over…” – a chalkboard wall for post-pandemic dreams.

Latin America as a whole has been one of the continents worst affected by COVID-19 and Paul has been part of CMS’s support to people in mission around the region. All of us across the continent have been active in supporting others in many ways and it has been great to see the creativity and compassion at work. Initial responses such as providing food and medicines to those most in need have now generally changed towards supporting those who are struggling with the long term impacts of the pandemic. From supporting children who have missed a year of their schooling to raising the issues of gender-based violence and much more besides, CMS’s people in mission in the region are bringing the light of Christ to many dark situations.

Paul’s normal rhythm of ministry has been completely changed this year, with no travel since February. In addition to adapting to doing as much as possible online and supporting the work of others across the region, Paul has been working on developing the way forward for CMS’s mission in and from Latin America over the coming years. This has been part of the wider CMS strategic review, known as the Isaiah Project in reference to Isaiah 43:19 and a sense that God is leading us to something new. This has taken a lot of time and effort but is also an exciting chance to seek out God’s will and join in with what he is doing.

Our weekly call with people in mission in Latin America.

More locally, Paul has continued in his leadership and discipleship role through our church. It has been exciting to see one of our young adults engaging in online training for global mission through a Latin American mission agency and to see our church exploring how to engage more in the support of mission around the world. God continues to bring his light through situations that could have seemed so dark.

We know that many of you in the UK are facing tough restrictions on freedoms at the moment and we are praying for you all, wherever you might be reading this. Here in Peru the pandemic situation has greatly improved and the country is slowly easing restrictions. In the middle of November, we were delighted to find that very strict restrictions on children’s freedom were relaxed (they had only been allowed out for 30 minutes exercise per day within 500m of their home since March).

Sisters!

There are huge question marks over whether the school year in 2021 (beginning in March) will be able to begin with attendance based learning. The most likely outcome is that it will begin online, as it has been since March of this year. Surprisingly most Peruvians have appeared to be content with their children’s situation, while in our flat we have found it very challenging and have had to dig deep into our creativity to keep our children healthy. The purchase of a small trampoline has been our latest innovation! The rabbits also continue to delight the girls. Their unexpected offspring are now enjoying new homes and, to our girls delight, one is living just upstairs at our neighbours!

Family photos with the rabbits before the new arrivals went to their new homes.

Over the next few months we do hope to spend some time in the UK. The second wave of the virus in Europe has put that plan on hold for now and travel between much of Latin America and Europe is still complex. In the meantime we are planning to find a way to spend some time away from our flat early in the New Year so as to see something new after 9 months and counting without having left Lima. We are so looking forward to the light at the end of this particular tunnel!

Making the most of our brief trips out climbing trees.

The girls are now getting very excited about Christmas, practising songs for their online Christmas performances and making gifts (they have already sewed Christmas stockings for the rabbits!). As we head towards Christmas we remember how Jesus entered our world as the light that the darkness cannot put out. Jesus brought light to so many dark situations during his life on earth and continues to do so through each of us as his followers today. We pray that each one of us will be able to rejoice this Christmas as, in the midst of much darkness, we all share the light of Jesus.

Happy Christmas!

With love from us all,

Paul, Sarah, Sophia, Emily and Annabelle

Praise for:

  • A much improved COVID-19 situation in Peru
  • The loosening of the restrictions on children’s freedoms
  • Continued good health

Pray for:

  • Jesus’ light to shine through us into dark situations
  • Peru as it faces so many political, economic and health challenges
  • The future developments in CMS’s work in and from Latin America
  • Wisdom as to when to travel to the UK
  • A really blessed Christmas time


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