Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Newsletter: What Happened, What's Next

Dear family and friends,

I hope you are all doing well this summer. It has been a time of transition for me, and I am currently writing from Stokesdale, NC. At the beginning of the month I finished up in Puerto Supe, Peru, and paid an exploratory visit to Ayacucho, Peru. 

Grace and Cesar Cubas continue ministering in Puerto Supe, and are actively encouraging the church members to step into the holes left in the area of Sunday school and childcare. Please keep them in your prayers.

In Ayacucho, Rick and Donna Martin are partnering with Nicolas and Stacy Ticona to plant a church, especially focusing on college students, largely unreached and discounted by churches in the area. They have invited me to join their team, and I am taking the next month to prayerfully consider the opportunity.

In the meantime, I will be in the States for the next five months as I continue to take classes at Liberty University Online, catch up with friends and supporters, and raise support for these five months and the next steps. 

My current studies are specifically directed towards moving into a "tent-making" ministry. "Tent-making" refers to working in a "secular" field in order to broaden or deepen (and fund) ministry opportunities like the apostle Paul did through sewing tents. In my case, this would involve teaching English in elementary schools, high schools, and possibly institutes or universities. I believe that this would be beneficial not only to working with university students, but also to the way that foreign Christians and lay workers are perceived by local believers. Tent-making is also an opportunity I am prayerfully considering and investigating.

Please feel free to contact me at shellydobosy@gmail.com, as replying to this email does not arrive at my inbox. 

I appreciate your prayers in the coming month as I seek God's direction for my next steps. I consider my future wide open and flexible, and am excited to figure out what might be next. 

I am also still looking to borrow, rent, or purchase a car in the next couple weeks. I appreciate any connections you might be able to offer.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


In Peru "Chau" is the word we use for everyday farewells- ones that are temporary and commonplace. Saying "Adios" is not small potatoes. I thank God that it is not easy to say "adios" to the friends God has blessed me with here.

En Perú, "Chau" es la palabra que usamos para las despedidas cotidianas, las que son por horas o días o meses. Decir "Adiós" no es algo pequeño. Doy gracias a Dios que no es fácil despedirme de los amigos y familiares adoptivas que me ha dado acá.

Adiós school English classes. Adiós a mis amiguitos del 20425.

Adiós community English classes. Adiós a mis clases de ingles de adultos y jóvenes.

Adiós friends and Peruvian family. Adiós a mis amigos y mis familias adoptivas.

Hasta luego church family. Hasta luego a mi familia en Cristo.

Adiós kiddoes and teens. Adiós a mis amiguitos de la Comunidad Cristiana.

May God bless you all as much as you have blessed me and teach you as much as He has taught me through you. May it not be a final Adios, for Adios is only Hasta Luego in Christ.

Que Dios les bendiga tal como me han bendecido—generosamente—y  que les enseña tanto que me han enseñado ustedes. Que no sea un Adiós para siempre, sino por un tiempo; sabemos que para los que están en Cristo no existe el "adiós," sino el "hasta luego."

Monday, July 20, 2015

Celebrating 10 Years

Yesterday was an event Anna and I prophetically named "The Great Disaster." Thankfully, neither of us were proved to be gifted prophets.

We had been working for weeks on a surprise party for Grace and Cesar, who this year mark a decade in Puerto Supe. To make things extra surprising, we celebrated a month late. We invited friends from the church, English classes, the sewing school, and Cesar's civic association. We were even blessed with the presence of a visiting SAM summer team in from Pucallpa, and Cesar's brother who was visiting from the States.

Grace and Cesar arrived in Puerto Supe in June of 2005 and started work with community development and church planting. It has been a time of ups and downs, challenges and blessings, but we especially wanted to celebrate the ups and blessings and beautiful, impactful relationships formed during this time.

 After sharing heaping servings of spicy corn gloop (pepian), we asked for the participation of our guests with their thoughts or, coincidentally, their dance moves. We sang some worship songs, and heard from Grace and Cesar.
 To remember these past ten years, we compiled a book of photos and letters, and a crafty recuerdo of the event.

And, of course, we finished everything off with some incredible flaming cake. 
It was a memorable event not for any "great disasters," but for the way that everyone pitched in to help with food preparation, decorations, setup, cleaning, music, and refresco. It was a great time together, and hopefully and a great encouragement to the founders and patriarchs of our Comunidad Cristiana here. Their 10 years have been a testament of faithfulness and generosity, and a time that touched many more than were able to be present with us.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Hacienda San Nicolas- onions, dystopia, and amateur anthropology

San Nicolas looks a little like the set of a dystopian novel 50 years after the end of civilization. Back in it's day, it had a movie theater, an airport, and a train station. Now Hacienda San Nicholas is just abandoned land and squatter housess, the bricks from tumble-down buildings used to make stacked-stone walls enclosing farmer's fields.

The large train station is carpeted in sprouting onions, the church condemned by an earthquake. Small herds of sheep and cows are driven down the main street, herded under a decaying bridge by men on horses and thir dogs. The hacienda big house looks half haunted, half inhabited. Signs of a once booming economy are quickly disintegrating into something that soon only archeologists will be able to discipher. 
 What caused this booming town to be abandoned? How could such magnificent buildings just decay in silence, not even known to exist by the majority of local people?

A mix of factors--an earthquake, the sugar factory moving up the coast, the highway changing location, and the railway closing down--led to this strange occurrence. San Nicolas, now disconnected from highways and commercial centers is fading into nothing.
Dora, a woman from our church, grew up on the hacienda, her father being the majordomo--a chief administrator. She led us around the ruins and described what it had been like. "Over there was the town square," she waves over at a dirt track running through dust and patchy crops with adobe houses in the background, "It had a town hall, and a big movie theater where you could go up on the balcony and look over town."

"Back on that hill was the health post," she points to a hill scattered with uneven piles of adobe bricks and no discernable purpose.

"This was the church, and that staircase was how you got to the Patron's house, but it is all bricked over now." The church, looking old and abandoned but complete except for a few large cracks, was of a scale not even seen where I live in Puerto, a fishing boom town where "money ran like water" during it's golden years.
The hacienda commands a view of fields and distant ocean waves, and a prime location on what was once a main thoroughfare, a footbridge spanning from hacienda porch to warehouse second floor.
Dora pointed to a wooden shed, looking as though it were being consumed from the ground up, saying "that's where everyone lined up to get paid and receive the big sacks of rice, potatoes and other stuff the Patron gave them."
Nearby, there is a cemetary that is quite different from the other local ones. Instead of brightly colored mausoleums and high-rise coffin apartments decorated with paintings and figurines, the Japanese cemetary is stately and minimalistic. Narrow, pointed grave markers and breathing tubes stand in rows. Peru received many Japanese and Chinese migrants who, though at first treated as slaves, made their mark and have shaped peruvian culture and cuisine. Dora tells of local kids taking advantage of the fruit and money left at new graves before it was closed off from the public.

What started for me as a church fieldtrip to the pool ended in an investigative adventure in amateur anthropology.
It's incredible the way simple changes in infrastructure and industry can so profoundly erase a town, leaving sunflowers and piles of rotten onions where once stood airports and movie theaters. 

Maybe dystopic and post-apocalyptic stories are currently so popular because, in an age where we feel limitless and invincible with our ground-breaking technogy, we need to be reminded that one little failure, or a string of innocent changes can topple not just towns but whole civilizations. Nothing is forever- As much as we try to pretend it is not, life truly is fragile.
Life lesson: Sieze every day and live it to the fullest before your livingroom is used to store surplus onions and foreigners with overactive imaginations take safaris through your backyard.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Spring Break Round Three!

Usually I come away from a week with a team with one theme or idea. Usually I have a lot of descriptive analogies and complementary things to say, or at the very least, an impressive list of goals accomplished. 

This year was different. I don't really know what to say, or how to sum up the week. So here's my best shot, as incomplete as it is:
To be honest, I did not want a team this year. I washed my hands of the decision, knowing that my frame of mind wasn't right. Grace and Cesar accepted the team, and I set to working out the details, but had no uniting vision for the week: "Build stuff and play with kids" seemed to be a bit to simple. The crucial things were nailed down- food, housing, transportation- but the rest? It was not going to be my stamina or charisma that made it work, and I begged God to make something good come of all of this. 
There was Godly love that shone forth from my new friends whether they played enthusiastically with kids who usually don't get shown much undivided attention, painted, or threaded electrical wiring through tubes. I simply basked in the secondhand radiation.
They opened the door to many conversations with neighbors and mothers of the kids, who were appreciative of their attention and their example of hard work. They served as positive role models for my kiddoes for even the few days they were here, reminding them that the world is bigger than they know, and God is closer than they can even imagine.
One night, we even got to celebrate the 18th birthday of one of my friends, who usually doesn't get celebrated. It was beautiful to see seventeen strangers have such a fun time in another stranger's house, making him and his family feel special and accepted without reserve.
 The last night we were able to share a bonfire with some of the kids, teens and a few of the parents we had connected with during the week.
Again, seeing a bunch young adults who cared for one another and for their new friends enough to roll in the sand, burn their fingers, and receive black eyes without a single complaint was a testament of something unusual and special, not found in other places. it made my neighbors question and think.
For me, an especially meaningful part was the way many of the young men who came down were able to connect immediately in ways I can never hope to with the boys and young men I try to serve.
While we spent our afternoons and some evenings with the kids, our mornings were spent on construction, divided between a variety of projects. The group touched up paint on the church, dry-walled, insulated, and wired the second floor that we hope to use as Sunday school space or as an apartment for a pastor and his family. 
A lot more was accomplished than expected, due to the energy and enthusiasm of our group members. Their willingness and eagerness to work was noted by many in town, and wondered at, especially when told that they were on vacation. It gave me the opportunity to share with many people that my new friends served and worked with such abandon because they understood the sacrifice and love Christ offered to them, and desired to offer it to others as well. 
One special touch left by this team was a new sign for our building. We have long needed a sign to let people know who and what we are, and were given a beautiful one!
 I felt refreshed by the week of radiant and loving community, blessed by their worship and joyfulness. It was a privilege to share with them, and know they listened.
 Sometimes it's the gifts we aren't eager to receive that end up meaning the most, and sometimes the way God works seems to be a little disorganized and strange in our eyes.
 But what is certain, is that his love is faithful, and that as we incarnate that love to others in adoration to Him, He will dress our small acts and weary efforts with supernatural power. Praise His name, for He is good. His love and mercy endures forever. 
 Thanks again Chi Alpha at UVA for sending your superstars to bless our town. Thanks for showering us with love and leaving an investment in the Kingdom. You gave your all to our little salchichas, and for that I am thankful for and proud of each and every one of you.