Pause for Thought with Ray Dadswell: From vision to reality

Myrtle Martin answers some questions about how her life has been transformed in the past few years.

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HOW DID YOUR interest in Peru begin?

It perhaps started way back in my teens when I first heard an Andean band playing panpipe music and I saw the rich reds and blues of Andean costume. So when I got the chance to take a gap-year,

Peru was my immediate choice. (Yes, even us older people can take them these days!) The chance to visit Machu Picchu was very appealing.

So off I went in 2007 to do some volunteering and some travelling, little knowing that I would find myself in a remote village in the hills of northern Peru, realising that I had somehow ‘come home’ to a place where I simply had to be.

After that first 3-month trip, I returned to the village for four months to teach English in the local school. It was during those months that the vision grew within me to be there supporting children with special needs.

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HOW WAS THE vision confirmed to you?

In January 2009, I began to support a local man, Ernesto, to find out about disability in the area and together we set up a base in a rented property. He worked from there, visiting people in their homes, taking whatever help he could (food, toiletries, bed-linens, toys, mobility aids) and it was

a place for me and other volunteers to stay. Soon it became clear that the needs were far greater than my own resources and Peru People was set up as an organisation to raise funds for the growing work in Montero. A year later, in September 2010, Peru People became a registered charity.

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ARE YOU HAPPY with the way things have developed?

It’s been a very exciting but also very daunting journey for an ordinary person with no special skills,

and I have often doubted whether I am on the right track and whether I have taken on more than I can accomplish. Each time I have questioned God, a verse from the Bible has been given to me.

Sometimes it has come from someone else, sometimes directly into my own mind and sometimes in the course of my daily Bible reading. I also look back and see how the pattern of my life and previous experiences have all fed into what I am doing now, that actually I can appreciate how God has been guiding me. Not always so clear at the time!

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HOW IS YOUR ministry financed?

Confirmation of the rightness of my vision for the work has also come through the amazing provision financially for the work in Montero. Help has come from so many folks who have caught the vision; there have been many meetings with people who have been keen to help and some great ‘divine appointments’ and connections with old and new friends – some call them coincidences. Finance has come in through generous donations, both large and small, and also

through fund-raising events which I organise from time to time. The ministry in Peru continues to grow and they have now opened a centre and are employing a physiotherapist.

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HOW OFTEN have you been to Peru?

Four years on from my first trip out I have actually lost count of the number of times I have been over there! I get there twice a year now, and my church has been supporting me in this. It has meant a radical change of lifestyle for me here as the needs of the outreach in Peru take up time and I can’t work a full week. Getting time off has become an issue, but I think I have solved that by starting to work for a care agency which is completely flexible.

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WHAT ARE THE UPS and downs?

There are many great joys in doing something like this. I know that I am where God wants me to be, and that I and my colleagues in Montero are touching people there with his love. That’s tremendously rewarding and I love being there. I have the opportunity to keep going back and seeing everyone and the progress they are making.

There are also frustrations at times. Communication can be very difficult, understanding such a different culture and getting to grips with language are challenges. Living in two worlds is tough

too. Being fully present here at home and always keeping the vision alive for Peru sometimes makes me feel that I am pulled in two different directions and I wonder how it will all end up.

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DO YOU HAVE a particular verse or passage of Scripture which encourages and supports you?

At times like these, I go back to Scripture which God first spoke directly into my mind as I woke one morning. Since then, he has confirmed it many times through other Christians who have told me that they felt God wanted them to give me this verse.

Jeremiah 29, 11: ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’