Thursday, December 1, 2022

Wonder and Awe and fully Alive


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

May this Advent season be a season of wonder and awe. A season of rebirth and restoration within your souls!

This past year has been amazingly difficult by human standards but delightful in every way as it has been all the work of the Lord and I am so grateful to have been chosen to be a part of it along with each of you!!!

As we make a close to the 1st week of Advent with a desire to prepare our hearts for the Birth of our Lord, I find myself reflecting on the triumphs and Glory stories of the year past. 

For the most part of the last year has been a WILD RIDE. With that said a reoccurring whisper that resounded during my prayer time came from my beloved Jesus whispering “hang on tight my love, or only a bit longer” and that sums it up in a nutshell. So many things have happened and all of them would not have been impossible without Jesus and all of you.

Our past year in missions closely resembled a battle or war. And perhaps it is best that we do not sugarcoat it because INDEED IT WAS! 

Not a war between men but that of the evil one who desired and tried so hard to make us give up. Little did the prince of lies and deceit know the giant and holy army that was behind us. Thanks to all of you, we fought many battles against Satan.  And it is safe to say he did not win this time and we are going to stay extremely vigilant of his presence and whereabouts for the next. We are going to make certain we walk in prayer, and we will be calling on all the angels and saints to walk with us for the days ahead.  

Despite the hardships, struggles, and toil of this past year, I have never felt so alive and close to Jesus as I have this year and I found this from Saint Ignatius of Antioch that I would love to share with you. “Now do I begin to be a disciple of Christ, and care for nothing in this world, that so I may find Jesus. Let fire, or the cross, or wild beasts, or the breaking of my bones, or the cutting of me to pieces, or the shattering of my whole body, yea, all the tortures of the devil – let them all come upon me, only let me enjoy my God.”

 ~ Ignatius of Antioch


Eloquent speaker (I Think Not!)

I must share with you an interview that Gabriel and I were asked to do for a wonderful series called Mission Connect, produced, and aired with Shalom World!

I must say I can relate to Moses as he pleaded with the Lord for him to send someone else because he had never been an eloquent speaker. Of course, what was asked of me is not anything close to what the Lord asked of Moses, but in the same sense I can relate to being “slow of speech and tongue”.

However, I felt I needed to trust the Lord and rely on him to speak the words he wanted me to speak. So here you have it, our interview.

 I must say that I am so very moved by the editing and the pictures that Shalom World gathered from our years in the mission field. So many of the pictures I had forgotten about or wondered where they got them from.

Gabriel did such a wonderful job of singing at the end! Praise God. I can only pray that the discomfort I experienced doing this interview helps lead others to the foot of the Cross. For those of you who have been there, you will never forget your transformation or how Jesus pierced your heart! I desire that everyone finds their way to the foot of the cross and that in some way this interview can aid in that mission!


 But Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 

Exodus 4:10


Santa Maria Magdalena’s Home

It is such an honor to share with you the following update.

The final touches are being done on the home and God willing by the first of the calendar year we should be officially living and serving in our new mission post!  

With the 1st phase of the building project coming to a close we now are looking to furnish the home with 30 bunk beds, for the upstairs dorms, towels, sheets, and pillows, as well as at least 4 massive tables and chairs for the huge dining hall. Lastly, if you have ever been to our Mission Base in Louisiana and have experienced praise and worship nights or morning prayer at the big house we are in need of the same comfy couches and chairs that invite people to sit and talk, to pray and bond together.

 I am sure Jesus has plans to move his funds to us in order to properly furnish the home and if not, that is ok too, as our plans are not his plans so, we are totally prepared for whatever it is he desires to supply us with.  

Front of the community home/ The small porch you see is almost completed

side view of the home 

This is a view of the main dining hall looking towards the back of the home

This is the main meeting hall to be used for fellowship, talks and morning prayer

Laundry and storage room 


The Huge Kitchen 

Back porch view/ it will have a balcony and a roof that will extend over the porch area


Official Opening of 

Santa Maria Magdalena’s Home

Save the Date!  

July 22, 2023

It is bold, I know to make such an announcement, but it comes straight from my heart and is rooted in Prayer. A while back, I read that the three ingredients to Christian boldness are Spirit-empowered conviction, courage, and urgency. And well that explains it well.

I have the sufficient conviction that these women deserve to be restored, to have dignity, and to feel love, and so do their children.  I have the courage to face all the threats and opposition the devil or any human has to throw at me in regard to helping these beautiful women and their children. I have more than a sufficient amount of urgency, there is a fire under my feet and burning within my heart to be Jesus’s hands and feet! The time is way overdue, and Jesus wants to restore these women and break the chains of abuse and chains that bind his creations. So, I ask how else should I act? But with Christian boldness!

Though we do not have any more funds left after building the community home we are so ever confident that the Lord did not take us this far up the mountain to desert us. He could not have started this project and then pull out of it so near to the end! That is not how our Lord works!

As I have explained before the Second phase of Mary Magdalena’s home is to build the Chapel and the three smaller homes at the back of the land. We have the design plans, and we have the estimated cost to build, however, the challenge is that at this moment we do not have the funds! 

We are ready to get started when we return in 4 weeks, but we need to raise close to 50 thousand US dollars in order to do so.

I have nudged the Lord during my prayer time and made it known that we have exhausted the funds he allowed for the community house so, of course, I am confident that he knows. (As if I really needed to explain it all, but of course, he likes to hear our needs and he loves even more for us to ask him and call out to him.)

In the Gospel of Matthew, we can find that whatever we ask for in prayer, we shall receive if you have faith” Matthew  21:22


We are hopeful that the chapel and the small homes can be completed before the Feast Day of Santa Maria Magdalena as we have a great desire to invite the bishop to celebrate the inauguration mass in the Chapel followed by a humble dinner planned for the community in which the home is surrounded by. Santa Maria Magdalena’s Feast Day is July 22. Hence that is why I am sending the announcement to all of you as well. We would love to host you on that date. We would absolutely be honored for whoever desires to make the journey to come to Santa Maria Magdalena’s home and help us praise our Lord for all the good he is doing,  so please prayerfully consider taking us up on the offer.

Again, it is Bold to set the date, but so is our Lord! So, we are praying for yet again for more miracles! We “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16) who then should we fear (Psalm 27:1)? Jesus did not die on the cross to have us quivering in a corner because some human being might say something mean or words of discouragement, or because lack of funds, or sever a relationship, or even kill us (Luke 12:4). No! For Jesus has ensured that, “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”. (Romans 8:38-39)


What else can be done?  What more can be said? To love Christ is to live with Boldness! Spirit-empowered conviction, courage, and urgency! As our dear late director, Mr. Frank Summers would often say we must preach with Parrhesia!

Pope Francis has on many occasions drawn attention to the importance of the Greek word, Parrhesia. It is often translated as boldness, frankness, or courage. The Pope explained that it is Christian courage which drives someone to speak openly…. For example, in the Acts of the Apostles, it says that Paul and Barnabas sought to explain the mystery of Christ to the Hebrews with boldness and preached the Gospel boldly.”

The Catechism defines the term in this way: “Straightforward simplicity, filial trust, joyous assurance, humble boldness, the certainty of being loved” CCC 2778

It is my prayer that we may pray and preach with Parrhesia so that we may lead these women to know with certainty that they are loved and that they were created in his image! It is my utmost prayer that this boldness will become contagious to you all!

May we have the confidence not to quiver in fear in the corner.  May we have the confidence to be the hands and the feet of Christ to the poor!

If you have an overpowering conviction to help complete the second phase of Santa Maria Magdalena’s home which consist of building the chapel and the 3 small one-room homes, please do not be in fear of being bold with the confidence that the Lord is giving you! 

***Please send your donations to finish this project by following the link provided below. Please add in the project name:  Chapel/ small homes

Our goal is $50,000.00 to build the chapel and 3 long-term, small one room homes!

The Truck

You all made it possible to replace our old truck with a new one. I can not tell you how much our lives have changed since we purchase the new truck. Our time has increased abundantly; we can move faster up and down the mountain and our weeks have been free of repair shops. We are so grateful to all of you who helped make this possible. Thank you so much!

The old truck after prayerfully discerning what to do with it, we felt that perhaps it could be still of use to someone. We thought about selling it, but it just felt so wrong to sell it knowing all the issues that it had. So, with a nudge from the Lord and wonderful mission partners who made the original donation years back for the purchase of the truck, we are happy to say the truck has found a new family to serve with.

Meet Jose and Giovanni and their 5 children. They help Father Robert in and around the large 238 pueblo Parish and have been leading different ministries for the past few years. The only thing is they never could serve as a family because they only had a motorcycle. And though Peruvians are conditioned to carry all sorts of things on a motorcycle and are even very good at fitting large numbers of people on them it was just not at all possible for all 7 to fit on one motorcycle. 

They are so brave to carry so many things and even large amounts of people on one moto. This picture though I had to share

We are so happy to be able to give them the old truck so now they can serve as a family. Jose is confident that he can keep up with the truck’s ongoing problems and we will continue to pray that the truck will be held together by the Holy Spirit.  

We are stateside for 4 weeks!

A Short visit to the states indeed. We arrived a few days ago for a few different reasons.

 One major reason to make the trip was to be able to attend Family Missions Company’s, Year in Review! Which is a time of fellowship with other missionaries who serve in different parts of the world, but also a time to reflect and process the past years in the mission field. The week and a half are packed full of fun, talks, prayers, and rest of course. So, we are looking forward to it!

We also are stateside because Gabriel is in need of major dental work, and he will be having a few different procedures done while we are here in Louisiana.

Unfortunately, not all of the work can be done at the same time so we will need to return once again for the last procedure sometime in the near future.

Our return to the States is something that saddens me when I think of the poor whom we live among. We will never truly know of their suffering! We often use the term that we live in solidarity with the poor, and we do to a certain extent, but it is times like this that makes me ask and question myself about how much do we really live in solidarity with the poor. As missionaries, we have the ability to get on a plane to seek rest and medical care. Making me realize how our two worlds are nothing alike and that we could really never ever really live in complete solidarity with the poor! I am ashamed to admit that I can escape such dreadful and hopeless economic conditions and I desire to live a more humble and poor life and ask all of you to please pray and intercede for us.

 With that said, I also must remember that God has sent us to journey with our friends in Peru and they need our help. We have the ability to relieve many of their sufferings and to help them find comfort in Christ!

I am so thankful for the family who purchased are airfare back to the states and more than grateful for all the Doctors that are donating their time and services to help Gabriel! Please keep Gabriel and his medical team in your prayers for the next few weeks!


Visiting Lotus House

On our way in from Peru, we were blessed to visit and learn from a huge and outstanding woman’s shelter in Miami Florida called the Lotus house. Walking the halls and listening to the list of endless possibilities for all the women and their children who seek refuge within the home, gave me an immense feeling of affirmation and confidence that Jesus desires the same in Peru for his beloved women there.  The abundance of blessings such as food and funds, clothes, and donated services such as tutors, social workers, counselors, and Doctors seemed to be so plentiful at the home.  It was a true sign of God’s love and mercy.

Maritza’s Court dates

You must all remember Maritza. I am so blessed and honored to say that we have leaped a huge hurdle this year. Though it has been slow and a bit painful we have officially been able to work the slow and red tape riddle path to her applying for child support. Unfortunately, we have only managed to get it for one child, and it is our plan that we start for her second oldest child upon my return. It is a process that makes little to no sense to me whatsoever. I must say my American brain does get in the way 100%. I cannot understand why we must apply separately for all her children in which will take years to complete. But with the help of God, we will succeed through it all.


I indeed realized that I struck a nerve with the father and his extended family when they found out we prevailed and won the court case. It was a bit of an uneasy feeling knowing they were talking about me and the times they were brave enough to confront me about my involvement. However, I quickly gained my confidence, and words were provided to me by Jesus. All I could say to them is I came to serve the women and their sweet children. I was sent to help them find dignity and love which is found in the Lord! I am here and I am not going to go away! If it makes you mad, then perhaps you need to reflect on your own assault and abuse towards the women I am here to help! Jesus loves them and they have a right to be loved and that is all I am doing and so should you!

Online court appearances!  Thanks to COVID 

Fully Alive 

It is always a blessing to call Father Robert or Father Einer out to one of the Pueblos we serve in order to celebrate Sacraments. Though this year the Lord asked me to step aside from teaching and preparing the youth and adults for sacraments. He made sure I was included, and he filled my heart with two new God Daughters.

 Mallory and Sarah did an outstanding job leading the hand full of children in Cajaruro and we had just three in Paraiso that received baptism and one that received her first communion.  It is always such a gift to see the pueblos come alive through the sacraments!

Saint Irenaeus said that “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Saint Irenaeus said that “The glory of God is man fully alive”. I feel it is obvious to see this transformation when reflecting on these photos of my new Godchildren and their families!

Antonella, my new Goddaughter, her mother on the left and her grandparents 

The group of children who received 1st communion this year in Cajaruro
Antonella's baptism 

Baby Jaritza Baptism and her mother. Baby Jaritza's parents
 just received the sacrament of marriage last year! 

Gabriel and Father Einer 

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read our humble but glorious update! 

I pray that during this Advent season we can find time to take a step back from the noise of the world to reflect on how we together can be instruments of peace, love, and healing. And may our hearts desire to love like Christ! Amen

With Love 

Karen and Gabriel Del Castillo 

Please pray about if Jesus is asking you to partner with us to help complete the second phase of Santa Maria Magdalena’s home 

We desire to build a chapel and the 3 small one-room homes.

***Please send your donations to finish this project by following the link provided below. Please add in the project name:  Chapel/ small homes

Our goal is $50,000.00 to build the chapel and 3 long-term, small one room homes!

Please send us your prayer intentions, we would love to pray for you!

Monday, August 22, 2022

Open Wide Your Hearts ! An update from the mission field


Fellow workers and beloved Saints!

I desire so much to open a window to the mission field, so you can all clearly see the work of the Lord here and the love he has for the poor here. I am so honored to share with you this long update that has been greatly overdue. I am grateful for each one of you and so honored to be the hands and feet of Christ here among the world’s forgotten people; though I am so unworthy to be his servant he desires to use me in so many ways I cannot fully understand, I am merely learning how to become docile to his will in all of this!  

The update is in no particular order and due to the characteristics of our life in missions at the moment I have only included the most profound stories and news for you. I pray doing so will allow you a chance to see the difference and the progress you are making here, as co-workers in the mission field and the urgent needs we have here in the field.

Casa de Santa María Magdalena progress

The Community house - 1st phase

Santa Maria Magdalena’s community house consists of a large dining hall, large kitchen, prayer/ activity room, small apartment all on the lower level, and two dorms that will hold up to 40 people with 9 bathrooms upstairs. The crew this week are advancing to the second and possible easiest floor which will be the two dorm rooms. Then from there we have the metal roof, balcony, doors, windows, paint, plumbing, lighting, and a few odds and ends before we can say it is finished. I have been praying that it can be 90 % completed in the next few months. I was confident that the Lord wanted to build the community home 1st, because it is the largest of all the phases of the project that he laid on my heart. The dorms will work nicely for the single mothers and their children who desire to live here and in the future the dorms can house short term mothers and children, mission trips or even small intimate retreats for women or teen girls

The Chapel – 2nd phase

The small humble chapel will be the next project once the community home is complete. I have been given a vision from our Lord of a small open chapel with no walls. Just a 360-degree view of our Father’s perfect creation of nature which will allow the songs of the birds and the rushing water of the creek to give impulse to the hearts of those who seek Jesus there. I was not certain it could be done but Father Robert was very moved by the thought of not having walls and he confirmed that it was possible and that he would help ensure that the tabernacle was made safe and secure to house our beloved Lord in. This part of the project should be rather easy considering it is only a cement slab and a roof more or less. And possibly the 2nd phase we can start at the end of this year or in the 1st weeks of next year.   

Small Homes – 3rd phase

The 3 small houses to house long term single mothers and their children will come next. They will be placed at the back of the land and will be small one room cottages that will have an outdoor kitchen area, common to Peru.  This phase also includes the desire to build a small cottage that can house religious sisters, Priests or other missionaries seeking a place to experience Jesus while they partake in Saint Ignatius retreats.

I invite you to please discern if God is calling you to partner with us in this mission. We have been overwhelmingly blessed by the outpouring of generosity and of donations for this project thus far and it is an affirmation that it is His desire to pour out love upon these women and children who he will bring to this home. With that said we are roughly $40, 000.00 to $50.000.00 US Dollars away from the goal to complete all three phases.  We are needing $15, 000.00 of the prior mentioned estimates to complete the community home which is the 1st phase.  

harvesting  and transporting Guayaquil to be used to support the roof at
Santa Maria Magdalena's home. 

Well this is what it looks like when you lose the entire load
of Guayaquil in the middle of a river crossing. 

The view from the dinning hall in the community house with the Guayaquil in place to support the concrete roof until it dries. 

Dignity of work

Santa Maria Magdalena’s home is much more than just a home for abused and unwed mothers and their children. Just the construction of the home alone has given new life and dignity to the small communities atop the mountain in which it sits. We have been able to employ some of the local men here.  4 of them have been able to work full time, which has changed their lives in such a wonderful way. We have also found Mr. Sanchez who is a woodworker nestled a bit further up the mountain, who we have employed to make the homes 19 windows and 19 doors by hand from his little humble dirt floor home. And I cannot forget our trusted, brave dump truck driver Geraldo who is not scared to cross rivers or mudslides to bring material to the mountain. And Miss Liz who is the cook. She provides three hot meals a day to the workers who live up here on the land and her food is amazing.

Many judge the poor, the beggars, and the homeless we encounter. Many times, we immediately think badly of them or believe they are just wanting something for free or a handout. But I truly feel that they have no other choice and the reason they have no other choice is because, we the ones, who can make a difference turn the blind eye because it is much easier to accuse, assume and critique than to give a chance, opportunities, or our possession, resources, and ourselves to them.

I must admit that when Liz, our cook, came to me the 1st few weeks of construction asking for help to purchase metal roofing for her sugar cane mill, I am sad to say that I jumped to conclusions of who she was. I explained to her that I did not have money to donate for the roof and that I was sorry. I felt bad and possibly a little taken back that someone I just met a few minutes before was asking for money, but then I realized that God desired to give her dignity through work, and I asked her if she would like to be the cook for the workers. She of course said Yes, she was overwhelmed by the opportunity to work.

It has been a wonderful blessing for her to have an opportunity to earn money, and she blesses the workers with some wonderful, delightful meals each day. She was even able to purchase the roofing material for her sugar cane mill which as you can tell in the pictures gave her a sense of ownership and dignity. But even better she invited her little, small community to be a part of the mill’s production process which will allow others to earn money as well.  

Liz learning how to use her sugar cane press. 

Liz teaching others in your community how to use it

Lighting the fire in the dirt oven for the large pan that will cook the sugar cane juice, than it will become thicker and become similar to honey.

It was so neat to watch them all work together and the process of extracting and cooking the sugar cane juice. 

Just some words to reflect on

"The poor and the middle class or rich have a mutual need for each other. The poor need the rich: their money, their initiative, their education. The rich need the poor because there is no other way for them to go to heaven" Father Rick Thomas S.J.

 “Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfillment. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work.” (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si'], nos. 127-28)

In many cases, poverty results from a violation of the dignity of human work, either because work opportunities are limited (through unemployment or underemployment), or "because a low value is put on work and the rights that flow from it, especially the right to a just wage and to the personal security of the worker and his or her family."  (Pope Benedict XVI, Charity  in Truth [Caritas in Veritate], no. 63)

“Work is a good thing for man, a good thing for his humanity, because through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being and indeed, in a sense, becomes "more a human being.” (St. John Paul II, On Human Work [Laborem Exercens], no. 9)

The trusty little yellow dump truck and Geraldo is such a gift to us. He is the only one who will take materials up the mountain for us due to the distance and the bad road conditions. 

Jose leading morning prayer with the workers before they start the day! 

Truck problems

I humbly ask you for urgent prayers for our mechanical issues we are having with one of the most essential tools within our mission, our truck.  The truck not only takes us to ministries, hours away from each other each week, it picks up supplies for the poor and helps Gabriel and I take people to and from appointments, and even more importantly it is the lifeline to the workers up on top the mountain at the Casa De Santa Maria Magdalena mission home. Without it, construction will have to cease.

At this moment and time, it may be easier to explain that the truck is merely held together with bailing wire and the Holy Spirit! The truck is 24 years old and well anytime it breaks down the best the mechanic can do is replace the broken part with a used one and I do mean well used.  (Two weeks ago, I had a bad alternator pulley and well the closest part to replace it with was from a 1970’s model junk air compressor bought to use for parts, and that’s just what he did, he used the air compressor pulley for the truck).

You must know that I am so super grateful for all the times the truck has given me opportunities to pray and seek our Lord's help. I am also grateful for the new friendships I have made with Pablo, Miguel and Macho, who is Pablo’s nephew at the mechanic’s shop. I am even more grateful for all those who donated in 2019 for us to purchase the truck. The truck has served well in the mission field, and it is unfortunate that the demands and the harsh roads make it impossible for it to keep up.

With that said I must swallow my pride of having to ask, my vanity, because I am scared of what others may think, and my fears of not receiving or being let down. Instead, I have realized that I must trust in the Lord and his will for us and the issues we are having with the truck. Although I do see my nine plus hours each week and sometimes (Closer to 20 hours) spent at the mechanics a wonderful ministry;  it also makes me sad at the fact that because of my lack of humbleness,  ministry opportunities have been missed due to the trucks inoperable condition,  and the trouble it is causing the workers at the land because I am at the mechanics or on the side of the road having to use my limited mechanical skills to get us back on the road again. Which by the way is one of our team’s theme songs “On the Road again” by Willie Nelson, can you guess why?

My spiritual director made me realize that worrying about funds and worrying about not having enough to complete the home of Maria Magdalena’s is not needed.  Rather she made me understand, and I have come to realize that if I am spending any more funds on this poor truck, it is possible that I am doing it out of my own vanity and pridefulness, because the Lord desires to complete the home and he desires the best for his poor here.  

I have been reminded that since 2017 God has provided for me and my family. Once I said Yes to following him into the mission field, he has been so attentive to our every need. He has provided us with more than we need, and we have always had enough to share with the poor whom we live among. Coming to grips, part of my stubbornness comes from the fact that I sold everything to become poor, for the poor. And Since September 2017 I feel I have lived that calling as best as I could. So, I am having trouble during my prayer time as I feel Jesus is asking me to get over my prideful thoughts and just let him take care of the truck.

I realize that the Lord desires for me to grow when I reflect on where my stubbornness, vanity and pride comes from. I grew up in a way that it was not a good thing to ask for help. I grew up around people who made a very worldly life for themselves and were very well off and helping others was not something that happened, needless to say, it was not an environment in which fostered the teaching of our Lord. So, it is not easy to ask for prayers or help with this huge problem I am having with this very important tool to our mission here. It is not easy to ask for funds to purchase a new truck, so please forgive me if I do not do it well. 

 I know I must bear witness to our Lord's goodness and to his desire for the mission here. And as much as I am traveling from pueblo to pueblo, up and down the mountain each day serving the Lord, it is soon not going to be possible to do if we do not replace the truck. I have seen Jesus move mountains, I have seen him heal the sick and drive evil spirits out of people, I should expect no less of my savior with this task. If I do not believe he can redirect his own money to purchase a truck to be used for his beloved poor than who am I; but an unworthy, prideful, and fearful servant.

I have made known the request to not only the Lord, but to you my brothers and sisters. If you take it to prayer and hear a nudge to help, please reach out to me so we can talk more. It is indeed a huge ask but our Lord is so much bigger and greater than we can even imagine.  He loves his poor here and he desires us to restore dignity to so many women and their children here, so I must have confidence that he will resolve the issue with this very important mission tool.

On the side of the road, once again trying to repair the truck because we are in the middle of absolutely nowhere! 

I finally was able to get one problem fix and a mile down the road we experience a whole new set of problems. Sarah is helping me face time a mechanic 10 hours away to help walk me through a quick fix to get us out of the middle of nowhere! 

Well Just some road side repair! Asking for Jesus to send the Holy Spirit to help us! 


Celebration at a funeral

Since our arrival to this mission post I have always visited a small town called Paraíso each Sunday morning. The Priests cannot make it out to the small pueblo each week and so they asked me to serve in this little community. I am so blessed to visit them each week to celebrate the liturgy of the word and bring them the sacrament of the Eucharist.

This past Sunday our mission team arrived, and we were greeted by Donna Flor. She wanted to let us know that a young man Jhon Elzer Constantino Benavides died overnight in a traffic accident. The entire pueblo was at his home, and she did not want us to wait around because no one had planned on coming to the celebration as they were paying their respects to the Jhon’s family and others were helping with preparing food and funeral arrangements. I called together Sarah, Mallory, and Gabriel to ask what they thought about having the celebration at the home of the young man. All three of them agreed, so we quickly picked up our things and walked the short distance to the home. It was a moving experience, profound in fact. It made me reflect how the Church is so much bigger than the four walls of a chapel. It was an honor to go to the home and bring Jesus with us. We held the entire celebration and afterwards Mallory led us in Praise and worship for quite some time.

A Retreat for Priests

¡Abran ustedes también su corazón! 

Open wide your hearts also!

2 Corinthians 6: 1-13

For the last few months or more I have been reflecting on how to love like Christ! It sounds easy but in reality, it is often the hardest thing to do. Than one day after Mass Father Robert announced with joy how our Parish was going to host a Retreat for the 28 priests who serve within the dioceses of Chachapoyas and additional 15 from a neighboring dioceses. He was asking our Catholic Community for help. He was desperate to find homes for all these Priests to stay in for the retreat. He was asking for families to open their homes to supply meals and a room for each of them.  For some reason my heart was dancing and turning flips and after the final blessing I could not get to Father fast enough to talk to him. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know his plans and thoughts of housing the Priest and about the Schedule and spiritual aspect to it. But more importantly I wanted to offer to help.

This was an invitation to Love like Christ. To pamper and spoil these faithful servants. Of course, I could not have done this act of love on my own. Mallory, Sarah, and Gabriel had huge roles in helping pull this retreat off for the Priest and so did each of you. We were able to find a hotel that would house all the Priest and serve them meals at a price we could not pass up. Which in returned prevented in logistical nightmares and allowed the retreats schedule to run smoothly. Which allowed the Priest to rest and stay in a secluded location for a much-needed rest, formation, and an even more fabulous opportunity for them all to enjoy camaraderie among one another, as the location made it possible to just visit, relax and share testimonies with one another.

The four of us welcomed them in a very traditional Family Missions Company Style with handwritten letters for each priest, chocolates, and welcome signs and even before their arrival we began to pray for them and while the retreat was taking place, we continued asking our heavenly Father to open their hearts and to allow them a profound experience of his love and mercy be poured out upon each of them.

Preparing for the retreat we learned that the theme that had been selected by Father Lucas a missionary Priest from Argentina serving in the southern part of Peru that came to lead the spiritual part of the retreat had selected a theme that just magnified the fact that it was a true invitation for us to help with this retreat. The theme that was selected by Father Lucas was Open wide your hearts also!” or ¡Abran ustedes también su corazón!  2 Corinthians 6: 1-13I must say the theme was divinely selected and an affirmation that to love like Christ, one must experience Christ in his fullness. That is what Christ desires for us all; to be filled with his love and mercy to the point it is overflowing from our own hearts and poured out to those around us.

And of course, I must affirm and remind you that this Act of Love and Kindness would not have been possible without you my fellow missionaries who are consistently providing, supporting and praying for us and the poor here.

Welcome gifts and hand written letters,  and affirmations for each priest. It was so much fun making the signs with are team here and watching the Priest walk in to the Hotel! They were so blessed by the outpouring of love they received. 

Every Priest had a welcome sign on there hotel door and the snack table in the dinning hall

Gab helping us paint signs

Fun day

Going into this year Gabriel and I knew it was going to be a hard year. Little time for rest with having two new missionaries here, our normal ministries and a huge construction project, so we were well prepared and had full knowledge upfront that this year would be a bit different and faster paced for a while. So, we are so grateful when the Lord stops time for us to enjoy time with our new teammates at a little watering hole.

Chapel repair and Pews

I am pretty sure this update was overlooked. The repairs of the chapels damaged walls due to the earthquake and the beautiful pews came in a few months ago in Paraíso. The community at Paraíso are so grateful for the help and their hearts are full. Thank you to those who supported the repairs and allowed us the extra funds to purchase pews.

"May we all receive the peace that is a profound gift from God. Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”. John 14:27

"As we work together with him, we entreat you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.  For he says,

“At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
    and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”

Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation!  We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry,  but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: in great endurance, afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger;  in purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love,  truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;  in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors and yet are true,  as unknown and yet are well known, as dying and look—we are alive, as punished and yet not killed, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing and yet possessing everything.

We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections but only in yours. In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also."   2 Corinthians 6:1-13

We love you all !  And pray that you may be blessed beyond measure! 

Karen and Gabriel Del Castillo 

Mission Post: Cajaruro - Utcubamba - Amazonas - Peru 

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