Emily volunteers at a Christian primary school perched on a hillside far above the city of Huamanga. The neighborhood of Cuchipampa, “Hog Flats” in the local dialect of Quechua, was recently settled by migrants from the countryside of Ayacucho. Most of the streets are still unpaved and the houses are in various states of construction. Missionaries from North America planted a church here several years ago: Emanuel (“God is With Us”) Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The church holds worship services in Quechua on Sunday mornings and programs for youth as well as an outreach ministry to neighborhood families during the week. Meanwhile, on the second floor of the church complex, El Alfarero Institucion Educativa Cristiana (“The Potter Christian School”) offers children a primary school education featuring small class sizes and an emphasis on Christian values.
Emily spends her mornings teaching English to each grade level and interacting with students during recess. Her host family lives in a small apartment in the church-school complex and after school Emily accompanies church leaders on home visits or helps with the myriad other activities for which the pastor’s family is responsible. This includes cooking, cleaning, entertaining, singing, caring for children or just hanging out and talking with whomever she comes in contact. Emily is bright and cheerful. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and her eagerness to support the ministries of the church and school is greatly appreciated by the children, the teachers and the extended family that is hosting her here in this distant corner of the Andes.