After about two decades in Peru, BMM’s Arriba program made a profound transition this year. When former directors Jim and Becky Carlton shifted ministries, the program relocated to Chile with new directors James and Coletta Morsey. In late May, Anna Tebbenkamp and Rachel Haefka arrived as the first students to take part. This transition is not Arriba’s first change. The program started in 1982 under Peru missionary Bob Whatley. When Peruvian terrorist groups rose up in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the program relocated to the safety of neighboring Ecuador before returning to Peru. Like past Arriba students, Anna and Rachel are spending a life-changing 11 months immersed in missions. It’s a chance to experience foreign ministry as well as continue their academic studies through modules taught by visiting professors.
The transition to a new location has not been without challenges. A few months after the Morseys accepted Arriba’s directorship, their Chilean church underwent a painful split with many families leaving. Later, their Chilean pastor (the girls’ host family) was wrongfully fired from his full-time job. Anna and Rachel arrived during one of Chile’s coldest, rainiest winters on record. But, as Hudson Taylor once said, “All our difficulties are only platforms for the manifestations of His grace, power, and love.” In their weekly devotions with the students, the Morseys are studying John 15:1-8—“…every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” Through the difficulties, Anna and Rachel are seeing that missions isn’t always glorious. It can be full of painful setbacks and disappointments, but the pruning process always yields a rich harvest in the end. Learning to abide in Christ—trusting in Him, making Him their refuge, and being content in Him rather than in their circumstances—is a priceless lesson to learn at a young age, one that will impact the rest of their lives.
Thankfully, the dreary days of winter are coming to an end in the southern hemisphere where Chile is located. Language and module classes have finished, and Anna and Rachel are beginning practical ministry. James and Coletta feel that Anna and Rachel’s presence has been part of the church’s healing. They have bonded deeply with their Chilean host couple who are also their Spanish teachers. Anna and Rachel’s presence is giving the church a new sense of purpose after the split. Church members can invest in these young lives and not dwell on past hurts. As the Morseys rebuild the church through adult small-group ministries, Anna and Rachel will tremendously benefit church families by providing children’s programs. The Morseys also hope to have the girls organize outreaches in a nearby park and conduct a camp—a first for the Morseys’ ministries.
In December, James and Coletta will take Anna and Rachel to Patagonia, a beautiful region of mountains and glaciers in southern Chile. The trip will be one of many ministry trips built into Arriba, but it will also be a spiritual retreat for them all as a US pastor and his wife leads them in a time of refreshment.
As the Lord continues to work in Anna and Rachel’s lives, the Morseys know that these students can build upon the ups and the downs of their ministry experience. James adds, “And it will make them great servants of the Lord in whatever they choose to do in the future.”
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