Diocese of Derry and Raphoe
The parishioners of Camus-Juxta-Mourne (Strabane) have been rolling out a sometimes snow-dusted red carpet for a special group of visitors this past week. They have been renewing acquaintance with Pastor Anderson Sanchez, his wife Isabel, and their children Jacob and Ivana, whom some of the Tyrone parishioners first befriended when they visited the Peruvian capital, Lima, eight years ago.
Pastor Anderson ministers to a community in Lima which members of Christ Church Strabane visited on two separate parish trips in 2015 and 2017. There was a temperature difference of around 20 degrees between sunny Lima and wintry Strabane for the duration of the Sanchez family’s return visit.
Their hosts organised a welcoming supper at Christ Church, last Friday evening, to greet the South Americans formally. At Sunday morning’s service, which was was led by the Rector, Rev John White, a collection raised £700 for Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) Church in Lima. The Rector and Pastor Anderson were joined, at the service, by Rev Stephen McElhinney, the Director of SAMS Ireland – the South American Mission Society – who shared with the congregation about the organisation’s work.
Bishop Andrew Forster joined Anderson at an informal Café Church event, on Sunday evening, which afforded an opportunity for fellowship and a chance to find out more about life in Peru. Ivana performed at the event as a guest of the Christ Church Strabane praise band.
While they were here, Pastor Anderson and his family got to see part of the North West, with Strabane parishioners accompanying them on trips to the Ulster American Folk Park near Omagh and to Derry-Londonderry. The family left on Tuesday morning – to visit relatives in Italy – before returning home.
Rev White said: “I am delighted to have finally welcomed Pastor Anderson and his family to Christ Church Strabane. We had intended to host them earlier, but those plans were thwarted by the Covid pandemic. Snow and ice made their visit here more challenging than it might normally have been – we had to abandon plans to visit the Giant’s Causeway, for example – but Anderson and his family had a really great time here.
“Our parishioners were made to feel incredibly welcome when they were in Lima in 2015 and 2017, and we were blessed to have an opportunity, at last, to repay that wonderful hospitality. I can finally put faces to some of the names I’ve heard so much about, and I hope it won’t be too long before we all meet again.”
Pastor Anderson presented both Bishop Andrew and Rev White with a penant and a stole bearing the name of his church in Lima.