By Reed Haigler Hoppe
“You know, in 1978 we stoned a missionary here. Killed him. We haven’t allowed anyone else in here since then…until you guys. You are different. It’s not your words, it’s your actions. We love you. We’re really glad that you came.” –Peruvian Woman
Billy and Laurie Drum serve with The Mission Society team in Peru, along with their nine-year-old daughter, Sarah. The Drums live in a rural mountain community called Patarcocha. Their adobe house complete with mud walls, a bucket toilet, and frequent water shortages – is perched two miles high into the Andes.
Billy and Laurie moved to Peru from Texas almost five years ago. Both science teachers, the Drums weren’t quite sure what their lives would look like in Peru, but they knew they had been called to cross-cultural ministry. “We are just lay people. We aren’t pastors. We came to the field as science teachers. So we always felt like we would just be sowing seeds here in Peru,” said Laurie (pictured above).
The Drums founded the Kuyay Talpuy program, which means “sowing seeds with the love of God” in Quechua, the local language. Through the Kuyay Talpuy education centers, the Drums are able to touch the lives of children, their families, and their communities. “We want to plant seeds of the gospel and of Christ’s love in the children here,” said Laurie.
Despite their intense desire to move to Patarcocha, it took a funeral of a dear friend to open the door. “After two years of working in the community every day, but living 45 minutes away in Huancayo, we were granted permission to actually move here.”
“Mama Victoria was the matriarch of the community of Patarcocha,” said Laurie. “Through her death and our inclusion in her family during the funeral, we were finally given recognition as members of the community. We suddenly moved from ‘missionaries’ and ‘gringos’ to a new, more intimate role.
“The community rallied around us and helped us make plans and begin to move in. We became neighbors and friends. We began to work on community issues together. We began to have community struggles together. We bonded in a new way.
“Living among the people has had the greatest impact on our ministry. We worked hard to try not to improve our living situation beyond what others in the community had access to. People knew that we could live better than they did, but we chose not to. We chose to be like them. We shop in the open market alongside our neighbors. Our daughter attends the same school as their children. We eat what they eat.
“We will always look different, and they will always know that we aren’t really from here, but they now consider us one of them. They call us family. That’s huge!” said Laurie.
When asked how she felt about the statement from a neighbor (in the read-out above), Laurie remarked, “Honestly, I have to say that during the first year when we were really being persecuted and we considered leaving, had we known that there was a history of killing missionaries here, we would have definitely left and not persevered. But, in this case, not knowing may have been the best thing. We stayed and stuck it out, and the ministry was blessed,” said Laurie.
Reed Haigler Hoppe is The Mission Society’s associate director for communications and is an ordained deacon in the Alabama-West Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church.
The Drums are relocating from Peru to a least reached area of the world in 2013. They plan to work with refugees and missionaries in their new field in the areas of counseling, coaching, and training. Learn more about their ministry and watch a video at http://www.themissionsociety.org/.