Peru Summer Vacation Time!

It is January, which means we are in the middle of summer here in Cusco! Summer definitely doesn’t look the same here in the Andes mountains as it does in Middle Tennessee or Lower Michigan. The temperatures tend to stay around 50 degrees at night and upper 60 degrees during the day. The sun is sometimes so strong that Rachel’s skin is sunburnt after the 20 minutes it takes to walk to church! (True story… it happened today :)). But summer in the Andes also means rainy season! The rain is finally here and we are getting to see some beautiful thunderstorms and rainbows!!

Summer vacation for Peruvians lasts for about two months, and while it may be a slow time of year for the children being off from school, it provides an amazing opportunity for those of us working in the children’s ministry at the Church!

Vacaciones útiles (roughly translated to useful hoidays) is a summer program that provides opportunites for development, social skills, and fun! Parents tend to rush to sign their children up for the “right” programs as most have limited spaces and require fees. The Iglesia de Cristo has decided to offer a free program 3 days a week as an evangelism opportunity for our community!

Today was our first day was a success! Skylar, Mitchel, Rachel, and Solimar (a church member) spent the morning at the building with 28 children from the community! This morning the kids made catapults from popsicle sticks and rubber bands that slung raisins across the room, paper airplanes that bombarded Mitchel to no end, and chocolate covered pancakes to be shared by all!

Today was only our first session with vacaciones útiles! To have 28 kids was amazing, but we are praying for at least 50 from our surrounding community to come and enjoy with us! Each week we plan on adding more arts and crafts, cooking lessons, activities, and bible lessons to be shared with all the children we have attend. Please pray that we continue to grow and reach some new parents!

Mitchel and Rachel

2018 – A Family Update

We haven’t written here in a few months, but we have had an amazing and life changing time over the last half of the year! Since we are closing out 2018 in a few hours, here is a type of “family newsletter” or year in review with some of our more memorable moments…

We are definitely not the same people that we were on December 31, 2017!

This time last year, we had just received our shipment from the US, picked an apartment, and had only had about 3 months of Spanish classes! January and February were a whirlwind of adapting and getting acquainted with the members of the Church as well as dealing with our misguided shipping company. March came and we had our first experiences of being able to be a big part of the work here where we felt helpful enough with our Spanish and our love for children was exemplified – the Medical Campaign! This was our first experience where we felt that “THIS IS WHY WE CAME HERE!” – when we were able to finally interact with people on a relationship basis and also provide a much needed service to the community. We also had a visit from Mitchel’s parents, an opportunity to do some amazing touristy sightseeing, and Rachel received a generous gift from a salad – an amoebic parasite.

April arrived and we spent a lot of time preparing for the new team transition that was rapidly approaching with some amazing seminars customized to helping us transition healthily into the next year. When May came, after 10 months living in Peru, we were able to take a small vacation to some islands off of Ecuador! Living in the Andes mountains can sometime feel really cold (temperature wise) and isolating (geographically speaking). It was a really nice change of pace to head somewhere warm close to the equator and enjoy a beach day or two, as well as be able to be a little leisurely about using our Spanish and letting our minds take a small rest!

In June, we were able to make it back home to Tennessee for a week to witness Mitchel’s youngest sister get married! It was also an amazing time in Cusco as June is one of the biggest months of celebrations with Inti Rymi, an ancient Incan festival around the winter solstice.

July passed slowly for us in it’s coldness. We really learned this month what it means to not have central heat inside our house! There were about 2 weeks where our apartment was 45 degrees Fahrenheit! We entered into August with excitement as Rachel’s parents were coming to visit for a few weeks and we were able to receive some American items that we have been missing over the past year, like CHOCOLATE CHIPS!!!!! We were also able to do a few more tourist activities, like a citywide open bus tour! Our team also spent some time in Pisac, a city in the Sacred Valley about 40 minutes from Cusco, for a team building retreat as well as preparing for the upcoming transition of watching some of our “oldest” teammates and friends leave the work and Peru later in the year.

In September, Mitchel needed to go back with all of the other male missionaries to a conference in Memphis about our building project here in Cusco! He was only gone for a week, but Rachel sure missed him! We were also integrated enough into friendships and the people here that we were able to help in planning a baby shower for one of the ladies at Church! October may have been our busiest month in Peru. Rachel was able to go to Brazil on a South American Missionary Ladies Conference and connect with other lady missionaries that are serving in cultures and languages different than their own. They were able to grow together spiritually and share experiences that they knew the other ladies would be able to relate to, as well as build lasting friendships with fellow servants in the Kingdom from other countries. We also had one of our biggest days yet in the Church in Cusco. We celebrated the 8th anniversary of the Allyu Congregation by having a “Gran Dia” in the park! In just the one day, we more than double and a halved our attendance with many visitors and had an amazing children’s program with more than 70 kids!

After a year and three months on the mission field, in November we finally returned to the United States on furlough to give updates to all of our supporting congregations and were able to spend quality time with our families, as well as have an real American Thanksgiving (we have definitely missed the macaroni and cheese and pumpkin pie!). Rachel was so excited about being able to return during the Christmas season and go to the wonderfully decorated place known as Cracker Barrel! We loved being able to see so many of our friends and church family and were sad that, even though we were in the US for a little over a month, we didn’t have enough time to see everyone we wanted to see. We came back to Cusco in December in time for the final Sunday of some of our teammates time in Peru. After they had spent the past 9 years in Cusco, we saw them off at the airport in an emotional goodbye. A week later, Mitchel made a visit back to the hospital for a few days with another infection in his lungs compounded with high altitude complications. It wasn’t nearly as scary as the hospital visit in 2017, and we are so thankful to all the prayers lifted up on our behalf! He was released from his hospital stay in time for Christmas Eve! One of our most favorite things about Cusco is the city-wide fireworks display that begins at midnight on Christmas Eve! The entire city is lit up in beautiful sparks celebrating the birth of Christ!

Christmas Eve Fireworks

After spending a year in a foreign country, we have definitely learned a few things. We have been humbled in learning and adapting to a new culture, taught patience in acquiring a new language, and been shown how much the love of God has been spread throughout His Kingdom and His family! We are so thankful to the ones who have sent us (you) and to the ones who have received us (Cuzqueños). This year has rarely been easy, but it has all been worth it. Thank you so much for being on this special journey with us as we continue to work in The Kingdom!

In His Love,
Mitchel and Rachel

Happy New Year!

Our First Medical Mission Campaign!

Every March something extraordinary occurs within the city of Cusco. The Allyu Congregation is blessed to have a group of 50+ volunteers from the United States travel to hold a free health clinic in one of Cusco’s local municipalities. This year we were in Parque Cachimayo, a children’s park with enough space to have the medical campaign as well as a large carnival-like children’s campaign! The clinic focuses on providing health services to the locals that they might not otherwise receive as well as sharing the love of Christ through studies and kids’ programs.

The 2018 campaign was the largest yet! Stations were offered in General Medicine, Triage, Pharmacy, Ophthalmology, Glasses Distribution, and Physical Therapy. In addition, stations were available for personal Bible studies and children’s activities were outside during waits to see a doctor.

In total, the campaign saw 1,981 patients, conducted 360 bible studies, witnessed 5 baptisms, and provided a VBS style carnival to over 480 children in a four day period!

At the end of the week, the campaign was considered a major success with the Municipality requesting for the campaign to be held in their location for as long as we are able to!

One of our major goals is to have a campaign where the Church in the United States and the Church in Peru work together as the one family that we are! We are all one body in Christ regardless of the country of origin. To that end, we have been blessed to have many of our members here at the Allyu congregation volunteer to provide invaluable services during the campaign.

One of the most valuable areas that the Peruvian brothers and sisters assisted in was Evangelism! All Bible studies conducted during the week were by the members of Allyu. They also have a program to continue following up with these participants in the weeks following.

In addition to Bible studies, the members from Allyu also assisted medical professionals as translators. Many of our members are trilingual – being able to speak Spanish, Quechua (the ancient Incan language still spoken by many in the Cusco region), and English. They were irreplaceable in helping to assist the medical volunteers from the United States diagnose the numerous conditions that were prevalent this year.

As many of you (who have been following our blog and have talked with us) know, we are extremely enthusiastic about children’s ministry. The missionary team here in Cusco saw an opportunity in reaching whole families with children with this campaign. Last year was the first year a small children’s section was included involving only an evangelism station with children’s story books, a coloring page station, and a play dough station. This year, Mitchel, Rachel, and two teammates – Bethany and Skyler, decided to really expand this section and try to reach out to more families as well as children in the local neighborhood


The AWESOME children’s team

This year, after registering with their thumbprint on a giant balloon mural, the kids would listen to one of our Spanish speakers tell the story of Christ and how he loves them. They would then receive their punch card that would allow them to participate in numerous activities. It was a blessing to see the joy and laughter of the children while they played games such as ring toss, ducks on a pond, and play dough, as well as games that are not played in Peru such as Plinko and Kerplunk! They could also have their faces painted, write cards to children in hospitals, make a wind sock to bring home, visit our photo booth (complete with fun props), and play with campaigners while their parents waited in line to receive medical care inside.

We are so thankful to have had this opportunity to really serve as Christ’s hands and feet and feel very blessed by HIM to have such wonderful people to work alongside as we show HIS love.

For we are his workmanship, created in Jesus Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

We sincerely hope to have more people from our supporting congregations next year to partner with us in the city of Cusco. If you would like more information about how you can participate next year, send us a message through email or through Facebook!

And once again, our sincerest thank you to our supporting congregations for giving us these opportunities to show God’s love and compassion here in Peru!


Mitchel and Rachel

Formal Training for Missionaries

Once we had both come to the point in deciding that we should consider becoming missionaries, we first sought our confirmation from those that knew us best. Rachel went to talk to the elder’s wife whom she affectionately calls “her Naomi”. This family is one that has shown us the true extent as to what unending love can mean. They have 15 kids, three of which are biological. They have adopted and loved for so many children through the years that there must be a special place in heaven for people like them. He is about to retire in the next couple of years and their youngest are in the midst of middle school!

What happened at this meeting was about as affirming as you can get. Rachel and – let’s just call her Naomi – sat down in the study one day while she was over. This was incredibly odd as we hardly ever sat in this room. It must have been the seriousness in Rachel’s voice when she told Naomi that she had something she needed to talk to her about that triggered the more private setting. However, once the obligatory chit chat had been taken care of, Rachel told Naomi that we were seriously considering quitting our jobs to become full time missionaries to somewhere in Latin America. Several things happened almost simultaneously at this point. Naomi jumped to her feet, embraced Rachel, started crying, and told her that this what God meant for her to do with her life.

Further validation came shortly thereafter when we told the eldership in Michigan of our ambitions, and they told us that it only made too much sense. We had come into the congregation seeking ways to get involved and to teach. It would only seem right that this is how we would ever want to leave it. From that point on, we felt as though we knew we could do this if we really wanted to in spite of how crazy the idea may seem.

It was only short few moments after we had decided to completely alter our lives to become missionaries when we realized that we had absolutely no idea how to accomplish that. Could it be as simple as grabbing your bible and moving to an unknown world to read scripture to them? Something about that methodology seemed lacking.

Luckily, we are not the first to have ever embarked on this path. We would turn to what would end up as our future teammates for advice on how to get started. They outlined for us many things. How to make funding materials for potential sponsors, how to develop a budget, what places are best to target for locating to, and perhaps most importantly how to prepare for entering the mission field.

In fact, as Mitchel spoke to many other former missionaries he had know through the years from Brazil or Peru, the number one piece of advice was always, “Go find some training prior to departing.” We have been told that the average length of stay for a new missionary is less than a year now. So many are entering the field only to return shortly later to the States for one reason or another. Many studies seem to be backing it up.

Why do Missionary Care? by Dorris Schulz, Director for Missionary Care with Missions Resource Network.  “International business understands the importance of pre-departure training. In 1985 data suggested that somewhere between 20 and 50 percent of international relocations ended with premature return. In developing countries the failure rate was as high as 70 percent. Since 1985 pre-departure training of executives has increased considerably, reducing attrition rates. ” 

“Get on the Bus”: How do Missionaries and Other Expats Make International Transitions? by Dale Hawley, Associate Director for Missionary Care at Missions Resource Network. Come prepared. An international move is a major undertaking… [Missionaries] are not simply doing their job in a foreign location; they are immersing themselves in the culture in order to influence it. This calls for a different level of preparation. No amount of planning fully prepares someone for moving to a mission field, but training in cross cultural missions, learning as much as possible about the specific culture to which you are moving, and, to the degree possible, language preparation are all important factors contributing to an easier transition.”

One of the things we both fully agreed on was that if we were to do this, we wanted to be in it for the long haul. We did not want to put in so much work into an effort only to have it fail in less than a year. We wanted to make sure that to whatever extent we were able that we were prepared to move to our new home and profession.

The original church plant team that went to Cusco in 2009 utilized an organization named The Continent of Great Cities to facilitate their evaluation and training. The same group had been able to structure a program when the second wave of missionaries moved to Cusco in 2014. They suggested that we seek their guidance on how to prepare ourselves for this transition.

Great Cities Missions.png

Training can really be thought of as two unique separate sections. The first is the “evaluation” phase. This involves filling out an insanely long application (seriously one of the questions was an open free form of “Describe your spiritual auto-biography”) that took us 6 hours to complete, background checks via personal references, multiple personality profile tests, and a several day session with a clinical psychologist to see if we have the profiles, temperament, and character to be successful in the field. It may sound obvious, but the smallest things of making sure that potential missionaries are active already in the church, have good strong marriages, aren’t volatile, can easily adapt to change, and are willing to lay everything down for God often aren’t ever considered prior to sending off teams. The Evaluation Stage is meant to avert any potential land mines that could produce self inflicted wounds to a team once they relocate.

The second portion of our work with Great Cities was in what you could label as traditional “training”. This a more formal classroom setting in which missionaries learn about the history of the church in their target country, how to evangelize, the importance of discipleship, how to handle team dynamics and let each member play to their strengths, how to overcome conflict within a team, language training, what is culture shock and how to deal with it, and many other important topics.

Great Cities Missions ministry provides:

  • Missionary team recruiting
  • Carefully screened and approved missionaries
  • Team training that includes language preparation, team dynamics, and urban church planting strategy
  • On-the-field adjustment assistance
  • Ongoing care for missionary families
  • Counsel and assistance with re-entry issues

Normally, Great Cities trains teams that are forming first time church plants into a new target city. It is odd for them to do training for a second wave. We were the very first group to ever be trained by them as a third wave. Inasmuch our training had to be modified to accommodate what would be appropriate.

We were fortunate to be invited to join in portions of training with another group that is also preparing to depart to the mission field: the Sao Luis Team. The Dye, Gibbins, and Hill families from San Antonio, Texas, are heading to Sao Luis, Brazil to establish a Church there. They were in the beginning stages of their 3 month training with Great Cities Missions before moving internationally in December 2017, and were gracious enough to allow us to join in on a few of their classes! As we spent time with this team, we began to call them friends! We are prayerful that their efforts to move to Brazil are realized and are successful! Their website is above, if you would like to keep up with what God is doing in Brazil!


The Sao Luis Team

There were two major sections to our time in San Antonio. The first was a seminar course called “Crucial Conversations”. This is a lesson series that one of the members at Northside church of Christ in San Antonio puts on for real world organizations for a living. The idea behind it is how do you encourage dialogue that is healthy when two parties have a strong difference of opinions, emotions are strong, and stakes are equally as high. During this course we got to learn and practice techniques to help others feel safe in communicating with us even if these situations are present.

The second portion of our training revolved much around cultural awareness and the culture shock to expect when you transition into a completely new environment. The stages of going from being settled and involved somewhere, to departing, to chaos, to re-settling, and finally to gaining some balance of being re-settled. Former missionaries told us how you will find yourself bouncing between each of the stages many times over during your first year of moving. We also learned what some of the typical cultural customs acted as agitators on Americans that moved into the culture. Through all of it though, we were given hope that as long as you prayed and persevered through the difficult stages of adjustment, you will come out better for it in the end.


Training with the Sao Luis Team


With Ron and Georgia Freidas

And that is where we are with our training at the moment. This Monday (August 7th), we bridge into a whole new realm of training. We start eight weeks of language immersion school here in Lima, Peru to jump start our ability to communicate with the locals. From there we will move to Cusco where we will continue private Spanish lessons for many more months to come. We will also have the opportunity to have Great Cities come down and facilitate some team based training with all the missionary couples working in Cusco.

It’s been a long journey to get to this point. I daresay we are far from finished, but the one thing we want everyone to know is that we are doing everything we can to make sure that the work in Cusco is not hindered in any way by us. We want this to be a long partnership with our supporters that doesn’t fail for any number of petty reasons Satan is sure to throw our way. Our chief desire is to get out the way and to let God work through us. We don’t want anyone to ever look at us and say, “See all the wonderful things Mitchel and Rachel did.” We only want them to see all of the wonderful things that Jesus did in our lives.

In Him,
Mitchel and Rachel Routh








Mt. Dora, Florida

What is a mission? Is it simply getting on a church van for a minimum of 3 hours to go into a place you have never been, with the sole intention of doing things you somewhat refused to do in “everyday” life? If we’re being honest, that is what my opinion was of mission trips when I went through youth group some years ago. It was a time when you would go to some awesome place, and your local youth minister relished in putting you in uncomfortable situations. It wasn’t until I had started going on many myself in latter high school years and in college, that I realized the need for missions, and how they can help so much more than the “target” group or city.

One short week after we arrived back in Tennessee, we packed up again to head out. It’s amazing to us how God works. During the preceding month as we were discussing the transition timelines with our elders, they mentioned that the youth group had a planned mission trip during the middle of June that was in desperate need of chaperones. They suggested that if we were available, that we should get in touch with the youth minister to see if we could accompany them and help out. How can you say no to such a proposition?!?!?

I immediately called Alex to find out that just the previous night he had been seriously considering having to cancel the trip due to lack of adult support that could go to Florida. He had sat down and prayed that God send him some individuals to act as chaperones and mentors to his teens. Rachel and I asking if we could help out on the trip was a literal less than 24 hour response to Alex’s prayer!

We had such an incredible week with Winchester Church of Christ’s Youth Group to Mt. Dora, Florida! About 25 people were involved from our Overseeing Congregation in this trip. When we departed for Florida, we only loosely knew some of the individuals on the campaign. We came back with memories of friends, brothers, and sisters that we will cherish forever.

One of the primary emphasis’s of the mission trip was to put on a VBS for the Mt. Dora church of Christ. Seeing as we had held a VBS at Winchester the week prior to the trip, this should have been a super easy task, right? Well there are a number things that added some fun wrinkles to the mix.

When this Vacation Bible School was put on in Winchester, the teachers had four days to prepare their rooms. Here in Mt. Dora, we had four hours! It turned out beautiful and really emphasized how fast things get done when people work together! Rooms were decorated to put kids directly into the setting of one of the four bible stories we would cover. Our theme for VBS was “Survivor: Saved By God”. It emphasized how God can rescue you from any situation and use it to his glory.

SAVED BY GOD – From Hopeless Situations to Great Salvations
– Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – the Fiery Furnace
– Daniel and the Lions Den
– Jonah and the Great Fish
– Paul and Silas in Prison

Also, we tried to put our teens into as many leaderships roles as possible. In Winchester, the whole assembly of membership pitched in to teach classes, guide craft sessions, and relegate snack duty. At Mt. Dora, Mitchel taught the adult class each night, there was an adult to oversee each classroom, but all of the lessons, crafts, and structured times were teen led. It was great to see the teens step up and demonstrate what it means to be a leader in God’s church. Even little Emma Cowan – who is only going into 5th grade herself – was seen stepping up to help distribute snacks and make sure everyone was taken care of!

All of the teens hard work was rewarded. Sunday, the first day of VBS, we had 10 children come, and by the fourth and last day, that number doubled to 22 children participating! Throughout this VBS, several future leaders became apparent!


Playground popsicles

Remember that little bit at the beginning about a crazed youth minister that relished in putting in uncomfortable situations? It seems to be status quo on mission trips and this one was no different. As we mentioned we had 10 kids show up to VBS on the first night – a solid start, but we knew that we had the potential to reach out so many more.

Hence, we took our teens to the streets! They went door knocking into the neighborhoods surrounding the church to spread the news of the VBS we were holding. Many of our teens commented on how the simple act of inviting someone to church was a new and uncomfortable experience for them, but they also told us of how it was one of the ways that caused them to grow the most during the week. Simply telling others of your faith and inviting those around you to share in it is becoming a dying art, and our teens were blessed to see how easy and beneficial it can be.

There is an old saying that people won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. It was great to go door knocking, but Alex wanted to try and demonstrate this principle to the teens as well. What ensued was the complete takeover of some of Mt. Dora’s parks. Our teens rushed into the playgrounds, played with the kids there, handed out free popsicles and VBS flyers, and sang some awesome VBS and camp songs with some of the children at the park. It was like a mini VBS all unto itself! Indeed we had several new kids come and attend each night that we met at the parks.


Do you also recall the part about mission trips involving tasks you would normally have no interest in participating in? We were blessed to get to have this experience for our group as well! Located in the city of Mt. Dora, Florida are the local Christian School for kids pre-K through 12th grade and the associated children’s’ home. There were a number manual tasks that we were able to help out with. So Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. we met at the church and divided into two groups.

The first helped out with an area of the school that needed some landscaping work. They cleared out trees, logs, vines, and undergrowth from a hillside that was soon to be seeing much more foot traffic as the school’s football field was being put in nearby. The second group had the honor of scraping gum off of the gym bleachers, cleaning out trash cans, and spraying down the outdoor mats.

After our service projects were complete, we were given a tour of the children’s home and Christian academy. It was a blessing to see the resources they had been able to establish to invite children to come in from various broken situations, have a room to call their own, a house parent to watch after them, and a top notch educational facility to go get their primary and secondary schooling from.

We were also reminded of just how connected the church is though God and his people!! The elementary school portion of the Christian Academy in Mt. Dora has a wing named in honor of Jim and Ruby Vanzant. Which was a really special treat for those at Winchester, TN as we have a wing of our church building named after them also!


It truly was an amazing week of seeing the teens grow and reach out to youth of Mt. Dora. But this brings us back to the original question of what is a mission? Anyone that knows of them happening in the church might call it what I did as a younger child, a group of people going to some place to help some people. I think our teens began to learn in a week what took me quite some time to figure out. As they were stepping up to teach, to share their faith openly, to live it out in a way that others could see it, they were living out the very definition of mission. A mission is more than a trip, it is being intentional with your actions and your life to make sure that you spread the good news of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection to as many people as possible.

Whether it is in Cusco, Peru,  Mt. Dora, Florida, or at the grocery store in your own hometown, what are you doing to help build the Kingdom? Whose lives are you making a difference in by living out and sharing the Gospel? We challenge you to try and live out these virtues. You might just be surprised by who they end up affecting most.

In Him,
Mitchel and Rachel Routh

Raising Support

We are in an awesome and somewhat scary part of our lives. The time where we must come to total dependence on God and His Church. It was one thing to leave our parents’ homes for college and not have them in every moment of our lives. It was quite another for us to graduate college, get married, and learn how to do things like paying bills, plan out your meals for the week, or actually have a paycheck. In the years that followed, it seemed as though every action we made was to build up a safety net of security. We set up a 401k. We bought a house. We established roots and grew interconnected in our new home of Michigan.  Yet, now we have tasked ourselves with usurping all of that for what we know is a greater cause.

In this journey to become directly involved with the Great Commission, we have become needy. We need… support, finances, prayers, help. There is no possible way we could ever do this on our own.

Mission work is expensive and sending a family across the equator is not easy. For missions to work, the whole body of Christ has to work together. We have always known this, but God is giving us a new perspective.

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Romans 10:14-15   (ESV)

We want to be an extension of all of those who are supporting us. We don’t just think of ourselves as “the Routh family who is going to Peru,” but rather “part of the Churches of Christ making an impact in Peru.” We like to think of ourselves as the feet of the Body.

As feet, we cannot just go where God is calling us without the combined effort of the Body.

When we ask for support, we are asking for a partnership. We know that God has given us all different talents and gifts, and He created it so not everyone has the same jobs. Some of us are called to go, and some of us are called to send. When we all work together, we can accomplish amazing things!

We are the feet in need of the Body to send us to South America.

Can you help us?

Please check out our Get Involved page or send us an email with any questions you may have! Thank you so much for considering a partnership with us!

Through Christ,

Mitchel and Rachel Routh