By Shelby Stewart
In the fall of 2015, the Carmody family left their life behind to become full-time foreign missionaries.
“Our intent and desire is to live abroad in the poorest of poor communities for the remainder of our lives,” said Karen Carmody, who is currently in Peru with her husband Chris and children Katelyn, Anna, Jack and Michael.
Starting in early 2015, the family gave away 95 percent of their possessions including furniture, clothing, jewelry, toys, appliances, vehicles and more. They joined the Family Missions Company, which is a catholic organization of missionaries who are spread all over the world. The family completed a four-month training program before they were sent to Peru in January of 2016.
“Although the idea of being foreign missionaries seemed a bit strange to us then, it’s now our life,” said Carmody, a 1993 Brandon graduate. “We live in a small jungle community alongside the poor. Having taken a vow of gospel poverty, we live very simply so that our financial resources can be used to serve those in most need.”
Carmody explains that they have two types of mission in their program: planned and unplanned.
“Part of our planned ministry we hold bible studies, minister to orphans, lead praise and worship, visit the sick and dying in their homes, conduct funeral services, teach catechism, facilitate teen retreats, prepare people for their sacraments and so much more,” she said. “Our unplanned ministry includes everything that happens in between our scheduled activities: buying food for the hungry and medicine for the sick, repairing people’s homes so that they don’t flood during the rainy season, giving counsel to the discouraged and guidance to the lost. We accompany people to appointments when they need transportation, advocacy or simple assistance understanding various procedures and professionals.”
They also hold individual events as well, such as a ‘Libertarian Party,’ where they provided wheel chairs to over 50 people who needed them for mobility.
“Our number one priority is their spiritual needs, but we work hard to serve the poor by addressing their emotional and physical needs as well.
Living poor among the poor in a third world country isn’t glamorous, but it is glorious,” she said. “Despite the hardships, we all love it and plan to remain here in our jungle home until the Lord calls us to serve Him in a different way.”
The Carmody family has been hard at work teaching children in orphanages in Lima about God in fun and interactive ways, such as wrapping themselves in toilet paper as mummies and having someone playing Jesus raise them from the dead as he did with Lazarus, or ‘Dynamicas’, which are religious dances and songs for children.
They also provide help for children with school supplies, and presuming the care for three teen siblings who had been abandoned and left to survive on their own with no shelter or food.
“We’ve assumed responsibility for their care. We have committed to providing their basic necessities: food and personal hygiene, cleaning supplies and school fees,” said Carmody in a blog post. “We see them around town often and enjoy their company when they visit our home. Little by little we’re developing nice relationships and look forward to whatever the Lord has in store for us.”
“My parents have attended St. Anne Catholic Church in Ortonville for 30 years and that’s where Chris and I were married. Ortonville holds a very special place in our heart and we enjoy visiting each time we’re in the States,” she added.
Follow their journey on their blog at carmodyfamilyonmissions.com