Following the Spirit: the Del Castillo family's first nine months as missionaries in Peru
FORT WORTH — Karen Del Castillo and her two youngest children, Julianna and Gabriel, earlier this year sold many of their belongings to live as missionaries in Peru for Family Missions Company.
After almost nine months in the impoverished country, the family has found many opportunities for service, expected and unexpected.
“We follow the movement and guidance of the Holy Spirit, wherever and however He leads,” Del Castillo wrote in a monthly update. “We live lives of praise, openness to the spiritual gifts, spiritual warfare, and discernment of the Spirit’s guidance.”
For these former parishioners at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Decatur, missionary life has proven to be rewarding but difficult, between a small monthly stipend of $700 and unexpected roadblocks, the first of which they encountered upon arriving in the developing country as striking rice and corn farmers had created barricades on the paved roads.
They were allowed past these physical barricades and have overcome many issues they have come across during their work to bring God’s love to the people of Peru.
“It was a comfortable feeling to know from the start of our travels the Holy Spirit was at work,” Del Castillo said.
The family has taken many opportunities to help the community in which they live. They bought groceries for a woman and her children, painted churches, walked to three church celebrations every Sunday, bought glasses for a young girl unable to attend school due to her poor eyesight, and prayed over people in need. They have taught the faith to many youth through retreats, prayer meetings, and sacramental preparation.
The family lives in poverty along with the community, building relationships and sharing struggles with their new neighbors.
One connection — of many the family has made — is with a woman named Magaly who lives with her four children and an abusive husband in an especially impoverished area.
The family meets with Magaly and her family weekly to give them food and talk.
One night while Del Castillo prepared dinner for her family, Magaly came to the door crying, her children each holding a plastic bag with clothes. She had been forced out of the house by her husband.
Magaly’s mother-in-law came to the Del Castillo house, angrily screaming and yelling. Del Castillo invited her inside, and she refused to answer questions Del Castillo asked except a loud “no” to the question, “do you know what love is?”
Del Castillo informed the mother-in-law of God’s love for her and that she would not stop visiting Magaly despite the mother-in-law’s threats to the Del Castillo family. Del Castillo offered to pray over her with holy water.
She prayed that God would enter her heart and allow her to feel peace and love. Del Castillo begged God to show her how to love and protect Magaly and her grandchildren from her son. She commanded any evil spirits binding the woman to be gone in Christ’s name.
“I had no clue what I was doing. To be honest I was not doing anything, even though to a person with little faith it seemed that it was I who was talking,” Del Castillo said. “But it was Christ who came to defend Magaly and to speak the truth to her mother-in-law… I would have been too scared and worried because I am not qualified to perform such works.”
Miracles occurred around the family over the next few days.
She poured out the bottle of holy water in the home of Magaly, and she prayed that Christ would shine within the home and for the darkness of evil, lies, and fear to be driven out.
The next day, Magaly and her children approached them on the trip to her house, all bathed for the first time in months. They were on their way to the park, and so Del Castillo offered to drop off the groceries she had been bringing them with Magaly’s mother-in-law.
When they arrived at the house, they were greeted with a smile by the mother-in-law and invited to stay. They shared the Gospel with her.
“Walking away from the visit, my children and I were in awe of the work of Christ and the miracle of the holy water,” Del Castillo said. “Whatever evil spirit was taking hostage of their home seems to have fled. We can only praise God for the miracles that He has allowed us to see.”
Del Castillo said she and her children have tried to work constantly for their community in order to better show Christ’s love to those they encounter.
Father Thomas Craig, chairman of the Diocesan Mission Council and director of the diocesan Office of Pontifical Missions, met the family almost two years ago to discuss their desire to be a missionary family.
“The big thing was they responded to God’s call simply to be a missionary,” Fr. Craig said. “To take what they had and their love of God and to take it someplace.”
Fr. Craig explained, “If you’re baptized, you’re a missionary. It’s up to every one of us to keep responding as best we can… We call ordinary people to share their faith with one another.”
Don't miss this previous article on the Del Castillo’s decision to become a missionary family.