Joseph with his children in Peru

“Since we have been in Perú, there has been a constant battle against sickness due to exposure to new pathogens,” he said. “Living at almost 13,0000 feet above sea level comes with its own set of challenges. Despite these difficulties, we have had much joy with new friends and community that we have found here.”

Barnes and his family have fallen in love with the people, the culture and climate of Peru. He said they are thrilled to continue serving there and working alongside the hardworking and enterprising Peruvians.

“This year we planted a church, named Iglesia Bautista Reformada de Puno (Reformed Baptist Church of Puno),” he said. “We have so much joy in this church! First, we are joyful because this is the reason that we have been sent to Peru – to plant healthy churches where they do not exist. Secondly, in our efforts to plant a church, we have been without a church home for almost four years. We have missed fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters back home in Brandon, Mississippi, and now we have the privilege to enter into fellowship with the church once again.”

Barnes said that he had a desire to learn to speak and write Spanish better, which is why he decided to take online classes.

“Part of our journey in Peru has been learning Spanish,” he said. “This has also been a difficult but joyful process. Most of the Spanish I know has been learned from the street. While I communicate well, I lack correct grammar.  I also want to write in Spanish. When I decided to take courses, I discovered several available through MGCCC.”

Barnes feels lucky to have found classes offered by Silvana Newkirk, an instructor at MGCCC’s Harrison County Campus.

“It was simply by chance that I ended up with Professor Newkirk as my instructor,” he said. “She has been such a great help in my understanding of Spanish grammar. She has been an excellent instructor and has always made herself available to help me when I did not understand. I feel so appreciative to both her and MGCCC for helping us along the way on our journey in Peru.”

Newkirk said she has enjoyed teaching a non-native speaker who is living in a Spanish-speaking country.

“I love all of my students, but Joe is just a blessing,” she said. “He has inspired me with his love for his missionary work and his determination to learn Spanish grammar and the proper form. That is what teaching is all about: helping students find success in whatever they decide to study and do in life.”