About Sara and Rusty’s ministry
Sara Armstrong and Rusty Edmondson were appointed in January 2009 to serve in Peru as delegation and partnership coordinators. They work with PC(USA) delegations fostering partnerships with our Peruvian covenant partners, the Peruvian Protestant Church and the Joining Hands Peru Network.
Rusty and Sara organize, coordinate and translate for visiting delegations, helping to ensure that these visits reflect the mutual mission priorities of the partners. They set up in-country logistics, assist in planning itineraries, and work with trip leaders and the communities that are visited by the delegations. They also accompany and translate for the delegations.
Peru was home to many Andean civilizations, including the Inca Empire, which was conquered in 1532 by Spain. Due to the vast territory and gold and silver production, Peru was by far the most important colony held by Spain. Peru declared its independence in 1821, and with the help of General San Martín of Argentina and Simón Bolívar of Venezuela, the Spanish were defeated in 1824. After that, Peru struggled to firmly establish constitutional government and to transition economy from dependence on raw material export to Peruvian industry. From the 1980s to 2003, Peruvians struggled with terrorist movements that resulted in over 60,000 deaths. This has left a legacy of violence in the highlands and the jungle that is still being addressed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Many people in the indigenous population live in poverty, particularly in the remote areas. The Joining Hands Peru Network was started in the 1990s with the help of the Presbyterian Hunger Program. The member organizations work together to address poverty at the local level, accompanying communities and non-governmental organizations as they come together to challenge systems that generate hunger, poverty and injustice. Presbyterian missionaries from the United States and Scotland were first sent to Peru in the early 1900s.
About Rusty and Sara
Sara grew up in Ithaca, New York, where her Presbyterian youth group traveled on mission teams each summer. Rusty led his first mission team to Nicaragua after Hurricane Mitch in 1998. They have led dozens of teams to Mexico and Central America. The joys and struggles of intercultural work have led to Sara and Rusty’s call to live and serve Christ in Peru. Since 2009, they have worked with over 100 teams. They enjoy building bridges between diverse peoples and cultures and witnessing the huge impact that cross-cultural trips make on people’s faith and lives.
Prior to this assignment, Sara was the associate pastor for mission and pastoral care at Central United Methodist Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has served bilingual Presbyterian congregations in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Alamosa, Colorado, and also Pioneer United Church in Del Norte, Colorado. From 1989 to 1997, she worked outside the parish as chaplain at Menaul School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and then as executive director of The Storehouse, a faith-based charity that serves people in need in Albuquerque. Sara is a minister member of the Presbytery of Santa Fe.
Rusty grew up in Des Moines, New Mexico. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1970 to 1974. He worked 22 years in the Maintenance and Interpretive Divisions of the National Park Service. Rusty enjoyed interpreting natural and cultural resources to park visitors, historical structure restoration, wild land firefighting and the logistics of constructing and maintaining park infrastructure. Rusty also established Zapata Builders LLC, a commercial construction company, and SimpleVentures, a marketing/investment firm, in Colorado and New Mexico. Rusty received an associate degree in agricultural engineering from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and is currently a member of Alamosa Presbyterian Church in Colorado.
Sara – January 12
Rusty – November 8