Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Peru: Day 6

Greetings Friends and Family,
We pray you all are doing well. We're nearly halfway through our trip which is hard to believe considering we've seen so much in our short time here. Today we traveled north to the Mision San Andres Centro Poblado: Cerro Cajamarco which marked our first trip outside the borders of the city of Lima.
The bus pulled up to San Andres to the sound of about fifty children singing loudly to welcome us. San Andres is pastored by Fr. Benjamin who was ordained to the priesthood one month ago and they worship in a space which was donated by a local woman (unfortunaley I can't remember her name).

(Fr. Benjamin and the woman who donated her land for the Church greet us and tell us the story of the Mision.)

After some more singing and introductions we were invited to sing and so today witnessed the inaugural performance of Los Seminaristas de Nashotah! Joe, Sven, Michael and I sang a song in Spanish with our newly acquired traditional Peruvian instruments for the kids which was lots of fun. As is the case here, music is a part of every gathering and is one of many expressions of how our Peruvian brothers and sisters joyfully celebrate life.(International singing sensation "Los Seminaristas de Nashotah". L to R: Jose on la guitarra, Miguel on la cajon (drum), Joel on la charango y Esven on la guitarra y canta.)

San Andreas is in the process of building a new building and the children were very excited to take us to see it. As is the case with almost everywhere we've visited, since we're in the foothills of the Andes, most shanty-towns are built into the sides of hills and therefore things are setup on steep inclines. Today took the cake though. Simply to get to the site of the new Church building which is under construction, only 100 yards away..and up!, was exhausting. I can't imagine what it must've been like to haul the bricks up.

(The kids leading us up to the site of the new building, the red bricks on the upper right. Looks are deceiving, this was quite steep.)

After seeing the new building the kids shot up the steep hillside and waved us up. So most of us climbed up the rocky hillside to a small plateau which then continue onto various pathways further up the mountains (technically foothills). One such mountaintop had a cross and a shrine at the top as is very common throughout Peru and something we've seen in numerous places.(Look very closely and you'll see the cross at the top of this hillside. This photo is taken from about halfway up from the site of the current Church. Joe, Ellora and I {Joel} climbed to top of this.)

We had a great time singing and worshipping together with the mothers and children, and then climbing through the hills with the children here at San Andres. After visiting for a few hours we boarded the bus to continue north to San Patricio.(The mothers and children of San Mateo, the Nashotah House seminarians, Fr. John who translated and Peruvian seminarians Edith, Jerry, Marco, Mariela and Fr. Benjamin.)

One treat was that we stopped to each our lunch at a beach on the way to our next visit. Most of Peru is inhabited along the coast of the Pacific and the view was beautiful. There were some pretty serious waves too.

After lunch we drive another hour along the coast to visit Mision San Patricio where, as you can see, they were eagerly expecting us. This is the mission that Juancarlos works at. You will recall he gave a testimony yesterday (see Day 5) where he described a three hour trip one way to serve a mission, this is his mission. We received an incredibly warm welcome and started by playing games with the children, including "Simon Says" which Sven did a wonderful job leading in Spanish.
(Sven leading us all in "Simon Says")

After playing with the children, we had a time for sharing testimonies, with three of us and three people from the local community sharing our stories. It seems that giving speeches is very popular in Peru and frankly it's been a very nice way to share our hearts with one another.

(Here I am giving my testimony about what brought us to Peru, beginning with the Bishop's visit to Nashotah House a year and a half ago, and telling them how inspiring their faith is.)

After testimonies and more singing, from both ourselves and the Peruvians, we helped serve everyone "lunch" which is Peruvian slang for a snack. As has been usual the snack is a thin version of oatmeal or quinoa that people drink like a beverage.
(Here's Mark serving one of the ninos some "lunch".)
After lunch the Church presented each of us with beautiful handwoven blankets made by a woman in the congregation. She had been preparing them for two weeks in anticipation of our arrival. They are absolutely lovely and will be a treasured memento of our visit to San Patricio.
(The woman standing between Sven and Ellora made these lovely blankets for us.)
So the day after tomorrow we will travel to Ica which is near the epicenter of where the earthquake struck last August. We'll be staying there overnight for two nights to help with earthquake relief and during that time I do not anticipate having internet access. I will add a post upon our return however. We'll still be around Lima tomorrow and I'll post an update tomorrow evening. Until then...Dios te bendiga!
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