This is part 1 of a 4 part travel blog for this initial 2016 Missionary trip to Peru by LAMA Ministry.
Click here for full Photo Gallery that goes with blog.
31 January, Sunday - Left Los Angeles January 31st on a 12:50 pm flight, getting in to Lima after midnight once we got all our bags.
1 February, Monday - We are bringing a large keyboard for the mission on this trip so we spent an extra $40 getting it packed right and it's just one of our checked bags. However we gladly arrived in Lima with all items intact. Had to hire two taxis, next time with this much luggage hopefully we will NOT call ahead for our regular ride and just get a local guy with a station wagon. Anyway, needed to sleep in today and enjoying a restful Monday ... will have a leasure day today.
Got in pretty late and took a bit to get unwired but we eventually got to bed. Had an early wakeup knock with Priscilla & her husband, a high school friend of Lily's who lives in Yucatan in Mexico doing missionary work. We arranged housing for them for a few weeks while they are touristing in Lima, coincidently arriving the morning of our our own arrival.
Our roommates went to Lima for most of the day Monday, and Lily and I did lunch across the street. Lily then went to the bus depot to arrange for our tickets to Ica later this week. I got a little catnap while all were away, but it was short. Lily got back and our travel plans are to go to Ica 'very early' Wednesday morning. She will be coming back next week on her own to meet her brother and sister who are flying down as well, leaving me at the mission with all our friends, young and old, who strive so hard to teach me spanish!! ;-)
2 February, Tuesday - Mostly leisurely day but we did take the express bus into town to find our template printer and to meet with a family member, Karina. We had our rendevous at a local McDonalds downtown, and later tried to meet our printer but could only leave him a note since he was away for a late meal apparently. We will communicate with him via email later and hopefully be able to get new templates for bricks on the wall done, and picked up by Lily when she returns to Lima next week.
Got back late afternoon to the apartment and spent time making sure we were packed for tomorrows bus ride. lots to take downstairs in the morning.
3 February, Wednesday - Got up at 4am to get to the bus depot by 5am for a 530am transit to Ica. Even though I suggested to Lily that we could leave a bag or two till next week when she's coming back up for a day or two, we decided to bring it all anyway. So we are standing out on the street in front of the apartment with all of our luggage turning down a half dozen cabs trying to get our business since they were not large enough. Then I point across the street to a station wagon taxi that's parked and that driver was walking to us the same time to see if he could help. Gods blessing .. we got loaded and we were off. Got everything checked in and paid an extra 15/soles (~$5) for our excess baggage and then we got onboard.
A brand new bus with that 'new car smell' .. I noticed that there was no long stairways for the normal double decker, and no TV's sticking out of the ceiling, but there were individual TV screens for each seat and on board wireless and an air conditioner that needed to have blankets which they didn't provide, but a very nice ride with lots of amenities. Makes the 4 hour trip to Ica all the more pleasant.
Got to Ica around 10:30am or so and Leche (one of our regular cabbies, who happens to live in El Carmen near mission) was there waiting for us. He had his usual station wagon taxi which was quite useful. We headed directly out to the mission. Sad to say that the 3 kilometers of gravel portion of the road is still 3 kilometers of gravel road. This was supposed to be done last November but as usual, our elected officials are a bit behind in their promises. Sometime this year I hope .. will have to touch base with our neighbor Ageda, who is our village representative with the 'city/district' folks.
Arrived at the village and had a great greeting by a flurry of local kids, Mariana being one of them. And we got everything taken inside. Before Leche and I got the 'box' off the roof of his taxi, I pointed to it and told Julio "Merry Christmas" as I had told him ahead of time that we were bringing a keyboard. Didn't take long to have this unwrapped and checked out. Although it said 220-240 on the keyboard, which is why I brought it down, it never said 110 and this threw me since it worked well in the USA. So, we plugged it in and no problem. Guess the label should have said 110-240, but we took a gamble and work's well. Being a Korg M3, there are so many options. Will have to find the manuel online in spanish for Julio to really master it but he loves the sound. We also need to get a stand, a foot peddle and a separate amplifier for it .. but this is a very important upgrade for the mission and our resident pianist, Julio, will definitly put it to use.
Much to do. We seem to have a major internet problem with the new service provider we switched too after we left in November. Julio and Yareni need the internet every Saturday for classes and our regular provider apparently had a major downtime with an antenna overhaul or something which led us to approve their changing to a competing local service provider which we keep in touch with and were aware of. A complete down for multiple days definitely brought us to this swap. However now in inspecting the work we seemed to have taken a major step back in capability, performance and just plain function. No wireless on upper floors, the performance is very very slow, and they actually modifed the building wireing to do all this. So we will be in touch with returning the service to the original provider it looks like.
On top of all this, Lily discovered her cell service was shut off due to lack of payment (duh). But they didn't bill her by email or internet which was the plan so that she would be able to pay while away. So, we need to resolve that issue as well. Even with the slow internet, I got her logged on to the internet website hopefully to get her account fixed and then I went and took a well needed nap. But not before greeting our regular attendee, Romario (Marianna's brother) who was all hugs and I directed him to Lily in the office as well. Also, participated with Julio in a regular afternoon bible study/reading/lesson plan that he had set up for many of the youth of the village who come by the mission.
Later in day, while I was napping and thinking my wife was as well, I woke up in time for a later bible study scheduled for Invacion, neighboring village that borders El Carmen. Lily had gone to Ica to fix her cellphone problem since their website wasn't working. Anyway, I debated going to the bible study since my regular translator (my wife) wasn't with me but what the heck, I needed the blessing. So, we headed over.
Romario tagged along on his skateboard and a few other kids were in tow as well. Julio and Yareni brought a computer and sound system to play a video message and they had a prepared lesson plan printed to go with it. They apparently have three of these setup up going on during the week where they bring the mission to the people. They are using a 12 lesson plan called 'Alpha' which teaches a bible based living lesson. I remember discussing this program with them as something to utilize for the 12+ year olds who have outgrown OANSA. Good to see that they are putting it to use and are taking the lesson to the people.
Before leaving Invacion, Luciana was standing at the door of the meeting house and was all excited to see us and was all hugs. Shortly later her little brother Jose joined in. As we left the study group, Romario tried to get Yereni to try out his skateboard but they both took a spill ... Caught a very blurred photo of it, but was only trying to get a photo not knowing they were going to do the flops on the road! ;-) Everyone was fine afterwards but some laughs. I need to remember to turn on my flash when outdoors cause I missed some great pics. Here's one selfie that Mariana (who always wants to take over my cell phone) took of her, Luciana, Jose and myself.
Got back to the Mission and keep the door closed to prevent and control the number of kids that come in who want to every day. The Sanchez's have it down to three days a week for 2 hours that they let the kids come in and have free time at the mission with the games and internet. It is a draw, but has to be controlled. Kids really need a place away from home that is safe and they can congregate with supervision.
With the doors closed and we are winding down for the evening, Lily tells me 'someone just came in' and since we knew where everyone was, we were wondering who could do that without us letting them in. We then had a great surprise visit from Victor and his wife Mirella, who of course have keys since they run the OANSA program which just happens to be on summer break. They knew we were here and made the treck up to see us. Victor was also excited to see the keyboard being a musical leader and all and had some good exercise putting it to the test. We had a long evening talking and updating on everything and before we knew it was midnight and we insisted that they spend the night, which they did. So good to see them.
4 February, Thursday - With breakfast together, we said our goodbyes to Victor and Mirella. We will see them again on Saturday when they return to the mission, and also on Sunday when we go to Ica for church services at El Shaddai.
With two people coming down from the USA next week, worked on getting some last minute items added to their luggage (Amazon loves me) that will help with the equipment and music side of running the mission. Lily will be heading back up to Lima on Monday to meet both of her fellow siblings, Jose and Ismelda, who are arriving then. I will stay at the Mission and work with the internet redo as well as attend bible sessions that Julio and Yareni are holding. We had an interesting day in the afternoon today. The regular attendees of people doing some bible reading and writing, taking on Julio's reading assignments.
After which, we had an interesting event with support for a civic request we got from the local city government. Thy have a childrens dance training that was to go on, and they were denied use of the Lions Hall for some political reason (new Mayor of a year of so was probably not the supported one). So we volunteered the Mission for this training. They were first going to train on the Marinara dance, which although is from the north of Peru (around Trujillo) it is a very enjoyable dance to watch and is pretty much a preferred representation of Peru in the rest of the world in the area of dance. Shame that we could not find very many 'ninos' to pair up with the 'ninas', since it's just not the same without both partners. The girls role is quite beautiful, graceful and flowing, while the boys role has a lot of footwork and is more challenging. I think boys at this age are just not into dance as much as the girls.
Same result for the second dance training ("Festejo")which is more specific from the Ica Region, although the northern province of "Chincha" where the largest concentration of African ancestry Peruvians are from. The dances that hail from this region are quite popular and entertaining and demands a lot of energy, and a rapid drum beat. The girls really enjoyed the 'workout' and they learned quick. There is a regular boys dance group, with uniforms and everything, that performs in our village. But no boys on this day!! ;-) Very entertaining and a lively day at the Mission.
While we were staying with the 'dance group', Julio and Yareni went on to their next 'Alpha group' bible study training, this time in El Carmen at "Pepe's casa" .. wherever that was. Lily and I joined them about a half hour late. Same study that I attended the prior night, so I got assigned picture duty as well as entertaining little Ruby, who I remember buying a gift for her mothers baby shower over a year ago at our 1 year anniversary at the mission. What a precious little girl who was really entralled looking at herself in the cellphone as I took her picture a few times.
5 February, Friday - New day, worked on stopping a perpetual leak in back yard .. but no shut off valve. Not a good design if we have to run to the roof to shut off all water to mission just to fix a leaky faucet in yard. Abel will be coming by after lunch and we will discuss this and other matters with him.
Youth came by for their regular bible study, research, writing exercises that Julio has them doing. Excellent to see them using all the resources that he has put in front of them, teaching them to know their faith with some good tools.
We did some sorting of sandals and clothes for later distribution to village needs. We need to make room for new clothes, and hopefully more shoes along with sandals on future trips. Wish we had a better way of getting this stuff down than just our excess checked baggage. We can utilize far more than we can bring. Everyone coming, please do let us know if you are not utilizing your full two checked baggage alotment. We can definitely get you a bag to bring!!
Abel returned to talk later in afternoon. We discussed the Luciana house situation that we want to assist in rebuilding the two rooms and adding a bathroom. Problem with that area is that many people have built without having papers, and that being one issue, the other is that Luciana's mother's home is right on the creek so there is much concern if they could ever even get papers to do so. I would think that getting an inside bathroom though should only be good news for the creek. Anyway, Abel needs to do some more research, is there a plumbing lateral, if not will the city provide one, are papers available, etc. While Abel was here, he helped stop the leak in the backyard, but having to shut the water off on the roof to the whole mission to do so. Long term fix will be to provide a shutoff for the back irrigation.
Some assistance arrives later in day to join in efforts of art work for decorating mission for upcoming classes. A lot of the local youth have taken a participatory role in the mission, knowing that it is focused on their village, their home. Good to see. Some day soon all volunteer efforts (or most) should come directly from village rather than relying on many great folks that come up from Ica partner church, El Shaddai.
One fringe benefit of having the youth play with a few tablets and cell phones as reward for their bible studies, we get a few great selfies to keep forever!
Later this same evening we had our first movie night for the kids, as Julio and Yareni went and did another bible study Alpha program. Although I have brought with me the ability to play blu-ray high definition movie disks, apparently we have a problem with using HDMI to project them .. will have to look into that. So, instead of the movie we wanted to play, we had to play something else.
No matter, we still had a dozen or more kids that really enjoyed and laughed quite a bit watching the "Croods". I enjoyed seeing this caveman movie in spanish for the first time!! ;-)
6 February, Saturday - Today we woke up with some goals in mind. One was to get internet underperformance resolved. When we left in November, the internet went down for many days and we counciled the Sanchez's (who need the internet for weekly classes they take) to explore with the other service provider in town, and they ended up switching. In inspecting the service though, it is extremely slow, and there is no wireless on the upper floors, mainly since they took our wireless AP device and installed it with their antenna on the roof, protecting it with a wash tub upside down? I should take a picture ..... On top of all that they messed up the wiring inside as well (my masterpiece).
All that aside we need the best service for the dollar so we are open to staying with them or going back to our other service. Apparently out-time is just something that you put up with down here a lot more than in the USA. So we had a meeting with "Francisca", who is the name of the service we are with right now (at least that is what their antenna broadcast). And are exploring ... net net, we will get a box tomorrow to put on the roof, get our router down, that will improve the service, and we can test it before we might have to buy it. If this service is comparable to who we were with till late November, even though we need to buy this box, I am perhaps willing to entertain it (even though returning to the other service would cost us nothing but reinstallation. Day by day, we will work this through. Let me go get two pics of this mess. On the bright side, I am glad that we have competition for this service, especially in a remote rural area such as where we are. These are 'resellers' of Telefonica's infrastructure, where in the city of Ica, one also has the TV service and cellular providers offering internet. Hope a few of them get out here in the near future as well.
Moving on, we had a great lunch and then a big Vacation Bible School day with about 20 of the youth of the village. Time with games for a short bit, then separate the ninas from the ninos for group study, then back together again for some complete group gathering (all following a similar OANSA format apparently). We had an incentive thrown out near the end of the session, showing them all some watches that we brought back from the USA which will be given out for those that attend the group regularily, do the study work and memorization of bible verses. Now they have an incentive. They are not expensive watches at all but they are functional (our hidden incentive is to get them all more timely! ;-) )
After that incentive was expressed, we also gave out a bunch of sandals. Most choices were for the girls though as our selection of guy sandals is still short comparatively. Although everyone went home happy ... short 30 minutes in between getting ready for adult church services. We are also competing with the entire village gathering accross the street for judging of the Negrito dancers that have annual competition, mostly boys oddly enough and it's a big deal here, with uniforms and all. Probably important that we start looking even further to move the adult service to Sunday afternoon, everyone always has something going on Saturday night.
We had a good number of new volunteers come forward for the summer, relying all on local 'in village' talent rather than bringing up so many from our partner church in Ica as we have done for OANSA. The Vacation Bible School program, being totally run by Julio and Yareni Sanchez, resident missionaries at LAMA mission, have done a fabulous job of recruiting OANSA graduates, sisters to current OANSA participants, and even a wonderful grandmother of a young boy (Juancito) who 'want's' to attend the mission more and his health doesn't allow it. We love the volunteer growth we are seeing. It is put to task on this day and as well tomorrow, since the school is broken in two days because of the number of attendee children and the staffing that is needed.
That evening we had our adult bible service, where we were in severe competition with the village having a competitive 'negrito' dance meeting that was drawing a huge percentage of the village. But we had our service, and much was discussed about the many bible studies going on around the villages hosted by Julio and Yareni. We had some shoe/sandals to give out to the adult attendees as well. After services, I went over with a bunch of the local youth that were hanging outside the mission waiting for services to end. They became a flurry of guides for me through the crowd so I would get the best seat first with Carlos (who is a regular mission attendee) who was performing, and then on the other side during his actual competitive dance. (Video link.)
It was a very big affair, with the dance routines being similar to Irish stomp dance performances, being a blend of native dance and the imported dances from african slaves which are very popular in this region since two provinces to the north (still in Ica Region) is where the largest concentration of african dance is located. It was interesting to see some rather elderly people at this little festival wearing badges quite proadly of when they were participants in this association or membership. With the special uniforms and all, it seems like it has a lot of important membership components to it. Anyway, fascinating cultural experience that I will create a video link for later and provide here. Carlos is on the left of the picture, my right, in full regalia.
After getting some video of Carlos's dancing troup performance I headed back to the mission and fought off all the demands for access to the Mission, and use of the cellular, laptop, camera and tablet that the kids are always asking for, as I do like Julio and Yareni's new 'control' program of restricting 'free reign' time for the mission to 3 days a week, 2 hours per day. I made it back inside having to say 'no' a lot, as the kids are relentless. Yareni made some great soup/stew thing that was waiting to eat. She was curious if I saw Julio out there in the masses of people and I said no but would attempt another look. I went back out and it was hopeless to find a single person, also while the regular group of kids were all circling me as well. So I thought, why not .. I said in my broken spanish for them to find Julio and they would get '30 minutos internet' ... bang, 5 kids went out in the crowd immediately looking for Julio .. had to say no more. I went back to the mission and told the story and Lily and Yareni were laughing that I sicked a posse on Julio. Then Lily implied that Yareni knew Julio was upstairs and I laughed 'how cruel!' as I went up to get him but he was not there .... sure enough, 5 minutes later, the kids came back with Julio and earned their 30 minutes and Julio got his soup!
7 February, Sunday - Time to go to church today. Looks like the Sanchez's got an earlier start than Lily and I since they go to 8am service so they can attend some decipleship classes at El Shaddai as well, not they need them, but to learn the curicullum to hopefully offer out at the mission .. excellent goal.
We got there at the church in time for the 10:30 service which went on to about 1:30, giving communion along with service and worship. We had scheduled ahead of time to have lunch with Pastor Martin and his wife Cotty after services, and didn't know the service would go this long as we needed to be back at the Mission by 4pm for a 2nd run of Vacation Bible school for the other half of the kids.
But we had a great lunch, at restaurant of my choosing so I could get my favorite, Rocoto Relleno!! You have to wait for 20 minutes for that dish to be made, so we ate chicken and papas fritas in the mean time .. a double meal apparently.
Between the 'two entrees', Pastor came down to talk directly to Lily about some things and I got a great picture of the two of them.
Pastor said tomorrow was Chinese New Year and he was going to be in Lima celebrating it. I commented that Lily would be up there as well, so in honor of chinese new year, at least I got a good picture of our two 'half chinese" LAMA members, Lily & Martin, both products of Chinese immigrant fathers.
Pastor got all 5 of us to the collectivo by about 3:35 and we were able to get a shuttle to the Mission, that is after a funeral procession had gone by. But although we were about 15 minutes late, we had a lot of children and helpers all congregated outside the mission waiting to begin.
This will be a repeat of yesterdays events of play time, study time together, separate study time for girls and boys, and then gathering again together for some fellowship.
We had some helpers that returned from yesterday and then we also had some new ones. It is so good to see so much participation from the locals with the mission. Now if we could just get them all here for Saturday night worship!! ;-) Great bunch of kids, all 13 to 18, either graduates of OANSA or sisters of those that are in OANSA.
We had good timing in bringing down tee-shirts with the mission logo on them as well, having no idea that this would be our focus recipients to wear them. We had a few helpers from yesterday help us today, and we had a few new ones. We very much are excited about the participation of the village children and teens to help the village younger kids. We are quickly on our way to being an independent, self staffed missionary with little help from out of town. Fantastic progress.
Actually, our Sunday group of students was about 30, focused on the younger ages, where Saturday it was about 20, a total of 50! This is higher for Vacation bible school than we have seen for Oansa! Wonder if that's due to the summer break, the local assistance/volunteers, the great acceptance of the mission, or the fantastic leadership of the Sanchez missionary couple that are running the place and spending so much time getting to know the residents ... or just all of the above. Great to see.
The volunteer photo for Sunday has quite a few more people in it, although 3 of the volunteers were here helping saturday as well. What a great thing is happening here. We pray that the support from outside continues to grow as well so that we can continue to bless this community with this mission, equiping all the volunteers, coming up with attractions and incentives for the children, as well as our continue (harder efforts) with the adults. Your blessings are very much needed and being put to practical use daily.
8 February, Monday - A day of rest for the mission. But we did get to visit our little friend Juansito who is in the hospital in Ica. Visiting time was after 4pm so we left the mission about 4:45 or so and caught a ride actually in a cab with the father of two of our regulars, Marianna and Romerio. Like so many other parents, when the crops are not being worked, the other 2nd job is often serving as a collectivo (shuttle service) or taxi. Don't recall meeting their father before, just their mother. And the two youngsters were also riding with their dad.
We actually got him to drop us at the hospital directly. Usually a collectivo ride takes you to a central site downtown Ica and then you get a Taxi to where you are going. Perhaps Julio (who I made the trip with) paid for a taxi, will have to ask. I only had a 100 soles note so I owe him for some of the fare yet. We got to the hospital and Juancito's father was in the parking lot actually, about to go in. We went in together, and reunited him with his wife, son (Juansito), daughter and his mother in law. We prayed with Juansito, who was not wanting to stay in the hospital, sincerely wants to return home with his family. He is under close observation and was supposed to go to Lima for specialists to review him, but due to his downturn, that trip has not yet been made. They hope to do so shortly, as soon as he can be released. We continue to pray for him, as he is one of the sweetest children I have ever met and we don't even speak the same language. His living as long as he has, has been a miracle. We seek for his complete healing. God, grant him life, work a miracle in him.
We have seen one blessing out of this so far, and that is the volunteering at the mission and attending of services by Juansito's grandmother. Apparently she has been very distant from the church and in fact somewhat offended and turned off to Christianity based on an encounter she had. Some church said they would pray for her if she joined first. What a wrongful message of Christ. Why does man get it so wrong so often? We must check ourselves in scriptures before we engage our mouth, our actions, our words, our deeds. Christianity is hurt most of all by people pretending to be Christians. We must all be Bereans, not some denomination, not some church body. Acts 17 tells of the Bereans who when were listening to Paul preach, they checked everything he said against scriptures. We must do likewise, especially before we say anything ourselves to represent Christianity, and also to check anything that is said to us by others representing the church. Christ was quite clear, and 'membership' was not something he was looking for. He was looking for us all to take Christ into our hearts and to lead others to do likewise. Let's not get 'religious', as that is often the biggest barrier between God and us. Okay, sorry, I got carried away there a bit. Thank you Lord for Juansito, for his family, for his grandmother, and may we all come closer to you through this journey.
Julio and I got back to the mission, after we ran out of visiting time. Later on I caught Julio, Yareni and their daughter Cecee, playing the new Spanish scrabble game that my son Darrell gave me to bring down. We almost didn't pack it due to space but found a way. I hope they will let me use a spanish dictionary when I play it with them, considering my handicap. ;-)
Our internet problems got worked out on Sunday by the way and we have one week to let our current provider know if we like it, if it is acceptable. Still a bit spotty but seems a bit more reliable as well. I was able to hook up a Roku stick on our only TV here and watch part of a terrible GI Joe movie (Now i know why I never got into that franchise) but after some buffering, it worked well. I initially tried it on Sunday night, directly after we got the internet worked out, looking for the super bowl. I ended up getting the last few minutes on an internet link though on my computer, not a lot of luck on the TV. But it is working and when the internet is at its best, when others in the village are not putting a big strain on it, it seems to be able to stream movies from Netflix and other sources on Roku. OK, one more step forward. I am hoping to utilize this for many of the Youtube and other sources of videos for classroom work, especially for English.
9 February, Tuesday - Speaking of which, we had our first english class today. I did get TESOL certified last year (Teaching English to Speakers of Foreign Language) in San Diego. Lily and I tried a few classes earlier last year before I got certified, and also before we got some great teaching materials from Audrey at our church at the Branch. This was the first time that I actually put both (certification and materials) to the test. We had a class size for this first day of thirteen plus our missionary family of 3 auditing.
We really didn't market the class a lot, only putting it on the sign out front a few days ago. Will play it by ear.
Starting the classes off for one hour, although we actually ran about 1:15. I think that a good timeline might be more like 2 hours, but we will work our way up to that, with a lot of repetition and review each week to test retention before moving on to more material. This can be fun. This is definitely something that people coming to the mission can do with their English knowledge and teaching abilities. We can guarantee an interested classroom full of students.
Been keeping in touch with Lily while she is up in Lima. She will be returning Thursday morning with her brother and sister in tow, hoping to have at least a four sibling if not five gathering to celebrate her older brother Antonio's 80th birthday. While she is up there, she is engaging with our regular printer contact who does templates for our bricks. We have six bricks (at least) to do. We also are going to get the lettering template made so we can paint "Le Mision" or "Centro Misionero" on the front above the main door. We want people to start referring to this place as the mission and not any other name, affiliate, or more. We have a couple minor repairs that she is also engaging with our handyman up there to do after she leaves. Lastly I had both of my inlaws bring down a few minor things we can use here at the mission. We will all be back together soon.
Before the day was done, Juancito came by to visit the mission. So good to see him home from the hospital! I promised him if he came by that I would get him a car, thinking matchbox since that was what he had at the hospital but I didn't have a chance to get to the store. So I rustled the last batch of Christmas toys and verifed with Julio that we didn't get him the same thing, and came up with a Jurassic Park truck with dinosaurs in it ... he loved it and I got a great grin out of him!! He and his father, along with Julio and I, played a memory card game and then another game I am failing to remember the name of ... So, we enjoyed our visit with Juancito.
While Juancito was with us inside, we had other kids playing games elsewhere at the mission. While I was thinking the night was winding down, in actuality it was going in the other direction. Our 'city trainer' came by at 7pm for the second session of dance training with the 'ninas' since we can't seem to find many 'ninos' interested ... shame. This guy is a good trainer. This time he used his beat box to do the Ica regional dance number called the Festejo (mix of Incan and African beat and moves). It was funny in that Romario, our resident Mission mascot 'nino' found it fun to at least go through half the motions with the girls. ;-)
The second number was to continue the other popular Peruvian dance, from the north country area, the Marinara. The girls came equipped better this time with their hankees and an outside dress which are both important to the moves of the dance. For a great entertainment, if you are into dance, check one out on Youtube.
10 Feb, Wednesday - Got a good nights sleep and breakfast in the morning, ready for our next day of English classes. Did some further preparation review. We had a similar number of kids, but only about two thirds of them were repeat. So, will have to work with this and see how the trend goes and what incentives we might need to get them to continue to come and do the work.
After the English classes, we headed on into town for some market shopping. Took a collectivo (shuttle) and then walked to the town square where Yareni did some banking first and then we walked a good kilometer to the local mall shopping area which has a market that Yareni likes, called Totos. It's sort of a combination grocery/department store.
I loved this photo of got of her. It's taken by an American gringo of a mexican missionary shopping in a Peruvian markets Chinese section. ;-)
We got through checkout but with the bill being over S/.300 (less than $90) We had a LOT of groceries in a lot of bags, so I was wondering how we were going to get them all into first a taxi and second a collectivo. But that all worked out just well and we were on our way back to the mission.
Anyway, back at the mission and we have a contingency waiting for us, and lots of helpers to carry our stuff inside. The taxi driver thought that was funny, but quite helpful considering we had about 14 or more bags to lug in. Great to have a dedicated mission loving group of kids.
A lot of the regular Saturday and Sunday helpers were slated to be coming over to do a lot of preparation for the next weekend classes. Lots of cutting, and taping, and gluing and decorating. Again very impressed with the wide number of helpers that Julio and Yareni have mustered up within the village.
Three of the ladies were all having birthdays just days apart, so the Sanchez's got a cake to celebrate. Not sure how much they paid for the decoration by the looks of it, but it was certainly tasty!! ;-) Great to see all the comradery among volunteers and some real bonding.
Not sure if this is a Peruvian tradition or not, but the birthday person seems to be taking a small nibble off the edge of the cake, and it seems that if you have a close friend nearby they get to try to push your face in your cake .. well the first two girls made it ok, but the third got a bit on her nose!! Will have to look up that custom!! ;-)
While we work, we have three younger ones entertaining themselves. Actually four, since Juancito came back today this time with his grandmother, one of our volunteers. Made a point of getting a matchbox car to Juancito as well as Fabio. Looks like Fabio is teaching his two nina friends all about playing the tablets! ;-)
11 Feb, Thursday - Had a happy start of day, knowing that my wife is on her way back from Lima.
First things first, we got a knock on the gate and it turned out to be Jose and Luciana. I had Julio and Yareni see them yesterday to tell Jose I had something for him and they committed to come by.
I wanted to bring Jose a remote control car, after some interaction from Luciana while we were still in the USA. Hoping to find one down here when we went grocery shopping yesterday, I was disappointed to see that the toy market has shrunk back significantly until next Christmas apparently. But I found a half dozen matchbox cars to give him. I really love this young boy, perhaps since I feel for him being in a fatherless, and even brotherless home and knowing that the home is what it is (no bathroom, poor hard working mother, etc.) I just wanted to do something. I also love his hugs!.
Ten O'clock came around and it was time for our 3rd English language class. Getting better at this, as a teacher. Had some interactions today with one high energy study disruptor that needed special treatment, and then I had to work with some wall flower types to get them to interact more. Enjoyed getting them up in front of class and dialoging in English some conversational lines.
About an hour and fifteen minutes into the class, Lecha stuck himself in the gate and dropped a bag, and I knew that Lily had arrived. As soon as the rest of the class knew that, they all ran outside to greet her, Jose and Ismelda, who just arrived from Lima. Funny how close everyone is here .. Go away for 3 days and it's a party upon your return!! ;-)
Well, we resumed the class for another 20 minutes or so before calling it quits till tomorrow. We all had a great lunch together as well. After which, Ceci was interested in showing me her sketch book, many of which are tracings, many free hand. This one caught my particular attention. She is spending her early years, being a ten year old, in missionary service with her parents here. Makes me wonder how neat that would be if I could look back on such a time of my life.
Wasn't sure of everyone else but I needed a nap, so mentioning that to my lovely bride I found a hidden bed to lay down in and out I was. Got up a little later it seemed and everone seemed to done similar, as my wife was out and my sister-in-law was going 'shhh'. I set Ceci up watching a Netflix movie, a new capability we have upstairs now with a Roku attachment I brought down (as long as the internet is stable, not always so). Later after a few chore requests or items from my now awake bride, she and her sister went to Ica for some shopping. While away, the city fellow showed up for dance training session number 3 .. Marianara and Negrita. Took lots of video, not sure what I will do with all of it, but I am sure that the young girls parents will enjoy it later in life.
12 Feb, Friday - A new day and our fourth and last English language training of this week. Love these kids. Yareni asked Lily 'where will we find another singing teacher like William?'. Ha! Didn't think it was that noticable.
I am teaching them to sing the ABC song, as I do think that is important for their proper pronounciation of the English vowels and consonants, and also the little rhyme at the end teaches some simple sentence structure with short words. Hope they memorize it so I can get them to recite on request. That's one goal and yeah, I sang it a few times today with them! ;-) My other song was just for fun. We have a loud and disruptive student named Jen (pronounced "Jean"). When he was doing one of his routines, the Irish balad song 'Jean, Jean, Roses are red' came to mind and the rest of the kids never heard it and they all started laughing. Now they know that when I sing it, it's a sign that Jen's out of control again and everyone relates. Jen's a good kid, just an high strung, probably ADHD lad. It's sad that he picks on or makes fun of another smaller boy with similar excess energy and who is also a slow learner. My goal is to get him to look out for him and not make fun of him. Anyway, fun times with teaching. Love the interaction with the kids.
Later in afternoon we had some additional relatives from Lily's mother side show up, who came down from Lima for the weekend to celebrate Antonio Wong's 80th birthday tomorrow (even though it's actually today!!) After that we had movie night with the kids (discovering some limitiations I have with different computers working with this projector, as well as not able to get the HDMI interface to work ... frustration. Anyone have a decent computer and/or projector for us, we can always use them!)
Kids had trouble deciding on what movie to watch as the boys taste are so much different than the girls. I took the advise of one of the young girls and we watched Aladin. Turned out to be a good choice as there was much applauding at the end when the bad sorcerer got his due and the boy and girl lived happy forever after! Never had applause before for a movie! ;-)
13 Feb, Saturday - Got a few morning chores done fixing a leaking spicket in the front of the property and a leaking pipe in the back. Most of the day was spent prepping for the youth that will be here at 4pm as well as birthday celebration for Antonio to follow with about 50-60 guests. So, 4pm was our youth group (to be duplicated on Sunday as well), then followed by 6:30pm Worship service, followed after that with a birthday celebration for 80 year old Antonio and guests.
Had a great session of games, study, worship and fellowship of about 30 of the older children today. Missed out on a lot of photos but did get the volunteers to pose for a photo together near the end of the gathering. To cut down on the overcrowded main service room, I opened up the TV room upstairs to entertain the youngest children (had a few olders that it wasn't intended for) .. will work out the kinks as we go .. would be nice to have a DVD player to play Christian movies, or perhaps even a live feed from the service room ... more to do.
After worship service, we transitioned to celebrate our resident property caretaker, Antonio Wong's, 80th birthday. We had a 6 minute video where many of his nephews and nieces from USA and Japan all had an opportunity to wish him a great birthday as well. Then we had a great meal feast for the guests for his birthday, including his sister and brother who came down from USA to celebrate, as well as a nephew and family from Lima. We had a pretty good gathering that was supposed to be limitied to 50-60 but I think it was more like 100. Oh well, the food lasted. Personally, I really enjoy playing with the little ones and got to have a reunion with little Pia who is growing and much heavier than when I left her two months ago! Between her and a couple of other little ones, I have found that there is a universal language and that is the ticklish armpit . it seems to know no country or language boundaries. I warn you though, even though it initally looks like a great repelling tool, they come back and multiply before your very eyes if deployed so move with caution!! ;-)
After a great meal, we had cake and ice cream (mmmmm). Got a photo of Antonio with his two sisters and brother before the candles were blown out. Will try to include a video. After feeding everyone a meal, we also had plenty of cake and ice cream for all as well. Great fun.
After which, after everyone left, I went looking for Julio and Yareni, since their daughter was asking where they were. Found them in the courtyard accross the street, cooling off after all the business. Romario was there and he started bugging me about the song we have visited a few times in English class (Jean, by Rod McKewen, 1969) where I apparently hummed a few bars too many and now have everyone humming it since it was directed by me to our rowdy classmate Jen (pronounced Jean). So, I went back to the mission and got the words for the song for Romario and together with Yareni we started practicing a few bars. Interesting close of day.
14 Feb, Sunday - Today we head to Ica for church. But first we have some relatives to send off in the morning. We had a great cordial breakfast and our Lima folks had to head back north. They came and left with a huge bag of of mangos though, so a trip to the farm country always has its rewards, besides attending a favorite uncles 80th birthday!! ;-)
We made it to church services about 20 minutes late but, like all things Peru time, it hadn't started yet! ;-) We brought Luis with us, Carlos's older half-brother. I had noticed a few days ago that his sneakers were pretty ratty looking and remembering the problem his family encountered last year with his brother not being able to go to school without shoes, and thinking that Luis might feel that he could sure use a pair as well (and always trying to get a smile on this young man's face) I said we were going to take him to town (just like his brother) for a new pair of shoes. Lily agreed, and today was the day. We got him a shirt and pants as well, like we did for Carlos last year, but could not find any socks in the store we were at. Oh well .. job mostly accomplished, one happy camper.
Got back in plenty of time before the second weekend day of youth vacation classes started, and our volunteers were showing up as we got back.
Busy and well attended classes, both upstairs and downstairs. I am so glad that the local volunteers are so many, and so engaged since they actually live here. We did our part by bringing down what has turned into the volunteer uniform shirt for them all to wear. We have a lot more, with the intent of bringing them for all the youth, but that can be postponed. Perhaps we need to do some nice collar shirts or something for the volunteers. They are so important and so engaged and really spread the load a lot for Julio and Yareni, our resident missionaries in charge.
Later on that evening, Lily and I went over to spend time with both Luciana's mother (Maria) and then later to Carlos and Luis's home. We are looking at them both as to their unique and challenging home problems. We started looking at Luciana's house later last year and started a collection program for resolving it and really want to get underway. We ran into a bit of a hurdle in trying to find out about if there is a 'lateral hookup' for the sewer. Although Maria has a main right in front of her house, there was no intention for a house to be where she built it (so many people just throw things up down here, taking advantage of the 'possession is 90% of the law' mentality down here. So we reiterated the importance with her to get with the city on the plumbing as well as to find or re-file for her papers. With or without her papers or even the sewer hookup, we will most likely do something, but it will be scaled back a bit from initial attempts. It would be in the city's best interest to get a lateral installed or located for her, because her being right here on an active watering creek with no bathroom is not a welcoming thought for the swimmers down stream!!
Secondly, Luis's home was an interesting visit. Different than Luciana's place, Carlos and Luis's home does have a sewer hookup, their own electricity, and an official active water hookup. Maria is using her sisters electric from accross the creek and has running water but is 'unofficial' ... We took a lot of measurements and walked around Carlos and Luis's home, met their father for the first time. Carlos performed his trained dance number for the Los Negritos dance troupe he is part of. His cousin used my camera to film him and I made it into a posted video (click here). Lily can be seen in the background recording her measurements and drawing. They are looking for walls for two rooms and they have a lot of building materials but we don't know how useable they are (right or wrong bricks). In the photo, Carlos is showing me the way back and forth between the main living quarters (with a straw roof and straw walls) and the bathroom facility. We will be engaged with our local contractor. I stressed to Lily as well that we need to make sure that the government application process is pursued first and then we can augment a bit perhaps. Anyway, all the boys (Carlos, Luis, Fabio and cousin Jen) were excited that we were there visiting and they followed us all back to the Mission. End of night for us.
This is part 1 of a 4 part travel blog for this initial 2016 Missionary trip to Peru by LAMA Ministry.
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