This is part 3 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.
1 March, Tuesday - Another month begins. Got up this morning and knocked off a quick chore, assembling and installing a metal shelf unit in one of the bathrooms on the second floor. Need to now prep for our fourth week of English classes this morning, after first getting a little breakfast, coffee, avocado and bread. Victor is supposed to show up at 8 to work on the sign and the bathroom storage door, but it's 8:31! I must remember to greet him with 'Buenas Tardes' when he gets here!! ;-)
One thing I forgot to mention on the keyboard we brought down for Julio to use. He is quite excited about it, but after buying a foot pedal for volume control we discovering we couldn't use it, yet. i since discovered that the full synthesizer functions are not reachable either. At present it is strictly an electronic piano with very few other sounds available. These two problems (as well as other functions not reachable) are due to a problem with the touch panel. I found one on Ebay and Amazon and will have to buy it and rush it down to Julio on the next visit. [I believe Antonio's daughter will be coming down before we come back in August, so I will need to get this to her to bring hopefully.] I already found the videos on how to do the repair and sent them to Julio, now to get the part. A needed $50 item, that we can hopefully get to him well before we return in August. Only wish shipping down here were more reliable.
We had our regular English class, a smaller group. Some regulars showed up 45 minutes late but we turned them away since we can't restart or have them catch up in a 90 minute class. Need to get them to get here on time, tomorrow perhaps. We will prevent any 'games' activities in afternoon for any that did not make it to school this morning. That will be an incentive! ;-) But we had just under 10 students, good group, much easier to teach. We spent time on calendar, weeks, months, next, last, present, today, tomorrow, yesterday, calendar math, etc.
After class we did English worship song practice. The youth really like this part of the training. After the song practice one of our students, Johan, brought by "Fabiola" (I think), a new young boy who was barefoot. We found a pair of sandals for him and hope to see more of him. Very young and shy but a cute kid. Will ask Johan more about him tomorrow. Maybe we can get a smile out of him! ;-)
Duing class, Victor showed up about 10:30am or so, long past his committed 8:30 or 9am. I had the class all say 'buenas tardes' to him! ;-) Victor was to do two projects today, the signage out front and a door in the bathroom. He got right on the sign while class was ongoing, with Julio's help. After class, I went out to join them (after Lily and I saw to our newest visitors sandal needs). Got a photo with Hanley and Luciana who were hanging around watching the sign work.
Lily brought back a large template (previously discussed and shown) from our Lima template maker we use up there for doing the donation bricks. This was a bit of a different request but he was more than happy to provide the template we asked for 90 soles, about $27. Julio and Victor spent the latter part of the morning getting it centered and level and taped up, for presentation to Lily and I. After some upward adjusting, we approved and they did the stick on work, and got all the edges covered with newspapers and tape to protect the wall from the painting. Once all that was done, it was time for lunch.
After lunch, Victor pretty much got underway on the painting. He was going to let it dry for a few hours and then apply another coat. In the mean time, he got to work on the bathroom closet door project that he also came up here to do. After a few hours though he went back out to start to peal the template back .. not sure if he got another coat on or not.
After all was revealed, it shows that some touch up is needed when you look up close. Some white paint will need to be applied. But from a distance, I do like the letter font choice. We want the mission to be perceived as for the youth and children and their families and are wanting to make it appear as friendly as possible.
Much debate was had with my wife about the inclusion of 'San Juan Bautista' or not. We are in the village of El Carmen, located in the "district" of San Juan Bautista. [District is sort of like county down here.] There is another village about 7 kilometers south of us, a bit larger, which I guess one would say is the equvilent of a county seat in the USA with the same name as the District, i.e. 'San Juan Bautista'.
Lily's concern was that we were saying that the Mission was from or for that village. But our real intent is to make the Mission as being perceived as for ALL the villages in the District of SJB, not just El Carmen. It would be easy to just say El Carmen, but that would possibly not make El Olivos, Altura or San Pedro (just up the road) not feel part of the Mission.
Anyway, I like that we did it the way we did it. Hopefully Saturday we will do some fine tuning on the edges, and some touch up paint.
Later that evening we spent some time in the village. Here's a few pictures of our mission kids in the village plaza just hanging around with each other.
Two of these young children, Madelin (a mission volunteer) and her brother Luis Angel, are apparently related to my wife Lily. Their mother is a great (guessing)granddaughter of Lily's half sister.
I will need to see this on paper to figure it out, but no matter, ever since we had a discussion on this in the plaza with Luis Angel and Madelin's mother and Lily, Luis Angel has been calling me Tio instead of Hermano! Feel like I have another son!! ;-)
After some time in the plaza, we went back to the Mission got into a worship song singing mode, with keyboard and guitar. Great group of kids and adults trying to sing on key. Here's a few pictures and a short 2 minute video of the improptu event. It's these moments with the villagers that make life oh so enjoyable down here. Simple fun moments and memories, so much to teach and so many to teach it to.
2 March, Wednesday - Another English class day but first we had an internal meeting starting at 8am, between Julio, Yareni, Lily and I. We wanted to go over expectations and experiences, perspectives, explore what's been done, what images they had and we had before going forth on this residency program, where we are, where we are going, etc. Such a broad discussion area, we barely got started when we had to quit for English class.
Later we resumed and then had to stop again when lunch got served. We then got a third start, but had many interruptions from construction crew and scheduled project work of volunteers, as well as youth who wanted to come in to the mission ... but we will continue tomorrow on this deep and needed discussion.
Construction work was to redo the water line in back of property, install a few diversion valves so we can tap the water from the city supply in the morning for watering the agriculture without having to pump it to the roof and down first. Also the installation of a wash sink outdoors under the stairs for laundry and other uses. While they were here, I asked to use some excess cement to fasten my newly bought wooden pole on the roof to attach a TV antenna to. Abel, Charlie (his brother) and even Julio were up on the roofs roof (the equivelence of a fifth floor) to do this simple task. Will wait till tomorrow to attach the antenna.
We resumed our meeting a few times since we also had the volunteers come by for some project work. Also before Abel (contractor) left, after finishing two small jobs for us, we took a walk around to three families in need of construction who have asked the mission for help. Abel had checked out one home per our request, and Lily was going over some drawings with him before we did our walk to the other two. We first visited Liz-beths home but they were not there, so we could only see the outside with him. He will need to get in to assess the 'best' we can do. They are only asking for sheets of plywood to replace a failing straw/mud wall. Need to assess if more is needed to be done.
After Lizbeths house, we walked toward the backside of the Mission and had a few stops along the way. We met a few more citizens, gave our best to all of them, caught some of the kids doing what kids do in a partially filled creek bed. We then headed over to Luciana & Jose's house and had a little bit of discussion with Maria, their mother, who is working to make contact with the Layors office to get a 'lateral' done for a plumbing hookup. It appears that for us to get an Engineer from the city to come out, 35 soles needs to be outlayed. Lily will need to go to City hal with Maria, and they are closed by 2pm and Maria doesn't get out of the fields working till after 3pm. Working to resolve this dilemna. We left Abel shortly after this stop, as he went back to his other job he was involved with. We went south to check out our welder to see if he can come by for a few jobs and if we can rent his compressor for a few days to do some foundation bricks on our donation wall. He will come by Friday/Saturday.
As we worked our way back to the Mission, we stopped at Mahruha's home. I like the view of the vineyards you get from her house at the south side of El Carmen. We had some dialogue with her and her husband, she gave us a cheecha ice to suck on for the heat (I gave her 2 soles for them). I left Lily there as I worked my way back to the Mission. I feel like the pied piper sometimes when I walk the village, since the kids all come out to follow or say hello. Friendly town. A few hours later, with Lily back with me, the five of us (Yareni, Julio, Cecci, Lily and I) head out to Invacion for a scheduled bible study. The Sanchez's have a program called Alpha which they are using for multiple study groups. It has 12 lessons and they appear to be on about lesson 2-4 depending on which house. We also prayed for the younger couple at this group, as the husband is still healing from a motorcycle accident, and there is much blessing that they and their young family can use.
After the group, we headed back to the Mission, and we had our contingency of followers with us, who also attend a few of these studies and help out when needed carrying stuff and setting up. Jen, Carlos, Luis, Luis Angel and Fabio are getting to be Mission permanent fixtures! ;-)
3 March, Thursday - Morning English classes resumed. We did a lot of review of words that we have gone over before, with everyone writing them down and repeating them. Of course, the favorite conclusion of the class is always the English / Spanish Hymn memorization practice. Yareni and Lily are great helpers at this stage of the English training.
Later in afternoon, Lily and Yareni were sorting through a lot of clothing to give away, planning to take some to tonights bible study at Pepi's. We found a few cute outfits that fit Fabian and he volunteered to model for us. ;-)
After which Carlos came up and volunteered for a haircut. We asked him the other day when we cut his cousin Jen's hair if he wanted one but he thought he should best ask his mother first, good lad. Today, he said he wanted one. It's funny how they all have images that they can google on the internet of what haircut they want, long on the top and sheer on the sides. We are not that practiced but we can swap the numbers on the trimmers so big number on top and smaller number on the sides. Lily likes to cut hair, so I let her take over.
But it didn't stop with Carlos!! His friend, Luis Angel, gets a cut, then Carlos brother Luis Manuel does same. These three, together with Jen yesterday, made four. Not to be left out, little Fabian wants the same so we shampooed him all up but the electric sheers that are wireless decided they needed to charge for awhile so we said tomorrow ... A new attraction at the Mission, free haircuts. Maybe we need to start charging ... once we get good at it! ;-)
Later that day, some of the volunteers came by to work with Yareni on crafts for the weekend. Still looking for a good weekend day to get a good picture of all the volunteers with their Mission t-shirts on. We had some changes of late, added a couple of Ninos, one volunteer left for Lima after being here all summer. We have also been talking about a decipleship program for the volunteers. We need to develop a separation between workers and 'saved workers'. Anyway, much potential.
After that, we all headed over to Pepe's for bible study. I think this was lesson 3 of 12 at this particular home. Good dialogue, and Lily translated for me to participate. After which, Eliz-beth was standing outside and we met with her parents back at the Mission to discuss the fact that we came by with Abel, our contractor, and they were not home. We also discussed their desire and need for wood, what type, who will do the work, etc. I managed to get a great picture of Liz-beth's little sister at the Mission while they were there!
With the hair sheers all charged up, and our regular group of Mission followers waiting at the Mission for us, we were able to finally cut Fabian's hair. So that made haircut number 5. One other young boy who was present at the bible study at Pepe's wanted a cut and we promised to do it tomorrow if he returns, Yareni volunteered this time to give Lily a break.
4 March, Friday - Last day for English school this week, and of course our well liked English/Spanish Christian song memorization practice at the end. They are getting good, but they REALLY seem to excel at the English parts oddly enough. Julio is talking about having them do a little performance when we complete the Summer Fiesta season before transitioning to OANSA and also moving the Adult services from Saturday night to Sunday. Maybe we will have them all perform for that last Saturday night service.
Funny that a lot of the kids have discovered how to hack into the Mission wireless. We were wondering why the already bad performance was so much worse and where all these Android and Microsoft phone devices were coming from. Taking a look out the second floor to the field next door showed us we 'had a leak'! Looks like we have a crime ring to break, and Marianna seems to be the ring leader ... again ... hmmm ;-)
More activities today as the day rolled on. Youth volunteer meeting, Julio had some game time, some internet time. I of course had to fix a few devices since we secured the internet a bit more from our rascals in the field next door. After the fun time, gave out some clothes to the volunteer. After the games and the clothing give aways, a serious meeting of the volunteers was had. Planning the end of the summer Fiesta in a week or so, and the beginning of OANSA. Also will be transitioning from Saturday adult services to Sunday shortly.
After the youth volunteers departed, Juancito and his parents dropped in. Juancito is severely health challenged, if you will recall, with an oversized heart that so far has no good doctor prognosis of anything that can be done, but he has outlived many doctors predictions miraculously. We discussed "Make a Wish foundation", his current health report, and a military affiliated group that came to them and is raising money in his name but have not given them a penny, quite suspicous. Most important we had an opportunity to pray over Juancito, as we continue to call on God to make a miraculous healing of this young man.
Lastly, we had movie night. With control of our internet resources a bit, I bravely attempted to use Netflix and it worked well. That was good. After the kids all left (with lots of applause for the movie choice, some silly alien animation thing), Lily and I watched an adaptation of the story of Noah called 'Ark'. It was good, but B rated, but showed good internet test having two movies back to back.
5 March, Saturday - Buzy day today, although we did not have to start with 10am English class, at least not until next Tuesday. Today, being Saturday, I planned to work on some overdue chores, mainly the ceiling fans that we bought that I have installed only one of the three. Time to do the other two.
I took a peak out the window and checked out the new 'valves' that we had Abel (our contractor) install on the water supply so we can tap the water coming into the Mission early in the morning when it is flowing and pump it direct to the garden in the back without the normal re-pumping to the top of the Mission for water pressure. This is to save pump electrical cost supposedly. Not sure how much, but a dollars a dollar. I took a quick picture of our resident property manager, Antonio Wong, giving the two valves a long stare as to 'what to do'.
On to my choirs, of course lots of other distractions as well, but I did manage to get one of the fans up. Got a promised request for haircut from another young man, Fardi, whose sister Yavari is one of our volunteers. Halfway through the haircut the clippers quit .. apparently we did not plug them in last night to charge. Poor lad had to hang around with half a haircut waiting for the clippers to recharge. Definitely not an industrial pair of clippers. Might have to put that on the purchase list!
Lots of activities, volunteers, competition, learning, study, interactions. So much energy with these kids. You just want to give them some knowledge and love and stress to them how much Jesus loves them and how important it is for them to keep Him close in their lives.
So many young faces, and we have kids that have already graduated on and are helping as volunteers and then we have even younger siblings of volunteers and current kids that come and watch, tomorrows recruits.
As we come to the end of the summer season, we are about a week away from our last session. We will be giving out watches for those that attended regularily and participated the most.
We had church services later this evening for adults. Had a pretty good crowd as well. We opened up upstairs again and I, with a few helpers, took the little ones up for coloring and a cartoon. After services, which were hosted by Cesar Escate from El Shaddai, we gave out some clothing and dental items for those in attendance.
6 March, Sunday - Off we went early in the morning to church services, but we got a little bit of a late start, encouraging the Sanchez family to go without us even though they got a collectivo that all five would fit. We tried to leave about 15 minutes after them but then no collectivo for quite a bit. Then when we got one we went north a bit with him to drop off his fare in El Olivos before heading south to Ica. Needless to say we decided to go to the later service and just do some shopping before hand.
Went to a few stores with the intent of finding a good stove purchase. We need to have it for the kitchen cabinet man to build around. We also planned to pick up some sheets of lumber to work with Lizbeths father and getting his home project out of the way. It is definitely the smaller of the three we are looking into, and thought since we were bringing back a stove we could also bring back some lumber.
After some shopping, we headed over to services at El Shaddai which started about 10:30 (for those that missed the 8am service! ). After service we headed back out but not finding what we wanted in the mall near church, we headed into town to assess some other possibilities.
Found a good stove buy (amazing the price differences between the hardware stores who sell appliances and the department stores). And while we were paying for it we also tried to get Lecha down to give us transportation, as he promised and we told him the window of time we would call. No matter how many times we called, we could not reach him. We also tried our contractor Abel, who knows him well, to no avail. Anyway, Lizbeth's father came down to meet us, but he also could not line up a truck. No matter we got a hungry cabbie who had a roof rack and gave us a good price for the 15 kilometer ride out to the Mission in El Carmen. So off we went back to the Mission.
Got back just in time for the Mission Youth Festival to begin which Julio and Yareni were very active already with the doors open and the volunteers all gathered about, not quite begun but almost. We unloaded our purchases and paid the taxi, leaving the lumber on top of the cab for Manuel to take to his home and unload. We will check again with him tomorrow as to progress on the project.
Youth had some busy activities, one centered around competitive bowling and the other was which group (ninas or ninos) could gather the most balls scattered around the mission. Lots of yelling, fun and competition, then down to some serious lessons by Julio and Yareni, followied by a craft project related to the lesson. Although weekend participation seems to be between 325 to 50, there is always enthusiasm from the youth.
After all the fun, crafts, lesson, singing, snack, and hugs, class was dismissed and Julio and Yareni had a volunteer gathering to plan next weekend, final weekend before OANSA, and to discuss OANSA. Volunteer recruits are getting a better mix of boys now, and not all girls. This is great and will help the OANSA program as well. Victor should be back up this week (Wednesday?) to discuss more going forward.
We gave out watches to all the volunteers as well, for all their efforts. We will also give out watches for the best students next week. We don't have enough for all now, depending on who comes, but hopefully God will work it out.
For a little recreation between the volunteers and missionaries, we headed across the street to play some volleyball. It is obvious that we need to invest in a net. We used some raggy thing in the meantime, since the people with the good net weren't around!
Anyway, it was a fun workout. We played the girls against the boys, and I think my side may have been killed again due to Kelly who is one great player on the other side .. but not sure if we even kept score. Good group of workers who enjoy each other and what the Mission is there for.
So, another day ends with a lot accomplished. Tomorrow is the official day off at the Mission, and we start all over again on Tuesday.
7 March, Monday - A day of rest ... sort of. Worked on the blog, and prepped many of the bricks for sand blasting tomorrow. Have eight of them to do, starting early in the morning, and late in afternoon when the sun is not so hot.
Lily and I started to go to work on the donation brick "projecto" when Jen, Carlos and little Fabian were at the door hoping to come in. I told them 'No, Trabajando' and they said 'Si, Trabajando!' ... ha .. my spanish ears detected that they would do anything to enter and we need Jen to do penance for something earlier this week, meaning no games for a few days, so why not let him work for a bit. So, we let the two of them in and it was quite comical trying to manage the two of them who had all the energy in the world but had no idea how to clean bricks or what to do, or what side of the ladder to climb on, etc. Love these guys anyway ... a lot of interesting moments. Anyway. Well, we managed to figure out what bricks and did get a few of them a little cleaner and then had to hussle them out so we could get some work done. I got the templates up on all the bricks (eight of them) that we are doing, and added many stars for many of our donors who have given and reached a new level of donation. Added a new childs name to another brick of a major giver. So, lots of sand blasting to do in the next few days and I still have one ceiling fan to hang. ;-)
8 March, Tuesday - Got a semi-early start before our 10am English class to make an attack on the sandblasting. Got the wall a bit more prepped, added tape to the plastic that Lily laided out, added a few more templates, template pieces. I think I got one brick sandblasted before class but not sure. Maybe not, just more taping and prep work. Anyway, we had a small class today. Later I was told that most slept in being that last few days before returning to school next week, guess they are taking liberties with English morning class. Perhaps a larger class tomorrow but we had an active 3 students. After which, I wanted to wait a bit for the sandblasting but got on it anyway. Just realized we captured no pictures for the class or song training on this day ... tsk tsk.
Looking at the pictures looks like I delayed enough due to the high noon sun till after 3:30pm to get to work on the actual blasting. I remember doing one in the morning and it took about a half hour. So since we had eight, and a good number of odds and ends adding stars and a single childs name to many of the existing bricks, Lily and I figured we had about 4 hours work ahead. Starting about 3:30 or so I was worried if I could finish it today. But turned out that the first brick taking 30 minutes worked out to be a fluke. Once I got started, it was knocked down to about half that per brick. Finished in no time. Lily took off for the other end of El Carmen for awhile and then I got the blessing to clean up my mess alone!
While all this was going on, Yareni was teaching some kids a dance number inside for later performance. Jen was visiting and alledgedly helping but I watched Yareni walk him to the gate for just disrupting. I thought to myself 'Jen, Jen' ... but then that song started going in my head again.
Well, we got through the sand blasting and I must say that the current work looks a lot better than when I just got started doing this a few years ago. Of course that's a few years in the sun as well for the older work. We will need to get some sealer to protect the painted sand blasted bricks to retain their look longer. But before doing that I would like to redo some of the older bricks that we just on this trip added a few stars (for continuing support from many people) and in one case a baby's name to make their brick complete!! Thank you the Ip family of NY, NY!!
So many more bricks to go ... when we fill this wall, we will be paid off and able to look at doing this again in another location!! But we have a long way to go!!.
9 March, Wednesday - English class in the morning. Jen was a no show, but we had about 10-12 kids, good number. Only two boys and the rest girls. Says something. Carlos and Luis Angel represented my gender, when they were paying attention. Anyway, good lesson today on money, shopping, giving, buying, exchanging, returns, colors, etc. I have slowed down the pace a bit as I think there is so much to learn and they seem to be grasping it better at a this pace.
After school, we had singing practice. Julio filmed it but it's stuck in one of our cameras. If I get it out, I will post it here ... The intent is to hopefully get a regular enough group to sing the song at services this Saturday.
Jen and Mariana provided a perfect dual photo for our wanted poster. Mariana has been caught a few weeks ago cheating on an English test that we weren't even grading (caught by her classmates) and then photo'd in the field next door capturing WiFi from the mission with a passcode she got somehow. Our little hacker.
Jen has been a troublesome youth who is sharp but has a need to cause havoc a bit. He was not getting his way at the Mission (again) and got booted by Yareni who was teaching some attendees a dance number, and he then resorted to erasing some our white board instructions on programs outside the mission front door ... recruiting Mariana to erase the first letter, he took care of the rest .... a corrupting influence. We have our hands full, and kids will be kids, and rascals will be rascals ... keep praying for these kids and the others they are in touch with that we reach them on the difference between right and wrong. Anyway, we are having a little fun with it by posting this wanted poster inside the mission! ;-) Now I'm looking for it in Spanish!! ;-)
After school, I encouraged Julio to discuss the 'sign issue' with Mariana since she was accused of being an 'accomplice' with Jen. A mild form of soup opera with kids going on down here. I wonder if teachers do this every day. Drama!! ;-) Anyway, I find it so humorous but it is so important to teach kids right from wrong. The world of the teacher is fascinating.
Light work day, some catch up around the mission, worked on some tech issues with the internet, pealed off the masks on the bricks to provide all the photos above (although i posted them with yesterdays date, we didn't 'unmask' them and take their photos until today). Later in evening the Sanchez's went to Invacion for a bible study, but Lily and I stayed at the Mission. They came back afterwards but forgot to take any pictures.
Luciana and her mother popped by while Lily and I were at the Mission alone, a surprise visit. We have been on hold with her housing plans while waiting to hear about getting a sewer 'lateral' added to her house since getting an indoor bathroom is of primary importance and without the sewer hookup, it can't really be done. Well she did get an audience with the Mayor who said 'go ahead' but don't expect the city to pay for it. So she is tracking down the guy that does it so we can get a price. This was the same guy who did our sewer for our little casita we lived in for a few years while the mission was being constructed. So, hopefully we can get some progress on this on this trip. Lily shared some floor plans and discussed wood vs brick, etc. But hopefully this week or next we can get the sewer line done and the rest is downhill from here.
10 March, Thursday - Another great day of English classes, this time we spent a lot of time practicing the chorus and first few stanza's of our song in both English & Spanish. The plan is to do a public singing this Saturday at the mission, along with another group who is working on a dance number, and a smaller group doing some scripture memorizations. Will be fun.
well, we got through all the 'who erased the white boards' and resolved a big one today. Julio spent a good hour upstairs in counseling with Jen, who came to Lily and I and gave a heartfelt apology for erasing the white board. We now have Jen back in our active group again. We continue to have high hopes for him. He's just such a big 11 year old, he's a natural leader whenever he's in the village. He is an orphan kid, so is his older brother, in that they only have one parent and that is pretty sparse contact. His older brother does construction work around and has been on our 'bucket brigade' when we were doing a lot of concrete work at the mission. We have high hopes for Jen.
Later on that evening, we had bible study at Pepe's house, where volunteer Yuvali lives. Such tight quarters and a definite candidate for some construction help. But the "Alpha" program seems to be hitting home and getting some serious reflection on who Christ is, what He means, what our life is with or without Him. As crowded as it is at Pepe's, the interest and participation is heart warming. Even have some teenage interest from some of the new volunteers, besides just Yuvali.
On the way back to the Mission, after the bible study, stopped briefly in the Plaza to say hello to Madelins mother, Lily's grand-niece. And of course all the way back from the bible study and plaza, little fabian was my regular magnet.
Got back to the Mission to share a cake and ice cream we bought for Julio's 41st birthday celebration. Only due to the size of the cake and the single tub of ice cream, we had to limit the 'friends' that attended this little celebration. With all the 'getting to know you' that Julio and Yarmeni have been doing these past 5 mon