This is part 4 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.
13 March, Sunday - In our last 10 days on this trip, and we have gotten a lot done. At the same time we still have so much to do. We wanted to get the roof done on the 3rd floor but that will have to wait for a future trip. We do hope to get some corrective and finish welding done on it, and that is still possible. We met with the contractor who put the framing up and he will hopefully come by to give us an estimate on this portion of the job this week. Anyway, getting ahead of myself.
We headed early to church in Ica but got there after 9am for the 830am service. So we planned to stayed afterwards for the next service worship, and met briefly with Pastor Martin. His wife, Cotty, is in Brazil working on her dual citizenship. The Sanchez's are working with Pastor and his legal self to hopefully get around the 6 month rule that would require them to leave the country for a day (Chile?) since they are going to leave for 6 weeks in August anyway returning for a visit home in Mexico. They are working toward getting full residency paperwork to eliminate that 6 month rule altogether. Pastor was putting on his legal hat for me as well, for residency, which is an easier issue since I'm married to a dual citizen. Trick is we have to get re-married in Peru to do it! I told Lily I'd think about it! ;-)
Seem to be having trouble with my phone camera as I took two photos with Pastor Martin and the Sanchez's and can't find either .. I assume the battery went out at an inopportune time ... oh well.
After church service at El Shaddai, we did some obligatory shopping at Maestro, needed a few plumbing pieces and some batteries. I really want to find a volleyball net for the mission to own and use, but that would be a store downtown ... Looks like that will be another day since our 'just a few items' turned into buying some kitchenette cabinets for the 2nd and 3rd floors. Called Leche to meet us at Maestro to take the 'load' back. Got back well before our adult services began at the Mission.
When we got back to the Mission, the town was absolutely empty .. unusually so. Leche told us that everyone went to a football game in Ica. Well, bad timing I thought for moving our service from Saturday to Sunday OR (before I knew it was a ball game) I figured it was just quiet since Jen went home to Ica and will only be back on weekends! ;-) Anyway, we were hopeful for a good showing for our first Sunday service. Ah yes, Julio had ordered a keyboard stand and a music lecturn through one of the music leaders at El Shaddai who had a contact in Lima. It arrived today and they got to put them both to use, first time actually using the keyboard in service ... maybe it was just not looking appropriate on a plastic table until now! ;-) We also definitely need a new amp since microphones, keyboard and guitar all going through one amp is an overload. One more thing.
Turns out it was pretty sparce, but understandably so considering everyone was just getting back from the football game. We were also competing with a funeral across the street with the normal "picaroon" (donut) dealer next door. But service it was and it will build.
After service we got everyone in a circle for cake and ice cream. No real birthday, in fact we called it the 'un-birthday' party .. seems to be a Latino tradition when no one is having a birthday party to just have one to have one. Guess the Sanchez's were thinking that a change of venue from Saturday to Sunday called for a kickoff party ... OK by me, as I love any excuse for ice cream!
Cecia got to hold one of the newest born members of the church.
After all was over we called it a night. We got most of the 'build it yourself' kitchenette parts indoors for the night and upstairs where they will be assembled in the next few days.
14 March, Monday - Our day off, but got a few chores done. Hung a few mirrors, played with the Fiat 'fiasco' that we are working on, Lily did some more negotiating with our kitchen cabinet guy, but looks like that will be waiting till next trip. Just got too late of a start on it this trip. Lily left the Mission about 545pm to catch a 630p bus to Lima for two nights, returning by noon Wednesday. I need to get to town in her absense to buy a replacement router ... this one we are using is giving us all sorts of problems ... guess we wore it out.
Good news/bad news came late at night. We have been struggling with the internet at the mission and had a long session with the provider the other night. The good news was that when we disconnected our router, the actual signal was very strong .. so we tested a factory refresh on the router and bang, great ! Now fast forward a few days and I have been 'factory refreshing' the router more than a few times daily, to the point that it really is not effecting much. Made up my mind to go buy a new router tomorrow, asking Julio to go with me. Then if the service is bad, I can go back to the provider and say 'it ain't me'!! ;-) The good/bad news came later this evening when our provider came and told us that they are finally upgrading their service, getting a whole new bandwidth or channel or whatever, and things will be better now ... HOWEVER, as of tomorrow we loose the internet for 7 days!!! So, looks like we will be going dark. I guess I can postpone the router purchase if their service fix is what is needed or should I get a new one anyway is my current dilemna .. I don't want to leave for the USA and have to get one later when I'm not here. More importantly, things that we need the internet for during that 7 days we will have to go to an internet cafe or something in Ica every other day or so. Oh well, progress.
Moving on .... good night all ...
15 March, Tuesday - So, Lily left yesterday evening for Lima and I had a really unproductive day. But did get a few things done. Throughout the day we were having these "explosions" in the village square. Not until many days of this did I find out what and why about them. Apparently, this week is the celebration of St Joseph, Jesus step-father, and that calls for fireworks 4+ times a day?!?!? hmmm
After going crazy with a lot of the noise, which seemed like M-80s being used (huge fire crackers for those that don't know what that is, large enough to blow up a vending machine or toilet), by the end of the day I thought I would venture out in the direction of where they were coming from to find out what they were all about. I headed directly accross the street toward the Catholic church since someone told me, I believe it was Antonio, that it was church related.
Ran into Romario and his sister Mariana, and her friend Sophia, and then one of our volunteers at the Mission and also Lizbet, who we are doing some wood supply for. Other than seeing all these familiar faces I got to the church and there was some sort of communion service underway, and then a lot of folks came out of the cemetery that is behind the large destroyed (but not torn down) church. Immediately after all these folks passed. Then someone was offering free Fanta soda and sweet bread and who could pass that up. Shortly afterwards someone let another explosive off not too far from where we were sitting ... scared the bejeebers out of some of the kids, and got a few laughs.
After Hanley showed up, and seeing him with Romario, I remembered the church flyer we just got a copy of electronically today in reference to the upcoming August trip for Hearts & Hands ministry from San Diego. Since I knew both of these boys were featured on the flyer, I went and got the printout I made. They all got a great kick out of it, especially the photo of Romario and Hanley wearing the girls hats. Mariana who was taking pictures with my phone decided to post a picture or two on my facebook page. I had no idea that the internet was still working at the Mission, nor that it could reach this far in front of the Mission ... but apparently both were affirmative since I had a few pics on my profile shortly after I rescued my phone from her.
We are looking forward to August when the H& H ministry comes down. We do hope that many other churches take the initiative to visit the mission, get to know the needs and the people of this community and to take back some excellent memories as well.
Hearts & Hands in August, with be coming with many people bringing the skills that they hope to impart on a good number of residents here. If you would like to support their trip, help them with the cost of travel for some of their more needy travelers or to help fund some of the purchase items such as knitting needles, yarn, frames, and other items that they would leave behind for the villagers who will be trained to use them and hopefully develop another source of income, please visit their link (click Branch Church graphic) to support them. Or you can also look at a lot of their great work on their own website (link here) which also provides a link to donate. Please consider assisting them in their needed items of purchase or support for one of their travel expenses.
16 March, Wednesday - I finished a few more chores this morning, making some screens, trying some work with a manual cutter on the brick donation wall to make some cleanup, and a few more items that have gotten away from us. I did remember to give Lily a call at 5am so that she would catch her 630am bus from Lima. She did show up closs to 1130am at the Mission. Later in the day, Julio and I made a task out of finishing up a Kitchenette kit for the third floor. It was a unit with cabinets, sink and a two burner stove for convenience. We will need to make some adjustments in the current placement of water and electrical sources, but I will leave that for Lily to communicate with Abel, the contractor .. hopefully we can get that done while we are still here.
Later we had Adriana, her sister Pia and her mother, Dayse, show up. We were aware of a need for funds for Adriana getting eye glasses since her mother was getting well aware of her daughters eye sight challenges. Her husband and grandfather could not come up with all the funds for the eye glasses so the Mission pitched in for half of the expense. We made a gift donation for her as she is such a regular attendee at the Mission and we have always been close, seeing her grow up these last 5 years.
Near the end of the day, Maria (Luciana & Jose's mom) came by and informed us that they started to dig the sewer lateral for her. Horray!!
This was a major goal of this trip to get this construction underway and this was the biggest hurdle. We cut through the politics and engineering hurdles to get a sewer hookup. So, we wanted to go check it out but told Maria to go ahead and we would join her shortly.
We took the long way around so we could also visit Elizbeths home were we put plywood and lumber for them to repair a delapidated mud & straw wall that was in need of replacement. We wanted to see the result of this purchase, appreciating the fact that her father came down to Ica with us to retrieve the lumber and did all the labor himself. The wood expense amounted to about $100 (US) and with that, they feel much better about their home, their security and comfort. Elizbeth is such a regular mission attendee and now volunteer to help younger children as well.
We left Elizbeths home and took the back route along the creek, toward the area called invacion, to meet Maria at her house to see the progress of the sewer hookup. Taking this path from the poorer new 'invaded' area of El Carmen, where Elizbeths home is, takes us along the backside of the Mission and we meet a lot of the town's personalities, farm animals and more, the true 'heart' of this little village ;-). We got to Maria's place and examed the work that has been done.
We had a purchase item for the sewer access box, and then the labor for the actual dig and installation and hookup. The purchased box was there and the dig was initiated. The actual hookup to the existing sewer (evident by the manhole cover at her front door) has yet to be made, perhaps tomorrow. But this is so good that we are now getting this hurdle behind us.
This needs to be done first, then the bathroom and kitchen plumbing can be planned and the walls put up. The major construction will most likely wait for our return in August though since we did not get it done or initiated this trip. We did find out a far more economical contractor to do the work, instead of our regular. This will help the funds that we have collected go a lot farther for this project. Also we will have more time to collect more hopefully.
While at Maria's home, we had a farm hand bring his not too small pig through. Lots of farm animals around this area, but this boy is a big one. whenever I see Jose, Maria's son, I remember that he is my primary motivator for wanting to do this bathroom and addition. He is the little boy that was molested outdoors by an older boy while he was bathing in his back yard with a hose. The children are the future here and everywhere. We attempt to do our part in this village that no one knows about, as we lead them to the Lord. We are so grateful for our few years already in having so many of these children become leaders and assistants at the mission helping to lead the little ones as they were led. Thank you all so much for your assistance in coming along side of us on this goal.
17 March, Thursday - Working towards our exit next week, still a lot of minor items to resolve and major discussions to be had. This morning we had Abel, our contractor, come by to discuss some current minor needs and some near future major plans. One thing to resolve on this trip is the hookup of the kitchenette we just setup on the 3rd floor. We also discussed plans for a new building out back where the current casita sits, that will give us a great place for children during sunday services, as well as an additional large classroom to complement the two upstairs we already have. It should also give us some lodging options beyond the current dormitories designed for short term visiting groups. But that won't be until August.
We had our regular 4pm infestation of youth that come by for an hour Tuesday through Thursday to enjoy games. After which I was surprised to have 5 of them ask if we could have another English class tomorrow at 2pm when they get out of school. I was assuming that their teacher put them up to it, or that there was some extra credit or something they were after, but no, they just want to keep improving their English. We stopped the classes this week after we had the summer graduation and since regular school started we would have had to change the time anyway, and on top of all that Lily and I are leaving in less than a week now. But I am honored that they 'asked' to have a class. We will definitely do that, and if we can squeeze one in next week before we go, why not. Definitely got an audience for any English speakers to teach down here, and the curriculum to do so. Come and give these kids the learning that they are seeking.
Luciana and Jose came by and informed us that the sewer hookup guys are done at their home and that their mother was asking for us to come over. While at the Mission, Luciana needed to use the internet for some homework she has from school. No problem, this is certainly a great use of the internet, for after school school work.
So Lily and I headed over to see Maria, Luciana & joses mother, and to see the completed work. Not that it's a real exciting thing to see, but it is a necessary progress step before getting the indoor bathroom built. Excellent, glad that it is done. So we paid for our portion of the hookup box and labor and worked out some plans for next steps with Maria. We then headed back to the Mission, and Maria said to send her kids home when ready.
Got back and had Luciana and Jose both ask if they could have some of the Pacay plant on the table. Jose was over the other day and helped himself to a couple of the pods, after asking of course. It is a large bean that grows here, when I research it on the internet I find 'ice cream plant' or other odd names for it's cousins growing in the Carribean or Hawaii, and the description is similar. (Wiki info)
It was funny that when i said sure, there was like a frenzy of not only this brother and sister, but also visiting Romario and even our resident missionaries, Julio and Yareni, got into the action (their daughter Cecia was eating them too but insisted on remaining off camera ;-) Here's a short video of Pakay eating frenzie). I guess they saw that the pods were not going to last long with Luciana and Jose eyeballing them the way they were. ;-) So, about 15-20 bean pods were gone in no time at all with this mob.
And what to do with all that bean energy? Why a game of Twister of course!! Not too much later, our young friends needed to depart for home and school tomorrow .. have to get ready for my 2pm English class tomorrow myself. Time to hit the hay. Manaña!!
18 March, Friday - Had Abel show up about 11am today and got to work on the cutting in of a new water source and to move a couple of electrical outlets, all around completing the Kitchenette on the 3rd floor. Of course that makes a big mess, so all windows were open. As we were positioning and getting this installation finalized, maximizing the time we had with Abel, it came time for me to get downstairs in preparation or reception for the special request English class for 5 students.
We did go around and distribute quite a bit of Oansa flyers, in reference to tomorrow afternoons 2pm kickoff meeting. Julio and Luis headed to Altura and San Pedro to give them out, while Yareni, myself and a pack of about 5 kids, all in two groups, took on El Carmen and Invacion. The large community to the north of us, El Olivos, Victor and company were coming up to handle.
I left the flyer distribution effort around 6:30pm to prepare for movie night. I thought we would try a Netflix viewing since the internet was somewhat stable. We settled on Paddington Bear. Had from 5 to 12 kids at any one time watching the movie. The internet did bog down about half way through the movie so we started looking at DVD's but then it came on again so we could finish. What's hard is picking a movie that appeals to the right age. I think eventually we will have to have early and late movies or two separate nights, so that the younger kids and the older kids both have a venue that appeals to them ... One of those ongoing things that we can improve on. I am more fearful that the current projector needs to be replaced sooner versus later, and that is a more pressing need.
I did get a chore done yesterday on the 2nd floor, rerouting and installing the cabling for our wireless access point. It has been sitting on a table with the wire but now it is professionally installed on the wall where it was intended. Professional job! ;-) For you tech-heads, I am taking advantage of POE (Power over Ethernet) here so I only need to wire the internet cable, and not have a 2nd cable for power to route.
19 March, Saturday - Whille we were off yesterday running flyers around the villages, Lily got back from town shopping with a bunk bed and five mattresses on the roof of her taxi. We all pitched in real quick to unload the vehicle before resuming to do our phamplets. Got back before doing the movie last night and saw that she had toted almost all of it upstairs herself, except for two heavy bundles. This morning Lily and I assembled the latest bunk bed addition, and put the light weight mattresses on the top bunks of this and the other beds we bought on the last trip.
The west dorm currently has three bunks, one of them having a double on the bottom, able to sleep 7 people. There is also an area under a window where we can install another bed or bunk pair, so we have some configuration flexibility with this room, and additional beds and cots to work with. Needless to say, it easily accomodates 7-10 people if we were pressed for space. The challenge would be with that many people, duplicated on the other end of the hall as well with the other dormitory, is that there are only 5 toilets on the floor and four showers, but so be it .. it can work.
The other dormitory (east) accomodates (at present) 6 people, assuming 2 in a double, with 4 twins. We can also adjust this configuration. There is a community room between these two dorms on the same floor with 3 futon couches that can fold down for further sleep accomodations.
So with 7, 6 and 3, we can accomodate 16 people. We also have a pair of cots, and a bedroom downstairs with a twin available, taking us to 19. If we have a bigger group that that, we have space for additional bunk placements so we are ready for you!!
We often refer to the dorm on the west side as the Womens and the east side as the men's but there is no difference or reason to gender specify them. I like to just refer to them as east and west. Each has it's own restroom facilities as well, giving each dorm two showers, two sinks and two toilets. [Picture is of the bathroom only of the east dormitory.] Our intent is to be flexible for any crowd, or gender mix that cares to visit short term. We are making plans to be able to accomodate additional long term missionaries as well. Stay tuned.
OANSA activities got under way around 4pm, with leadership from that activity showing up between 3 and 4. First thing was to get all childrens names as they signed up. The program is usually 2 hours structured around a 40/40/40 minute schedule, 40 minutes joint exercise outdoors, 40 minutes in breakout by age (3 different groups) for study and activities, and then 40 minutes together in total for worship, teaching and snacks. This first session will not have the breakout session yet since they are just getting started, but it will always be designed around a 2 hour time window.
Our first session was today, after a summer break, with the new school year beginning this past week. We did a big brochure handout campaign and looks like we are starting with 31 children who were active today, about 13 of them totally new. If like last year, this will gradually build to a higher average group size.
There are many children that were active last year that were not at todays' kickoff, and we assume that there are many excuses (this was a holiday week) and many will show up for the first time next week. So, off to a good start.
Excited about the leadership and the integration of about 4-6 of the local El Carmen leaders that Julio had worked with during his summer exercises. Most of these home grown volunteers were graduates of OANSA and the youth program we had at the mission before OANSA. After all the kids left, the OANSA leadership had a pow-wow meeting upstairs.
They played some new card game that I never saw before, counting up from one to 13 and dropping random cards. when the card dropped matched the number stated, one of two players had to jump and tag the card to win. Simple game, lots of screaming and competing. Then the twister game came out and that was really popular.
I had a good time finding all the tickle spots and seeing who can fight being tickled. We had one young boy from El Olivos just north of us, who also came for the movie night this past Friday. He needed a lift home but his mom came by to check on him and she and he both got a collectivo home.