Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday - Final Daily Entry

Greetings all. So, it's Tuesday now. I'm sitting in my living room, looking out the front window at ALL that snow. WOW. Can't imagine what it must have been like here last week. When I got home on Saturday, the first thing I had to do was shovel off one of my two aluminum sheds. The roof had collapsed. I was able to prop it up until spring, but I'll need a new roof for sure. It's hard to imagine we were basking in the heat just a few days ago. Now back in our heated homes, with the comforts we've come to expect and can't seem to do without. Some of us are back at work, some of us are back at school, and some of us are returning from Peru as we speak (Vlamings) and the Van Dyk's are due to return on Saturday. As I make this final daily entry, I do so with some sadness. It has been fun chronicling our daily adventures, all be it time consuming. I know that many of you read the lengthy posts, and some of you just skipped to the pictures. In all of it, I hope you were able to get just a taste of what we experienced. Yesterday I went through the previous entries and corrected some spelling errors and paragraphing, as I was not able to do that in Peru due to the slow and intermittent connection. In doing that, I discovered that even John has issues with spelling (though he didn't seem to get razzed like I did, but I'm not bitter : ) ) I also discovered that because of the posting about Dilan, our Compassion child we visited, that prompted someone we know to sponsor a child. That's Cool !! I also learned yesterday that my lovely wife dedicated a song to us as a mission team, and to me too. Unfortunately, I didn't get to hear it, but I did read the emails asking for the request, etc. Thanks dear. Did anyone get to hear it at about noon yesterday ? It was nice to go to church on Sunday and hear how many of you appreciated the blog. Thanks for reading it and making all that work worthwhile (though I did it for the team too: ) ) Thanks for all the words of encouragement, and for showing interest in what we were doing. Now, we are back in Canada. It seems like a bit of a dream, this whole Peru experience, but it wasn't. As I take some time now to really reflect on our experiences, here are some observations I've made: 1. I can't say enough about FRONTLINE PERU and what they quietly do in Peru. Pepe, and Erin, and Roger, and the translators that assist them as each team comes to Peru. They are just excellent. As roger puts it, their goal is to be the slowest growing mission organization around. They don't want to become so big that missions becomes a money making venture. They want God to lead, to guide, to grow things. I like that philosophy. It is evident from what we've seen that Pepe and the others all desire that their country comes out of the poverty that they always see, but they also realize that that comes at God's leading. May God bless you FRONTLINE as you continue with a busy summer of mission teams. 2. Peru is just one of many countries in the world where there is need. Just watch the news. Peru doesn't even make the news very often. As a church, God has seemed to call us to Peru, and it will be interesting to see how this trip impacts us as individuals and a church in the short and long term. I've already heard rumblings of people wanting to go again in two years, and even people who haven't gone before. We await what God has in store. 3. I noticed just how friendly and loving the Peruvian people are. They welcome us with a deep warmth and love that I don't often see in N.A. They want to share their lives, to share their love of God and to share of their limited possessions with us. As I reflect on that a bit, I come to realize that part of that is because in Pachecutec there just aren't the many distractions that we have in N.A. No game boy, x-box, WII. No constant trips to the shopping mall to purchase things we don't REALLY need. Their lives are consumed with trying to make ends meet for their families, and their families and church are pretty much their connection points. So, when we come for a visit, they have the time to sit and talk. To sit and begin the process of entering into community with us. If we stayed longer, we'd have more chances. I think we can take something away from those observations as we enter back into live here in N.A., as can we who didn't go. 4. As we moved on during the week, I noticed some of the team members beginning to process their thoughts. Some were already thinking about what is REALLY important in life, and what is just fluff. Some were thinking about their lives ahead of them, and how this trip may change some of those major decisions that they are about to make. Some were trying to justify what they were observing, and others, well, I'm just not sure yet. I hope that our follow up sessions will allow us all to find ways to move forward in our walk with God and in the areas of justice, poverty, community, making a daily difference right where we are. 5. As Christopher and I had the privilege of meeting our Compassion Child, Dilan, I was struck by the many ways we can impact people in our world. Whether it's through the simple act of a mission trip with FRONTLINE, "free a family," World Vision, CRWRC, or other organizations, our simple act of writing a cheque has huge impact in the Kingdom of God. If you have not sponsored a child, or a family, or a village, or even a well for water, etc, I hope you may be able to find an organization that you feel matches what you would like to see happen in the area of assisting in eliminating poverty, malnutrition, educating young people to they will be able to break the cycle of poverty, etc., and that you would begin to give as God enables you. Change does happen, one child at a time. 6. As we come back and engage others in our mission trip experience, some will get it and identify, and some will not. No matter what, don't forget what you've experienced. What made you uncomfortable. What made you laugh, what made you cry, what made you angry, what made you ask God questions. Those are the things that we now wrestle with as we return and work out our salvation with fear and trembling. This covers the major issues that I trust the mission team will work with in the coming weeks months and years. It was truly an honor preparing with you and leading you in Peru. You were a wonderfully up beat team who saw the good in the not so easy, the joy in the midst of the heat, the smells, the waiting, the soar stomachs, and for that I thank you. I'll see you on April 1st at Calvin for our first of several follow up meetings. As I close, just a reminder that this blog will more than likely contain a weekly posting, sometimes with pictures, sometimes not, of the events that pertain to the follow up of the mission trip, and other ministry events I am part of. Check the blog at your leisure. Just before I leave you with comments about the team, just some things I won't miss:
  1. That smell of fish on the way to Pachecutec.
  2. The sun blaring in my face at 6:30 am
  3. The loving comments about my late night literary escapades
  4. My sore bum after typing up those blogs on my balcony
  5. The sunburn on my neck
  6. The sudden stops in the bus as others cut us off
  7. Intermittent web connection (though it was a blessing to have at all)
  8. That constant feeling of tiredness, boarding on exhaustion
  9. Trying to sleep on the plane
  10. The sand and dust and fumes from the vehicles that seemed to make it's way into everything.
Some things I WILL miss:
  1. The late night sessions with Pepe as we typed, talked, and became tired
  2. The faces of the team as they woke up each day
  3. The positive attitude of Wilma (oops, I mentioned her AGAIN), and Carmen, and Bea, well, and many others
  4. The children
  5. The welcoming love of the people of Pachecutec
  6. The great pictures of John
  7. Jeremy's comments about ME
  8. Dilan
  9. The challenge of leading 26 people through a mission trip experience
  10. The evening video times. They were neat.
I leave you all with some general comments about the mission team participants: Rosalynn - always perky, always talking, but sometimes VERY sleepy. Wilma - what can I say....well, I think I said enough already in the other blog entries. : ) John - great pictures. Captures more than just a picture. Always ready with a wise crack, but much more beneath the surface that does come out periodically. Hannah - Always smiling. Fun to bug. Can't take long days and video blogs. Shawn - Quiet, yet not. Absorbed alot of what went on and then let loose on his parents when he got home. Kevin - Surrogate father to my son. THANKS Kevin for doing that. Thanks for coming along. I know it wasn't always easy with your recovery from your accident. You are a good friend. Kellina - This time around Peru meant much more to her. GREAT soccer games, and fun to watch the competition between you and Christian. As you now reflect, may God guide you in your decisions. Sam - VERY talkative on the video blogs at night. VERY. : ) Growing in his faith and love for the Lord. Keep working at it. Marg - Upbeat, despite that darn ankle. Had some wonderful times with those in Pachecutec. It was fun to see you hobbling around with a smile. Christopher - Well, you made it son. You did VERY well, even with such little sleep. I think Colin and Kevin got a real kick out of the many different sleeping positions you can come up with. Carmen - Our on call nurse. THANKS for quietly helping those in need on the team during the week. Thanks for the constant up beat attitude. I know you REALLY enjoyed the medical clinic visit. Let's see what this brings. Leah - FULL of questions. Ron, not always able to answer : ( . Perky when awake, not so when not so. : ) Talkative to pretty much ANYONE she met on the trip, no matter where we were. Ashlyn - Love those facial expressions. Pensive at times. Able to take my ribbing (though not as easy when she's tired), and wonderful with children. Jeremy - What can I say (lots really, but I'll restrain myself). Still a photography purist (real film). Always a thought about the day, and yes, ALWAYS a thought about me : ) Holly - Hard worker (concrete sure can be heavy eh Holly? ) !! A look that could kill if she doesn't like the comment you make : ) . Devious, yet caring. Watch out Bethany. Nick - Always positive. I discovered a sense of humor I never knew he had. Margaret - Quiet, yet always ready to lend an ear. Hard worker. Great song leader. Colin - Always ready to lend a hand. Great with the boys in Pachecutec. Thanks for coming again Colin. Ken - Quiet and full of emotion. Wonderful to watch you process the week each day. Great to watch you working with the kids and stretching yourself. Bea - A real trouper. GREAT in the crafts (as were Ashlyn, Bethany, and Holly). Thanks for putting it all together for us. One less thing for me to worry about. Fast recovery over sickness and always a smile. Harold - The constant positive. Thanks for all the encouraging comments over the week Harold. Now it's on to SERVE eh !! : ) (with continued reflection on Peru). Whew, always something eh !! Bethany - Positive, and always with her other two friends. Great with the kids and always finding the work and making sure it gets done. Let's see what this second round brings for you now. Brian - Always a positive comment about the happenings around him. Patient in the midst of construction (better than I did, that's for sure). I hope this was a well rounded experience for your. Ruth - Always a smile, even when I'm bugging you. Endured the heat, but there were times, eh Ruth : ) Thanks for all your hard work and the love you showed to those children you came into contact with. Cindy - Loving towards the kids. Friendly with everyone. VERY easy to scare : ) Blessing to you all team. See you in a couple of weeks. And remember that one question I asked you at the end of the day? "How did you see God at work today?" Keep asking it every day from now on. Pastor Ron

Monday, March 17, 2008


Sorry All, Got caught up in other personal items, so I'll post my Final Peru blog on Tuesday. Stay tuned : )

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Friday night and the plane ride home

I'm not sure if John has any pictures of our trip from the plane onwards, so I've taken the liberty of putting up secondary pictures. I hope you can live through them since you have been spoiled with such great pictures up to this point. : )

Jeremy not feeling too well. Resting before we leave for the airport.

Just before we left for the airport, many of the group took a final walk in the park. I guess there was a maze of low hedges in the park so people went through it.

A shot off the park that Christopher took and wanted me to put in the blog.

Christopher in a pensive mood as he prepares to leave for the airport.

Ron trying to get some much needed sleep.
Airplanes basically are not designed for sleeping.

One of Christopher's MANY airplane shots.

Katrina gave Christopher and myself a card when we got home.

Sarah completed this wonderful plasticine artwork of a golf course while we were away. I am amazed at the detail in her work.

So, it's Saturday evening now. I'll assume that most of the team has showered off Lima's sand and sweat and are fast asleep now, though I've been trying to get Christopher to bed for some time now. He's too wound up about the trip and telling his mom about it to go to sleep yet.

I wanted to get the details of our trip home on the blog before I forget them, so here they are.

As you know we were delayed for an hour in Lima. Based on the blog comments I have now seen, it seems that some people assumed we didn't make our connection. I'll get to that in a minute.

Before we pushed off of the gate, and after I posted the blog from last night, I observed many things. First, all of us were VERY tired. Well, some of us were. The younger of the group played cards for a long time, and then Leah and Hannah talked with some stranger for the longest time. I'll have to ask them about that conversation later.

Bea and Kellina were busy journaling away, as were Holly and Ashlyn (though they still seem to believe that they can't journal for some reason). Cindy, well, she just looked plain old TIRED, but she wasn't going to go sleep until getting on the plane. John fell into a DEEP sleep and got a startling wake up call when it was time to leave. I think he must have been dreaming about life back in Ottawa, and woke up to realize that he was sleeping sitting up in the Lima airport.

Wilma gave Marg some foot therapy since she continues to have pain in her foot and the swelling just doesn't seem to want to go down.

I had a bit of a conversation with Harold and Bea about our trip, and bugged Holly, Cindy, and Ashlyn JUST a wee bit as well. Thanks for putting up with me. : )

We pushed off the gate at 2:50 a.m. your time and took off with no mishap.

Most of us settled in for some sleep time. I think I got about 4 hours worth off and on. I understand the Jeremy and Wilma did not have a good night and were attended to by Carmen. Faithful to the end she was.

We arrived in Toronto at 11:00 a.m. and as we approached the airport the talk began to simmer as to whether or not we'd make our connection. 1 hour between flights seemed a bit tight based on how long it took us 2 years ago to connect our flight.

It was interesting to watch the different dynamics. Those who began to panic, those who didn't seem to care, those who seemed to think I had the divine answers to this dilemma we seemed to be in.

Well, we touched down, and the "amazing race" began. First it was off the plane for a brief Passport check just outside our arrival gate. Then it was to customs, which was not busy at all thankfully. Only took 5 minutes to get through there.

Then, down the escalator to grab our luggage off the carousel. It seemed to come off fast at first, but it ended up that there was a bit of gap in the end and Jeremy and our (Ron and Christopher's) luggage came off pretty much last. Kevin stayed behind to make sure that he could take Christopher through the rest of the process in case we were too late for the plane. Everyone else was way ahead of us in the race.

Once our luggage was in our hands, we sprung into action. It's hard to run with a heavy computer bag and two pieces of luggage trailing behind you, but I managed. We dashed down some corridors to present our immigration cards. Then one minor issue. Kevin and Kellina had filled in one card, but Kellina had gone through ahead of us, so Kevin had no card. It took a couple of minutes to convince the officer that Kevin was good to go and that Kellina had surrendered their card. I think having us all wearing the same soccer shirts helped.

Then we scurried off down the halls to drop off our checked luggage on another conveyor belt for our flight. Our adrenaline was rushing as we rushed to the doors, only to see Marg and Sam standing in a short line to get to the belt. It was a race I didn't want to win, as I wanted Marg to make the flight too. We were ushered through very quickly once the guard realized our flight number. We threw our luggage on the belt (wheels up of course0 and as I was about to dash off, Kevin raised the call of HELP. He asked me if I had a thumb to lend him to get his bag zippered up. We got it done tute- suite and were off once again.

Only 10 minutes left. After that we dashed off to security to get rechecked through the x-ray machines. Not sure why we had to do that since we never left the secured area of the airport. A fun aside here. As I approached the x-ray counter, I asked if they wanted my computer out (standard procedure) and then if they wanted my shoes off, which the also said yes to. I took them off, and then realized that I hadn't changed socks in more than 24 hours as the pungent aroma of my cuticles wafted heaven words. I muttered something like "Boy do my feet stink" and the woman viewing the x-ray machine burst into laughter. Hey, I just laughed with her and she understood once I mentioned how long we had been travelling, etc.

Jeremy's carry on ended up getting searched, which delayed things even more, but eventually we were set free. A right around the corner and there was the rest of the team in their soccer jerseys waiting to board the plane. We had made our connection.

As the adrenaline ebbed away in our bodies, some in the group asked me if I thought we'd make our connection. I said I had no worries (but I did). Thank you Lord for letting us make the connection.

We boarded the plane and were off in the air very soon afterwards. A 30 minute flight and landing in Ottawa. It was good to be home, yet sad as well.

We offloaded and made our way down the escalator to waiting families and friends. It was a fun time of reuniting. Relieved and thankful parents and siblings. As we picked up our luggage off the carousel, I began to have a deja -vu (? spelling) experience. My family was supposed to be at the airport to greet me, but they weren't there. Neither were the Berti's or the Kubanek's. I waited and waited, talked and joked with families, and still no family. Eventually I made a call home and guess who picks up the phone....my lovely wife.

As you can see from the previous days comments some people figured we didn't make our connection, and they expected us to call them to let them know we had arrived. I confess that I couldn't read my wife's mind to inform her that we arrived on time : ) . Wilma and Carmen also made calls and their families came to get them.

As I was waiting, I discovered that one not so nice thing did happen at the end of our trip. Holly's luggage did not come off the belt. They ended up making a baggage claim. I do hope she gets it soon.

So, two times in a row my family has left me standing at the airport waiting for them. Not sure what to make of that : )

But, all in all, it was a long, but good travelling time. We all made it home safely. We hope that the Vlamings and Van Dyks are having a good time in Lima still.

On Monday a final posting will be forthcoming with some final thoughts about the trip, and comments about each and every member (to satisfy those who felt their offspring may have not had enough mention during the week ) : )

I hope you have enjoyed the blog entries as much as I have enjoyed preparing them for you with John. THANK YOU John for all your pictures. It was truly a joy working with you this week on this project. I hope that you were able to endure my grammatical and spelling errors. If you couldn't, well, next time come along as my editor and chief, but you'll have to stay up until at least 1 am each evening : )

Stay tuned until Monday.

BTW John, if you have any other pics you want to post, just title them MONDAY and I'll add to it.

Friday, March 14, 2008


One last entry from Peru.

Starting back on Thursday night... We had a late dinner and then presented Pepe and the frontline staff with some small gifts. Pepe also had some encouraging words for us.

We sat down for an exercise where we wrote positive comments about each other based on the experiences of this trip.

Then after we received our new Peru soccer jersies, we posed for one last full group shot.

The next morning, a chance to also present the cooking staff with small gifts.

Then on Friday morning we transition into tourists.
We start at the public square by the presidential palace.

A great chance for some small group shots.

Some interesting architecture downtown.

The palace area has a visible police presence.

If the coup had started today, I would have done my part for Peru.

See if you can spot the tourists in this picture...

Ron seems relieved that the hard part is now done.

After lunch it was off to the market.
Lots of stalls selling local Pervian products.

Bea is ready to shop some more.
Harold was done about an hour ago.

Lots of colour and interesting images around the market.

Money's spent, time to go.

The combination of setting sun and smog provide interesting lighting.

Back at the hostel for dinner and to kill time before we leave for the airport. A chance for one last round of group pictures.

It's been a treat for me to share the daily pictures with all of you. Thanks for all your positive comments and encouraging words on the blog.

Ron will hopefully find an internet connection in the airport for another round of comments.

Ok, I can't resist, one more picture from the airport. I saw this sign in the departure area. Given how some of us are feeling, my interpretation is that this sign points to the bathroom :-)

Ron Here now : )

When we arrived at the airport we were informed that our Lima -> Toronto flight is delayed. No telling yet whether this impacts our arrival time in Ottawa. Maybe Ron will tell you when he signs in.
So, thanks again John for our wonderful pictures of our day (except for the one where I’m sleeping standing up of course)

Today we were tourists. We woke up 1 hour later today, but it didn’t really matter in that everyone seemed to be up at the usual time. I seemed to have begun to suffer from the intestinal problems that others here have been going through. I was up from 6:00 am and it wasn’t fun. Happened the last time too. Kevin and Christopher and Jeremy all seem to have the same problems. Might be others too, but they aren’t divulging things at the moment.

I’m not sure if I mentioned that last night we gave gifts to our translators during our evening session. I hope they liked them. We gave gifts to our cooks this morning. They were very thankful. The HEAD WOMAN COOK as the team called her said some touching words to us. I am continually touched by the Peruvian people. They are a quiet people, yet full of love and kindness. Many have a sense of humor as well, that I can relate to at least. I think of Pepe, and Ines, and Christian and Isaias. All of them were such a joy to be around this week. They help make our week a special one. They are just as tired as we are, and yet they continue on.

We checked out of our hostel this morning and boarded the bus. We traveled downtown to the city square and took in some photo’s as John showed you. We toured the Catacombs and I was reminded again of the rich history of this country and religious history too. Cindy wasn’t feeling well so she sat this one out, but she has seen them before.

After the tour (sorry, not photo’s allowed) it was off to lunch. My stomach had stopped doing flip flops so I was able to eat something. Most of the team was looking pretty tired this morning, but we were doing ok.

The afternoon brought the highlight of the day (especially for Ashlyn). Shopping for some souvenirs at a market geared for tourists. Man, watching Ashlyn bargain was certainly a spectacle. She just loved doing this, and I think she could have been here all day long.

Many of us got several items for family and friends. There is just so much stuff in this market. The vendors love to bargain, and if you want to you can have a lot of fun like Ashlyn did.

After our shopping spree we went back to the hostel for our final meal. Everyone was looking pretty tired, and I’m not sure if we ate very much of the meal that was served, but that’s how it is near the end of the mission trip experience.

Some of the group took a final walk in the park by the ocean, and then it was time to load the bus full of our luggage and it was off to the airport. I drove with Pepe again, while the others took the bus. I will NEVER get comfortable driving in Lima, especially at the lower level that the car offers. The bus makes you feel king of the road, while the car is a whole different experience. Even Pepe doesn’t feel comfortable all the time.

We spent the time talking about Pepe’s and Erin’s upcoming wedding and how busy he will be up until that time. We talked about mission trips and what they do in the lives of those who go, and we acknowledged that our time was once again coming to a close. I will miss this man of God. He has a loving heart for his people and for those who come to his country.

We arrived at the airport at 9:00 p.m. This began the long process of going through long lines in order to get to our gate. First it was checking in initially before the Air Canada check in gate. Then a line for the check in counter. I was randomly searched in that line. Check in and get rid of your checked luggage. Then up to the line where you pay your departure tax. This is where we had to depart from Pepe. We all said see you later, not goodbye, and entered the queues. It felt like waiting in line for a ride on a roller coaster at Darien Lake.

We paid the $30.25 us exit tax. Then its on to surrender your customs document declaring your goods purchased. Then it’s on through security, and finally you are through. The whole process took us 2 hours.

We now sit in the departure lounge awaiting our flight to depart. We’ve been informed that our flight is delayed 1 hour, which will make our connection in Toronto very tight. There is a chance we might miss our connection, so I suggest you call the airport first and see if you can find out if we made our connection or not (though I’m not sure you can get that information over the phone). If there are issues, we’ll try to contact you and let you know.

We are all very tired now. Some people are lying on the seats and sleeping (no dear, Christopher is not one of them. He’s playing cards, and seems to be doing quite well so far).

We hope to catch some sleep on the flight, but you all need to know that we will all be tired when we arrive in Ottawa. Please grant us the grace to hug you, talk a little bit about our experiences with you (by that I mean your families) and then allow us to get some sleep and really share with you our experiences on Sunday : ).

All in all we had a good day, but being a tourist can be tiring. It was good to be here, but it is now time to return home.

Stay tuned for Monday at which time there will be a final blog entry about the trip, with indications as to what will be coming regarding how we will be making this trip stick in our lives and how we can continue to share that with those of you who wish to continue to know.

Some things I noticed today:
  1. Cindy not feeling well, but smiling through it anyway.
  2. Wilma helping Sam with his sore arm by giving a complimentary physio treatment.
  3. Wilma helping the female cook with her bad foot. An angel of mercy that woman.
  4. Seeing all the blood shot eyes today and all the blank stares of some very tired, but happy people.
  5. Continuing to meet Wilma’s smiling face in the queue lines at the airport. Made the drudgery of that time much easier to handle.
  6. Hearing Ines say how much she enjoyed our group because we were such a free group and were such fun.
  7. Driving to the airport and thinking about this country and all its issues and struggles and how so many people desire to see change for the better and the love of Christ flow from within it.
  8. Watching all these tired people and wondering how this trip has changed them inside. How they will be different because of their experiences here, or will they? I know they made an impact in the lives of those they met, but I hope they were impacted as well.

Blessings to you, and good night. : )

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Hello again. We're back at the hostel after a long and emotional last day in Pachecutec. But I'll let Ron give you the details, I'll stick with the pictures and a few comments.

On arriving in Pachecutec, one of the first businesses you'll see is a shop with Internet access. It seems so incongruous that people with such limited means would choose to spend resources on getting to the Internet. Also, interestingly, I've not seen a computer with an operating system newer than Windows 98 since I got here.
I've been remiss in not properly introducing one of our translators. This is Christian. He's shown authority and kindness to the kids, and has shown a quick wit to the adults.When we arrived we split up in our usual three groups. My group was on construction detail again. We managed to finish the roof, but didn't quite have enough sand mix to finish the floor. Jose will need to finish tomorrow without us.

After lunch we did our usual play in the street, waiting for the kids to arrive.

Ron advised us to not work too hard at games, since it was a longer and hotter day than usual. However, once the competitive juices were flowing, the game had the same intensity as yesterday.

The drama depicted Jesus washing the disciples feet. If the climate from Israel was anything like here in Peru, then I have a new appreciation for Jesus' action to wash feet. From what I've seen this week, I wouldn't get close to the feet of any of this set of disciples.
Margaret van Dyk has been teaching us a Spanish song all week. We sang it for the kids -- it was very well received.

Come craft time, the usual pandemonium. Today we had over 140 kids!
Meanwhile, a few guys escaped to go finish the roof.

We also fed a meal to the kids this time. Very simple: a peanut butter and jam sandwich, apple and chocolate milk.

Then some closing ceremonies. Songs, gifts, speeches, prayers etc.

Then emotional good-byes. It took a while to make it to the bus...

So, Sergio: any other projects that need to be done around here?

Apparently it's a tradition to have a water fight on the bus.
Here's some soaked participants.
Over to Ron...

Hello all. Well, the end of a VERY long day as I sit here on my balcony with Pepe at my side. It’s 11:50 pm and I’ll do my best to give you a run down of our day, but forgive me if I misspell or sound a bit off. I’m tired, as is the rest of the team.

Today was our last day in Pachecutec. It was a whirlwind day. Lots of emotions, and lots of activity. Our breakfast and bus ride were as usual. Today we finished off the roof of the church, and continued working on the concrete floor in one of the classrooms. It was hot work. Lugging all that sand up the sandy hill. Some of us were feeling the strains of the work. Ken had to sit down a couple of times, and Rosalynn was barred from working because she was falling asleep standing up. John on the other hand was lifting huge loads of sand bags. I guess he missed his basket ball practice that day and was making up for it. I did find him sleeping on a bench after lunch, snoring away. Marg has had about enough of that pain in her foot. Just doesn’t seem to be getting any better, but I’m not surprised because she worked this week like she didn’t have a foot issue to begin with. We all hope things improve for her after she returns. I commend her for her stamina, stubbornness, and the ways in which she was able to connect with certain people of the church this week.

I worked today as well, just in case you were all wondering. Lifting bags of sand, but not near the weight of John. It was not easy at times, but it was doable. Wilma was again just a fountain of positiveness. She is having back issues, and when she heard she was going to be doing construction she had Carmen tape her up. Even though Carmen is a nurse, Wilma was giving instructions. Wilma lifted lots of water to the top of the hill, and always with a smile.

We mixed concrete as well. Holly was really into the work today. She helped with the sand and then mixed lots of concrete. She was VERY happy to being doing construction. She hadn’t done any yet, and was hoping to do some today. It was a pleasure to see her working so hard. Her shoes, though, looked a bit too clean, so I helped her break them in by placing a wonderfully messy shovel full of concrete on her feet. For some reason, she didn’t seem to like that.

I was going to write a separate blog about her and Leah, but quite honestly, I’m just too tired. Sorry about that Schofields and Gordon. Leah was feeling quite good today. She was perky, and yes, even annoying. That means she’s feeling good.

Cindy did good today, but wasn’t feeling that well. Kevin too had to take it easy again today. 2 gravols do make one sleepy, so I found him on the concrete floor in the library resting comfortably. Carmen was keeping vigil over him and the others.

Jeremy, well, he just did his thing. He often observes whether I’m working or not, and makes comments about my lack of effort, or my effort. I love that man!! : )

Kellina and Wilma were having lots of fun mixing concrete today. They just shoveled and chatted, and shoveled and chatted. It was amazing to watch.

The group that went to the orphanage ended up giving 5 quilts for the kids there. The highlight for them was feeding the kids and then singing songs in Spanish for the children and having the children join in as well. They also had the chance to meet a seniors group that meets there. This group has no family or relatives any longer. They were able to sing Spanish songs with them too.

The home visiting group had a good day as well. We have found that many families are giving us small gifts from their possessions as we visit them. Bracelets, purses, and other things. Truly humbling for those who receive them.

After our lunch we held our VBS again.We began with sports again. A great soccer game took place today again. Christian and Kellina squared off and we witnessed some great competition. Christian was impressed at how Kellina could body check him out of the way so often. I think he was surprised at her skill level, until we mentioned to him that she plays high level soccer in Ottawa. Then he understood. Christopher had some pretty good moves to, and Harold turned out to be a VERY good goalie. Bethany showcased her soccer moves too, and the kids just loved it all. Ruth did some skipping with the kids, and Wilma was once again in the thick of the kids making name tags for them. She did a GREAT job of this all through the week and the kids just thronged to her. Wonderful to watch.

We often had to stop because a MOTO was coming up or down the road. They don’t stop for us, so we have to watch out.

Today we had 135 kids. Ines did her usual great job of singing with the kids, along with our group. We had one drama today, about Jesus washing the disciples feet. Then we sang the kids a Spanish song as a group, complete with actions, well, except for Harold. He held the paper : ) The kids really enjoyed it.

Then it was craft time. We had so many kids we ended up only doing two crafts today, not three, to enable every child to be able to do one. Again, they were GREAT, and I commend the craft people for all that they have done. Near the end of the craft time we began to corral the children in the upper level of the property and set up tables. We were about to give them a meal.

Let me back up by saying that last night many of our group traveled to a local supermarket and we purchased the bread, jam, chocolate milk, cookies and apples we needed for the meal. We used the peanut butter we brought with us. We then took that to Patchecutec and just after lunch several people prepared the sandwiches to serve to the children.

They lined up after craft time and we served them all. I hadn’t planned on 135 kids, but we came close in what we could give them. Most of them got something. It was neat to watch the process unfold and to be able to serve just one meal that the kids might not normally get. You’ll have to ask the team members how they felt about doing this when they return.

Once this was done, we moved back into the library with members of the church for a goodbye ceremony. Sergio gave us parting words of encouragement, and then the children of the church did some FANTASTIC music and drama presentations. VERY talented, and very inspiring to watch. They also gave us all hand made gifts personalized for each of us.

We were able to bless them with the quilts and the suitcases of clothing. Sergio was very thankful for the items, and will use them for his church and to serve others who may need assistance.

I was asked to pray for Sergio’s wife who is pregnant, which I gladly did. It was neat to see the love for God in the eyes, and voices of those in that time. They are spiritually rich, even though they are not materially rich, and that’s something we could all pause and take time to contemplate.

Then it was time to say goodbye. Most of the kids had left, but some hung around to say goodbye, and the church kids and adults did say goodbye. It was a touching time of mixed emotions. It rained in Patchecutec today (tears), right Ashlyn : ) and Bethany, and others.

I had to be that bad guy again by pushing people onto the bus. I don’t always like doing it, but we had to get going. It was 5 pm already and we had other things to get done that evening.

All in all, up to this point, the day had been hectic and busy for Pepe and I. Trying to be flexible with the team as their emotions went up and down, and trying to keep order in what we were doing, and trying to stay on a N.A. schedule in a Peruvian culture. It all worked out, but by the time I got on the bus, I was feeling the most exhausted of all the days there.

As we drove home, we processed out emotions, and then I allowed something that proved to be a great way to ease all those tensions and feelings. Colin and Kellina both started a water fight on the bus. Pepe and Luis made sure to stay out of it, but boy the others on the bus got VERY wet. Nick was in there like crazy as was Jeremy, Christopher and others. I had to get Ruth and Bethany after the fact, because they managed to stay very dry. Cindy and Kellina and Christian got VERY wet in the second round, as did some of the more daring translators. It was LOTS of fun, and a good way to move the mood from somber to something bearable. It was interesting to note that some struggled with using our water for a water fight, knowing that during the week we needed that water to survive on. More things that we need to process that maybe we didn’t think we would when we entered this mission trip.

Back at the Hostel the cooks were waiting for us. We had a special meal tonight of rice, French fries, beef and onions and peppers. It was VERY good. After the meal we gave our translators and Pepe some gifts as thank you’s for their great work with us during the week. I then handed out 1 Peruvian beer each to the adults (19 and older) as a thank you for putting up with my pushing them hard all day, and coca cola for the others. The adults were VERY thankful for that.

We then held our final video session with our groups. Some great comments came out tonight. All good stuff.

Then came to final event of the mission trip portion of our trip. We sat down and wrote comments to each other on sheets of paper. John read some blog comments and I downloaded all the pictures from the other camera’s, so I can sort through them and give them to the team eventually. They will be able to get John’s great pictures as well, and they should then have TONNES of memories of the trip.

Pepe also handed out the soccer Jerseys we ordered before the trip. VERY nice. This took us until 11 ish pm. I wanted to get a team photo, and had to cut short the writing of some of the slower, final writers as Nick and Brian were about done for the evening. I hope they will forgive me (eventually) for keeping them up so long, but they are now asleep. They will be getting up early in the morning to leave for some sightseeing in Peru. It will be sad to not have them returning with us. I hope the team photo’s also turn out. It seems John was tired too, and having a hard time focusing his camera on us this evening.

So, we draw the mission experience to a close now. Tomorrow we become tourists for the day. We leave the hostel at 9”45 am so we get to sleep a little longer this time, well at least they all do : )

It has once again gone very fast, but it has been a good week. I have enjoyed our week together. We all have many experiences tucked away in our hearts now, and we will never forget what we have experienced in this wonderful country of Peru. We have grown together as a team, and we have grown in the Lord. We have seen God at work in our lives, and in the lives of those we have met. Each person must now find ways to make this trip stick in their lives, and we will return home and attempt to do just that. We will also find ways to continue the relationship with those in Patchecutec, we just aren’t sure how yet.

I thank Pepe and his translators, and Erin for all their hard work. So much we did not see, but all of it helped to make our experience here wonderful. I’ll write some more reflective thoughts in a final blog entry on Monday, and there will be one more at some point on the travels home, so don’t stop reading the blog just yet.

Blessings to you all, and it’s time to get some sleep.