Peru Mission Trip 2011 Updates
From March 13th - 25th, 2011 English Oaks church of Lodi, CA is sending a mission to Iquitos, Peru.
I certainly didn't expect to spend the night in the Miami airport--I thought sleeping in airports was a third world experience! Anyway, I guess there was a fire a couple days ago here at the Miami airport that apparently burned up a bunch of jet fuel and now there is a shortage and flights are being canceled--or so I've heard. That is why our plane coming in from Miami to Lima was late making our departure from Lima late so that we missed our connection to San Francisco. Follow that? It wasn't our fault!
So, we are sleeping on cots provided by the airport because all the hotels are booked already... We are supposed to land at SFO tomorrow at noon. Hopefully that works out for us... You just never know!
God bless and keep us in your prayers!
Today was our last full day in Peru. We ended up being up all night after our train from Machu Picchu left 8 hours late. We finally arrived at our hotel in Cusco around 6 AM, took an hour nap then packed up and headed to the airport to fly back to Lima. People of Peru had scheduled a bus tour of Lima for us so even though we were very tired we went for it. The yellow church is called the Church of a Thousand Martyrs. It is an amazing ancient cathedral with an out-of-use monastery attached. The buildings were loaded with artwork and amazing architecture but the most amazing thing was the bones. They took us down into the catacombs below the main floor where there are the bones of some 25,000 people lying about. I suppose some are martyrs and many were just buried there in somewhat of a grave. Archeologists had organized the bones into rows and neat piles in brick bins and cistern like structures. It was an amazing thing to see and contemplate--crawling around in catacombs looking at bones hundreds of years old!
After that we went up a steep windy road to look at a cross that towers over the city and then downtown to look at the government buildings and president's mansion. Finally we got to go back to our Hostel tired and ready for rest. We will be getting up at 3:30 AM tomorrow to catch our 7 AM flight. We will be home tomorrow night. It's always fun to go on mission trips and it's always great to come home. This has been an incredible adventure--one for the history books of the English Oaks Church!
God bless and keep us in your prayers--we'll see you soon!
There was no blog and photos tuesday night because we were staying at the base of Machu Picchu and there was no internet. And the Wednesday blog and photos were sent very late at night because our train back to the valley was delayed for 7 hours because of an avalanche that blocked the train tracks for a while. Other than that--the excursion was awesome!
So let me start out by saying that everyone is safe and had an amazing time on our excursion to one of the seven wonders of the modern world--Machu Picchu.
Before we got to Machu Picchu we had to pass through the Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley is a long fertile valley in the middle of the Andes Mountains. We stopped at an Alpaca farm--I never knew they had such a variety of cousins--and some of their fur/hair is so expensive that a hand-woven 4X6 rug/tapestry can cost several thousand dollars! We also went to an ancient Incan civilization at the end of the valley before getting on the train that would take us up to the base of Machu Picchu where we spent the night.
We got up early Wednesday morning for our tour and just let me say that the ancient ruins amazed and inspired us. The photos speak for themselves and there is no way I can possibly pass on a fraction of the information that our tour guide gave us--I think he must have the equivalent of a PhD in Incan studies! We found out that this is where the Japanese and others came to study the architecture so they could learn how to build earthquake-proof buildings among other things... The Incan civilization was incredibly advanced!
Then after this most amazingly perfect day our train got delayed. As of this writing I'm still sitting on a stone floor tired of playing games and editing photos but happy to be writing to all of you! God bless and please keep us in your prayers. We will fly back to Lima tomorrow and rest up for our 4 AM arrival back at the airport Friday morning to fly back home to you!
Ok, so I'm a little obsessive with ancient churches. As an artist and pastor what more natural obsession could their be? Today is the first day of our excursion and we flew into Cusco, Peru this morning. After quickly checking into our hotel we went off to see the sights all within walking distance. It seems like there is an amazing cathedral on every corner. I'll let the pictures speak or themselves. At the end of the day we had another amazing worship talk about all our missionary experiences in Iquitos. Everyone shared their stories and we began to get a grasp on what we actually accomplished through God's grace. We had the privilege of touching more lives than we will ever know. We'll tell you more about it at the vespers we do when we get back home.
We are off to the Sacred Valley tomorrow to learn about the ancient religion of the Peruvian people. We are expecting another amazing day!
Good night and God bless--and please continue to pray for us!
3/18/2011 - 3/19/2011
Friday morning we finished up more on the mural and much of the metal bars and doors we were painting. Then we loaded the bus and headed for the dock. We hardly recognized the boat with it's new coat of paint--it looks great! After loading we headed out to the Amazon. We stopped at a serpentarium where we all got to hold an Anaconda and by the time it got to Benjamin the snake was so stressed out that is released a huge load of green slime down his side--yuck!
As we were leaving the serpentarium a group of Bora natives came to sell us thier handicrafts. They were dressed in their native tribal costumes which didn't consist of a whole lot as you'll see in the photos. I was careful to photograph the women from the backside only--this is definitely National Geographic material!
Finally we arrived at home of the particular Bora tribe we were staying with and they performed some cultural dances for us and with us. It was really fascinating. After the show we shopped in their craft store for blow-dart guns, bows and arrows, bracelets, paintings and more. We left loaded with goodies for the other side of the village where we ended up setting up our tents inside the church because it was pouring rain outside. We may be the only people to have every camped in tents inside a church in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest!
We conducted a VBS program Friday night and Sabbath morning and then I had the privilege of preaching for church. Also during our stay we took a 5:30 AM jungle trek to look for medicinal plants and jungle animals with village chief's son--Walter. Then on the way home we stopped at monkey island where we got to hold and play with monkeys, a three toed sloth and a toucan. It was the experience of a lifetime! Please continue to pray for us. Today is our last day of work in Iquitos--then we head to Cusco and Machu Picchu for our excursion!
Today was amazing! At the end of VBS, on the bus ride home everyone was so happy! No one could stop smiling and laughing and it was really just surreal. So, at worship we talked about why everyone was so happy. The boat crew finished painting the boat and that was great. The mural is really taking shape and looking good. The painting and scraping of the steel doors and window bars is going well too. But everyone agreed that the best thing here is the children and the relationships with the local Peruvians and also the relationships developing within our own group.
We decided that the difference is that we are so interested in each other and want to know more about each other so much. Words are only a small part of communication. Smiles, gestures and a hundred other things go into communication. So, even though we don't do so well with words we have many other ways to communicate--the best of which is the hugs and kisses on the cheeks that so many of us have experienced here. But the most important thing is the desire to know each other. The kids said that back home when you try to talk to people they are always so busy texting or surfing or gaming that people don't just talk anymore. Down here in Peru we're rediscovering the old ways that people used to communicate--by sitting down and talking and laughing and playing together--every day...
Tomorrow morning we will continue to work at POPPY'S house and then at noon we will get on that freshly painted boat to head down the Amazon for a two day jungle excursion where we will be spending the night in a remote village that still lives in the same primitive manner as their ancestors of old. It's going to be amazing! Please pray for us and we'll post more in a couple of days!
Absolutely great day--very productive! Half our crew went out to continue painting the boat. I don't have any pictures of that because I wasn't there and those who were couldn't use cameras because their hands were covered with paint. But they said they made great progress. The paint here is very thin and watery so you can't really notice what you've done until you put on the second coat. They said it's really taking shape.
I was with the crew at POPPY'S house. We scraped, sanded and painted the steel bars over the windows and doors. They were very rusty and we were covered with dust but we made good progress and things look really nice now. Also, at POPPYS house, the girls got started on the mural. The mural is taking shape and really looking great--can't wait till it's finished. Later in the afternoon our medical clinic got started and saw 66 patients! People were so happy to get medication for their parasites, vitamins etc.
Finally, VBS was quite an adventure. Just as we were getting ready to head out in the bus it started pouring rain! It was awesome. We slid around on slick dirt streets and when we got into the very primitive little church the lights went out. We just started playing with the kids and the puppets in small groups in the dark until the lights came on and then we had our program as the rain poured down on the metal roof! We love the kids and they seem to love us too. The adult meetings haven't worked out. The church only has five members and seem to have trouble getting the word out. But starting with the clinic and VBS is a sure way to grow over time.
Good night and God bless. Please continue to pray for us!
Hmmm--I think today is Tuesday? I can't tell anymore but I think I'm pulling out of the two days of no sleep and into the present--except the present is not my normal reality. Today before going off to work Paul (our host) took us to the Belen market. Wow! The have beautiful produce and really ugly dead animals to eat! Enjoy the photos and if you aren't vegetarian already maybe you will be now!
At the end of the market tour we ended up down at the water where some very poor people live. The houses are on stilts because the river floods and comes all the way up the stilts. And the houses you see that are actually on the water currently are floating houses that rise with the water. The gross thing is that as the water rises it catches all the sewage that is sitting around and adds that to the sewage that was already dumped into the river--what a putrid mess. Thank God for modern plumbing back home!
Finally, after lunch we went out to work on the People of Peru's boat that they take down the Amazon River. We start
ed painting on the inside before we went to VBS. I'll send pictures of VBS tomorrow. So, for now--enjoy, and good night. And please keep us in your prayers!
Monday: Today after lunch we hopped on the bus and went to POPPYS house. POPPYS house is a home for young mothers who were
victims of incest or rape. Girls who are not in their difficult situation because of anything they have done--they are victims. One of the photos is of Paul Opp--the director of People of Peru--with his arm around a young girl they rescued from a jungle village where she was dating a Shaman witch doctor. He said that showing a little love is the most important thing we will do here and it's something money cannot buy. He would rather have us here loving people than all the money it cost to buy our plane tickets--we are the biggest part of the solution to poverty and dysfunction!
We went and met everyone at POPPYS house and looked over the projects we will be working on their in a couple of days. We will be painting and sanding and installing a tongue and groove wooden ceiling in what will be the computer room. We are so tired and looking forward to a good nights sleep. Enjoy the photos of POPPYS house and the surrounding area. I'll write more tomorrow and remember to keep us in your prayers!
Travel: Saturday night we gathered at the English Oaks Church a little before midnight and left at 1 AM Sunday. Rode the bus to SFO then flew all day. Then spent Sunday night laying awake on the floor of the Lima airport before checking in to our flight to Iquitos at 4 AM. So, finally, we landed in Iquitos at 8 AM after two nearly sleepless nights. Then the first thing after breakfast was a four hour nap! We just got up and are ready to go! Lunch, then orientation and work. We're excited and ready to go! I'll write more tonight.
Please keep us in your prayers. -Scott Ward