It has been quite the week here in Peru. Frankly, it’s been a busy 10 weeks (!!) since our last update. Whoops.
Here’s a little about what we have been up to since mid-September:
– Will has continued amazing us with the Spanish he is learning during Zoom preschool. In October he was given an assignment to record a 3-5 minute video about what we can do to take care of our planet. After brainstorming some ideas, we spent about a week taking videos showing what we all can do to take care of Earth. Hope you enjoy this mini tour of our apartment and neighborhood!
– Billy has continued leading his Monday evening Zoom classes with a church in Manchay, which is on the outskirts of Lima. The group started by meeting weekly for an hour to discuss mentoring with the goal that some of the couples in the group would become mentors for families and teen mothers at an organization called Kids Alive. This project is a 3-way partnership between Paths of Hope (Billy), the church in Manchay (mentors) and Kids Alive (mentees). The weekly Zoom meetings with the mentors have now switched to every other week, because on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons, Billy has started meeting with the Kids Alive mentees to get the program started. The mentors from the church have begun meeting with their mentees.
First meeting with the Kids Alive participants
– Will and I ventured to the center of Lima to renew his Peruvian passport. His first passport had expired in March but due to the national quarantine, his renewal appointment was cancelled and we needed to reschedule. Going to the center of Lima (a whole 9 miles!) was the furthest Will has been away from home since mid-March and he was silent the whole car ride there and back as he stared out the window at everything that was “new to him”.
Waiting outside the passport office
1st and 2nd passport
– Billy also started seeing some therapy clients this month. He currently is meeting weekly with a couple and a child-parent and using the skills that he learned at Wheaton and through his internship at Outreach Community Center. Seeing these clients helps him keep his knowledge active and is slowly chipping away at the hours needed for full licensure.
– Peru is still battling COVID-19 but things are looking better. Daily infection rates are going down as the country is slowly opening up more and more. Restaurant and store capacities are slowly increasing, international travel to surrounding South American countries started in October and people for the most part are respecting social distancing and the mandatory mask wearing. Starting in October, we were no longer allowed to use our personal cars on Sundays. Sundays typically are family days so in an effort to quell multi-household family get-togethers, the government made it harder for people to get around. It did make for a very peaceful Lima without traffic and brought hundreds of people out to the streets on their bikes.
Building towers during quiet time
We’re that far into quarantine that the circus tent has come out
Helping mop the kitchen floor
New favorite hobby is playing DJ and selecting music on Spotify
Decorating for Halloween with some spider webs which according to Will of course had to go on the ceiling!
– At the beginning of November, Will’s dreams were fulfilled when we met his preschool teacher, Miss Dani, at a nearby park for the morning. It was the first time they saw each other face-to-face since his one week of in-person classes in March, and I don’t know who was happier! Will happily spent the morning showing Miss Dani around the park, feeding the animals and riding the train.
– We have previously mentioned that Billy participated in a Zoom training called Trauma Free World in August. Since then, he has been in touch with an organization called SOMOS in Guatemala who also participated in the training, and also runs a mentoring program with churches and children’s homes (similar to what we are doing with Paths of Hope). SOMOS recently participated in an online conference presented in Guatemala but was open to participants from all Central and South America. During the conference, SOMOS announced a mentor training and asked Billy to serve as the Peru point-of-contact for people that participated in the training that work/live in Peru. Since the training, Billy has received messages from a few people and organizations located here in Peru that are interested in mentoring.
Country point of contacts for the SOMOS training
One of the SOMOS trainings with participants from all over Central and South America.
– Between elections in the United States and political drama here in Peru, the first couple weeks of November were filled with political uncertainty. We could write a whole update about the political drama Peru has experienced in the past 5 (more like 20) years, but while this doesn’t interest everybody, here’s a quick crash course in the events of the past week.
If you are interested in a little more explanation, our friends Scott and Julia went into more detail in their recent update.
After an impeachment vote and trail, on the evening of Monday November 9th, Congress voted to remove president Martin Vizcarra from office over allegations of corruption from when he was a regional governor about 10 years ago. Of 128 members of Congress, 105 voted in favor, 19 against and 4 abstained.
Later that evening Vizcarra resigned without contesting the vote, and the following morning at 10am, Manuel Merino (the leader of Congress) was sworn in as the President of the Republic. Typically in the event of removing a president, the line of succession is Vice President 1, Vice President 2 and then leader of Congress. Since Vizcarra was originally VP 1 who took over the presidency when Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned amid corruption allegations and VP 2 resigned at some point and was never replaced, the next person in the line of succession was leader of Congress. Pretty immediately after Merino took power Peruvians took to the streets in protest of what Congress was doing and how they were doing it. Every night thousands of people would march towards the Plaza San Martin in the center of Lima. Unfortunately by Saturday night protests started to escalate and two young men were killed and now the people demanded Merino’s resignation. At noon the following day, Merino resigned the Presidency, just 6 days after he was sworn in. By Monday afternoon, Congress had elected a new leader, Francisco Sagasti – who was one of the 19 people who voted against removing Vizcarra.
– In terms of COVID restrictions, international flights have opened up to North and South American cities but more importantly, kids under 12 are now allowed to go further than 500 meters from their house! Kids still are not allowed inside restaurants, malls, grocery stores etc., but we’re now free to go further with Will and explore new parks and neighborhoods. Will still loves riding his scooter, and he recently traded his first bike to a larger one, thanks to a good deal from a departing expat family!
Flying a kite on the coast
Riding his scooter around Huaca Pucllana
Riding his bike with our friend Jimmy
As always we very much appreciate your prayers for us, our ministry and for the country and people of Peru.
– Kate, Billy & Will