I can’t believe it is already January. Almost 2 weeks after Christmas. Even worse it has been almost 4 months since I have written something here and I don’t know where to begin. The whole spring season has passed… it is no longer winter here, but summer!
The busy work team season came and went. Unlike the previous three years where I basically set up my own room at Puerto Alegria (our boys home in the Amazon jungle) and lived there for 6-8 weeks, I spent almost every week at a different location this summer. To some the constant travel might be tiresome, but for me it meant a new experience each week and time with friends all over the country.
Things started to slow down in September, but just briefly. Billy and I accompanied a team from Nashville to our boys home in the Sacred Valley (just an hour outside of Cusco) for the week. Peru is a beautiful country, but I can’t think of a place that is any more beautiful here than the Sacred Valley. The valley used to be the backyard for Incan royalty, and they especially appreciated it for its special geographical and climatic qualities. It was one of the Incan empire’s main points for the extraction of natural wealth, and one of the most important areas for maize production in Peru. But apart from all of that, the valley, mountains, adobe buildings and rich colors are beautiful. Drive between the little towns about an hour before sunset and it is amazing.
After the week in the Sacred Valley, we returned to Lima for a couple weeks to catch up on office work and prepare for the next 2 groups in October. Once October came, we hit the ground running with 2 very different teams and many hours on the road. Neither Billy or myself can really explain where the month of October went because it just flew by so fast. One minute we were meeting a group at the airport during the first week and the next, kids were roaming the neighborhood going trick or treating.
We started October by heading south to Ica for almost 2 weeks with a group from Scotland.
And then headed north to Kusi for a few days with a team of medical volunteers from Health Bridges International. The HBI team comes to Peru about twice a year to work with Scripture Union – once in July and again usually in October. Typical HBI medical campaigns consist of setting up temporary, 1-day clinics in local schools, medical posts or even on SU property and offering free medical and dental services to the general public. On this trip, we divided the week between Kusi (about 8 hours east of Lima) and Ica (about 4.5 hours south of Lima) and the American and Peruvian medical volunteers gave personalized attention to the Girasoles boys and staff.
November was a bit slower than October, but I managed to travel to Iquitos two separate times in the month. Billy and I spent a week helping a group from Living Waters for the World from a church in Nashville. The LWW team has installed a few different water filtration systems on SU properties and at a local church in Iquitos and they had come to check on the systems, perform maintenance as needed and scope out potential locations for another system.
I ended up going back to Iquitos just a few days later with a small group on a vision trip. Vision trips are comprised of people who are interested in the ministry of Scripture Union Peru and want to know how they can get involved either as leading a work team or supporting the ministry financially. The 4-person group from the Hilton Head, SC area spent about 10 days in Peru and covered more country than most Peruvians do in a lifetime. I joined them exclusively for the Iquitos leg of their trip and in just 48 hours we visited our 2 boys homes, went out on the Amazon Hope boat while it refueled and flew to and from Iquitos.
We were in Lima long enough to celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. While the services, classes and events at our church, Camino de Vida, are in Spanish, the lead/founding pastors are Americans. Each year for Thanksgiving, the couple invites the Americans who attend the church to join them for dinner at their home.
In December, we didn’t travel with work teams but still managed to get out of Lima for various events. A weekend was spent on the beach at Kawai for a leadership training for SU staff and later in the month we ventured to Kusi for the week to celebrate Christmas with the boys there.
It has been a busy but fulfilling and fun last few months. Each of this trips is worthy of an entry on its own – each has plenty of stories and photos to share – but time got the best of me.
Since I didn’t get to say it before, Merry (belated) Christmas and Happy 2013. As Billy and I look forward to a wedding, a well-anticipated visit of friends and family from the States, many trips with work teams, and our own trip to the States in the spring, we wish that your next year be happy, healthy, and prosperous.
*And I promise to not let another 4 months go by!