Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Peru, Part 1

Last week, I was in Peru with Compassion International, from the 13th through the 21st, to be exact.

I left my house at 4 AM on the 13th and after four airports and three flights, landed in Lima at 9 PM (10 PM Eastern).

It was my first time really being out of the US.  I have been to Canada, Bermuda, and the Bahamas, but South America is a totally different story.  It was my first time in a country whose official language was not English.  I have been studying Spanish (mostly on my own) for about a year and a half, but I have a LONG way to go before I am fluent.

The next morning, we split into two groups (over 50 people total) to go to a church service at a Compassion church partner.  At the church where my group went, the children were waiting to greet us outside the church.  I was SOOOOO excited to see them!  That was my main reason for going to Peru--to see the children, especially the boy (young man) I sponsor.

When we walked into the church, the people were already seated for the service, and they clapped for each of us!  I kept thinking, "I don't deserve this."  The pastor at the church spoke about giving to the poor.  Seriously???  Man, that was humbling!!  The pastor and people of this church are the ones who deserve the recognition.
After the service, we were treated to snacks, mostly pastries, that were made by the teenagers of the church.  I don't even know what it all was, but I do know it was incredibly delicious!  The center has a cooking class for the teenagers.  I was very impressed with that because I believe that cooking is a very important skill to learn.  Those teenagers will be able to use their skill to make money.  Believe me, I would buy their pastries!!
Two of the teenagers and one of our translators

After church, we went to a restaurant next to the ocean to have lunch.  I learned that Peruvian time is NOT the same as US time.  We were eating lunch at 3 and didn't finish until 6.
The food was amazing!  I felt guilty for having such awesome food, knowing that so many in Peru have barely any food.
Appetizer that I couldn't eat because it had shellfish in it. Notice the tiny octopus. 

This is purple corn juice--chicha.  It is very popular in Peru, and I liked it a lot.

Here are a few shots I took outside the restaurant:

When we returned to the hotel, we met with eight LDP students.  It was amazing to hear them speak.  I knew that LDP is hard to get into, but I didn't realize all that is involved.  They have to go before a panel of judges who show no emotion when they interview the students.  They go through a series of three interviews.  If the make it into the program, they not only have to study, but they also have to serve at their church and do community work.  I have a new appreciation of that program.

That was all for the first day.  The second day, we spent TEN hours in a bus going over the Andes mountain to the jungle.  I was so afraid of getting altitude or motion sickness, but I got neither.  Well, I did get a very bad headache as we drove toward our highest point, 14,800 feet, but it subsided once we began our descent.
We thought the trip would take five hours, so it was a little difficult for us to cope with the ten.  The road is very narrow, very twisty, and has no guard rail in most areas.  We were in a double-decker bus that often had to drive into the left line to make the turns because they were like very tight U turns.  It was unbelievable!  I went from living 8 feet above sea level to riding on a bus almost 15,000 feet above sea level.  Even the people from Colorado said that they no longer consider the Rockies to be mountains after seeing the Andes.  I'm including a few pictures.  I have lots and lots.  (Of course)

When we finally arrived at the hotel in the jungle town, La Merced, we found that there were not enough rooms because another group had stayed over (although that was worked out somehow).  I was given a key (not a card, a key) to a room and when I unlocked the door, I found that it was already occupied.  Thank God the people weren't in the room, just their belongings.  Just as I was about to go back to the desk, a girl ran up with another key.  Whew!
THEN . . . the power went out!  It was very hot and humid, of course, which I didn't mind at all.  It really wasn't different from Virginia Beach in the summer, which I love.  Some of our group members were even trapped in the elevator!  That wasn't funny until they started to climb out.  Then we laughed really hard.  The power kept coming on and going back off.  I thought it was funny; others . . . not so much.  But I mean, we were in a third world country, after all.  I was just so excited about being able to visit the children the next day that I was not concerned about being personally uncomfortable.

At least I know I will never forget that night.


  1. How exciting! I can't wait to read the rest of the story :)

  2. Looking forward to the next installment!

  3. So excited to hear about your trip!

  4. I've had the purple corn juice at that Peruvian restaurant near the mall, Don Gallo. Yummy!

    1. I've never been to that restaurant, but now I really want to go.

  5. Hi Mindi,

    My church experience during my visit to India this past March (2012) was about the same as yours.

    During the church service, the pastor encouarged the congregation to downsize so they could give away more to others! This Compassion congregation, who had very little themselves, thought more of others!! I was humbled, truly.


    1. That's amazing. I've been looking at all the "stuff" in my house, thinking of how I can use some of it to help others.