Friday, July 1Left GSP at 11 a.m. for Newark, NJDeparted New Jersey at 2:00 p.m. for Lima, PeruArrived in Peru around 6:40 p.m. (7:40 p.m. our time)Checked in our hotel in Lima and stayed the night
Saturday, July 1Woke up around 6:30 a.m. for a hot shower, that we will not have the luxury of having for the next 7 daysGo downstairs for a light breakfast of coffee, fruit, and cerealGo to the bus station to wait for the bus that will take us to La MercedBus arrives around 9:30 a.m. and we get ready for our 10 hour bus ride through the Andes MountainWe start off at sea level and within 4 hours we are about 16,000 ft. After riding for a few hours, we pull off at a road-side restaurant for lunch. We cross the top at Ticlio, which is also the summit of the highest railroad in the world!Then we descend to 12,000 ft and go through a town called La Oroya.Then up to 13,000 ft. and from there it is down, down, down, to 2,000 ft. or so. The scenery is spectacular. We go through every vegetation zone on the planet, from tundra to tropical rainforest.On our way down, we go through the city of Tarma, the Pearl of the Andes, and the towns of Acobamba, San Ramon, and La Merced, and 4 miles later, we are at Kimo.We are dropped off at the river, where we have to cross to the other side using a "huaro" cable car that has to be pulled by 2 very strong men, Pochi and Lucho, AKA, Loco, meaning crazy in Spanish.Once we cross the river, we hike up a very steep hill to our new jungle home that we will be at for the next 6 days.We are greeted by another group from Georgia, composed of a few adults and several energetic youth.We settle in to our new cabins and then meet back at the dinning hall for a delicious dinner cooked by Jose's wife, Milagros.After dinner, we come back for a night time devotion, which we do for the rest of the week.
Sunday, July 1Woke up early for morning devotion by the lagoon overlooking the majestic, cloud-covered mountain tops, and then had breakfast.Departed for a Baptist church in La MercedDuring the service, one of the youth on the mission team from Georgia gave his testimony, and then the group sang, “Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord” in English and Spanish- very moving!Preacher gave his sermon as Billy Greenman, missionary for Scripture Union, translated it for us.During the service, we had a sharing the love moment, where we received hugs from everyone in the congregation. The children were magnificently beautiful.After church, we went into town to exchange money and to walk around the town. We loaded the bus and headed to the Green and Gold Coffee Shop, where we were introduced to how coffee is made. We were also given samples to try before purchasing several bags.We loaded the bus and headed to 2 waterfalls- Bayoz and Velo De Novia (the bride’s veil).When we arrived at the first waterfall and most of us decided to get in. Those of us who did were in for a treat. While sitting against the rocks as the water cascaded down the waterfall, we received the best message in the world. It was very refreshing. After the dip in the first waterfall, we hiked down to the next waterfall, that was just as beautiful, but due to time we had to look at it from a far. We headed back to camp and enjoyed another wonderful meal, and then had our night time devotional.
Monday, 7/19 till Thursday, 7/22
The remaining days were spent working on the boys’ home. We did everything from weed-eat with a machete, to lifting heavy boulders at the bottom of a hill into a 1943 Jeep that were used for a future septic tank at the bottom of another hill, to sanding bunk beds and paneling, to installing paneling, to painting, to digging trenches. Whatever needed to be done, we did it, regardless if we had the resources or not.
While at Kimo, I learned that there were 5 other boys’ homes throughout Peru. The camps are Kimo in La Merced, Kawai in Mala, Kusi in Yungay, Cusco in Sacred Valley, Puerto Alegria in Iquitos, and Ica in Ica. Each home supports 40 boys each. Kimo should be completed by this time next year and hope to have boys by then. Scripture Union is in the process of finding the right God-parents for these boys.
ĚThe most disappointing part of this trip was that I only met one street boy while on this trip. He was 21 and was with us for only a short time. However, Billy shared many stories about the street boys. He explained that the family unit is very unstable in the Peruvian culture. Therefore, it is usually up to the woman to raise and feed her children on her own. Many women have limited education or skills to support the needs of a family. The educational system in Peru is part of the problem. The educational system is set up with an elementary school with grades 1 through 6, which is free, and a secondary school with grades 1 through 5, which charges tuition. Most of the rural areas only have elementary schools. To feed a family with several children, the mother is forced to send the oldest child out into the streets to fend for himself. She has a better chance of feeding the others, than keeping the oldest, and trying to feed them all.
Billy also shared some of the horrific stories that some of these boys were subjected to. He said that one of the Scripture Union missionaries was out one night in search of street boys and he looked over at this pile of trash that caught his eye when he saw it move. He went over to the trash and went through it to find this bloodied and unconscious little boy. The boy’s father was an alcoholic and an abusive father. The father thought he had murdered his son and had disposed of his body in the trash. Years later, the little boy met up with his older brother, who had also been taken to a boys’ home.
Billy also informed me that street boys are viewed as the lowest rank on the totem pole in Peru- even under prostitutes. They are an embarrassment to the society. When George W. Bush came to visit Peru while he was President, the police rounded up as many street boys that they could find and locked them up under the prison until Bush left. Additionally, most of theses boys deal with sexual abuse. Most are forced into prostitution, not for money, but for food, according to Billy. He said that he has heard that there is a web-site that advertises a vacation in Peru, where the men can come and be serviced by one of these street boys. How repulsive is that?
On the last work day, Carmen, Billy, Alvoro and I hiked to a waterfall only 15 minutes from our campsite called Piedra En El Aive (rock in the air). Along the path, I observed the aqueducts used to channel water to our campsite. For some odd reason, the water from the waterfalls was always refreshing, but from our shower head in our cabin was morbidly frigid. But it was nice to do without hot water, T.V., cell phones, and all the other creature comforts we have come used to for a short while. It made me appreciate all the luxuries we have in our life that we take for granted. When I got home, I enjoyed a nice and long hot bath. I didn’t realize I was so dirty, until I drained the water and noticed that the bottom of the tub looked like it was coated in chocolate milk. Yuck! Friday, 7/2We said our goodbyes to our new family members in Peru and headed to the bus station around 9:00 a.m.Left La Merced for Lima around 10 a.m.Arrived at our hotel in Lima around 7 p.m. and I jumped on the computer to post a “happy anniversary” on my daughter’s Facebook page for my husband.Had pizza from Papa John’s and then most of us retired to our room for a hot shower, but some went for hot chocolate or coffee at the coffee shop next door.
Saturday, 7/2Woke up early and met Soonja, Carmen, Rachel, and a couple from Holland downstairs for breakfast, and then met up with Michael and Jennifer later for a walk to the ocean about 5 blocks from our hotel.We went back to the hotel and the group came to the room I shared with Julie and Soonja for a Moravian Love Feast, where we each shared our experiences about the trip. It always amazes me how close I am able to get with a group of people I don’t even know after less than 2 weeks. However, I will say, that I bonded the most with the 69 year-old, delightfully crazy, Korean woman named Soonja. We all had trouble keeping up with her. She had an amazing amount of energy and zest for life. She treasured each and every moment and thanked God every chance she got. She shared touching stories about her own life that I will never forget. She made a huge impression on my life by her experiences. She made my trip better than I ever imagined.After the Moravian Love Feast, we loaded the bus with our bags and headed to the Deaf School. During our tour of the school, we learned of another social injustice in the Peruvian society. The deaf population is overlooked and receives no support from the government. Children who are deaf are allowed to go to school, but regardless if they have had any schooling or not, they must go to their age-appropriate grade-level. But on top of that, they are not provided with any support. Therefore, most deaf children who attend school have to get the material on their own. The Deaf School was started to help with this problem. They serve 84 students in their tiny building that only holds 50 comfortably. Monthly operational cost run $7,200, but the school only receives $500 from Scripture Union and $0 from the government. The rest is made up by fundraising efforts and soliciting donations door-to-door. One of their fundraisers is with t-shirt sales. I purchased several for family and friends. The money was donated to me by a generous, Sunday school member at my church, and I thought he would appreciate the money going to this cause. I have one of the t-shirts on in the video. It reads, “Peru 2010” on the front, and “Jesus loves you” on the back. Next, we headed to Hauca Pucllana, Inca Ruins, for an interesting tour, and then to lunch.We met up with the Puerto Alegria group at the market and did a little shopping. We left the market and went for some delicious ice cream before heading to the airport to catch our flight home.