Mission Trip to Piura, Peru
December 26th, 2016 to January 2nd, 2017
These are in PDF format, which was the easiest to post. Hopefully you can figure out what each one is about, based on what we spoke about on Sunday in Outlet and what each photo is!
By way of some explanation:
The first few were of our trip there...we arrived in Lima in the middle of the night and had a four hour layover...I was excited to find a Dunkin' Donuts! We had to fly OVER Piura (an eight hour flight from LAX) and then fly back north to get there...about 90 minutes. We were tired but very excited when we got to Piura, and there was Father Joe and many of the staff to greet us with a big sign, balloons and roses!
The next photos are of our living quarters, including the living Nativity that was in the center of the Santisimo Sacramento complex, complete with a cow, sheep, burro, chickens, a turkey etc. We ate all our meals together in the dining room (some variation of chicken and rice for both lunch and dinner; one night we had Chinese take-out!) Grace before meals was a short song, which I loved...we had a cooler filled with bottled water which we consumed by the gallon while we were there. A couple of our team ventured to a local store and got us some Diet Coke and to us it was like Dom Perignon! You certainly do appreciate the little things after a trip like this.
We brought candy everywhere we went and the kids were thrilled!!!
The night time photos are of a Fiesta at which we were "honored"...as I mentioned, the kids LOVED to have us dance with them and pulled each of us up on the stage EVERYWHERE we went. I danced more in a week than I have danced in the last decade...laughing all the time!! Father Joe has built 22 "capillas" ("chapels") throughout his parish and visiting priests (like Father B) rotate through and say Mass at them, as well as visiting the elderly and bringing communion. This was San Patricio (St. Patrick.) It's a rare occasion for the folks to have Mass in their pueblo...there are not any private cars to speak of and they can't afford to take a bus, so some walk miles (in the heat!) to get to Mass. We met one man who rides his horse to work and church...and the horse is skin and bones...they barely have enough to eat themselves and the area is arid and dry, so the animals don't have much to nibble on either. Every house had resident chickens, roosters and other animals, most of the time in the house with them.
There is a photo of a truck being unloaded at the Girls' Home. While some of us were off visiting homes, others went to the market and bought two weeks worth of food for the girls. It was quite a haul for 70 growing girls. As I said, the girls can stay in the home til they are 18...some are orphans, but many are from the jungles and the parents send them there to protect them from adolescent rituals and other terrors. We had a great time visiting with the girls at the home, some playing volleyball with them and seeing the farm animals and some of their pets (their parrot is in the tree photo; try to find him! ) and then that evening, they came to Santisimo for a showing of "Pete's Dragon" and to have pizza, soda and ice cream with us. They are amazing little women!
There are more pictures of the girls doing native Peruvian dances and then having us join in with them...
There are more detailed photos of the house-building event. It was in the 90's every day so anything we needed to do outside was quite challenging, as you can imagine. The dormitories were like five star hotels compared to what the people lived in, even though we never had hot water and some days we had NO water...not a complaint, just information. We were incredibly grateful for what we had there and when we got home??? We continue to send many prayers in Thanksgiving for the incredible blessings we have here.
After the housebuilding photos you will see Mercedes and the boys (for whom we built the house)and her sister-in-law and her two boys (the house we built adjoins the sister-in-law's) who came into the parish to go to the first movie in a theater...and movie, period! They were all cleaned up in their very best and so excited!! We were told how some of the children are a little scared because of the dark and many have never seen a bathroom and are fascinated and spend a lot of time there. There's a funny story about the boys that day, but it's best told in person, so ask me!
Pictures with the orange buckets are the day we delivered goods on behalf of the "Padrinos" - the American families who adopted families in Piura. The orange "trash" cans are used to hold water, which always has to be boiled. Many families cook on wood inside their homes...In all the homes we visited, I only saw two with a bathroom, and only one of those was hooked up into a sewer and the other was waiting for the line to get to his street. Helen rode in the back of the pick up truck (while Barbara and I stayed in the cab) so there's a picture of her having fun doing that and scaring us!! All the padrino families were very proud of their homes and delighted in showing us the rooms.
The Peru 2017 drawing was done by a father of nine who is a teacher and the two little ones in the tub look very surprised to see "Gringos" walking into their house!
One night we went "off the reservation" with staff and went to what I would describe as the South Coast Plaza of Piura. It was the only time we saw middle class people and there weren't many. We went to Starbucks and since my name can't be translated into Spanish, the barista thought my name was Yuri...hence the cup! As I said on Facebook, I guess in some past life I was a Russian astronaut.
Then there are photos of the market we went to on New Year's Eve day to buy food, etc. for Mercedes and Julio and the boys...Millie and I opted to take the purchases back in a "moto-taxi" which is the main means of transportation there...best way to describe it is as a three-wheeled motorcycle/rickshaw.
The fee is nominal but the ride is like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in Disneyland. There doesn't appear to be any rules about how people should proceed in traffic and a red light is merely a suggestion. The photo of the back of the bus there was NOT zoom...we were literally inches away from the exhaust.
The tradition there is to burn a straw man at midnight and shoot off fireworks, so there are some photos of that. Where we were we had a 180 view of the skyline and it was amazing!
The Mariachi band appeared out of nowhere...a new group of missionaries came in the day before we left and it was the 65th birthday of one of them and they surprised her...Father B was not in the mood for dancing (not that he ever was!!) so he escaped to the Bell Tower to watch the festivities. The Mariachis were great...we didn't realize there were Peruvian mariachis too...one of them had recently been to California and spoke perfect English.
The last photos are of the second Mass we attended on New Year's Eve day, way out (almost all the roads are dirt roads...very little paved, except in the downtown where we were and those had huge potholes)...Father celebrated Mass there and then afterwards a fire was built and the kids danced around and then were given sweets ("dulce") which were marshmallows on sticks...we were supposed to toast them but it was very windy and most of us feared we'd become human sacrifices!! There was more than one singed arm that evening!
The statue is of St. Jude, my patron saint...I was excited to see him in Peru...
everywhere we went the kids and adults gathered around the "Padre" ... the kids on the steps reminded me of the Gospel about Zaccheus, the tax collector who climbed a tree to see Jesus. There were also many "perros catolicos" ("Catholic dogs") who also attended Mass!!! At one church, there was one up on the altar and then it came down and laid down in the front pew. Better viewing?
We went to Catacaos one afternoon, which is sort of the "Laguna Beach" of Piura...shopped for a few things and enjoyed seeing the families enjoying the plaza, where there were two Nativity scenes, a huge Christmas tree and Santa's sled for photos!
The last few are of the things that were furnished to Mercedes, Julio and the boys. They were overwhelmed...Father had to try out the bed...Moises, the middle boy, had to try on Father's hat...the boys each have their own bunk bed now, Jean Paul has a crib (albeit pink!) and there's propane to cook and even new pots!! She can use a plastic dresser for the clothes and a table to put the propane stove on so the kids don't get into it and get burned...they are typical boys!! This is the family that I have "adopted"...it is wonderful to have met them and for so little money be able to make a difference in their lives!
All in all, as I've said so many times, this was truly a life-changing experience!
I can't begin to tell you all that Father Joe has done in the 22 years he's been there...visit the Santisimo website to learn about the vocational school, the health clinic, the pre-natal clinic, the hospice, the mental health services, the senior center, the legal clinic, etc. With 35 on the staff, many of whom "grew up" in the parish, he has accomplished monumental things for these, some of the poorest of God's poor! Look under "Our Projects"...there are also more pictures of our team via a link on the first page.
Please ask me questions!