Early Friday morning, after a full day of travel from Detroit to Atlanta, then Atlanta to Lima:
Today was a day about Kevin. Kevin is a 17 year old boy who lives near us in the Las Flores section of Lima. Kevin has a younger brother, an older sister with special needs. His dad lives a couple hours away and holds a job as a bus driver. His mom and the rest had to move to Lima for schooling for his special needs sister. Things were going well with Kevin until his mother was diagnosed with cancer last year and last month ended up succumbing to the disease. Brother Steve who has known the family for the last 10 years decided to let us help the family out by allowing us to help dig out the side of the hill that the family lives on. It took Kevin’s dad three years to dig out a section of the hill where the family built their home. Now he wants to add on and have a back yard. We began to help them dig out 15 feet or more of the hillside. 15 feet high, 20 feet deep and 15 feet wide. Not a problem if we had a backhoe, but we had a couple of pick axes and shovels to begin the process.
The boys did a wonderful job in the shoveling and removal of a good size chunk of the hill. It would have taken Kevin and his dad weeks to do what we accomplished. The boys got to shovel dirt and rocks into a bucket, others the. Passed the bucket down the hill and passed it off to others who then dumped the bucket in front of the house. The boys did a great job with minimal complaining.
As this was happening the boys got to know Kevin and Rodrigo a neighborhood boy about 8 or 9 who just showed up to be with the boys. We worked about 3 hours in the morning, with some breaks, broke for a ham and cheese lunch with some Inca Cola. After lunch we were able to play soccer and basketball with Kevin, our boys and some neighborhood kids. It was a blast and Kevin has some great skills that would have put him on our varsity team at Rice. It was amazing to see him dribble through our boys as they looked at each other with bewilderment.
Following our soccer and basketball game it was time to put another two hours up on the hill moving dirt. The boys continued their great job!
Upon completion we said our good byes and brought Kevin back home with us for dinner. He felt as if he was part of our family and we can’t wait to see him again Monday night for our dinner. dinner tonight was a mushroom soup which was delicious but not many of the boys were keen to it. That was followed with a delicious spaghetti and meatball dish that the boys went back for seconds and thirds.
We concluded the night with our reflection that centered on how we felt that day. Many of the boys spoke of their love and compassion for Kevin and his family. It does seem that the Lord is moving our boys heart to be more loving and compassionate to the other In our lives. Lights out 10:45 and wake up 6:45 for breakfast at 7 and out of the house at 8:00 for our trip to Dr. Tony’s and Mass.
All of the boys are well no one is sick and nobody has said they were home sick, so all is well. They all seem to be getting a lot out of our experience and hearts are being moved.
Thanks for your prayers and God bless, hasty mañana,
It is with great sadness that we have to leave our new friends
in Lima and continue our journey to Cusco, Peru. Today was another
intense day of heart touching memories as we completed painting the
house for Isaura and her family. In this dry, arid land the family
chose to paint the outside of their house melon, a bright color that
signifies their hope for the future of the family. Stefany, the one
year old, loved the color so much that she found some wet paint and
painted her entire face the color of her house! We also bought for the
family 2 beds and a bunk bed for the little ones so they can have a
peaceful night sleep. This was important since all of them use to
sleep in the same bed prior to the fire.
As we left the family all of her neighbors came out to say thank you
for what we did and adios and see you next time. As we descended the
160 steps we stopped at the preschool to also say our good byes. The
director was very insistent that each of the boys gave her a hug for
the gifts that we gave to her students yesterday. We can only hope
that this its the beginning of a long relationship between the Edmund
Rice Network and the little preschool.
After lunch and our siesta, we broke into groups and a group went to
peal abas and another went to walk through the market and
neighborhood. The abas group helped Tanya to collect 80 kilos of beans
of which she is paid .40 soles for 32 soles or roughly $10 a day to
support herself and three children. The little help our boys gave her
went a long way to help her kids. The other group went to the market
where they found out that if you go into a regularly grocery store you
are taxed 18%, where if you go to the open air market there is no tax.
Walking around the boys saw that you can get everything at these
markets, like chicken that has been out all day or you can chose a
live chicken and they will take care of it for you. From there we went
to a man who had a previous house made and he invited us in and told
us how grateful he was to us as part of this network that helped him
get a new house. He kept thanking God for this blessing. We noticed
during our time here that the Peruvian people are a loving and
welcoming people as we kept being invited to people’s homes for food
or talk. To culminate our time we went back to our school and played
basketball before heading back on the bus to our home. It was
beautiful to see how welcomed we were by the Brothers as well, Brother
Steve as we were trying to find their house when we were on the top of
a mountain would keep saying our house, inclusive, is over there.
Letting the boys know that they are always welcomed in Lima!
We had a closing feast at the Brothers’, our house, of pizza. The
Peruvians do not put tomato sauce on their pizza so it took the boys a
second to overcome this obstacle, before devouring the 10 pizzas they
bought. To this feast the Brothers invited Jorge, our carpenter and
his daughter and our new friend Kevin, who the boys are now friends on
Facebook. It was good to see him again and catch up, plus we gave him
a Brother Rice pennant for his room. He was also overwhelmed as some
of the boys gave him clothes that they had in their bags.
We closed the evening with what this experience meant to us and how
the family, the children, the people of Lima, Peru have etched
themselves onto our hearts and our souls forever. Now it’s to bed and
up early for our early flight to Cusco! The boys are tired,
overwhelmed and a little bit better for their time in Lima. Besides a
slightly twisted ankle from basketball and some scrapes from a fall,
and a heart that stands in solidarity with those marginalized by
poverty and injustice, the boys have weathered our service portion of
the immersion well.
May God bless all of our pilgrims, those that we have ministered to,
those that have ministered to us and you
Next, was an hour and a half bus ride to our hotel in Ollantaytambo
which at one point we were 12,300 feet above sea level. None of our
guys had trouble with the altitude except it made them sleepy. We got
to our hotel and we got settled in and took a look around. Max, our
guide then took us to dinner, where some of the boys experienced
eating Al Paca and drank Chica Morada, a drink made from corn. After dinner, we took a quick walk around the small square and then straight to bed because the boys and I were exhausted and we had a 4:00 a.m. wake up to catch the 5:07 train to Machu Picchu.
Blessings from the Inca Capitol.
Machu Picchu. Up early again to begin the 10 minute walk to the
train station so we could arrive at 4:37 am for our 5:07 train to
Aguas Calientes, the town at the bottom of the hill from Machu Picchu.
The train is a hour and a half from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes.
I have been impressed with these boys because we have asked a lot from
them, like getting up before 5:00 am on many of these days and they
have been on task with little complaining.
Machu Picchu is now one of the new Seven Wonders of the World and
since my first trip there, there has been a doubling of the amount of
people that go on a daily basis. Today there are roughly 5000 people a
day that ascend the mountain. This has both positive and a negative
consequences. The tourism dollars are so vital to the people but the
amount of people on the mountain is causing a deterioration of the
site. Something the Peruvian Government is taking a closer look at.
Max our guide met us at the top and began a two hour tour of the site
in which the kids were excited about learning the history of the site
and Hiram Bingham the so called founder of the Lost City of the Incas.
After the tour which I know I learn a lot from and our boxed lunch,
lunch on the top of the mountain cost $50 and rooms in the lodge about
$800 a night, the boys were on their own to explore. They chose to go
on a hike up to the Sun Gate, about an hour straight up where they
took some pictures and then ran down. Overall they were pretty excited
about their trip to Machu Picchu. One of the fun parts of the day is
walking down the mountain which takes an hour and a half to complete.
When they reached the bottom they ran to the market to spend some of
their money on souvenirs.
What would any trip be without a Brother Rice related story. As some
of the boys were coming down the mountainside they began talking to a
Colombian couple that are from Michigan and of course from Bloomfield
Hills and had a son that graduated from Rice in 1993. There name I
believe was Pereira, their son played soccer for Jay.
Another good day for the boys as they were able to see how people made
their livings in this market with their children all around them
studying for school in between helping customers. The train ride was
eventful as they had a fashion show for the boys and others to buy
over priced Al Paca sweaters. The boys again finished this night
exhausted from all they did and the experiences they had.
Blessings from Machu Picchu.
The Sacred Valley and Cuy. Today was a day of touring the
Sacred Valley and spending all of our money on souvenirs for the loved
ones. We had the opportunity to explore two more Incan cities,
Ollantaytambo and Pisac. Both have beautiful ruins that we had the
chance to climb and learn about. Max was back with us and did a great
job teaching our exhausted boys about his culture and the histories of
these sites. By the time Max was done with Pisac, I think the boys had
enough of Incan culture for this trip.
Following a delicious lunch the boys had the opportunity to spend and
hour or so running through the market haggling with the people over
prices for their gifts for moms and dads and brothers and sisters and
at least one wife and son. Most of the things in the market are hand
woven or painted and are very beautiful.
After the market was our hour and a half ride back to Ollantaytambo
where we got to eat a delicious dinner started off with soup and two
cuyes, which are guinea pigs which the boys took pictures with and
then ate. It was an experience for the boys who had the opportunity to
eat al paca, cuy and quinoa.
The boys went to sleep early since we had to be up by 4:20 to catch
our bus at 5:00 am for the two hour ride back to Cusco and our flight
back to Lima at 8:15.
Day 9: Going home. The boys are a little more than excited about going
home today. They can’t wait to have some of their mother’s delicious
cooking and sleep in their own beds. It did finally happen that two
of the boys got food poisoning. It was especially tough because we had
to take the two hour drive to Cusco. On a hilly, winding road. Both
boys have already called home and mom knows that they are sick. At
this point in Lima airport, both seem to have their color back and
eating a little and staying hydrated. We arrived at the Lima airport
at 10:00 for a 1:10 am flight. It will be a long layover where the
boys can reflect about their trip or begin their summer homework.
Thanks for following their progress and keeping them in your prayers,
Adios de Peru, para el ultimo tempo,