Christian Brothers North American Immersion Program

Posted: June 17, 2014

June 22nd, 2014

Finally Machu Picchu

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June 21st, 2014

Dear Parents and friends,

Sorry for being away from the updates but this touring that we have been on has been very tiring for the whole crew, me included. As I write this it is 9:30 pm and the boys are already asleep because we have to get up at 6:00 am to be ready for our trip to Machu shot 05

We left the friendly confines of the brother’s house at 5:10am to begin our journey to the capital of the Inca empire, Cusco, Peru. Upon arrival at 11,000 feet the adults had a little more trouble getting acclimated to the altitude then the boys did. We met our guide, Paul Palma, at the airport, he has helped for three years in a row now, and is a wonderful man. We began our tour of Cusco at the Coricancha Temple, which was an Inca Temple, that was taken over by the Spanish. We then moved to the Plaza de Armas and started to go to the Cathedral when we happened upon the beginning of the Corpus Christi festival with the Archbishop celebrating an outdoor mass and procession with 10,000 people. It was remarkable and a faith filled experience for all. From there we headed over to Sacsayhuaman, which was an Incan Fortress. The history lesson that our guide Paul has been giving us is great!   Even though the boysstruggle at times paying attention. We made it to our hostel ate dinner and settled in to bed early.

It was another early morning, up by 7:00 and out by 8:00 so we can begin our tour of three more Incan sites, first was Moray, a huge concentric circles in the ground with many micro climates to grow crops. The boys had fun descending to the bottom of this and then climbing back out. Next was Saliernas in Maras, which are huge salt pools where the boys went down and tasted the salt which is collected there. We finished with Chincero, which was a demonstration in how hand woven arts were done. The girls in great English shared how each colored dye was made from plants and parasites. It was pretty cool. We also saw another 500 year old church, amazing! Then an hour and a half ride back to our hostel, dinner and bed.

Today we toured Ollantaytambo Temple , the Incan village of Pisac then the market of Pisac where the boys picked up a lot of gifts for loved ones.

Then we headed back to our hostel, 1 1/2 hours again. Gave the boys short break then we gather for mass which was chaotic, then 4 of 5 boys just wanted to go to bed since we half to get up early. Best thing to do is go online and check out some of these places, absolutely breath taking. Wish us well as we embark on Machu Picchu tomorrow! Good night for now.

June 19th, 2014

Dear Parents and Friends,

It is with much sadness that we leave the Brothers and all of our new friends in Lima! We wish to thank Brother Stephen Casey and Hermano Pablo for letting us into their home and their lives. They were great hosts and better friends. Without them our immersion experience wouldn’t been able to happen. Their love for the people of Peru is exemplified in all they do and with all they minister shot 04

Today our last day was an emotional one on many levels. We began the day with our early wake up and breakfast and on the bus by 8:00 am. We took an hour bus ride to the southern end on Lima to a community called Villa El Salvador to meet up with Sr. Claire, who hails from Ireland. She greeted us in her Irish brogue and welcomed us with hugs and kisses, the traditional Peruvian welcome. She then said she was having some trouble with her internet connection on her ipad and Evan jumped in to save the day! Sr. Claire who is a saint in this community wears many hats and ministers to many in the community. She took us to Cenaculo which is a religious community that comprises  nuns, priests, married couples and single volunteers under the same roof. Their ministry in Peru is to abandon children.  The children there range from 2 days to 3 years. Many have disabilities and many were just abandoned. Rosarita was left on a garbage heap just waiting for someone to pick her up and love her. She was 2 days old. This is the story of many of the roughly 50 children that reside in this community. Our boys had the opportunity to hold, love, and play with these children and they did a great job. To a t, each boy had a baby and played and took pictures with them. Don’t worry the pictures are coming!

Next we went over to a medical clinic and the guys got a lesson on how they provide medical care to the poorest of the poor.

From there we walked across the street to a place called Comedor Infantil, which basically is a low cost day care center for parents that are trying to work, for single parents or for those that have no work at all. We arrived just in time to  have lunch with about 15 students from Creighton University who are in town doing a six week summer term and doing mission work at the center. They took time to eat and talk to our guys and hopefully the guys saw their love for service and they also will continue to want to do service when they are in college.

Aurora, gave us a great presentation on the work that she does at the center and the struggles she has in the community.  She was another one of these people that you can see Christ in her face.  We then got to play with the kids and our guys jumped right back into without missing a beat. At this point it was time to return to the Brothers house to get cleaned up for reflection and dinner.

Back to the emotional part of the day, it was at this point that we found out about our friend and classmate Ike who had passed away. At our reflection time we had a prayer service for our friend Ike, may he rest in peace. Once we concluded our reflections, the brothers took us out to dinner, which included assorted beef like steak, pork, chicken, beef heart and pig intestine to name a few. It was delicious and the guys had their fill, especially of the french fries, did you know Peru has over 3000 types of potatoes, yes 3000? We walked by many of them in an outdoor market today as well.

After our dinner we came home to receive a gift from the brothers and to clean our rooms and pack our bags for our 4:45 wake up call.

To say this trip has been eye opening for our students would be an understatement, to say it was heart and life changing would be more exact. Thanks again for allowing your sons this opportunity to minister with Edmund Rice at the margins of our society.

God Bless and we will report to you from Cusco tomorrow!

July 18, 2014

Dear Parents and Friends,

The house is finished! It is a beautiful shade of celestial blue. Julia wanted to paint it the same color as our shirts but was talked out of it by her daughter. Afterward Hermano Stephen said it would have set the house apart from all the others on the hillside. With the last stroke of the brush this house now becomes a home for Julia, the grandmother, Beatriz, the mom and Ally the beautiful girl who now will  have her own room. Tears of gratitude streamed down their faces as we began to pack up our supplies and got ready to return down the hill to our school for lunch. Embrazos and besos were given as we left the three ladies to their new home and returned to our school and ate our special ham and cheese sandwiches. The boys I think are starting to appreciate them a little more. peru trip 03We are trying to teach the boys a simple life style so our ham and cheese seems to fit right in. We are also challenging them to turn the lights off to use less water especially for showers and that nothing goes to waste. Leftovers from last night’s meals are taken to to various ladies to help feed their families.

After lunch we were invited by the Brothers’ community in Canto Grande to come over for ice cream. These are the  Brothers that work in our school.

They had five kinds of ice cream and we sat and listened to the Brothers tell stories from their lives. Brother Mike was deeply moved by the 200 ping pong balls we brought for him to use at our school during recess. It is amazing to see so many kids line up to play ping pong. Brother was just asking about what he was going to do with the no ping pong balls after they ran out, but luckily Brother Rice come through.

We had the privilege to be invited into peoples’ lives after lunch. We broke into two groups and a couple of our boys had the opportunity to dance with the elderly at our parishes’ afternoon senior gathering. The ladies were relentless at getting our boys to dance with them and taught our boys a thing or two on the dance floor.

Our other group was invited into the homes of Carmen and Tanya, two struggling mothers who work for about .50 a kilo of shucked beans. Our guys started to shuck the beans but after about an hour wanted to give up.

They were reminded that the ladies do this 7 days a week for around eight hours a day, but our guys were saved as we had to leave after about an hour and a half. They also receive blisters from this magical time with the beans!

It was time to come down the hill and meet with our other group for the bus ride back home to our Chicken dinner. The boys ate it up as they have been doing in our evening reflection time. These boys are so deep. They have realized that all during the trip people have been opening their heart and homes to use as we continue our mission trip. All they want is someone ti be present with them as we opening ourselves up to the others around us and the experiences that lead us to the revelation that Jesus is as close as the people that we have opened ourselves up to.

Blessing again from Peru, write you tomorrow after our visits with the orphans!

Thane Hall

June 17, 2014

Dear Parents and Friends, as we close our first night of housebuilding we get to bed a little earlier (10:45) but a lot more tired. We began today at our usual time of 6:45 am with breakfast at 7:00M. Breakfast consists of fresh baked bread with butter or jelly, fruit and juice or coffee. It is a very  simple life style that the Brothers are trying to instill in the boys while they are here. We were the. Out the door by 8:00 am for our journey by bus to our brother school Fe Y Alegria #26 in the Canto Grande section of Lima. It is about 40 minutes from the Brothers’ house. It is a crazy ride that your sons will have to tell you about. group shotOnce we got to school we prepared ourselves for the journey up the hill to the family that we are building the house for. We are building a house for a lady whose husband died 8 months ago and who has her daughter and granddaughter living with her. The hardest part of the day and a part that I am proud of the boys for was their carrying of the house parts up the stairs to the house location. This was not an easy task and you too would have been proud of the way the boys worked. They were sweaty and tired after having to make multiple trips up and down the stairs for The house materials.

They are some good videos of the boys carrying the walls up the stairs.

Once the walls were up top they could be sprayed so the moths would eat the walls. Then the building began under the direction of Jorge, who is our contractor and just a great man for doing this for his community. As the day went in the boys helped with lifting, screwing, spraying, cutting, nailing and carrying the materials. One wall then two, then the outside walls were complete. We turned to the interior walls and the bed rooms were created. One for the special girl Allie whi was going to be getting her own room and doesn’t have to sleep with mom any more.

Thane Hall

June 16, 2014

Dear Parents and friends as we come to the close of our second night,we are basically exhausted from a lack of sleep, some hard work but mostly from a lot of emotion from our work today. group shot 03First of all Happy Father’s Day to all of our dad’s. Your sons were supposed to email you today and tell you happy father’s day and that they love you, hopefully that has happened.

Second, a little recap. We arrived yesterday at 4:30 am and passed through custom’s and were welcomed by Brother Steve. We made it to our rooms by 7:30 and slept til 10:00 am. Then up, lunch and we began our walking tour of the city of Lima. Highlights were they Dominican Monastery which is roughly 500 years old and contains the bodies of St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin de Porres, pretty cool.  Also has a bell tower which is many stories high. We saw the Plaza De Armas which contains the President’s House, the Cathedral, Mayor’s House and government offices. We also went to the pacific ocean and walked along the beautiful ocean side which contain million dollar properties and a mall and beautiful parks.

This will be contrasted with what they will see later in the week. They ended the night at a “water park” and a laser light show shown against a background of shooting water. A lot packed into a busy day.

To bed late and up by 6:45 am for breakfast at 7:00 am and leaving the Brothers’s House by 8:00M. We took a 60 minute bus ride 22 kilometers from the city to the mountains and to the Hogar de San Francisco de Asis in Chiclayo to Dr. Tony’s. Dr. Tony is a pediatrician from Tampa who came down to Peru and fell in love with the children and began a ministry to handicapped children. That was 40 years ago! He deals with between 40-60 children with various challenges. They include children with burns covering their faces and parts of their bodies. Children with cerebral palsy. Blindness, various types of cancer and leukemia, birth defects and other challenges. It was amazing to see our boys, after their initial shocks, become friends with many of the children and helped them around going to mass and then eventually the park. The boys pushed wheel chairs, played soccer with boys in crutches, and generally spent some quality hours getting to know and fall in love with these children. It was amazing and their hearts were moved. Pictures will follow. When we were done there we went for coffee with some high school girl volunteers that are working at Dr. To y’s for parts ofthe summer. Some of the girls older siblings came and now they are here for a couple of weeks each. It was also touching to see their dedication to the mission of Dr. Tony. Then back on the bus to come home for a chicken dinner. Unfortunately all the chickens were sold out because of father’s day. In a pinch we picked up some pizza to save the day. For dessert was a chocolate cake to celebrate Jack Schwegman’s birthday. We closed the evening with a reflect in which all they boys shared how beautiful and emotional the day was. These are some amazing young men. Thank you for sharing them with us!

Please log unto Facebook to the “Christian Brothers North America Immersion Program page to see pictures of your son’s.

Signing off until tomorrow, blessings

Thane Hall