Peru 2019

Monday, June 10

Hola! We have completed our first full day in Lima. Yesterday, we traveled from Detroit to Atlanta to Lima, arriving right around midnight. We were all tired, but excited that our trip was truly beginning. We were picked up and driven the 40 minutes to the Brothers home in an area called Las Flores. When we arrived we were greeted with some Peruvian pound cake and Inca Kola, the preferred soft drink of Lima.  We finally crawled into our beds around 2 A.M.

The first day in Lima is an orientation day. We began with a simple breakfast of fresh bread, jam, and fresh fruit.   Brother Stephen and Brother Paul introduced the reasons for the Immersion trips and explained the importance of fully seeing how much of the world lives. They stressed the importance of meeting the people and experiencing the culture even when they speak different languages and may feel timid or uncomfortable. After, myself and Mr. Lueck split up the group and took the guys on a walk around the area the house resides in.  They were suppose to take mental notes of all of the different businesses, the traffic, restaurants, pharmacies, etc. and after an hour come back and draw out a map of what they remembered. It was a great introduction to the area and the people. A lot can be learned in a short time just by focusing on the surroundings of a foreign place.

After a nice soup at lunch, we were given time for a siesta after the long day yesterday. After the break, we headed into the historic district of Lima to tour a Franciscan monastery and the catacombs underneath. A couple of our really tall guys had to work to get through the catacombs. We also walked through the historic and government district of Lima which looks similar to what you would see in a European city. Brother Stephen also took us to a place famous for their churros which everyone enjoyed. The day was a great way to get us all acquainted with Peru after a busy day of travel yesterday.

We returned home on a very crowded bus which is the norm in Lima. We sat together for a hearty dinner of chicken and rice.  We ended the night with a reflection in our journals.

Tomorrow we will go to Canto Grande, one of the many districts in Lima,  to work on a house for a family in need.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we continue our journey.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever

Adam Seneski and Chris Lueck

Tuesday, June 11

After breakfast, we started our second day heading toward Fey Alegria, a local school founded on the same principles and values of Blessed Edmund Rice. Much of the mission money that is collected each year in Campus Ministry goes to this school, so it was very cool to experience a community directly that we have, until now, only supported indirectly.

We only visited the school briefly to procure a ladder. After we collected it we made our way to our work spot for the day: a small empty plot of concrete at the top of a mountain. Our group spent all morning carrying all the supplies up to the top, which included walls, doors, window covers, the roof, and all the necessary tools. After three stops (the climb up 200+ steps was steep, treacherous, and tiresome!) we were finally at the top! The view was breathtaking, not only for its beauty, but also for how it humbled us; we were truly on the margins of society.

It was great seeing the group come together to build our resident, Rosa, her house. We had it up faster than it took to carry everything to her “doorstep!” After we ensured it could stand on its own, we headed back down the mountain to the school for lunch and a siesta. Our collective naps were interrupted by the sound of a class of students singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” (awesome), and it was then time to go visit some folks in the surrounding area.

Almost everyone agreed during our group reflection: this was a very impactful part of the day. Sitting in the homes of people with next to nothing really put things in perspective for us, but what was even more inspirational was seeing the joy on their faces. We were welcomed with open arms—literally, there were lots of hugs—at every home we visited. The stories shared were hard to take in at times, but for every sad account, there was a proclamation of thankfulness. Thankfulness to the Brothers, for their family and friends, and for us, just for coming to visit. It was impossible not to feel the presence of God in these moments.

Tomorrow we will make the hike back up the mountain to finish Rosa’s home, which will include painting and installing doors, windows, and the roof. Thank you so much for your continued prayers. Live Jesus in our hearts…forever!

Chris and Adam

This blog will be updated throughout the trip. Photos will also be added and can be viewed and downloaded here.

Wednesday, June 12

This morning we were to finish the house we had built yesterday.  Our contractor, Jorge, has fallen ill. We did go back to the house and painted it, but could not finish the roof without him.  We may go back tomorrow to finish or he will finish after we leave. The guys did a great job painting. We took a great picture with the women who received the house.  After we finished painting, we went back down to the school for our ham and cheese lunch.

With the change of plans and a little extra time, we went back to the house to regroup.  We then took the guys to an internet cafe to do some research for a UN project that they will be working on with two other Christian Brother schools (Palma from California and Fe y Alegria from Lima) on Saturday. I told the guys that when I was in high school we had Internet cafes in the U.S., but now they are not really needed in most areas of the U.S.  I tried to explain how we used to have to use a home phone line to dial into the internet and how slow it could be, I don’t think they really understood that concept. In a place like Lima, these cafes are needed as computers and high-speed internet are not in homes even in the middle class neighborhoods.

Tonight, we had a great spaghetti dinner and a nice time of reflection talking about what we have seen and what we can do to teach others when we return from our trip.

Tomorrow,  we head to an area well outside the city called Jicamarca.  This is a village the Christian Brothers have been working with for a number of years now.  We will be painting at a school and some houses on Thursday and Friday we will be laying cement.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers and please say a prayer for Jorge as he recovers from his illness.

Adam and Chris

This blog will be updated throughout the trip. Photos will also be added and can be viewed and downloaded here.

Thursday, June 13

If we had a title for today it would be ‘divide and conquer’. Jorge was able to bring a helper to the house so we sent Chris and 4 boys up to the house to finish the project while the rest of us made the hour journey to Jicamarca. Chris and the crew joined us in Jicamarca right about 1 o’clock.  I could feel a sense of relief from the guys that the house was able to be finished with them.

In Jicamarca the word was paint. We painted a total of 3 houses today with 3 different groups. My group had to go a little ways up so we grabbed a couple of motos which are super small taxis with three wheels. We zoomed to the house of Nora and painted the entire outside of her house that was built by another group. The guys are realizing that work down here is a continuous project as one group completes one part of a project, the next group comes in to continue it.  The 2nd group went to Malania’s house which was a morning and afternoon painting process. The 3rd group went to the sister’s home that runs a school down here to paint their home. They are sisters from Ireland that have been down here for many years.

After a full day of work, we headed to the house in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Jicamarca. It is a village started roughly 10 years ago. The  Brothers met Jose a few years ago driving their bus and helped build him a house with 2 stories with a separate entrance above their home for groups to come to stay with the community and help build it up.  The house is a great space for the guys to bond, play cards, and hang out on the patio out back.

We shared a wonderful homemade dinner of Chaufa which is a delicious rice and chicken dish that is part Chinese part Peruvian. The family joked that the plates did not need to be washed as we all ate very well.

Lastly, we had reflection and a birthday celebration that included cake and soda for Dave DesMarais as he turned 17 today.

Tomorrow, we will lay cement for a new house to be built by another Christian Brothers school at a later date.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers. Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Adam and Chris

Friday, June 14

Today included a very busy morning of painting and mixing cement.  In the morning we split up into two groups as one went up to help mix and move cement to lay the foundation for a new house.  Daniel and Russ were the MVPs of the cement as they took charge in moving the wheelbarrows up the path to the men who would lay and smooth the cement.  

Down below the other group continued painting the sisters home a bright yellow.  Half way through the morning we traded the groups so they each had a chance to do the different jobs.  The boys worked well and were ready for a special lunch of chicken and rice prepared at the sisters school by the women we helped in Jicamarca.  

After lunch, we headed back up to the house we were staying at to rest and Chris and Kevin (Jose’s son) to the group for the annual walk  up toward the top of the area in that village.

That night we had a feast of noodles and sausage followed a party in which we again  celebrated Dave’s birthday with 30-40 people from the village. They danced to Peruvian music and ate cake and chips and slept well.

Saturday, June 15

The guys woke up and took Jose’s bus back down to Lima to work on a UN project with Palma (Christian Brothers school from California) and Fe y Alegria. They spent the day discussing and presenting on the 2030 Sustainability Plan from the United Nations.  After a day of school work, all of the students went to one of the largest water fountain parks in the world to tour and to see their world famous light show.

As I write this, the whole group is headed back to have a group meal at the famous Norky’s which is a chicken restaurant chain in Lima. After dinner our group will head back to Jicamarca for a quick sleep and then headed to the airport for a 630 flight to Cusco to begin the vacation part of our trip.

Please continue to pray for our group as we head to the last parts of our trip.  Love Jesus in our hearts….forever

Adam and Chris

Sunday, June 16

We slept about 3 hours before loading Jose’s bus to go to the airport. As we drove through the city of Lima at 3 AM, the fun of Saturday night for many were coming to end as we saw many Peruvians leaving clubs, while we drove by some that still looked like they were dancing the night away.

It was a short 50 minute flight to Cusco. With all of the mountains, that same trip by bus would take 18 hours. When we arrived in Cusco we were greeted by our driver Reuben and our tour guide Edith. Edith owns the lodge that we are staying at and was a superb tour guide.  Our first stop was to see how textiles are created by Quechua women. We saw how they create colors for the wool mainly coming from llamas and alapacas. They create beautiful blankets, scarfs, sweaters, and ponchos. You will see many of our sons in their famous sweaters when they get home.

After our first stop, we went to Moray where we see some ruins and areas where Incas farmed. Edith brought avacados and bread so that we could we experience what was grown there hundreds of years ago. Peruvian avacados are amazing. She also brought Chile molena which is also a fruit native to Peru.  It has the texture of a creamy pear, the guys loved it.

We then went to the salt mines. It was quite a site to the see the salt mines kind of hidden away and see what looks like water but is really liquid sodium flowing from a cave into the mines.

Finally, our last stop before the hotel was a stop for a Peruvian buffet. The restaurant was quite busy as many Peruvian families were out celebrating Father’s Day.  We all had our full of some really great Peruvian food.

We made a trek to the hotel which lies right by a beautiful river surrounded by the mountains in Olleytentambo. We had a couple hours of rest. For dinner, we went into the city center for brick oven pizzas. The guys seemed excited for some comforts of home.  We shopped a little bit after dinner and then went back to sleep as tomorrow is our train ride and tour of Machu Picchu.

Live Jesus in our hears….forever

Adam and Chris