Recent Posts

April 22, 2012

We spent this break between SST groups bringing closure to the previous semester while making plans for the next.  We read papers, finished grades and met with language instructors.  We developed a program of lectures, workshops and field trips and worked out the logistics with our coordinators.  Our children worked double time on their math, English and Spanish here at home.  Then we took a deep breath and stepped away from our work. We encourage our students to prepare themselves for SST — mentally, physically and spiritually — as much as possible before their arrival here in Peru.  For our…

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April 3, 2012

Departure

Two-thirty in the morning — it’s time to board the bus for the airport.  The streets are quiet.  The students are thoughtful.  Three months have gone so quickly.  But their arrival in January seems so long ago. We got checked in for the flight, said our goodbyes and took one last group photo.  Travel well! One student summed up the experience with a poem:  “Tell Me About Peru SST” A llama with thick, matted fur and glazy blue eyes, On a lonely mountainside … spits. A miniature red and white moto-taxi revs its miniature engine. Cuy, your dinner, stares at…

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April 3, 2012

Retreat at Kauai

We finished our semester with a three-day trip to the Scripture Union Retreat Center along the coast south of Lima.  This was an opportunity to reunite after six weeks of service, sharing stories, experiences and research results from final projects.  The titles of the projects reveal the diversity of experience over the last month and a half: Medicinal Plants Terrorism Cremoladas Physical Therapy Fruit Life of the Chicken and How to Kill a Rooster Pishtacos and Other Superstitions Traditional Quechua Clothes Life of Piurian Women The Culture of Food Pan of Ayacucho Leadership Playing Carnival Adobe Homes San Miguel Weddings…

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April 2, 2012

Service in Huaraz

Four students served in Huaraz.  At 3,052 meters (over 10,000 feet) above sea level, this Andean city lures people from all over the world in search of adventure.  Snow-covered peaks are visible above the green foothills.  Mornings are warm and sunny.  Each afternoon brings life-giving rain. A Christian physician named Maria Jesus Hernandez visited two decades ago from her native Spain and decided to relocate here for her life’s work:  caring for children without homes and with little hope.  She founded an organization called Turmanye in the local Quechua language or Arco Iris in Spanish –  in English the name…

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March 24, 2012

Seven students are serving in the upper rain forest region known as Chanchamayo.  The cities of La Merced and San Ramon are located on the eastern flanks of the Andes mountains.  At about 2,000 feet above sea level, the temperatures are warm, the hills are heavily-forested and each day brings a mix of sun and rain. Niles is volunteering for a fair-trade company that sells coffee and fruit products grown by local farmers and women’s cooperatives.  He is helping to market Chanchamayo Highland Product’s organic coffee, fruit juices and preserves to buyers in Europe and North America.  In April the…

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March 19, 2012

Service on the Coast

Peru’s north coast is sunny and hot this time of year.  Flocks of tourists travel here from Lima to vacation on the northern beaches.  Six students from our group traveled here to volunteer their time at a local church, a center for disabled children and a relatively unknown natural area. Grace and Hannah are living in the city of Piura and volunteering at a Mennonite Brethren Church called Iglesia Comunidad Familiar de Adoracion (Family Community Church of Worship).  They teach English to community members, accompany the pastor on home visits and assist with youth and other programs. Allison and Chelsea…

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March 17, 2012

Service in Ayacucho

Our first service visit was to the city of Ayacucho, an historical city situated in a verdant valley 9,000 feet above sea level.  Ayacucho has plenty of historical significance — the last battle in the war of independence against Spain was fought here.  More than a century later, the Shining Path guerilla movement got its start at a local university and the conflict spread throughout the country, finally ending in the early 1990s.  Today the city of Ayacucho is home to 150,000 people.  Its colonial architecture is charming and the hills that surround the city are green with the summer…

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February 24, 2012

At the end of our study time in Lima we throw a going-away party called the despedida.  In preparation for this event, each student designed a thank you card for their host family using water colors or colored pencils.  They practiced their speeches, skits and songs.  They ate seven entire pollos a la brasa (rotisserie chickens).  And they spent one last afternoon practicing a play with their Spanish instructors — Ollantay is a love story that takes place in the sacred valley during the time of the Incas. By the time seven o’clock rolled around, we were ready to go. …

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February 21, 2012

Animals and Art

Peru is known in equestrian circles around the world for its caballos de paso, or riding horses.  These creatures are bred and trained for an extremely smooth ride.  We visited a ranch in Lurin for barbecued chicken and a chance to meet these animals up close.  Actually, “ranch” is an understatement. The Instituto de Educación Superior Tecnológico Privado (INTAP) trains people from all over the country in the art and science of horse rearing (www.intaplurin.edu.pe).  Our tour included a variety of animals, some familiar and others foreign.  At day’s end we had the pleasure of witnessing a riding demonstration by…

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February 19, 2012

Learn, Work, Play

There is so much to learn about Peru.  Nestor Vergara taught us about the social and economic realities of life in the marginal areas that surround Lima.  He moved here from the rain forest city of Iquitos to pursue a college degree and explained how he and his wife built their home — from straw mats to plywood to concrete block — over several decades.  The statistics Mr. Vergara offered to quantify problems such as domestic violence, child abuse and other social ills were sobering.  But he sounded a hopeful tone at the end of his presentation, reminding us of…

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