Open Minds, Busy Hands

We began our first full week of program activities with lectures on modern political events and the reality of life in the new settlements that surround Lima.  We participated in a workshop on medicinal herbs, a time of reflection and worship at Goshen Tambo and language classes in the afternoons.  Then we headed south for a two-day visit to the southern cone.  The trip included a tour of a church and school founded by Dario Lopez — theologian, pastor and author — who returned to Villa Maria after studying in the U.K. and teaching in the U.S. to help bring about change in the community where he grew up.  Our trip also included a visit to the home of our service coordinator, Willy, to feast on Pachamanca (Quechua for “earth pot”), a mountain of whole potatoes, beans, sweet tamales, sweet potatoes and herb-soaked chicken buried atop hot stones and roasted to perfection.  Then we headed further south to the home of Alicia to play volleyball and spend the evening getting to know her extended family.  In the morning we learned about an organic garden project aimed at helping families in poverty grow vegetables to supplement their diets and earn extra income.  Then we got our hands dirty — really dirty — helping pick sweet potatoes, prepare a terraced bed for planting and remove trash from a vacant lot to expand the garden.