Martin is spending the service portion of the Peru Study Service Term in a remote village named Yuraccraccay. The broad valley surrounding the village is fertile and green, warm enough to produce oranges, apples and avocados as well as exotic-tasting fruits such as pacay and chirimoya. Most of the villagers subsist on the food they grow, with little left over to provide a cash income. Their existence is humble by most standards, but the fruits, vegetables and chickens they produce are delicious and the life they lead is simple and healthy. The air is clean, the water is free and the stresses of city life seem far, far away. And, since humans do not live by bread alone, there is ample time after work to gather together with family and friends and focus on matters that sustain not just their bodies, but their souls as well.
Martin’s host father, Victor, relocated to his home community of Yuraccraccay after living for several years in Lima. He and his wife, Paulina, returned to the countryside in search of an improved quality of life and a safe environment for their children, including six-year-old Melani. Each day the family tends their small farm, relying on a pair of bulls to plow their fields and a variety of trees to bring diversity to their diet. Three evenings per week they meet together with a few neighbors who have formed a small house church to sing praise songs in their native Quechua and listen to Pastor Victor share a message from scripture. Besides serving as guest preacher during his time here, Martin has had an opportunity to help train the bulls, pick fruit from the many trees and converse with the people who congregate here each day. This includes a group of children who come in the afternoons for English classes and the older folks who are fascinated by the presence of a bright, friendly North American who can hold his own in both theological discussions with Pastor Victor and work-out sessions with the two young bulls.