Before Parting for the Highlands, a Warm Farewell in Lima

By Karen and Duane Sherer Stoltzfus
Peru SST
Co-Directors, 2014-2015

Lea and Maria prepare Maria's family recipe for guacamole.
Lea and Maria prepare Maria’s family recipe for guacamole.

Coming at the end of every term of study on SST, the despedida reflects the personality and dynamics of the group of students who are saying goodbye to their host families.

Students introduce themselves by sharing two truths and a lie.
Students introduce themselves to host families by sharing two truths and a lie.

As the mistress of ceremonies, Lea welcomed the families. The students then joined her on stage and introduced themselves through a Spanish version of the icebreaker, “Two Truths and a Lie” in which Joanna admitted that in fact she has gotten off at the wrong bus stop more than five times.

The host families were charged with discerning and voting on the lie that each student had tucked between two truths. With the most correct guesses, Joanna’s family — Rosario, Maria, and Jimena — took the prize: a box of marshmallows covered in chocolate (called Besos de Moza).

During their language classes, our group of nine collaborated on a humorous play about a love triangle in which Ammon and Christian believe they have fallen in love with the same Rosa (whom we are repeatedly reminded is “bella, guapa, hermosa y sexy” — in other words, highly attractive). The brothers even exchange soft blows till their mother, Elizabeth, intervenes. A priest, Micah, is called in.

During a skit, Christian and Ammon fear they've fallen in love with the same woman.
During a skit, Christian and Ammon fear they’ve fallen in love with the same woman.

As narrators, Lea and Ike set the stage for a suspenseful denouement. As it happens, there are two Rosas, played by Maria and Courtney, so all is well. Elizabeth leaps into Micah’s arms, and Christian into Ammon’s. As the play ends, Joanna leads a toast to the happy couples.

The group also joined voices for three verses of “Be Thou My Vision,”  sung in both English and Spanish. Several weeks earlier they sang the hymn at an ecumenical church unity service held at the Anglican Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (which is our home for language classes, lectures and workshops).

In a second number, Ike, on the guitar, joined Elizabeth and Joanna in a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

Following the formal program, there was time for games, snowflake making and family photos – along with plenty of food for hungry families, many of whom came directly to the despedida through Lima traffic from work or other activities.

Elizabeth and her host family play a round of Dutch Blitz.
Elizabeth and her host family play a round of Dutch Blitz.

In one corner of the room, Elizabeth taught her family to play “Dutch Blitz,” which has become a favorite card game among host families. Meanwhile, Courtney was making snowflakes (nod to Goshen) with her host mother, Stally, and sister, Sofia.

The menu for the light meal that followed included chips and guacamole, popcorn, fruit salad, pasta salad, cocktail potatoes with aji dip, toothpick skewers with Peruvian corn and cheese, and three desserts (crema volteada, tres leches and chocolate cake).

During the next two days, we said farewell to the students as they left via bus or plane for their individual service assignments, in Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cusco and Tarma.

Courtney's host family says goodbye as she leaves, via bus, for her service location.
Courtney’s host family says goodbye as she leaves, via bus, for her service location.


In the coming weeks, we’ll visit all four cities in the highlands (publishing blog posts for each location, as well as for several earlier highlights, including our visit to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley).