Posted by Kathryn Schmidt; photos by Melanie Drinkwater and Brynn Godshall
We are in the middle of service visits. All students are doing well in their various locales! For us SST leaders, this is a busy time with much travel; it is important to visit each student, give them money, and make sure they’re ok. For our group visit this past week, Kris and I decided to ‘tag team’ the visit because our 2 boys just started a new school in Lima. Kris arrived in Ayacucho last week Monday in order to visit Melanie, Brynn, Katie, Kenan, and Chelsea. He got on a bus back to Lima Saturday morning; I, in turn, landed in Ayacucho by plane Saturday morning. Alicia slept in our bed to fill in the 5 hour gap.
Here’s what my Sunday looked like in Ayacucho:
7:30–ignore Kris’s phone call: I’m alone in a hotel room with no kids to wake me, is he crazy?! Sleep in until 8:15. It is glorious.
8:16–feel a bit let down because there is no running water. Call the front desk, apparently the whole town is without water, or power for that matter. Ok, best not to complain; we’re all in the same boat. That’s when I realize the loud humming outside the window is generators, chugging away.
8:30–meet Melanie in the Plaza de Armas for an early breakfast. Apparently there is a high-profile flag-raising, and the military is there marching. The anthem is playing loudly on the speakers. What a way to start the day! Have a lovely meeting/breakfast with her (after some unfounded fears that nothing is open), then get into a taxi for church. We ride up the side of the mountain; there is sunshine and people all around on the cobblestone and gravel streets.
10—church! Strain ears for 2 hours trying to understand the Spanish; grasp words like “purificacion, crux, Jesus, montagne.” Vow to study Spanish more while boys are in bed; sing 2 hymns with Melanie and Katie, the 2-part harmony is well received!
12–make a quick exit, find a taxi, head back down the mountain to pack up, move out. Water’s back on! But no hot . . . ah, well. Quick cold shower and back out into the narrow alleys of this charming town.
1–lunch with Chelsea’s host family, in their ecclectic neighborhood with a busy and colorful Sunday market. Take a walk with Chelsea and her host-sister through the market. We are all wearing floppy straw hats (mom’s orders) and I buy some toys for my boys. I have the pleasure of a HUGE lunch cooked over an open fire, with this family with the most beautiful daughters, including our Goshen student! Sit enjoying the peaceful sunshine in their open-air courtyard, gaze at the animals playing nearby: several chickens, 2 roosters and 3 dogs. Appreciate the family’s lovely patience with my Spanish. Again, vow to study more. Oh, and make an even more solemn vow to take more pictures!
3:30–head to the airport after a fond goodbye, of course kisses on the cheeks and promises that I will return. A package of food to take home to Kris, double-bagged so it won’t spill.
5:40–fly back to Lima, easy 1-hour flight with some kind of soccer team. Our GC girls would have loved that! Get picked up at the airport by our favorite driver, with the most wonderful name: Jesus. Kris and I love texting about him. “Jesus will pick you up in an hour.” “Jesus is waiting downstairs.” He’s a warm guy and abnormally cautious driver (for Lima where the drivers are muy loco) who is again, very patient with our Spanish.
6:30–back at Casa Goshen, greeted by my boisterous boys! We eat supper together and play with the new toys. (Who knew my 6 year old would actually like a stuffed bear?) Bedtime is a prolonged affair, hard to calm them down but we finally do it with Fuller House–that Netflix series that is based on the show Kris and I watched as kids, and our own kids love it. Win-win. Reflect briefly that we should not be watching American television while on SST; truly we are setting a bad example. Decide to let it go.
10–Kris is packing; Jesus will pick him up at 2 a.m. to take him to the next service location, Cusco to visit Bekah, Andrew and David. Kris and Willy will also head from there to Willy’s own tiny village, Vito. It will be an exciting visit; Willy is always well received in his home, and Kris is excited to live with host families and explore a more remote part of Peru. I still can’t decide if I’ll meet Kris in Cusco with our busy boys later in the week, try to go by myself and deal with the seperation anxiety, or stay here. Jury’s still out on that one.
11–asleep; our youngest wakes up at 2 a.m. when Kris is getting ready to leave (Jesus is waiting!); it takes awhile to re-settle him, but I finally do. It’ll be an early morning to catch the taxi and take the boys to their new school, and they don’t yet have food for their lunch.
This kind of day is very typical for an SST leader. Of course Kris and I are among many families who have embarked on this project with small children. There are so many GC families who have done this! And braved the airport tantrums, sleepless nights and anxieties that come up during travel with little kids. It is quite a whirlwind. But, we still feel confident that this is where we belong. Lately Kris wrote to someone, “I already feel nostalgic for Peru and I haven’t even left yet. Surely that doesn’t make sense.”
But I think it makes perfect sense. This place is already lodged firmly in our hearts.