Recent Posts

May 20, 2012

A Changing World

Our theme this semester is, “A Changing World; A Changing Peru”.   In order to appreciate where Peru is going, we need to know where it has been.   If we had a time machine we could travel back to the era before the Spanish Conquest to see how Andean people lived, worked and played before the influences of colonialism and globalization.  Absent such a machine, we ventured higher into the Andes for several days to experience life in a village where ancient traditions are still prevalent. San Juan de Quihares is three hours from Huacarpay via a seldom-used unpaved road.  Our…

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May 16, 2012

There are many ways to gain understanding of a culture — lectures, workshops, service projects and learning tours. Juan Carlos returned for a second time to teach us more about Andean spirituality.  Catarina, an agronomy professor at San Antonio Abad National University in Cusco, described the political, social and environmental realities of mining. Jesica and Herbert demonstrated traditional folk dances from the Cusco region and walked us through the steps.  Some of the traditional beliefs and ethics presented by Juan Carlos and Catarina were embodied in these dances.  To understand their rhythms and cadence we needed to try them ourselves!…

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May 13, 2012

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day!  Feliz Dia de La Madre! Mother’s Day is an important holiday in Latin America and the students surprised each host mother with a rose and hand-made card to celebrate the occasion. Our Peruvian host mothers want to say thank you to all the North American mothers who brought these students into the world, nurtured them into adulthood and graciously sent them here to spend a semester studying and serving others in Peru. Gracias!

May 12, 2012

Food and Clothing

Every culture must find a way to feed and clothe its members.  During our time in the Andes we have tasted many dishes and observed how people protect themselves from the elements.  To learn more, we took a day-trip to the town of Chinchero and a nearby archaeological site named Moray. Chinchero is home to the Andean Weaving Center, a family-operated business that employs local women to produce textiles and demonstrate their techniques.  The center is home to a small group of llamas and alpacas and we learned how their wool is dyed with natural colors, spun into yarn and…

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May 5, 2012

Life in the Andes

We began our first full week in Peru with lectures, workshops and language classes.  Pastor Celestino welcomed us to the church where our classes are held and spoke about the history of the Mennonite Church in Peru.  He recounted the experiences of missionaries in the 1980s as they overcame language barriers, initial distrust, persecution and other challenges and their development of health and education programs to serve the needs of local communities. Juan Carlos Machicado, author and anthropologist, gave an intriguing presentation about Andean spirituality.  His research casts doubt on the common perception that the Inca people worshiped the sun,…

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April 29, 2012

Our second day of orientation took place in the city of San Jeronimo, nestled high in the Andes Mountains.  We first flew to Cusco, then took a bus to the San Jeronimo Albergue, a retreat center owned by the Peruvian teachers’ union that hosts educational groups such as ours.  At 3,244 meters (10,643 feet) above sea level, we combined worship and information sessions with plenty of down time to give us a chance to acclimate to the thin air.  The setting was beautiful — we marveled at the views of the surrounding mountains and got a rare glimpse of a snow-capped peak,…

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April 27, 2012

Orientation — Lima

So much to see, so much to learn, so much to experience… The students spent their first day in Peru strolling through Lima’ San Isidro district, seeing their first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean and getting acquainted with each other.  We made a stop at the San Miguel Arcangel monument in the center of the Ovalo Gutierrez.  The students took photos and changed money.  We talked about being present in Peru, about staying safe and looking out for each other.  We picnicked on the Malecon park overlooking the ocean.  Then we played games on the lawn.  We finished the afternoon…

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April 26, 2012


All is well. Delta Airlines Flight #0151 landed as scheduled at Lima’s Jorge Chavez Airport and 21 students set foot on South American soil. We loaded two buses, one with luggage and the other with passengers, and headed directly to the Miraflores House for some rest. Tomorrow we’ll take a walk to Casa Goshen, the directors’ home, and begin orientation.

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


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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