Summer 2005 SST Unit in Peru

The Summer 2005 unit has returned, but we'll leave the pictures and stories here.

Fri, 22 Apr 2005


Welcome to Lima, "The City of Kings"! Preparations are almost complete for the arrival of the first SST group from Goshen College to this most historic of South American cities. It was here in the mid 1500´s that Spain expanded her empire into the New World by founding Lima as her queen of South America. Lima has not aged too gracefully however during the past number of decades, but much of its former elegance and splendor can still be seen in the Colonial sector of the city.

A great staff will welcome the SSTers next Wednesday night. Of course I will be at the airport as well as Goshen´s Assistant, Celia Vásquez who has worked tirelessly helping put the program together.

Our home in Surco, a district of Lima will become a welcome haven amid the bustle of the city to the students on most Wednesdays as we meet for discussion, worship and just hanging out. With its bright orange and red colors, it´s an easy landmark to find!

Parks abound in this part of the city as well - a great place to simply stroll and enjoy the cool of the early morning.

Our classes will be held in the Seminary of the Iglesia Alianza in Pueblo Libre, another district of the city. The classrooms are in a very pleasant building and staffed with warm and friendly people.

I look forward to a great SST here and am excited about seeing the students from Goshen step off the plane next week!

Thu, 28 Apr 2005

Safe and Sound in Lima

The Summer 2005 SST Perú is officially underway with the safe arrival of 23 Goshen College students last night at Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima. The plane landed a bit early at 10:28p and about 40 minutes later the first GC students began to leave the customs area, dragging their suitcases behind them. I think the waving "GOSHEN COLLEGE" sign was a welcome sight for them.

Orientation coming

No one seemed too sleepy last night as I left the hostal but I'm sure the long day eventually caught up with the students. Today is a full day of orientation to the SST program here in Peru as well as to the city, the bus system, changing money, buying phone cards, and finally, meeting their host families. There appears to be high anticipation among both families as well as students for this event. Host families will arrive at our home tonight around 6:00p to meet their students.

Day of Orientation

After a late night arrival in Lima last night, the students gathered this morning in GoshenTambo, Goshen College's SST house and where we live in Lima. It was a long day with lots of listening as well as socializing and of course eating. In spite of trying to stay focused on the day's activities, everyone was in reality, thinking about and anticipating with quite a bit of anxiety for some, the arrival of their host families later in the afternoon and moving in with their new "parents" and siblings.

Fri, 29 Apr 2005

Lima Colonial

The students spent the whole day in the Colonial Sector of Lima beginning the day with a tour of the Palace of the Government. We were hoping to see the changing of the guard in front of the Palace but a meeting called at the last minute by President Toledo cancelled all activities in front of the Palace for the day. The students toured several historical churches as well as plazas built in the 1500s commemorating the founders of Lima as well as the liberator of much of South America, Jose San Martin. Probably the best part of the day, other than lunch in the beautiful Aviator's Club of Lima, was the trip up Cerro San Cristobal. A few gasps by several students as the bus wound its way up the mountain indicated to our guide that our mainly midwest roots weren't prepared for the steep inclines of the mountain, nor the spectacular view of Lima from the top. We returned to Miraflores late afternoon where we enjoyed a quiet hour by the sea before meeting our host families again. The students will be with the families for the weekend and begin classes next week.

Wed, 4 May 2005

La Primera Semana

After the weekend with host families, the students seemed quite happy to be back at GoshenTambo (the GC/Rhodes home in Lima) on Monday. The group appeared eager to talk together, laugh and share interesting stories about their first weekend with their Lima families. This is a happy and talkative group of students! I enjoyed hearing the often amusing stories of their experiences as I circulated among them. In spite of Monday being a holiday, we had our first speaker come to GoshenTambo for a lecture in the afternoon. Tuesday saw the first day of formal Spanish classes begin at the Alliance Church Seminary building on Lima's west side. For some, it is a long bus ride across this enormous city. I'm amazed at how quickly the students are learning the bus routes, and finding their way. Several had to hail a taxi when the bus didn't get them to where they thought they were going! But all arrived safely, even though some a bit late. Again, all seemed happy to see each other. They all had their first Spanish Pre-test and then were divided into three Spanish levels. Their teachers appear competent and eager to help them. Wednesday afternoon following Spanish classes the group headed to one of Lima's most famous historical sites for a lecture/guided tour of the Huaca Pucllana, an advanced civilization that lived on the Peruvian coast 2000 years ago. Of interest to the students were several ancient "hairless" dogs that have continually inhabited this area and can still be seen in modern coastal Peru. Wednesday found the students divided into small groups visiting various historical and cultural sites around the city. All gathered at Goshen Tambo for lunch, a time of worship and discussion about the week's events. It has been a full but satisfying week. Thursday noon, following Spanish classes, we're off to San Marcos University to hear a lecture on the Empire of the Incas.

Fri, 6 May 2005

The Ruins of Pachacamac

Our first week came to an end with a visit to the Ruins of Pachacamac south of Lima this afternoon. These ruins pre-dated the Inca Empire by nearly 1500 years but the Inca borrowed heavily from this civilization in building their own magnificent society later in the Peruvian Andes south east of Lima. While the students were not all that impressed with the ruins themselves, what was impressive to them was the stark and austere landscape in which the ruins were located. The Peruvian coast is extremely arid and dry and to learn that a highly developed society lived in this region 2000 years ago brought up many interesting questions. Our lecturer was very knowledgeable of the history of the region and students seemed eager to hear her explanations of the various pyramids and temples still being uncovered in this bleak landscape.

Andy and Celia, the SST Lima Coordinator, enjoyed a light hearted moment amid the ruins as did Sarah, Laura and Rachel. Matthew, my son, a 1998 GC grad and current MA student at the University of Pittsburgh arrived this week to help with leadership responsibilities - a very welcomed event!

Laura especially enjoyed the desert as an opportunity to pose in a salute to the partially uncovered Pachacamac Moon goddess in the background.

I'm including in this entry, pictures of approximately 1/3 of the students with some of the members of their Lima host family. I'll include the other students in my next several entries.

Wed, 11 May 2005

Lima - a city of contrasts

Last Saturday found the students divided into two smaller groups, each heading to one of Lima's Pueblos Jovenes or "Shantytowns" which spread out seemingly endlessly on the city's eastern rim.

One group traveled to Chorrillos while my group traveled to one of Lima's poorest areas, Pamplona. Our relatively comfortable neighborhoods disappeared as we headed east up into the Andean foothills to view the work of a small group of Lima college students who spend every Saturday helping in a children's Bible study/breakfast program. The grinding poverty everywhere was sobering but the GC students jumped right in to help with their activities, making a fence around the property, fixing the breakfast for the probably 60 children who eagerly anticipate this day and just playing with them.

I should mention that this was my second visit with GC students to this place. Last year during May Term I brought a similar group of GC students to this area and they were so moved by what they saw that when they left the group made a donation to these college students. With this money, a property was purchased in Pamplona and a small house was built to use for their work - Goshen College's "house" in Pamplona. These warm and outgoing people welcomed our SST students with open arms! It is really quite amazing to see how literally millions of Lima's urban masses live.

Following the weekend with our host families the second week began with Spanish classes and afternoon lectures, several at San Marcos University, and field trips. The group is settling into a normal routine which feels comfortable to all of us. No one has gotten lost either coming to the seminary or returning home in the past four days so that is an accomplishment!

Yesterday, in contrast to Pamplona on Saturday, the group visited the beautiful Palace of Torre Tagle where Lima's wealthy at one time lived during the Age of the Spanish Viceroys. The group posed for a group photo in front of the Lima Cathedral. Today following their small group exploration assignments, the group will gather here at Goshen Tambo for lunch, worship, discussion of the week's events. I'll be concluding a personal interview that I began last week with the group - simply a check-in to how things are going with their families, their upcoming service assignments, etc.

I'll conclude this entry with another series of "family photos".

Sun, 15 May 2005

La Segunda Semana

The students have spent their third weekend here in Lima with host families and my phone has been quiet all day, which indicates all is well! Classes are going well too and everyone seems to have made that crucial first adjustment to life here in Lima.

I'll begin with several photos of our weekly Wednesday noon gathering here at GoshenTambo. The students begin arriving shortly after 12:00 following their small group activities across the city: The Convent and Catacombs of San Francisco, The Palace of the Inquisition, The Market of Magdalena del Mar, The National Cemetary, and The Museum of the Nation. The students usually have lots of stories to tell, many of them hilarious, as they continue to discover how life works (or doesn't work!)in this enormous city. The noon meal is prepared by a local woman who excels in local Peruvian cuisine - unique to any other country in Latin America. A real hit this past week (well, at least 98% of the group liked it) was 'ceviche', raw fish marinated in a variety of spicy ingredients. Several in the group have also eaten guinea pig, a local dish of the Andes, although not at the Wednesday gathering. We also enjoyed celebrating Naomi's birthday with cake two days early. Following worship and a time of discussion about what they've been experiencing and reading the past week, I gather their weekly journals and they are then off to their homes for the night.

On Thursday we visited the Fortaleza de Real Felipe which was used by the Spanish military of the 16th Century to ward off pirates and other undesirables of that time. It was indeed an intriguing place to visit. The torture chambers were quite a spooky place, especially when the guide flipped off the lights unexpectedly leaving us in total darkness. It was not pleasant imagining the horror that filled this place nearly 4 centuries ago. The students enjoyed exploring the many tunnels and former hiding places in this fortress.

I will again conclude this entry with host family/GC student photos.

Thu, 19 May 2005

El Congreso y El Barrio Chino

Classes ended today for the week, one day early, since tomorrow we are heading to the south coast, Pisco and Chincha, for a three-day field trip. The students are anxious to leave Lima for a few days and see some other parts of the country.

The students normally find their lunch between Spanish class and the afternoon lecture or field trip in a small restaurant, cafe, or in a market for the brave ones, near the Seminary. On certain days however, when we have a particularly full schedule in the afternoon, we will all eat together in the Seminary cafeteria to save some time. We've all enjoyed a variety of Peruvian dishes as well as great fellowship during these few meals at the Seminary.

Monday's field trip to the congress building was an interesting one as we heard about Peru's political system and saw where legislation is made here in the country. As in all government buildings that we have visited, this too was beautifully ornate.

Today we celebrated our 1/2 way point in the study term with a "splurge" to a very nice and surprisingly inexpensive restaurant in Lima's China Town. We were impressed with the selection and abundance of great Chinese as well as Peruvian food. Everyne spiffed up for the occasion!

I'll send another update and fotos when we return from Pisco and Chincha on Sunday.

Sun, 22 May 2005

Las Islas Ballestas

We're all back safe and sound in Lima after an interesting three day trip to the south coast. Although we saw and experienced many things, the trip to the Ballestas Islands was for many a highlight of the weekend. These islands, which lie some 12 kilometers into the Pacific west of Pisco are home to a multitude of wildlife including penguins, seal lions, and more sea birds than any of us had ever seen before! The interesting rock formations on the islands only added to the experience. The ancient candelabraviewed enroute to the islands, constructed several thousand years ago by either the Paracas or the Nazca culture, remains a mystery yet today.

The students had plenty of opportunity to use their Spanish along the way with the many street vendors who seemed to appear from nowhere at every bus stop. Food was a popular selling item along with jewelry as well. Friendly locals seemed to enjoy meeting the gringosfrom norteamerica.

Another site that especially the history majors in the group enjoyed was an old plantation/hacienda that we visited dating from the mid 1700's. The rambling home of this wealthy, aristocratic Spanish family has been turned into a small hotel, frequented by mainly Limeños. Of special interest to the students was the labyrinth of tunnels built under the plantation to not only transport slaves illegally from the Pacific port some 15 miles away, but to also use as a hiding place when pirates attacked and pillaged the plantation. Of course we all had to crawl down into the small access door to experience these tunnels by candle light. As in an earlier field trip in Lima, we were confronted with the agony and horror that occurred here centuries before as the tunnels served also as torture chambers by the Spanish of their African slaves.

One of the results of slavery was the rise of African Slave music and dance which is still practiced in the mainly black community of Barrio del Carmen a few kilometers from the plantation. We were treated to a totally unique music/dance/drum show by a local extended family who insisited that we too join them occasionally on the dance floor. We were again reminded of the unique cultural/ethnic mix found here in Peru.

It's back to the routine of Spanish classes and lectures tomorrow.

Sun, 29 May 2005


At this point in the program, the students are very comofortable in finding their own way around Lima. Hardly anyone gets lost anymore! GoshenTambo became the meeting point again this Wednesday noon as Rachel, Anna and Laura arrive following their small group activities in other parts of the city. It is a common sight to see students delay talking with one another as they read welcomed letters from home. Anna, Beth and Bethany treated all of the group (and themselves) to cake following lunch; no reason - just to celebrate!

No matter where we go as a group, we look very visible as was the case yesterday at a supermarket, my group's Saturday Activity meeting place, in an up-scale neighborhood of Chorrillos. As is so often the case here in Lima, a short 15 minute combi (bus/van) ride later found us in a very different environment in one of the city's many marginalized communities or pueblos jovenes that ring the city. This particular urban community, made up mostly of former Andean farmers, is unique with its cattle/dairy lots located in the midst of urban sprawl. Since the fence surrounding the cattle was too high to see over, the students found a higher viewing point to check out where the odor was coming from!

In addition to viewing this community, another purpose for the afternoon activity was to help in a childrens' program which is run by several members of a local church. Whether it was Peter teaching a little boy how to bat a ball or Luke explaining the finer points of beisbol to an interested pastor, all of the SST students found some way to not only lend a hand to the few volunteer workers, but to enjoy these children that have so little. It was a rewarding afternoon for both the Limeños and the gringos alike!

Sunday afternoon found the SST group in yet another setting at a cook-out hosted by a former Peruvian University President and his family who have connectons dating back to the 1960's with Goshen College. It was a fun afternoon complete with good food, good fellowship and the "Peru SST Hackysack Club" which is actually becoming quite good of late!

We begin our last full week of classes here in Lima tomorrow.

Sat, 4 Jun 2005

Danzas Folklóricas

The days and weeks continue to speed along! The highlight of this week was a very practical "hands (or feet!) on" introduction to Perú´s vast and colorful world of Andean Folk Dancing and Music. While all of the GC students began a bit timidly, our enthusiastic dance instructor, Sonia from San Marcos University, got us over our inhibitions early on as we not only learned the dance steps to the Huaynos of Ayacucho and Cuzco, the Marinera from Puira or the Zapatero from Chincha, but learned of the folk history and culture of these areas as well. Most agreed that while the session lasted a bit too long, it was an interesting and novel approach to learn of the folk traditions from the highlands. Ben was especially enamored with this form of activity!

A university dance troupe and zampoña players from San Marcos eventually joined us and showed us how these authentic dances are "really" performed! It was a great way to blend both the peruanos and the gringos in a fun afternoon activity.

We ended the week with a traditional lecture in the Palace of Fine Arts where we were introduced to Perú´s visual art history. The students (and me too!) find it difficult to believe that only 4 more days of classes remain before our midterm trip to Cuzco and Machu Picchu next weekend.

Fri, 10 Jun 2005

¡La Despedida!

It´s hard to believe but our formal classes ended today and the students are just a few days from leaving for service assignments.

Tonight we enjoyed a great despedida farewell party, with our wonderful Lima host families. It was a time for simply enjoying each other's company one more time with speeches, thank you's, gifts, singing, and saying our first "good byes" as we head off on Friday morning for a 4 day field trip to Cuzco and Machu Picchu.

The directors and coordinators posed for several pictures as well.

I'll send more photos and an update early next week following our trip to the highlands.

Thu, 16 Jun 2005


Few places in at least the Western Hemisphere can compare to the rugged and mystical beauty of Machu Picchu The Lost City of the Inca. Because of the extremely rugged mountains in the area, it's location perched on a saddle surrounded on three sides by the Urubamba River 3,000 feet below, and the dense jungle that covered the city, it remained hidden to the outside world until 1911 when it was discovered by a National Geographic Expedition headed by Hiram Bingham. The students delighted in not only exploring the ruins of this once thriving Incan stronghold, but also, for some, in climbing to the top of Huayna Picchu, the mountain that's always in the background of photos of this now famous site. While most make this challenging climb in normally 45 minutes to an hour, Laura conquored the peak in 19 minutes and 58 seconds. While this may not be a world record, it certainly is a Goshen College record! She and her GC companions enjoyed the view from the top. Sarah and Josh managed to pose on the very tip of the peak as they view the world below. The biggest scare in the whole day came when the train, the only way into Machu Picchu from Cuzco, chugged right on past our waiting group at the station of Izcuchaca, about 1 hour outside of Cuzco and never stopped for us! We managed to get onto the local train which came a bit later with a special car just for us...nice! Again, I'll let the pictures explain themselves. All of us left the beautiful Sacred Valley of the Inca impressed with what this magnificent culture accomplished in their remarkable rise to power before the Conquistadors of Spain destroyed most of their empire in the mid 1500's.

We completed our stay in the Cuzco area with a birthday party for Josiah as well as a haircutting session with Jeff. We also left behind Ben, Nathan, Layne and Luke who began their service assignments in the Cuzco area one day ahead of the others in the group.

Fri, 17 Jun 2005

Service Assignments

After a very busy week with final farewell parties, final exams, final field trips, and final good-byes to host families, the house is quiet, the schedule is cleared, the phone doesn't ring and we're already missing the students! All of them checked in with me following their arrival on Tuesday evening to their service locations and I've heard from several of them since via e-mail and everyone seems to be doing well. Following is a location list of each student and what they are doing, or at least what they were hoping to do during their service assignment. As with many things here in Peru, I'm guessing there will be a few surprises as students discover they are not doing exactly what we were told they would be doing. I guess this is simply a part of SST. Becky and I will begin our visits to their service locations towards the middle of next week and I will give you updates as we make our circuit visiting each student in their location.


Cuzco - Luke - World Vision in video project of rural Quechua communities

Katañiray - Ben and Nathan - Spanish Government Greenhouse Project

Katañiray - Layne - Farming with Quechua farm family

Huanta - Jeff and Peter - Construction and Agriculture in rural Quechua community

Huancayo - Amanda, Erin and Kristin - Working in two rural Alliance Church Quechua children's programs

Huaráz - Laura, Josiah and Anna working with World Vision in rural health, agriculture and a children's home.


Tarapoto - Andy and Rachel working with Tarapuy British Mission in rural development


Canto Grande - Bethany working with government health care

Villa María del Triunfo - Sarah - World Vision working with children and mother´s education and health care


Chancay - Beth in a women's soup kitchen/shelter. Josh on a pepper farm

Huacho - Jeanette in a handicapped recreational facility

Chimbote - Naomi, Laura, Rachel and Andrew working with a local Catholic Diocese in health care

I only had time to take one picture of one group on Tuesday; Jeanette, Beth and Josh are seen here enjoying a snack in Lima before their bus left for the north coast.

I will keep you updated with the service visits beginning next week.

Mon, 27 Jun 2005

Visitas al norte

Becky and I returned last night from a very interesting 4 day swing up the north coast to visit 4 students in the coastal town of Chimbote and then on to Tarapoto, a town in the eastern lowlands where two more GC students are living and working. All 6 students are making the necessary adjustments to changes in families, climate and their service assignments. In some cases, the assignments are not quite what they expected them to be originally but all are coping well with their daily challenges.

We arrived in Chimbote after an overnight bus trip to this fishing port city located about 6 hours north of Lima. Andrew, Laura, Naomi and Rachel are all working with a large Catholic Diocese that certainly appears to be making a difference in this very poor coastal community. All of the students are engaged in a wide variety of activities that range from health care, to hospice, to social work, to education, to women's clubs, to food preparation to also simply interacting with the many street children that frequent this open, caring and friendly community center. The GC students said that none of them do the same thing every day as there is always a choice each morning as to how to be involved when they arrive. We visited briefly with their host families who also appear to be enjoying their interaction with our students and learning about Goshen College. Andrew enjoyed his free time playing dodge-ball with the locals who seemed to never tire of this activity! Laura, Naomi and Rachel also posed with parts of their host families who dropped by at lunch to pick them up. I was also impressed with how many opportunities there were for the GC students to interact with the many people who frequent the center. I was pleased to hear all of them practicing their Spanish during the day! Our time there felt like it was not long enough to absorb all that is going on at this most interesting center.

After another 6 hour bus trip north through the coastal desert we boarded an overnight bus in the city of Chiclayo and began our climb up into the Andes and eventually down the other side into the jungle lowlands of eastern Peru to the city of Tarapoto where Andy and Rachel are living and working. What a trip! It was great seeing the lush green foliage of the lowlands and the brilliant blue sky of this isolated valley but we were very glad to get off the bus. Rachel and Andy greeted us with hugs and nearly non-stop talking of all that is going on at their location. While the slower somewhat unorganized way of jungle living is very different from the fast paced life of Lima the last 6 weeks, Andy and Rachel are adjusting to the heat, the bugs, the humidity, and their family as they settle into a routine in this area. We all enjoyed a cool ice cream break on Saturday afternoon before they headed back to their family on the outskirts of the city. They both are working with a British Mission, Tarpuy. They hope to become more involved in construction work and in design and layout of an area that will eventually become a retreat center in the community. One can see probably the most beautiful sunsets in Peru in the jungle almost daily. Last evening was no exception. We said our good byes as we headed back to Lima.

Later tonight Becky and I once again board another overnight bus, this time into the Central Valley of the Andes to visit 3 GC students in the city of Huancayo. I'll send another report and pictures when we get back on Thursday.

Thu, 30 Jun 2005


We arrived back in Lima last night after visiting Erin, Kristin and Amanda in their service location in lofty Huancayo located at about 10,000 ft. above sea level seven hours east of Lima. It was another very “interesting” bus trip as we wound our way through the extremely rugged mountains of the central Andes. We found the women enjoying their host families as well as their work assignments. All the women work in two comedores or soup kitchens which in this case, prepare and serve food to children in the area who would not normally receive a good noon meal. In addition, there is a kindergarten which is associated with the comedor of San Martín. Kristin and Amanda work with these children during the morning. Erin works in another comedor located on the south edge of the city in an area called Chilca. In both San Martín and Chilca, the women help with the noon meal and then spend the afternoon working with the children from these two areas in homework assignments and general school projects. It is a challenge for all of them to know how best to help these children who very much reflect the poor educational system of rural Peru. The women live with wonderfully gracious and loving host families who have opened up their homes to them. Amanda´s father as well as her sister were already gone to work when we arrived so we did not have a chance to meet them. In both Kristin´s home and in Erin´s, there are usually other people in the house who´s relationship with the original family is not always known or understood! That seems to have been a common situation with many of the GC students both in Lima and now in their service locations. A reminder that things here are often different from “at home”.

We all enjoyed some highland pastries together before we said our good byes.

We´re off to Chancay to visit Beth and Josh tomorrow.

Fri, 1 Jul 2005

Huancayo second try!

Our computer here in the office was having lots of problems last night and finally "crashed" completely! I'll retry this morning to add my photos to the text that was posted last night for the Huancayo trip.

Sat, 2 Jul 2005


Two hours north of Lima along the coast is the small town of Chancay where Josh and Beth are living and working. Josh is busy daily on a small ají (Peruvian hot pepper) farm located several kilometers from his home. He makes the trip daily on a bicycle donated by his host family. He started his service assignment at the beginning of the ají harvest which is now nearing completion. The task at hand in the following weeks will be to clear the land and prepare it for the next crop to be planted. This is all labor intensive work with no modern machinery so Josh is getting a work out! Since the farm is located on the coastal desert, everything is irrigated from Andean rivers that flow through the area. The owner of the small farm is very grateful for Josh's willing hands and quick smile to make the work go faster. Josh is also enjoying living with his host family, who partially are pictured. There are several other brothers who live with the parents and grandmother but were at work during our visit.

Beth is busy in another part of the area working in two comedores or small soup kitchens that also emphasize women's teaching and training sessions. She has found one comedor to be especially interesting because of the women who work there, originally from the highlands. They have been very open to share their lives and their stories with Beth. This comedor is in a very poor section on the eastern edge of Chancay. Beth also works with the town government and has spent a very interesting two weeks working with the local nutritional promotors as they visit around the area. She also is enjoying getting to know her new host family, again, only partially present for the family photo.

Canto Grande

Bethany is working in the far northeastern cone of Lima in the marginalized community of Canto Grande. In spite of her original assignment with a social service agency not working out as expected, Bethany is very happily volunteering her time with several medical facilities in this impoverished area in Lima's eastern foothills. She is wearing a medical coat to work each day, is regularly called "Doctora" (which she doesn't mind a bit!) by most people in the hospital and has been learning and observing "some amazing things" according to Bethany. She helped in her first baby delivery yesterday and has been routinely doing things that she never expected to be doing at this early stage in her pre-med. training at GC. She considers herself very fortunate to have found this most interesting work assignment. She is also enjoying living with a small family consisting of her mother and her older sister.

Fri, 8 Jul 2005


Katañiray is a small Quechua village located at 11,000 feet above sea level in southern Peru. It is in this "National Geographic" setting that Ben, Nathan and Layne are working. Ben and Nathan are volunteering in the Almeria Greenhouses, a project of the Spanish government, where better agricultural and plant growing techniques are taught to local Quechua farmers. Layne lives a 10 minute walk away with a Quechua farm family and occasionally works at the greenhouses too when work is slow on the farm. Mail, which we brought with us on our visit, was a welcomed event in this isolated location. The guys have fallen in love with the mountains and do a variety of things in the area on weekends - hiking to isolated Incan ruins, traveling to and observing an annual vicuña (a smaller relative of the llama) round-up and wool shearing event, and going into Cuzco, about an hour away. Layne's location and host family are evidence of just how "other worldly" his service experience has been. The three guys look forward with mixed emotions to returning to Lima and home in a bit over two weeks.


Cuzco, the ancient capital city of the Incas is where Luke is working with World Vision. The area is steeped in history and one cannot help but notice evidence of the magnificent architectural achievements of the Incas in the city yet today. Luke has been very busy traveling all over the southern sierra filming for World Vision. He has been to some amazing places, many over 14,000 feet where only Quechua is spoken and understood. He is now beginning to edit his work and hopes to be able to finish in two weeks although he's not sure it can be done with the equipment he has in the office. He's enjoying his host family very much as they speak both Spanish, which Luke has mastered quite well and Quechua, which Luke is trying to learn. His sister is a member of the relativiely new Mennonite Church in Cuzco. He too has mixed emotions as he thinks about returning to Lima in a bit over two weeks and then back to the US.

Luke's Pictures

In attempting to add Luke's pictures to my previous entry, the computer apparently thought it was "helping" me and so chose to upload all the pictures from the blog of June 10th as I'd used the same title for that blog too - "Cuzco". Oh the joys of computers! Anyway, here are the pictures that were supposed to go with Luke's entry.

Sat, 9 Jul 2005

San Martín de Porres

San Martín de Porres is a district on Lima´s far (far) north west cone. It took us over 1 1/2 hours by public bus to cross the city to visit Jeanette this morning and see where she is working in a small comedor or community kitchen. The women prepare food for approximately 100 people six days per week. Rather than the people of this community eating their noon meal in this small kitchen, they bring their containers to the comedor and take the food home with them. The women that Jeanette works with are volunteers from the community and enjoy having a norteamericana working with them - a first for the comedor. Jeannete is busy from 9:00 to 3:00 every day, going to the market each morning to purchase the food and then returning to the kitchen to begin the process of cleaning, cutting, peeling, dicing, or sorting rice, as was Jeanette's job when we were there this morning. She has enjoyed getting to know these kind, generous and friendly women as they work together to make a difference in this corner of Lima. The community was celebrating their annual Indigenous Appreciation Days this weekend so we stopped briefly with Jeanette to enjoy the dancing, the Andean music and the costumes on display before she went back to work and we began our long trek back home across the city. She has enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of Maru and Lucho, her host parents here in Lima.

Tomorrow we leave for Huaráz, another Andean community seven hours north east of Lima to visit Anna, Josiah and Laura. I'll send an update when we return on Tuesday night.

Wed, 13 Jul 2005


Anna is working in an orphanage/children's home with World Vision in Huaraz, a town high in the Callejón de Huaylas 8 hours north of Lima. She loves her location at 10,000 feet as well as her work assignment and the children, which keep her busy and running all day long. Her tasks vary from taking care of small babies to assisting in the kitchen to helping the children with their homework after school. She often doesn't get home until 7:00p in the evening. She is loved by the children, many of whom call her "mamá". She is anticipating the end of her assignment next week with very mixed emotions as she has become so attached to many of these very needy children.

On weekends she enjoys hiking, mountain biking and camping in the surrounding countryside. She says she niver tires of looking out at the mountains whether it be at sunrise or at sunset -they are always beautiful.


A 25 minute bus ride down the valley from Huaraz brought us to the small village of Taricá where Josiah is working, also with World Vision. He is busy daily with a variety of tasks. He works in the main office several days each week helping with the paperwork associated with finding foreign sponsors for the many children with whom World Vision is working. On other days he travels to outlying Quechua villages where he helps with agricultural extention work as well as photographing children and getting information from their parents for completing the paperwork associated with finding sponsors for them. I wish we could have accompanied Josiah to some of these outlying villages as he said he´s been to some very interesting locations and seen some amazing countryside.

He lives in the village with a family who earns a living from making and selling pottery in local indigenous markets.

He too enjoys the weekends in the mountains where he´s gone fishing, hiking and camping. He has especially enjoyed getting to know and hang out with the young Peruvian people who also work at the World Vision office with him. He too has mixed feelings as he contemplates returning to Lima next weekend.


At the foot of Mount Huascarán, the highest peak in the Peruvian Andes, and one hour's drive from Huaraz, lies the beautiful village of Mancos. This is where Laura has been living for the past 4 weeks while working with World Vision in health care and other related jobs. She was especially busy the first several weeks traveling to out-lying villages with a medical team. Her responsibilities included measuring and weighing babies and small children in an effort to assess the medical needs, which are many, in this area of Perú's rural population.

She currently finds herself more occupied in World Vision's central office in Mancos lining up rural children with potential sponsorships in North America and Europe. This area, like most of rural Perú, has many needy children and World Vision's program continues to grow here. She has also enjoyed getting to know the many wonderful people who work with her in the central office.

Laura lives with a small family (pictured here with her mother) in an absolutely beautiful location. She says she's still amazed every morning when she looks out of her bedroom window onto Mount Huascarán. She contunes to find time to run some 11 miles each day as "she keeps in shape". According to Laura, running at 9,000 feet has helped her lung capacity tremendously. She'll be a great asset to the GC cross country team this Fall!

She also enjoys the weekend breaks for opportunities to explore and hike in the mountains. She, Anna and some World Vision friends made it up to Huascarán's snow-line last weekend. She said "it was quite a view"!

Thu, 14 Jul 2005

Villa María del Triunfo

We found Sarah this morning busy and excited about what she has been experiencing these past 5 weeks in Villa María del Triunfo, a marginalized community on Lima's extreme eastern cone. The "community" seems to stretch on endlessly into the barren sand foothills of the Andes as rural mountain people continue to pour into the capital in search of a better life. It's an area that one comes away from feeling as if you've experienced something powerful about the perseverance of the human spirit. Amid the abject and grinding poverty everywhere, Sarah was so excited about the hopeful and positive things that are happening here!

She is working loosely with World Vision in a school setting teaching a variety of things from Art to English to gardening in small plots of green scattered around the school grounds. It became apparent quickly that "Sarita" is adored by her students!

She has also become very involved in a women's comedor where food is prepared and served to people of this area. She's pictured in one of the photos seated with the directora of the comedor and some of the kitchen helpers in the background. There was evidence of hope in the smiles of the warm and curious children who seemed to be everywhere!

Sarah has also enjoyed living with Teofilio, a tailor, and Juanita, a homemaker as well as their three children, two of whom are pictured with Sarah.

We left for Lima as she was running off to teach the awaiting students their afternoon English lesson.

Sun, 17 Jul 2005


We found Jeff and Peter almost "at the end of the road" after a 9 hour trip south east of Lima over very high and winding Andean mountain highways. This area felt about as isolated as any of the locations that we have visited, partly because of the difficulty getting to Huanta, and also because of the strong Quechua culture that is very much in evidence here.

Jeff is living off of the main road that runs through the area in a rural Quechua farm home near the village of Luricocha, about 1 hour from the larger city of Ayacucho. He helps with a variety of chores around his family's small farm which raises avocados, corn, alfalfa and guinea pigs, a main meat source for the Quechua people. But Jeff has mainly enjoyed simply living with these quiet and humble people who do without telephones, running water or electricity - material comforts that he hasn't missed he says, during his service assingnment. Jeff also teaches English classes several times each week in a local school in neighboring Huanta.

His family also operates a small grocery store in Huanta, where his father, not pictured, spends much of his time.


Peter is living in the town of Huanta, in the department of Ayacucho about a 45 minute walk from where Jeff is living. His family operates a small cactus farm on the edge of town where Peter helps with the chores associated with raising cactus. I learned that these cactus plants produce a sweet fruit several times each year which is harvested and used in making jams, jellies and drinks.

Peter enjoys meeting people around the town as he practices his Spanish with them. He also teaches English in a local school and has discovered there is always someone who enjoys practicing their little bit of English with him.

Peter is shown with various members of the Quicaña family in his host parent's home.

Saturday, the day we visited Peter and Jeff, this mountain community was celebrating La Fiesta de la Virgen de Carmen so we all attended the festivities for part of the afternoon. While Fernando, Peter's host father was introducing the guys to a sweet sugar cane concoction, the local vender was happily mixing up more. We also enjoyed a "bull fight", Andean style in the make-shift arena, as well as shopping at local markets. It was really quite a place!

This trip ends our 5 week marathon across Perú visiting each of the students in their service locations. We look forward to this Saturday when they all return to Lima for several days before heading back to the US next Wednesday night.

Thu, 28 Jul 2005

Heading home!

After a full few days of exams, final interviews, getting reacquainted, sharing service stories and saying final good-byes the GC students left Lima airport for home Thursday, 12:15 am, very nearly on schedule. Hopefully they'll all be back in Goshen later this afternoon and many of you will very soon hear first hand stories from their SST experience in Peru. Becky and I will soon be heading north as well, on Saturday morning, and bringing to a close this inaugural SST unit in Peru. It has been quite an experience!

Goshen College
International Education Office
Kevin Koch
+1 (574) 535-7346