Eating a Pig in Peru

December 7, 2011, 4:46 am
Filed under: PERU: Round 2

At this point our team has implemented a strategy in both villages (Huarochiri & Ayaviri) and are now seeing the results.  And all has not gone according to plan.  The people in these mountain villages have little education and limited exposure to new technologies.  We’ve found that even when they see the projects we present, see the benefits, and agree that it is better, it doesn’t correspond to a change in what they will choose to use, i.e. their habits.

We’re all creatures of habit, huh?  And if we’re honest with ourselves, we worship comfort. We fight for it, get frustrated, and even become irritable when there’s a change in our routine or when our boss changes a process at work or when people won’t just let us do things our own way…  After seeing the peoples’ reluctance to change—not just a change for change’s sake, but a change that will keep them from getting sick or give them more food and more money, I am understanding that pride and stubbornness are truly harmful to our well-being (Proverbs 3:5-8) and keep us from living abundant life (John 10:10).  Why don’t we trust God?  Why in the world do we choose a mediocre life?!  Why can’t we realize we’re made for His glory and not our comfort? Were did we lose our passion for Christ and our fear of the LORD?  Maybe somewhere between our recliner in front of the TV and the fridge…?  Guilty.  Such ‘innocent’ and deceitful distractions.

Despite setbacks, introduction of the projects have been positive. We are now realizing and understanding that the manner in which they are implemented within the communities needs to change for people to truly capture and use them.  Thanks for your prayers and for fighting in this battle with us!


Dora, but not the Explorer :)
November 19, 2011, 3:45 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is a different one.  She’s a mother and grandmother who lives in two places and helps one of her daughters run a store. She’s from Ayaviri, and that’s where we met her.  In our attempt to understand the issues Ayavirians face, we stopped to talk to Dora and a friend who were sitting on a door stoop, and just asked them questions about the community and things they wished they could change.  We were even able to share a bit about Jesus, and when we left, she asked that we come back the next day to share more. And we did. She listened intently as we shared with her how our sin keeps us from truly having a relationship with God who created us and died to take those sins away.  In the days following, we spent more time with her, ate lunch there several days, and shared. She also has the store where it seems all of the women in town hang out at night. Pray that God would bend her heart towards Him and that she would surrender and follow Him as Lord—and share Him with the other women of Ayaviri!

November 19, 2011, 3:39 am
Filed under: PERU: Round 2

The evidence of God’s continuing work in Ayaviri was met in the man everyone calls ‘Lolo’.  This man is seriously related to everyone in the community, but lives in a different village about 1.5 hours walk away.  And at least once each month, this 78-year-old man makes that walk to share Jesus with the people and to help the struggling church.  Not only does he walk to Ayaviri, but also to 6 to 8 other villages in the area—and most are a little bit further than 1.5 hours away.  When Lolo shared with us how he became a missionary to the people in this area, he told us about reading verses that told followers of Jesus to go and share the good news with others—so he did.  And he’s continued doing it for the past couple of decades.

When we first met him, we were taken with his energy and joy, but wanted to know what he actually believed.  It’s very common for many people here to fuse several different doctrines (syncretism), and not be grounded in the singular truth of the Bible.  And we found that to be somewhat true with Lolo.  Christian sects that have combined works philosophies of both Catholicism and the Adventists have influenced this area, and people passing through had apparently taught him some of these things.  During our time together, we were able to teach him what the Bible says about who God is, what qualifies as salvation and what the Christian life looks like in comparison to the common sects and cults in Peru. (Titus 2:1)  What an incredible, God-planned encounter with a man seeking God’s plan for his life, and who is teaching others what God has taught him! (2 Timothy 2:2)  (See also Colossians 1:15-20 and Ephesians 2:8-9 as they provide foundational distinction from religions.)

November 19, 2011, 3:28 am
Filed under: PERU: Round 2

Well, it was our 1st week to Ayaviri, and I must say, it kinda made my mouth hang open in that not-so-feminine kind of way.  Why?  Because never before have I spent time in a cold-climate mountain village, among an agriculturally based community, that was so open to the Gospel and friendly to us outsiders.  Explanation: the harvest is plentiful—we’ve all just got to get past ourselves, open our mouths, and tell them the truth!

Since this was our 1st visit, we followed the cultural norms and shared our purpose with the local authorities—in this case, a mayor and his council, and a president of the community, and to ask their permission to work in Ayaviri.  Honestly, I don’t think we were quite prepared for their overwhelming response.  We were invited back the next day to do a demonstration for the Commissioners, then given permission to hold a demonstration in the town plaza the next day. Just over 60 people came.  Wow. That’s really quite good for such a small place.  Then, immediately following the demonstration, we were asked if we could help some of them build a ‘Rocket Stove’ in the ‘kitchen’ they use for the milk program for the kids (The milk program is a government program that helps provide supplementary nutrition for children of poorer families).  The municipality provided the materials and labor, and the women that assist the program did an incredible job thinking through the entire process!  The funny thing is that in order to keep the proportions correct for the stove to function properly (thereby eliminating the black smoke), the stove can become pretty high—and Peruvians are generally reeeally short.  So, they had to also build a platform and stairs so that the women could actually use it!

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round & Round…Until They Stop.
November 19, 2011, 3:16 am
Filed under: PERU: Round 2

The other day I was sharing with a friend that I would rather take Peruvian transportation hands-down over traveling in a personal vehicle.  And here’s why: flat tire—in the middle of nowhere.  Sure, just put on the spare! But, what happens when your spare busts, too?  Well, of course, that’s when you cut up rubber, make a glue from spit and use a pair of knitting needles doctor it up.  Actually, yes, I’m kidding—kind of. Recently on a trip to Huarochiri, the leaf springs (strips of metal clamped together that, in this case, hold the bus up above the tires–like shocks) broke. That meant that the bus kinda came down onto the tire, and messed it up, too.  The solution? Just tie on some wood under the leaf springs and pull the spare tire down off the top of the bus.  But, the best repair job so far was when the drive shaft (the really big, long piece of steel that allows the power from the engine to move the tires) broke in two pieces. Well, this one took a bit more time, but from what I understood, the guys from the bus used pieces of metal (like screwdrivers and nails) and hard, dense objects (um, wood?), jammed them in the space, and then used some rope to ‘tie it off’.  And it actually worked—for a little while. Um, yeah, it’s a really smooth ride, that trip to Huarochiri…

How much of a good thing is too much?
November 19, 2011, 3:08 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well, let me tell you.  That old adage ‘you can never have too much of a good thing’ is just not true.  Too much is just downright painful.

So this is what happened:  The primary school in Huarochiri was celebrating Peruvian Food Day. Each of the classes were competing against one another in both presentation and flavor. And, in case you’ve forgotten or didn’t read the post from a couple of months ago, Peruvian food is GREAT! Seriously, it’s just so good.  And on this particular day, I was asked to be one of the 5 judges for the competition.  It was my lucky day—all of the best Peruvian dishes, and it was free!  (Not going to lie, though, I was praying really hard that they wouldn’t be serving soup with cow intestines and overgrown corn kernels. Ugh.)

So we started at the first grade classes, and what did they have but one of my favorites: ceviche, a spicy, raw fish plate.  I will admit there was a bit of hesitation on my part as the last time ocean fish could be found in the mountains here was when they were covered with water and Noah was floating in the ark.  Oh, well, everybody was watching now.  Then, another one of my absolute favorites that we don’t often get to eat—Pachamanca, a dish consisting of a meat, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beans with a green sauce that’s cooked by rocks in the ground.(!)  It was great! Then there was the next classroom and another plate of Pachamanca and then another ceviche plate to judge at the next classroom. And, um, I’m starting to get full…but I ignore that thought. We move on to the other wing of the school, and I decide it probably isn’t best to finish the entire plate. I mean, I’ve got to conserve space, right?  I take the plate and eat most of what’s there and return it to the table. Yeah, that didn’t work. The little girl’s face was stunned, and she then informed me—and all of her classmates, that I hadn’t finished my plate. Ah, such a cultural faux pas and I knew it. So I picked up my plate again and forced it ALL down.  At this point, we begin to move on to the next classroom, and I can’t help but look up and count all of the classes we have yet to visit. Oh, Lord Jesus, we have 7 more. Yikes, that’s 12 classrooms–12 plates of food! I’m not going to make it.  For the rest of the tour, I ‘shared’ my food with all the students that were hanging around us. Funny thing was, as we made it closer to the end, even they started disappearing. Finally, we had eaten the last bite and as I look back, it was almost like a Thanksgiving gone wrong. I could not ‘take a break’ and return at my leisure to ‘graze’, and the food I loved had started to loose its flavor.  Needless to say, I didn’t eat for a while after this event…

October 8, 2011, 3:02 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

After coming back down from 2 solid weeks in Huarochiri, our team is actually kind of shocked at how open the people were to receive both of the projects (cook stoves and water filters) as well as the Biblical stories and principles we shared.  That’s exactly how we’ve been praying, but shame on us for obviously not totally believing that He would show up, huh?

We had meetings with several leaders within the community, including the mayor, the director of the agricultural and nursing school (think technical college), and the science teacher at the high school.  The mayor was quite excited about the projects we were wanting to share, but not as open to the Bible aspect. However, after explaining to him the reason why the land is broken, harmful chemicals and germs (sin), he wrote an official document giving us express permission to go anywhere in the area to teach these projects and the Bible.  Pretty cool. And, he asked us to do a demonstration for the community.  Even better.

For the mayor’s request of demonstrating these projects with the community, he gave us space to first build the stove in the city’s storage facility.  Somehow, several people heard about a stove that doesn’t blow out black smoke and just showed up to see about this little invention.  So, they joined in to help build it, and eventually took over and finished it.  After the stove had dried, people came again to see it in use—wood in place, fire started, and no smoke.  They really were surprised by it all. Thankfully, the people of Huarochiri already have a bit of an understanding of the danger of black smoke and are open to something different. The problem has been the prohibitive expense of a more modern gas stove and not having the knowledge to construct a clean burning stove.

Next was a meeting with the agricultural and nursing school.  They, too, were open and invited us back to teach all of the students—around 50, for an entire class day. The interesting part was that none of the students were from Huarochiri, but from surrounding towns and villages (up to 8 hours distance).  Remember, we teach the people and show them the projects, but they build them. That means that some of these students may actually take these ideas, and share and implement them in their own villages—along with stories from the Bible. And then it helps that the professors are assigning the projects as the students’ thesis.

And then there was our meeting with the science teacher at the high school.  His students are actually coming after school, and in groups, will build the cook stoves as a graded project—conducting experiments in their homes on the stoves they build.  So, not only will the students see how the stoves are better for their health with the elimination of black smoke (carbon mon- & dioxide gases), but also their parents.  And hopefully, because it’s a small village, word will spread.

Unfortunately, the water filters have not been met with as much acceptance, and its kind of understandable.  The stoves use the same materials and look pretty similar to what the people are already using. And, they can see the aftereffects of cooking—their entire wall and/or kitchen is literally black. While the water filters use items that they can find in the village, the construction and idea seem so foreign.  This combined with the seeming reality that the water they drink looks clean makes it difficult for them to sometimes understand what they’re actually drinking is harmful—even though they can’t see the germs and bacteria in their water.