First year in Peru

I spent a big share of my time teaching English up to mid-December when schools stopped for summer break. I am teaching a beginning level class in English once a week at the parish, but now I have no other commitment for English, except an occasional tutoring session.

The biggest share of my time is spent with plants right now. I started a garden inside the walls of the property of Señor de los Milagros soon after I came. There was really nothing there and they had a good supply of water, so it seemed very logical. Well, that has initiated a whole sequence of events that I can´t say I don´t mind. The area dedicated for the play of the children in the parish preschool (next to the garden in Señor de los Milagros) was in very poor shape and in part to build up the school I volunteered to upgrade the whole area.

The project is essentially completed right now with some fine tuning left to go. They now have more grass than can be found in the rest of Rio Seco, ornamental plants and small trees that are going to be beautiful in just a couple of years. All the plants had to be protected from seventy small children with woven wire and posts. The merry go round, slide, swingset, seesaw and monkey bars look brand new with bright paint and repairs. The head of the school is a very talented woman that is thrilled with the changes and is going to put signs by every plant with the name so parents and other people can learn the names of the plants and come to appreciate them a bit more. It was a pleasure to be there when the parents and children came into the school for the first day of class last week. It is nice to be able to bring something to Rio Seco that before was only available to more expensive schools in Trujillo.

The problem (a good one) is that the other schools and chapels in our vast parish also want to make their grounds look better. Now, I have two other chapels that I have been asked to work with to improve their physical looks. It is a great opportunity to work with many different people, learn how things are done and get a feel for the places. I don´t expect to be doing this kind of work for very long, but it is fun and rewarding right now. The big challenge is finding people that are capable of learning and wanting to care for the plants over the long haul. There is a lot of excitement about these kinds of changes and I don´t anticipate great difficulty in locating and mentoring good people for this.

One big project on the horizon is teaching and working with a group of students at the school Fé y Alegria in Alto Trujillo. The idea is to take a small group of thirteen or fourteen year olds, give them hands on experience with plants and knowledge about soils and the needs of plants. After sufficient time, they would take their experience home and plant a garden at home. I would work with them in their homes to help with problems and the different conditions in each home. I anticipate using some drip irrigation technology (it is big here with the vast areas of asparagus planted in the sand) and hopefully some worms for quick composting. It promises to be a difficult, yet very rewarding opportunity. The Sisters that run the school are quite impressive and I enjoy working with them.

I have worked a lot with Nuestra Señora de la Misericordia for the past four months in a garden project. There have been many challenges there, the biggest being a very poor supply of water. We are going to transition this project in the next couple of months with different vegetables and probably start individual small gardens in the house of participants.

Hannah has a great ministry here of her presence. She is quite noticed here as she is very unusual among all of the Peruvian children. She has a great many friends and speaks Spanish without accent and just as the Peruvians do here. She generates a great deal of interest in nearly every group and makes it much easier to talk to people as they are quick to ask about her and feel more at ease because of her presence. She truly is the littlest Comboni missionary here, and a natural I must say.

Since we are foreigners, we are watched constantly. Our work in modeling family life in the midst of the great poverty here is the greatest work of all. It is also one that is difficult to describe on paper (or in an email). Cooking is totally from scratch, food must be purchased in vast markets that require much walking and thought. Without paved streets, the dust here is incredible and the house is usually swept two times every day. We do not have a washing machine, therefore all clothes are hand washed and hung on a line on our roof to dry.  We have a good sized back yard that must be maintained and the physical structure of our house needs repairs at times. In short, living as a family in the poverty of Rio Seco is a bit challenging all by itself.

I hope this provides a little insight into our ministry and work here in Perú. All three of us are happy to be here and look forward to what God has in store for us in the future.