Living in Peru

Lately I’ve been doing more visiting of people in their homes – for prayer meetings and some bible studies. The people are so poor and their homes are so humble. The majority of people live in houses built from sun-dried mud bricks with dirt floors and very make-shift roofs. Most have water delivered every other day (for about 2 hours) into their homes, but they don’t have much in the way of plumbing. Many, if not most, go to the bathroom outside behind curtains. They cook outside using either firewood or charcoal briquets.

And yet, when I come to their homes, they find something to offer me for hospitality – usually a piece of bread. Nearly everyone has such sad stories to tell about their lives – children who have died either from illness or violence, spouses without work, families broken up due to alcoholism…and the list goes on. And since Perú itself is so poor, there is no “safety net” to catch them. No social services. You can’t even get medical care here if you can’t pay in advance. Police protection is non-existent. And yet, in the midst of all of this, they manage to smile and laugh. They encourage one another. It brings new meaning to the importance of Christian community.

I’m also working quite a bit at our Church, Señor de los Milagros. I’m in charge of the confirmation program (I have 25 catechists and 70 youth seeking to be confirmed and we all meet together every Sunday afternoon). I also hold weekly training sessions to prepare the first communion catechists for their weekly meetings with the kids. I also coordinate a children’s liturgy of the word during Sunday mass and I help out with the choir. It is very different here with the youth – they clamor for more retreats and meetings! They love to get together! Both first communion and confirmation will be held in December.

We’re all doing well. Thankfully, we’ve all been quite healthy. We’re very good at doing laundry in cold water in our backyard. We eat very healthy since there is almost no processed food here. We’re making some good friends. One of our biggest challenges is dealing with the lack of security and the ineffective police force. So far, though, we’ve been safe.