My hands are full

My work is changing a bit from 2006. Since I can talk to people more now, I am working in more complex situations, and that I enjoy very much. The priests have asked me to oversee a construction project in one of our chapels, Santa Isabel, starting next week. It should tax my language and other abilities a bit. We will be building a perimeter wall and two classrooms for a preschool there. This chapel is in a poorer area than where we live and sometimes is a bit hair raising to get there by public transportation. As careful as I am here in Rio Seco, I must be very diligent regarding crime in this area. But, we have been very lucky so far and for that I am very grateful. God is watching over us!

I am teaching again at the Fe y Alegria School in Alto Trujillo (further up the sand dune from where we live). The sisters who run the school are extraordinary and are building an exceptional school in the midst of a very poor neighborhood. The school started four years ago, and now they have 850 students from pre-kindergarten to sophomore in high school. In three years or so they will hit their goal of 1200 students.

This year I will be teaching two groups of students. They are 7th and 8th graders. I have 25 students from each grade. These students rotate with others for each trimester. That sounds like a lot to have in gardens and it is. I am co-teaching these kids with the help of the Physical Ed teacher. It should be a good year and it is starting out very well for our program. I teach for three hours on two afternoons each week.

I still am working with gardens and trees throughout the parish. This is fun for me, but I plan to transition out of much of this work in 2007. There is other, even more challenging work in store for me I believe. One of these things is starting and developing a Non Governmental Organization here in Rio Seco. Theresa and I have been talking to a very motivated businessman from Trujillo for the past couple of months about the potential here. He and I are now in the midst of launching a leather goods project as an initial step in what could be a much larger effort to break the cycle of poverty here. Leather and shoe making is the major industry here, so it makes some sense to work with this expertise and supply of leather to make some fine leather products. This week we have two expert shoemakers that will be working to design and make the prototypes for our initial offering. Our first focus is Mothers Day, which is even bigger in Peru than it is in the States.

As another part of the vision of the NGO, we are bringing in two doctors from Trujillo to offer additional medical care to the people. Our idea is to bring in two or three doctors for maybe six hours on one Sunday a month. There is a small pool of doctors here in Trujillo that will offer their services for free in these situations and we will see where it goes. We want to do the same thing in two of our parish chapels too.

I have been having a bit of fun raising bananas inside the parish walls at SeƱor de los Milagros near our house. For me, it has been a new experience to raise bananas but very rewarding. It seems that these bananas are the most successful bananas the people here have seen in Rio Seco. I have harvested three very large bunches of bananas so far this year (120 or so on each bunch) and have three more bunches on the trees. That is very good for four plants! So far I have given away a dozen more plants. Theresa says that I am the Johnny Appleseed of bananas here in Rio Seco. Good stuff!