Thursday, January 12, 2012

Days 4 & 5 Lima, Peru

Day 4 Tuesday January 10, there is a new understanding today of why death both the fear and respect of it is so prelivant in this land.  Many are faced with immininent or the possibility death everyday of their life. We went to what is called the “chancharia” translated means “pig stye”.  It is called that because when the invaders took this land (yes, they invaded this land which is another story in itself) it was in the new town (high ground new area) and they built their homes in the middle of a pig pen or pig stye.  There are 14 original families that came here 12 years ago, many did not know Jesus Christ.  When the Holy Trinity church Padre came and established the Mission Pablo, he came to the people to help them spiritually and physically.  This land is desolate, not just poor.  I have seen poverty and many but in settings surrounding of natural beauty that gives hope of God’s love.  This land if you were just to look at it from the outside without Christ is desolate.  We met Esperanza (which means Hope by the way).  She is one of the original families.   She came when her husband was killed by terrorists with her 3 children and 2 orphaned children. She crowds us all in to her small shack to share her testimony of faith with us how Mission Pablo saved her life by coming to know Jesus’ Christ.  She says she has not missed a service since they came.  She tells us a story of last year she broke her arm, she prayed for pain relief so that she could continue her work in the soup kitchen.  Even though she has nothing, she feeds 200 people in the soup kitchen every day.   God heard her prayer and she was able to continue to work (even without medical care) pain free.  Another original family we met was Marcella.  Marcella was very proud of her home, it was a little bigger in comparison and had a couch and a cabinet for her dishes and a television.  She was also very proud of the fact that her home was one of the few with electricity.  I have pictures with Alethea and her two small children (or possibly grandchildren I couldn’t tell) because her daughters were teenage and it was not clear.  All of the pastoral visits we went on the people were happy that we came to pray with them.  They wanted prayers for “salud” which means “health”.  None of the homes have running water.  Someone will bring water up the mountain once a week and they can buy a gallon for $1.  They have creative ways of making that gallon last for 8 days, and remaining clean in appearance in what they are wearing and hygiene.  Many parents left their children at home while they went down the mountain to sell fruit juice or other things.  There is very little vegetation in this part.  Since there is no running water, what little water they have can not be wasted – all the thriving plants are either for consumption or are acclimated to the dryness.

Day 5, Wednesday January 11th, as everyday we start the day at Good Shepherd Cathedral in morning prayer with Fr. John Parks.  He and his wife Susan have shown us much hospitality in ensuring that all of our needs are met this trip.   Susan has coordinated someone to bring us a packed lunch everyday consisting of a sandwich, a juice, a fruit and a savory snack of some kind.  Fr. John has added the Nashotah House prayer to the prayers of the people that has improved our comfort zone and reduces the culture shock of this foreign land.  Yes, I am learning how to identify cultural differences and dealing with “culture shock” it’s not just a passive term.  Today the group takes a visit to another northern region of Lima to a place that is hurting spiritually.  The Anglican church has gone through some difficult times with changes in priests with different styles that have confused the people, causing anger, and divisions.  The new priest has just started about a month or so ago and his name is Fr. Carlos.  The church is El Salvador.  The building when we approach is very large.  They have much space for a school and worship center.  Many of their conveniences are more modern.  The compassion ministry is already in place here.  I only know that Compassion is a program for children in the schools that relate to issues of healthcare and diet for children.  Fr. Carlos splits us in to groups and asks us to take flyers door to door to the surrounding community to invite the people to church.  We Paul, myself, and Jherlly venture off with Don Pablo.  It is evident that Don Pablo is well respected in the town.  He seems to know everyone and walks with not just a cane – but “a big stick” if you know what I mean.  We go door to door, telling people about El Salvador and praying for them.  We talk to people on the street.  On group in particular I remember were two women and two children walking down the street.  The older woman asked us to pray for the younger woman.  I held both her hands and others layed hands on her and we prayed in the middle of the road.  It was amazing, it was if we were the only people on the block.  As we prayed small tears flowed from this woman’s eyes and I could feel that she was being filled with the Holy Spirit.  Afterwards, her face shown with smiles as you may see in my FB pictures for Day 5 – she is in a black shirt.  I will try to upload photo’s to blog upon return to states – the internet transmission is very slow here.  Anyway, she was smiling and the mother told us she is pregnant and filled with depression.  We are happy that Jesus has made this woman smile in her time of despair.  We walk from door to door, some are fearful and will only take our invitation through the window or a small opening in the door.  Some open the door and tell us their story.  One man in particular opened the door and it was evident that he had health problems – probably a stroke paralyzing his right side.  He told us that he had had an aneurysm and needed brain surgery.  Most people do not live from this surgery.  He was not a believer at this time even though his mother goes to church.  I’m not sure if the dream he had was during surgery or after surgery but he told us he had a dream.  The dream was that he was falling.  Falling literally in to the depth of hell, Jesus caught him and saved him from falling in to hell.  He said Jesus was holding on to him tight.  When he woke up, he knew he was not going to die and was saved.  He began telling people right then in the hospital about Jesus.  When he got home he told his mother that Jesus saved him.  She told him that if he believed in Jesus he didn’t need the wheelchair the doctor confined him to.  So he got up.  He walks by dragging his leg, but this man walks.  He told us he did not think that Jesus wants to heal him completely, but did not say it in a disappointed way.  Though it touched our heart.  Paul touched the man and we all prayed for him.  Afterward, I told him that the story of his dream was very inspiring and that many people would want to hear his story and please come to El Salvador to tell his story.  We walked on.  We came to what was once a market place.  It was basically an enclosed area by concrete wall with stalls inside that had doors.  People came and invaded the space and were now using it as their home.  Don Pablo says this happens frequently until the government identifies the invaders and makes them leave the land that does not belong to them.  It seems quiet in this place and not many will open their doors.  There are several children playing in here – left by their parents possibly at work.  We do not stay long.  There are many others that we meet along the way in our 2 hours of street evangelization.  One that disturbed me was a possible homeless woman we tried to talk to, she was pleasant but Don Pablo rushed us along say she was crazy and “walks with the devil”.  I was confronted with an unpleasant cultural difference in that moment, however I realized that this is their belief that mental illness is associated with demonic possession.  I was not sure how to address this difference and the moment passed.  We went back to El Salvador because we are to meet with Dr. Townsend Cameron.  He has been in Peru for 5 months, he came from Georgia with his wife and daughter as missionaries.  He is addressing what the healthcare needs are in cooperation with the diocese.  He stresses how important it is to identify what is in place for any kind of assistance and to compliment rather than replace what is already established.  He has met with the medical director at the local Children’s hospital in Lima, he has talked with the program directors of Compassion, and is now collecting his own data with daily conversation and relationship building with people in many remote areas.  His theory correlates  to much of what we are learning in the class – and in the book “When Helping Hurts”.  After this we drive back to the hotel and we have free time.  Several of us go with Paula and Fr. Ian from Good Shepherd to the Indian Market.  There Fr. Ian helped us to haggle for some gifts that we will treasure simply from the memories of the day.  We get back to the hotel just in time to change and prepare for the evening at the Diocesan Center.  They serve us a three course meal every night prepared by their own in house chef.  Today is Richard’s birthday and someone gave the kitchen staff a heads up, so for desert they brought out a delicious mousse cake and we all sang Happy Birthday to Richard in 3 ways (2 Spanish and our traditional English). Class discussion was interesting.  We talked about Cross Culturalism.  The Peruvian’s were talking about how many old beliefs were being combined with newer Christianity beliefs and still is a confusion that needs to be dealt with.  One example given was the belief in Mother Earth.  Many traditional rituals from Shamans were done in addition to prayer for the sick.  It was very interesting and a little difficult to follow not knowing Spanish very much, but the class is really helping to bring understanding and enlightenment to much of my mission experiences.  I am thankful.  9:30pm we head back to the hotel for debriefing and compline.

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