For those that read the blog yesterday and may be confused that I am writing about San Andres again today, I made the correction to yesterday's entry to El Salvador was the church. San Andres is the church we went to on Thursday and I was referencing a schedule notes for names, etc and mixed it up. By this time keeping track of names, places, and dates is getting difficult as it is all running together. Thursday we started with our normal routine of morning prayer at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. We then got back in the bus for a long drive south (I think). What I am amazed by today is the extreme diffferences in life that just a few kilometers make. Where we are staying is in a very nice part of town, surrounded by many Embassy's and the home of dignitaries and families with higher status. Our hotel is nice, not air conditioned - and it seems my room has better air flow than others on the team, but all in all no complaints as it is clean and refreshing after a long day.
As we travel into the city, in some cases it isn't not much unlike other cities I've seen. It is not until you talk to the people that you realize the culture is different. Traffic is crazier than most, and the number of people is astounding, but I am still not "shocked" because from the outside looking in it is deceiving. There is poverty within the city of course, but many inner cities have poverty, homelessness, and gang related activity. The big difference is when you travel up. The more out of the city you go, things begin to change and you realize this is a different country, with extreme cultural differences. The electricity begins to run short and the water flow stops.
Where we went today there were a few of the homes with electricity, but none of them with running water. This place is dry as the desert and rocky and steep. Fr. Benjamen allowed us to use his toilet (the only one here) before the climb up the mountain. He also talked to us about the history of the community and showed us the school. The school was quite large and the children were well adept in singing to Fr. Benjamen's banjo playing. It was evident that they loved and respected him. I do not remember how far it was up that we climbed, but I can tell you it wasn't cut out with steps as we have had the luxury of up to now. It was a rock climb for sure. The peruvians scaled the mountain in flip flops with an ease that did not go unnoticed by any of us, some toting a baby on hip. San Andres is proud in their catachesis training and the importance of knowledge of the bible. The children were telling us what they have been learning so far in Romans, and I think they surpassed mine! San Andres has another set of land that is not as high a climb, but it is undeveloped. Fr. Benjamen explains that they must complete the work there, because that is the only way the government will give them the title to the land, if they use it.
The kids were engaging with us and if it was evident that we didn't understand in spanish they would revert to the words in english that they knew. They quickly grabbed our hand if needed when climbing the hills, they carried my backpack, and especially Brenda was attentive to me. Brenda showed me where she lived, her dad and uncle were building on to their house a second floor. Brenda is 14 years old with an older maturity about her. She was serious, but smiled often. She asked me many questions and was quick to answer any of mine.
When we got back to the hotel, as much as I do not like sitting in the room, I have to say I was ready for a nap. Thus no posting. :-) Anyway, I hope you are enjoying reading about our experiences. We are blessed to have this opportunity of being here and learning how to incorporate the culture to empower the mission; in otherwords to utilize and enhance what is in place rather than to take over and create something that may not be able to be utilized or carried on.