It seems I taste rather good. To the mosquitos and biting insects. I returned from a trip to the CU group at Cantuta outside Lima with around 20 rather large bites on the legs, 5 days later they are starting to go down and the itch is finally going. At least the dog attack last year was more of an adrenaline rush! I´ll maybe spare you the photos of the now purplish blotches adorning my calves.
Lima the city I famously advertised as the place where the sun doesn´t shine is rather different this year, with a fair bit of sun and blue sky and the odd bit of sunburn for the team. We´ve been pretty busy hence so little ranting but check out our official updates here.
Hard to believe we´ve only around 10 days left, but it has been going really well, and I hope will be really significant for us as a team in relation to experiencing poverty, injustice, crossing cultures and how God is at work in the midst of all of that. We´re spending time in Galatians as a team thinking about freedom, sonship, grace, life by the spirit, idols etc – I have now crossed to the dark encounter side officially. I blame my co-leader. Although God may have something to do with it too. It is really transformational thinking about Galatians in the context we are in, following a God who longs to free people form the oppression of sin, both personal and structural, and also in a church context that at times is rather like at home in the north. Tomorrow we have our last day in San Martin – the shanty town on the edge of Lima then its a 20 hour bus journey to Cusco on Thursday where we will be spending 2 days working in AGEUP projects then our 3 days team holiday to machu picchu.
The english camp was fantastic and we´ve been able to build some really good relationships with Peruvian students, visiting universities has also been good, and really stretching, doing evangelistic dramas, giving testimonies at 1 minutes notice, and having the chance to share why we are here with lots of students who don´t know Jesus. I may not be too keen on dramas at home but the Peruvians seem to love it…
San Martin as been a really significant time, working with and getting to know kids and people who have very little, who after 20 years in the same shanty town still don´t have running water or electricity. We´ve been making a room for kids, planting trees to make the place look brighter, playing with the kids, and doing lots of practical stuff. We had the opportunity to go with the community to the zoo, with someone paying for the community to go. It was incredible to watch the delight on the faces of the kids and parents (many of whom had never been before), and yet stranger seeing them look comepletely the same as everyone else, all dressed up yet knowing the conditions in which they live and struggle to survive. San Martin to quote Stocki is a sad and beautiful place – sad in the sense of the poverty and the injustice of why people can´t break out of poverty yet beautifil in terms of the people, the sense of community, the welcome we receive, and the smiles on the kids faces and in their eyes. It is really moving at times to realise that god is there working through AGEUP, and will be long after we have gone.
We´ve had the chance to learn from some of the AGEUP staff more about what they do, with Juan the director giving a phenomenal presentation on mision integral, and jenny talking to us about their worl with HIV/AIDS, and the chance to meet one of the volunteers in one of their projects – a mother with a 9 year old daughter, the mum is HIV+, having contracted the disease from her husband, who died a few years ago.
The injustice of so much of what we see is difficult to take yet AGEUP and many of the churches are such beacons of hope bringing God´s kingdom in some incredibly special ways.
If you´re the praying sort, God has been really faithful and is working among us in so many ways as a team, pray that we will finish well, and that time finishing off Galatians and debriefing will really help us clarify some of what God has been saying.