Monday, April 21, 2014

Churches, camping trip, conservatories

Friday morning started off very cool, as Anne and I went around to local churches to find which were open for the public to enter and pray.  Catedral only had the side room open, but that was still quite cool.  We then moved on to San Francisco, which was stellar.  Not so much gold, but I was ok with that.  The 2 churches near San Pedro were open, but I could only get a picture in one.  One small church whose name I don’t know was available too.  San Cristobal, which I visited for the first time earlier this week, was open as well.  It was interesting to me, since the Catholic tradition is so different for this holiday.  There are many statues of saints and virgins available to be seen, and many people wait to touch these statues or others of Jesus.  Some churches prohibited photos, but in others I was able to get some good pictures. 
Iglesia San Francisco
Iglesia San Pedro
For the afternoon I hung out at home and checked a few more things off my long to-do list.  I have a lot to get done before being ready to travel.  In the afternoon, I headed to the camping trip with the little church.  There was a younger American who I already knew, then 1 more American girl, a Dutch girl, and a guy from New Zealand.  It was comical, since the guy from New Zealand uses words I would never use and has a different accent, so I struggled to understand his English more than I have struggled with Spanish in a long time.  Good to remember these misunderstandings happen in my first language too J  We delayed enough that we didn’t get the tents up before the dark.  I think it took close to 2 hours to get the campsite all ready, which I thought was a bit much but does match up well with Peruvian time.  In the evening we had dinner of 2 pieces of bread with cheese, which wasn’t quite enough to satisfy my beastly appetite, and a teaching from the pastor.  He basically discussed that our lives should be focused on bringing glory to God, and that the start of that begins with ourselves in forgiveness.  The girl from the Netherlands was an atheist, and the teachings made her very uncomfortable.  I wanted to try to reach out to her to make her feel welcomed, but her 2 other friends were already there and I didn’t have much more that I could do.  Everyone played soccer or other games until late, but I was tired so I went to bed. 
 Our fire :)
Night shot of the lake; I moved just enough to make all the lights look like candy canes.
I initially slept fairly well considering the hard ground below my sleeping bag, but at about 3 AM I was woke up by an obnoxious dog barking.  It went on for an absurdly long time, perhaps 1 hour.  The thought “I’m going to kill that dog,” went through my head many times, but I didn’t get up because I would have had to climb over the people in my tent.  Eventually it shut up, but wow was it annoying.  Early in the morning a soccer game started by another group near our campsite, which also made it hard to sleep.  At one point the tent by my head was hit by a soccer ball; I can think of more pleasant ways to be woken up. 
Camp site during the day
The next day we first had breakfast, which looked shockingly similar to the dinner we’d had the night before.  It is meals like those that make me happy that I have multivitamins here.  The rest of the morning was an alternation between games and lessons.  It still didn’t have the level of discussion that I was hoping for, but I’m learning that such teaching styles don’t really exist here in Peru.  I was going to give one of the lessons, but I realized that what I had planned was a bit too strong compared to what the other people were saying.  So I was in the process of changing it on the fly when the rain started, ruining all plans.  We quickly did what we could to keep our stuff dry, then stayed in dry places.  By the time the rain stopped it was almost lunch time, and we were all hungry after the small meals we were having.  Not a good time to attempt to talk.  So I will be giving my testimony next week instead. 
Fun cultural difference: Peruvians do not believe in rubbing in sun block :)
Quechua Speaker in the town of Urcos
Today was really fun.  I took Anne and her friend to the little church.  Music was excellent, such a great Easter celebration.  This community is one of my favorite places to worship the Lord.  So much passion, so much sincerity.  Following worship, we discovered that there was more white people than Peruvians!  Crazy, I don’t think that’s ever happened before.  So instead of having people try to translate wherever they were, they wanted a translator up front.  Because I attempted that this weekend, they called me up front.  I probably understand ~95% of words now, unless it’s in a bible passage because those words are super challenging.  So, I ran into some troubles with the translation.  Fortunately, one of the Americans who was visiting was fluent in both languages and had done translating for her church back home, so she took over.  I was so happy to not have to do it, but I think the very fact that I can make an ok attempt at it speaks to the incredible advancement of my Spanish during my time here.  The teaching was good, it was also about how we need to start with cleaning up ourselves before we can attempt to clean up the world.  I personally thought a little too much time was spent on the negative effects of cell phones on our culture, but I did agree with the majority of his points. 
My church family :)  Left to right:  Crouched = Carlos, Standing = Jesus (pastor), Amy (pastor's daughter), Taylor (friend from Grand Rapids), I totally forgot her name...  waiting for her to find me on facebook haha, Emparatriz (my professor and pastor's wife), Chelsie, me, upper right hand corner is Antony (pastor's son)

After the talk, I hung out with the other foreigners who were around, then eventually went to some nature conservatories with Emparatriz, 2 Americans who live with her, another guy from the church, and my new friend from Michigan.  It was great to see people saving animals who were rescued from bad situations.  Illegal trading, poaching, etc.  The condor was by far the most impressive.  Their wingspan gets up to about 10 feet, which looks incredibly impressive during flight, as I hope my picture captured J  We also went to what was basically a llama petting zoo, where I attempted to play Lady and the Tramp with the beasts.  Good times.  

Andean Condor in flight
This is probably the most adorable llama I've ever seen.

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