Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I haven't forgotten you!

We are all back home safe and sound as of Sunday night, Sept 18th. I have over 3,000 pics from the trip and some incredible stories to share.

At this time, Aaron is back to school, I am back to work and we are attempting to catch up from being absent from our actual lives for 14 days!

I will begin posting photos, stories and videos from out trip to Peru once we have settled back into our normal routines and can find the additional time to do so.

until then...

A view from the streets in Lima
The streets and sidewalks seem to be as crowed with cars and people as the hillsides.
There are approximately 250,000 to 300,000 people in Huancayo, Peru
There are approximately 7 to 8 million people in Lima, Peru

Hedelia showing us a hand embroidered skirt panel made by Inez
Inez does handi-work to supplement the family's income. This type of traditional skirt is handmade and requires two panels. Each panel takes two months to make. A skirt sells for maybe $200.

Inez with some of her family
The day after this picture, after I promised I would buy the school uniform for her 13 year old son because that was the only reason he wasn't in school, we were informed that her son in the picture above had to take his brother to another village to live with other family members. The young man had apparently crossed paths with a local 'mafia' or gang and in order to keep him safe and out of trouble, the family thought it best to remove him from the area. Because of the family's poverty and distance from the other village-they may or may not see thier son again.
Gives a whole new meaning to the term, 'tough love' doesn't it?

A cow still decorated from a recent festival
Both it and the chicken in the background are grazing...and pooping, in the front yard of a home....in the same place the children play. Add sheep and dogs to this and one can only imagine the big picture.

A street vendor in Huancayo
Storefronts on wheels....everywhere you turn!

A still decorated sheep grazing on land as hard as concrete
Imagine having to plow, by hand, the rows in a field of rock laden dirt dried as hard as the sidewalk.

A day on the streets of Huancayo
The people in Huancayo can never be mistaken for meanderers, they are all headed someplace in a hurry!

Women in Huancayo waiting for a bus
Imagine carrying all of your Saturday groceries on your back while traveling in standing room only public transportation to reach the 10-20 miles back home.

Aaron giving out some candy to one of the boys of Azapampa
They love the sour stuff!

One of the many faces we have come to love in Azapampa
One of his neighborhood playmates fell down a well the last day we were there
Little Percy is fine, but imagine something we might have national media coverage for as something the people of Azapampa deal with on a daily basis.



Monday, September 12, 2011

Sunday's River Baptism

Sunday, people came from all around and miles away to celebrate the baptism of five Azapampa youth. It was a wonderful day full of God, love and laughter. The event was held in the middle of the fields next to a river and the beautiful Andes mountains set the backdrop. Today, pictures are worth more than words...
Raquel preparing for the baptism ceremony

Neighbors, friends and families traveled from all over to attend the baptism

The five children gather, listen to the sermon and prepare for the river baptism

Gracie was asked to sing at the ceremony- It was beautiful

After the baptisms, everyone stayed to eat lunch in the fields, celebrate the day, visit with one another and the children played together.



Friday, September 9, 2011

Say a little prayer....

...for success. We are attempting to create a skype session between Peru and Cameron on Sat evening to share a little international fellowship and youth interaction. Stay posted for updates on the place, time and opportunity to atttend.

Until then, here are few photos from the last few days. Hope you enjoy!

Touring Azapampa the first day
Streets of Huancayo
Street vender in Huancayo

A family of Azapampa

Street woman in Huancayo

The little red church in Azapampa, Caesar, Gracie, Ruth and Donna

Common roofing of the housing in Azapampa....if they have roofs

Living in Azapampa

Rachael, a girl of Azapampa. She is a daughter of one of the families we've helped. She will have a forecver place in my heart. We shared some great moments and you'll hear stories about her later.

The playground in the back yard of the little red church in Azapampa.

A foundation to build on

Day two began at 5:30 am with a cold shower. I don't complain after seeing what we are here to help with.  We dressed and headed to Caesar and Karina’s house for a breakfast of eggs and mushrooms with warm chiabatta bread, strawberry jelly from the market and wonderful Peruvian coffee, from the jungle.  A couple of smarter team members opted for warm showers at Caesar’s while the rest of us ate our breakfast.
Caesar dropped us at Azapampa and familiar faces greeted us with smiles and hugs as we entered the village on a road no vehicle should have to brave. We dropped our bags at the little red church and looked through our suitcases of tools as Hedelia, The Lay Pastor of Azapampa and Caesar, briefed us again on the needs of our first family. We were to purchase the rocks and dirt that would be used to fill the foundation trenches for their new home.
With business settled we entered the home area of our first family. More hugs, kisses and thanks greeted us. While waiting on materials to arrive, there was work to be done. We moved three  big piles of dirt and rock created from the digging of the trenches and used it to level out the yard where our family lived. I think the piles grew for a bit when we began to dig them out and shovel the earth  into wheelbarrows, but we prevailed. Several of the women kept the dust down by pulling buckets of water from the well and splashing it onto the hills of dirt.
The high altitude made the strenuous work even more difficult and I’m sure the people of this mountain gained a laugh or two at the gringos who had to take more than a few extra breaks between shoveling and moving dirt. But we never knew if they did. The people were gracious, loving and appreciative of our willingness help.
I think the two family members that stood out to me most during the day were the matriarch of the family and one of her daughters, Elizabeth. The matriarch seemed to rule the family with a silent but firm and loving hand. One word from her and the children and grandchildren quickly and respectfully carried out her wishes. I call her Mama. I think nothing happens under Mama’s watch that she is not aware of. She appears kind, extremely wise and very strong.
Mama must have thought that my American ball cap was not sufficient for the Azapampa sun, because she brought me a new hat to wear. The native Peruvian hat was beautiful,   but unfortunately, my head is a little bigger than the people of this family, so it didn’t fit well. Ruth,my fellow mission team member, who was give a beautiful bright red hat by this family the day before swapped with me.  Mama was right…the Peruvian hat protected my face and ears from the sun much better than my hat the day before.
I truly enjoyed getting to know Elizabeth. She is 33 and, along with her two sisters, will be getting baptized in the river Sunday. The team will be blessed in that we have been invited to attend the river baptism.  Elizabeth is a bright, eager to learn young lady. I never see her when there is not a smile on her face. Even though I speak minimal Spanish ( I am learning more each day I am here) she comprehends English  fairly well and we had great conversation about family, way of life, one another and our children.  I am pulled to this young lady and it was a privilege to get to spend the afternoon with her and her family andto share a part of our lives with one another.
The dirt for the concrete arrived and the men, there are three sons, along with my son, began to sift the dirt for the foundation’s concrete mixture. I was proud of my son, who despite being unaccustomed to the mountain air, kept pace with the men of the family during the session of shoveling and mixing dirt, concrete and rock.
While the men, my Aaron included, prepared the mix for the concrete, we spent time with Mama, her daughters and grandchildren. The afternoon was filled with great accomplishment and fellowship. At Mama’s urging, we even tried chewing coca leaves. It tastes like chewing alfalfa.  Mama says it is a great cure for altitude sickness, upset stomachs, headaches and a multitude of other ailments.
After a day of hard work, we took taxis back to Probitem, the seminary in Huancayo where we are staying, took showers, my first hot one since we’d arrived here, and headed out to the square with Karina to have some great Chinese food. After dinner, we walked around the square a bit. I visited a store in attempt to find some raw wool. We did not find any there and were told to visit another store in another area. Karina advised us we would have to visit this place during the day because it was located in an area that was not safe at night. We walked a little more and Aaron found a music store. He looked at some trumpets and even tried a couple out right there in the open store front next to the sidewalk. He failed to find one he couldn’t live without. But before we left the store, he was thanked by another patron leaving the store for the concert. It was a fun evening and a good end to a hard but good day.
Working alongside the people of Azapampa today made me reflect on the hardships these people have faced, both in the past and today. Watching their love for one another and their willingness to work hard for the little they have, makes my heart ache that I can’t give them more. Sometimes it is very hard to let go and let God do the rest.
I do not know how Gracie does it. It is obvious by the love that radiates from her eyes and  her generous smiles the moment she first sees faces that are familiar to her here in Peru, that she genuinely loves the people here. She comes every year and does great things for them. And, every year, her heart breaks that she cannot do more. Today, after making sure this family had a strong and safe foundation to build their home on, she was asked if there was a way she could help them buy the bricks for their walls. The money only goes so far and Gracie works miracles in how much she is able to accomplish each year with the little money she has for the Peru mission.  The fact remains, there is only so much money and she has other families, in just as much need.
It takes a while to upload photos from here, and I have so many....for now, I'll just leave you with a few moments from the day...
The dirt mix must be sifted, mixed with concrete mix, then mixed again with a sandy soil. All this is done with only manual labor.

A view of the compound type yard shared between our family and thier other family members and neighbors.

My new friend Jose, Hedelia's husband, and
I comparing our new hats!

Mama chewing coca leaves and setting next to one of her daughters while taking a break in the shade to watch the work. Mama had just finished carrying two bags of cement mix on her back.  They weighed 100lbs each.

One of the children of Azapampa sitting on the side of the road while doing his homework.

Part of the foundation trench

One of the many spectacular views from the village of Azapampa.

The family's well. While recently the gov't has begun to truck clean water into the village, each family digs a well for daily use in the home. the well water is still used for cleaning, bathing and livestock. The water is poison for many reasons and not safe for consumption.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Peru Update


Hello everyone! Finally have a decent connection to the internet that I think will be fairly consistant. It was a long trip to get here and once here, we have been immersed in the people, land and culture. I'll have a more in depth post for you later but to get everyone up to speed, here is a few quick words.

We arrived safely in Huancayo. Our 9 hour bus ride only took about 7 1/2 hrs. we dropped like rocks Monday evening and woke early this morning to meet the five families whom we are to help during our two week mission.

We will spend a day or two with each family getting to know them and helping them repair thier homes from the horrible rains earlier this year. I was told that the rainfall this year was 200% higher than normal.

The people are so gracious and full of love in Azapampa. It was sensory overload and extremely overwhelming to step into thier lives even for this day. Even knowing the poverty I was about to witness it was hard.

I think Aaron and I fell in love with the people of Azapampa today. They certainly have our hearts. Even though today was a day of meeting these families, we came home physically, mentally and emotionally exausted. I wish I could help them all. But, one can only do what one can do and we must trust God to do the rest.

Always easier said than done.

Today was a whirlwind and because my senses are on overload, I am still not familiar with the names of our families. We are learning one another. I am sure there will be additions and corrections to these stories, but for now, for the first heartbreaking and overwhelming day of introductions let me introduce you briefly to our families.

Family One:

large family, three generations, only one man-a husband to one of the daughters, and two boys-teenagers, all the reast are young girls and babies. A grandmother, with young kids, then there are the two sisters, both with kids only one with husband.

They are living in a small unstable adobe room while attempting to rebuild a room where they will all live. Thier home literally  'melted', from all the rain this last year.

They have dug the trench for the adobe foundation of thier new room/home. We are supposed to help build the foundation in our two days with them.

The second family: (we didn't get to meet these girls today-they were at school and working.)

Two young girls. 16 and 10. They are alone. The mother died from what they explained as, an exploding lung. The father is an alcoholic and has abandoned them. He is just gone. Thier home is completly crumbled. No roof, only three partial and very unstable walls.

The girls have no one. The oldest works to take care of them and still goes to school. The youngest girl is in school still also. They are temporarily staying in a small adobe shed that is very unsafe also.

We have to knock down the remaining walls and try to pour a concrete or adobe foundation. 

The third family:

A family of man, wife and five kids. Thier home/room was also destroyed. The husband builds walls by trade so he is skilled but out of work so the family's only money right now comes from the sale of the wife's wares. She sells embroideried skirts cutomeary to thier culture. One skirt takes four months to make and only sells for about $60.

The husband has rebuilt much of the room but it needs to be plastered and to have windows installed.

We are going provide materials since they have no money to complete thier home and help complete the tasks during our two days with this family.

We are also buying the uniform and school supplies for thier 12 year old son so that he can attend school. This is the only reason is not in school. The family cannot afford the uniform or supplies (books) it takes for this boy to attend.

Family four:
This family was not at home and we have not met them yet. They have rebuilt thier home after it was destroyed in the rains but has no window coverings. They need this and a few other items that we'll be helping with. They are living with family until they can move into thier home.

Famliy five:

Same thing, only I think the filthiest living conditions. (and thier dog bit me as we walked by!) A woman and man and 4 or 5 children are living in a very nasty and smelly area while they are rebuilding a bigger room to live in. I think about a 10x12 room is what the new one will be.

We will be hauling big rocks to mix with mud for the adobe that goes into the foundation trench that he has already dug for the new place. The wife of this family told us how she had been bleeding from her mouth from carrying so many rocks. I do not know if it was the way she was carrying them or from the weight she bore while carrying them. Either way, it was heartbreaking.

(As we visited this family, thier dog ran out of thier fence, charged me and bit my calf. I'm fine, it didn't break the skin too bad, it is more sore from the pinch of the bite I think than the bite itself. )

We have a lot of work to get done and it is late. It is 10:45 and we are headed to bed. 5:30 comes early.

Please say a prayer for the people of Azapampa. They are full of love for one another and God and live a life no one should have to live.

Tomorrow I'll share more about the people and the history of Azapampa.


Monday, September 5, 2011

D'Anna Balliett
Just checking in with everyone. Service will be spotty until we arrive in Huancayo. Everyone is safe, enjoying our exposure to Lima and as of 10 mins ago, packed onto the bus and headed for Huancayo. Before we pulled out- our photos were taken for our identification should we plummet off the side of the mountain at anytime during this 9 hour bus ride. Lol. Would it matter at that point?

Sorry for the crazy broken up posts from earlier. I was attempting to post from my phone and I think it broke the messages up into so many characters.

As I am typing this, our bus driver is battling it out with another bus. Literally. They are fighting for position and the two buses are so close, our bus driver reached out and started banging on the other driver's window! Guess we lost the battle, angry bus driver #2 refused to back down, bumped our bus and went ahead of us. City road rage has nothing on Peru.

I'm signing off to enjoy more incredible sights from the safety (did I say safety?) of my bus window. Ill post photos later.

With a new appreciation for US traffic laws,

Sunday, September 4, 2011

ng the states in 1 1/2 hrs. Four and a half hours after that, we'll be landing on the coast of Peru!
settled in the Miami airport and just finished a croquetta, spinach and cheese empanada and guava and cheese pastry. Life is good. Yummo! We'll be leavi
And... Gracie is the bomb....she got the five of us a seat change on the plane so we are all setting in the same row. You rock lady!
s as packed!!! As I type we are waiting to board the plane in Dallas! Very excited to arrive in Lima!
od Grief Charlie Brown! American Airlines took our roller carry-on bags and made us check them all the way thru to Peru! Hope-n-pray everything arrive
We started with a bang- all the batteries in my carry on bag flagged security! After a very thorough bag search, we were on our way....almost! Then Go

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Packing 101

 So what does one take when packing to leave for a mission trip? Good question. One that makes me realize I need a little more simplicity in my life. And one that makes me realize it is easier to fall into the stereotypical arrogant-American, living in excess, role that I strive to avoid.  

Before anyone starts the rampage- back off. I am very proud and blessed to be an American.
This situation is one of the few reasons I hesitated on opening my personal blog up to the public. And, maybe I just need to get this statement out of the way. I’ll say this once and once only. I will not apologize for anything I say here because someone doesn’t like or understand the statement. I’ll discuss, explain (to an extent) but I will not argue, encourage or get lost in arguing over my choice of words or thoughts. This is my house (hence the name, D’s Place.) I have extended my welcome mat to you, cross and enter these pages peacefully- or don’t cross it at all.

Okay, I’m stepping off of my soapbox now, thanks for listening…

Packing 101, continued

I generally try to think of myself as a fairly down to earth person. I don’t attempt to keep up with the Jones’, I don’t live a lavish lifestyle and I live by my motto that as long as I have, I have something to give.

After attempting to pack for a two week mission trip to Peru, where I am going to help and serve others who are less fortunate than myself I’ve discovered something…..

I have too much stuff and a lot of room for personal growth

I skate closer to that stereotypical line than I realize

I envy those who can travel abroad for weeks at a time living out of a simple back pack with every need met.

It goes something like this:

Me(two weeks before trip): Hmm, we get one large checked bag that can weigh up to 50lbs, a carry on, back pack and computer bag. We only have to pack a couple of changes of clothes to work in, a few necessities and we can use the clothes we travel in for our visits to homes, churches and other locations.  I can do that, sounds like I’ll have all the room to pack I’ll need.

Myself  (days later): Crap, how am I going to get all of this stuff in these bags?! I know I’ll forget something if I don’t pack everything. I mean it is not like I can just run to the corner store to buy what I want. These bags are never going to hold everything.

I(5:30am the day before we fly out): Really D? Between the clothes you travel in, the toiletries and the emergency change of clothes you put in your carry-on, what else couldn’t you live without? Remember where you are going and why; remember the difference between need and want. Now go zip up your bags and be thankful for everything around you!
I find it amazing at times how easy we (I) can drift from the attitude of need to want without even realizing it. Yes, we are blessed with luxuries around us. Things like running water, electricity, a choice of what we are going to wear today, shoes (with a rather large emphasis on the plural), solid buildings to house us, our wants and needs really are all luxuries aren’t they?

Well, I’m off to pack…a little lighter than before. I can’t wait to share this experience with you. Thanks for stopping by.