As I sit down to reflect on the past month, I can’t quite believe all that has taken place. I have swam in the Pacific Ocean, become a resident of Peru, survived a lunch that included pigs trotters and ears, sheltered in a restaurant during a protest, learnt the past tense in Spanish, had a warm shower and eaten mangos fresh from the tree just to name a few things.
At the end of March there was the retreat for all the participants on the Stride programme. It was held over a long weekend at the beach, which made me very happy! On route to Mejia (the beach) we became stuck in a town called Matarani. There was a large protest going on as the local community did not want a new mine to open because of how it would affect the local fish industry. Fortunately we were able to shelter in a restaurant with shutters pulled down when it got a little intense. After 5 hours we were safely on our way as things had calmed down. I praise God for keeping us safe and that this did not prevent us from having a great time. The striders work all around Peru, so the weekend was a chance to get to know each other better and pray for each other. We learnt about serving cross-culturally and serving the poor but also had time for fun on the beach, which included toasting marshmallows on a bonfire.
Language School continues, my teachers Sandra and Lula are truly marvelous. I am slowly getting more confidence; though still get very nervous when I speak in Spanish. I feel very up and down with my Spanish, one day I feel like I have made some progress, then the next I feel utterly useless. Sometimes I feel like I will have to spend the whole year in Language school just to be able to have a very simple conversation. I need to remember to trust God, that He has called me out to Peru despite my lack of Spanish. I need to learn to be patient and to be content with slow living. God will use me as he chooses when I am faithful to him (taken from a Bible study by Tim Chester).
Learning to be patient is hard. I am so like a small child. Screaming and having tantrums, frustrated with the world and with myself. I often wonder if God knew what he was doing when he brought me to Peru. Thankfully he does! He has a plan, I need to trust Him. I am called to be faithful with the task he has given me and right now this is learning Spanish. I need to believe that He has sovereign control of the big picture, for “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28
The family I am living continue to have much patience and show such love to me. For Pablo’s (the dad) big birthday, his parents came to visit for 2 weeks and some of his sisters with families came for the weekend. To say the house was packed that weekend is an understatement! There was a big party on Saturday, which involved eating lots of food and practising my Spanish. It was great fun and I enjoyed spending time with the whole family.
I was in Lima this past week to sort out my resident visa, when this was sorted I went down to Ica on a four hour bus ride. I got to spend a few days there getting to know people and the area. I had a fantastic time and can’t wait to move there in June. It was a chance to meet and get to know Ramon, the project coordinator. It was also great as I got to meet some of the volunteers who are helping Ramon and see some of the areas that have been reforested and where future projects are going to be. I am really excited about getting involved in the work of A Rocha here. Hopefully a link to a video about the project can be found here – http://www.arocha.org/int-en/resources/videos/10654-DSY.html
The elections for President and Congress were held on the 10th April. There was lots campaigning beforehand and I learnt a lot about the candidates and the process of elections here in Peru. This election had 10 candidates for President, as no one got over 50% of the votes another election with the top 2 candidates will happen in June. For those that are interested more information can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-13056748
I hope you have a Happy Easter, rejoicing that Jesus our Saviour rose from the dead so that we could have a relationship with our Heavenly Father-what amazing grace!
Love Hannah xxx
For those that pray-
– That in everything God keeps us safe and under His wing
– That I was able to get my visa sorted and that I had such a wonderful time in Ica
– For the wonderful family I am living with and my wonderful teachers who have such patience with me
– That I would have the confidence to speak the Spanish that I know and that I would continue to learn
– That relationships with people in Arequipa would continue to grow and that language barriers would be knocked down
– That I would continue to rely on God for everything
– That suitable accommodation for me in Ica can be found. (what we thought was an option has fallen through)
After some language training to improve my Spanish I will be taking up the role of Short Term Coordiantor (STC) for Peru. The STC coordinates the Latin Link Step (teams) and Stride (people) programmes, placing them in projects lasting from a few weeks to two years. Based in Arequipa, I will be getting involved in a local church and my local community.