Firstly I would like to say a huge apology to all who have written me emails. THANK YOU so much and I am so sorry that I have not replied to you. Over the coming week I hope to have time to sit down and reply to you. In the busyness of settling in I haven’t had time to do this yet. I apologise, I do LOVE to hear from you and your news and I hope this never happens again.
I have been in Ica working with A Rocha for almost a month now. I am getting to know the people and the place, using Spanish a lot. Life here feels surprisingly natural and I am enjoying all the challenges and joys. I do miss my friends in the UK and Arequipa but I know this is where God has called me to be and what better place is there?
28th July was a very important day here in Peru. It is Independence Day, marked by a national holiday. Houses are decorated with flags. Shops, churches and buildings are covered in red and white and filled with people having parties and singing the national anthem. This year it was also the day that our new president was sworn in. Please pray for Peru and our new president Ollanta Humala, that he would do his best for the country.
I am living with Pastor Jose and his family. They have really welcomed me into their family and I already feel part of the family. I have enjoyed meal times because it has been an opportunity to get to know them better and be introduced to some of the unusual foods of Peru. Some things were surprisingly tasty, others not so much. Anticuchos (grilled cow’s heart) is one thing I won’t be eating again in a hurry. Saying that I introduced them to marmite and they are definitely in the hate it camp! They are fans of a good cup of Earl Grey tea though!! I praise God for their kindness and how they have adopted me into their family.
My work with A Rocha is going well; I am working alongside Ramon, project manager and 6 university student volunteers. I have enjoyed spending time with the volunteers over the last few weeks. They have been so friendly and patient with my Spanish. We have had good fun and really feel part of this team.
My work is split between working in the nursery and in a Secondary School. In the nursery I am preparing, planting and looking after seedlings. We are planting seeds of Huarangos and fruit trees at the moment. The secondary school is in a local district of Ica and I am working with classes to design and then create a green space in their local area. Saturdays are taken up with a project called TiNis (Tierra de Ninos, Children of the Earth). We work with a group of children in a local district of Ica to create a green and fun space in their local area. The area that we are working in is basically sand and rubble at the moment. I am looking forward to see their ideas being changed into reality as well as building friendships with these children and their parents.
I am slowly getting to know people in my church and I am still working out what to get involved in. They have welcomed me into their fellowship and understand that it helps me if they speak slightly slower for me to have a chance of following what they’re saying.
The past week a team of 30 people from my church in Arequipa came to Ica for a missions trip. It was so great to see some of my friends from Arequipa again and to spend some time with them. Most of the Carhuachins (who I was living with in Arequipa) were part of this team. They had their breakfasts and dinners with us and when I was free I joined them in their activities. It was a real time of blessing for me and I enjoyed spending time and catching up with them. They all showed such love and compassion for sharing God’s word, an example for me to live an outrageous life for God.
I have been challenged over this past month about having a balanced life style. Having days when I don’t hear or use English is more tiring than I thought. This means that I need much more rest than normal. I have yet to get into a routine of work and rest, I am still getting used to a new place with new people. I have felt very tired but with God’s strength and grace and a wise mentor, things are beginning to become easier and more balanced. I pray that I would have the wisdom to know what to get involved in, when I need time for myself, time getting to know people and most importantly time for God.
One thing that I have been struck by this month, not only am I almost half way through my time here (where has the time gone?), but the Hannah who left the UK in February will not be returning. Don’t worry I am returning physically but from all that I have learnt and experienced out here I cannot return to the person I was when I left. God’s Grace is working in me and changing me, forming and creating me into the person he designed and created me to be. This is often a painful process for me, but what an exciting time. I am being turned onto who I was created to be!
Thank you so much for your support, through your prayers, letters, emails, reading my blog. I am so encouraged by this and thankful for your partnership in all I am doing in Peru.
For those that pray-
-That I have been so welcomed in Ica and that friendships are starting to form
– That God has clearly had my coming to Ica in his hands and has prepared the way before me
– That I am settling into life in Ica and have friends I can call family
-That I would have wisdom over how I use my time and I would know what to get involved
-That I would be a witness to the people around me, in my words and actions
-That friendships would continue to be deepened in my work, in church and in my home.
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.