I have been in Peru for almost three weeks now. I still cannot quite believe it, even though it feels quite natural to be here. My first week was spent in Lima. It is an amazing and colourful capital city, full of history. To me, it seems a city of contrasts: bright morning sunshine turns into a misty afternoon (the sea mist is called ‘La Garua ‘), masses of buildings packed together merging into the beaches of the Pacific Ocean, an architectural mix of old colonial buildings, new glass tower blocks and more simple structures, great wealth to poverty. I’ve become accustomed to hearing people speak all around me and not understanding that much. I feel like a little child again because I have to rely on others to help me communicate, get anywhere and know what to do. It’s going to take a lot of patience to learn the language!
For the second week I was at the Latin Link Peru Team’s Annual Conference. It was great to meet the Latin Link Team that works all over Peru. We looked at the story of Jacob in Genesis throughout the week. I learnt so much during these times, but I think the one thing that really stood out to me was that even though I am nowhere near perfect, God through His amazing grace has given me the privilege of serving Him in Peru. I cannot earn or deserve the right to serve God in Peru, but it is in His grace and plan that I am here.
I am now in Arequpia (see Map of Peru-look south!) and have moved into the home of a Peruvian family. I will be living with them whilst I study Spanish for 3 months. Their names are Pablo, Dolly and their three daughters, Dolly (24), Gabriela (23) and Andrea (13). They are very friendly and have great patience with me as I struggle to understand what they are saying to me and as I try to form some semblance of a sentence in response to their questions. I look forward to the day I can hold a fluent conversation with them. I have started Spanish lessons this week and struck by how exhausting it is to learn and practice a new language. Despite this I am very excited about learning because it will enable me to get to know people better.
Arequpia is at a relatively high in altitude and surrounded by 3 snow-capped volcanoes! They are truly stunning to look at. I look forward to exploring this city more and learning about family life and culture in Peru. At this moment in time I feel like a fish out of water, slowly learning the cultural cues and norms, learning the language and learning how to get to places. I am learning how to live like a Peruvian, which is fun but I know will be touch and even challenging at times. I pray that God would give me the grace to do this.
P.S. No anaconda encounters yet!
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.