I’d like to praise God for an amazing first month. After moving around for the first few weeks, I am now starting to settle into life in Arequipa. I am living with a lovely Peruvian family. They have made me feel very at home and welcome. I feel so blessed to be living with them and am enjoying getting to know the daughters, particularly the two oldest, Dolly and Gaby.
I am slowly exploring parts of Arequipa. The centre is beautiful with lots of white buildings made out of volcanic rock called ‘ Sillar ‘ (hence why Arequipa is known as ‘the white city’). On a bus tour, I was able to get further into the outskirts of Arequipa as well as seeing and learning about the history of colonial times. Arequipa has changed a lot over the last few years, with shopping malls being built and more imports from other countries influencing culture here. As a result, there is a strange mix of ‘Americanisation’ to more traditional Peruvian life.
I am getting used to the transport here, either a taxi or a combi (bus). Combi’s are an experience. Often full to bursting they zoom along the roads, barely stopping to let people on and off. If the traffic stays still for too long the horns start blowing to encourage movement. Combis are by far the cheapest, fun and choice way to get around and it is how I get from language school and back home.
Language school is good and I am learning to be patient with myself. I have classes every weekday from 2.30 to 6.00pm. I enjoy these classes, probably due to the two wonderful teachers, Sandra and Lula. I am gradually getting to grips with all the present tense verbs and the phonetics of Spanish. I feel I am starting to understand much more, though I have more difficulty in speaking it
I have been to several church events with my family. I am getting to know some of the people there and starting to build friendships. On Saturday evenings there is a young adults group, which is good fun. I appreciate the opportunity to get to know others of my own age.
Being in a different culture where I speak only a little of the language is teaching me to find my identity in Christ Jesus and nothing else. I am learning to remember that even when I feel that I cannot contribute much to life here at the moment, I am someone, a daughter of God. I pray that by my being that I would be able to show God’s love to the people I meet.
The high altitude (2335 metres above sea level) in Arequipa has made me slow down and take things easy. I started by trying to do lots, but after the first week realised that it was not sustainable. I have learned that to be able to enjoy and be of use to anyone I have to slow down and pace myself. It is a marathon not a sprint!
I have two names here-either Hannita (little Hannah) or Hannah Montana, I know which I prefer! But I praise God that I am starting to settle, learn some of the culture and routines of life and make friends here in Arequipa.
Thank you so much for praying, there is no way that I could do any of this in my own strength.
Lots of love
-That because of his amazing grace I am here in Peru.
-For the wonderful family that I am living with. For their generosity, kindness and graciousness. I am so thankful for them and their love towards me.
-That so far I have had no health or safety issues.
-Relationships to continue being built
-Patience and motivation in my language study
– For continued safety and health. That I would trust God in everything and always rely on Him.
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.