I can’t quite believe we are in March already, Christmas feels so long ago! Yet it was wonderful to go to the beach for five days between Christmas and New Year. It was a chance to fully relax, reflect and recharge the batteries ready for the New Year and all the challenges that are ahead.
A few days after I returned from the beach we moved house. Ruth M and I are enjoying our new flat and slowly making it more homely. It is fairly central and I can walk to a lot of places, including church, my office and the central plaza in Arequipa. At the end of March Ruth M returns to Northern Ireland for six months. This means that for the first time I will be living on my own for an extended period.
I have now officially started the role as Short Term Coordinator (STC) for Latin Link in Peru. I had a great week at the start of January with Ruth T, my predecessor, as I was trained and orientated into the role. I am grateful that she is still in Peru and on hand to help answer questions and offer advice. There is a lot to learn!
Photos – Ruth T and I going through the STC handbook. The den Oudsten’s and myself after a day of orientation.
My first major task as STC was to orientate new Striders (people on a short term placement, for more information click here). My first orientation was in Spanish (eek!) with the den Oudsten family in Trujillo, where they have been living and will be based. It was great to meet and get to know them over the few days. I then travelled to Lima to meet Jessica and Fiona at the airport and orientate them about the Stride programme in Peru. Orientations cover a wide range of topics varying from Peruvian culture and safety to buying phones and tasting local delicacies. It was a tiring two weeks, but I enjoyed getting to know each Strider and helping them learn about Latin Link Peru and living in a different culture.
I still feel like I am getting to grips with the role. No day has yet been the same and I have a feeling that will always be the case. I am currently responsible for ten Striders plus children. Please do pray for wisdom as I help support them during their time on Stride and as they learn about mission, life in Peru and so much more.
I have been able to visit and meet up with a few current Striders over the past few months. My goal is that by July I will have visited each Strider in their placement. Last week I visited Jessica and Livia who are both based in Huaycan, just outside Lima. It was good to be able to see where they are living and working. To talk through with them about the joys and challenges of living and working cross-culturally. At the end of this month I go to Lima for the Peru team leadership meetings, during which I will give my first STC report. I will also visit some Striders based in Lima and catch up with them.
Photos- Myself with Jessica and Livia in Huaycan. The raging River Chili in Arequipa due to heavy rain.
I have been having fun getting to know the other ‘young adults’ at my church on Saturday evenings. They have been welcoming and friendly to me, especially as I am not able to attend very regularly due to my travels away from Arequipa. One of my favourite times was helping to make Causa (a local dish). Trying to peel recently cooked potatoes with your hands is a good bonding experience!
It is coming to the end of rainy season here in Arequipa. The surrounding countryside looks so lush and green, though the rain does bring landslides and floods. The rains have lasted much longer than normal, a reminder that climate change is impacting people in a very real way.
I am so grateful for your support, which is shown in so many different ways.
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.