Sunday night 8:30PM
We’ve just finished our first day in Chepen, Peru (we’ve taken to calling it “Chapin” as in South Carolina because, well, it’s funny) and I wanted to post a brief blog about the day. As the title indicates, these kinds of trips aren’t for sissies.
We left Lexington yesterday at 11:00AM and drove to the Atlanta airport, fighting through the unending I-20 repair work to finally arrive at 3:30PM. We got all our personal stuff loaded along with the 13 trunks of medicines and departed for Lima at 5:30PM. We got in somewhere around midnight and took the next couple of hours getting all our stuff through customs (thank the Lord there weren’t any problems!). Then from 2:00AM until 6:30AM we tried to find a soft place somewhere in the airport to lie down. At 6:30 we found a coffee shop just opening up and had the surprising experience of ordering coffee with cream (in slowly spoken English in the misguided effort to help the barista understand). What she ended up serving us was a generous amount of espresso festooned with a massive dollop of whipped cream. We discovered, though, that with enough sugar almost any coffee drink works. Maybe Starbucks can create a new drink like this and call it something like “Spanish Surprise.”
We flew out of Lima at 7:30 for the hour flight north to Trajillo where we piled our luggage into a pick-up truck and our tired bodies into two vans and set out for the two-hour drive to north to Chepen. It was a long trip–and it didn’t help that the countryside looked like the Sahara desert. Much of the way we saw little more than rutted, wasted ground and flooded homes and farms. April’s floods had devastated the area and the highway was washed out in more places than I can remember. I do remember the many piles of debris on the shoulder. It was depressing to see the way the people were living in the aftermath of the disaster.
We finally got to our hotel at 11:30 and crashed for thirty minutes until lunch. Afterwards, out team decided since we had a couple of hours until meeting our hosts, we should climb the mountain on the other side of the highway. It’s a trail made famous by statues along the way of the Fourteen Stations of the Cross (called “Cerro de Chepen y Via Crucis”), and when our host told us that no other mission group had ever attempted the climb, we immediately decided to do it. The result was predictable: the four members of our team who are Clemson graduates got to the top and proudly unfurled Tiger paw banners.
We returned to the hotel, took showers and went to the first service of the week, a gathering of the small church that’s hosting the week’s event. We sang, talked and preached to the congregation–falling in love with them–then went to dinner with their leadership. Getting back to the hotel at 7:30 we had a planning meeting for over an hour where we learned that the week’s schedule is even more stringent than I thought. Each day we’ll run a medical clinic from 9:00AM until 2:30PM (with a thirty minute break for lunch). From 3:00PM-5:00PM we’ll lead a VBS for the children. Then from 5:00PM-6:00PM we’ll lead an evangelistic crusade. Dinner follows. We’ll get back to our rooms about 8:30 each night. And the next morning we’ll do it again.
Our prayer is that the Lord would so work through all this that a new church plant would begin.
That’s all for tonight. I’m going to bed. More tomorrow.