If you need help - an entire bus load of people may have a (loud) discussion about the best way for you to get home.
Our local buses
Samuel and I needed to catch a bus home. We are slowly working out how to get about on the buses. There is no website that you can go to and find bus routes and I'm not aware of a map either. Good thing it's not hard to just ask for help. I flagged down several buses till I found one that said they were going near our home. The conductor let us know that the bus would get us much closer to our place but we'd probably have to catch a second bus to get to home.
Someone, seeing I was carrying a baby, offered a seat to me. As we got close to where I'd have to hop off the conductor called to the driver and asked about the best way for me to get home. On hearing this, the bus began to bustle with energetic conversation. Several offered their ideas - from this intersection you can catch this bus that takes you close to home. There were disagreements and few more ideas were thrown around loudly. I couldn't follow everything with my limited Spanish but I could see that they were trying to help me. Soon they agreed I could get off near a particular shop where it would be quicker to just walk home - it would be just 5 blocks. I knew where I was and it was really quite a quick walk home from here. I said gracias to everyone and hopped off. What a great trip!
Easy to carry Samuel around in what Peruvians call a "kangaroo". Normally he's in front of me so this makes more sense. This photos was taken a long way from home.
Have you had an experience where a group of strangers helped you?
Living in a highly seismically active area means we play some unusual games. This one is called "Sismo" (tremor in Spanish). In the game we have to quickly get to an earthquake safe spot. The kids play this in their kindergarten regularly too. It's fun but there's also a serious side to it. Every few weeks a (gentle) tremor reminds us of this.
Stories from last major earthquake
The last major earthquake hit Arequipa in 2001 with a magnitude of 8.4. It was devastating, destroying about 17,000 homes. 2,500 people were injured and 75 people lost their lives including 26 with the Tsunami that hit the coast.
AnaLou, a teacher at our language school, was in the upper part of Arequipa when the earthquake struck. She described it as terrifying. They could see over the town and as the dust rose from the shaking it looked like the city was sinking into the earth which caused even more panic. Mobile phones wouldn't work - the networks were saturated. Public transport came to a stand-still. Everyone just wanted to get home to get together with their families and make sure everyone was okay.
Julio, our grammar teacher, was outside when it happened. He said the ground had waves running through it, like someone lifted a carpet and shook it. Pipes had broken spraying water into the air. Cars were bouncing in the streets. When he looked towards the volcano that towers over the city, it had disappeared in a cloud of dust from what he later realized must have been caused by avalanches. Julio described the most terrifying thing about an earthquake was the incredible noise. In his home cupboards had opened and cutlery smashed on the floor, his fridge had fallen over but the important thing was that no one was hurt.
A week after the earthquake a team of doctors arrived from Germany and were staying close to Julio's home. Some of these doctors, after seeing the effects of the earthquake, spoke about wishing they had experienced it first hand. Julio couldn't understand why anyone would want to experience an earthquake. But anyway, these doctors got what they wished for! After a major earthquake, there are often serious after-shocks. At around 3 am one morning an earthquake with an magnitude of over 7 struck. As the doctors fled the house, many were still in their underwear, standing outside in the cold. A couple of them were so shaken by the experience they wanted to fly home immediately. They'd changed their minds evidently.
How we stay prepared?
We have regular drills at home and in our language school. In an earthquake the power is automatically cut so we keep torches and candles handy. We also need some emergency water, a few cans of food and a radio with batteries.
When an earthquake strikes, it's important to react quickly and find a safe spot close to where you are. Under a table or in a safe zone away from glass windows or objects that can fall. People's natural reaction is often to run out of the building. This is generally dangerous and many injuries have occurred when people have tried to run down stairs. Most of the buildings in Arequipa are built to withstand earthquakes so it is best to find a safe spot within a couple of seconds of where you are standing. Once the quake is over it is time to go outside being careful of broken power lines.
Safe zones that are marked in all public buildings
Should we be worried?
We trust that God has things under control. Wherever we live he is in control of when we live and when we die. We will take all the precautions necessary and keep in perspective that while the risk of an earthquake is high, the risk to our lives is extremely low. I feel that it's easier here in Arequipa to understand that we are every day in the hands of our Creator.
If you are a salesperson in a shop and there is a queue of people waiting to be served, what do you do when a friends pops around to say hi? In Peru it's perfectly acceptable to now have a conversation with that friend. The people in the queue will wait patiently while you have a good chat.
I (David) was in our local market the other day purchasing some vegetables. I handed over the money to the lady for the vegetables. Midway while getting my change a friend of this lady came by to say hello. They began to have a great conversation while I waited patiently for a small amount of change (less than 10c). Soon I began to suspect that I had just made a miscalculation and had already actually been given all my change. Why else would this lady launch into a conversation? So I headed off and to a different part of the market. About a minute later the lady from the shop came running. She'd left her shop to find me and give me the rest of the change.
Friendships are more important than time, here in Peru. We've now gotten to know this lady in the vegetable stall and she stops to say hi to us even if she's in the middle of a transaction with someone else.
Christine: Well God has answered a prayer in an unexpected way. We were looking for a gymnastics class for the girls but could not find one. We ended up finding a ballet school 20 minutes walk down the road. I never imagined taking the girls to ballet but they love it. And how is it an answer to prayer?
I have been unable to connect with local mumsor find friends to practice Spanish with because of the time needed for language study and just managing the kids. Also they don’t seem to have playgroups or mothers groups like we have at home. But what I have found at the ballet school is a captive audience of mothers who wait the whole hour for their girls twice a week in a small room. We are not allowed to watch the class so we are forced to chat with each other. How nice! So today I wrote down a few of their names. I met a teacher, dentist, accountant and, of course, stay home mum’s like me (well, excluding language study ). Of course some topics are universal for mothers: breastfeeding, how you fared in your pregnancy and what cute thing your kid did yesterday. To my surprise I can understand a lot of what they are saying. Sometimes the lady closest to me kindly repeats the key information more slowly and simply for me, but none the less, it is all in Spanish. They have encouraged me and say I am doing well for such a short time in the country. This is great to hear as in the language school I am reminded constantly of my mistakes. I cannot use all the tenses we have learnt yet but slowly and with practice I am sure I will get there. The ladies said they are happy to help me and I am more relaxed in this situation of immersion.
I am going to look forward to Monday and Friday afternoons sitting around with other mothers of little ballerinas. Who knows where God will lead our conversations in the future. Please pray for opportunities and praise God for answered prayer. The ballerinas get a lollie at the end of each class – to which Annabelle asks ‘Why did I get a lollie?’ It’s definitely a win win for everyone (though maybe not their teeth).
Latin America is an exciting place to be with so many opportunities to serve.
Students at a youth conference in Arequipa
We look forward to serving in a University, discipling and empowering students to follow Jesus. Students are the future leaders of the nation and are an incredibly strategic group of people to work along side. Our vision is that many students will be inspired to serve God and will go proclaiming and living out the message of Jesus. Arequipa, the city we work in, has several major universities. Some students come to Arequipa to study from different parts of southern Peru. If we can reach these students, they are able to take the gospel back to their communities in their own language. We met two students who did exactly this. In their holidays they went back to their incredibly remote village high in the Andes and they taught the Bible in their native language Quechua. Read the amazing story of how this remote village turned to Jesus.
Our prayer is that Peru will not only send missionaries within the country but also beyond. This is already starting to happen. SIM has spent many years preparing the church in Peru for this. A couple of months ago SIM Peru sent its first missionary to Asia. Latin American missionaries are able to go into countries in Asia and the Middle East that may not be open to western missionaries. They are also able to blend in more easily in these countries with their darker complexion. There is a SIM team that is working hard to put together documentation and training that will help to mobilise the Latin American church for missions. A lot of work is still to be done and a lot of prayer is needed. We look forward to seeing what God will do.
Have you been tempted to buy a lucky charm or to make an offering to the “mother god”? The average person in Peru may face quite different temptations but we are all tempted at times to compromise our devotion to God. The Bible speaks to us where ever we are. Pastor Efrain, from our church, is currently preaching through the book of 2 Kings. This book has many practical applications for us today as we look at the people of Israel during the time of syncretism when Israel worshipped the Living God, as well as followed other gods. Even with my limited Spanish I've been enjoying these talks.
We hope to record these talks and make them available on the Internet (thanks to a few tips from friends in Concord Baptist). We feel that this systematic Bible teaching will be a valuable resource for Latin America.
I meet with pastor Efrain once a week and we practice Spanish and talk about life in Peru. This church is very relevant to our future work in Arequipa because of the excellent work they are doing among University students. I've enjoyed learning about the challenges of sharing the gospel in Peru. It is also a great encouragement.
I don't feel so bad making blunders in Spanish after hearing a mistake that Efrain made in English. Efrain was born in Peru and had the opportunity to study at a Bible college in the UK. Here he said farewell to a fellow female student with the words “See you later. We will touch!”. She seemed surprised! He of course meant to “keep in touch!”
thank God for Calvary Chapel in Arequipa and their teaching of God's Word.
thank God for their growth – last week we almost ran out of room
pray for more leaders who will impact Arequipa and beyond
Dried alpacas that can be purchased in the markets and buried in the ground as a sacrifice to the Pachamama (Mother god)
Lucky charms that some believe will bring wealth. The teaching in 2 Kings is very relevant.
Can technology help to better connect Churches with missions? I couldn't help but ask the question, especially since I used to work with computers. So after chatting with missionaries, several mission agencies and with people who supported missions the concept of a website called MissionsHub.org has developed.
So now we have a platform where potentially hundreds of missionaries can quickly setup their own site (a “blog”) and share what God is doing. You can get updates from particular missionaries or you can choose to get updates based on a particular criteria (coming soon) eg., updates from missionaries in “Europe” involved in “Church Planting”.
I am really grateful to several people who helped to guide this project including Sean Boucher from WEC, GlenyssBarnham from SIM and Tim Silberman from SMBC. One surprise was a friend, James Henley, from my language school here who happened to be skilled in video production. See the video he created to introduce MissionsHub.org to mission reps at the ReachOut conference.
I also need to thank my team back in Australia (at a bank I worked at) that helped to get this project started. In a single day we built the prototype that is the basis of MissionsHub.org. Thanks to Kiran Kumar my team leader, MadhanMohan, David Doyle, Chuong Vu and Daniel Jeffries. This team build some amazing websites and I couldn't have got this off the ground without their help. For example Madhan wrote code that pulls a map of the selected country from Wikipedia.
A website like this needs a team to develop and maintain it. It has been great to connect with developers here in Arequipa too to get their input. Last night we had two developers over for dinner and we looked at how we can make MissionsHub.org available on mobile phones (if you've got a smart-phone try it now - www.missionshub.org/jeyachandran-family). Pray that I learn Spanish quickly because I currently understand about 50% of the conversation. I have also connected with the person who heads the community of Peruvian developers (for this particular web technology). By God's providence he is a passionate Christian and has suggested ways that this could be made into a community project.
Fernando (who heads the Drupal web developers community in Peru) and his wife Nancy
that this will be a valuable resource for missions that will bring glory to God
that more web developers here in Peru will be involved
that I will be able to use computers to connect with students at the University
It was amazing to fly into Arequipa. The city really is stunning! This place which will be our new home is nestled among in the Andes mountains. It is great to finally be here.
Copyright Leonardo Correa Luna all rights reserved
When we came out of the airport were were greeted by the cheering SIM (mission) team. We felt very welcome - it was almost like a home coming even though we'd never met most of these people.
Before getting to Arequipa we spent a week in the capital Lima where we also made welcome. We stayed in the guest house with a lovely American missionary family whom our girls absolutely loved. We got to meet lots of other missionary families and experienced their hospitality. So we haven't had the chance to feel culture shock. The mission has helped make this a really easy transition by getting us to meet many families who have already done what we're going to do. Even for the official matters, someone from the mission accompanied us to government offices so we could begin our residency process.
Mission Team in Lima
I'm looking forward to learning and practicing Spanish. I currently know enough Spanish to get myself into trouble. For example, on the flight I asked the stewardess in Spanish for a spoon for my baby - so I thought. She looked concerned and puzzled. I had actually asked for a knife for the baby.
The twins are enjoying all the attention and have had a lot of fun. The travelling has also been hard on them. Annabelle said she didn't want to go to the airport again. The most painful was in Santiago airport, where we spent more than two hours stuck on a plane, waiting for the fog to clear before we could take off. No more flights for awhile now. Our last flight into Arequipa was our best so far. It was good because of the views but also because we could enjoy them as the kids slept.
It's easy to have start conversations with people when the kids are with us. Peruvians love to chat about kids and especially babies. Annabelle and Amelia now can say "Hola" and "Chao". Amelia was teaching Samuel how to say "Hola" the other day.
Twins in Lima
There was just one thing that got me down. I made a really frustrating mistake when I got off the plane in Arequipa and was collecting our luggage. I left my suit-bag in the luggage collection area. With a lot of luggage and kids to manage too I put the suit-bag down and just forgot to pick it up again. I only realised when I got to the Guest House. It was too late to go back to the airport so we'd have to return the following day. I prayed with Christine and we had a few others pray too like my mum in Australia and the missionaries here. I realised it would be a miracle to get it back. I told myself that it was nothing important - it's not like it contained anything irreplaceable or something I couldn't live without. I was still feeling down! Before coming to Peru I had given away most of my clothes and I found that pretty easy to do. I kept my favourite suit and my five favourite shirts that were in that bag and to lose those was... hard. I went to sleep knowing that it was really in God's hands.
Next day... We went to the airport with a missionary here called Siegfried. We asked several people if they had seen the bag and the answer was "no" but eventually someone walked out holding the suit-bag. We thanked God and celebrated! I smiled more than usual that morning.
David with the suit-bag
This was a good reminder for me to trust God even in the small things. In Matthew 6:28 it specifically asks us not to worry about clothes. Whether my clothes were found or not I need to remember that God has things under control. There will be much bigger things to worry about but our God has things under control.
In Peru there seem to be a lot of low doors and I discovered one as I ran into it. I still remember the clang of the steel as I fell backwards from the impact to my head. There was a fair bit of blood. By God's grace I could not have done it at a better time. It was during a mission meeting and there were two doctors and two nurses at hand and they were able to quickly stitch up the wound. Allen and Amy stitched me up while Dorothee and Siegfried prepared the equipment needed.
If you're interested you can watch the video of me getting stitched up
Thank God for caring (and skilled) missionary family here in Arequipa.