Saturday, March 29, 2008

Peruvian Wedding

Hogar de Esperanza's director, Elizabeth Bernuy, celebrated her wedding March 15. It was fun to participate in our first Peruvian wedding. I had the pleasure of helping Liz plan so many of the details along with shopping for her dress.

There are several traditions that are different and several that are mixed with the Western culture. One tradition is that brides and grooms chose 'testigos' (witnesses) and 'padrinas' (godparents) of the wedding. Liz and her fiance, Obal, had chosen Vickie Miller to be their madrina. When Vickie became ill and passed away, Liz hoped to have her daughter or someone in her family represent Vickie. However, with schedules and timing, this became impossible. I was touched when I received a written letter from Liz and Obal asking me to take this position. They honored Vickie with the words they shared with me and described how I had helped them both through this time of difficulty. Part of my duties included signing the religious documents as proof of their commitment and my willingness to support them throughout their marraige. In they end, they were also blessed with the suprise attendance of David Miller to represent his late wife and his family.
Christian couples in Peru need to have two ceremonies. The civil ceremony is officiated by a government worker representing Peru and usually takes place in a municipal building. The religious ceremony is usually held in a church and throughout Peru is mandated to be at 12 noon or 8pm. However, Liz and Obal have been influenced by the American culture as well and negated the appropriate times for their wedding. (Their wedding was at 4pm.) They also decided to combine the civil and religious ceremonies for finances and simplicitiy... (different dress, another fiesta and an additional guest list.) So, first they completed the civil ceremony at this table, where they were officially married according to the law and then they moved over to the center altar where their pastor officiated the religious ceremony. It was held in a beautiful garden area with cement stage and arches. The interesting part was that all the bridesmaids, groomsmen, even the bride and groom were sitting on stage... that was our hint that it would be a long service!

Liz with some of the children from the albergue who were old enough to come. After the ceremony, the guests stayed for dinner and cake. Then, several groups of dancers put on a show of traditional Peruvian dances, including the Marinera dance from Trujillo (Liz' hometown) and dances from the jungle (Obal's hometown.) Afterwards, the guests were invited to dance with the couple and friends and family enjoyed the salsa. The dancing was quite a controversy for the workers and children of the albergue, as many believe it a sin to dance. There were many long (and very short) conversations afterwards (and still ongoing) about people's personal convictions.
Karolina and Joel
Robyn with some of the ladies who work in the albergue. Kristy (psych. intern), Sarita (new secretary), Robyn, Sylvia (madre tutora), and Miss Aly (teacher for Escuela de Miller.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New London Colegiate Ministry

This wonderful group of college students came to serve over their spring break. With months of advance planning and communication between us, they came ready to re-construct our playground. The work they accomplished in 4 days was amazing. They were organized and worked hard! They repaired our swings and see-saws, added a baby swing, and built monkey bars, a crawling tunnel, a tire swing and a nice tire border around the whole area. The kids have been spending a TON of time on their new playground and this is the first time I've seen so many of our older kids out there playing. I'm still amazed at the work they accomplished! Our playground before the group came.

The kids enjoyed helping the group.
Yamelit trying out the new monkey bars.

Our new playground. Muchas Gracias!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Back to School!

The children went back to school this month! The directors, social worker, madre tutoras and volunteers spent quite a bit of time organizing new uniforms and school supplies for 39 kids and were blessed to receive generous donations from volunteers, visitors and local Peruvians. We are excited to announce that this year our primary grade children are attending a new christian, private school (Colegio Betania) that is closer to the albergue - less than 5 miles away in Salaverry and our 4 high schoolers have the honor of attending Colegio Elliott, which was founded by missionary Bert Elliott (brother of Jim Elliott.) On campus in Escuela de Miller, Miss Alcira continues to teach 9 of our children who have a variety of learning disabilities and our on campus kinder program has 7 children learning their colors, shapes and simple English with one of our long-term volunteers, Amy.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Joel - Feliz Cumpleanos!!

Joel had a simple wish for his birthday, which was similar to Franklin's birthday wish... pizza and a movie. Easy to do, now! However, Joel seemed a bit down during his birthday week... missing his family and close friends. I wanted to do something extra special, so with the help of our missionary friend, Heather Ferguson, I found a golf course and was able to arrange a morning of golf for Joel. The weather was perfect - not too hot and we had the course to ourselves. It's a bit different than courses in the US, but I think he enjoyed it! The staff also celebrated Joel's birthday by sharing a traditional chocolate cake and cracking eggs on Joel's head... easy to clean up when you don't have hair! The staff asked Joel questions to get to know him more and they shared wonderful words of their love for him and how he is a blessing to the work here.
Then we finished his birthday with 'The Bucket List' in English and pizza at Pizza Hut with our Peruvian family, Alcira and Lurdes.
Happy 41st Birthday, Joel!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Only In Peru

Joel and I will be doing a blurb from time to time where we show pictures of things we see here in Peru. Things that you probably aren't seeing from where you're reading. We bounced around naming it "Peru 101", as well because I'm sure Peru isn't the only place people could see things like this. Well, whatever the name... these are some examples of daily life and things we see living in Peru. Joel's favorite sight. Overloaded trucks with passengers on top.
Bicycle carts are very common. This one is full of concrete... just another driver on the road.
Tied to a street sign on the side of the road... in the middle of town... having a good time.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

3 Volunteers from Ohio

Ben, Julie and Kirk came to volunteer with us during their spring break the first week in March. They helped with our last week of summer programs, including helping with tutoring groups, our kinder class, reading programs and Amigos de Net. Kirk and Ben helped paint our laundry room and offices and Julie filled in as a madre tutora for 2 nights. They also brought new shoes, school supplies, craft supplies and other materials for the kids. All 3 volunteers had been in contact with some of our children through our Amigos de Net program and it was fun to see them finally meet each other.

It was a crazy week at the albergue, as I was sick the first two days and then Joel and I went to Lima and everyone else was preparing for the first week of school. I was impressed with their willingness to jump in and do whatever was asked of them. They worked with enthusiasm and a wonderful attitude. I am reminded that there are young people all over with a passion to serve others and give of their time and money to do so. Everyone misses Tio Ben, Tia Julie and Tio Kirk!