So everyone wants to know about Pacasmayo, where I will be living and teaching for the next while. The point I left off at was arriving in Pacasmayo after a 12 hour bus ride that included snorers, loud cell phone talkers, and Facing the Giants in spanish. Surprisingly I did get some quality sleep (one of my talents is sleeping) and I was ready to see things in town and meet the kids, and see the grounds. Once the moto dropped us off at Casa de Paz I immediately was embraced by Avis, the founder, "Ah we finally meet!!!" (We had been talking via email, and the occasional phone call since the end of November) And apparently she had told everyone about me because when I told everyone my name they go, "o yes Samantha you will be here for uno ano, si?" That's me.
I dropped all of my things in my temporary apartment and sat down with Avis and Gabby and chatted for a while, then I took a shower. O the shower. So there is no hot water connected to any shower. Each shower has a heater attached to the head, which are a little sketch. Avis said she would be weary of using the heater because they recently started shocking you. And as everyone has know since childhood, electricity and water don't mix- because of the wonderful illustrations on curling irons and blow dryers. I did not attempt to use the heater on the shower. Instead I chose the other advised method, which is filling some buckets halfway with regular faucet water, and heat a pot of water on the stove to finish filling your buckets, then bathe. It really wasn't that bad, in the summer I will be able to shower, but for now it is too cold for that so it is buckets.
The bucket shower was quite refreshing despite having to improvise my bathing techniques, since the last shower I had was in America- which means lots of traveling filth, it happens. Being clean I was ready to go, I followed Gabby to the school, A Generation of Leaders (which is attached to the church). The school has a room for each grade, one through eight, a science lab/room, a courtyard, and three learning centers. I will be teaching in the learning centers, some with the older kids and then with the younger. I love the set up of the school, it just has a more personal feel to it than schools in los Estados Unidos. After my tour Jose set up my computer with the internet, and I headed back to Casa de Paz for lunch.
Monday through Saturday a wonderful Peruvian woman, Juana, makes (everyone chips in for the cost of each meal) the volunteers lunch at Avis' apartment. So far I have eaten two of Juana's meals, and I am thoroughly impressed and would let her cook for me anytime. At lunch I was able to meet the rest of the American teachers and some other short term volunteers, who are all wonderful and I will tell you about them all another day. Shortly after lunch I went with Christina, Juana, Pastor, Pastora, Ray, Natalie, Abby, and Danilo (one of our kids who has special needs and just loves to ride in the Camby!) to a small town, Manzanca, five miles outside to Pacasmayo. In Manzanca they have started a small mission women's bible study on Fridays. Ray, Natalie, Abby, and I took all the kids into another room and read part of the story of Joseph and his dreams, then played. Now a little about Manzanca.
Pacasmayo is a poor region, but Manzanca is even poorer. They had hard compressed dirt floors, some chairs and a TV in the house, some of the women and children were barefoot, and most of the women cannot read. The beautiful thing is these women want to learn about the Lord, and the children desire so much to be loved and give so much love out. The children were so excited to play with us, we played a version of hide 'n' seek, and spun them around only to hear "mas, mas!", "orta ves!", "mi, mi!" It would be very hard for anyone to not show these children Christ's love. After the bible study Pastora had brought some buttered (not peanut butter, just butter) and jellied bread, and Pastor had gone and bought a 3-Liter bottle of Pepsi. As bread was passed out, the women of Manzanca made sure we- the fully nourished Americans- got one, and a soda, and then kept making sure we didn't want more before they let the children go back for seconds. Their hearts were so beautiful, it was hard to get back in the Camby and leave. As we drove off all the kids chased after the van, waving and shouting. Beautiful.
We got back to Casa de Paz and it was a birthday party/ farewell! A couple of the girl's birthdays were celebrated, and two of the volunteers, Rita and Heather, said some goodbyes (They leave Peru to go back to America to start paying off student loans). It was a wonderful celebration, the house mom's had made so many desserts- three cakes, jelled purple corn, some kind of jello on top of cookie, there was candy, popcorn, a homemade pinata, and again when the food was being served it was brought to the volunteers first- everyday I am being humbled by these people. After the celebration they watched Up- in spanish of course (doug isn't as funny). At that point I headed to bed traveling had finally caught up with me.
Saturday I slept in to a whole 8:30! Wohoo! Drank my yogurt, yup different consistency than America- but very good, then went to play with the kids that were outside. Playing was followed by lunch at Avis's, followed by Futbol de mesa (foozball) with some of the boys. Playing foozball with Nelson and Gerhson were possibly the most intense games of foozball I have ever played. At first Abby and I paired ourselves with one of the boys and enjoyed beating the other one. There was lots of screaming and high fiveing for the first couple games, then we switched up the teams. Abby and I vs. Nelson and Gerhson. I don't know if I need to say it, but we got stomped. those boys beat us pretty bad except for one game was 10-6, the others scores will not be posted. I think Nelson eventually began to pity us and eased up.
Saturday night I finally got to go into Pacasmayo. The girls took me into town for dinner and to show me where to buy groceries. It was night and so it wasn't really a good time to try and set any bearings to where I was in the town but it was fun to get out and see the people of the town and buy some food. Which food is cheap. It is interesting to see what kinds of food they have, and what from America is there. Anything from America is more expensive that the Peruvian equivalents so I buy Peruvian. After buying groceries we got a moto to go back up the hill and it was a day.
Sunday morning church is at 9am. All the kids from the orphanage who want to go to church are brought (there was a good number of them), and then there are people from the town. Worship and the message of course are in spanish, but the songs they sang were songs I knew in english. (They are really into Hillsong United) And then when it came time for the message Christina was there and so she translated to English. The message reading came from Matthew 23:12 "For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." The message was beautiful, and for me coming from America it wasn't what I expected to be preached at church. It was very humbling for me to listen to a Pastor who denies himself all sorts of things to minister to an impoverished people speak on humility. He is truly humble- even though he says he isn't. And I definitely took away a lot from the message as I continue to be humbles by my surroundings I learned that "humility isn't weakness or poverty, it is strength and love".
I hope that this finds everyone well, and that in your lives you also find strength and love from the people around you. Peace- Sam