So Mimi and I are taking another team to Peru this year. We left on Friday morning and arrived late Friday night.
We had our schedules and itinerary in hand and we headed out the door.
The first flight to our layover in Miami was bumpy but uneventful. I sat in the back of the plane while the rest of our group sat in the middle and front. In the back with me were 13 women heading from Baltimore to Miami to have girls weekend away. They all had really flashy shirts and were very loud, but fun. I also had about a 4 or 5 year old child sitting behind me, kicking my seat much of the flight.
Mimi sat on her own in the middle of the flight and, since she doesn’t travel well, fell right to sleep and woke up in Miami.
We get to Miami and were to meet up with a woman I had met a few years earlier at a church planting conference. While we had a few glitches there, it was pretty easy to get together and we headed off for some lunch and our first devotion of the journey.
When we got to Lima, we located Paige and Stalin, our guides, and they took us to La Victoria, the area of the place we would be staying.
La Victoria is a very different area than where we have stayed in years past. It is the inner city. Smells of marijuana and prostitution are done in the open here. There are gangs in this area and random packs of dogs roam the streets.
This section of the city is up almost 24 hours a day.
As I sit here right now typing this, I hear about 5 different songs playing throughout the city, someone is shooting off fireworks, and car alarms go off quite frequently.
The place we are staying is a chapel. It is 5 stories and in the middle of the city. The outside is black and white and all of the windows have bars. There is a man who sits just inside the door and opens it for people who are allowed in. Every Sunday, this chapel, the smallest of the 5 campuses of Camino de Vida, has 350 regular attenders.
The first level of the chapel is the church. It is really just a big black box style. They can transform the room into whatever they want it to be for the day. It can be church on Sunday and then on Monday turn into a wheelchair build site.
The second level of the chapel is a kitchen and offices. The missions offices are housed on the second level of the place. There is also an occupational therapy facility on this level.
The third level has a sewing ministry where they make all the shirts for their missions program. They also have a meeting room and a place where people can come and get clothes for free.
The fourth level is where short-term missions teams like ours stay. There are bedrooms for the women and bedrooms for the men. They also have a “living room” where short-term teams can hang out and unwind.
The fifth level is storage. All of the maintenance equipment and paints are kept up here. They also have a small outside living room that overlooks the city. I am hoping to get to use that a lot more later this week.
We arrived about 1 AM and went straight to bed. I couldn’t sleep and spent the majority of the cold night laying there in prayer, thought, and yawning.
The next morning came and we ate breakfast and had a quick devotion before we gathered together for orientation. We learned that a few days ago someone had come and sprayed graffiti on much of the building.
I have to say that my heart sank a little when I saw it. 2 years ago my team painted the building, the sidewalk and the bricks. It was a long couple of days, but we did a really nice job. Seeing it tagged with graffiti was a little upsetting.
We were told that we would be spending the day painting the building again.
We gathered all the materials and started in at painting at about 11 AM.
We finished the outside of the building by 12:30 and sat down to eat lunch.
It was a little late to do our original plan of evangelism, so we decided to help Paige get the chapel ready for church tomorrow. This meant a lot more painting. She wanted a few levels of the steps painted as well as one of the offices so that they could move furniture out of another larger office to use for kids ministry in the morning.
We broke up our group and started going to town on the painting.
We finished about 5:30, got cleaned up and headed off to dinner.
It is now 10:30.
The city is alive and very, very loud. Many people are sleeping with ear plugs or ear buds in to drown out the noise. While I am exhausted, I want to take in the sounds of the city. I might not sleep, but I want to experience what the people of La Victoria experience daily.
Tomorrow we will be tourists. We are going to start our day at the chapel and attending church and then heading off to enjoy the touristy side of Lima.
More on that tomorrow.