Chau, miss!

That's how the kids at Castillo Fuerte bid us goodbye everyday (typically accompanied by a kiss on the cheek and/or a hug). I said "chau" to Peru last Sunday. I meant to post this much sooner, but
  1. thanks to a Shared Album, I was admittedly intimidated by the volume of photos to sift through; and 
  2. the past 36 hours have been...unexpected (but I'm ever more grateful for the missionary community I live and work amongst). 
Enjoy this pictorial (and videographic) look at my "workweek" in Peru and its conclusion on Saturday.

Seeing as how the Castillo Fuerte kids start arriving around 1, we did a variety of things to occupy our mornings. Among them was craft prep. Not pictured: traipsing to a market that made me feel like I was on The Amazing Race to buy snacks for the kids; visiting a terrorism exhibition and a craft fair at the Ministry of Culture; walking/running on a paved trail in San Borja; and the obligatory Starbucks run...or walk, literally. 

Prepping kept us busy in the evenings, too. Libna brushed up on her recorder skills, just in case the kids weren't up to snuff by Saturday. They were!

One morning, Elvis took us to the center of town. The catacombs under the Monasterio de San Francisco are the resting place of an estimated 70,000 people. Equally impressive to me was the prevalence of Moorish-influenced design elements that the Spanish brought with them. 

We heard some traditional Peruvian patriotic music in front of the presidential palace ;)

Games, like UNO, which the kids love although they can never keep track of whose turn it is, helped control the chaos during arrival. 

Next up was lunch, courtesy of Norma, a Castillo Fuerte veteran. There are three portion sizes depending on age/appetite. You get your drink, usually hot tea or fresh juice, when your plate is clean so you don't fill up on liquid. 

Camp began in earnest with a large group sing-a-long with Christa. 

Tu nombre levantaré (Lord, I Lift Your Name on High)

Santo EspĂ­ritu Llena Mi Vida (Give Me Oil in My Lamp)

From there, we divided the kids into two groups: Alpha and Omega. Alpha would stay with Christa first for additional music time - more singing, clapping exercises, rhythm instruments, bells, and recorders. 

I settled into a routine of prepping both groups' snacks and chatting with Norma during the first rotation. My view ☝

Once snacks were prepped and delivered upstairs, I'd stick around to help Libna lead crafts for Omega until it was time to switch, stepping out only to give Christa a 10-minute warning. 

Monday's craft also served as the kids' nametags. We tracked attendance by adding a rhinestone for each day.  

Maryory with her heart craft from later in the week. 

I was thrilled to see this view from upstairs one day: blue sky and SUN! It only came out twice. 

Once both groups had been through both rotations, we corralled everyone downstairs again for a Bible lesson led by Osmel or Elvis. 

They tried to keep it engaging, often asking interactive questions or asking for volunteers. 

And then the moment everyone was waiting for: the park! The kids LOVE playing Frisbee, soccer, and basketball and playing on the playground at the neighborhood park. Park privileges are a powerful motivator to behave.  

Evening meals were eaten out with the exception of Wednesday, when Peruvian seminary student Jeancarlos (on vacation with his wife and son...we're neighbors in Cerro Alto!) made us tallarines verdes (spaghetti with a cheesy spinach pesto sauce) and gave us a lesson in Peru's iconic cocktail, the pisco sour...

...and Thursday, when we joined the Los Olivos congregation for Bible study and the ubiquitous pollo a la brasa (rotisserie chicken). 

More of the hardworking staff and volunteers: Osmel's wife Yolanda; Director Laura; and Norma again.

Hillary, me, and Nicole. 

Libna and I using the kids' artwork to decorate for Saturday...

Saturday morning, it was high time to see some ruins! We ventured to Pachacamac, a sanctuary about 45 min. from San Borja that had been occupied by four different people groups over the centuries. We paid for a guide to take us through the relatively new museum and then the archaeological site, which is VERY much still active. Case in point: here's Pyramid with Ramp 1...

...and here's Pyramid with Ramp 2. 

The main thoroughfare into and out of Pachacamac forms part of the Inca Trail. Hiking the portion that leads to Macchu Pichu is tops on my bucket list, so I figured I needed a picture here, too. 

The pinnacle of the sanctuary is a temple to the sun god. Don't ask me how you can worship the sun in a city that's overcast for months at a time, but the views (of the ocean and of the sanctuary and city of Pachacamac) were spectacular. 

We were joined by Jordan, a CUW student doing his student teaching in Uruguay. He was accompanying Area Facilitator James Sharp on a business visit to Lima but stayed an extra day. 

Saturday's Divine Service started an hour earlier than normal since there was so much special music to include! Numerous parents and friends who don't typically attend came to see the kids show off what they'd been practicing all week, and they did not disappoint. Following the service, one of the oldest girls did a solo rendition of a patriotic song in honor of Sunday being Independence Day. Several of the moms lovingly prepared and served a potluck meal to conclude the celebratory event.

Eric & I. 

The kids are a rowdy bunch, but Elvis told me midway through the week that most come from broken homes where Christian role models for how to express emotion, handle conflict, etc. are lacking. That changed my outlook and from then on, when somebody was on my last nerve, I'd remind myself that he or she likely just needed a hug. I already miss them! I feel like I was just starting to get to know them as the week wrapped up. Sometime, I'd like to see what a typical day at Castillo Fuerte is like, since we severely disrupted (in a good way) their routine. Chances are I'll be back in Peru, possibly before the end of the year, so sometime might be soon!

Until next time, blessings!