From the Lou to Lima

Team #4/4 missed their afternoon flight and now arrives at 10:42 pm, so voilà: blog time. 

Team #3/4 hailed from my hometown of St. Louis, MO, but spent last week in Lima, Peru, leading VBS for the kids at the Castillo Fuerte mercy house in the La Victoria district. We hadn't even made it to our lodging yet before someone asked what high school I went to - #iykyk. 

Gold star for preparedness! The congregation, Peace Lutheran in Lemay, has a long history of doing VBS at Hong Kong International School and therefore had it down to a science. The twist in this setting was that they're used to teaching a different group of kids each day in English, not the same kids all week through an interpreter. 

Sunday was a blur of worship, a…relaxed…lunch hosted by a member at her rooftop terrace café, shopping, and sunset views, but the spring chill didn’t do my body any favors so I wasn’t enjoying any of it…or documenting it for posterity! 

I came out of the bathroom Monday morning to a sea of worried-looking faces that had just realized it was Emily's birthday. Not to fear: her husband stumbled upon a local bakery (ironically, Emely's Tortas) on a neighborhood walk, and I covertly arranged a surprise celebration with our dinner hosts that night. 

Arriving in Lima the day before the team, one of the items on my checklist was re-learn how to get from where we stayed to La Victoria using public transportation. I had it written down, but it had been three years. A little refresher before our ride there midday on Monday was all I needed; I didn't get them lost one time :)

The upstairs classrooms became our staging area and gathering spot for a quick prayer each day before we descended to have lunch with the kids. 

We always got there early, but that was especially true on Monday since it was the first time the team had seen the space. We even had time for a quick walk to the neighborhood park ideal outdoor game locations (which we had to rethink on the spot when park security asked us to stay off the grass...). 

Greg (center, Blues baseball cap) had no problem keeping the crowd entertained while we waited for Laura, Chabela, and Norma to begin parading plates of lunch out of the kitchen around 1:30. 

The first order of business after lunch? Let the kids run off some steam in the park before a string of indoor, sit-down activities. 

I mean, someone had to demonstrate what a 3-legged race is!

The team used CPH's Encuentros con Jesús/Jesus Encounters curriculum, supplementing with Arch Books that corresponded with each day's story. I'd read the Spanish version if there was one, or interpret the English text on the fly if not. Sometimes, the lesson continued with a drama, Psalm, or another book to read. Each day's Bible story leader concluded by driving home Jesus' death and resurrection using tabletop props. 

The team tracked attendance by giving kids a different colored smiley-face sticker each day and having them color in a stained glass window depicting a key symbol or image from the day's story. Lesson worksheets, crafts, songs and memory work in English and Spanish, and free play time rounded out each day. 

Tuesday, we filled our open morning hours with a visit to one of Lima's top attractions: Museo Larco. It was my first time! I got tired of taking teams to the same three places and decided to test out some new ones on Peace. 
Both the museum AND the building it's housed in are beautiful. I'll be back!

We collected the kids' crafts and worksheets all week as an incentive to collect them after Saturday evening's Divine Service, sneaking in a few gifts and prizes along the way. 

When your Five Below game supplies don't last through day pivot and come up with outdoor games that don't require any supplies or equipment. We knew Duck, duck, goose was a winner when the kids started playing it on their own by the end of the week. 

The kids had chapel on Monday and Friday. Soon-to-be Pastor Jeancarlos also popped in throughout the week to support, interpret, and build relationships. By design, short-term terms always leave after a week or so, but he'll be a fixture in the kids' lives that we want them to know and trust.

Somewhat of a tradition with Peru teams has been dinner with the entire church-planting team. Another first for me was Siete Sopas - an establishment on every Lima foodie's list for the ambience and of course the food. Everyone got to pick from one of two staple soup options plus the soup of the day, accompanied by baskets of yummy bread and homemade butter. 

Wednesday evening, the team participated in the re-launch of an English conversation practice outreach that missionaries years ago started. It ran from 6-8 pm, so the team “catered” a spread of enough finger foods to count as dinner.  

Deaconess Caitlin suggested “American” foods. I took that one step further and threw out frozen toasted ravioli. Guess they liked the idea. 

The concept took a bit of explaining, but they were all gone so…

Each volunteer was paired with an English language learner and given a sheet of themed discussion starters all about…food! Language learners and volunteers alike had to present their partners to the group. I leaned that mine, Luz María (center), doesn’t like chicken, doesn’t like to cook, and has fond memories of her mom’s big platters of tallarines verdes every Sunday. We ended with a large group devotion about the most important meal of all - the Lord’s Supper. 

I’ll stop there and round out the week in a separate post. Spoiler alert: it's only by the grace of God that we got through the next three days and I watched all nine team members board their flight home Sunday morning. 

Until next time, blessings in Christ!