Well it's Wednesday, not what I thought my first day would be, but sure enough it is our first day in Peru. We landed in Arequipa pretty early and Pastor Pablo greeted us with a hug and warm smile. Did I mention it's winter in Peru, and it's freezing?! Needless to say I underestimated the "winter" here. I was freezing when we landed and instantly regretted not packing my heavier jacket. Anyways, Pastor Pablo picked us up in a bus with his daughter Andrea to interpret. Our ride into town was fascinating; the city was different than I expected. Parts of the ride felt like we were riding through the Middle East- torn apart homes, destroyed cars, dust and sand everywhere. The air was thin and dry but the sun shine bright without a cloud in sight. The street was spotted with stray dogs and packed with taxis and cars. Dust kicked up and horns honked as we swerved our way through the streets, narrowly missing other vehicles and people, and finally making our way to our hotel.
Tucked in a semi-quiet street in the middle of the city, our hotel was basic at best but clean and simple. I bunked up with two other girls and are room consisted of three twin beds, a small nightstand, a wooden desk, a piece of art on the wall, and one lamp. Luckily we had a bathroom attached to our room which was teeny tiny but managed to have a shower, toilet, sink and mirror squeezed in there. Oh, another fun fact I learned while traveling to Peru was that they don't have the infrastructure to support the sewage system so nothing can be flushed down the toilet besides waste... Not even toilet paper. So that was a whole new experience for sure. (Definitely the #1 thing I'm going to miss about America)
Marika, Abby and I unpacked a little and I took the coldest shower of my life (no hot water) before we bundled up to head out to get breakfast. Pastor Pablo's daughter got us a taxi and we zipped off into the heart of town to eat breakfast as a team. Breakfast consisted of eggs, meat, cheese, bread and the freshest juice. The team was exhausted so I think everyone enjoyed the real meal in over 27 hours. Pastor Pablo & Pastor Tony discussed our agenda over breakfast and decided to send our team back to the hotel to rest and prepare for the afternoon.
It didn't take long for all of us to pass out when we got back to the hotel. A few hours later we were more rested, up, getting dressed and ready to go serve. Our first stop was a local pastors conference that was in town. Pastors from surrounding countries were in Arequipa (organized through Pastor Pablo) to receive training and discipleship. We joined them and Kierre and Deborah lead worship and Trevor delivered a message. The remainder of our team worked at preparing for the children's ministry for the following day. We are focusing on the story of Joseph, so Mariks came up with a few crafts to do with the kids including some coloring pages, a coat of many colors with yarn and string, and salvation bracelets with beads and yarn to remind the kids of Jesus's love and sacrifice. We worked for a few hours tracing and cutting out jackets, cutting string, and separating beads.
After a full night of discipleship and fellowship our entire team met up for the first time (everyone else arrived on time) for dinner! We went to a Chinese restaurant in town as a group and had a nice meal together- even though I could only eat rice. I can already tell eating here is going to be interesting being allergic to gluten. After dinner we headed back to the hotel and now are quickly crashing. It has been an exhausting 2-days of travel and I'm very thankful we finally made it. Better late than never I suppose?!