Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Staff Retreat

The Extreme staff met for three days of discussion, planning and group interaction (games). We learned about some of the history of Peru, discussed the plans for Extreme's projects, and went on go-cart rides. My favorite moment was encouraging one of the peruvian ladies to drive a go-cart (I'm almost certain she had never driven anything before....) She was a pro by the third time, and smiling very big!

We visited the site of a new church plant from the Umacollo church in Arequipa. In this small brick building, they have 50 neighborhood children come to play, sing, and learn bible stories.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Semana Santa (Holy Week)

Semana Santa, or holy Week is a big celebration here in Peru, as it is in most Latin countries. The whole week, there are processionals each evening around the Plaza de Armas, or city center. Military bands played as regional leaders and dignitaries attended church services and asked for blessings for the country. Thursday and Friday are National holidays, and the city pretty much shuts down. Very few stores are open. On Saturday morning, 5am, there is a special processional for the hanging of Judas. They light fires in the street and wait for an efegy of Judas to be hung.

On Easter morning, most everyone goest to church. They sell crosses made out of palm leaves and have them blessed by the catholic priests. Then they hang them in their houses until the next year, when they get a new one.

Canon de Colca

For Easter weekend, we traveled to Colca Canyon. This is the second deepest canyon in the world. We traveled in a tour bus with a group of 30 people. We started on Saturday morning under cloudy skies. You leave Arequipa and drive around to the back side of Misty Volcano, and then across the highlands of the Andes mountains. Part of it is through a national park and you get to see wild alpaca. The highest point along the jouney was 4,910 meters (16,100 ft), and we finally broke through the clouds into bright sunshine and snow!!

After a refreshing walk in the snow, we boarded back on the bus for a steep, winding, decent to the town of Chivay, where we spent the night. In Chivay, there is a great hot spring with 5 pools that are feed from the local volcano. We spent about an hour and a half just relaxing after the bus ride. Then we went out to dinner and a show with native dancers.

We boarded the bus at 5:30 in the morning to go see the canyon. Another big draw to Colca are the condors that catch the morning and afternoon thermals rising out of the canyon. We did get to see a few condors soaring in the distance, but nothing up close. We took a little hike along the rim of the canyon and got to see lots of flowers, fauna, and even a wild chinchila. We could see a few small villages across the canyon from us. The only way to these villages is to trek (hike). We may go for a 2-3 day trek to one of these villages when the kids get here in December.

Birthday Party at Dinosaur Park

We celebrated one of our co-worker child's birthday party at a cool dinosaur park. The kids had a great time splashing in the gold fish ponds, playing on the playground equipment, and getting their faces painted. We enjoyed being aunts and uncles.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Arequipa Project. July/Aug. 2009

The basic concrete for the first floor has been started by the Zamocola church in Arequipa. The building will have two floors. The second floor will contain seating for the church services. The first floor will be for housing and training of new staff for impact. The building to the left serves as housing for the pastor and has dining facilities on the ground floor.

Sunrise at Arequipa airport.

Residency trip - Interpol in Lima

It was a very early morning...We caught a cab to the airport at 4:30am. The sunrise was beautiful. Of course (por supuesto) we had a minor excitement when SOMEONE remembered the knife in their pocket just moments before going through security. Otherwise the day was beautiful and our time in the city of Lima was fairly short. The office in Lima for fingerprinting was very busy. But we took a man with us to ensure we had all of the right paperwork.