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Another Peru Dispatch

One more in a series of posts from Fr Mark Evans (rector of Trinity, Lincoln) and his wife, Sandy Moore, as they represent the Diocese of Springfield in our new companion diocese of Peru.

Peru update May 1, 2013

“…In his hand are the caverns of the earth, and the heights of the hills are his also…”

 We have returned from an overnight trip to the town of Cabanaconde, along the Colca Canyon, truly one of the most beautiful spots in the world.

Cabanaconde is about 150 miles from Arequipa but what a 150 miles that is! The two lane highway starts off like any other, but conditions change quickly and frequently.  Switchback hairpin curves accompany the climb to the summit between three volcanoes (one sometimes active; two dormant).  The elevation at the summit is 15,000 feet.  After that the road gradually goes down, again with many twists, sharp turns, and spectacular views.  Our driver, Dcn. Victor Condori was a very good driver and I felt safe with him at the wheel.  The trip took a little over 5 hours, with a few stops.  The highway is always under repair because of constant rock falls, and in one particular area, along a fault line, the tremors are said to be so frequent that the reconstruction there is ongoing.  At one point the road becomes gravel for about 20 miles.  This isn’t a nicely graded gravel road like we may see in central Illinois.  This is rutted and rocky and steep and curving.  At times we had to stop and wait for cattle, sheep, and donkeys to move aside.  At one point, we encountered a fairly long tunnel. This wasn’t a nice wide reinforced, lighted and ventilated tunnel such as one would encounter on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It was blasted out of the mountain, with the crude walls visible, no lighting, and very narrow.  But we made it through.  All of this was accomplished in a rattle-trap 16 person van that looked and sounded to be on its last legs.  But God provided what was needed,  and we made it there and back in one piece.

But while the beauty can be seen in God’s creation of the natural world, there is less beauty in the lives of his people living there.  The town of about 3000 is comprised mainly of farmers who work the rocky mountainous land using their hands to do unceasing manual labor to eke out a living.  Alcohol abuse is rampant, and that leads in many cases to child neglect.

In this tiny town at the edge of the earth sits a small mission church called San Felipe Anglican Mission.  It was built and is financially supported to some degree by the people of St. Phillip’s Church in Frisco, TX.  It is run by a full-time deacon, Deacon Justo Maqque, with visits once a month from the regional vicar, Fr. Daniel Rodriguez.  Dcn. Justo described the difficult lives of the people, and their irregular church attendance because of the demands of farming.

On Tuesday evening, after Evening prayer, a simple dinner and  fellowship among our small group, we headed for bed. But Tuesday evening was the eve of Peru’s Labor Day, so we could hear the very loud music and fireworks in the village long into the night.  Wednesday morning, the feast of St. Phillip, we celebrated Mass in the chapel before staring back to Arequipa.

Once back in Arequipa we visited the Sagrada Familia Children’s’ Home, an orphanage housing about 15 children. It is clean, bright, and cheerful, and like every other place we visited, could use help to do more.

I’m feeling as I did after our last trip to Peru in 2008.  We can’t comprehend the cold, hunger, want, fear, and desperation that so many of the Peruvian people face.  And yet their faith in God is a glorious thing to behold.  I feel that God has led us to this point to show us that we can benefit as much from them as they can from us.

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