This is from Fr Mark Evans, rector of Trinity, Lincoln. With his wife, Sandy Moore, he is representing the diocese in our new companion diocese of Peru.
Friday started early. As neither of us had flown out of the St. Louis airport, we drove to Pontoon Beach, IL to help make our morning easier. The hotel manager said that to insure that we would be at the airport by 8:30, we should leave no later than 6:30 to allow for traffic. Of course, there was no traffic and our bags were checked and we were through security before 7:30 for a 10:00 flight. However, that may have been fortuitous as our original flight was showing a delayed departure so we caught an earlier flight to Houston and settled into the United lounge to wait for our 4:00 departure to Lima.
One of the benefits to traveling to Peru is that we stayed in the same time zone. Peru is in our Eastern Time Zone but with DST, we did not have to make any adjustments at all. The flight from Houston to Lima is about 6.5 hours so we landed about 10:30 pm. Then the fun began. We are told that approximately nine international flights land in Lima between 10:00 pm and 1:00 am so the lines for immigration were reminiscent of those for Space Mountain at Disneyworld. To compound the issue, there were hundreds, perhaps even a thousand, of screaming teenage girls waiting for the arrival of some celebrity so the area beyond baggage claim was complete bedlam. Trying to find our driver in the throngs of people was daunting but we eventually connected and made our way to his car.
The Cathedral is located in the Mira Flores section of Lima; a very upscale and cosmopolitan part of the city. After a 45 minute ride we were deposited at our hotel and Susan Park, the wife of John Park, the Cathedral Dean, met us there. We had met Susan and John on our last trip to Peru in 2008. Susan is the person who makes traveling to Peru so much easier than it would be if left to our own devices. She arranges lodging and itineraries and negotiates the myriad of details that come with international travel. John is retiring from active ministry the end of May after which they will relocate to Ambridge, PA. Susan will continue to work for the Anglican Church in Peru in the same capacity she now has except she will obviously do it remotely. We spent some time catching up with Susan and about 1:30 am, we made our way to our room for some much needed rest.
Saturday we spent the morning with Susan and Fr. John Park, looking over the renovations in the cathedral, breakfast, arranging flights to Arequipa, changing money, and getting a phone to use. We all had a lovely lunch with Bp. Godfrey and his wife Judith. The Bishop outlined his hope, which is that the current diocese split and Springfield become a companion to the new one in Arequipa, hence our trip down here. He foresees a relationship in which individual churches have relationships with each other. More on that below.
Arequipa is a city of 1 millionpoeple, set at 8000ft. elevation. Our flight there was about 90 minutes and we were met by Fr. Daniel Rodriguez and deposited at our apartment around 10 pm. Our itinerary is: Sunday we will attend 3 church services at 3 locations; Monday we’ll visit the diocesan school and the children’s home (orphanage); on Wednesday we will travel 5 hours to a Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world where one of their churches is located; we’ll spend the night there and return to Arequipa Thursday to fly back to Lima. On Friday we will attend a clergy meeting then head home late that night.
By Sunday evening both of us were quite weary. We attended three services that day: 8:30, 10:30 and 4:30. They were a small city parish, a large city parish and a mission in the outlying shantytown, respectively. The largest service of the day probably had 80 plus people in attendance although it was hard to tell for sure because people arrived continually during the service. The trip to the last parish was a bit of an adventure. Arequipa, like Lima, is located in the foothills of the Andes so the outlying areas that are settled by migrants moving from the interior of Peru are perched on steep, rocky hillsides. The ‘normal’ road to the parish was closed for construction so we weaved our way through neighborhoods until we found a very steep, rutted road that would take us to our destination. Deacon Victor, our driver, ably kept the engine revolutions high while he slipped the clutch to keep our speed low enough to navigate the rough road while preventing us from sliding backward which would have resulted in a very different report. Trinity Lincoln can thank Deacon Victor that they do not need to do another search for a priest.
Fr. Daniel is the overseer for the Arequipa churches and is our host here in Arequipa. He graciously asked Mark to concelebrate with him and the parish priests and Mark made a few comments during the announcements at two of the services. Fr. Daniel acts somewhat like a bishop in that he does not have a parish of his own while he oversees the seven or so churches in his area.
A little background is in order here. The Province of the Southern Cone Plans to split into two provinces, an Atlantic province and a Pacific province comprised of Chile, Bolivia and Peru. As a province needs four dioceses, Peru is ready to split into multiple dioceses to make this happen. At different times in the conversation, +Godfrey referred to two or three dioceses in Peru; perhaps they will do two on their way to three but we don’t know that for sure. If they go to three, their hope is that Florida will be aligned with the northern diocese, Albany with the mid country diocese and Springfield with the southern diocese which will be based in Arequipa. There is another bishop in Peru, Michael Chapman, who is slated to work in the middle diocese. Bishop Godfrey is excited about the idea of having a companion USA diocese with each of the new dioceses from day one of their existence. We asked about Christ Church, Plano because we know they have had a presence in Peru for some time. He said that the majority of their aid and mission groups are aligned with the orphanage in Arequipa which we will visit Monday. A missionary from there has been our interpreter so we think, without having complete information, that a side by side arrangement would be the case, i.e. they have people here who could be helpful to us but they would do their thing and we would do ours.
The Anglican feel to worship has been much enhanced since we were here in 2008. Then, many of the priests had been recruited from evangelical, nondenominational churches and the liturgy, if we can call it that, was haphazard on a good day. Sunday, we saw the priest kissing the altar, deacons receiving blessings before they read the gospel and a real reverence about the Eucharist. It was enough to make this Nashotah boy think about taking his liturgy up a couple of notches.
Fr. Daniel is urging his priests to learn English, so over time, it will become easier and easier for Americans to have strong relationships with them. We are trying to build some new relationships here as the old ones are moving back to the States – especially John and Susan Park and Ian and Polly Montgomery. We met a new missionary while we visited the Parks on Saturday and she may be the new ‘in country’ person who handles mission teams. Susan Park will still coordinate a lot of the work from Pittsburgh when they get settled but as we learned while trying to pay for airline tickets the other day, a person here who can hold your hand and make the details all work is invaluable. Due to a miscommunication in the diocesan office, Susan did not know we were traveling to Peru until Thursday, April 18 but she has done a wonderful job of putting our trip together.
We remain excited about the opportunities here. We have been welcomed in Peru and treated quite kindly, not as rich Americans with money but as partners in the mission of the Church. We will write more later but we must prepare for the arrival of our hosts as we continue on our journey of ministry in Peru.
Yours in Christ,
Mark Evans+ and Sandy Moore