I'm sitting here in an open air school gym. It's a wonderful 70 degree plus in the shade. The elementary teachers of Viraco are in a seminar. I was going to watch some of the older kids, but when they threw in an 18 month old, that's where I draw the line for dragging kids around town. I did offer to buy tangerines (mandarinas) but when I got back, the kids had disappeared. I may head back to the street.
Aplao is three hours down the mountain. It's probably only 165.0 km away, but the roads are narrow and full of switchbacks, so it takes a long time to arrive there. The draw is that it's an agricultural center and has much more selections in furniture, clothing and restaurants. Interestingly enough, there is no movie theater, gym for exercise or bowling alley. So some entrepreneur needs to come this direction and cash in! Aplao is situated on the Majes River and besides the obvious fishing and crayfish trade, there is a river rafting resort a short drive outside of town. For cyclists, Aplao is one of the gateways up into the Andes for those dedicated persons who want to cycle the Andes trails. I learned all this last week!
The main crops are rice, onions, cane for weaving large mats which are sold for fencing and in some cases to make walls in quick houses. The fruit that grows here includes grapes, bananas, mangoes, tumbo, tangerines and some of the largest avocados I have ever seen since I left California. So, while food may be fairly economical, other goods seemed to be high, as the per capita income is high. But today, in spite of the "no seeum" bites, I am enjoying my day in the sun.
So, prayer requests: please pray that the lessons spoken and unspoken will reach those who God has appointed. Hipolito, the young man from Puno is back in the hospital and he is suffering with this chemotherapy. Here they give them treatment for several days in a row. My church here and I have been trying to help with the extra expenses of the Ensure and blood platelets and the other after treatment drugs. Please pray for Hipolito who has little support from his 8 brothers. His mom does what she can, but Puno is a 6 hour trip by bus and sometimes she can't come. Once in Arequipa there is an aunt with whom they can stay. Usually family members sleep on the floor or in a chair so the patient gets the care they need, whether it be corporal, emotional or to just guard possessions and meds.
Thank you for your prayers which uplifted us during the grieving time for the passing of our young friend, Andre. I have been up to the house to visit his mother and we spent 4 hours remembering and chatting about her life with him and now her life without. She is making strides to move on and knows she needs to keep on for her little brother, Daniel. I am encouraged to see her continue to depend on Jesus for her strength. Please continue to pray that she will grow in her faith.
So, as always, I need all the prayer I can get. Life in a grade school classroom is never easy. I have to say that the kids have made huge improvements since last year and their regular classroom teacher should get the credit. Please pray for her and her two daughters. They lost their husband, dad, in July and while they were estranged, his small efforts at taking care of the youngest daughter, financially, are missed.
Praising God for His love and mercy for my protection and for having placed me in a community of love and caring in Viraco and Arequipa. While I still will have things to do in Machaguay, that mission is now passing to Greg. I am so happy to have a co-worker in this area! I feel like I can breathe.
Thank you all for your prayers and words of encouragement by whatever technology. I am always glad to hear from you. As I have said, many times the internet signal is faint so forwards and pictures don't always open while I am up above, but the words always come through.
Blessings on you all!