My time in Peru is now down to under two weeks which means it is time to get down to business and get the last adventures under my belt before heading back to the United States. I have always enjoyed traveling and meeting new people but my time in Peru has really taken that to a new level. Although I am a big talker, Peru has been a bit of a challenge for me in "gab" department because I am speaking in a different language and living amongst people from a different culture. While the language was a bit of a challenge at first, I must say my Spanish has progressed by leaps and bounds compared to my first week in Lima! A big part of adjusting to the culture in Peru has been by talking with the locals and getting involved in the community.
Many students go abroad to study and have the time of their lives; but while I did come to Peru to study and have the time of my life, I would say my adventures have been abnormal to say the least in comparison to most people my age studying abroad. While in Peru some of my best memories have been going out into the poorest areas of Lima and volunteering or going out and volunteering in homes for underprivileged children. I have gone on volunteer trips with people from my study abroad program, I have sought out volunteer opportunities by myself, and I have been going on volunteer trips with people from my local church here in Lima. Overall all these adventures have really added to my overall love of Peru!
To highlight my volunteer adventure from last weekend I first want to give a little background on the group that I went with. Back on Mother's Day I attended Potential Church for my first time, a local Christian church located near Parque Kennedy in Lima, and it was really refreshing to be able to plug in with a local church. The first day when I entered the church I was immediately welcomed with open arms by a nice greeting team and I had a great chat with the head pastor of the church as well. From the moment I walked through those doors into the service and met the greeting crew I could feel the presence of God moving through the building and I knew that God had some big plans for me with the people in the church! After that first service I was hooked and decided to come back the next week and I was even able to bring a friend. After the second service attending Potential Church I was invited to attend Elevate which is a group of young adults who get together after the service to play games, have a snack, and share a short message. That first evening getting to know other young adults within the church, who were locals of Peru, was a really great experience and again I could feel that this group was going to play a big part in my future activities in Peru. Fast forward to today, over a month after that day and I now have a group of friends that I can call on at any time of day to hang out and give me support in anything I need.
Alrighty well not that you have a bit of a background on what the Elevate group is I can share more about my experience in Pamplona Alta. Last Friday we had the day off of school so a group of us from Elevate got together to practice some skits and dances to present to the children in Pamplona. While my Spanish is still progressing my friends quickly put me in the skits group and taught me a few theatrical things for the following day in Pamplona. After learning my parts in the skits I also jumped in and learned one of the dance routines that we presented for the kids. Saturday afternoon our group headed up the hill to Pamplona Alta and I was quickly introduced to a part of Lima that I was not very familiar with. While taking buses in Lima I have seen poor areas of town but I really had no clue the extensiveness of poverty that some people live in on a day to day basis in Peru. While in Pamplona Alta I got just a glimpse of how the people live on so little but are truly much happier than many people that have a lot more.
|The boys were pumped and ready to win the game!|
|My costume and a cute little girl who was a bit skared of my costume.|
When we arrived at the area we were supposed to do our skits and dances we were informed that the kids were not there. Rather than getting discouraged and heading home we just took that as a challenge to go make some more friends and find kids who wanted to come see our presentation. In order to do this I was given this pretty pink wig, a pink nose, a crazy color hat, a big tie, and a pair of extra large glasses to wear as we went looking for children to join us. After a short 10 or 15 minutes we gathered up about 10 kids and then returned to the area where we were going to perform. After presenting one of the skits and one of the dances more kids started to come until we finally wound up having about 40 kids watching and participating. During our time with the children we presented a few skits and dances, played a game, and left all the kids with a little treat to say thank you for participating. I must say that during the trip my favorite little kid was this little boy that couldn't stop dancing the whole time we were playing the music. The video above captures just one of the songs where the little boy is moving and grooving and shaking his hips!
|Shake them hips!|
After just a short two hours we had to leave, but in the short time we were in Pamplona Alta my eyes were really opened to the joy that can be had when we take time to enjoy the small things in life. Taking three or four hours out of my day to go to this Shanty Town provided these children with entertainment that made their weekend and it also provided me with a memory I will remember for many years to come! Throughout the whole experience it was great to get to spend time with my friends and really walk out a life of service! While I have always enjoyed volunteering this trip really helped show me that giving back in the community is one of the most rich experiences a person can have while traveling abroad. For this I challenge anyone traveling to not only be a consumer in the society you are traveling to but also be a part of the community and give back through getting involved with the locals, I assure you that you will not regret it!