Close your eyes and imagine your house completely empty… no beds, no dressers, no silverware or toilet paper… Where does one start when building a new life in a new place…? Here’s a glimpse of how we’ve gone about it these first few days.
First, the story of our house… Through divine providence, Father Paco was able to secure a house for us in San Hilarion. This was a tremendous blessing because nothing has been available these last several months. Finding housing for missionaries here in Peru is often a great challenge because in most villages every dwelling is occupied by people that have lived there for generations.
Pedro is the man that recently built our house. He poured his heart into this project, expecting his own family to live here upon its completion. At the last minute, those plans fell through for reasons we may never know. Pedro was stuck in a bad situation. He was alone with a large vacant house that was outside the means of most locals to rent. Fr. Paco crossed paths with Pedro at exactly the right moment. Everyone’s prayers were answered. Pedro had someone to help him pay his bills and we had a place to live…praise be to God!! When we arrived the neighbors rushed out to great us.
We ventured out into the town to find some basic necessities. First on the list were mattresses. We quickly learned that they are all stuffed with dried corn stalks. Each kid climbed up into a rickety loft to select theirs. We took them home “missionary style”.
Next were toilet paper and trash cans for the bathrooms. Just like in Mexico, the toilet paper does NOT go into the toilets, but rather into trash cans. This allows the waste to be piped out into undeveloped areas where it soaks into the ground. Mosquito nets for around our mattresses were a must. Katelyn got 71 bites the night we slept in Picota because we didn’t have nets.
We also needed wash tubs and a clothesline since all laundry is hand washed.
When we awoke in the morning we opened the door to welcome the Amazonian sunshine. Moments later the doorway was filled with neighbor kids eager to meet their new playmates.
The small, but faithful Catholic community enthusiastically welcomed us with a celebration at church the following night. We filled the air with songs of praise to our glorious God who brought us altogether. Chris and I shared stories about our call to missions. The locals tearfully shared their stories; for decades they’ve been praying for missionaries to come who could help combat the evils which are swallowing up their society.
Afterward, we were all invited for dinner at one of the community member’s homes.
During the celebration we found out that we were expected to lead a funeral service the following day. Wow, talk about hitting the ground running!
When we returned home there was a bedframe waiting for us. The community members also gave us tables, chairs and food. It was incredibly humbling to accept so much from people who have so little, but they insisted.
Long after the sun set over the Amazon jungle, we fell into our corn stalk beds exhausted, but thrilled to finally be missionaries.