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Mission journal: experiencing the hospitality, needs of the Peruvian people

Mission journal: experiencing the hospitality, needs of the Peruvian people

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Mission journal: experiencing the hospitality, needs of the Peruvian people

March 27, 2006    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
800-282-8011     Orlando {0464}

An e-Review Commentary
By Melanie Doran**

Last fall I and four other clergy spouses from the Florida Conference (Pamela Rosenburg, Marion McMillan, Christine Dial and Rhonda Kleckner) went with Melba Whitaker, our bishop's wife, to Peru.

There were two separate itineraries for this trip: to find out the needs of the people and to know the country.

We were met in Lima by Nora Boots, our translator, and joined by the Rev. Jesus Rios, the district superintendent of Lima-Callao, and his wife, Alicia, during our travels.

Two great things I will always remember about Peru — the warm and friendly people we met and the fantastic scenery.

PERU — Peruvian women spend much of their time sewing and knitting, in addition to caring for their families. They use wool from llamas, alpacas, vicuñas and sheep. Photo by Pamela Rosenburg, Photo #06-0328.

It is common to be hugged and kissed by the womenfolk from the church. They all told us how grateful they were that we chose to travel such a distance to visit them. In a rural church in Cuchochacamara a band of musicians played local tunes with panpipes, flutes and a drum to welcome us as we disembarked from our van.

The church in rural Juliaca served us bread and homemade fruit juice when we visited. Our first worship service was a churchwide, combined service of more than 200 people in Lima. Pastors, Bishop Ochoa, a good-sized choir, and a children's choir and dance group all participated. They then honored us with a reception after church.

The people of Peru have many needs. The squatter colonies on the hills of Lima are foremost in my mind when thinking about the needs of Peruvians.

These dwellers came from the Amazon forest seeking a better life in the city; however, they are stricken with poverty because the menfolk spend most of their income on alcohol. Additionally, nearby is the industrial dump, and the land and air have become polluted. Discarded batteries have caused lead contamination. Many people are sick. Some are dying.

The pastor at one of the two communities we visited in this area, Lomas de Carabayllo, told us the church used to feed children daily, but can now only afford to feed them once a week. He said they would tug at his shirt-sleeve, saying, "Pastor, pastor, feed us. We're hungry."

The people of Peru are very talented and artistic. They recycle used clothes and resell them. Work is slow without sewing machines. Many of the women knit sweaters, hats, gloves and other items. They get wool from llamas, alpacas, vicuñas and sheep.

PERU — The Rev. Jesus Rios, district superintendent of Lima-Callao, holds a cuy or Guinea pig. Cuyes are raised for their meat, which the Peruvians say is low in cholesterol, and sold as an added source of income. Photo by Pamela Rosenburg, Photo #06-0329.

The church in Puno is trying to raise cuyes for sale. Peruvians eat deep-fried cuyes. They claim they are low in cholesterol and easy to raise. Cuyes are Guinea pigs.

We did some sightseeing everywhere we went. Two places that interested me most were the visit to Lake Titicaca, with a stop at Isla Santa Maria de Los Uros, and the climb to Machu Picchu.

Lake Titicaca is the largest high-altitude lake in the world. Half of it is located in Peru and the other half is in Bolivia. On the lake are the Uros, a group of about 40 artificial, floating islands made of totora reeds, which grow abundantly on the lake. The homes and boats of the islands' residents are also made of totora reeds.

Machu Picchu is a city in ruins, built on a mountain saddle 8,400 feet above sea level. It is said to have been built by the Incan emperor Pachacutec.

We five clergy spouses are giving presentations of this mission trip in various churches. We are trying to raise money to help the Peruvians through the General Board of Global Ministries. Churches or individuals who would like to help or hear more about our trip may contact me at


This article relates to Missions.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Doran is a clergy spouse who accompanied Melba Whitaker, Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker's wife, and a team of clergy spouses to Peru as part of Melba Whitaker's efforts to lead clergy spouses on mission trips around the world. The trips are part of a larger initiative by spouses of United Methodist bishops to promote and support mission activities.