Saturday, August 10 (Hannah Zimmerman)

Hello from Pisaq! We’ve just arrived at our hotel for tonight. I’m sitting in the courtyard, listening to the bells’ ringing. Micah is on my lap and Joelyn and Lily are on either side of me. Apparently, I need 3 editors. Anyway, I am supposed to be writing about yesterday, so come back in time with me.

My morning began at 7am. Most of you are probably experiencing humid weather, but it is quite cold in Cusco, especially indoors. I enjoyed the warmth of laying under three blankets for a bit longer, then took a cold shower. Breakfast consisted of delicious pan (bread) with butter, marmalade, and an egg. The hotel provides us with a steady supply of hot water and coca leaves for coca tea. The coca leaves are supposed to help us adjust to the altitude.

After breakfast, we had devotions and prayer together before driving to the apartment to pick up Jim, Lily, Josh, Rosemary, Joelyn, and Micah. We were also joined by Pamela, who works at Promesa. Her two sons (age 7 and 8) joined us and her husband drove the van for us. Walter and Elsa, another pastoring couple, also came along. We all squeezed into the van and drove up into the mountains that surround Cusco. The rest of our daylight hours were spent exploring various Inca ruins with our friends. Outside of each entrance were men and women selling beautiful handcrafts and souvenirs. The highlight of our first stop, was hiking on the trails that surrounded the ruins. My favorite part of the second stop was finding a small cave and showing it to the children. Our third stop was my favorite. I started by walking the trail to the panoramic view of Cusco. At this place, we could also see Blanco Jesus, a statue of Jesus looking over the city. We walked to the opposite side of the site to where there are large, smooth rocks that visitors use as slides. I’m still trying to decide if I had more fun climbing up or sliding down. After we left the slides, we discovered another cave. This cave was one that we could walk through. I am somewhat claustrophobic, so when we met others who had entered through the exit, I had to work extra hard to stay calm. Thankfully, I made it out. Actually, I ended up going through the cave a second time.

We drove back into Cusco and then to the apartments, where we heard two testimonies from the local pastors. Valeria and Francisca brought us a dinner of chicken, rice, potatoes, and vegetables. I’m learning that it’s common to eat your meal first and then drink afterwards. So, after we ate, tea and water were served. A highlight of the day for me was experiencing the wonder of the children and hearing their questions about our experiences. Oh, and I took a photo with a baby goat and llama.

Saturday, August 10 (Jim Weaver)

Saturday was a day of play.  We explored ancient ruins on the hilltops surrounding Cusco.  The exploration had aspects for everyone: impressive overlooks of Cusco, interesting history, and shopping with vendors selling handmade crafts and clothes.  Kids were entertained by several small caves and by a sliding down the sides of a hill.  (Many of the adults slid down the hill, too.)  Fun day, however, several of us ended the day with sunburn and with altitude related headaches.  Good times…

I’ve enjoyed gaining a feel for Cusco.  The city is larger than Lancaster but has managed to maintain its historical areas.  A saying around town is that Cusco is the ‘naval’ of the world.  In my mind, a more apt analogy is that Cusco is a ‘Magnet’.  I mean, it attracts people.  Tourists are drawn from all over the world to Cusco’s attractions.  Peruvians are drawn to the city for better paying trades.  Rural families are drawn to better educational opportunities within the city.  I presume the government is challenged to keep up with the infrastructure needs of the influx.

My highlight from yesterday was a time of testimonials by two of the local pastors, Pastor Walter and Pastor David.Steve and Beth served as translators.It was wonderful to hear of pastoral faithfulness and persistence in reaching the surrounding rural communities.It was God’s call and God’s work in seeking and saving folks.Indeed, our God is mighty to save.