Monday, August 12 (Beth Gibbs)

Today, we woke up in Pisac, staying in a lovely hotel on the square where hotel costs are amazingly inexpensive at $30 a night. As I was getting ready, I heard familiar voices out the window, and some of our group were already out shopping for gifts. The sellers work hard here setting up their sweaters and scarves, and tapestries and artwork, and jewelry and blankets, and much more, early in the morning and selling through early evening. Ramona was looking for some baby alpaca yarn, and she was so, so excited when she found some at a very reasonable price!

We gathered in the dining room a little before 8 am and had a good simple breakfast of coffee, juice, bread, and a fried egg. After breakfast, we had our devotions and Roberto and Valeria joined us which, with some translating, added a special dimension to our sharing. We could share together about what we were grateful for and appreciative of as we started our day, read a short Scripture together, discuss, and learn from each other about what the Lord was speaking to each of us.

We headed up to the ruins above the town and had a wonderful morning of hiking and experiencing the archeological wonders of Pisac. We hiked up and down many steps, through a tunnel and some narrow places. Our only problem was that not everyone in our group went as far, and some of us came out at a lower level and had to figure out how to have us all meet up again. Roberto and Valeria though found us all, and we were on our way down to some shopping. We had only about 40 minutes as we had to be on our way down the valley and a two hour ride to Ollantaytambo and the ruins there as well as the train station. We had a short time in the ruins and rushed down to the train station which left at 4:30 for the town of Aguas Calientes which is at the base of Machu Picchu.

Riding a train in Peru is a fun, but bouncy experience. Aguas Calientes is truly a tourist town as it only exists to provide a place for people to have a base for going up to Machu Picchu. It is situated on the side of the mountain across from Machu Picchu. After a very long walk (at least ½ a mile uphill, steep uphill, we arrived at our hotel. Our rooms were assigned, and we were deciding what to do with the rest of the evening, when Edie realized she had left her hiking boots under her seat on the train. So we checked with the hotel manager if he thought we would have a chance of getting them back. He said to go down and check, to talk with the girls who clean the trains as maybe someone found them. So Edie Shelby and I made our way back down that very steep hill on tired legs all the way down to the train station. I talked with the guy at the ticket window, and his first response was, “no”, no one has turned in any boots, not possible. However I saw one of the girls behind him and asked her. The clerk and the young woman were behind a window, so I couldn’t hear everything, but she was much more positive and soon the clerk was making a phone call. A few minutes later, he came out with the boots—and we were so excited and thankful to the Lord! But now we had to hike all the way back up that super steep hill to our hotel. We met the rest of our group at a restaurant on the way up, and joined them for a delicious dinner. The basic menu lets you chose an appetizer, a main dish, and lemonade, all for about $5, and it was wonderful after a long day of hiking. During dinner we had Wifi and I was able to Facetime with our daughter, Anna, and was so excited for her when she told me she passed her nursing boards. We are so, so proud of all her hard work!

We headed back to our hotel and to bed as we would be getting up at 4 am to catch our bus up to Machu Picchu! I am so thankful to be here together with our church friends and share with them the wonders of this place we called home for twelve years, and more than the place, to have them meet and know some of the very special people who are our friends here in Peru.

Monday, August 12 (Josh and Rosemary)

Josh is taking another turn at the wheel on the blog since Rosemary has been working so much on editing and photo selection. Rosemary would like to share that it has been very meaningful to see Steve and Beth in this context and see the fruits of their work as missionaries. The relationships that were formed between them and this community are strong and continue to this day. And because of that, our team has been on the receiving end of much generosity and hospitality. Pastor Roberto and his wife Valeria have traveled together with us for much of our trip and been our primary drivers too. It can be challenging when you don’t speak the same language but Pastor Roberto shared this morning in our devotional time that he looks forward to heaven when we will all be able to communicate and understand each other…in the Quechua language of course 😉. Just kidding.

On Monday, some of our group woke up early to take some pictures and do some shopping in the market right outside our hotel. It was amazing to see people who have to set up and tear down their market stands each and every day; they start early and go home late, leaving nothing behind! A little later at 7:40 a.m., we ate breakfast together and then had a group devotional time. We then checked out of our hotel and traveled with Pastor Roberto and Valeria to explore the “Sacred Valley” area and do more hiking. It was a 5 mile hike with incredible views of the valley and the terraces where the Incas did their farming. Just imagine huge retaining walls that created terraces where the Incas would plant crops. The Incas were incredible stone masons. We then returned from the Sacred Valley to Pisaq for a brief period and then left for Ollantaytambo where there were more ruins to explore, specifically the “baths of the princesses.” There are so many natural springs in the mountains that never run dry.

From Ollantaytambo, we took the train to Aguas Calientes and checked in to our hotel. We had originally planned to go visit the hot springs, however due to the time and the fact we hadn’t had dinner yet, we decided to try and do that the next day after visiting Machu Picchu. A huge answer to prayer happened in the evening because, upon arriving at the hotel, Edie realized she had left her brand new hiking boots (purchased for this trip) back on the train. Beth, Edie, and Shelby walked back to the train station and amazingly, they were able to find the boots. Thank you God! We then all met at a restaurant for dinner; Hannah ordered grilled alpaca off the menu and seemed to enjoy it 😊. Please keep praying for us for the upcoming week when we plan to volunteer in the Promesa school for several days. We depart at 5:15 a.m. to see Machu Picchu in the morning and then return to Cusco in the evening.