Sunday, August 18 (Josh Blessing)
After the long day of hiking the rainbow mountains, we were all thankful for a later start on Sunday, the last day of our trip to Peru. Before church, our family and Jim & Lily spent some time with our host family, Rolando, Francisca, and Christian, and took some pictures together. At 9:30am, Pastor Roberto and Valeria picked up our group and drove to Huacarpay Mennonite Church, where there would be a special 26th anniversary service at 10am, which also included the congregations from Lucre and San Jeronimo. The worship was very lively and included members of all 3 churches; it included guitars, violins, a flute, and saxophone with songs sung in Spanish and Quechua. Pastor Celestino gave the sermon and then there was some amazing Quechua-style dancing to worship music with very beautiful outfits and hats. After the service we had sort of a potluck style meal together where people brought all kinds of food. We had more cuy, pork, potatoes, vegetables, and tea, which was delicious as always.
Following the meal, our group met with the board of the national Mennonite church for a time of prayer and sharing. The board consisted of Pastors Roberto, David, and Celestino, and their wives. It was a blessed time where we could learn more about the needs of the people and churches in the area. Unity is a real challenge at times and there are concerns about new theological ideas being introduced in the campo (countryside). I was very thankful that we could pray over these pastors since they had been such a blessing to our group; this was a way to give back. We took some time to say goodbye to many people in the churches and then drove back to our apartment in San Jeronimo.
While waiting at the apartment, we took some time to hear the testimonies of Pastor Roberto and his wife, Valeria. This was an emotional time and a meaningful way to end our time in Cusco. Valeria shared how she was really one of the first converts in the area and both she and Roberto came from families where anger and abuse was present to some degree. This Pastor couple has a great heart for the churches in the campo (countryside) and they have served us so well during our time in Peru. They also shared about how much Steve and Beth have been their spiritual parents. That came across as well in conversations with the other pastors, David and Celestino. We got to see and experience how God used the Gibbs in their ministry in Cusco and the fruit that was produced! I also want to mention that everyone in these churches loves Bethany Weaver and misses her greatly. I know it was very hard for Bethany not to be able to come on this trip but we are so thankful for how she has walked with our group … even through helping with the blog postings. The people in Cusco look forward to the day they will be able to see Steve and Bethany again and meet their son, Daniel!
At 5:30pm we left the apartment for the airport in Cusco with Pastor Roberto and Valeria. Francisca also joined us for the trip to the airport which allowed us to once again say our goodbyes. Steve and Beth helped us get our luggage checked in at the airport counter and then we had to say goodbye to them too. They would be spending the next few days in the campo visiting churches with Roberto. Everything went very smoothly on the flights home. The only challenge was probably experienced by Jim and Lily who had to gather and re-check their luggage in Lima and then again in Toronto. We had a long layover in Lima so we were able to wait and have some dinner with Jim and Lily while they waited for the Air Canada counter to open. We slept a few hours in the Lima terminals and then said goodbye to Ramona once we got to El Salvador. Probably the most time-consuming thing that happened was going through customs once we got back to Dulles Washington DC. Thank you to all who journeyed with us through prayer and looking at the blog and supporting us. We will never forget Peru and I believe God will use the experience to expand our worldview as we seek to worship Him in Spirit and in truth and to serve others.