Sunday, June 7th.
Part of our group left at 5:45 AM (!) to head to the airport to travel to Huancayo. After breakfast, the rest of us met at 9:30 for worship and devotions on the 3rd floor terrace. We all went around the circle, introduced ourselves, and told stories of how long we had sponsored a child and how we got to that point. (Spoiler: all God’s doing) I will share my story although there were some very powerful ones to be heard, and if my fellow travelers wish to share, by all means, do so in the comments!
I’ve always known about Compassion. My parents sponsor a child in India, and my sister used to sponsor one in Ecuador. I have always wanted to sponsor a child, but for some reason, I just never got around to it. Back in late September 2014, my best friend invited me to go to the For King & Country concert at church. I wasn’t really familiar with them at the time, but I went and had a blast! They are also big advocates for Compassion International and had volunteers in the audience that would hand out packets to anyone who wanted to sponsor a child. I raised my hand, and Angely was the one God had that volunteer give me. About a month later, I got the email about the sponsor trip to Peru! Needless to say, the prospect of meeting the child I was sponsoring was exciting to me! I thought and prayed about it for months before finally taking the plunge. My husband was also super supportive of it so I’m very thankful for that because it takes a good amount to be able to go.
So, before we left for Jauja (the town we flew into before driving to Huancayo), we played a game of Luggage Tetris to keep our luggage under a certain weight which was a challenge since our bags were full of gifts for children plus VBS supplies! So, I ended up sending a big suitcase with a van that was to drive through the mountains instead of flying. The airport in Jauja only just started having commercial flights into the airport there. Previously, it was only cargo- or agricultural-related flights. The flight over was gorgeous! We saw the Andes!! Just amazing. One of the guys in our group, Keith, is hilarious! After the demo of the oxygen masks, he said, “In case of a explosive depressurization, put on the mask, and breathe normally.” I think it was the delivery that made it even more funny!
After arriving in Jauja, we took a bus to Huancayo, about 45 minutes away. We were now at 10,600 feet above sea level. We always had water with us to stay hydrated and fight off altitude sickness. I had a mild headache for a couple days, and by the time we left, I had acclimated so it wasn’t too bad if you were prepared. I noticed a LOT of poor towns and living conditions on the bus ride. There are dogs everywhere, almost like they’re part of the scenery, not really pets. This just made the whole area seem even more depressed. Most people in the area farm for a living. We passed a lot of quinoa fields and artichoke fields. I had no idea those grew in Peru!
Unlike the humid, temperate climate of coastal Lima, Huancayo gets down into the 30s at night with highs in the 60s during the day. We were fortunate to have decent WiFi and hot water in the hotel. What we didn’t have was heat! So at night, we definitely used all the blankets! It was nice that we had big wool ones to keep us extra warm. The sun warmed everything up quickly during the day, but at night it was cold! We also had to wear sunblock because the sun is very powerful at that altitude, plus we were near the equator. (Well, closer than Indiana.) We were on the 3rd floor so it was easier to go up the stairs rather than take the scary and slow elevator. (Scary because crow bar marks…yeah.) By the time I got to the 3rd floor, I was huffing & puffing!
I journaled the events of the day before turning in, ready for our first experience at Compassion’s projects the next morning!