As would be expected the last two weeks have been busy here as undoubtedly they were for all of you as well. Although warmer, not baking like in Adelaide. It has been interesting to experience Christmas and the New Year in a foreign land and culture.
The fortnight started with us helping out the mission president and his wife of the Lima Central Mission. They had two days of Christmas celebrations with their 240 missionaries, half each day. There were piñatas, food, presents, food, games, food, “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” movie - not quite the same in Spanish.
On Christmas Eve our illustrious senior missionary choir roamed the streets of our Lima neighbourhood where we all live. We sang our repertoire of Christmas carols in Spanish. Craig handed out lollies to all the kids, some of whom looked at him strangely. Many people came out of their houses to listen, some joined in, and all gave us a wave and a “Feliz Navidad”. The lady who owns the bakery and cake shop just down from our house jumped into the middle of the choir and sang with us in her shop. Then she fed us with panetone and Inka Cola (a yellow soft drink that tastes like bubble gum but looks like a specimen in a doctor’s office).
By that stage Marley and Lachlan had rejoined us earlier in the morning after their trip to Cusco, Machu Pichu, and Arequipa. Marley took on a train and survived to tell the tale. Suffice to say “I feel like I have been hit by a train” has taken on a new meaning for her. However, we are very grateful for the blessing that she was not more seriously hurt or worse. She can tell it so much better than we can. But, she joined us for the carol singing (in Spanish) with the oldies, not surprised to see her mother organising everyone.
Christmas Eve in Perú is the main Christmas celebration, with most people heading home from workat noon and celebrating with their families into the late evening. Midnight is marked by amazing fireworks. Everyone can buy them, without restrictions, and our whole neighbourhood exploded at midnight in celebration. Craig tried to sleep through it (bah - humbug, but he was tired), whilst Marley and Lachlan flew out into the streets and Lesley watched from the balcony. Christmas Day was spent at the Missionary Training Centre where Craig and Lesley helped the young missionaries make calls home to their families all around the world. There were many tender moments with Lesley handing out tissues and hugs. Later we had a house full of people for dinner as many senior missionaries ended up at our place to share a meal and company away from our families. By the time they left it felt like a normal Christmas Day full of people and food and good wishes, minus grandchildren. But thanks to technology they were able to show us their presents and share the Christmas Spirit.
Early the next morning the four of us headed down to Paracas and Nazca (which we had experienced before and wanted to share with Marley and Lachlan). They loved the sand buggy rides and were much braver than us sand boarding down the giant sand hills. They also enjoyed the flight over the Nazca lines. It would have been even better if Marley wasn’t vomited on by another passenger in the tiny aeroplane. As one missionary said on hearing of her adventures, “Don’t stand too close to her, it could be dangerous”. They left us on Tuesday, with Marley not too impressed about her 34 hour flight back to Australia and Lachlan off to London. We are grateful they could spend Christmas with us.
The fireworks returned for New Years Eve, with just as many explosions, flashing lights, car alarms, dogs barking, and parties. The Peruvians know how to celebrate.
So we are now settled into 2016. We are grateful for the many blessings of 2015 and look forward to the exciting adventures that await us this year.