We visited the third parish that invited us last week and it went great (we were invited to 4 in total). At first we were a little nervous that we wouldn’t like it because it is a pretty desperate area of Lima and it is a huge parish; 15 chapels. Right now there are 2 full time priests in the parish and they are both associates of the Columbans.
This means that they are diocesan priests from other countries on loan to the Columbans for 3 or 6 years, very similar to lay missionaries. There are also two Columban priests that help out with a mass or two but all and all there is so much work with 15 chapels it is really hard to keep up with it all .
We were lucky to be in the parish on an active week where there were many meetings talking about what the chapels would be working on for the next year. It was also an opportunity for the parish councils to bring up issues they had with the parish…and they took this opportunity to really grill the pastor.
The pastor is a guy from Australia and he is super sharp. Even though Spanish is not his first language he did quite well with the complaints. Personally I would have been drained after one meeting but he was ready to keep going and he did great in all of them. Aside from this he also showed us all the chapels and really gave us a lot of attention as well as giving us an idea of what we would be working on.
Here are some pictures from the parish:
This is one of the chapels in the parish that is made of estera which is woven bamboo made into sheets that cover the roof and walls. The actual structure of the chapel is made from bamboo posts. These chapels normally last around five years.
This is another parish that is in the midst of being constructed. Sometimes this process can take years depending on how much money the parish/Columbans can raise. Even though they are not finished with this one yet it is much better than the estera type. If you look closely you can see reinforcement rods sticking out of the roof and those will be for a future 2nd floor that will house meeting rooms for the community.
This is a neighborhood near where we would live. Many of these areas do not have water piped into the houses and even though you can see a tank on the hill that could be for another community or owned by a rich family who in turn will sell it at a higher price to people than the municipality. If a neighborhood doesn’t have water it is delivered by a truck into barrels in front of people’s houses…of course there is a steep markup for this service.
Typical street in the area. As you can see there is no pavement and where there is no pavement there is a lot of dust. The people just seem to live with it but there is always a layer of dust on everything…no matter how often they clean.
The funniest thing about this parish is that even though we were going into it thinking it wouldn’t even be an option for us we were touched by it while there. One night after a long day Meri and I were talking and we said almost at the exact same time that we felt we were being called there. It is funny how God works. When you think you know what is best for you he throws a curve ball at you and everything changes. As the weekend went on this calling got stronger and stronger and we just didn’t know what to do with the feeling except let it be.
One thing that is not pictured here are the faces of the people in the parish…and as you can imagine that is what really touches someone. Meri spoke of it in her last blog and I agree 100% with her…the people’s stories, their faces, their eyes, their children…they are the reason we are here. People with so little yet so much. So tomorrow we will visit our last parish and we are excited to be one step closer to our assignment. I think if you would have asked us when this all started to rank where we thought we would end up it would be completely different than how we feel today. So has we head to our last parish, actually the biggest one too with over 20 chapels, we are open to where the Spirit is calling us. Our prediction of where we will end up…no clue… we feel blessed to be here and we are happy with all of the things we have seen thus far.