We are now back in Arequipa. We arrived early Saturday morning and will be heading to Puno (a city which borders Lake Titicaca) Wednesday afternoon. It's a short trip (a mere 5 hours) so we should be there by nightfall. Bear in mind that I say we "should" be there by that night as opposed to saying that we "will" be there that night. Peru has made me SO laid back when it comes to scheduling. Ryan and I have learned that if you don't just roll with the punches (5 day boat rides that were promised to be 3 days, bus rides where the motor forces the bus to stop 4 times...) you will be very stressed out and unhappy.
At the behest of my mother I have decided to give you all an in depth look into what it is that Ryan and I have actually been up to all summer. So without further a due here we go:
Almost all of our trips start with Ryan and me heading down to the bus station to purchase tickets from "location A" to "location B." Our travels have consisted of 1 boat ride (from Pucallpa to Iquitos), 1 plane ride (from Iquitos to Lima), and too many bus rides for me to count (math has never been my strong suit :)
After we arrive at "location B" we meet up with our local contact, a pastor who lives in one of the 7 major cities (Pucallpa, Iquitos, Cuzco, etc). We have been lucky enough to be hosted by all of our pastor contacts (whether that be living with the pastor and his family or staying in designated housing facilities at the Nazarene compounds). The first day that we spend in our new location we talk to the pastor and lay out a rough "game plan" for how we will attack the next couple of days. The pastor will tell us how many of the locations are reasonably close and easily accessible. Sometimes we go to 15 future church plant location (as we did in Cuzco) but other times we are only able to go to 8 or 9 future church plant locations (as we did in Iquitos). The church plant locations have been selected for a variety of reasons. Some of the locations have social problems (prostitution, alcoholism, etc.), in other locations the pastor has a contact there that will help start the new church there, other locations were selected simply because they have large unchurched populations.
Day 2 in any given location means that we are hitting the road with the pastor. Depending on how close the locations are (both to each other and to where we slept) we will visit anywhere from 2 to 5 future church plant locations. Once we arrive at one of the future church plant locations we break-out our cameras (Ryan's weapon of choice is the point-and-shoot camera while I wield the video camera). For each future church plant location we obtain one short interview with a local resident (anywhere from 5-10 questions) and take a bunch of pictures of the community. The questions that comprise the interview range from questions on local culture, to social issues present in the community, to the role played by religion in the community. As we have found, some people are much more enthusiastic about giving an interview than others. We also do an interview with the pastor who will be overseeing the planting of the 18 churches in his region over the next 2 years. All of the information that we gather will go on the Extreme Nazarene website (www.extremenazarene.org) and will be used to make short videos for the churches (most of which are in the US) who are sponsoring the future church plant locations.
The first interviews that we conducted in Arequipa got off to a rocky start. Ryan and I were straight out of our 3 week crash-course of language school and on our own without a pastor. We struggled to find someone who would oblige us with an interview. The first interview that we did had to be scrapped because the street noise was too loud. As we were sitting on a park bench an old man rode up to us on a bicycle and started chatting with us. After a while we asked him if we could interview him and he agreed. We shot the interview but caught little of what he was saying. Upon returning to the office we showed our work to one of the guys at the Extreme Nazarene office. As Scott watched the video I explained to him that I was totally lost as to what the guy who we interviewed had said. Scott paused the video and said, "Well, right now he is saying something about his colon." I was quite dismayed because there is not one question that remotely relates to the colon (or any other internal organ for that matter)! All I could think was, "This is going to be a LONG summer!"
After leaving Arequipa things went much better. In the other locations we had pastors that would accompany us and find someone who would agree to be interviewed. In most cases the pastors also asked the questions (which allowed them to be more specific and elaborate if necessary). Ryan and I also became much more proficient with our Spanish as the summer wore on. We had to be because none of our pastor contacts speak any English.
After 3-5 days of visiting all of the church plant locations that we have access to, we head down to the bus station and purchase bus tickets to our next location. We have done this routine for Arequipa, Pucallpa, Iquitos, Puerto Maldonado, and Cusco. We are now off to do the last location that we are responsible for (Puno). Originally we were going to go to Tacna too, but due to some setbacks we will not be able to make it out there. Tacna will be profiled by someone else after we leave Peru.
I hope that gives you all a better idea of what it is that we have been doing for the last few months. I'm sorry that it took us so long to write a post like this. As always we thank you for your prayers and support! God has been SO good to us this summer and we anticipate that these last 2 weeks will bring us more of the same!
--- Chadwick & Ryan