I truly meant to get more updates in last week, but my days were just too full. We’ve all been busy, partly due to our group of visitors from Tennessee.
My oldest brother Toby got together a group of young folks from his church in Tennessee to come visit us and help with some projects. They wanted to be able to contribute to the community in some way, so we talked with Alicia to see if she had anything we could do to help her, which she did.
They had planned to come two weeks ago, but their church experienced a tragedy when one of the brothers at their church was killed in a machinery accident. They decided they still wanted to come, but delayed their trip about a week so as to be with their church family through this sadness. If you think of them, please pray comfort for the Hostetler family who experienced the loss as well as the whole church there in Muddy Pond, Tennessee.
We are grateful that they were able to come after all. They left the States on Tuesday, June 13, to arrive the next day. Caleb and I picked them up at the airport. They had smooth travels the whole way, for which we were all thankful. Toby and I were back and forth, trying to figure out all the hoops they needed to jump through for paperwork, and we managed to tick all the right boxes. Things seem to be getting easier all the time with pandemic restrictions backing off on an international level.
We encouraged the group to take it slowly in order to avoid altitude sickness. I was a bit worried because young, athletic people are the ones who have the hardest time adjusting because they often find it hard to believe they could be limited by a little thing like a lack of oxygen. But this group did great about following our recommendations, and the first days had no troubles at all.
But then the guys got to work. After the first day, we lost a couple of the young men from the working crew. They just overworked themselves and really suffered for it. They are still not back to a hundred percent, but that episode seemed to help them understand their limits. They all pushed themselves hard and made great progress on a room for Alicia. She wants it to be her new quarters so that she can give Walter and Evita the main house. It’ll be a sacrifice for her in many ways, but I think she’ll love the new room.
The girls also worked there, giving the main floor of the existing house a good cleaning before moving on to painting the floors. Alicia was delighted with the freshening up. Alicia busied herself with making as much food and tea as the workers could ingest.
I was in Cusco most of the days they were here, doing residency work, although I did help one of the first days to order the bulk of the materials for the job. I didn’t get to help much with putting them together, so I hope they turned out to be the right things. My main contribution was floating the concrete pad along the wall because they needed someone light enough not to push the knee boards into the soft concrete. Being skinny is an asset at times.
The group also did a few projects here on the farm, including changing out the water pump for a beefier and newer one. The one we had was already rebuilt at least once and was on its last leg again, so it was great timing. The ladies did a lot of painting at both houses. Their goal to cover up water stains on the living room ceilings at our place drove them nearly mad, but we are very pleased with the results.
Yesterday, I served as tour guide for the group for a day in Cusco. We had hopes of buying tickets for them to go to Machu Picchu, but sadly, there are no availabilities until sometime in July for that large of a group. Machu Picchu is still not at full capacity as the Peruvian government hasn’t completely eased pandemic restrictions there. They decided to go to Ollantaytambo today instead.
The day in Cusco was a success, I think. I made a pointed effort to walk very slowly and to take buses for the long distances, so that was a different sort of Cusco experience for me. The group really seemed to have fun—at times a bit too much fun, it seemed. For lunch, I ordered traditional dishes for them, including guinea pig (cuy chancado), intestine soup (chayro), raw fish (ceviche), fried trout (trucha frita), and a dish with fish eggs (chiriuchu). It was hard for a couple of them to be brave, but they managed to taste a bit of everything—someone even ate the eyeballs!
Caleb and Belinda took the group to Ollantaytambo today to visit the ruins there. They would have stayed later than they did, but they needed to come back early so that one of the guys could go back to Cusco. Last evening, they all took Covid tests in preparation for their travels homeward, but one of the guys tested positive. We know this story! He’s going to get tested again this evening in hopes of a false positive.
The States are not requiring Covid testing for international travel any longer, but Peru still has a rule in place that would require them to show a negative test in order to fly from Cusco to Lima. I’m sure they would be glad for your prayers that the test tonight would come out negative, too!