Wed, 28 May 2008 08:46:11 -0400
Today we hit the road. We were up at 5:30 so we could try and leave at 6:00 AM. I think we made it about 7:00.
Eloy is back driving us. It was great to see him since I did not in December when I came down.
The road to Ica is a desolate road. I have often thought that if NASA ever wanted to find a place that could imitate a distant barren planet THIS WOULD BE AN IDEAL LOCATION!! There is absolutely NO native vegetation growing anywhere - PERIOD! Now having said that, the surprise is that as we followed the coast line and have an overlook of the Pacific Ocean, on several occasions you drop over a hill and to our wonder and amazement there is a green valley. It appears that this landscape lacks only WATER to make it fertile ground to grow things. I have seen grapes, asparagus, cotton, and corn growing in these areas. There are about 3 towns along the route. Two of them are well known for wine making.
It took us about 4 hours to go to Ica. I did get a little "cat nap" along the way. When we arrived, we met Paulino Charco, the local preacher at the church building. We were going to have him to meet us downtown Ica for lunch, but he quickly informed us that his wife Maria and Norma, the wife of our intern preacher Ruben Chacon, are cooking lunch for us. I can tell you that the Peruvian brethren are very loving and gracious. When I first went to Peru, and encountered the desolate landscape, the cold weather, and the overcast days, I was not favorably impressed. It has been the people that have won me over so that I truly look forward to my visits to this country.
We had a little time before lunch, so we went to the construction site of the new church building. We are told that it will take two more months to finish the first floor. Then they will start on the second floor. The cost of the building has skyrocketed up due to the demand of building materials and laborers. I am told that when you go to purchase materials the price you get today will be higher if you wait for tomorrow. The prices change daily. I am sending some pictures for you to see how the construction is going on.
We always work with the Ministry of Health when we are in these Latin American countries. We do all the paperwork and submit it to the official channels so that we can work with the approval of the government. We are now down to the local level, and so our second stop was to the local clinic that serves this area. If you get sick and are in need of a doctor, this is the first place you go to get treatment. I can tell you that I am not impressed. I know that they are doing the best they can, but I would not like to put the health of my family in this system. BUT, this is practically the ONLY resource the majority of the people can afford. The doctor in charge was not in, so Paulino has to go back on Tuesday morning to coordinate with her.
We made it back to Paulino's house and to no surprise to me Lomo Saltado is the meal for today. It is my favorite, and the brethren know it, so when ever I get an invitation I can almost always count on having Lomo Saltado. Lunch time is their biggest meal, so our plates are served BRIMMING FULL!!
After lunch, we made a tour of some of the members who are working on their houses. The government has given them some money, but it is not nearly enough to do the job. They are left to find the workers and the materials for themselves and wait for it to be built. They have been living in their damaged facilities or have a makeshift place that has been their home since the earthquake struck some 9 months ago. I have some pictures that I will be sending of some of these brethren.
One of the sisters told us that she got enough money to put down a foundation and 2/3's of the outside walls. She has been trying to buy the bricks for the wall, but only has money for 2000 bricks but needs 3000 bricks. She made a deal with a guy who makes bricks, but when she went to get them they were none. She got her money back and is seeking a place where she can find bricks.
We also visited Yolanda again. I wrote about her in one of the bulletins. Her conditions have improved SLIGHTLY. The Red Cross came in and put up a living area of about 12 X 20 made of bamboo curtains that have been lined inside with plastic to keep the wind out. She has made the place look nice inside for her daughter and her mother, but it is very marginal at best. One of the pictures will give you an idea of this.
We finally made our last stop at Hotel Sol de Ica. It is now operating, and has been so since about mid February. We checked several of the rooms, and all seem to be in order. They are waiting for us.
I can say this about Ica: there is MUCH that is lacking to remove the scars of the earthquake. While in the downtown areas a lot of the clean up had been done, we saw many streets in the suburbs that still have piles of adobe bricks that once was a house. The streets are still dirty and dusty, and for the average person, not much has changed to get their houses back into order.
The trip home was large, but I knew that I was going to a nice soft bed that was in a well kept and sturdy house. It is something to see just how mankind can survive such destruction.
For the team members you need to know that the low temperature of late here in Ica has been 44 and the high in the daytime reaching nearly 80. It was actually quite warm during our visit in the daytime. It is the night time accompanied with wind that can chill you to the bone. Come prepared to work in this environment. Layering of clothes is the best protection after the sun goes down. During the day you will need short sleeves.
That's all for now.
Keep us in your prayers.