This is our June/July group of 2007

They are from different parts of the country but all came together for one common goal. Keep watching this page. The stories and pictures start tomorrow.


These fabulous five are from Michigan

These four ladies are from various parts of Idaho and Wyoming

These three friends are from Spokane, Washington

Our first medical clinic day

 I have just completed the coursework for a Masters
degree with an emphasis in cultural communication
before coming here to Peru.  It has been fascinating
to look through this lens to examine the differences
in culture and how we communicate.  For example, one
day I was told by a friend that we were having
chocolate cake for dinner.  When we saw it we were
confused because the cake looked more like corn bread.
We walked into the kitchen and asked the cook where
the cake was.  We discovered that the cook had
actually said ¨choclo¨ which means corn in Spanish.

  Another time communication broke down was when a
Peruvian patted an adult on the head and said, ¨good
girl.¨  We had to explain to him that that is what
Americans do to their dogs and that might be
offensive.  Not having comprehensive knowledge of the
cultural norms can prove to be a disaster. At one of
the villages we visited there were boardwalks that
were two feet off the ground with sewage on either
side.  Americans typically weigh more than Peruvians
and the boardwalks were not built to support the
McDonald´s generation weight.   Innocently enough, all
five of us stopped at one spot on the boardwalk and
screamed as we went crashing to the sewer below.  The
Peruvians laughed at the stupid Gringos and when we
returned the next day and they told us that this time
they had put bigger nails in the boards. 

   One must also be aware of the cultural differences
in haptics (the study of touch).  It was a bit
disarming when complete strangers would come up to me,
get in my bubble and kiss my face to greet me.
Another example of different expectations of touch was
when a friend of mine jumped on the back of a
motorcycle and put her arms around the driver.  This
is seen as an intimate gesture in Peru and the driver
was quite pleased that a blonde, blue-eyed girl found
him so attractive.   

    Despite these entertaining cultural
miscommunications, we have had a blessed week of
visiting the villages, praying with the people and
conducting Vacation Bible schools.  We divided into
teams of about five people and used a health survey to
learn about who needed medical attention.  Using the
survey as a springboard for discussion, we would then
ask the family if they had any spiritual needs and if
we could pray with them.  They responded with an
enthusiastic yes every time. 

   The people were so gracious and loving. When our
rickety bus rolled to a stop, hundreds of children
came running to greet us.  You should hear them sing!
It sounded like a multitude of angels were praising
their King.   Their chocolate brown eyes light up as
they listened to the Bible stories. 

   As I was laying in my bed one night reflecting on
the past events, I felt deep gratitude for all of the
love that these children freely gave.  I have come to
the realization that verbal communication is not
necessarily the most important thing and is not even
fundamental in sharing God´s love.  Although the
communication was often difficult, the universal
language of love supersedes any problems we had.
Everyone understands a smile, a hug and kiss.  We are
the hands and feet of Jesus to communicate His love to
His people. 

Geneva Mertens

More to come Keep watching