Welches in Peru

Welches in Peru
Our family (November 2018)

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Adiós to our Language School in Arequipa

18 November 2016

Chris, Jake, Sam and Isaac were fare-welled at language school today.  For the past 5 months they have been attending ABC Español Language School here in Arequipa learning Spanish.  They did so well! (biased! J)  To mark the occasion they had to present a speech in Spanish in front of the school.  Sam even wrote a song in Spanish and sung it playing his guitar.  Here are YouTube links to some video we took including Chris' “adiós” PowerPoint presentation…

It has been a very special time here in Arequipa.  Yes it has been a huge cultural adjustment and there have been many challenging moments, but we can really say that God has placed the right people in our path at the right time to see us through.

Chris has juggled his time between language school and working with the Diospi Suyana media centre team and managing our family’s needs of a house in Curahuasi and the purchase of a car.   During the 5 months he has had to make 2 trips to Curahuasi for Diospi Suyana and 3 trips to Lima.  He has become more street-wise with Lima security issues! J But they are stories for another time!

As a family we have also built immunity to a whole new world of germs, but are travelling well now. The kids and I have found places to shop and play. Between us all we have explored the surrounds of Arequipa on horseback, on mountain bike, on foot hiking up Mount Misti, and in tour buses.  We have competed in a road cycling race, volunteered at a furniture shop (to help practice Spanish), we have all helped out at an orphanage, and attended a youth group. It has been really helpful to meet so many people and understand the culture a little.

ABC language school also runs a church called Christianity in Action, which we have attended whilst here.  Jake and Sam have played in the worship band with local church members and language school students.  It is relationships that make a journey special and we have been so blessed by the people we have met.  Maybe we will return and touch up our Spanish one day! (Like many missionaries seem to do).  If you need to learn Spanish we can recommend ABC Español, Arequipa, Peru. J

Here below are a few snaps taken on the day...

Sam playing his song in Spanish with his teacher and worship pastor Pao on right (and Solomon onlooking with interest! J)

Our family portrait taken after the farewell
Chris, Jake, Sam with Isaac from one of our classrooms above

Saturday, 12 November 2016

To Lima for Towers and Satellite Equipment

7 & 8 November 2016

I travelled to Lima on Monday and Tuesday this week with Dr Klaus John and Doris Manco – manager of Diospi Suyana Centro de Medios (Media Centre).  This trip was to acquire towers and satellite equipment for the Diospi Suyana network. 

During my time in Arequipa I have spent many hours / late nights in addition to my language learning, planning the Diospi Suyana broadcast system.  This includes broadcast transmitter facilities, satellite system topology drawings (for high availability), undertaking broadcast FM and TV coverage prediction software (ATDI) models, searching for the optimal price and performance transmission / satellite equipment that is available in Peru (it’s quite a different market to that found in Australia).

My satellite uplink topology for the Diospi Suyana network
We visited two tower manufacturers, discussed our specific broadcast requirements and reviewed performance predicted by their software models.  I was surprised they were both using MS Tower 6 – an internationally recognised product developed in Sydney that I am very familiar with. 

MS Tower 6 software deflection analysis
Towers are much cheaper here in Peru but the materials (hot dipped galvanised steel) is of a much lower standard.  Labour to erect the towers are also cheaper, and safety standards are nearly non-existent.
One of our two Lima tower manufacturers’ workshop
Klaus presented the Diospi Suyana story to one of the major satellite earth station equipment suppliers in Peru.  They have offered to run a complimentary live satellite test on our design with the Argentina satellite operator ARSAT who have been extremely cooperative and favourable toward Diospi Suyana.  We are hopeful the local equipment supplier will also provide a suitably discounted proposal for Diospi Suyana so we can proceed with a local provider (preferred).  The alternative is we will have to travel to the US to purchase equipment directly at the right price.

Right now Diospi Suyana is broadcasting FM in Curahuasi from a temporary installation at the hospital.  One of the new free standing towers (30m) is destined for a ridge peak in the middle of the town to enable the complete township and surrounds’ coverage of both FM and TV.  This new site will include a new building that I am planning with an internal generator to enable transmission continuity during the frequent power outages of Curahuasi during the summer months.  As this site is only 500 metres from the hospital, we may opt for a TCP/IP microwave link that I have designed to deliver program from the Media Centre as well as monitor the transmitters and generator.

The second fee standing tower (36m) is destined for the city of Andahuaylas which has a population of about 80,000 and some 170,000 in the catchment of this transmission.  Diospi Suyana has an FM licence to transmit there now and the land has been purchased (see Diospi Suyana article http://www.diospi-suyana.de/andahuaylas-antennenstandort-ist-gekauft/ and have Google translate it to English). 

So as soon as we can get the infrastructure to site, installed and commissioned, the sooner we can be on air.  The commissioning is made possible using the Rohde & Schwarz (R&S) test equipment we brought out from Australia with FM options generously donated by the Australian division of R&S. Thanks too for Pack and Send Castle Hill by helping us ship this gear to Peru and getting it through customs here (not trivial).

For this remote site of Andahuaylas, the only practical option is to use satellite to deliver the program, hence the urgency in acquiring and installing this solution also.

Whilst in Lima we also visited a major Christian broadcaster based in Lima, Movimiento Misionero Mundial (MMM).  They employ 150 people in Lima impressively after being in operation for just 7 years.  They produce quality programming including Bethel TV and Bethel radio.  We had a terrific time touring their facility and discussing all manner of operational and technical subjects with staff.  They seemed just as impressed with our fledging Diospi Suyana media ministry as we were with what they were doing.  We also discussed the sharing of programming in the future.

Movimiento Misionero Mundial (MMM) Broadcaster and Church in Lima
Diospi Suyana is unique from MMM in so far as it provides public health information, educational alongside the Christian message.  As James 2:14~17 reminds us:

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?  Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

This is an imperative in Peru where education is marginal at best and so many people are desperately poor.  And people are in great need to hear the Word of God which will set them free (John 8:36).

The Diospi Suyana media centre has also progressed with its production of quality radio and TV content.  The staff numbers continue to grow and we should have 10 people in the centre by Christmas, including me as the one expat missionary.  I am often encouraged by the Diospi Suyana team who appreciate the skill and experience I have brought to help with the transmission at the right time.  Klaus is already talking about having to appreciably expand the media centre in the need for more production and office space.

We are just 2 weeks off leaving Arequipa for Curahuasi.  These past 5 months have on one hand seemingly gone so quickly but at the same time been very challenging for my language learning.  I need more practice to converse proficiently, applying the theory I have learnt at ABC Español language school in Arequipa.  I believe I will get this needed practice in Curahuasi.

I want to again thank all our amazing generous supporters (prayer and financial) who are making all this work possible.



Wednesday, 2 November 2016

All Saints’ Day

1 & 2 November 2016

It was “All Saints’ Day” in many Catholic countries yesterday.  In Peru, particularly in Andean towns, the day has its own look because Catholic beliefs and celebrations are intertwined with ancient Andean and Inca traditions.  For example the worship of the dead was an integral part of Inca culture with the mummies of the dead Incas being present at all important rituals.  Part of that tradition, combined with Catholics elements, still lives on today.  We have tried to understand it and share it here a little.

There are two days of celebrations.  Yesterday was a holiday and was called the “Day of the Living”. Families can meet together to share a meal and celebrate “the living”.

Today is called the “Day of the Dead”.  Peruvians typically attend mass then families can meet together in cemeteries to connect with dead loved ones.  They bring them gifts, food, drink and converse with them while the family drinks, eats, and converses too.  They can hire musicians to play the favourite music of the dead and hire people to pray (often in Quechuan) for the dead ones’ peace for the year ahead.  At night, the relatives can hold a candlelight vigil in the cemetery until dawn on 2 November.

Jake and Sam went with the language school to the Arequipa cemetery to experience it today.

Jake said "the cemetery was very busy and colourful with many stalls selling candles, flowers, food and drinks.  There were bands playing around the graves and along with families eating, talking and dancing.  People seemed relaxed."

Sam said "At language school we were given “t'anta wawas” which is Quechuan for bread babies. These are sweet breads made in an oval shape to portray a baby wrapped up with a baby's face decoration on top at one end.  We saw a lot of them as food laid out for the dead.  They looked like Egyptian mummies.  They taste very sweet and I didn't like them and my teacher said she didn't like them either.  The whole day was a very new experience for me and from a Christian perspective was a little crazy and not of God.  However it was good to experience the mix of Catholic and ancient traditions that these people practice."

In the Andes we will experience more of these traditions.  We pray that God will show us how to reach the Quechua people we meet with the alive, risen love and truth of Jesus.

Sandi, Jake and Sam

All Saints’ Day in Arequipa Cemetery (from a distance)
Some typical t'anta wawas on the baking tray

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Inauguration of the Diospi Suyana Media Centre

1 September 2016

For my second time now I returned to Curahuasi, this time with Jake (for his first visit) to attend the Diospi Suyana Media Centre inauguration ceremony held on Wednesday 31 August.  Our bus trip was just as unnerving as previous, given this time we sat in the front seats on the top level and we had an uninhibited view of our journey.  We seemed to spend more time on the wrong side of the road than the right side, and I lost count of the overtaking we did on blind corners playing Russian-Roulette with oncoming prime movers, buses and other vehicles of all sorts coming at equally crazy speed and randomly on either side of the road! ☹

The inauguration on the Wednesday was a typical perfect Curahuasi day of blue sky and sunshine, added to that 400 staff and guests seated outside the Media Centre including special invitees Pilar Nores (twice former First Lady of Peru) and Sebastian Zilieri (director of the Peru weekly Caretas).  As all present will testify, it was a very special moment in place and time. 

From first light it was hands on deck with preparations including mounting large monitors on the walls of the studio, running cables, fitting doors and the foyer sign (see photo) and even a team of builders fitting the Media Centre kitchen some 2 hours before commencement – glue and paint may have been still wet but all completed to perfecting standards and just in time.

The ceremony then commenced at 4:30pm with speeches and musical performances.  Almost all the speakers connected God’s blessing with the latest project of Diospi Suyana.  

Klaus notes it is likely that the Diospi Media Centre which is officially opened today, will soon be touching more people intellectually and spiritually, than the Diospi Suyana hospital has done in the last nine years.

The new centre is just 350m² and behind it a 40m mast with FM and television antennas.  Klaus continues;

Some may think that this is a modest beginning.  But in a few months we will reach 170,000 people in the province of Andahuaylas with a new FM transmission.  At present, our applications for AM frequencies in the states of Cusco and Apurimac are in progress.  Furthermore we aim to cover even the southern half of Peru with a shortwave frequency.

I recently negotiated in Buenos Aires with the Argentine company ARSAT for satellite access.  With God's help, we want our program via ARSAT-2 to be reaching the remotest regions of the country.

Anyone traveling through Peru will note there are many broadcast antennas on the mountain tops. Diospi Suyana is a voice among many.  First, a very small voice, but one which we hope will be heard. Quality, respect for the opinions of others, honesty and love are to be the hallmark of our programs.

The Media Centre is the result of hard work on the part of the construction workers, technicians and specialists who have invested their time and experience.  

Diospi Suyana wants to serve God and our neighbours.  We do not build monuments, and are not on an ego trip.  All good things come from God.  For us staff, it is a privilege to be tools in the hands of the Most High.

Then it was my turn in a cast of Peruvians, Europeans (mostly German), Americans and a scattering of other nationalities – I gave my first public short speech in Spanish.  Just a few stumbles but I am told well received as it was sincere and there was an understanding that I have only had 3 months of Español language schooling.  I was so proud on this day to represent Australia and all our faithful supporters worldwide.

Pilar Nores cut through the official red tape at 6pm.

Invited guests then attended the first talk show of Diospi Suyana in the television studio. Jesus Hurtado and Jose Saenz played a video with the highlights of Diospi Suyana to date culminating with the Media Centre.  Referring to this trailer, Doris Manco commenced an interview with studio guests’ Pilar Nores and Dr Klaus and Dr Marina John regarding the history of Diospi Suyana and their vision.

In the evening a banquet was held in the conference hall of the Media Centre.  We thanked God for this great opportunity to reach countless people via radio and television.

Finally an excerpt from Dr Klaus John’s speech: And we are not tired of repeating: Soli Deo Gloria: God alone be the glory.

For me it was exciting to see the formal commencement of the work that God has brought us here to do.  I want to thank all those who are partnering with us to see the vision unfold.

Following is a montage of photos that capture the day…


The ribbon at the Media Centre entrance ready for cutting.
Dr Martina John warmly welcomed all guests.
Doris Manco, head of the Diospi Media Centre, presents with warmth and passion for the future.
Jose Saenz was master of ceremonies.
Chris representing Australia! ☺
Jesus Hurtado looked back gratefully and confidently forward.
Carlos Aymituma explained why he left his television production company in Lima to work at Diospi Suyana.
 Traditional dressed children dance and charm the audience.
A festive atmosphere in the late afternoon.
Speech Klaus John: "Soli Deo Gloria" God alone be the glory.
Olaf Böttger, chairman of Diospi Suyana Germany, cited Isaiah 52: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that since proclaim peace, who brings good, who proclaim salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns".
Appearance of Pilar Nores (twice First Lady of Peru) and Godmother of Diospi Suyana.
Senior students of Diospi-Suyana School perform a traditional Peruvian dance.
Pilar Nores cuts through the red tape alongside Sebastian Zilieri, Doris Manco and the Mayor Danilo Valenza with an elated onlooking Klaus and Martina John.
With the tape cut, Pilar Nores enters the foyer. Behind her Sebastian Zilieri, chief of the oldest weekly magazine of Peru "Caretas" and to the left Klaus and Martina John.
View from the control room of the first Diospi Suyana TV talk show.
The first recording in TV studio of Diospi Suyana and in the foreground is me on camera 3.
The inaugural media team group photo with Pilar Nores.
The Media Centre foyer. The slogan on the sign reads: "With the best message for the world!"
At night overlooking centre after the inauguration.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Sandi’s diary notes from our last week in Australia (and the 3 bag miracles)

24 August 2016

Our leaving…
There was nothing graceful about our leaving Sydney, it wasn’t at all how I imagined or wanted it to be. I know having 7 children and a newborn had something to do with it. I know we couldn’t comprehend how to pack our lives down into suitcases and tie up all the loose ends of living… so I can now 3 months’ after our departure, laugh at our journey and hope we have learnt from it.  I am putting this on the blog mostly as way of an apology, because I know we rushed many important goodbyes.   

Before baby, we had two garage sales and decluttered a lot, had armfuls of vaccinations, and sorted and packed and we enjoyed the last weeks of living the very full life we were used to…

After baby, in between cuddles and feeding… we knew there was a lot to do and we felt stressed and caught out by the administration that needed to be done.  We had amazing friends who understood I think more than we did how behind schedule we were.  Joy flew up from Melbourne twice to help us.  Jen, Bec, Fiona and Welch family helped out with our kids.  Jen lodged forms to be apostilled for us at the Dept. of Foreign Affairs.  In fact Jen was our every day, do anything baby holding angel!  Jane was our “bag lady” she sourced, picked up and delivered 24 second-hand suitcases to our house so we could pack.  God knew and provided just what we needed when we needed it.  Our Lifesource church gave us an amazing farewell. I know friends were covering us in prayer.

Then the plan was to pack up house in Sydney, visit Perth to say goodbye to family there, return to Sydney for two relaxing nights and then leave for Peru. Our plan even sounded restful!!  I even thought we had contingency room in our timing for a night away together.

BUT… after weeks of packing we finished moving out of our house at 4am just 4 hours before our flight to Perth… we had midnight to dawn packing friends… and instead of a kettle and a toaster sized pile in the carport… we unexpectedly left towering mountains of boxes in our carport with instructions for family, friends and neighbours.  Our kids slept that last night at Jenny & Drew’s place with Stacey, our 10 week old, having her first sleepover in a laundry basket!  We were so tired I packed all my shoes and was left wearing my socks (until Jenny lent me some shoes).  Chris packed all his clothes and so wore his jeans and pyjama top for two days packing and then on the plane to Perth.

We had 45 mins sleep at Jenny’s then we woke up our very excited children and Chris drove us in our Commuter to the airport. He was soooo tired that he unloaded all ten of us and our luggage at the wrong domestic terminal!  We then reloaded us and our luggage back into our van and trailer and drove to the Qantas terminal… unloaded again - then we missed our 8am flight!  During the 2 hour wait for the next flight which Qantas put us on free of charge (a miracle of Grace), we debriefed and practised our airport family security drills (to stay together as a unit) as we had been taught in our Pioneers’ field security course!

We had a lovely time in Perth.  It was great to see family and friends including my 94 year old grandma and share what we were doing.  Cousins spent fun time together.  Sam broke his finger trampolining ☹  Family were patient with our lack of headspace ☺ and we were overwhelmed, frustrated, tired, excited… AND standing in faith as we actually didn’t have the funds required to go to Peru yet according to Pioneers guidelines.  I don’t really remember talking about this with anyone… It was too late for that, we had moved out of our house, sold most of our stuff, said goodbyes…. The rest was up to God!
Saying farewell to our 94 year old Grandma in Perth (3 generations)
God was always good to us… as we left Mum and Dad’s to go to the airport, my heart wanted just a bit more time to have a cup of tea with my sisters…. our mobiles rang and it was Qantas ringing to apologise that they had moved us to a flight two hours later! I got the cup of tea and $150 worth of airport food vouchers for free C/- Qantas to compensate us!

On arriving back in Sydney we had 36 hours left.   We stayed at an Air BNB apartment close to the airport to make sure we couldn’t miss the Peru flight!!  With 24 hours remaining before our flight to Peru we received the official phone call to say that we had the support funds to go.  My faith was pushed to the limits… Chris was at peace God would see to it and we know God is always faithful, but phew!!!!

We spent our last Sydney day in Darling Harbour with our Pastors John and Anne and some friends, whilst Kirstie and Jen took our son Sam to the hospital to see a hand surgeon for his broken finger.  God was with even our bags, as we so exhausted we forgot about our snack bag for a few hours in a park, and when we remembered and returned to the spot our snacks were very safe… they were being guarded by two security guards on walkie talkies who thought the bag contained a bomb and had been watching our bag for hours!  As we say in Lifesource Church – “God’s got it!”
Our family farewell in Darling Harbour with pastors’ John & Anne (less Sam who was taken to the hospital to attend to his broken finger!)
Our last night in Sydney before our flight was spent repacking and labelling suitcases.  Elsewhere friends loaded a truck with our luggage, Drew & his mate scheduled for the early morning trip to the airport slept on our hotel couch, the clothes dryer hummed with last minute washing, pizzas were eaten, Sam put the bedroom air conditioning on 18 degrees to acclimatise to Peru ☺, the baby fed…

Then at 6am Rod and many amazing others arrived to load the remaining luggage. It took a team and a miracle to make sure our 94 items of luggage made it on the plane. As the truck was loaded, baby Stacey’s suitcase was accidentally left on the footpath outside our hotel.  It was still there, on a busy road in a not so safe suburb two hours later when Drew made a dash back to find it.  At the check in gate Jen managed our luggage check in with amazing ability and patience!
Some last minute baggage labelling with our friends helping the morning of our final departure
At the departure gate we had a minute to say goodbye.  In one last moment of ungracefulness… With loaded arms, I dropped my cup of tea on the ground leaving our friends standing in a puddle as we hugged, then hurried thru airport security!

On our way to the gate we stopped momentarily at a food stand to feed our hungry teenagers who had missed breakfast.  Moments later we saw our plane boarding.  We skipped eating and hurried to join the line, and left a hand luggage suitcase behind… I have to wonder why God chose us to go to Peru!

(Bag miracle number 3 was that the bag left behind at Sydney Airport contained supplies to get us thru the many hours we expected to be in customs when we landed in Lima… BUT praise God customs let us go thru without inspecting ANY of our bags (see previous blog post on that story)… so the kids were fine as the supplies were not needed!)

Sandi  xx

Chris' agreeable coffee mug the first morning after waking up in Perth

Sunday, 21 August 2016

ABC Español and Church

21 August 2016

Here is a brief update on our language learning here in Arequipa.  Each day Jake, Sam, Isaac and I attend language school ABC Español in the suburb of Cayma.  We live in the suburb of Asvea which is about a half hour trip on a usually overcrowded Combi (the Peru name for a small bus).  Each bus route is owned by a different company and we had to learn which one goes where as there are no maps or schedules available.  The irony is that one has to speak Spanish to know how to get to Spanish school! J  Seriously we had one of the teachers help us on the first day which was necessary for us to get there.
A typical combi (bus) trip to / from language school – here standing with some of our fellow missionary students.  The bus can be a lot more crowded than this as there are no capacity limits.
We arrive around 8:30am and classes go until about midday.  We then head home for lunch and then homework in the afternoon and/or the evening.  More often for me it is the late evening – as I have many day to day things to do plus I need to work at language harder than the boys (making no mention of the fact that it has anything to do with my age!).

But despite the difficulty I face with learning a new language (and yes I am finding it really quite challenging to say the least), one positive aspect is that I get to sit in the same class as my three eldest boys.  Where or when else would this happen in life?  It is such a privilege on the one hand, but on the other it is humiliating as I find them much more adapt to learning (expected but my pride has been well and truly cut down).
A privileged (and also humbled) dad in school with his three eldest sons – here in ABC Español grammar class with teacher Annalú
Although I am understanding more and more words amid sentences, I believe Spanish is a very mature language like English, and so there are seemingly endless different ways and words to say the same or similar things.  The learning aspect in favour of Spanish is that you always pronounce every letter and in the same way – unlike English where we have endless exceptions and merging phonetics depending upon the word (I have in fact learnt a lot about English which I previously took for granted!). 

In my limited experience with Spanish it is a language centred on verbs for which each needs to be conjugated (changed in some way) depending upon the subject or tense largely on rules but with many exceptions that must be simply remembered.  There are also many words and tenses we don’t have in English, plus the construction of the sentence is different (e.g. subject then verb then compliment).  Then there are plural verbs and matching gender alterations throughout each sentence.

I think this is what I am struggling with the most along with just remembering a large vocabulary of new nouns.

Moreover I have reassessed my progress in recent time with other missionaries of my age and conceded that I need to stay on an extra 2 months (from original plan of 3 months).  I believe I need this before I am proficient enough in constructing sentences in Spanish.  It would seem that 5+ months (up to 12 for some) is the norm for people in my category.  Dr Klaus John also agreed and hence we have adjusted our stay in Arequipa until November before moving to Curahuasi.

In the meantime I have been working from Arequipa with Klaus on the Curahuasi broadcast project (i.e. in addition to language school, which makes it a bit tough some days going into early mornings to fit it all in).  Some parts of the project cannot wait until November primarily for licensing reasons.  Such as designing the satellite network and selecting key hardware for purchasing.

We are after a home tutor for Sandi and the girls + Solomon at home.  We believe this is the only way we can function as a family.  Although we have not found anyone as yet.  Sandi and the kids are being adventurous and most days venture out shopping, to markets or to a park, learning about local life as they go.  We also watch some movies and familiar programmes in Spanish such as Peppa Pig (for the littlies) via YouTube and listen to the local Christian radio in Spanish.  For example we went and saw Disney Pixar’s La era del hielo (Ice Age).
Sarah, Georgia and Jessica at the movies posing in the “Buscando a Dory” (Finding Dory) photo promo set.
Another aspect of the ABC Español school is church.  It is one where all the students and teachers attend.  In fact one of the two directors of the school (Pedro) is the pastor!  Worship is great (often familiar tunes and always with words projected on the wall) but I am yet to get much from the sermon as it is of course all in Spanish! 

Importantly both Jake and Sam have joined the music team.  It is a lot smaller scale than Lifesource Church (from which John McLennan and team helped prepare them for this opportunity), but none the less is building them up amongst some also extremely talented musicians.
Our Arequipa Church consisting of ABC Español people – here with Jake and Sam on their debut with the worship team.
So in a nutshell – that’s language school and church for us here in Arequipa.  I will write more about life here in another blog (as there is much to fill you in with).

For those praying for us with language learning – please believe with me that that I still get this language supernaturally as there is urgency to get on with the job we came for at Diospi Suyana!

Thank you all for your support in helping us prepare for our work ahead.


Sunday, 14 August 2016

Our First Peru Residency

05 August 2016

I was advised last week that my Peru residency (Carnet) was approved and needed to be collected in Lima.  Although short notice, I took the opportunity whilst it was the last week of the school holidays so as not to miss any language learning.

After a quick return trip to Lima I obtained my Peru residency from Peru Migraciones (Department of Migrations) and also included my application for the kids’ residency.  Note the Peru bureaucracy requires that parents must have their residency before the application for dependents.  Each step takes 1 to 2 months as it includes overseas criminal checks with Interpol and a return visit in person to Lima when ready! (I think you will agree it’s not exactly the most efficient system).

The first cab off the rank for our family with Peru Residency / Carnet in hand

As they say here in Peru – poco a poco which means little by little.  The same applies to my Spanish progress actually! ☺  More on that in my next post.

And THANK YOU to all our dear supporters, for without you this work would not be possible.


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Our Inaugural Trip to Diospi Suyana, Curahuasi

28 July 2016

Many things have happened since my last post, but to try and stay current I am just reporting in on my current trip to Curahuasi this week (plus language school is in recess giving me the needed respite from late night homework to write here again! J).

Isaac (13) and I have embarked on our inaugural trip to Diospi Suyana hospital whilst language school is in recess for two weeks.  The bus is the most economical method by an order of magnitude – typically between USD $30 to $40 p/p each way.  Not bad for a 10 hour coach trip with 160° to 180° reclining bed seats and personal entertainment screens. 

But that is where the luxury sell ends, as the bus travel in these parts is far from smooth straight road, leading to a somewhat anxious and prayerful trip for me.  It was like being in a theme park flight simulator ride where you are thrown up down, left and right – all the time I was envisioning the speeding bus edging along mountain hairpin bends with 300 metre sheer drops.  All this with a seatbelt that did not work and the Diospi Suyana accounts of carnage with buses that do go over the edge.  

But my promise scripture is Psalm 121 – I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber. 

So of course we arrived OK and the Diospi Suyana facility was every bit as impressive as imagined.  It was a quality build and with friendly professional Christian staff on board.  The media centre was bigger than I had imagined from the plans – a nice clean build to get things right and be efficient and produce quality programming.

FM broadcasting had commenced a few weeks earlier for the low power local Curahuasi license on the Diospi Suyana property, providing our first 24 x 7 radio to the community.  The transmitter install is temporary but functional and does not impact upon signal performance.

The first Diospi Suyana FM – a low power transmitter (temporary install) serving Curahuasi

The Diospi Suyana hospital site FM mast (co-sited)

We have met some wonderful fellow mission people here from all parts – Germany, the US, Australia (Lyndal Maxwell) and many local Peruvians.  These are directors, surgeons, doctors, medical assistants, broadcast producers, to even cleaners who take such pride in their work.

We have also reserved a house for when we are ready to commence work in Curahuasi.  Many doubted that a suitable place for a family of 10 would be found.  However God clearly had other plans as we found a large farm house (casa la hacienda) with everything we had dreamt of having – from a creek, to beautiful views of mountains and crop fields, to even a bath (a very rare thing in Peru!).  

The house is believed to be over 150 years old, and has approximately 1 metre thick adobe mud brick walls to regulate the ambient temperature extremes.  It has never been leased before and is just 10 minutes out of town.  The owners – 4 adult siblings of an Italian visionary father, took over 2 hours to show me around and provide stories of their childhood and the amazing things their father established in the place from vineyards, to orchards, to vegetable gardens, to a water wheel to grind wheat and generate power etc.  It even has a paddock for animals (read: accommodating possible horse one day for Sarah), not to mention Inka trails that go on for countless kilometres (read: accommodating Sam’s mountain bike riding) and hills to climb for all.  We are feeling so incredibly blessed right now (again!).

A perfect place to accommodate our family (a coat of paint on the exterior will make a world of difference too! J)

Yes a bath – and what a view!!!

Tomorrow is Peru Independence Day where the town establishments (such as Diospi Suyana) march the streets to the town centre – in Peru this is the Plaza de Armes (of which every city and town of any presence has its centre named this).  I will be videoing with one of the new Sony professional cameras recently acquired for the media centre.  This will enable a programme to be produced for the hospital for when the inaugural Diospi Suyana television station commences broadcasting in the coming months.


Sunday, 10 July 2016

Our Arrival in Arequipa

25 June 2016

Continuing on from my previous post… and again my apologies for the delay.  I appreciate Sand’s Facebook has been a lot more current that our blog in the past month.

After some time looking for accommodation when we were still in Sydney and furthermore after we arrived in Lima, we had not been able to find a suitable sized furnished house for short term rent in Arequipa.  Most were either smaller places or the owner wanted a long term lease and this is despite canvassing all options with Real Estate agents, our local Arequipa language school and even friends and relatives of our Peru friends in Sydney (thank you all so much for those helping us with this!).

We were coming to the end of our tenure at the Lima Guesthouse when it so happened to be Sandi’s birthday.  During which time another Diospi Suyana missionary Peter Schultz who had been studying language with his family in Arequipa for the past 2 months with his family celebrated Sandi’s birthday breakfast with us that morning (and being German, contributed a European Continental offering adding to the cultural mix).  God’s timing I reckon as he noted an accommodation option that a fellow German family was just about to leave Arequipa and they lived in a house that could accommodate the ten of us.  They had to vacate 2 weeks early for us, but there was an option with another Arequipa family to accommodate them (a squeeze but doable for them short term).

This is how things transpired and the way was made for us to have a house in Arequipa.  We achieved some amazing bargain Lima to Arequipa airfares too – the locals we spoke agreed this was the best deal they had heard of (even with LATAM who arguably have the best reputation and safety record).

We arrived at Arequipa airport greeted by the beautiful Arequipa snow-capped mountain visa of the three local volcanoes – Chachani (6.057 km above sea level), Mt Misti (an active volcano 5.822km above sea level) and Picchu Picchu (5.664 km above sea level).  We were picked up by our Diospi Suyana German compatriots (the Schütze’s and the Kühling’s) in Sam’s all-time favourite vehicle – the VW Kombi T1 model with barn doors!  So Sam had to have the front seat! ☺  Here are some pictures that captured the moment.

Our initial view of Arequipa’s volcanoes from the airport tarmac

Peter Schütze (left) and the Welch Family pickup from Arequipa airport in the VW T1 Kombi

In the first week we were in Arequipa (NB 2.4km above sea level) Sandi has suffered with headaches and daily blood noses (which seemed to go on and on for like an hour in some cases) the altitude.  This was a challenging week as Jake, Sam, Isaac and I started language school – deferring to the Tuesday as Sandi was unwell.  But with God’s Grace we got through OK.

For the initial term it seemed there was yet more mandatory admin and finance stuff to night after night.  This has also proven challenging balancing the kids’ needs with Sandi and mine, plus doing justice with our language studies and homework each day.  I found myself still working away well after midnight as the norm, including calls to Australian institutions sorting out incompatibilities with the Peru systems.  For example SMS does not work between Australian and Peru telco systems making many Australian transfer authentication systems.  Hopefully that is largely behind us now and we can settle into some sort of routine.

Here below are some pictures of our place which best describe our abode in Arequipa;

We live on the top two floors with the caretakers’ family on the ground floor.

 View north of Mt Misti from our bedroom window

View from our bedroom window down to street level

Our house looking up the street from ground level

The kids room (and overflow bedroom)

 Our kitchen with gas oven, microwave, fridge etc. all inclusions

Our dining (foreground) and living areas

Our outdoor laundry

Our rooftop getaway with city panoramic views

Operator beware – the Peruvian electric instant hot water shower head (unfortunately does not meet Australian electrical standards and you do occasionally get a tingle up the arm when turning the tap under the shower which is heated by an exposed active element inside! ☠)

Sunset over Mt Misti taken from our bedroom window