It was last Sunday that we left St. Louis for Peru. We have decided that it feels like we have been here a month already. Only a year left!
Things here are great (minus a little gastrointestinal problems for one of our travelers--she´s feeling much better, no worries). Yesterday the sisters threw a party for Pat V. who is leaving Peru after thirty some years of ministry here. We had a great dinner, some homemade pie, very touching prayer and sharing, and, of course, some entertainment. Pat and Maria presented ¨Prinderella¨with some fabulous costumes (imagine a mop on the head and a tablecloth dress). Maritsa put together a short powerpoint, after which we danced. It was quite an honor to be present with the community here as they blessed one of their own--and ours.
We left early this morning by bus with the sisters in formation for mass and breakfast at their house. While the center house in Lima is in a middle-classish neighborhood, the formation house would be located in a lower socioeconomic barrio. For me, it was almost more devastating than Pisco realizing that Pisco had been hit by an earthquake while what we saw in Canto Chico is simply the way it is. The sisters in formation--Nancy, Mery, Maritsa, Luz, and Virginia--walked us around the neighborhood. Since they work with the children in the afternoons, tons of ninos came up, kissed us on one cheek as is the custom, and said, ¨Hola hermanitas¨(little sisters--as we are often fondly called). One woman sang a song for us ont he street, another invited Mery and me into his home, from which Mery and I climbed part of the hill in the back for a great view of the barrio. The inside and outside space is often not well-defined here with inside becoming outside with no doors or separation. Despite the poverty Canto Chico is beautiful in its own way, the pastel colored houses in stark contrast with the bald hills.
At breakfast we each told parts of our vocation stories, which was a gift in and of itself. I almost wish we had done it in two parts, though, since after the first half my brain was starting to sizzle from the concentration it takes to translate the language. It is wonderful to have those sisters to include in my ¨group.¨ We are headed back to the formation house for a few days later in the month.
Tomorrow a sister from another congregation is coming to talk to us (in English), then on Tuesday we are headed to what we would call in St. Louis the intercommunity novitiate with the novices here (in Spanish). Wednesday off to Ica for a three-day trip. Again, I can´t emphasize enough what a gift this has been already. What a rich experience of Congregation and what it means to be Sisters.