Sunday, June 29, 2008

Day 10 & 11

Our trip home took 24 hours and 3 planes. Derek was so happy to have Mcdonalds - I think I may have seen a tear! We will forever be changed. We came home with a new appreciation for this great Country in which we are blessed to live . And feel a great responsibility to help others not as fortunate as ourselves. We are now going to work on making quilts for that little Tucson village. SXHU is donated bunkbed for thier huts and we are going to provide quilts for the beds. We are also going to start a Missionary clothing project. The missionaries that leave from their have nothing. We donated all our suitcases (except the few we needed to bring our stuff home in) to the missionaries. We are going to gather up white shirts & Ties and socks to send back for all those Elders who are leaving on missions! If you would like to help in our efforts let me know! I am hoping to get 50 quilts made and 2000 ties (in honor of the stripling warriors) to send by Christmas! We are in the process of making a movie of our adventure - we will post a small one on Youtube for all of you to see. If you are interested in the long version - on your next visit to our home we will be happy to show you!
Some more highlights of our trip! Singing Hymns
Dressing up

Grace and I infront of a reed hut

Day 9

We had the morning to play before we headed to Lima. Laurens allergies went crazy out on the reed islands so her and Derek stayed in the Hotel. Savannah, Grace, Steve and I climbed to the top of a mountain where they had a statue of a Condor. We climbed to about 15,000 feet. We had done pretty well with the altitude until now! It was hard to catch your breath and climb that high! Grace did great! She pretty much ran up the hill! I think I was the last to make it - but it was incredible up there you could see forever! After our grand adventure of climbing we spent the afternoon traveling to Lima.
View from the top of the hill!
The statue of the Condor
The steps we had to climb to see the condor
A parade we happened by on our way back to the hotel

Day 8

Our hotel in Puno was really loud - we were on a very busy street. So it wasn't hard to get up. We took bicycle taxis to Lake Titicaca and then a boat out to the first reed island . They told us a little history of the Reed islands and how they came to be . Each island has about 6 to 8 families that live on them. We then boarded reed boats and headed off to another island that had 8 LDS families . As our boat was approaching we could hear singing. They were singing a Hymn - We Thank Thee Oh God For a Prophet. They were so welcoming! Steve started talking to one of the men on the island and met his family. They Joined the church about 5 years ago and were all sealed together. The next year his oldest son drown and they were so happy they had been able to attend the temple . They told us it takes about 24 hours to get to the closest temple. They have been 4 times and were planning another trip this next month. What incredible sacrifice! They paddle their boats into Puno for church and their teenagers paddle into seminary every morning. Their littlest boy was sick with a fever and they asked Steve and Derek to help give him a blessing. Steve looked at a couple of kids and we painted another school house. Before we left we sang "God Be With You till We Meet Again" all together in what every language you wanted and then had a prayer all together. Another very moving experience. The love that flowed from these people was indescribable. The father from that family that Steve met followed us back to our hotel and we gave him all our clothes and shoes and coats - we kept only what we needed to wear home. You wished you could have brought everything from home to give to them. Their need was so great! After we got back to Puno we took another bicycle taxi and toured the city! It was really fun. We got to see the markets and LDS church and a big slide for kids to slide down. Our kids climbed to the top and took turns with the locals coming down this HUGE slide about 3 stories high. Another full day! Getting on the bicycle Taxi
Riding in the Reed boats
This is how they get around from island to island.
The first island that we went to.

They were singing hymns as we arrived.
The sick little baby
One of the girls from the island.
Steve looking at the kids on the island.
Derek Painting the School - you had to be careful - that is water under the school - made it a little hard to paint!

Day 7

Today was mostly a travel day - We flew to Puno by lake Titicaca - Steve actually served part of his mission here. He said it had changed alot. But it was fun for him to remember some of the places. We did a little bit of shopping here and we became easy targets for all the street kids who try and sell you things. We couldn't say no - so we have a lot of little trikets - mostly finger puppets that they make themselves - we have llamas, parrots,giraffes, dogs, octopus and pretty much any animal you can think of! We might have to have a puppet show!City of Puno
Grenadia - or commonly called Snot fruit

Took Grace a while to warm up to it - but she loved it once she tried it!

Day 6

We packed up and left Urubomba. We are staying in Cusco tonight. On our way we visted a village called Tucson that SXHU is working with building a school house and getting a teacher. The church just got them a system for having some running water. It was really primative. All the houses were 6x6 mud bricked homes with thatched roofs. Each home holds about 6 people. They live in the foothills of the mountains. It is hard to explain and describe what we saw there. I would have never believed people live like that. Yet they are so happy and kind and would give you anything they had. When they saw we were from Southern Cross they came running from all over to meet us. Many of you donated stuffed animals and we had so many extra beanie babies that we gave them away to these cute little kids who had NOTHING! They were so thrilled! Some others in our group had suckers they were giving away! Then We got to talk to one of the moms and she showed us her little house. On one end was a twin bed frame - the whole family of sleeps on this one bed. In the other corner was her little fire and pots for cooking. This cute little mom had a little one on her back she was carrying around and a few more little ones running around. Chickens in and out of the house. It was incredibly moving. I was so touched by this mom - she hugged me and kissed us for giving her kids such a kind gift! It was so overwhelming to see such poverty that Derek had to take Grace back to the bus - it was too much to process! It will be hard to ever complain again - without that experience coming to mind! What an incredible hardship those people have. The kids sang us a song and then we sang "I am a Child of God" to them and I could not even choke the words out! It was so moving! We then got on the bus and headed to a drop in center in Cusco. The kids were so excited to see us. All of these kids are homeless and this drop in center funded by Southern Cross feeds them, gives them a safe place to go in the afternoons and teaches them Hygiene, helps them with school and gives them a place to belong. They sang for us and a cute little girl danced for us. Steve asked her later where she learned to dance like that and she told him she watched in on TV. We were introduced to the Board of Director- he was an 11 yr old boy. Steve asked him later what he had to do to be a Board of Director and he said he had to make all the rules and inforce them - he introduced us to some of his buddies who were on the board. He wants to be a business man. They were all so cute! We gave away beanie babies and blankets and Lauren gave gum! We also painted the building they were using. Ended up back at our hotel pretty late and emtionally exhausted!
The Village of Tucson
All the houses looked just like this.
One of the kids from the Village with Steve.
They loved the Beanie Babies.
Two of the brothers at the village.
Kids at the Drop in Center.

They loved thier Blanket.
Derek painting the drop in center
Me painting - it got pretty dark - but we finished.

Day 5

We got to sleep in a little today because we got back from Macchu Picchu so late. We got right to work at the orphanage farm. We were building a chicken coop for the new chickens, tiling putting a roof on the bathroom and adobe house for the farm workers. They don't have any tools like we are use to. It is all pretty primitive. Derek was helping with the concrete and you had to get the sand out of a pile of rocks and sift out the big rocks - mix it with a little bit of concrete and get water from the river. I was so proud of how hard our kids worked. After we were done with the work some of the older boys from the orphanage brought down the donkeys and the kids had donkey races. Which was really funny! That evening we had a going away party with the kids at the Sunflower - we had to be really upbeat and not promise anything!! We had a great dinner, dancing and even ice cream! The little boy , Jhoel, who loved Derek kept asking him if he would see him tomorrow - and Derek hated telling him no! This was the first time during the trip that Grace got crabby - I think it was too much to deal with for her. It was really sad - when the bus left - all the kids were waving and saying goodbye! They were so cute - it was really hard to leave them - we wanted to bring them all home!This is how we got to the farm - we had to cross the river on rafts.
Derek getting dirt for the cement - the girls are sifting rocks out of the dirt so it will work to make cement.
Lauren helping build the chicken coop.
Mixing cement to hold up the posts for the Coop.

Grace taking care of the chickens.
Her favorite Javier (aka Howard) Yes she had to name the chickens.
Steve also taught her how to hypnotize a chicken .
Finished Chicken coop! We had to use work gloves for Hinges on the gate.
We got very creative!
Donkey rides! Derek was trying to get his to buck him off!

Savannah and some of the sunflower kids at the Goodbye party!
Derek and his buddy Jhoel!
Lauren and her new friends! We will really miss those cute kids!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Day 4

Macchu Picchu! Incredible! This was a really fun day! We traveled on a train , took a bus up through some switch backs all the way to the top where you find Macchu Picchu! The pictures do not give it justice! It was overwhelming! Absolutely fasinating! Steve was so surprised how regulated it all was now 25 years later! It is really a tourist attraction. They only let 400 people a day hike Hyana Picchu - and we got there too late so we didn't get to go to the top of the world. Steve and the kids were a little disappointed ! Secretly I was glad - we already were hiking all over and it was exhausting!!! After a great day Savannah hiked down the mountain with some of our group and met us at the bottom for dinner. Derek and lauren made friends with the little girl whose mom ran the restaurant by telling her that Derek was a crazy monkey - I think that is the only spanish they know! Here we are up on Macchu Picchu
the kids were always trying to freak me out!!
More Macchu Picchu! Incredible!
The big cliff is Hyana Picchu which we didn't get to climb - maybe next time!
Freaking out mom again!
Trying to fly! They love to scare me!
The restaurant we ate at this night was run by some LDS people as you can tell by the picture on the front of thier restaurant! cute!!

Day 3

We went back to the Sunflower and finished up our projects all morning and then headed off to a remote village high above Urubomba. The dentists had started there in the morning so the kids knew we were coming and as the bus was driving into thier village they came running from the fields say HOLA!!!! This village had no running water. It was all mud brick huts! Incredible that people still live like that! We taught the new moms how to bathe thier babies and put on diapers. These mothers had no idea how to put on diapers! We gave them a newborn kits, with diaper rash medicine, baby soap, pjs, clothe diapers and hats. Some of the babies loved the bath some did not like it at all! Some babies had horrible rashes all over thier bodies - very sad! Then we taught the little kids how to wash thier hands. We painted fingernails and painted with face paints on thier hands - we didn't have any mirrors for them to see it on thier faces so we just painted on thier hands! The people were so friendly and happy! Amazing how happy they were! They had NOTHING! It was truley a lesson for us and a hightlight of the trip! After the village we hiked through some incredible salt flats and made it back to urubomba late - ate dinner at a pizza place ran by a little family with a brick oven and then went to bed! Another full day!The shelves we built full of our back packs and hygiene kits and school kits - before the shelves were built everything was just piled up in corners it was so great to have it all with easy access and see what they have and what they need!

Savannah painting fingernails! They loved it!!The kids on the Brick wall that surrounded the village high in the Andes
One of the moms let us love her cute little baby after her bath
Lauren helping bathe the babies
Lauren teaching the little kids how to wash thier hands
This is the kitchen by the village school where they make their school lunches! Incredible!
(she was always popular with the gum)