New post from missionary Erin Mackenzie

New post from missionary Erin Mackenzie

On Chinos and Chirimoyas

Posted: 17 Feb 2020 09:30 PM PST

Two of the things I’ve learned so far this week: 
1. DON’T try and get across Lima on a Friday afternoon, especially in public transportation.  
2. DO peel chirimoya before cooking it. 
Alongside Assistant Volunteer Coordinator Courtney and Regional Human Life Coordinator Jamielynn, I’m in Lima, Peru, for the 3rd time with yet another short-term team. This one is an “assembled team” representing two congregations in IL and IA. They’re here to do “Community Health Evangelism” (CHE) – helping to improve the holistic health of a community by teaching dynamic, faith-based lessons on any number of topics. There are literally thousands available, some of which have been translated into Spanish already. 
Typically, I’d get to Lima a day earlier than the team I’m hosting. The national pastors and local leaders here are phenomenal, so all I need to do is grocery shop. This time, I allowed an extra day with the goal of learning how to get to both churches by bus. Lima has accessible, inexpensive public transportation, but having never done either trip unescorted, I was not about to pretend like I knew what I was doing with volunteers that I’m responsible for in tow! Our AM lesson was La Victoria with Pastor Osmel; we successfully replicated the journey on our own, so chalk that one up in the win column. I was slightly more apprehensive about our PM lesson with Osmel: Los Olivos. Turns out it’s not difficult, just a long haul, especially in Friday afternoon rush hour traffic. I quickly shushed Courtney when she pointed out that in the time it took us to get across the city, we could have driven from Santiago to the capital. We were on bus #2 of 3, the chino, for almost two hours. 

Toasting the end of a long haul – and the Día de San Valentín – with pisco sours courtesy of Elvis and wife Alba (far right). 
I have a new level of appreciation and respect for the church planters – and church members – in Peru that take buses on a regular basis and selfishly feel uber accomplished that I can get myself and others halfway across a city of 12 million for less than $1.50. I’m also a tad jealous of Courtney and the fact that she learned how on her first full day in the country!
The team arrived in two rounds on Saturday. The Hoyt family of three that spent a few days in Cusco prior to the trip landed around 2:00 pm. Mom Kelley was at the helm of planning a nutrition workshop and healthy lunch for Sunday afternoon in Los Olivos. She had done extensive research on the nutritional content of locally available ingredients, so she and Jamielynn were able to efficiently hammer out an outline, menu, and grocery list. 

Enjoying a San Borja sunset before walking to dinner. 

Courtney & Jamielynn went to the airport to pick up the remaining three team members while the Hoyts and I stayed back to work on lunch prep. Sam was a starfruit star!

We got to Los Olivos (by bus!) early (!) on Sunday, so I took one team member with me to a nearby supermarket to buy the meat before church (we hadn’t wanted to risk it spoiling on the way). I told the woman behind the meat counter how many kilos of chicken breasts I wanted; she handed me a rather hefty meat fork and indicated that I could stab away!

Almost everyone stayed after church for Kelley’s talk. Her knowledge was well-received by a community largely unaware of the nutritional value – or lack thereof – of their typical diet. She approached the topic with love, suggesting small but impactful changes that could be implemented over time. Through it all, she emphasized that God created our bodies to be awesome, which is why fueling them properly is important!

Meanwhile, upstairs…we cooked for 50 with no running water. 
We also learned a very important lesson about chirimoya: the skin is bitter and leaves behind its essence if not removed before cooking! All Peruvians apparently know this. People who use Google to find out how nutrient-dense it is and then attempt a new recipe with it do not. The goal was to wind up with something like applesauce that would be dolloped on top of a fruit salad (mandarin oranges, starfruit, and aguaymanto). We did, but only after adding exorbitant amounts of brown sugar and maple syrup, and it was still bitter! Everyone was overly gracious in gently pointing out the error of our ways. 

Oven-baked chicken breast, guacamole, and sweet potatoes with cinnamon!

You won’t find God-ordained, anecdotal conversations like these on any schedule anywhere, but they’re my favorite to watch happen.
The group spent Sunday afternoon and evening in Miraflores shopping, dreaming up alpaca and llama puns to share on social media along with photos from the day…
…and enjoying breathtaking views of the Pacific. We capped off the night with dinner. None of us will forget Ángel! Our chronologically gifted and vertically challenged waiter’s sense of humor and contagious joy were a gift to our weary souls!
I’m still processing a long, satisfying day of visits today. We didn’t wrap up…or start, come to think of it…devotions until after 10 pm. I look forward to sharing more about that as well as tomorrow’s goings on at a public school and hospital and the experiences that await us in La Victoria later in the week soon. 
Until next time, blessings!