July 3, 2018
I woke up this morning with some tension in my inner left ear and sinuses. I was hoping that the irritation would gradually dissipate, but it did the opposite throughout the day. Despite not feeling 100%, I was able to teach a pretty good day of classes. The students took another quiz, and we covered plenty of important features in Bibliology, especially in regards to the inspiration of the Bible.
Although I wasn’t feeling well, I did not want to miss the chance to eat at a highly recommended local restaurant called “Pizza Wasi.” I believe “Wasi” is a Quechua term for home. It was cooked right near our table in a stone oven. There were a variety of pizzas that our group ordered, and I was able to try a few different kinds. First, I tried the Hawaiian pizza, which featured ham and pineapple. Next, I had a couple slices of the chicken pizza, though it also added peppers and onions (I want to say there were carrots too?). Finally, I had the Urubamba pizza, which included peaches and elderberries—a sweet pizza, but not overwhelmingly so.
I wish I could say that a lot of other exciting things happened today, but unfortunately my illness kept me confined to resting and drinking a lot of water and tea. Thankfully, a humidifier was discovered for me to use, as I suspected the altitude was affecting my sinuses. I wasn’t sure how I would be feeling when I woke up the next day, but I asked that God in His sovereignty would bring full healing by the next day.
July 4, 2018
After sleeping for a solid 8 hours or so, I woke up to a much better throat. I remembered that I prayed for God’s healing of my illness, but it was pretty remarkable that by the time classes began, I didn’t have any soreness or excessive phlegm in my throat. It was such a notable contrast to how I had felt the previous evening.
Classes went particularly well today. Students tended to do well on a somewhat challenging quiz regarding biblical inerrancy. After the quiz, I took some liberty to veer away from the prepared notes for a while so that we could study some “problem passages” of the Bible. I received some good feedback on this study by the students.
Rather than a normal chapel, the students broke up into smaller groups, which were based off of their expected destinations for their mission trips that would take place very soon (I think as soon as two weeks if I’m not mistaken). This extra time allowed me to catch up on grading. We returned back to the classroom thereafter to cover some of our notes on biblical inspiration, as well as some comments from the textbook by Charles Ryrie.
It was indeed the Fourth of July! All of the Americans in the group, seven in total, had a really nice lunch of BBQ, fresh veggies (which can be hard to consume in Peru because they need to be carefully cleansed to prevent illness), chips, baked beans, and watermelon. I have had some great dishes in Peru, but there are few foods that can top a good BBQ.
Not long after lunch, most of our group took some time to hike up a nearby mountain where one finds a cross at its peak. It took about 45 minutes to hike up, and throughout the time the sights were masterful as we overlooked part of Urubamba (see the picture above for this post). Gradually the snow-capped mountains became even more distinguished. Finally, I arrived at the top and the scenery was completely breathtaking. I didn’t realize how wide Urubamba truly was until this excursion. The Urubamba River rested at the bottom of the mountain in front of me, while the city was all populated on in-between the river and me. We took some nice photos of the sites that could be seen in a 360-degree direction.
I arrived back to the campus in the early evening, giving me sufficient time to go on Skype to talk to my wife and son—always something I look forward to each night. While we were talking about one anothers’ day, I heard some loud noises outside, but this time I was in a much clearer mindset than the previous week, and I detected fireworks. I stepped outside momentarily to take in the sights of about three or four outbursts. That was all, but it was a fun pastime to enjoy in Peru during America’s day that celebrates independence. Just one more class day to go for the week! Lord willing, we will see the salt mines in a town called Maras tomorrow.
July 5, 2018
I woke up to a cloudy morning outside, but I was definitely eager for the day to unfold—the sun eventually appeared in full force by late morning as well. Before taking the quiz, I wanted the class to further ponder the example of Jesus in Luke 4. While we are studying Bibliology (the study of the Bible), I didn’t want us to lose sight of the practicality of why we have the Bible and how to live in light of our knowledge of the Scriptures. Jesus endured temptation from Satan by being filled with the Holy Spirit, and in a similar aspect, relying upon the Word of God.
The students took the quiz, which covered details on Jesus’ understanding of the inspired Bible, among other crucial topics. During class, we continued in our notes and saw some pretty remarkable truths about how the apostles and Christ Himself had such a sturdy understanding of the Bible’s inspiration. Once again, chapel was a time spent in small groups to prepare for upcoming missions trips among the seminary students. This allowed me to catch up on grading almost entirely (just the paragraphs to go, which will take some time). We reconvened at 11 and finished our class at the regularly scheduled time of about 12:35.
Rather than proceeding to having lunch, our group exited the campus shortly after 1. We took the “red beast” vehicle on a bumpy ride towards the salt mines of Maras. But first, we had a picnic lunch. Visually, the location of the picnic was stunning. Audibly, there was almost no sound to be heard. After lunch, we arrived at the salt mines, though met with steep cliffs just off to the side of the narrow road.
It surprised me to see how much of these salt mines are supported by such a seemingly modest source. The experience was indeed quite enjoyable, as many pictures were taken at yet another Peruvian location that every person ought to check out. On the way back to the vehicle, there were about six or seven shops that vendors hoped to make a few soles from tourists. I bought a couple of chocolates and some bags of pink salt as souvenirs.
But one of my most desired tasks was to find a vendor that sold handmade slippers as a gift for my wife. I did find one vendor, and it appeared that this one vendor had a monopoly on this product. The seller wanted 90 soles, though I tried talking her down to 70. She was adamant about 80, so I decided to walk away. Fortunately, the lead missionary of our group, Rachel, was conversing with another seller, who did not have slippers on display, but did have some pairs in storage, down a couple flights of stairs and in a building closer to the salt mines. She likewise accepted 70 soles, so the deal was made.
I picked up a few items on the way back to the campus, including dinner from Chorrilano’s once again. This time I had steak, fries, and rice—Peruvians like rice and potatoes, if you didn’t catch on to this truth yet. Though another reason for these being favorites is that they can be harvested in the region and they are cheap.
We went to the Thursday night midweek service in Urubamba. One of our team members, Randy, spoke on an important message from Ephesians 5 on the roles of husbands and wives in a marriage relationship. Back at the campus at night, I’ve thought about all that went on this week. There were a couple of difficulties, but much of the time was quite remarkable. Just one more week of classes to go, and that includes two days of regular classes, with the final exam scheduled for Wednesday. Thursday I have reserved to grade the final exams and finish up everything before heading back to the U.S. Tomorrow morning, I plan to head to Cusco once again, though with the expectation to return Saturday afternoon.
July 6, 2018
After a quiet morning, our group left at around 10 a.m. to head onward to Cusco, but with a few stops in-between. First, we went into the Awana Kancha llama farm, which housed not just llamas, but other similar animals such as alpacas. We were able to feed them, and while a llama didn’t spit me on, one of our team members was not so fortunate. The farm also had a mini-museum and other displays, along with a gift shop that featured many high-end items. I succumbed to the pressure of a really nice llama stuffed animal for my son, even though it was quite pricey.
A short drive down the same road took us to a zoo that had rescued animals from the wild, many of which are endangered species. We took the tour, which allowed us to take pictures with some very friendly alpacas, but it also included the only species of bear found in Peru (which, I believe, is the same species that inspired the Paddington bear series). At the end of the tour, we saw the grand finale, namely, the flight of the Andean Condor birds with their magnificent wingspan and distinguishable features.
Afterwards, we arrived in Cusco, heading straight to the mall. Out of all the malls I’ve been to (admittedly, not a greatly high number), this was perhaps the cleanest, finest, and well-kept malls I’ve been able to visit. It wasn’t terribly large, but it had a nice food court, including American restaurants like Starbucks, Burger King, and Papa John’s. I wanted to do something a little more Peruvian, so I went with a place called Bembos, which was a fast food burger restaurant. I ordered the “Bembos Royal,” which had a nicely sized burger patty with cheese, tomato, lettuce, and egg, with a side of fries.
After lunch, there was plenty of time until we had to go to our next destination, so I also went to Juan Valdez Café to order a coffee. There wasn’t simply a regular cup of coffee to choose from, as it had mostly drinks related to espresso, so I got an Americano—double shot espresso, finished off with hot water, to create a near coffee-like drink. It was only like 8.8 ounces, but that certainly was a potent cup. When ordering, I was a bit confused because the barista was trying to sell me other items rather adamantly when I simply wanted the coffee—finally, she asked, “solo café?” Indeed, that’s all I wanted.
We arrived at Aaron and Stephenie’s house a little closer to 4 than originally planned. They had a church planting meeting, with about 7 or 8 other kids besides their own 3 that were needing to be occupied for the time of the meeting. I read several books to some of the English-speaking ones, while the rest played with Legos and other items. While I was trying to send a quick Facebook message to my wife, I was sitting on the ground with my laptop. A small Peruvian boy walked towards me, clearly not feeling well, and sneezed all over my left arm and laptop. I headed straight to the bathroom and lathered my arm and face with antibiotic soap. Then I got a Clorox wipe to thoroughly wipe down my laptop. I was (and have been) praying that I could avoid this illness that the Peruvian boy had, as I haven’t really felt 100% just about the entire trip due to altitude acclimation, stress, and other issues.
After dinner, a delightful chicken and rice meal, and following the church planting meeting, Aaron and I tried working with a grill to prepare for tomorrow. Since lighter fluid was not found earlier in the day, we experimented with this candle-like device that would act as a less powerful but plausible alternative. It took a good while, but finally the hot dog we experimented with was thoroughly cooked. Tomorrow, I will be operating the grill for 24 hamburgers and several hot dogs. As the night closed, one couple from our group, the Newmans, was able to get on a plane in Cusco and make their trek back to the U.S. They were an enjoyable couple to have on the trip, so I’m sure it will be a bit different for the upcoming and final week I have in Urubamba.