So it is nearly 9pm and I am home alone. Paul is running his 3-day retreat in a town an hour away. The doorbell goes (the highly inappropriate one that blasts out the wedding march, Christmas carols and other delights at high volume) and looking out of the window I see the guy who keeps coming to our home for food, attention and … well needs a lot of looking after. He (at 34 years old) called us both mum and dad the other day !!!!) has been a challenge in many, many ways and tested our patience big-time. He has taken advantage to the point where we have had to lay down rules…. yet at the same time he has made an effort to try to be our friends (he does our washing up quite regularly – that is about as far as friendship goes here).

He has been thrown out of his lodgings- a local hostal (here that means a brothel) and so has turned to us for help – we can’t help. At least, while I am home alone I can’t let him in – we have a rule to protect me… so I had to turn him away (after standing on the doorstep for a while chatting to him and then giving him the remains of my bean dinner.  Thinking about it now I could maybe have found him a cheap room somewhere and paid for it (only just thought of that) – but I know he has money of his own (not very much) that he refuses to use… so at the end of the day if he has nowhere to go, he isn’t really helping himself is he??? Hmmm.

It isn’t easy helping others to help themselves when really then just want to be looked after. That is why I am so tired and zapped.Helping others isn’t often very rewarding, it is mainly sacrificial.

I am very thankful for our flat and a warm bed – it is getting significantly chilly here as we head into winter.

Spent the last couple of days writing materials and organising the time for the forthcoming staff strategy planning retreat (Monday – Wednesday). Think I’m all set to go, but I think I’m going to have my work cut out for me (as the facilitator) to make it a useful time for all involved – much depends on the attitudes that people come with and how I manage the three days and the whole strategy process. Potentially, the meeting could set the tone for the work of the Trust in Huancayo for the next few years at least, so the pressure is on to make sure I manage it well.

Well, I have had a few really bad days when I thought I would never last a day more in this place, but, I always get over them! That isn’t to say that I now love this place, it just means that I have a bad day or two each week and then the rest of the time is bearable.

We have had contact from A in Chincha, but only the kind of contact that makes me angry (he seems to be the kind of person who can’t take advice and just makes things worse for himself and other people). I haven’t heard anything from his wife as yet.

I am pushing my way through my nutrition course – it has been challenging the last few weeks; too much chemistry for my brain to cope with when I’m struggling with just living here. But I’m making some interesting discoveries about what our governments don’t let us know re. how we should be eating. It seems that the selling of statins and medication is far more important than preventing the need for them!!

I’m currently teaching one lesson a day at the university. My last cycle will start in a couple of week and finish mid-July. In the meantime I have been asked to record some videos (more cheese) to teach grammar points. It appears that they want my presence to remain in the university so I have to put my face and voice on camera!!

I’m really looking forward to going home now! I want to go swimming, eat British desserts, consume fresh milk, go to a proper church, have friends again, have intelligent conversations, wash my clothes in a washing machine that washes properly, go for country walks (I will miss the mountains here), HAVE A BATH EVERYDAY FOR 6 MONTHS TO MAKE UP FOR THE LAST 3 YEARS!!

We’ll be looking to book flights in the next few weeks after we give a chance to prospective jobs to get back to Paul.

Will send out a news email soon to bring you all up to date on our last projects before leaving.

Well, since my last post about progress in Chincha we have since lost contact with our ‘friends’ in Chincha. We suspect that A, the husband wasn’t happy with us for various reasons and has probably forbidden his wife to be in contact.  This upsets me as she could at least send one message to let us know. But no. If our suspicions are not correct, then…well…. they are being very unappreciative… and very Peruvian. I can’t wait to leave this country.

 

Up a little after 4:30am this morning to visit the tiny village of Quicha (key-cha) about 90 minutes bumpy driving away from Huancayo where the quality of their local clay is sufficient to make the combustion chamber that will be the heart of my stove project. I’ve got to go back next week in order to see a prototype, but thankfully an hour later!!

One of the things I’ve been planning on organising before leaving is a staff retreat to think about the identity of the charity and to strategically plan for the future. I had originally hoped to be in the discussions myself but, since I am now leaving, I have become the facilitator which means that I have been very busy over the last couple of days putting together materials and a programme for next Monday-Wednesday. Here’s hoping that it proves to be a valuable time away…

It’s not quite as bad as the opening of the sale at Selfridges, but when we produced a list of stuff that we’re looking to sell or give away before leaving we never expected to have so many people beating a path to our door armed with wads of cash. 72 hours later and we only have a small handful of items left to sell, so that is a weight of our minds. Still got all the packing and moving to go though!

…though not without lots of stress, disappointment and anger on everyone’s part. I have been struggling lots with this situation (the couple with 4 children whose marriage is about to spectacularly fall apart).  We have managed to have two session over skype with them both since we were last down in Chincha, and we left some goals/tasks to do together as homework. The husband, however, seemed to be more intent on tearing his wife apart than doing the tasks we left them, and then wondered why she wasn’t changing!?!? Hmmm. Such a shame he doesn’t realise it is him who needs to change the most!

After ignoring our advice several times in favour of doing the exact opposite, we had to tell him that we were not prepared to waste our time counselling him if all he was going to do was ignore what we say. We haven’t been in contact for the last couple of weeks.

I have, however, kept in regular contact with his wife, M, and we have decided to tackle this situation from a different angle. Since her husband, A, is not ready to deal with his own personal problems (which we consider to be the bigger contribution to their failing marriage) we are now investing our energies in M’s personal development. She has been so walked over and controlled by A to the extent of not being able to make her own decisions or do anything apart from look after 4 kids (a huge job, we give her lots of credit). My sessions (roughly 3 times a week) over messenger chat, are now aimed at encouraging her independence, opportunities to learn new skills, goals to bring order back into her household and the possibility of starting a new low-key dessert-making business. She sets herself 2 goals a week and I hold her accountable.

Since we have been doing this, things seem to be a little more positive between them. Granted, A isn’t making much of an advancement, but maybe his wife’s changing focus is changing his perspective a little…?!?!?! We’ll see.

I have to confess being very faithless with very little hope in the last few weeks… but perhaps something good will come of this situation, even if a saved marriage still seems a little impossible.

Been a bit quiet from me for the last couple of weeks since I’ve had my head down. While this has involved a few job applications, I’ve also managed to get 3 new business-related courses written for the Training Centre, so it’s off to the printers today and then picking up the teaching and text books on Wednesday, just in time to start teaching again on Thursday. I had some of my students last week tell me that they’re loving the way the course is put together (low on theory and high on practise), although that hasn’t stopped 4 of my morning class failing the course. Still, I don’t think the course (or the teacher!) can be blamed for that one – they are, coincidently, the 4 students who never/barely ever turn up to class!

I’m also now half planned for the forthcoming smokeless stoves project too. Should be going shopping this afternoon to look at prices and allow me to draw up a budget and then I’m getting up nice and early on Friday morning to head out to a distant village where a local producer could well be able to make the combustion chambers, the heart of the stoves, for me. Should hopefully have more of an idea by the end of the week about what the scope for this project is going to be and how it’s going to run.

We recently started studying a new book with our American friends. In His Image: Understanding and Embracing the Poor.

Together we are 7 people working with the poorest of the poor. Well, saying that, I personally don’t get too much of a look-in (thankfully) as I am caught up with the slightly less poor who can afford to go to private university! Anyway, the topic of this book seems pretty apt. for us all.  How to see each person made in the image of God. Each person was made with ‘original goodness’ (Genesis ch. 1) which existed before original sin (Genesis 3). How easy it is to tell people they are sinners and forget to mention that they are worth a bucket load and made in the image of the creator. That alone is special.

So why is it that the poor make is so incredibly hard for us to see that image? Our experience in Chincha, what seems like light-years away (but the scars are still there), was less than positive. We were surrounded by people who had grown dependent on handouts and weren’t really prepared to learn something new in order to better themselves. The few who really touched our hearts worked day and night and this made us want to help them all the more.

Paul works with lots of families who do everything they possibly can to survive, let alone climb out of poverty. But it is the few who want to live off of you like  leach that almost completely obliterate your perspective.

The person who has so many problems and spends his money unwisely meaning that his children don’t have enough to eat. He then blames God for punishing him and doesn’t provide. Why can he not see that he lives the consequences of his own decisions?

The person who gives all his money away to buy presents for his ex-girlfriend – to try to buy back her love, and then has nothing to eat and so turns up at our house at lunch time just expecting we will have enough for a third person.

How do we deal with these people and at the same time not tar everyone with the same brush?

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