Friday, October 21, 2016

Peru Trip, Day 4, Chocolates and Bees

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Medical clinic
Have I mentioned it's pretty warm in Chazuta? All the guys on the team carried little towels with us to wet, drape around our necks, and enjoy the cooling sensation it gives as the water evaporates. The high 80s temperatures and the daily rainfall that raises the humidity makes these little towels so important. On our way to the church for breakfast we saw that word had gotten out about the medical clinic and there were people already lining up to be seen and treated.

Enrique continued his devotional in the morning with the students before we broke yet again into our two classes. Santos and I both used Enrique's teaching time to go over our own notes. Santos led off again, this time teaching through the Gospel of John and the three letters of John. He was great at getting the participants to dialogue with him. During my turn after lunch I tackled Romans for just over two hours. I had been nervous about it because it was such a large block of time and the letter is one of the most intricate and complex of all the New Testament. The night before I managed to talk to Hannah over a wifi connection, and she encouraged me, saying that Romans was my book, the one I was meant to teach. I don't know about that, but I felt very confident, and I don't think I left anyone behind or confused, not even when looking the challenging chapters of 9-11 dealing with the sovereignty of God in salvation.

Me teaching
In the evening we took a little excursion with Pastor Jarvis from Tingo MarĂ­a. He had ridden his motorcycle 9 hours over all kinds of terrain in order to come to the training. As the week went on and we learned more about him, it was exciting to find out that he had been taking his church through the Spanish version of Step by Step through the Old Testament and he was now leading them through Step by Step through the New Testament. People who before hadn't read their Bibles or who had difficulty reading were learning the same sorts of things Santos and I were teaching these church leaders.

The ladies of Mishky Cacao
Our first stop was at Mishky Cacao (Quechua meaning "Sweet Cocoa"), the only building in all of Chazuta that I saw with air conditioning. The owner of the establishment told us all about how the business had started and came to be what it was. Back in the 80s and 90s Chazuta and the surrounding areas were specializing in one crop, coca, and selling it to the drug traffickers that operated within the region. For many it was a Catch 22. The coca provided a stable income for the locals and kept the drug traffickers happy, but it eventually brought down government forces and people were constantly in fear for their lives, whether it be from the traffickers or the military. Eventually the trade was significantly reduced and farmers had to find another way to make money. The families of the ladies at Mishky Cacao turned to growing cocoa beans, and the ladies made chocolates by hand. Eventually outside organizations, including USAID, began investing in the women's business and providing them with equipment to grind cacao beans and refrigerate their products. They were very proud that they had just gotten a bar code for their chocolate bars and they would be going on sale in Tarapoto soon. At present each of the women had a stable income of 30 soles a day (just over $9). Oh, and the chocolate was delicious.

The beekeeper and his wife
Afterwards we went to the property of a family that keeps three species of honey bee and sells the honey, pollen, royal jelly, and other products. The husband showed us a map of where the hives are located and explained a little bit about the bees. One species, the blue bee, was very small and had no stinger. He took us out to the hives and used a syringe to extract the honey for us to sample, which was much sweeter than I expected. His wife was a Swiss woman. I'm not surprised to meet foreigners in cities like Lima, but I never expected to meet a European woman in the jungle. It seems the husband had studied in Europe at some point, the two met, and they fell in love.

On the way back us guys engaged in our normal shenanigans. Jarvis came up behind me when some dogs were barking and grabbed my calf muscle with his fingers and about scared me half to death. Naturally I had to do it to someone else. We also picked up grasses and tickled each other on the neck or ear to make them think a bug was on them. In some ways, it felt like camp.

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