Just 2 short weeks after our little trip to Colca Canyon with my parents, our team set off on a trip to Cusco, Peru, and the Sacred Valley which surrounds it. There are several families with our missions agency who live and serve in Cusco, and Nate and Nathaniel had been there several times in the last couple of years for meetings, but they had always just flown there for the day. There had never been a good time for all of us to take the kids along, so Alicia and I had never had the chance to see that part of the country.
When an opportunity came up that would require a longer trip to Cusco, it seemed like the perfect time for the whole team to go along. The new director of our missions agency was coming to visit Peru in September, and they were hoping to get as many of the Peru missionaries together as possible to meet him and attend some seminars he would be leading. Some of our fellow missionaries were also having their first official service for the new church plant they had been serving in, and they had invited us to attend. In addition, our teammate Nathaniel needed to finish up some of his meetings and exams for the ordination process and would need to do it in Cusco. Since all of those things happened to fall within a few days of one another, we decided it would be a great time for all of us to drive out together.
We rented a house in Urubamba, which is in the Sacred Valley and about an hour from Cusco. The trip was going to end up being about 10 days long, so we knew we wanted to stay somewhere where the children could run and play without worry, and where Alicia and I could cook meals to save money instead of eating out. We ended up getting an amazing deal on an incredible house that both of our families could share, and the owner gave us a rate that was better than any of the hotels nearby. Plus it had a HUGE fenced in yard, perfect for 6 crazy children. And even though it was a bit of a drive for Nate and Nathaniel whenever they had to drive into Cusco for meetings, it meant that Alicia and I could stay with the kids, prepare our own food, let them play, and not have to worry about being cooped up in a hotel for hours at a time. It ended up being the perfect set-up.
We headed out early on a Monday morning, expecting the drive to take us 9 hours or so. It ended up being 11, because once again, we had to cross over areas of very high altitude, and this time we didn’t fare so well. We stopped every 20 minutes or so for kids to throw up on the side of the road… and occasionally in the car when we didn’t stop in time. It was a lovely 11 hours, you can imagine. Thankfully, the views were incredible, and being surrounded by such beauty made a rough trip into an enjoyable one, all things considered.
We stayed one night in Cusco for Nathaniel to have his meetings and exams, then headed to the house in Urubamba the next day. The place ended up being perfect! The kids were still not feeling all that well, so Alicia and I stayed put for several days. We certainly didn’t want to put them back in the car on those winding roads after all of that! But since we had such a beautiful place to stay, we didn’t mind a bit. The kids had plenty of room to play, and Alicia and I sat on the patio enjoying the views of the valley while Nate and Nathaniel attended all of their meetings.
Over the course of the 10 days, we explored the little town of Urubamba as we had time, as well as a bit of Cusco on the days that we had to drive there for various things. And while it was fairly laid-back trip for the mamas and kiddos, that wasn’t quite the case for Nate and Nathaniel. They were certainly busy and had a full schedule, but we were all really thankful to get to spend time with some of the other missionaries serving in various parts of Peru with our agency, with the new agency director, and with our regional director. Alicia and I were able to go with the guys to a few events, and it was wonderful to catch up with our coworkers here in Peru. The kids were thankful to get to play with their missionary-kid buddies that they hadn’t seen in awhile, and we were glad to have the chance to go to the very first service of one of our new sister churches here in Peru.
At the end of the trip, we had a couple of days for our two families as a team to spend some uninterrupted time working through planning, vision, and goals for the future of our ministry in Arequipa. (Unless you count interruptions by the kids, in which case we were interrupted about 270 times.) It nice to dream about future ideas, work through logistics of ministries that we hope to start soon, and spend focused time discussing the vision for our team. The evenings were spent chatting by the fire, playing a little Catan, and being reminded of how thankful we are for our teammates.
Finally it was time to fill the kids up with anti-nausea medicine and hit the road again. Thankfully we did a little better on the return trip, but we were all ready to be out of the car when we arrived in Arequipa again. And even though it was a long drive, it was completely worth it. The boys are already asking for another trip back to “the Big House!”
Check out a few more picture from our trip. Hover over the photo for captions, and click for larger view or slideshow viewing. Enjoy!