What follows is the continuation of the mission trip as written by the group’s leader:
Greetings from the mountain city of Cusco! Here is an update on this past week.
We ended our Mission in Laderas (the shantytown where we were doing our projects) this past Wednesday and flew out from Lima to Cusco early Thursday morning.
Neither words nor photos will be able to do justice to our experience working within the Laderas community this past week, but all we can say is that we received far more than we ever could give.
From Sunday through Wednesday (Aug. 2 to 5), we finished constructing the four homes. One day was spent mixing cement (all by hand) and laying the foundations for two of the homes. Another day was spent nailing together all the boards that would create the walls. And in the final days, we erected the walls and added the roofing.
Although the houses were little more than basic wooden structures with cement floor and no plumbing, to the families and especially the children who will now be living in them, they were beauties to behold and long-awaited answers to prayers. One mother even shared with us that this was all she could ever hope or ask for.
During these days, our two priests Father Enrique Salvo and Monsignor Sean Ogle with Brother Malachy CFR did home visits throughout the community. Accompanied by different missionaries each day, they anointed the sick, comforted the lonely and most importantly brought Jesus in the Holy Eucharist to many who have not been able to receive Him due to various circumstances.
During one home visit, we met an elderly woman whose husband was in the hospital. She had a broken arm and was also the victim of constant looting because of her vulnerable state. Her home was one room with dirt floors that measured little more than 15ft by 15ft. It accommodated two beds, a small table and small stove. Upon entering, one would struggle to understand what in the world someone would try to loot from her home. And in conversing with her, we learned that the looters would take even the little food that she had. Despite all of this, the charity in her heart remained true and she shared that part of her prayers were for these men who would steal from her, that they would have a conversion of heart.
After meeting her, we arranged with a local "dining room" (a community kitchen run by women in which affordable meals are prepared for children and the poor) to bring her food. Just to give you an idea of how far even a little can go, we paid 100 local Soles or approximately $31.00, which was enough to bring her meals for one full year.
After much embracing and joyful yet bittersweet tears, we left Laderas and ended the evening at Cruz Blanca with a bonfire, singing and fellowship.
Thursday morning August 6, we departed from Cruz Blanca and flew from Lima to Cusco. At 11,000ft above sea level, we struggled as a group to adjust to the altitude when we landed. We did a city tour during the day and celebrated Mass and Holy Hour at the San Antonio Chapel within Cusco's seminary thanks to the archdiocese of Cusco.
Today, Friday, August 7 we were all thankfully fit enough to travel to Machu Picchu. Not only were we able to visit this incredible site, but we also had the privilege of celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on this historic mountain top. While our tour guides stood as sentinels to watch for and ward off the local guards, the group formed as Father Sean said "an impenetrable human wall" (or something to that effect) so we could celebrate Mass without disruption. What a gift and honor it was to be with one another in the heights and receive Jesus in the Eucharist.
We look forward to sending out our final update soon as we fly back to Lima tomorrow morning, Saturday, August 8, for the final leg of this journey.
Frassati Missions Team