Six hours of driving in the high Andes mountains, and we arrived in the city of Huancane at nearly 4,000 meters above sea level around 6 pm on Monday night. Father Alex and I are staying with the Bishop of Huancane. Bishop Giovani is a fellow Missionary Society of St. Paul priest from Malta and one of the most sincere and dearest people on the planet. We are joining the Bishop to travel from small village to small village over the next four days.
Bright and early this morning I went for a run. In small communities like Huancane there are not a lot of foreign visitors. This was especially true as I huffed and puffed my way up the concrete streets. When I got back to the rectory where we are staying - one of the priests told me the whole town was talking about the "crazy gringo running up and down the streets." I think I gave them something to talk about over their morning coffee.
This afternoon we headed out to see some of the rural towns that make up the Dioceses of Bishop Giovani. We drove for over six hours on dirt, gravel, tarmac and muddy bogs. It was an amazing experience. We ended our trip on the border with Bolivia in a very small community where Bishop Giovani is working to bring more social and health support. We are looking to help the Bishop utilize our Ines Project to better connect with families living with a child with a disability. I think there is real promise for the project to be an effective part of his work in this area.
On one of our stops we went into a very small settlement of houses. The Bishop was familiar with a family living in the community who have been incredibly impacted by the pandemic and COVID-19. We brought bags of food and Father Alex and Bishop Giovani offered prayers and blessings. It was a moving experience.
Our day ended back at the rectory in Huancane - where Father Alex said the evening mass while it was live-streamed to the Internet for viewing by his ever passionate Facebook following. Amazing.
What a privilege it is to be invited into the lives of these amazing people. This has been one long year - and reconnecting with the country I love and the people I feel so passionately called to serve . . . well, it is a real privilege.
It is humbling to be on this adventure. I am learning so much.
The HBI Blog is a rotating journal from our staff. Our Blog is a series of messages from the field, insights from our work, and lessons in service.