Sunday, July 16, 2006

¡Vamos a Cuzco!

We´re heading off to Cuzco tomorrow morning, which means that I´ll be away from the internet for a week.

For those in the States - stay cool! I hear it has been sweltering in parts of the country.

Not even a month until vows - crazy, huh? Please keep me and my classmates in your prayers and know that you are in mine (really - I pray generically for those who read my blog and for all those others I forget to mention by name...it´s a handy catch-all to pray for the whole world!)

Cheers!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Morning Musings

Two weeks from today and I´ll be back home in (hopefully) sunny Detroit. While it is true that six weeks will have passed by - a scant amount when one really thinks about it - it is enough time to have had a deep and lasting effect on my spirit.

As I type this, I look through grime-covered windows out onto a busy street where dogs roam freely and men seem to take every occasion to relieve themselves against the wall directly across the street. Because Lima is situated in a desert and it hardly ever rains, there is no drainage so to speak so the urine pools on the side of the road and, even when it has evaporated, the stench does not dissipate. Poor children and their mothers beg me to buy gum and sweets and old persons in wheelchairs beg at the side of the road. Horns blare each night and with a dearth of traffic lights crossing the road can be a perilous adventure.

The grime, the cloudiness, the pollution, the noise, the poverty...

If I lived here, I think I´d be miserable.

And yet, the people here are not simply miserable. The situation here is far too complex to be reduced to a single word. Nor are they without hope - yesterday, for instance, we visited the ¨Fe y Alegre¨ system of schools which provides free education to those who would otherwise go without. A work of the Society of Jesus, it is an endeavor to transform culture slowly through education. This work responds to the need of the people, a need they voiced and called out for...not unlike many who Jesus healed. When you think about it, Jesus never forced a healing on anyone; instead, he responded to their need for healing, for their desire to put themselves in his hands, to their trust in him. The cry of the people has been heard here in Latin America and, as a result, nearly a million children are currently students in this system.

I mention this today because it´s something affecting my own prayer. Often we look at the ¨poor¨and see the whole system of sin and devestation and resign ourselves to the enormity of the problem and excuse ourselves from having to do anything with the plaintive thought, ¨but, what can I do?¨ Maybe I´m just speaking for myself, of course, but I think this is a pretty common experience. But here I am learning of how much of an effect we can have, whether it be by dedicating our lives to teaching children technical skills or by supporting those works which aim to transform sinful structures. Such missionary zeal need not look afar! How can we contribute to the faith and values formation of our young (and not-so-young) that they find a living Christ who calls them more deeply into service. How do we bring ¨faith and joy¨to a jaded world, a soothing balm that reminds others that we are not without hope.

Very often people will say to me, ¨oh, your church has lots of money. What are they doing to help the poor?¨ Usually I cite a number of our works and try to demonstate to my interlocuter that the Church really does care for the poor. But I´m tempted to start asking, ¨Well, what are you doing?¨ because I think we are pretty good at passing the buck when it comes to the question of service and it´s far easier to throw stones at big institutions than to subject ourselves to critical reflection that may lead us from indolence into action.

Jeez, I feel unusually preachy for 7.30 am!!

I´m now off to learn Spanish. I wish all of you well and, while it will be hard to leave Live, I do look forward to returning and sharing with you the pictures of Cuzco and Macchu Picchu as well as heading off for vacation and preparing to take vows on August 13th.

Cheers!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Another Week in Lima

As you can see from the pics posted below, while there might not be much activity on the old blog, there´s certainly a great deal of ¨behind the scenes¨life!

We are preparing to enter our fourth week here in Lima. Truth be told, the time is really flying by. I feel that my skills in Spanish are increasing (in fact, I have only a few moments to blog as I need to translate a short article for class tomorrow). It has also been wonderful to get around the various cities surrounding Lima in order to see the life and culture of the people. We´ve met many people while on our adventures and with each encounter my love for this land and her people increases.

Below you will see a picture of ¨Raton Rosa¨ - a nickname she ratified, by the by! Arianna is a lovely young girl who rolls her ´r´perfectly when she calls my name, ¨gato rrrrrojo.¨ Indeed, just before this picture was taken she ´did´my hair by trying to spike what few strands I have into a point on the top of my head. Interestingly, I understand ¨Raton Rosada¨ much better than most adults...which leads me to wonder if I should consider a life teaching kindergarten rather than systematic theology!!

Sadly, I did come down with a bit of a cold this week. Nothing major, thank goodness, just the inconvenience of having to carry around a pocket full of tissues. I´d like to say that I could sleep it off, but there is a celebration going on in the park next to the juniorate with live music played so loudly that our doorframes and windows shake until midnight each night. That is, however, life in the big city of eight million people.

After this week, we go to Cuzco where we´ll get to see Macchu Picchu. I´ve been fascinated by this site since childhood and I´m so excited to see it. When I was in the junior high, Grandma and Grandpa Duns took my brother Colin and me to see Chichen Itza and Uxmal (Maya) when we went to Merida. The chance to see the Incan ruins here in Peru harkens me back to memories of that trip and certainly titillates the ¨Indiana Jones¨fantasy that dwells deep within.

I wish all of you the best and I hope that you enjoy the pictures!

The Younger Face of the Detroit Province


Taken in LA.

Four Ignatius Wildcats Posing for a Picture


Paul Lammermeir is an alum of St Ignatius and runs two homes for orphans here in Lima.

Group Photo in Miraflores

El Gato


My given Spanish nickname is ¨Gato Rojo¨which means ¨red cat.¨ This is my little friend Arianna whose own name (which I gave her) is ¨Raton Rosada¨or ¨Pink Rat¨. This picture was taken after the children´s Mass in Miraflores.

Tongues of Fire


Pentecost came late to Ryan this year. Anyone who doubts that I speak as one possessed of the Spirit of God need only to look at this photo.

¿Creepy, no?

We were listening to a local music group where they were burning incense behind me.

Visiting Choseca


Jeremiah, Denis, Drew, Adam, and I at a local restaurant in Choseca. Yes, it is sunny there!

Denis and I atop a Mountain

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Start of Ryan´s VERY Long Day

So my morning began today at 3.50 am when the music from a party being held nextdoor actually shook my bed. With the dulcet tones of Peruvian rap pouring into my room, I set out in search of the source of the music. Ascending a flight of steps and walking out onto the roof, I followed the music to its source - a courtyard directly behind my room owned by a local garage. It seems that several of the employees had gathered to celebrate something and had brought along several cd´s...as well as some bloody powerful speakers.

Now, in order to see the gathered masses beneath me, I had to poke my head through several wires. Well, at 4.00 am it doesn´t readily or often occur to one torn from the womb of sleep that such wires just might carry an electric charge. So it really came as quite a shock - literally - when I began to feel electricity surging through my body once my head inadvertently made contact with one of these wires. It seems as though, in response to several thefts, the superior here at the juniorate decided to install something of an electric fence along the perimeter of the roof. I can attest to the fact that the fence works and that, were I a thief, I would certainly have second thoughts about touching these wires.

With a racing heart, an aching head, and a bruised ego I returned to my room to the sounds of Latin salsa. I decided at that point to cut my losses and to move into an un-occupied room for the evening.

The sad thing is that the electric charge functioned neither to restore head´s hair loss nor to work in a manner akin to electrolysis removing unwanted hair from my body. I just can´t catch a break.

So I´ve just shared with you all a nicely humiliating story. This will give my mother and father something to be proud of and will, I hope, put to rest any fears that they harbored about me being a missionary in a foreign land.

I have a TON of pictures to post this week. Adam put some on a cd and I´ll try to upload them one of these afternoons.

Cheers!