First and lasting impression


April 7th, 1970, found me sitting on a bench in the Peruvian airport. In vain I waited but no SP’s came to claim me. Fortunately Sister Shirley Morris had prepared a card of directions in case of an emergency. I felt my situation fit that description.

At this moment a very kind looking tour driver came to my aid. Out came Shirley’s card! The gentleman accepted to drive me “out there” but first looked for a second driver because it was a dangerous area at night. I thought if he’s afraid to go, what am I doing here? I blessed myself and said let’s go! My friends were very solicitous and encouraged me not to be afraid.

From the airport we travelled towards the Northern corner of Lima. 40 minutes later, my guardian angels informed me that electricity ended there. I didn’t know this but we had arrived in Comas, the mission centre of the Canadian OMI group. Again, I was encouraged not to worry about a thing.

Our journey continued north over the bumpy road and I was informed that the highway ended there but not to be afraid! We climbed the mountainside trail and followed it to the road leading to El Progreso in the district of Carabayllo. First view of El Progreso, finally we had arrived. No electricity, no paved roads however the candlelight from the roadside stands shed light amidst the darkness. Immediately, I opened the back door but was told I must wait for the return of the other “angel” who was investigating the situation. Within minutes, Sr. Rose-Marie’s face appeared in the back window and I heard her say “Si, she belongs to us.” I felt like a Canada Care Package but very relieved.

These two workers won my heart. There was something so beautiful in their acceptance of a stranger, the courtesy and protection they lavished on me. We never met again and never knew each other’s name but they planted in me the seeds of love for Peru and its courageous people. Eventually I accepted to work within the Christian Workers Movement in their efforts to build Base Christian Communities in the spirit of Justice and Peace.