A few weeks ago, we used ‘the Instagrams’ to ask you for some questions and boy did you deliver. So much so that we couldn’t even fit them all in (sorry if we missed one of yours out). We had some excellent questions but before we get to those, here are the other ones.
Are there many men called Andy in the Andie’s?
J: I don’t think so, it’s hard to tell as everyone just refers to each other as ‘Andy’. It’s kind of like saying ‘buddy’ in the UK.
What would win in a fight, an alpaca or a llama?
J: Alpaca for sure. Llamas don’t actually exist.
How many llamas have you seen?
J: None, as they are not real.
How many as alpacas have you seen?
J: About 3,651, but I may have lost count at some point.
Do crabs think fish can fly?
J: No, but they do think birds can swim and that oxygen is a myth.
Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer. So now we move onto the actual questions that we have all answered for you. Unfortunately, Paddington has been unwell the past few days and so has not answered any of the questions, but he will be happy to answer any specific questions in the comments at the end.
What’s an everyday challenge you face living in Peru? It can be big or small
S: a very small challenge for me is making a cuppa tea, we have to use UHT milk here which doesn’t quite taste the same as normal tea. And if you know me I LOVE tea so this is quite a challenge lol.
E: In Nauta we have temperamental wifi which sometimes makes it hard to communicate with friends and family. However, it has also been a blessing as it has forced us to get creative with how we spend our free time, I have been enjoying reading a lot and doing some sewing.
J: There maybe a few more than I care to admit but the heat is a big thing, there is no escape from it and obviously we just have to get on with the tasks at hand.
Who is most likely to get lost in the rainforest?
J: Sorry bud, you’re a bit late on that one. I (Jacob) have already managed to get lost.
What has been the most fulfilling part of your trip and what has been the most challenging so far?
J: No idea. (My Dad will be expecting that). I do find these questions difficult but, in an attempt to answer them I’d say, my expectation verses the reality that we have been living out these past few months. The unexpected things have given me a sense of fulfilment as well as being a challenge. A weird answer I know but still an answer.
S: I have found the kids clubs at the training weeks so much fun, the kids enjoy the games we do with them and they get to hear about Jesus too. Seeing them and building relationships with them has been the most fulfilling part so far! Although I have really enjoyed my time here, in Peru. It has been a challenge getting used to the way churches work here, especially the role of women. The Church set up here is quite different to back home!
E: The most fulfilling part for me has been forming friendships with the kids we work with and also the other missionaries too, it’s so nice to feel like part of the community here. I found the assembly sessions we did a while back quite challenging as we were leading a large group of young people but it definitely improved my confidence.
What movie have you missed most? (Jacob specific question)
J: The trouble is I have quite a collection here, so lots of the films I want to watch I do have. However, I do really want to watch ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, which I did not bring.
S: Although I am not a ‘film person’, I have missed British telly and cuddling up on the sofa with a mug of tea watching Bake off.
E: I was sad to miss ‘Little Women’ when it came out around Christmas but I’m hoping to see it when we get back. I also wish we had some of the Harry Potter DVDs with us!
Where has been your favourite place to stay?
S: I loved living in Arequipa. I have so many memories of Arequipa and it was a stunning place to live for a month. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed our holiday to Cusco and the Jungle is beautiful, but Arequipa was the BEST!
E: I also really enjoyed living in Arequipa, the city was beautiful with so much to do and see right on our doorstep. However, I also love living in Nauta as there is a more relaxed pace of life and everyone is so friendly.
J: Nauta, definitely Nauta. It’s been such a lovely place to live and you really feel like you’re in the jungle here.
What was the weirdest thing about Christmas there?
S: Probably the heat it was so warm it didn’t really feel like Christmas!
E: Doing archery on Christmas day was not something I had ever done before, but it was really fun!
J: Having a water fight, it was weird to be throwing water at each other on a day of the year that you usually wouldn’t. (Though I guess snowballs are the same idea)
What is the best thing you did at Christmas?
S: On Christmas eve we got to watch Love Actually and bake lots of sweet treats, I really enjoyed this!
E: We had a big Christmas dinner with British, American and Peruvian food – It was delicious!
J: Having a water fight. It was incredibly fun throwing water at the Mahon children.
What food have you missed the most?
S: I have a long list of foods I want to have when I get home – I wont bore you with this as its quite long but at the top is my Mum’s Sunday Roast (they are the best!) and a fish finger butty.
J: Chicken and rice, kidding that is literally the most common thing to eat out here. Probably, Dad’s bean chilli.
E: Vegetable enchiladas – there aren’t many meat free meals here! I also miss good cheese and salt and vinegar crisps.
Who have you missed the most?
S: My family, I love them so much and miss them all the time! I also miss my church family as they have always looked out for me. As well as my Action Team family, although we only were together for a month, not being around them is strange and I miss them all very much.
E: My family, friends and dog!
J: Eve the dog. Oh, and my family and friends, but mostly the dog.
What is the best thing you have eaten?
S: Team know me to be ‘always hungry’ but when we went out for burgers at Jacks on holiday, I wasn’t hungry after. The food was amazing, probably the best burger I have ever eaten to be honest! I also love the Mcflurries here I had them a lot in Arequipa but there is no McDonalds in Iquitos, rip.
E: I had some amazing sweet potato ravioli at ‘Organika’ in Cusco, I also love the caramelised banana that we eat here with chicken and rice.
J: We’ve been served some amazing food whilst we’ve been here, but Chris’ food is always amazing.
What is the highlight of the trip so far?
S: Climbing rainbow mountain on New Years Day was a highlight for me, such an accomplishment!
E: Visiting Machu Picchu and exploring Cusco was so much fun. I have also loved making new friends and meeting interesting people everywhere we go.
J: Travelling upriver is always exciting and fun. We get to see new things as it’s always a totally different place.
What is the strangest thing you have found in the jungle?
S: Fish for breakfast! One morning during one of the training weeks we had fish soup, quite a strange experience for us all. Erin even had the tail of a whole fish in her soup which was a surprise for breakfast not quite your usual cereal. But for Peruvians this is totally normal but not for us gringos.
J: The swimming pool down the road. It’s actually really nice and clean, and not what we were expecting when we arrived.
E: Panettone! We ate lots of it around Christmas, I didn’t expect that we would get food like that even in remote jungle villages.
What is one thing you have learnt about your teammates that you didn’t know before?
S: Erin is a linguistic genius; she is amazing at Spanish and has picked it up really well! Jacob was in fact a landscape gardener at Chelsea Flower Show and is putting his skills to good use in Nauta.
E: I have learned that Jacob used to be a dancer but unfortunately, he refuses to show us his hidden talent. I have also learned that Sophie can make incredible cheese on toast – It’s so good!
J: Erin has a brilliant sense of humour, even if it is usually at my expense. Sophie has an incredible gift for serving, which is well known by ATers as she made many a cuppa back in Birmingham. But here, even with the language barrier Sophie still strives to serve those around her.
What is your funniest story of your time abroad so far?
J: the three of us were exploring Nauta and decided to visit one of the bridges that crosses the river. When we got there and elderly gentleman started to follow us and talk to us about fishing, (he was speaking Spanish, so this is all loosely translated). He was either asking if we wanted to go in a boat, out 50 metres to fish or he was telling us that the bridge was 50 metres long, but there was definitely fishing in there somewhere. We then decided to give up and walk back, in an attempt to leave the man behind. But because Sophie and Erin had their phones out taking photos, the man thought this would be a great opportunity to get a photo with one of us. He grabbed me, pulled me towards him and gestured to Sophie to take a photo. Sophie refused and wandered off the bridge. The girls left me behind with the man still clinging to me. I shook his hand and said goodbye, but he did not let go. Not until I pulled him off me to run after the girls who were quite happily walking off without me.
E: I told a woman here that my name is Nemo. At the local pool I got chatting to a Peruvian lady while was sitting on an inflatable clownfish and she asked me what my name was, however I misheard her and said ‘Nemo’ because I thought she wanted to know the fish’s name! After a confused look I realised my mistake however she didn’t seem to think that ‘Erin’ was a real name either!
S: I spilt a taco on my pink jumper in Arequipa with a house full of guests that was funny for Erin and Jacob but quite embarrassing for me!
If you could have told yourself one thing before going to Peru, what would you have said?
S: Be prepared for things to change!
J: Assuming that it is ‘me’, my ‘current self’ going back to tell my ‘past self’ one vital thing. I’d say, “RUN, Run whilst you still can”, but just to freak him out a bit. Hahaha.
E: Learn as much Spanish as you can and always be willing to give it a go!
How has God brought you closer together?
J: Though we may antagonise each other, we have actually bonded over the difficult moments and disagreements. We may have argued a few times, but we all respect each other and have learnt to be more forgiving of one another and our (sometimes strange) ways of dealing with things.
S: We have all experienced similar feelings while being here, coming away from all you know is quite a scary experience! The language, climate, food and people are very different to the norm back home so adjusting to this has brought us closer together. When we first arrived in Arequipa and were on our own for the first month we had to stick together as it was just the three of us. I feel this is one of the ways God has brought us closer together, adjusting to new places has helped us bond closer and we now understand each other quite well (I hope!).
E: We try to do a team devotion/ reflection every day, this has led to many good conversations which has helped us to work better as a team and allows us to share how we are feeling.
How has being in Peru changed you?
J: I was prepared to “blossom” somewhat, but I’ve actually learnt quite a lot about, myself, my team and the people and places around me.
S: I have learnt that it is important to take time out for yourself, take time to reflect on tasks and remember to breathe! Peru has changed me in this way as I am quite the extrovert but am learning to be more introverted.
E: I think I have learned to be more patient as there is definitely a different pace of life here. I have also learned that it’s important to give every task a go, even if it’s not something I would consider myself to be good at or comfortable with.
Has there been a particular moment where you moved closer to God and strengthened your faith?
J: Every time I look out at the amazon river.
S: Seeing how as a team we have grown so close over our time here – meeting new people, gaining confidence and trying new things which a year ago I could never have done. This for me really has been a moment where I have moved closer to God and where my faith has become stronger.
E: When I look back at how much we have done and learned since arriving in Peru, I can see that God has been with us throughout this process.
Well I hope that gave you a bit more of an insight into what it’s like to live here. If you do have any more questions, please feel free to comment below or contact us via any other means. (If we have enough, we might have to do another blog). We look forward to hearing from you.
PS. Thanks for the questions.