Wednesday, April 16, 2008
GOING TO BOLIVIA 12
1991 EXPLORATORY TRIP TO PERU & BOLIVIA - Part 1
Arrival In Lima, Peru 14th Octobre
Bishop Moses Tay invited me to accompany him and Cynthia, his wife, on a short two and half week trip to Peru & Bolivia. The trip was the result of 3 converging elements. First, was Bishop Tay's sense of leading to get involved in Bolivia. Second, my own sense of calling to serve in Latin America and thirdly, the willingness on the part of Bishop of Peru & Bolivia, Alan Winstanely to forge a misson partnership with the Diocese of Singapore.
Rev Greg Blaxland, the national director of the Anglican work in Bolivia was the driving force of the growing relationship between Bolivia and Singapore.
This was my first visit to the American continent. Our journey began at Changi Airport, Singapore; we arrived in Japan after a 5 hour flight. We then took a 15 hour flight to Los Angeles and hopped onto a connecting flight to Lima, Peru. This was probably the most difficult flight I had taken in my life! The journey was long, uncomfortable and draining.
The stop overs between flights left me totally drained. It was past midnight when our flight finally touched down at the airport in Lima. The airport was empty. Immgration officials let us through without a hitch. A friendly looking, bearded man waved his hands and called out to us. It was Bishop Alan Winstanely. He gave us a hearty greeting and led us to his car. We managed to squeeze all our bags into his Volkswagon.
We could'nt see much of Lima as the Bishop drove us through the dark streets. A blackout was in force. I could see some brown smoke, evidence of a fire, in the darkness. Bishop Winstanely said jokingly, the best time to see Lima is at night, some say. I laughed out loud and felt a sense of relief, especially from the long flight. A sense of humor is a useful stress management tool for Christian workers.
The reason for the blackout was because Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), a terrorist group, had just launched an attack on the nation's capital. A couple of weeks earlier they had killed some World Vision workers and Roman Catholic nuns. Bishop Winstanely recalled because of the dangers posed by Sendero, all Anglican workers from the shanty towns in Lima.
Sendero Luminoso were fanatical; their methods and ideology were similar to that of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Violence was second nature to them. They were dedicated to overthrowing the current elected government in order to usher in a communist paradise. Aid workers and the gospel were the enemy.
Bishop Winstanely brought us to his home in Miraflores. Bishop Moses, Cynthia and I were tired. I went to my room, removed my sweaty clothes, took a bath and went to bed. We had been travelling on planes and waiting in airports for nearly two and a half days. The experience left me numb and knocked out.
I was tired but not tired enough to sleep soundly. I kept thinking of the aid workers and nuns who were killed. Clearly, working in South America was going to be a risky affair.
It must have been about 0200 in the morning when I finally went to sleep.