Animals of Peru

There are a wide variety of animals here in the beautiful country of Peru – some including llamas, sheep, cows, pigs, cats, leopards that attempt to kill you, etc. but about 70% of the animal population consists of dogs. They range from big to small, nice to mean, loud to quiet, dirty to clean..ish. We’ve name and attempted to adopt probably about 50% of the dog population.

Our main focus in ministry this month is to encourage the believers in the area – pour into them so they can, in return, pour out into their community. We’re stationed in a little town in cajamarca, one with dirt roads, men with megaphones selling fish at 7 in the morning, loud dogs at all times (I’ll discuss this later..), and the sweetness of Mama Philo who welcomed us into her home with open arms and feeds us warm meals three times a day. And boy – is it good. So, as I mentioned, were stationed in Cajamarca but traveled to little towns of La Laguna and Matara throughout our month here. 

La Laguna is a place unlike I’ve ever known – small and quiet but the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. It was like a movie picture in real life – surrounded by the Andes mountains everywhere you turn. It included a dirt hut with a hole in the middle of it to use as a bathroom, kindhearted people who accepted our prayers over them, beautiful stars at night, a dirt-floored church where worship overflowed from – a place we called home for a few days, and so much more. The dogs in La Laguna weren’t extremely present, their animal population consisted more of horses, donkeys, and sheep. We did happen to make friends with two dogs, though – one had a man made sling tied around him and limped around trying to hang around the big dogs but just couldn’t, and the other was small, friendly, and so hungry.. so he, whom we named chicha, ate lunch with us as we snuck him slices of ham. He later joined us for church that evening to worship the Lord – all dogs go to heaven, right?

Matara is a place that my team and I fell in love with – we stayed with a lovely woman named Aleja who just overflowed with the love of God. The one thing we loved most about Matara, though, was the dogs. They stole our hearts! One pup especially… named Dubbie. We met Dubbie a few days in as a few of my team mates hollered for her to follow them… and in result, she followed us for the rest of the week. Everywhere we went, Dubbie met us on the way and followed us there. She was such a sweat heart! She’d wait outside Mama Aleja’s house for us and escort us around town. We cried leaving Dubbie and search for her out the car window every time we drive through that town. She is truly our guardian angel. Forever in our hearts.

One night we walked about an hour to Jocos to attend church and ran into a kitten – we named her Tuna. She was so hungry, cold, and sad… so of course, we had to take her. I wrapped her in a sweater I had brought, (side note – it’s winter here. Yes, actually cold. We all packed summer clothes..) and she came with us to church but as we departed to go back to Matara with hopes to nurse her back to health, she decided to leave us… wrong decision Tuna. We pray for her daily.

Back to the dogs, though – the dogs in cajamarca, however, aren’t the best. They are loud – and when I say loud, I mean dog fights in the streets that startle you awake in the middle of the night loud and wake you up at 5 in the morning barking kind of loud. But, there’s always those diamonds in the rough. One afternoon, we stumbled across two large litters of baby puppies and they are just about the sweetest things we’ve ever met. Yes, covered in flees. Yes, needing love. As we played with them one afternoon, the owner came out and told us “you take two for free” and we just about lost it! Naturally, we each begged our parents to allow us to bring one home… but turns out our airline won’t allow animals on international flights.. shattering our hopes and dreams. Thanks spirit airlines. So we visit them daily, bringing the momma dogs leftover meat from dinner and sausage bought from the store especially for them so they can nurse their babies. They are the hidden gems here in Cajamarca… all the other dogs in this town – I’m just not sure about them. Except for one more, Sam, the singing dog. Sam belongs to our ministry contact – pastor helmer. Sam came to pick us up from the bus station and comes to visit every once and a while, never accepting too much affection though. Did I mention he can sing?

Peru is a place where the love that The Lord has for his children is so evident to me – because there is so much pain and suffering in this place, it feels easy for the weight of sin to discourage.. but then you step outside and look at the beauty that surrounds… the perfectly hand-crafted mountains, dirt roads, and dogs and then you remember, yes, He DOES love me. Yes, He came to save. He always takes us back to the truth of the Cross and the freedom that that Truth brings.

Furthermore, I’ve never seen more dogs running around in my entire life. The Animals of Peru… they are surely something to be remembered. 

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