Part of our History: Life in Iscos

The Little sisters of Peru had hoped for a very long time to return to the Andes among the Quechua people.
Up in the AndesUp in the Andes

In preparation for a possible foundation in a village called Iscos, Little sisters Chiara and Madeleine-Elie went to stay in the neighbouring village of Ahuac. They could get to know and be known in Iscos and eventually found a house there.

Up in the fields behind IscosUp in the fields behind Iscos

'On Tuesday I went to the ‘chakra’ (fields) with the local farmers of Iscos to help plant potatoes.  I really enjoyed it! They accepted my presence among them right away and I could work at my own pace. It was beautiful to see fifty people all working together like that.  During the breaks there were lots of discussions about everything and joking around. They shared cigarettes and cool drinks for those who wanted. They take turns preparing something to eat and that day it was the men's turn. At the end of the workday we all ate 'huancaina' - a noodle and potato dish typical of the area.  I was tired when I got home but so happy...

They invited me to come back early this morning for the milk distribution saying that they wanted to share with us.... When I came they gave me not just milk but also as much potatoes and beans as I could carry. They were so generous. They said they had been happy that I had come to work with them.

At the marketAt the market

Next Wednesday there will be another community work project in Ahuac to clean the irrigation canals that go to Iscos. I will join the crew, hoping that it won't be too hard for me. Yesterday we went to the fair at Chupaca to sell peanuts but as it rained all day we didn't have much success.  So today we took our peanuts to Huancayo to sell, along with 2 shawls that we had woven this week. When we arrived at the Holy Rosary convent they were having a meeting of their students' parents and we were able to sell everything but one shawl.

While there, we happened to meet a family we knew from Hualhuas where we had lived for many years. They offered to sell our weavings at a stand they have at the artisans' marketplace.

The kind gestures of people are so encouraging. A neighbour told us, ‘If you need something just let us know. We know that your families are far away. Since we are neighbours we can be your family.’

Early one morning a grandmother came knocking at our door. Opening her shawl she presented us with potatoes and grilled corn. ‘I came to share my poverty with you (a local expression). The Lord wants us to share what we have.’ Isn't it always those who are poor who take his words to heart?

We found a house just like the ones the local farmers have at Iscos. At first people suggested that we should get one of the nice houses in town.  People were surprised when we declined. As we continued looking one lady told us, ‘Now I understand. You want a simple old house like ours.’

Finally on Saturday, 31 March 2007 we were able to move to Iscos, just in time for Holy Week. We borrowed a truck and driver from Caritas to help with the moving.  It was hard leaving Ahuac after these past six months of making friends there... The young people from the parish promised to come and visit us in Iscos.

 Our house Our house

In the afternoon there was the Palm Sunday celebration and procession led by Br Hugo who is in charge of the communities of both Ahuac and Iscos. There is rarely Mass at Iscos.  He officially presented us to the people of Iscos and later came to visit us by candle light as we did not yet have the electricity hooked up. When the Bishop learned about that, he sent us a kerosene lamp...

Today we went to Chupaca for Palm Sunday Mass, happy after our first night in Iscos and full of mud since it rained all night. There were so many people that Mass had to be celebrated outside, in front of the Church. People came from the countryside and from different neighbourhoods of town. They brought corn stalks and other fruits of their labor. Several groups also brought children dressed as Jesus and riding on a donkey...

At the end of Mass we greeted Fr Jaime, the pastor, and invited him to come celebrate Mass with us in Iscos. He offered to come on Easter Monday. Pray with us that our presence in Iscos will be what the Lord desires of us'.