Scraping the clouds – our highest church in Peru.

The shores of Lake Titicaca, near Puno. There are two large peninsulas that nearly encircle the section of lake dominated by Puno. A large part of that area is taken up by the reeds and floating islands of the Uros.

Polly and I spent nearly a week at our highest churches in Peru.  We traveled to Juliaca and Puno.

We stayed in a small hotel overlooking the shores of Lake Titicaca.

Juliaca is a sprawling busy city on the Altiplano – the high plain of the Andes.  There we have one church and a mission congregation. Two priests serve these congregations – Fr. Rubén Mancilla and Fr. Luis Vizcarra.

Fr. Rubén is originally from Lima.  He has made the transition to the altiplano and his wife is from there.  Fr. Luis comes from Arequippa.  He is the first priest who has grown up within, been trained by and then ordained in the Anglican Church of Peru.  These young clergy are gifted in their ministry.  They complement each other superbly.

After church with two new friends - Santa Maria Magdalena

Juliaca is the business center for the region.  It sits just west of Lake Titicaca which is the highest navigable lake in the world.  Located at 12,500 feet above sea level, it borders Bolivia and measures about one hundred by sixty miles.

The Cathedral in Puno

Its main city is Puno, about thirty miles from Juliaca.  It is a tourist destination and port.

One of the floating islands of the Uros

The the closest islands are the famous floating islands of the Uros.  There they speak Aymara.  These island colonies were first developed to escape enslavement.  The communities on the other islands are pre-Incan and Quechua speaking (the language of the Inca).

In Juliaca we have a church and a mission.  In the city is Santa Maria Magdalena.  The church is housed in a mission center with chapel, class rooms, accommodation and vegetable garden.  Out in the country is the mission at the chapel of Tariachi.

The Tariachi congregation

The Tariachi chapel is loaned to us by a local landowner who built the chapel in 1971 for his workers.  It sat unused until Fr. Rubén came along and asked to lead services there. Both congregations normally host well over fifty people of all ages at each service.  In the Tariachi area there is expansive building of new homes as Juliaca is growing.  This is an amazing mission opportunity.  Frs. Rubén and Luis are developing this growing ministry.

Sunday best for church!

While in Tariachi we were treated to two picnic lunches, one after the other as well as a pastoral call to one of the local brickmaking families.

Brick making by hand. In the background is the kiln. The formed bricks are dried in the sun before being fired.

At the church of St. Mary Magdalena the clergy have begun a significant new ministry among the deaf.

The signing class on Sunday afternoon

Every Sunday afternoon they host classes in sign language.  Many of these families then stay for the service that follows.

Frs. Rubén and Luis are currently beginning pastoral calls in Puno where they see the beginnings of a new faith community; a new mission is on the horizon.

Polly and Fr. Luis meeting a parishioner on her way to the chapel

We spent Sunday with the congregations and then Monday we went into Puno.  Tuesday we went to the floating islands and then on the the Island of Taquile, out in the main part of the lake.

The British gunboat MV Yavari.

On Wednesday we visited an old British gunboat that was made in London and hauled by mule train over six years to Puno where she is now being restored.  The MV Yavari used to sail between Puno and Copacabana in Bolivia.

Enjoy the slide show that follows – we are heading back to the USA on April 24 and hope to see many of you over the summer as we visit our faithful senders – congregations and individuals.  We love you and bless you for your partnership with us.

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