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Quechua Hospitality

For the Quechua, hospitality and reciprocity are very important values in their culture. Recently, we met a 74-year-old gentleman named Fortunato while going to visit another friend in a nearby village. He needed a ride to Yanama and as we drove along the bumpy, one-lane, dirt road, Larry and Fortunato conversed in Quechua about various things. As we let him out of the car he invited us to his home the next day for potatoes.

Finding our way
We arrived at the house he had pointed out to us but there didn’t seem to be anyone home. A Quechua woman quite a ways down the road saw us and yelled that the man we were looking for lived in a house on the plaza up above where we were. We thanked her and headed in that direction up a steep, rocky, one-lane track. In the plaza a group of about 12 young boys were involved in what appeared to be a small soccer camp with a coach. We walked up to a group of young men seated outside a little store and after wishing them a good afternoon we asked where the house of Fortunato was and they indicated that it was a few doors down.

Approaching the indicated house we could see that a half door was open on the second floor and could hear sounds of someone moving around. After knocking a few times, the door was finally opened by a tiny Quechua woman about 4 feet tall dressed in three or four colorful wool skirts, a blouse, colorful sweater, and a hat typical of the region decorated with gold colored buttons in a arcing pattern on the crown. She greeted us in Quechua and invited us in for Coca tea to wait for Fortunato who had been delayed in Yanama at a meeting.

Welcomed to the table
As we walked through a narrow corridor between rows of drying alfalfa and other greens to be fed to their cuy (guinea pigs) we entered out into a courtyard at the back of the house where we followed her up a steep cement staircase with no outside rail into what was their eating area. She indicated that we were to be seated at a long table covered with a colorful piece of plastic. There were wooden benches on the side along the wall, covered with woven blankets to sit on. The kitchen was off to the right where we could hear what we have come to recognize as a very common sound in most Quechua homes, the dripping of water into the sink. She quickly brought us out steaming cups of tea with the coca leaves still floating in the bottom saying in Quechua how healthy it was for us.

We sipped our tea and were able to ask our hostess her name in between her trips back and forth to the kitchen. She told us her name was Maura. She placed two bowls of six to eight medium-sized boiled potatoes in front of each of us along with a bowl of bread and some jam made from a fruit called membrillo which tastes like a cross between an apple and a pear. Delicious! All the while we were enjoying our food, Maura was moving gracefully back and forth between the kitchen and another room off the dining area or out to get more wood for the cooking fire. At one point she told us she was going to gather some eggs to boil for us as well. It is not unusual for the guests to be left to eat by themselves.

Getting to know our new friends
After a short time, Fortunato came home and greeted us. He was very apologetic for being late and hoped we were being well taken care of. We assured him that everything was great. Maura quickly brought him a cup of tea, a bowl of potatoes, and some bread. The conversation, mostly in Quechua, centered around family, crops, common acquaintances, and eventually to our purpose for being in Peru.

Larry told him that we are missionaries and that our purpose is to share God’s Word with the people in Quechua. At that point, Larry took out a portion of Scripture and began reading it to them. Immediately, Maura stopped what she was doing and sat down on the step into the kitchen to listen with a beautiful smile on her face. It was such a precious moment. When Larry finished reading, Fortunato indicated that he understood what was read and Maura said, “That was so beautiful.”

Maura was back in the kitchen dishing up pea soup for us. We were already very full and asked for small portions for each of us. However, she came out smiling with bowls filled to the brim and said it was just a “little bit.” We laughed and said that her “little bit” was a lot bigger than ours. She laughed a little tinkling laugh and then brought out a bowl for Fortunato saying, “Here is just a ‘little bit’ for you too.” She finally brought a bowl for herself and sat down at the other end of the table with her husband and ate, asking if we wanted potatoes to add to our soup. We both quickly replied that we were more than fine with what we had. Actually, in spite of it being so tasty, we were both ready to burst.

When we had all finished, we thanked them over and over for the wonderful food and they thanked us over and over for visiting them. We also said that we would be back the next time we came to Yanama and how glad we were to get to know them and have new friends. Fortunato responded by saying, “And we will be better friends.”

We thank God so much for the people he brings into our lives with whom we can share the hope we have because of Jesus.

Larry and Sandy Rockwell are MTW missionaries serving among the Quechua in Peru.

Larry & Sandy Rockwell, Cusco Peru Church planting Mar 13, 2018
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Pray for our ministry in Cusco, Peru, as they put MTW values into action among the Quechua through the church, a medical clinic, discipling medical students, an orphanage, and community outreach.

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