Every Christmas, the ladies of Theodokis Maria visit the small village of Rayampampa, Peru. Rayampampa is outside the city of Otusco where the Virgen de la Puerta, this region’s most famous religious icon resides.
The group takes gifts for the children of the village. When they first started approximately 15 years or so ago, there were only 10 children on their list. This year, there were over 100. They also take clothes and needed household items for the adults.
In the beginning, the village also did not have a church. Within the last few years, the ladies have worked with the villagers to construct their beautiful one room church. I was honored this year to be invited to participate in this project!
The celebrations started with praying, singing and Bible stories. The children danced and laughed and had a wonderful time. After the gifts were distributed, everyone was treated to hot chocolate and Panetton…the Peruvian version of fruitcake. No Christmas celebration in Peru is complete without it!
When most of the village had started their trek home with their goodies, one of the families cooked lunch for our group. Roasted hen and rice and beans cooked over an open flame. It was wonderful and I will certainly always remember the friendliness and generosity of spirit of these wonderful people!!
Melissa White, CLM in Peru