We had exciting plans for the weekend. We would take a short flight from Lima to Arequipa, Peru, search for the local Jews (we knew they were few and far between) and offer them the opportunity to spend an inspiring, meaningful Shabbat with us, complete with delicious kosher food, prayers, singing, and camaraderie.

We arrived in Arequipa on Friday and our first order ofWe received a warm welcome business was meeting up with some of our contacts. We received a warm welcome and a few promises to attend Shabbat. Then, we began canvassing the bustling city, hoping to stumble upon some more Jews and potential Shabbat guests. We couldn’t help but notice a tall, smiling gentleman heading straight towards us.

“Hello, welcome to Arequipa. I’m Jerry. It’s great to see some rabbis here!”

“Hi Jerry, it’s a pleasure to see you too. What a nice surprise!”

We searched for a quieter spot, found a Starbucks, and sat down to talk. Jerry was born and bred in Lima, and works as an engineer for a large mining company. He has travelled extensively for most of his career. Recently, he had been assigned to Arequipa to help build a large copper mining and refining facility. On a personal level, although Jerry was proud of his Judaism, he was constantly searching for more meaning in his life.

We spent the duration of the hour discussing the application of the Torah in our day-to-day lives. Jerry was very intersted and asked many questions, which we did our best to answer.

Shabbat was approaching; it was time to wrap things up. But first, we pulled out our tefillin and asked Jerry if he would like to put them on. Initially, he was hesitant. There were too many people watching, he told us. But after some deliberation he changed his mind. “I know it’s the right thing to do as a Jew," he said. "Unfortunately, I haven’t worn the tefillin in a very long time.”

We helped Jerry with the tefillin and the prayers, and then bade him a warm farewell. We began preparing for Shabbat in high spirits,buoyed by the knowledge that we had touched a Jewish soul.

It was a beautiful Shabbat, enhanced by the company of some of the Jews of Arequipa. Early Sunday morning, we departed for Lima. When we arrived at the Chabad House, Rabbi Blumenfeld, the local Chabad rabbi, toldHe had tears of joy streaming down his face us that he had just spoken with Jerry’s family. When Jerry returned home for the weekend he had tears of joy streaming down his face as he recounted his meeting with the two young Chabad rabbis.

What a way to start off our week! With the help of G- d, we look forward to many more successful encounters as we continue our travels as the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s emissaries in Peru.