Friday, December 18, 2009

prayer request

hello all!
it´s christmas time! i love this time of year so much! the christmas songs on the radio, the lights reflecting off the puddles (let´s face it, the willamette valley doesn´t typically have snow this time of year), and one of my favorite parts is the advent candles in church on sunday. all of this helps prepare me for the day. for the celebration of the birth of Christ Jesus. He loved, and he lived, and he lives on amongst us through the Holy Spirit manifested in us.
all this to say...i don´t feel very christmas-y yet. we have not sang a single Christmas hymn in church, nor even mentioned that Christmas is approaching. and i have been getting sick lately (which i am not accostumed to). i´ve spent the past day and a half laifd up in bed, and should still be there i imagine, but...the point is this: please pray for our whole team. we´re all struggling being away from family at this time of year. traditions don´t make Christmas, for that matter, neither does family, but we miss them more accutely right now. also, pray for our health. we seem to be taking turns getting sick...and that makes us a bit grumpy:)
Merry Christmas everyone! i hope to write again soon! thanks for your prayers!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thanksgiving

¨Thanksgiving is more important to you guys than Christmas.¨Peruvian ¨No it isn´t.¨American

Although accustomed to celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday, we waited and celebrated on Monday. Two reasons 1) we worked on Thursday (thus not having time to prepare the feast) 2) we couldn´t possibly do it without Andrew, and since he´s only home on Mondays...we waited.

Thursday night Tracy, Tyson, Kai, Wendy, Callie and I went to a grill (that i´d gone to with Daddy) and ate a bit of meat to satisfy our need to be full and then went home to watch last season of The Office to satisfy our need to feel like Americans.

Sunday night we were up till midnight baking the pumpkin pie, boiling the eggs (deviled eggs!!) and preparing the rolls and the bread for stuffing the next day. It was so much fun!

Monday, Callie and Tracy went to the Market early in the morning and bought all the vegetables, and then we made our house hot by baking sweet potatoes, rolls, stuffing, green beans, and the mashed potatoes...and Tyson did a steller job making chicken taste just like Thanksgiving Turkey. and the gravy rocked too! It was a feast that I would have been proud to eat in the USA, and I was thrilled to share it with the Peruvians. We invited Pastor Freddy and his family to join us, and they made the day extra fun (having to bring up an extra table, more food passing, extra noise...it was perfect!) We ate till we were sick and then laid around for a while.

That night the Smiths surprised us with a beautiful (artificial) Christmas tree!!!!! Those who have ever decorated a tree with me (ok, only my immediate family) know that I am very particular about how the decorations go on and can tend to sound a little bit.....bossy. But God has worked a miracle in my life and I didn´t say a word as people hastily and messily threw the ornaments on the tree. Tracy saved my life by suggesting we put the lights on first, so I grabbed the light strand and did half the tree. Then I passed it on to Andrew to finished the job. The lights look really good. The tree does look adorable...personally I would love to go in and rearrange the ornaments...but it´s not a big deal and it is fabulous to have the tree in the house. It may be 90 some odd degrees and feel like 103 with the humidity, but inside the house...it looks a little like Christmas season.

It truly was a day to be thankful for. God has brought us through so much and will continue to guide us as we go along. God has kept us safe, and relatively healthy. God has provided a means of communication (we now have a phone in our house! and if we buy phone cards we can call the states!) and there is an internet place in the center that isn´t tortois slow. And every day we grow closer together as a family. It was a good time to reflect and hope for the future.

Puerto Maldonado

I am supposed to be writing for my 3 church sites, but I already wrote for them and thought I´d saved them on the USB, but I guess I didn´t...so I´m going to take the time to write a wee bit here instead...

Just over 1 month ago, Andrew and I (the first 4040´s) arrived early to Puerto Maldonado. Daddy and Andrew´s mom had come down to complete the construction process of our home and do some on the field witnessing (impact). The Smith family came a couple days later, and the rest of the group followed week after.

The time spent with Daddy here was incredible. It passed as if it were a dream and before I could really enjoy it or believe it, it was already time for him to leave. We had a wonderful time though-he found a wonderful icecream place that we frequented daily, and explored the market thoroughly. We became pro´s at hailing motorcycles for taxis and just hopping on the back. It was beautiful to have Daddy here, but it passed so fast. Then I woke up from my dream and began the marathon that we are running as if it were a sprint.

Ana and I are learning more about each other every day. Tuesdays through Sundays we go to people´s businesses and homes and share with them the love of God. It is truly amazing to me how they are so accepting of what we have to say. They already believe the Bible is Truth, and regardless of whether or not they have a relationship with Christ, they value the Bible and treat it with utmost respect. The people are open to listen and learn from us. We alternate amongst 7 Junio, Crosby, and Circunvilacion, and try to make sure that we visit each location a minimum of 2 times every week.

We leave at 8:45am and come home around 11:15, and go out again at 2:45 and return around 5:15. These hours are set because we don´t want to be coming around during meal times or while they are trying to get their kids off to school. When they would like to begin the disciplship process, we come at whatever time they ask of us. Some people have us come at 7 or 8 in the evening.

In a quick word, that´s what we´re up to. I´ll be managing 3 other sites with information about each specific location. Thank you for your prayers and support. Honestly we couldn´t do this without God´s strength each and every day.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

smore night!!!! thank you so much Aunt Heidi and Uncle Tom for all the supplies!!


So, I’ve passed 7 months in Peru. Where has the time gone? In just over one month, I’m going to Puerto Maldonado and I will see my Daddy!
In the past month, we have had a stellar fabulous watermelon eating contest. I had this great idea that the Peruvians should be introduced to this great American tradition. They should be able to say that they have gorged themselves on one of God’s best fruits. So, I bought 5 of the most costly watermelons in Peru (a. because of their size, b. because fruit from the coast is RIDICULOUSLY expensive in Iquitos). It was well worth and a ton of fun. Callie and Pastor Abietar were the winners.
The barrio that Ana and I work in (Gabriela Nunez) is the daughter of Iglesia Central (basically, Iquitos 1st Church of the Nazarene). They are planning on constructing the actual church building in November, but before they can do that, there needs to be a level foundation. So, Saturday we hauled sand to the sight. Let me paint that picture for you: We woke up at 6 am on a Saturday morning, got in our work clothes and gathered 5 of the Extreme Team GIRLS to head out. We were supposed to be leaving at 7, so at 7:30 we were ready to go. We’d forgotten that we all needed to bring something to carry the sand in, so we asked Hermana Magna if she had anything…. So Llerson grabbed some…basically they’re gunny sacks. Those plastic-y, big, white-ish, sack/bag things (aka potato bags)...Anyway, that’s what we brought. Then about 10 people climbed in the back of the pick-up, 8 more inside the pick-up and we headed down to Puerta Masusa. There we met the leader of the church plant in Gabriela Nunez and he took us across the river. I forgot to mention that we brought our lunch supplies with us. Bowls, cups, spoons, knives, 4 water canisters (the ones that you put upside down on that plastic thing and you can squeeze the little handle thing and get water out…) and a GIANT pot.
Upon arrival, we precariously climbed the bank, and carried everything to the future church site. When I say that we precariously climbed up the bank, what I mean is, the river level has dropped significantly in the months that we’ve been here. Now the bank is a steep 8 foot mud slide with some stairs half-hazardly carved in. It wouldn’t be too bad if it was dry, but because this is the Amazon RAIN forest even in the dry season it rains, so…it’s a muddy slippery mess. And the boats can’t get very close so you slip around till you get to the steps….It’s an adventure every time! Pastor Antonio, Ramon, Llerson, Lider, and two other men, Elisa, Wendy, Callie, and I made up the sand carrying crew, and Ana, and the other women stayed at Gabriela Nunez to make lunch for us. There were also about 10 boys from Gabriela Nunez that joined in on the fun of carrying sand.
Now, I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting, but I thought that we were going to be carrying sand from the bank to the site…but what we were actually doing was getting back in the boat, and going to the other side of the river. There was beautiful sand the color of the Oregon Coast, and we scooped it into our sacks and various 5 gallon buckets, and returned to the bank of Gabriela. We had a lot of sacks to fill, and a lot of sand to bring, so some people thought that we should fill the sacks to brimming to make fewer trips. The downside is that sand is heavy. So when you have these giant sacks, filled with sand, it is back breaking, excruciatingly hard. Add to that the heat of this sun. We had a hay day let me tell you.
The second trip across the river, we decided to fill the boat instead of just the sacks. Good idea; still a ton of work. At 12, we stopped for lunch. The lovely ladies were so sweet, and made us some piping hot rice and chicken foot soup. There were enough chicken feet for everyone to have at least one. Mmmm, hot soup when you’re already stinking hot. Perfect combo.
It was, all in all, a great day though.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

18 August

I am 2 days shy of 6 months in Peru. This is the longest that I’ve been away from home and the longest I’ve ever gone without my family coming to visit me. Even when I studied abroad, Mom came out to see me, as well as Oma and Opa. Plus, I had Aunts and cousins just a two hour train ride from the school.

I'm in love with the people, the culture, the food. The heat, though excruciating at times, is not that bad....I say that tongue in cheek because yesterday and Sunday I sat in front of the fan all afternoon and thought I was melting if I had to walk to the bathroom. My Heavenly Father is revealing new truths and stretching and growing us all in ways we didn't think we moved. It's exciting and painful. I'm being pruned with fresh sheers and it hurts sometimes. It's a good hurt though.

On the 22, we'll have been in Iquitos with our Peruvian partners for 3 months. Ana is a God send. She is a fabulous partner. True, we don't always see eye to eye, but we're growing closer every day. She is very smart and has a heart for the Lord.

Keep us all in your prayers. We learn something new everyday.


i'm learning too

Last week we had an awesome professor who normally teaches at the seminary in Pilar/Buenos Aires, Argentina. Jorge Julca. He’s visited the States several times, and knows Mark Maddix and Professor Galloway. It was fun to talk about places and people that we know in common. He taught us Methods of Studying the Bible. Great teacher, fabulous person. The last night he was here, all of the 40/40 team went with him to dinner and a walk down by the river. And then we got ice cream! As Rich Wyatt once said, I’m cheap and easy (to please). Take me to ice cream, and you’ve won my heart for good.

Today we started classes with someone new. Marcario Balcazar Santa Cruz. He teaches at the seminary here in Peru. I had been told that he was really strict and that he was really cool at the same time. I wasn’t sure how those two would fit together, but this morning I learned. Our class is the History, Doctrine, and Organization of the Church of the Naz. Every day, I thank the Lord for my incredible professors at NNU and that I have this foundation to go on in the classes down here. Our Spanish has improved immensely, but to learn all this for the first time in Spanish, and in 1 or 2 weeks, I can’t imagine how hard that would be.

In these past few weeks, I have learned so much about who I am as a person and have been learning a lot about how to be myself in a different culture. I’m learning about cultural do’s and don’ts, and what I can and cannot do. It has been an interesting and bumpy ride. Being someone who enjoys being friends with everyone and has been perceived of flirting with the gas station man in the States (WHEN I’M NOT); living in a culture where I need to be incredibly careful of how I interact with men has been difficult. I’ve made mistakes and I’ve learned from them. God is molding me and forming me into the woman that He has in mind. It is my constant prayer that in all of these experiences, I can be a light for Christ in this world; that I won’t be a stumbling block or an obstacle; that my actions will point people to the only One who can really save us from ourselves and our selfishness.

the boys are back in town:)

Ok, I wanted to talk more about when Tim and Jared being down here too.

The boys wanted to see the river, so one day Ana, Carmen, Elisa, Jared, Tim and I set out to accomplish their mission. It was raining pretty hard that morning, so we took the opportunity to introduce the boys to Texas for breakfast. The loved it and made it their other home for the week they were here. When the rain finally seized, we took 2 moto-taxis down to the Port in Belen. Little did we realize there are 3 ports in Belen….so we arrived at different places. Jared, Ana and I were in one taxi and Jared and I both had our cells. Tim, Elisa and Carmen were in the other taxi and none of them had cells…so we were basically completely separated in the worst part of town with no means of intercommunication. The police soon happened upon our location and said that there were some guys getting ready to assault us, so we should probably move out. We took their advice, and went to a different port that was bigger and more well known (why our taxi driver didn’t take us there first I don’t know).

When we got to the other port, some of the boat people said that they had seen “2 chicas y un joven gringo” (2 girls and a white boy) walk the other way, and one of them took off to find them. We waited and soon enough the boat man came back with the missing people. We took his boat as a thank you for finding our friends, but his boat was pretty…small. And it didn’t have any form of roof covering. So, when it started to rain after we had been out on the river for maybe 10 minutes, we got nice and wet. Not gonna lie, I was a little bit nervous because I had this image in my head of a HUGE storm coming on really fast and the rain filling up the boat. I’m sure it’s impossible for that to happen, but it was a thought in my head.

Another day while the boys were here, we went to Quistocoche (it’s like a zoo/wildlife safari thing). I’ve gone one other time and pet the Tigrillo and held the snake (did I tell you about that?). This time, I got to pet a bufeo!!! It’s a pink river dolphin. He was so cute! And the most exciting thing is that we pet him!!! Carmen was so excited! Haha, it was cute. After we looked at all the animals (Jared having a stare down contest with a small puma, and both boys about peeing their pants because they were too close to snakes) we went swimming. The girls have never had male friends from the States before and this time together was really impressionable for them. Thanks guys for being so stellar and giving the girls such great memories and pictures of American boys! Elisa still talks about the shark, and Carmen and her both talk about how “bien chevere” you guys are.

It was a sad day in the neighborhood when the boys left.

VBS

So, we got home Wednesday afternoon from Fumento, and Friday we started VBS (July 31-August 2). There were 3 VBS’s going on at the same time in different churches in Iquitos. Thank you Lord for my awesome Team!!!!!!!! The girls, Hermana Magna and I had been working on the materials for a good three weeks already (which is stinking good planning in Peru. Iglesia Central didn’t start planning till the week of and was scrambling up until the last moment). VBS was 3 days long, and it was an absolute blast. I definitely went through some hard moments that week. I did VBS back in the States (with Sherry Willis, and Nanny, and the help of SOO many amazing people), but the point is, I have a rough idea of what’s going on, and am capable of directing things. I was so frustrated here because I felt like I was lacking in the language and thus the understanding of what was going on and what others wanted of me. I cried a couple times, but in the end, it came off without a hitch! The first day we had 44 kids, the second 50, and the last day we had 56. On an average Sunday morning we have 30 or 35 kids, so this was an incredible turnout; especially in a our little pueblo. Our kids memorized their bible verses like pros, and learned new songs, and did stinking awesome crafts. Jared Bouton and Tim Daughtery came up from Arequipa (they came down for Projects Arequipa 0 and Arequipa 1) that Sunday morning, (the last day of VBS) so I drug them out to Gabriella Nunez with me. The kids thought they were awesome.

Saturday morning during VBS, Ana and I also programmed a day of Social Aid. With the help of local medical students, members of Iglesia Central, Elisa, Wendy, the Smiths, Noemi Correa (and her mom who was visiting), we cut and washed hair that was saturated in lice, had classes on personal hygiene and sufficient nutrition. The medical students also brought pills for every family to help with the terrible parasite problem. It was a great morning and left a great impact on the community. The people know that we “Nazarenos” are about more than just their spiritual health. We care about their physical and mental health too. It was glorious.

Fumento

July 27-29

The 8 of us 40/40’s, Tyson (cluster support), Cristobal (director of education), Abietar (superintendant), and 2 pastors from Iquitos took a 12 box of a boat ride, down the Amazon River, to a small village called Fumento. When I say it was a box of a boat, I mean that it looked like a floating, 2 ½ story rectangular box. On one end, there was an area where walls and half hazard door had been constructed to represent a little room. They referred to this as the bathroom. It was a bathroom because there was a toilet bowl shaped hole cut into the floor boards’ level with the river. The river water would splash up on your feet as you attempted to keep your balance, squat and aim over this whole. It took me 3 different 5 minute attempts to relax enough to make good of this bathroom.

We each brought our own rolled up mattress, mosquito nets, sheets, and 2 liter water bottles, in addition to our expected clothes, bug spray, flashlights, and toilet paper.

It really was a beautiful experience. The river was so wide!!! I would say at least as wide as Fern Ridge Reservoir—but this was a river. There were a lot of people, and there were hammocks strung up so thick you could hardly walk through from one end of the boat to another. I never tried because I was afraid of getting claustrophobic stuck in the midst of squawking chickens, upset children, stinky unbathed adults, and lice infested hammocks….Instead, we went to the ½ story—also known as the roof. Because it was a bit overcast (we got burnt so bad!), it felt really great up there—a nice breeze and the views were incredible!! My goodness gracious. This is what I learned about in middle school geography. It’s huge and breathtaking.

We brought our own lunch for the trip—Lomo Saltado, bread, jam and manjar. Mmmm! Cabbage, meat, and French fries mixed together over rice. A lot of times there are tomatoes and onions in it too. We had embarked on our journey at 7:30 am, so by 11:30 we were ready to eat. We ate our lunch, and then at 1:30 realized we didn’t bring any food left besides jam and manjar. So, at one of the stops, we bought empanadas, sweet breads, and I got a frozen aguaje from the local venders. Later we realized that probably wasn’t a good idea sanitation wise, but we were lucky and didn’t get sick at all. It was delicious and worth it.

The sun set was spectacular! After the set, we still had a few more hours on the boat. Let me tell you, that I was a little bit nervous about being out on the Amazon River, in a floating box, at night, in the jungle, in the dark. But the moon was very bright and the stars were quite stunning.

We arrived at our stop at 10:30 pm and were all ready to get off the boat. The whole congregation met us at the river bank. I had two darling 8 year old girls relieve me of my luggage (it’s a cultural thing—if someone offers to help you with something [especially after coming to meet you at the bank] you let them help you. Normally I would never have 8 year old girls carry my things, but I no choice in the matter) and lead me a half hour through the Amazon Jungle at 10:30 pm in the dark, to their village. The village obviously did not have light switch electricity, so we used candles and flashlights to set up our beds in the church. Not before needing to kill a spider the size of my hand however.

The pastor then invited us to his home for dinner. We were so hungry! It was 11:30 pm by this time. The pastor’s lovely wife had prepared fish for us. Fresh fish—with its head, tail, gills, fins, and more bones than I knew fish had. The whole thing was sitting there. 2 of them. I was sitting next to poor Callie who hates fish when it’s prepared without all the details, so when no one from the church was watching I switched some of my bones for one of her fish. The right timing was hard to find because they were all standing around us with flashlights so that we could see our plates. Sweet of them, but very awkward. The fish was delicious, but incredibly difficult for me to eat. While licking my fingers clean after finishing my plate, I remarked that I felt like a cat. Cristobal explained to them that Americans aren’t used to eating fish with bones.

We ate fish again for breakfast, and again the next night for dinner.

The morning of the 28th, we went to the neighboring village of San Jose. We went with the intent of visiting their homes and inviting them to church that night. When we got there though, we learned that a young man from the village had gone fishing the night because and had not returned. They found his boat, but not him. All the men were out searching for him, and the rest of the village was pretty much all gathered along the edge of the lake watching, waiting and hoping. We held a prayer service with them and then left. It was very sad.

Back in Fumento, the extreme heat encouraged the group to take a nap. I declined nap time when I was enticed by the precious children to go play futbal (soccer). We ran around the field, and then I thought I was going to die in the heat, so we sat on someone’s front porch and sang some church songs together. After singing, I shared the story of Jack and the Bean Stalk, mixed with the Chicken who laid the Golden Egg. The kids were either enraptured or focusing very hard to understand my SpanishJ haha, probably the latter.

At lunch, we had rice, potatoes, and chicken. I was sitting and eating, when something above me caught my eye. I glanced up to see, not a sparkling chandelier, but a glistening spider gently swinging in the rafters not 4 feet above me. As my eyes swooped back down, I made eye contact with the pastor’s wife, so I smiled grandly, and took another bite of my chicken.

That afternoon Ana, Carmen, Elisa, Wendy, Callie, and I played more games with the kids. When we were sufficiently sweaty we went down to a small stream and bathed using a small plastic bowl to dump the water over our heads and bodies. Perfect.

That night, we decided to leave bright and early the next morning. Instead of taking the boat that we took in, we elected to walk 4 hours through the Amazon Jungle where we would eventually meet up with a bridge and catch a bus for the final 2 hours to Iquitos. We got up at 5:30 and packed everything up and then waited 1 ½ for breakfast. When we got on our way, it was already warm, so we quickly got our giddy-up going.

We had to pass through San Jose on our jaunt, and learned that the young man had been found that morning. He was floating facing down in the river. We silently passed by his body where it was laid out on a table under a white sheet. So sad.

An hour passed slowly as we walked up and down hills, through sugar cane fields, across muddy bogs, balancing on fallen trees that served as bridges. I have learned that sugar cane reeds are more slippery than banana peels, and that I should purchase a backpack. My cute little bag from Victoria’s Secret works wonderfully when you are traveling by car. It does not carry comfortably when hiking. Also, drink water. And in case you were wondering, it was very hot. My legs were not tired, my body was not tired, but my face and back and neck were literally dripping sweat. I felt like Larry Carter:)

Eventually, God decided to take pity on his poor little missionaries, and we arrived at a village of 4 homes. We must have looked pretty pathetic because one of the women hollered (in Spanish of course) at us after we passed by, “come rest on my front porch. My husband can take you by boat in 20 minutes.” We accepted the blessed offer and sat in the shade of her porch. I tried the sugar cane that day. Delicious! But difficult to eat. My teeth and jaws hurt afterwards. But it was fun.

The precious little family sent us off warmly, and we rode two hours in the river in a glorified canoe (basically the rim sits about 3 inches above the water, and there is a motor) under the scorching sun. The man took us to the same bridge that we had wanted to walk to. There is no way we would have made it in 4 hours walking. We would have died of dehydration WAY before that.

It was an incredible trek. We had a blast and learned a lot about working together, as well as seeing some of God’s immaculate creation. He definitely has the best imagination ever!

Some time in the Past.....

July 13

Goodness Gracious! I love being busy because time passes so quickly, and at the same time, I don’t like it because with passing time, more things happen.

I am officially a Peruvian Resident. I have a card that says so. The picture is hideous, but I suppose that’s a given. I mean, no one gets a good driver’s license picture either. July 3 (how ironic that it was the day before our Independence) we officially received our cards.

We began our newest course today (July 13), Biblical Basis of Discipleship. Our professor is the Superintendent of Chiclayo. Ricardo Rodriguez. He’s a very good speaker; easy to follow and quite entertaining. Classes will be everyday this week, but next week we’ll end on Wednesday and begin our week and a half long vacation!! Obviously we’re getting this vacation because July 28 is the Independence Day of Peru.

I’m 6 days short of 5 months in Peru. Weird. Exciting. Sad. Fabulous.

The past two days we have had fresh coconut straight off the tree. Superintendent/Pastor Abietar (pronounced A-BEE-A-TAR) and his family live on the compound with us. LLerson (Abietar’s oldest son- GER-SON) has a friend with coconut trees, and because 2 soles (66 cents) is too much to spend on a coconut, he got them from his friend. There isn’t much meat, it’s very delicate and soft, and there’s a ton of water (the milk is clear and tastes more like flat mineral water—hence water). It’s very good. I tried to break one open today (using the machete) and I ended up just wacking it (the machete) hard on the cement while the coconut would go flying off the blade. My coconut ended up going to the compost pile, and Llerson took over the coconut cutting. He’s had more practice. When my 2 years are up, I’ll be a pro too.

Last night during church there was a huge storm. The lightning was constant and gorgeous. It was something unexpected and incredible. The rain was so hard, and the drops so big. The volume was turned way up on the microphone so we could all hear. The church roof has some leaks and the water was making rivers on the floor. Ghim (JIM) the 3 year old son of Pastor Antonio (local pastor who also lives on the compound) was jumping over the rivers throughout the sermon. It was adorable. By the time the service was over, so was the rain.

We were all invited over to Pastor Abietar’s house for coffee and fried bananas with the family afterwards. Hermana Magna (esposa de Abietar-MO(n)G-NA)) is one of the most darling women I have ever met. About the height of my shoulder and absolutely beautiful, she’s always good for a hug and a squeeze whenever you’re near enough to touch. She loaned me her flannel graph to use with the kids on Sunday mornings. We put our gum and chocolate in her freezer for safe keeping. She invited us in to watch the funeral ceremony of Michael Jackson. She’s always telling us stories of being a newly wed nurse in the jungle without any neighbors or close friends; stories of suffering and triumph. Of snakes, spiders, demons, and the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit. Her mothering and love, her encouragement, her gumption has been such an encouragement to all of us.

Saturday, 13 Extreme Missionaries, and 15 members of Iglesia Central (the church we live at…and attend Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights) went to Gabriella Nunez—the mission sight that Ana (my partner) and I work at. The church as purchased property and wants to build. First we had to go in and cultivate the ground. Meaning we all brought our machetes, hammers, and nails, and when we arrived we chopped down jungle vines and varieties of trees and grasses. With machetes. All the while we were very careful of any type of poisonous frogs, snakes, and bushes that may get us. Then, in a very counter North American manner, we went about building a fence around 2 sides of the property (we ran out of wood). In the end, it looked really good. They’re planning on planting corn in there for now, and then after the rainy season they’ll build the church (the homes are built in the air more or less because half the year there is no land around them—they live in the middle of the river).

My precious little mission, Gabriella Nunez, has 283 people, 28 families. They do not have clean water and have not grasped the concept of boiling it before consumption. They have a huge problem with infection and disease that could be easily prevented if they used clean water for bathing and drinking. Instead, the same bathroom water, is the same water they drink, is the same water they wash their clothes in, etc. Our little mission is the only church of any kind in the community. We have an average of 6 adults and 30 kids come to our services. Among them, there is 1 Bible.

Saturday night, in a different world, we went to a semi pro soccer game. It was so exciting! We won! Iquitos vs Arequipa.

Guess what we did!!!

July 18

Callie, Wendy, and I went to see manatees!! We got to bottle feed one of them and pet them. They’re soft/rubbery/firm. Their little noses are soooo cute!!! I think it would be a good idea to invest in a manatee for the church…maybe as a ministry outreach program…I’ll admit right now that it is a purely selfish and not completely ministry related thought. I just think manatees are beautiful.

These manatees are at a reserve type thing. Lots of the native people in Peru see manatees as “evil” and like to kill them for no reason. Because of this, their numbers are dwindling. This Preserve nurses sick ones back to health. It’s cool. They’re working with a zoo in…I think it was Texas.

We’re totally bringing the whole gang here next week.

July 20

Happy Anniversary to me!! I’ve been living in Peru for 5 months today!!

Brad Hunt is my hero for the week! He is giving us beautiful floors. Rather than the cement that comes up every time you sweep the floor, we are going to have ceramic tiles!! Last week some guys came in and put up false ceilings. This will help dramatically with the heat and make it a lot quieter when it rains. We’ve had just a tin roof that is very loud and makes our room an oven. We painted our walls too. They were this old dirty yellow—peeling in some areas, bare in others—but now they are a lovely salmon (we wanted a nice orange (cream-cycle, or a soft melon, but this is as close as Brad could find in Iquitos). Not what we were expecting, but it looks fresh and clean.


Friday, July 3, 2009

a month in a page....

Because I do not have good internet, this is a running blog….I’ve been working on putting it together since the week after we arrived in Iquitos. I’ve gone in and changed the dates a few times to make them right, but as I keep having to just save in word because I can’t connect to the internet, the dates become outdated:) So, I’m sorry that I haven’t posted in a while. Not my fault:) Sorry this is 4 pages long—just read it knowing this is a compilation of a month’s worth of activities….and I haven’t updated it since June 15th…been busy….

God is so good. Better than I knew before, and greater than I know yet.

These past 4 weeks here in Iquitos have been exciting, terrible, fabulous, and awful all at the same time.

We left Arequipa after a magical last week. Jill was our friend and our mom and cooked incredible meals for us and reminded us why we needed to leave Arequipa if we wanted our Peruvian diets to work; Brian was our friend and a protective father and reassured us that we would always be #1/40. Jana and Andy were our precious little love bugs and we don’t know how we’re going to make it the next 2 years (plus forever) without them.

Scott hugs just like my Daddy, so in a strange way, I felt like I was saying goodbye to my family, to my Daddy, all over again. Wednesday night, the Englunds threw an awesome goodbye party for us. Ruben totally had it rigged against my team, but it was fun anyway:)

Thursday, Pilar and Gladys prepared an awesome lunch and then everyone made us cry with their sweet goodbyes, letters, goody bags, and love. Ruben loaded our huge suitcases in the back of the truck, and after one more tearful round of goodbyes, we were out of there. Brian and Jill were going to meet us at the bus station, but there was road construction and they didn’t get there in time. This caused more tears to fall, but we boarded our bus anyway, and took the night bus to Lima.

In Lima we spent the day pretending we were on vacation, and ate lunch at Chili’s. Normally, I have to share their fajita meal, but this day, my stomach knew how to pack things away, and I ate everything (except the rice, black beans—which I love in the states, but these were like soggy wood—and the onions). After paying our airport taxes we met our partners for the first time.

How nerve racking?! This is a moment I’ve been anticipating for the past 8 months! My Spanish isn’t good enough yet. What if she doesn’t like me? What if…. But it turned out fine. They all gave us suckers.

Our home…Well, if you’ve ever been to church camp, then you should be able to picture this fairly well. There is a large building on the far side where we live. Girls on one side, boys on the other. The windows are open holes with bars over them set in the brick walls. Our ceiling is commonly referred to as a tin roof—I think of it as an outside oven that does really good at amplifying the sound of pouring rain. Our bunk beds are very comfortable—the only downfall being that every move is reminiscent of an earthquake for both parties. Our mosquito netting does a FABULOUS job protecting us from being bit at night. I’ve only had a frog for a bed partner once. We did have bats in our room, and we still have rats, but Pastor Miguel cemented the bats’ entrance and exit so they’ve been leaving us alone now.

There is a mango tree outside my bedroom and several papaya trees. There’s a sweet soccer swamp/field, and a volley ball net. They love volley ball here, and I really suck. I play my little heart out, but my balls always go out of “bounds” or my attempt ends in embarrassment. But, they’re all very encouraging and ask me to play every time.

Our classroom is just across the muddy way, and the church is right next to that. One the other side of the church is the kitchen area. Food—everyone always wants to know what you’re eating:) Well, for breakfast and dinner, we usually have bread—little white rolls—and jam. Lunch always has rice and potatoes—the form of the potatoes varies from mashed to boiled, but they’re always there—and chicken—which also varies in form, but is only absent from the table if we’re having carne (1x a week). We’re getting full, but I don’t feel like I’m getting much more than carbs. And the ice cream is really expensive here. Sad, since it’s hot here. Well, it’s hot somedays, well, it’s hot every day, but we acclimated really fast, so when the sun’s not out, we feel chilled (and it’s still 80 some odd degrees). But when the sun is out, oh my goodness, it’s ridiculously hot.

We’ve finished our first course. Cultural Anthropology. Completely in Spanish. Presentations, research, lectures, all in Spanish. The crazy thing is, I learned stuff!! There were multiple days that I was fighting back tears because I was so frustrated with my comprehension level, and Cristobal (our professor) would ask a question and he’d be disappointed because no one would answer, but I wouldn’t understand what he was even talking about, so I couldn’t answer. But often times I would be able to follow just fine. We all were. And if one of us wasn’t following, we’d help each other out. We’re now in World Religions and Sects/Cults. It’s interesting. Although I like the person who’s teaching us (he’s the pastor of my church here), he’s not very organized and talks circular. But, he’s really nice…we’re just in charge of our own learning is how I feel. This class will end Friday 19th.

I was struggling with homesickness and culture shock to the utmost degree 2 weeks ago. Figuring out ways that they would send me home but not be mad at me. I can’t make people mad at me on purpose. So, I figured if I contracted malaria…or if there was an pollutant in the water that native Peruvians were immune to, but North Americans we susceptible to some terrible disease and might die, so we’d have to go home. Or maybe if I had a stalker…. But then I would realize that I would hate myself if I had to go home. If I gave up. If I abandoned the call that I know God placed on my life. And then I counter that argument with, How am I supposed to do this for a lifetime?! Honestly, God, do you really want me to live this far away from my family, with crappy internet, and bats, spiders, cockroaches, frogs, and rats in my bedroom??!!! I don’t know. I do know that He’s called me to go and make disciples, baptize them, and teach them about Him. Maybe next time it’ll be closer to my family, maybe it’ll be farther (but it could be a good further [not that this is a bad far, I’m just in culture shock]—like Europe or something—Mom would visit me there).

It hasn’t been all bad though. We’ve had some pretty fun escapades. Last weekend we had a torrential downpour that you expect in the Amazon Rainforest (which is where I live—incredible huh?). Callie, Elisa (Wendy’s Peruvian partner) and I all played futball (soccer) with the boys. It was a blast! I had a slight run in with something other than the ball which caused my ankle to turn purple and grow to be the size of a mango. Pretty cute, let me tell you! Of course, me being the stubborn little grunt that I am, continued to play, and we danced in the rain to celebrate our victory. Then we had some good mud slides—the kind where you run and slide on the ground on your stomach. Good stuff! My ankle looks a lot better now. Hurts a little if I turn it weird…but the swelling is virtually gone and the color is normal.

2 weeks ago we began evangelizing. We split up our two pairs and went out in 4’s with Pastor Antonio Segura and a darling older lady. Once we were out in our ‘areas’, we went to homes that had some association with the church, and went in to talk to these people. On Thursday (4th), Ana and I went to a home together. We talked to a precious young couple and the guy rededicated his life, and she accepted Christ for the first time. It was really incredible to be a part of that. It’s my first experience in Peru with someone becoming a Christian. And, they were at church that Sunday (7th). That was a big thing to me—it was them making an effort for themselves.

We have very different evangelism styles. By that I mean, INCREDIBLY different—it’s very cultural. We have recognized that a few times when we’ve gone out to visit people in their homes, but as time goes on and new situations present themselves, it’s become glaringly obvious. The Peruvian Christian culture (at least the 4 that we’re working with) is very much all about (verbally) sharing the love of Christ with everyone they meet—whether or not the individual is ready to hear it or not—and the American Christian culture (these 4 anyway) are all about showing (through actions) the love of Christ with everyone we meet. These two differences are exciting when one of us wants to talk to the individual about how they’re doing, their life, who they are (you know, get to know the person), and the other desperately wants them to become believers.

Two Saturdays (the 6th) ago, we were invited to the District Pastor’s meeting. It was in Llanchampa—a little remote village in the jungle. We took an hour ride in a cumbi (quintessential 3rd world bus. It was a little dangerous because there were two bolts sticking out of the ceiling that every bump I was afraid of it sticking into my brain), stopped along the Ananias river, and walked for another hour. We were walking through the jungle for real! Then we got to a lake thing that I know there were anacondas and crocodiles in there, and took canoes across to the other side. That was the best part of the morning—I mean, meeting the pastors was cool, but the trip there and back was pretty exciting.

Brian came up to visit us that same Saturday night. He was supposed to arrive at 5, so Andrew, Wendy, and I waited at the gate till 6, ate some bread, came back and waited till Brian finally arrived at 7. Squealing with excitement, I accidently stomped in a yucky puddle, but it didn’t really matter because Brian was here! We gave him a tour of the grounds and then he took us all out to milkshakes and french-fries. Mmmm! Almost as good as Wendy’s:)

That Sunday morning we went out for a good old American breakfast and introduced our partners to French toast, banana pancakes, scrambled eggs and toast. They thought it was a lot of food:) haha! After Lunch that afternoon, just the 4 of us North Americans went with Brian on a boat (a glorified canoe with a motor) out on the Amazon River for 1 and half hours to visit a tribe (Bora Bora I think) out in the Jungle. They were the topless dancers that you always think of when you hear about jungle tribes. It was really incredible to see them in real life. I kept thinking, “this is the type of thing you read about it books, that I was taught in high school…and I’m living it.”

Last week passed pretty quickly. There was another protest Thursday through Saturday. The natives come out of the jungle to protest the government coming in and drilling for petroleum on their land. It’s a relatively peaceful protest—they pull trees out and put them in the streets, break bottles in the street, throw trash around….it’s really interesting. I find myself being angry that the Peruvian government goes in and drills without their permission, and then I wonder how I would feel if it wasn’t affecting me.

Noemi and Cristobal (directors of 40/40 education) are going to have a baby!!! They just told us last Thursday night, so we made a cake for them Friday morning. By hand. And by that I mean, Eliza and I took turns mixing the flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and evaporated milk with our hands. No spoons, no mixers, no added utensils to get messy. Just a bowl and our hands. No recipe, just a little of this and a little of that. It was fun and it tasted pretty good.

Internet is slow and inconsistent—you don’t ever want to depend on it here. We’re looking into other options for internet access. As it is, we have dial up at the compound where we live, and there’s wi-fi at a café in town. You pay by the hour and have to order something while you’re there. And it’s pretty slow (and it hasn’t worked for me the past 3 times I’ve gone). We’re going to possibly get Claro things, the equivalent of Sprint/AT&T/Verizon internet things….but the Smith’s already have it, and it seems to be just as worthless.

Sunday (14th) Ana and I went to a small village for church. We left the house at 8, took a mototaxi (the front is a motorcycle, and back…well the back wheel has been cut off and a bench has been welded on with 2 wheels…) down to the river, walked through decomposing trash mixed with mud along a fresh fish/and other goods market, and leaped like gazelles over several small boats (glorified canoes), and took the one furthest out in the water across the river. As we approached the far bank, I realized that we were going to be in a stilt village. These homes are built right on the river bank, so when the river is high, they are above the water, and when the water is low, like it is now, the homes are elevated from the mud that reeks below them. Once we arrived on the other side we slid through the mud until we came to the 2 houses where we were going to hold church. I worked with another woman with the children. There are 60 kids in the village and 23 of them were at church on Sunday. They have not had a church in this village in years, and this was the first time we held service. Ana and I will be working at this mission until we leave. Dr. Larry Garmon wants to build a church there. Anyway, the kids and I learned a memory verse together, Luke 2:32, and I was able to teach them the few songs that I know in Spanish. We will learn more together. I’m really looking forward to getting to know these kids. They are stinking precious.

Monday (15th) Ana and I went to visit people in the hospital. We visited a 15 year old precious girl—she had either had an abortion or a painful miscarriage (my Spanish doesn’t cover many medical terms yet)—and Ana and I both went in wanting to demonstrate Christ’s love with her. We just wanted to do it in different ways. In the end, I stayed with the girl and talked to her for 2 hours while Ana visited other people. Eventually, the girl (her name’s Brenda) began to ask questions about myself, and why I was here in Peru. This presented the opportunity to share with her and tell her some Bible stories. She invited me to come visit her at the Market next week when she gets back to work. Please be praying for this darling girl.

Friday, May 15, 2009

GRADUACION

So, we graduated this morning. We're officially CEICA Spanish School graduates. It was a lot of fun.
Yesterday Callie and Wendy made cookies and baked a cake to serve at our momentous occasion and they were delicious.

We had class as usual with Mary--couldn't miss out on our last hours of learning--and at 10:30, Callie, Wendy, Wendy's teacher, and I ran to the market to get flowers for Carmen and our Host mom's. We made it back to the school at 10:59 (and graduation was at 11--talk about cutting in close). So the moment we walked in the door, we ran to our classroom and I got my little speech thing that I had so thoughtfully prepared (haha).

The living room area had been transformed to a lovely....circular shaped seating arrangement, and almost our entire Extreme Family was there to celebrate with us.

Carmen began the ceremony with some nice words about how she's enjoyed having us and how we have brightened the school. The school bought books for all of us--novelas for the girls, and dictionaries for the boys (because the girls learn so fast, and the boys might need some more help). Then they passed out our "diplomas," really just certificates of completion--but they look beautiful! Roy (our professors) gave Callie hers, and mi abuela gave my and Wendy ours, and Carlos gave Andrew his, and (you wanted to know who gave each person their certificates right?) Henry gave Tyson and Tracy theirs, and Brad and Michelle's professor gave them theirs....it was all very special.


Lucilla (mi abuela) gave a short little thing about being a host family and she's enjoyed it, and then I got all embarrassed because she talked about me....blah blah blah....and I then I talked and thanked everyone for being there (in spanish, because I am now a spanish school graduate). Wendy was "supposed" to sing a song, but she's not healthy today and doesn't have a good voice, so she got out of that one.


When we were finished with that, we all ate the delicious cake and cookies and took a million pictures....

It was a real graduation. It was a blast. Wish you could have been there.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Last night, my precious host mom prepared dinner for Wendy, Callie, Andrew and I. She's asked me several times in the past week about the menu and the time for the meal. Yesterday morning, she told me that she was going to play music in English and that we could talk in whatever language that we wanted. It was so cute!!!

So, I went to school and Carmen--the director (a darling woman of about 65 years who is sweetly intimidating and gives you a sense of incompetent confidence) --came into Callie and I's class. Callie and I are planning/putting on the school's first graduation ceremony. (The school's been running for 10 or 11 years and none of the previous arrogant American's have wanted a ceremony....but, we're all for pomp and circumstance) Carmen wanted to talk details and order of ceremony. She said the school could provide pisco sours for everyone: which is the drink of Arequipa--it's alcohol mixed with sprite. We kindly declined as good Nazarenes:) I jokingly said we should sing a song, and now we are going to sing something grand that is yet to be decided (and there is less than 48 hours between now and the grand event). Anyway, as Carmen was leaving she says "I'll be eating dinner with you guys tonight!"

The day passed (Callie and I went to an incredible Crepe place that you would expect to find in France, and spent the whole afternoon there playing card games and eating heaven), and then went back to the house for dinner.

Our relaxing English evening turned into a Spanish evening. The food was fantastic, and there was a lot of laughter. It was the first time my host mom had ever had friends of her students over, and the first time Carmen had ever eaten with her students. We had a good time I think:)

I'll let you know how graduation goes. It's on Friday at 11 am. Should be a momentous occasion:)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

2 semanas y contando

6 days and counting until I finish language school. Wow, Crazy!

Callie, Wendy, and I spent this past weekend with Jill Tibbs and her precious children. It was a heavenly weekend!! We came over for dinner on Friday, and stayed till dinner was over on Sunday. Jill definitely has the gift of hospitality and a way of making you feel completely relaxed and at home. She also has a gift in the kitchen! mmmmm!!! good food! Saturday, pobre Wendy was sick, so the rest of us got out of the house and got our hairs cut. I get nervous getting my hair cut in the States--by people I know and trust. Let alone people I don't know!!! and I don't know much vocabulary when it comes to hair cutting....But it turned out really well. Jana got the winning look--but then again she is 3. 3 year olds are pretty much guaranteed to look cuter than anyone else:)
Sunday, I finally met Vivian!!! The infamous young woman from Puerto Maldonado who met the Lord this past summer and completely turned her life around. (For those of you who went through the Extreme Mobile, she is the young lady featured in the 3rd room.) She is so nice! Her Spanish is obviously a few notches better than mine, but I was able to understand her fairly well. Her son is beautiful--Fabio (perfect isn't it?!). He's 1 1/2 years of adorableness. They're staying at the office right now, so I am excited to get to know her more and pump her with questions about Puerto Maldonado--the people, the culture, the heat, the food, the spiders....

Last night we celebrated Tyson's birthday at a sweet chicken place!!! I've had some pretty good chicken in my day, but jiminy cricket!!! This was some great chicken. Oh, but before that, Callie, Wendy, Andrew, Tyson, Tracy, Kai, myself and a taxi driver all fit in the same taxi. Wow! Tight squeeze! In the States that never would fly!! I don't know how they all made it in the backseat, but Wendy and I shared the front passenger seat, and my rear end was constantly in the way of the Driver's shifter. I'm learning a lot about how to fold your body into any space that you're given when taking transportation....


Mi Abuela made apple pie for me! It was soooo good! The crust was a good half inch thick on top, and a quarter inch thick on the bottom. Now, my parents can testify that I am a pretty picky crust person. I have been spoiled with amazing crust all my life, and so I just don't eat bad crust. But this was different than any crust I've had before. It was delicious!!! She served me a huge piece for breakfast and said I could have more with dinner. And, then, after lunch, she brought out these incredible marzipan fruits. I should have taken a picture. But I ate a little peach and an apple--but they were just marzipan shaped and colored to look like these little fruits. So cute!! and yummy. And then!! Yesterday I translated a recipe for mi abuela, and today, she asked me if I wanted to make it with her tomorrow night!!! I'm so excited!!! I feel like she really likes me! It's a great feeling.

Monday, April 27, 2009

changes

Well, here we are. Down to 23 days left in Arequipa. Although our Spanish has vastly improved, we still have a long way to go. How on earth are we going to be able to take college level courses in Spanish?!! By the grace of God alone.
They have chosen Andrew's partner--he's 32! They have 2 girls, and are waiting for one more. God will provide. I'm so excited and scared to meet them:)
My host family and I are finally bonding in a way that makes me feel like I'm part of the family. on Friday morning I told mi abuela that I wasn't going to be there for lunch or dinner and she swatted my behind with a wooden spoon!! Hahaha, it was hilarious.Well....I just wanted to do a quick update and let everyone know that I am still alive. I am going to miss this place so much. It has slowly but surely become home to me. And my Extreme family....dear heavens, I'm going to miss them. Praise the Lord, Brad, Michelle, Tyler, Tracy, Tyson, Kai, Wendy, Callie and Andrew are coming with me to Iquitos:)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Caime de Judas

At 5:30 am Easter Sunday morning, Andrew, Tyson and I began our 45 minute walk to Yanuaharra to the plaza there. We had learned that Easter Sunday morning, they burn Judas and this was a once in a lifetime experience that we wanted to take part in. The sun was already up when we began our walk and it only got warmer as the morning progressed. I had worn a warm jacket because it was 5:30 am and that made sense to me. Well. It was not needed. I was hot the whole morning.

Anyway, we walked to the Plaza and there were about 100 people there. It was 45/30 min early, so not a bad start. Hanging in one of the archs surrounding the plaza was a giant papier-mâché looking man wearing a business suit. Obviously, it was Judas…We looked in the Cathedral and then took our seats. We wanted to be up close to see all the smoke and flames. Piro’s:)

Soon there was a parade type thing with people wearing black robes and carrying candles. They were singing a song, and had a solemn marching band accompanying them. By this point there were closer to 250 people gathered. At 7 am, a man began the testament of Judas. It’s basically a comedic political commentary where they make fun of all the important people that they don’t like. It went on for about 30 min. I took the opportunity to take a quick snooze because it was boring as all get out to someone who doesn’t understand Peruvian politics…or that much Spanish…

Finally the good part arrived! In Spanish, the people around us were saying “move back”, but we didn’t catch on till we couldn’t move back without loosing the ability to see. So we were standing roughly 15 feet from Judas. By far, the closest people to the action. A man took a long stick that was lit on the end and touched it to the fuse coming out of Judas’ face. He started spouting (and smelling) like a mini exploding firework thing. I leaned over to Andrew and said “is he a giant firework? I thought we were catching him on fire.” At that moment, Judas’ head burst! Pop, pop, pop!!! He was a giant firework and we were right there to catch the action!!

As his arms and head blew up, we were in the line of fire. Part of his face flew off and landed not more than 5 feet from Tyson and we were all worried it was going to pop up and get us. When his left arm exploded, flying debris hit my on my face just below my eye! I’m lucky that my eyeball was gouged out!!!

His legs were super exciting too. They spun a million miles a second and suddenly BAM POW POP they disappeared in a cloud of smoke! And his chest was much the same way. Minus the spinning. Wow, talk about being worth getting up so early! This Judas burning was way cooler than searching for my Easter basket before church….no offense Easter Bunny.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Primera Pasqua en Peru

Oh my goodness. So this is Holy Week. In the Catholic Church—at least here in Peru—this is a huge deal . Every day there is a different traditional soup for lunch. Beginning Thursday, you can’t eat meat. Really the no meat thing could start on Palm Sunday, but that gets expensive. Fish is ok though—just not the other meats. Anyway, all week there’s parade type things as they move the images around. Everyone is a little excited and in a good mood. The theft rate is higher this week, so I didn’t bring my camera with me on my adventures. You’re just going to have to use your imagination.

Thursday, Andrew was giving his testimony at his church in Umacolla. So, although I really wanted to go see Jesus Christ Superstar, I didn’t know where it was going to be….and I did know where Andrew was going to be speaking, and really, he’s more important anyway, so Wendy, Callie and I decided that after dinner we’d go support our brother.

Dinner. We had Arroz con Leche (rice pudding), mazamorra morada (a deep purple, super thin, hot jello type thing with lots of cooked fruits), and a creamy brown blob resembling chocolate pudding with coconut flakes on top. This was served with pan dulce (sweet bread).When I asked why they only eat sweets for dinner on Thursday and Friday, mi Abluela responded “Because we can’t have meat and we need the calories.” I have a sweet tooth, but this was a bit much for dinner. And mi Abuela would not let me be done with 1 plate. No, I had to have 3 plates because I needed the calories since I wasn’t eating any other foods. I practically rolled out of the house I was so full of sugar.

I walked to Callie and Wendy’s so we could catch a cab together to get to Andrew’s church. When I got there, they were still eating their dinner/dessert. Their host mom invited me to sit at the table and join them. When she offered me a plate I kindly responded that I had just finished dinner, but thank you very much. I was just early to get the girls. Well, that saved me from one course. When she took the girls’ plates, she returned with 3 more with chocolate manjar cake from heaven and apple pie Peruvian style. Oh my goodness, if I was sick before, I was deathly ill afterwards. I was taught to eat what is set before me, and although I was sooooo full, I had to eat it anyway. It tasted very good….but I think that I would have liked it better on any other day.

We finally got out of there and booked it to the church. We had a sweet taxi driver who let us sing loudly to Queen—We are the Champions. Fun stuff (it made me think of two things. 1. Daddy had a stuffed animal beaver that sang that song, and 2. Katherine loves Queen). We got to the church in time for lots of Spanish preaching—might as well have been Chinese for as much as I understood…but then again, I was in a diabetic coma, so I couldn’t pay attention anyway. After the sermon, Andrew gave his testimony. He did such a great job!! He had translated it into Spanish and spoke with grace and confidence. I couldn’t have been more proud of my brother.

When we left the church, we decided since there was the 4 of us, we’d just walk home. I love to walk in this city! And because I was on my sugar high, I had plenty of energy (and useless calories) to burn. We walked down the street, pushed a stalled Volkswagen Beetle out of the road (good deed for the day), crossed a bridge, went up some stairs, and eventually came to Plaza de Armas. There were tons and tons of people there! I’ve never seen it so packed. We walked through the Centre, and saw that the Cathedral was open. Callie and I had learned in class that morning that there was an image of the Devil in there and we wanted to see it. So, we convinced/dragged Andrew and Wendy with us to go see. We thought the Plaza was full; the cathedral was tight enough to body surf. We were quite tempted, but then figured that it was probably irreverent.

As we oozed through the cathedral, Fathers with magic wands dipped in Holy Water and splashed the crowd. Being the girls we are, Wendy, Callie and I squealed with the realization that the water was wet when it hit us. Hahaha, we were lucky to be near people who were enjoying our first time to be blessed in this way. I kept my eyes open wide in case I could get the water in to my brain in order that I learn Spanish faster. It was as exciting as Disney Land!!

When we emerged from the church, having contracted the scent of B.O. and Holy Water, we had the privilege of watching a choreographed fight to the ‘Rocky’ theme song and ‘Eye of the Tiger’. It was fabulous!!! The two men were wearing giant square oven-mits and it was very matrix. So cool!! Callie and I decided that next year, we’ll put on a fight in Puerto Maldonado. Her song is “Beat It” by Michael Jackson, and I’m going to be fighting to “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan. Fitting I think.

After the fight was over, we began the final mile home. There was a person dressed up as Spider Man, and I was about to say hi when he threw this ball at me. I squealed, but it was like a yo-yo thing and hardly got close to me. I felt a little blonde after that….

Friday. Most Catholics fast for breakfast, but knowing that I am not Catholic, my host mom gave me rice pudding for breakfast. I didn’t complain. I love that stuff!!! Especially when I don’t have to eat 3 plates of a million other calories too.

Most business and government establishments had Friday off as a Holiday-It’s Good Friday you know. But school was going to be offered today for anyone who wanted to come. Since next week we’re having retreat, we all decided to go ahead and go. We need to master Spanish anyway.

For lunch, I came home to Fish soup. It had camaron in it (similar to crawdads…), corn, potatoes, orange fish eggs, kidney beans, carrots, and a fried fish fillet. Mmmmm. When I make soup, that’s the combination I want. Nope, that was a lie. Hahahaha. As weird as it sounds, it really wasn’t that bad. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not something I’m going to request for my birthday dinner. But I didn’t feel like I was gagging every bite down either. The orange fish eggs were interesting. I wasn’t supposed to swallow them, just chew them. I needed to crush all of the little white balls (eggs), and then take the crushed substance out of my mouth. The camaron was different as well. They were whole—their eyeballs and antenna things were there and everything. With these, I was supposed to put the head in my mouth and suck the brains out (no joke—it was an awkward feeling because the antennas kept tickling that hangy ball thing in the back of my throat).

Callie and I went to an Easter service at my church last night and had a great time fellowshipping with our Peruvian Church Family. Cristobal Correa spoke, and I love it when he speaks. He speaks clearly and slowly, and is really easy to understand. He and his wife will be the directors of our school in Iquitos. I’m so thankful that I get to know them now!

Tonight, we’re having a mini Easter celebration with the Smiths. It will be the first of 3 Easter’s that we will spend together. I’m excited. We’re having French toast!!!! Nothing says Christ is Risen like French Toast:) And tomorrow, after church, the Extreme Team is invited to share Easter Lunch together. It will be a wonderful experience.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

tremblor

Last night there was a sweet earthquake. Because I am not used to tremors I would be lying if I said I was not afraid at all. I wasn’t scared, but I my heart was beating pretty fast.

I was lying on my bed around 9:45 or so and doing my homework. When the shaking began, I initially thought it was a giant truck outside my windows shaking my bed. But then I realized that was a dumb thought because I’m in a small gated neighborhood and trucks can’t get in there. The shaking continued and steadily grew stronger. My chandelier was swinging hard and I made an executive decision to go stand in my doorway in the rare chance that the house collapsed and my wall of windows became shooting shards of glass.

Some say 40 seconds, others say 2 minutes, anyway, some time later the trembling finished. My heart continued to pound out an exciting rhythm for a few more minutes and eventually I calmed down. It was a good night.

Just thought I’d let you know.

Thanks for your prayers!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My day by day, play by play

Hmmm…I was thinking that I should fill the world in on what I’m doing in my life—not just the exciting stuff. I enjoy school for the most part from 9-1 Monday-Friday. After school I usually come back to my house for lunch and converse for about an hour with mi Abuela. Then I get together with Wendy, Callie, and most days Andrew too. Sometimes we wander around the city, other times we study (ok, we have good intentions to study—but then we start talking in English and Spanish is forgotten), and other days we go to Cusco Coffee (our Starbucks equivalent)
and get drinks and some sort of dessert and use their free Wi-Fi (only place that we’ve found that has free fast Wi-Fi). Around 6 we head back to our houses and I eat dinner with Mi Abuela from 7-8. Then I come back to my room and piddle around till 9:30 or 10 and get ready for bed. Now that I have melatonin (Thanks Mom!!), I sleep really well and don’t wake up till close to 6:30 or 7.

To let you in on my little secret world, in the evenings, I get homesick. I think it’s because I’m bored and alone. I mean honestly—at 8 o’clock I can’t go to sleep, and although I enjoy reading, I really would prefer to be with people. And because I can’t talk to people I want to more. So, I read my Bible, and pray and sing songs to myself….but that doesn’t take away the desire to be with people. Or just go home for the night:) I'm not super homesick though. It comes in waves. Like in Hawaii, every 7th one is a big one...but other than that, they're pretty lame.

So, Last night I was in my room and I just happened to look up and see a HUGE spider on my ceiling. It’s not directly above my bed, so I can’t reach it, but now I’m thinking, ‘How am I going to sleep tonight with that thing in my room and no way to kill it!? You know it’s going to come lay eggs in my ears while I’m sleeping and bite me so that I die and it can use my body as a home.’ I’m just going to pray that it decides to crawl back outside because I’m boring.

This evening, I’m at the office because we’re having our quarterly meeting with all of the people involved in Extreme. It’s amazing how this works. People in Idaho, Indiana, California, and Peru will all be involved in the same meeting over the internet. Crazy! I don’t know how this thing works, but I think it’s really cool.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lima


So, on Tuesday I got up at 3:45 am and got ready for the day. At 4:15 I left my house and worked for the next 10 minutes to get out of my gated neighborhood. Eventually, i decided to give up and go the long way to the gaurd station and have him let me out. I brought my knife (that my woonderful boyfriend gave me as a protective measure) with me because I was going to walk by myself to go meet up with the other 3 40/40's. I wasn't in any danger, but it did make me feel safer. When I met up with the others, we grabbed a taxi for 12 soles and headed to the airport. When we arrived at the ariport it dawned on me that you can't take knives on airplanes.... Dennis brought his on accident too, so we went outside and hid our paraphenalia under a rock.

We all boarded the plane and got to Lima at 7:30. First stop-Dunkin Donuts. Second, Starbucks. lifesaving grace.

Our group went to the Methodist church in town that handles all the mission organizations in Peru. They handed us multiple papers sign here, your address here, sign here, finger print here, so on and so on. I noticed however, that one of my papers spelt my name 'Olvia' so i had the proud honor of retyping that page. I'm praying that I didn't make any mistakes that I overlooked....

At 10:30 we headed to Interpol to do our official residency paperwork. They took hideous pictures and counted our teeth. We did more finger prints and the lady put our information in the computers. Somehow they messed up and my paperwork said 'sexo=masculino'. After a minor freakout, we got that fixed too. It took us 3 hours to get the 12 of us through.

We were all very ready for lunch at this point, so we went to this huge mall on the beach where Tracy, Tyson, Callie, and I ate lunch at Tony Roma's. fabulous burgers, fries, and cold drinks. yummy!!!

After returning to Arequipa, I began to feel the effects of a rich lunch. It's Thursday and I'm still paying for the day....totally worth it:)

All in all, it was a good day. busy, stressful, and exciting. In 2 months we'll return to Lima to officially become Peruvian Residents.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. When we got back to the airport, Dennis, Andrew, Dennise and I ran to our rock and PTL our knives were still there!!! I was so relieved.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

caballo montar

one day we went horse back riding in the countryside of peru.

we took the cumbie (crazy little bus thing that you picture in countries with bad transportation. they put way too many people in there)

out of town

and spent 15 soles for an hour on the horses.

awesome!!! i pet a massive bull. i was very careful.

Mejia, Arequipa, Peru



My precious 40/40 family-the individuals that are surviving language school, culture shock, and the jungle with me-took the opportunity to go to the beach for the weekend. It was a much needed break and was absolutely fantastic.
Friday night, Tyson somehow wrangled us into eating dinner in a membership only club and I had amazing mahi-mahi.
Saturday we spent the ENTIRE day on the beach. The weather was amazing-hot with a perfect breeze that didn't let you get too hot. And the waves were perfect body surfing waves. oh my goodness!! Ideal.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sabado=Saturday

*sigh* it was a good day.
Last night I had a sleep over with Callie and Wendy where we shared stories and a full sized bed. It was fantastic:)
This morning, I took a shower that was very American. There was good water pressure, it was warm, and I shaved my legs for the first time in 3 weeks. Perhaps that's TMI (too much information) but, hey...I'm honest:)
After a delicious breakfast of robin's eggs (interesting), hot chocolate and sweet bread, Andrew met us girls and we walked to Cusco Coffee to meet Tyson and Tracy.
Oh my goodness. It was starbucks. I don't even drink coffee, but I had a frap today (it doesn't count as coffee) and it tasted just like home.

Then we went to a gorgeous Convent called Santa Catalina. It was huge.

Lunch was doner kebabs. Delicious!!!! But....I think the sauces were too strong for my stomach...

I came over to Kindra's this evening and we watched a fabulous (romantic and surprisingly unpredictable) movie and ate Strawberry shortcake.
It was a good day:)