Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I had my first day of classes today. Boy howdy!!! I have a long way to go. But I know that as long as I give it my all, my efforts will pay off. Knowing German and having studied Greek will really help. At 9, first session begins with Carlos. He is very easy to talk to and gave me confidence. He knows German also, so when I would struggle with Spanish, he would throw in some Duetsch. I think we will be good friends. Second session begins around 11:10 with Henry. He’s a middle aged gentleman and super fabulous. Very fatherly and kind. It is a good school.

I met two more sons today and learned of the other sister. One boy is 8 years old--he and his friend were playing rough this afternoon. Precious. Then I talked in full English with the 20 year old boy. He is going to college to be a mechanical engineer. He helped me with my homework! It’s still his summer break, so he goes to the coast a lot with his friends. But he said if I ever need anything, just to ask for him. I would if I knew his name : ) oh dear.

I’m supposed to studying my Spanish vocabulary now, but I wanted to take the time to catch up on my life so far. I have much to learn; it is going to be an incredible journey!

The Weekend

After waking up WAY too early and not being able to get back to sleep, I took a luke warm shower—probably the warmest I will have the entire time I live here—and joined my hostess and maybe it’s her sister for breakfast. My hostess is the grandma, and her daughter is the one with the kids who live here, but really, I have no idea. I don’t understand enough Spanish to catch any of it!! Mi Abuela made me a sunny side up egg with onions and tomatoes. It reminded me of something Papa would make. I don’t like onions or tomatoes but you can bet that I smiled and ate all of it. Told her it was the best I’d ever had : ) haha! Then we went to the market.

Ahh, the market. This is the quintessential South American open air market, selling produce of every size, shape, variety, and cleanliness you can imagine. The booths were set up on city blocks of concrete slabs but in between each ‘block’ were muddy roads that reeked to the top of Mount Misty I’m sure! Whew, what a smell! It was beautiful. The market was loud, exciting, alive, and incredibly intimidating. I loved it!

After spending the morning shopping for the weeks grocery’s and getting a lovely bouquet of vibrant red carnations, we went back home for lunch. She served me a plate of vegetables that I expected to be it—there were avocados, radish, beets, cucumbers, and a salad. Then she made me fried chicken and baked potatoes. It was divine and I was stuffed!

I met the rest of the Extreme Group that evening (Saturday). We explored the Plaza Centro and then had dinner on some balcony with a fabulous view. Esta muy bonita. I went back to Kindra’s house and pent the night with her and Denise. In the morning, Kindra and I joined the Grumms and went to our church. I know that it will be much more invigorating when I know some Spanish. It was interesting, but I didn’t get a whole lot out of it.

We went shopping for my school supplies after church—I needed a notebook and some pens for class. The shopping center is something akin to a small Fred Meyer. It was super busy and pulsating with activity and color. I found a beautiful princess notebook that even has stickers!!! It makes me very happy!

I am riding taxi’s by myself now. I have since Saturday. That’s really exciting! They go really fast and zip in between other cars. Wow, it’s intense. And it’s really cheap. 3 soles to get me across town—that’s a little less than $1. Anyway, from shopping I took the taxi home. I met more of the family finally. I don’t know their names—they say them so fast—but the boy is in his teens, and I met Mi Abueala’s daughter who is in her early 40’s. There is also a dad and another older gentleman….all very friendly. The teenage boy speaks decent English, so we tried to talk to each other. We watched Burn Notice (in English with Spanish subtitles) and I thought of my precious family back home. It was a good bonding time for us : )

The Journey

I’m sorry I haven’t updated you all sooner. My home, though fabulous in every other respect, does not have internet access (nor can I call anyone with their house line—but that’s another story). So, I’ve been patiently waiting until the time when I did. Now that I have the chance, allow me to fill you in on my journey so far.

Upon leaving Portland airport, I felt a wave of nausea and a sea of excitement engulf me. After 15 years of waiting, I was finally a real live missionary. Albeit, I do not know the language yet, but that doesn’t mean I am not a witness through my actions—through the smiles, hugs, kisses, and laughs as I try to communicate with others.

When I arrived in San Francisco, I had to check in again since it was an international flight and I was going to be on TACA air—not the familiar Horizon. The man at the counter was South American with an incredibly thick accent. He informed me that in was quite possible that Peru could 1)not let me enter 2)send me back home because I did not have a return flight. Something about immigration laws I guess. I asked him if he had any suggestions and he said “Just be prepared to purchase a flight when you get there.” Gee thanks mister. You’re a big help. NOT! But, this whole thing is God’s mess anyway, so I finished the check-in process and went through security. While grabbing a bite to eat and a delicious juice, I ran into Tyson Smith—my cluster support ‘dad’. I was overjoyed. We went back to his lovely wife Tracie and darling son Kai, and I traveled the rest of the way with them.

The flights were relatively uneventful. From that flight on, I fell asleep before we’d even begin taxiing the runway : ) When we were waiting in the San Salvador Airport, the song “ Jesus, be my vision. Be my center. Be my life….” was playing over the intercom. What a reassuring, comforting message. He is the reason why I am here.

We eventually arrived in Lima where we went through customs. I got my 3 month visa—enough time to apply for and receive residency—and got the green button to proceed without security going through my bags. Praise The Lord!! From there, we hopped our last plane after many, many hours of traveling, and arrived in a rainy, 53 degree, Arequipa. If I had been blindfolded and wearing ear plugs, I would have thought it was Eugene.

Daniel Duran and Sarah and Ryan Foster picked us up and took us to our host families. I immediately began unpacking. I needed to claim my space in an attempt to make it feel like home. My beautiful quilt from Prayers and Squares is an important piece in my room. Not only is it keeping me warm at night (one wall of my room is ENTIRELY windows), its bight colors and cheerful pattern make my room feel comfortable and inviting. I love it! As I unpacked my 2 bags (coming in at a total of 44, and 46 lbs respectively) I became acutely aware of how much ‘stuff’ I had. Why did I think I needed all these clothes? And shoes? Jiminy Cricket!! I know I come from the USA, but….Anyway, I just felt greedy, rich, and spoiled as I placed my things on my two sets of shelves. I didn’t unpack all of my things because I don’t have room for them. And honestly I don’t need them right now. I know that I’ll wear it all eventually with the changing weather (Arequipa is quite a bit cooler than Pucallpa and Puerto Maldonado).

Anyway, that is my story of getting here and my initial night of setting up shop. My host mom brought me a cup of tea and a crepe with some sort of syrup and a fried banana while I was unpacking. It was delicious. I went to bed around 10 and woke up around 6 am. Then I began living here.

Friday, February 6, 2009

13 days and counting

Oh my goodness! I woke up this morning and had this strange realization that I will only wake up in this bed one more Friday. As a kid, we would always count down the days till some event by how many more sleeps were left (sleep has always been very important to me).
To be completely honest, I have begun to go back and forth on excited to begin the countdown that fits on my fingers and toes, to absolutely dreading it. Now, I am down to two hands, and one foot...and not even all the toes.
This morning, I am waiting in anticipation for this adventure to begin.