Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Program in Peru

The Christmas rush for us started on Tuesday night at 8 pm with the second and last Christmas program rehearsal (smaller groups had been working for the last few weeks). The rehearsal went pretty smoothly, although I must admit I wondered how the actors would do with their lines.

The invitations for the Christmas program said 7:30 pm. We intended the first 30 minutes to be meet and greet time. In typical Peruvian style, most of the programs participants were there by 8 and the program started at 8:30. We had many visitors and the actors surprised me with how well they had refined their lines in just one day!

A few first: I went to help with the costumes and was asked to sew the lead child's tunic. I broke the needle (first time I have ever broken a needle), the only needle they had. I whipped two bobby pins out of my hair and pinned up his shirt. This is also the first program I went to where we cut a hole in the side of the church to give the actors a secret entrance.

When the program was over, Pastor Luis preached a "short" sermon (almost an hour, lasting until 9:50) presenting the plan of salvation. I've heard rumors of people snoring, but I think that was just the kids. It was a great sermon.

After the message, we rearranged our seats, and I went to help serve pork, panetón, and hot chocolate. MMMmmm... so good! They bought the whole pig (head to tail). The women were joking around and taking pictures in the kitchen, when Devie said, "People from other countries are going to see these pictures and say what savages the people in Peru are!" (she was pretending to eat the pig's face). It was a fun time that kind of reminded me of the camp kitchen (but maybe that was just serving drinks from a five gallon buckets).

Christmas Eve was filled with laundry, homework, and some Christmas present wrapping. I felt a strange urge to be busy baking, but decided against going to the market as I had heard that it was full of people. We finished cooking our special dinner at 8 pm. We finally ate the baked chicken, hot chocolate, and Panetón at about 10:30. We waited until midnight to exchange gifts, but were interrupted by the sound of a firecrackers. We went out on the balcony to watch for a bit. After opening presents, we went for a walk and visited the cousins. At 2 am Christmas morning, we were walking through an alley eating ice cream sandwiches in our short sleeves. :-)

Christmas day we celebrated with the Gringos (the Stilwell clan met in Chimbote this time). It was a blessing to sing carols in English and have a brief devotional, eat a wonderful dinner of Ceviche and Chicharrón de pescado (fish and fried fish), go to the beach, and play some fun games. Definitely different, but fabulous!

Friday, December 18, 2009


Time is passing rapidly. I realized today that I left home seven months ago. That wasn’t as big of a shock as when the math hit me that that means that in four months Arriba is over. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I have a renewed sense of needing to take advantage of every moment and soak up all that I can.

We are settling in nicely with our family. Let me introduce you. My host, Miguel, is a former fisherman who recently opened a hardware store (the one above which we live). He is very curious about life in the States and English. It seems as though he cannot ask enough questions, (or does that just mean that I am not asking him enough questions?)

My hostess, Gina, is an elementary school teacher (she just recently finished her degree). She is constantly busy working in the hardware store, cooking, and cleaning. Her love for her family is obvious.

My oldest sister, Gina Elvira (18), is in her second year of studying psychology at one of the universities in town. She goes to classes in the morning and studies in the afternoons. She is quickly becoming one of my best friends here. She takes me with her when she has to go to the market, bakery, or any of the little stores new our house. She is starting to open up more and more, and I am learning to ask questions and share (without being asked). She is one of my best Spanish teachers. She not only corrects me as I speak, but also questions me later to make sure I am remembering. Some of my favorite times with her are when we are talking about what we are learning from the Bible. Everything is so new to her that it is a huge encouragement to me to keep studying.

Angie (13) is the youngest. She is a giggly one. She enjoys chatting with her friends online, watching TV, spending time with her friends, and exercising (if it doesn’t mean getting up early). She thinks that her family looks out for her too much and would like to get a break from their constant care, but realizes that they only do it because they love her.

It is an adjustment living with three girls (counting Rochelle) instead of three boys, but I am enjoying having sisters.

Hicimos la vaca

(slang for skipping school, but literally means we made the cow)

This is just for those of you who questioned my artistic abilities. After drawing the cow and sheep, I am considering switching to an all-out art major. Well, maybe just elementary education (all they do is color and paste anyway, right?).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Traditions

Is it really December? Are you sure? I've yet to hear a Christmas carol, and where is the snow? Why am I not stressing about finals or trying to find a ride home? Oh, wait, that's right; I'm in Peru (and very content to be here). We have started a few Christmas preparations at church. We started working on our program last weekend. I am helping in the stable group (Apparently I will be drawing a cow today...). The ladies and children will sing, and, of course, the Christmas story will be acted out. Afterwards, we are planning on having Panetón (a bread with raisins and candied fruit...the Peruvian Christmas cookie rival) and hot chocolate.

For family celebrations, I have heard something of eating duck, panetón, and hot chocolate at midnight on Christmas Eve. Then the Trujillo missionaries are coming down so we can eat fish (and maybe head to the beach??) for Christmas day. I will have to remember to journal.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This is where I hang my hat

I had always dreamed of living in a loft apartment. Okay, so I was picturing more of a cozy apartment above a bookstore or bakery on a busy street downtown rather than a good-sized house about a hardware store on a sandy sidestreet, but that is the way dreams often go. I am getting used to a bathroom without a toliet seat and showering with a widowmaker. Nuevo Chimbote is a quaint little town on the coast of Peru. Chimbote is known by many Peruvians because of the perfume from its fishing industry. I live here with a family of fairly new believers (they will complete 3 years in May). Gina works as a teacher and helps with the hardware store. They started the hardware store recently when Miguel gave up working in the fishing industry. I also have two sisters, Gina Elvira (18) and Angie (13). Together we like to walk in the Plaza, shop for groceries in the market, and cook. Nevertheless, I am absolutely falling for this place. Now, about those 40 hours...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Back to Lima

The trip back started with a hearty breakfast of bread and hot tea (albeit, it was delicious and I loved it!). We headed out at 8 a.m., leaving our luggage and 2 team members to come later on donkeys and a horse. I now can say that I know what it is like to walk through a rain cloud: beautiful, but cold. In spite of the cold, we were enjoying the company of one another and chatting as we went along, joking that the people from the mountain have a different definition of shortcut than we hold. We followed them up and around mountains (I'll admit I was wondering why we did not just take the path). We made it to where we were to take the van at about 3 in the afternoon and unloaded the donkeys (which had made it there much earlier even though they left later). We talked of hot food and wondered why we had failed to bring snacks this time. When some of our guides pulled out a bag of popped corn I jumped for joy and accepted their offer. The rain came back again and we decided that our best option would be to form a circle and huddle together for warmth. I wondered if the rain meant that the van would not be able to make it on the roads (a premonition that later proved quite accurate). Soon the whole group had joined our huddle. After some time it became evident that the van was not coming and we should look for some better shelter from the wind and rain. We talked of making a cave out of a boulder and our luggage (which sounded exciting to me). As we headed off in search of a bolder, Josué came down the road saying that the van was coming, but we had to walk a little further to meet it. After another hour of walking we spotted a bus coming down the road on the mountain ahead of us. Praise the Lord we were saved! We piled and and gave our guides our flashlights and some sweatshirts. Sarai gave Junior her boots (his sandled feet were sure to be frozen). The ride to Huacrachuco was spent singing praise to our Savior.

Upon arrival we were met by a man from the Christian Alliance Church. Apparently, we were in charge of the service at their church and they were waiting for us. They allowed us to change (we searched our suitcases for dry did not end up being what we would normally wear to church, but desperate times...) and gave us some hot tea, promising hot soup after the service. The service was another interesting experience, but I can't say that I understood a whole lot of what was happening. Later we quickly ate our soup and headed back to the hostal (for our $2 a bed stay). We set our alarm for 2:30 a.m. so that we could catch the 3 a.m. bus and crammed ourselves into the 4 bed we had reserved for 9 girls (I'm not sure why the guys had 4 beds for 5 guys, but I guess they just need more space...I'll just say poor Caleb). I was out as soon as the heavy, warm blankets were on me, and I don't think I moved until the alarm went off far too soon.

The bus filled up quickly and people even sat or stood in the aisles. Liz and I offered to hold the children of a young mother who was standing near us. She gratefully allowed us, and we cherished the time we were able to hold these precious little ones. They got off the bus in less than two hours, and Liz and I went to sleep. The next morning came bright and clear. Another breakfast of bread and juice and then back on the bus. We made it back to Chimbote by 6 p.m., but decided to wait for the 11:30 bus because downtown Lima is dangerous in the middle of the night. We had a delicious meal at the bus station and wandered around until 11. The bus was wonderful (okay, so the movie wasn't all that great, so I didn't watch it, but other than that...). The next morning I woke up just as we were reaching the outskirts of Lima. Becky met us at the bus station and graciously did not say anything about how badly we smelled (you try doing all of that without a shower!). It was good to be home.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The wedding

After life began to settle, we turned our attention back to the wedding (in addition to the kid's clubs we were working on). Josué and Sarela were to be married on Thursday (tomorrow!). We decorated the church using a poncho (which we cut up), toliet paper, ribbon, pvc, candles and balloons. It looked nice (I will admit that I was surprised) and the cake traveled really well. The actually wedding was definitely another cultural experience. We all participated in some way (a little weird for me since I had only met them two days before the wedding). The lady in front of me had a little chick and the mother of the bride didn't arrive until the wedding was over. Maybe that was not that unusually for this town as one person told me it was the first church wedding they had ever had (and she had shown up at the civil wedding).

After the wedding, everyone was invited to the house for a meal. As we were finishing, someone started a rumor that people were at the church waiting for the service. We weren't planning another service for that night but headed down to the church anyway. After about thirty minutes, Pastor Henri decided we had enough people for a service, and we begin. Pastor Henri brought the message. Then we headed home to try the cake that had survived the 3 day journey. It was worth the wait.

Missing (and the subsequent search)

We were welcomed with a hot cup of tea, the most delicious bread in the world, and some fried potatoes. We talked of going straight to bed as we tried our best to eat this tasty meal until Pastor Henri interrupted us with a distressing problem: my roommate and the group with her had not yet made it to the town where we thought they were going to stay. Josué had gone to look for them, but it was already quite dark and dangerous to be wandering around a mountain. Options started coming quickly, but there really wasn't anything for us to do as we did not know the terrain. We couldn't even call home because the cellphone tower was out. Josué went to find them and tell them to stay at Estancía and we were sent to bed.

We were led up a rickety, homemade ladder to the second floor of a mud and straw house. First, they led me to my room at the end of the hall with one bed made. When Pastor Jim asked where his room was, they pointed to the unmade bed in the same room. He explained that that wouldn't work for us, so the took me across the hall. However, as I looked into this room, I saw Timoteo's head peep over the covers and decided I would continue my search. After a few more rooms, it was decided that I would sleep downstairs with Elizabeth. I quickly updated the other girls from the team what was happening with Rochelle and our plan for the next day. Upon crawling into bed, I realized that the bed was about a foot and a half shorter than I was expecting and my sweatshirt was still wet from our hike, but the two ibuprophens had already started to attack my killer headache and aching muscles, and I was ready to sleep.

At about 3:30 a.m. our room was completely awake. Alicia, Elizabeth, Sarai, and I talked for almost an hour. We heard the pigs from the next room trying to get into our room, but thankfully the door was latched tightly. I drifted back to sleep until the sun came up.

Morning also brought more tidings of our missing friends. We learned that Rochelle and Javier never did make it to the town and, as of six o'clock, they were still missing. People from the surrounding villages were searching. Pastor Jim went to the one phone in the entire town to call Lima so that Becky could call the States. Then he went with Josué and a few men to the other town to wait for the lost ones. We were sent to the schools to tell all the children about the kid's clubs we wanted to have. The director let us talked to every classroom, and most of the students wanted to come. As we were walking, Pastor Henri and Alicia (Javier's wife) came running up with the news that our friends had been found and we could meet them on the other side of town.

It was a relief to see them. They had a rough night in the dark with a cold rain. I am sure they will never forget this trip!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The endless hike

11:30 Our combi that was to arrive at 9 finally shows up. We load up and start heading up the mountains as it starts to rain. After about an hour the driver tells us that he cannot go any further on the soggy roads and we must walk to meet up with the donkeys which were to carry our things (suitcases, material for classes, decorations and cake for the wedding). Fortunately, Josue Tinto (the national missionary) was with us and started us in the right direction. We started off cross country. The stronger men ran ahead only to return and help those weaker carry their things. It was a glorious moment when we saw the donkeys at about 3. We continued our hike across the country. This time following a donkey. As time wore on, our group segregated and spread out. The rain came and brought a fresh chill with it. Sometime close to five thirty, we saw a small town. My hope was quickly dashed when I learned that this was a town called Estancía. I think all of the town came out to watch us walk through (the town only consisted of about two streets). We continued through muddy, red trails that started to go down the mountain. At about seven we decided it was too dangerous to walk in the dark and waited for the lights that we saw descending from the mountain. They were from our group. The men left us with their light and we continued on our way. Pastor Jim nearly fell off the mountain with the cake, but we safely arrived a little after eight ready to go to bed...

More to come...then maybe I can start on Cuzco.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Side of the Mountain

The sound of squeeling brakes sent me into an immediate panic as I woke from fragmented dreams. The bus seemed to be sliding downward; I fought the urge to scream. Where was I, and what was happening? As the driver skillfully righted the large tour bus, I sat up and looked around. It was still dark. 2 AM. Twelve hours down and who knows how many more to go before we reach the small mountain village of Huacrachuco, Peru. The winding road's many turns scared me as I looked over the abyss. Looking around me, I noticed that everyone else was being reasonable and sleeping. I joined the for a few more hours.

Watching the sun rise on the mountain is truly spectacular. The shadows slowly disappear as the rays of light seem to warm my very soul. The bus paid no heed to this wonder, however, and continued its trecherous climb until it stopped suddenly. The driver said something about the truck ahead not being able to make the turn. I followed everyone off the bus to find out what was going on ahead. We cheered as the buses finally made it around the corner, racing up the mountain and almost missing our bus afterward. By 7:30 we had reached the bus stop.

I'll have to be honest here, Caldo de Cabeza (head soup) was about the most awful thing I have ever attempted to eat and definitely not a good idea for breakfast. Fruit from the market never tasted so good!

Yikes!! I need to go pack!! This epic will have to be continued...

Coming ahead...
The endless hike
Missing (and the subsequent search)
Sleeping with the pigs (well, almost)
The wedding
Penguin huddle...Should we build a cave out of our luggage?
Back to Lima

Will Cuzco be this exciting?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chinchil here we come!

This is an exciting day (which might explain the fact why I have already been up for an hour on a Saturday). We are headed up north to Chimbote to meet our new church and family before heading to Chinchil Sunday to arrive Monday. Please pray for God's strength and a godly attitude for this trip. Also pray that he will use us through classes and personal interactions. Although we will be gone from Lima for nine days, we will only be in this little mountain town for three full days.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

With lightning speed...

classes are just about over. One more morning of tutoring (followed by Ceviche with our language helpers)and two days of final exam remain. I can't believe we have already made it to this point.

On Saturday we are catching a bus and heading north to Chimbote (where Rochelle and I will get to meet some of the people at the church in which we will be serving soon!). After church on Sunday, we will get on another bus to head inland for over 10 hours (I think on a dirt road). Then, after a 20 mile hike, we should arrive at a little mountain village called Chinchil (can you say remote?). The plan is to help with a kind of VBS kid's club and with a Peruvian missionary's wedding. There could be as many as 200 kids at the kid's club! Thankfully, some of the young ladies from my church in Manchay are coming to help as well. It should be quite the event. In the mornings Pastor Jim will be teaching a series on Salvation and we get to go to his class. It will be a good refresher on the personal evangelism class we just finished.

I am looking forward to seeing a new region and getting to know the people there, learning a few phrases in Quechua, and trying new food.

I am not so sure about sleeping in cold tents and not showering for a week, but I am sure it will be worth it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Welcome Spring!

October is here along with shining sign and warm weather. We only have six more hours (three morning sessions) of Spanish tutoring and the final exam. I am thankful to be finished and ready to start the internship part of the year. Personal evangelism class was a stretching class. We are now better equipped to share our faith in Spanish. Pastor Gary kept reminding us that now that to whom much is given, much with be required. That is a sobering thought as I consider the privilege of the Arriba program. Please pray that I won't waste this opportunity in any way.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thanks for your prayers

Thanks for praying about Kid's club yesterday. I think it went well (other than telling the kids that God stopped the sun so that the Israelites could peal-pelar instead of fight-pelear). Many kids were there and they did a great job listening. God definitely helped me with words and not shaking with nervousness. Thank you for praying!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Prayer Requests

I would appreciate prayer these next couple of weeks as we are starting Personal Evangelism class on Tuesday. I am already nervous! We are praying that the Whipples will have found a location for their church so we can invite people when we are doing street evangelism, that we will be able to present in a elementary school (and distribute cds of Bible stories). We will also be traveling 2 hours each way to their house every day (to a part of town that is new for me). I would appreciate pray as I am teaching in Spanish for kid's club this Sunday (about Joshua right before he died telling the Israelites to choose who they are going to serve). Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


This last week we were given a break from studies in Lima and sent to experience some of the ministries in Trujillo. The eight hour bus ride was lovely. I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time and watched the sunset over the waves. I wished we could have stopped to take pictures, but we did the best we could through the windows. Even the desert was beautiful. We saw fields of sugarcane and small villages with scrawny cows. I think I am falling for Peru (but I still miss corn and bean fields...God's creativity simply amazes me! all so lovely).

While in Trujillo we attended 4 different Baptist churches and went to various classes at the seminary. Living in the dorm for the week was a wonderful change. The girls were so transparent and willing to share their lives with us. As I walked through the campus, I was slightly homesick for FBBC, but at the same time, many things were very different. There wasn't any hot water, only one option for meals, four girls fit in a room the size of room 6 in the camp staff building (basically big enough for two bunk beds and a table attached to the wall that functioned as a desk with shelves above it), the concrete floor in the chapel and upper level of the dorm wasn't even leveled, all the students shared one piano and a few other keyboards (and music is one of the 2 majors offered) yet, these didn't phase the students in the least. They were thankful to be there and learning. I was challenged to think more on things above.

Other activities:
Monday: Pastor's kid's club (in spanish) then dinner with the Stilwells!
Tuesday: Camp Fortaleza! I am excited about serving there this summer (January).
Wednesday: Prayer meeting at Victoria.
Thursday: Chan-chan (largest mud city ruins in the world) and Huanchaco (the Beach!...although not to swim because it is much too cold. While shopping for souvenirs, another teammate asked for something made of cuerpo (body) instead of cuero (leather)...the language bloopers continue.
Friday: Free time with the seminarians. We sang songs and played games that I will have to bring home for youth group in the states (need to add games to my list of things to write down in my journal).
Saturday: visited a little town in the mountains devoted to La Virgin de la Puerta ( a doll of Mary) where many Peruvians pilgrim and pay homage. It was sobering to see how lost they are in their devote beliefs. (That day we at a sack lunch by a waterfall). I also went to a Peruvian wedding (which only started an hour late!)

It was hard to leave these people whom I had learned to love in such a short time, but Monday we headed back to Lima. It was a little odd to see the lights of Lima and think, 'I'm almost home.' It was a blessing to see my Peruvian family and friends once more.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A life lesson

After 100 days in Peru, I think it is time to share a little of what I have been learning.

We were riding back to my Peruvian house a few Fridays ago talking about our church in Manchay, when my roommate said, "What kind of a future do the people there have?" Now, in order to really understand this, you would have to visit Manchay and see the houses with no running water and dirty dogs in the street. But as I thought about this observation, I thought about how ethnocentric I am and how I view success. From my western mindset, I see success in college degrees, jobs, or simply choosing the future you want to make for yourself. But I don't think that this is how God views success. A tender heart, willing to do what he wants and when he wants is what God sees as success. These families, full of their Savior's love, can serve God in Manchay and be successful taking care of those around them and living out Christian love. Contentment is a quality with which I struggle, and, for this reason, I think it is a grand privilege to be able to serve with those in a little town called Manchay outside of Lima, Peru and see a little more of contentment in action. I pray that God will give me a tender, usable heart that would humbly be willing to do whatever he called me to do.

A bit of catching up...

So I know I left you all hanging about the jungle. It was fabulous, really. I would have to be honest and say that I learned about different climates and regions, but this didn't seem like biology. In fact, the class seemed out of place. Why would you sit and study evolution (even its fallacies) when you are surrounded by such beauty. That being said, the class did enhance my appreciation of the wonders around me, and I will never look at lichens or semeiotic relationships in the same way. The many hours together also helped us to build team unity and prepare us for our next class: Media Enhance Communications.

Media Comm was an exciting class. Although some of us struggled with a certain level of computer illiteracy, we all learn so very much. I am excited about putting what I learned in the class into use in future pictures, ministry presentations, and, of course, in the classroom (if I ever make it there). I would highly recommend this course to anyone. Our fantastic teacher from BJU was very patient with us and helped us to create the ARRIBA 2009 video.

We are now in a taking a Latin American History module which I like to call "story time with Pastor Jim." Each night we read carefully from our textbook to prepare for a quiz the following morning. We then have fascinating hours of lecture about how Latin America came to be, the influences of European history our this hemisphere, and why the nationals view life the way they do. It is so much more interesting when you actually have been to a few of the places where it took place and you can see how it has affected the culture. I only wish the class included more literature (but I wouldn't have time to read it anyhow).

Friday, July 31, 2009

Everything in my past experience led me to believe that the rain was pouring outside, but as I opened my eyes to greet the cool morning, I realized that the sound was coming from the river near our jungle bungalow. The others were still asleep so I crept out to see what was happening around camp. I found a quiet place to spend time with God in the second floor of an upstairs loft facing the sun climbing over the green mountains. The sound of birds greeting the morning filled the crisp air. (Somehow it was hard to focus on specific revelation when I was overwhelmed by the general around me, but if I had to choose one...specific is by far more important.)

Needless to say, the high jungle of Peru is phenomenal! The eight-hour commute in Pastor Jim's van flew by as we were surrounded by breathtaking mountains. We left the gray skies and smog of Lima and headed north on our first trip out of the city at 8 Monday mourning. After about four hours of steady climbing, we crossed the Andes at Ticlio (16,000 ft above sea level). The air was frigid (there was snow on the ground!!) and slightly lacking in what I would consider a standard oxygen level. We piled out for a brief stretch and photo opportunity (which might have included a bus of Peruvian soldiers...). A great time was had by all (especially Caleb who was able to touch a gun). We ate lunch a little farther down the mountain and a authentic restaurant. The air was still chilly, but the food was warm and the tea was delicious!

As we continued our journey northward, the mountains gradually became greener and and the air warmer. I was enthralled by the many waterfalls and the size of plants. The roads were dotted by small mining communities and stands selling fruit as we went further into the jungle region. We went through about 15 short tunnels on our trip. After the last tunnel, we turned off into a small gravel lot with a path that led down to a cable car. We took the cable car across the river and were officially at camp. As we climbed the hill, we came into a clearing that had a small pond, bungalo-style buildings, and peacocks meandering around...

...To Be Continued...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Slow of Speech and Slow of Tongue

Then Moses said to the LORD, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” So the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

This morning I was reminded of Moses and the burning bush. I remembered working with my campers on the Exodus 4:10 and challenging them not to make excuses in their Christian life. Yet, I am surprised how often I have used my inability to speak Spanish to excuse not speaking here and allowing others to speak for me. I get so frustrated when I unconsciously use English vowels in Spanish words or when I use incorrect grammar or can't remember a word I should know. But God is gracious and allowing me to learn through this whole experience (and I know there are many people here watching me learn, make mistakes, and keep trying). God called Moses and gave Moses his ability to speak. In the same way, God can give me just what I need to minister where He has called me. I just have to trust Him!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cultural Blunders

When we first came to Peru, we were eating dinner and my Peruvian brother wanted to refill my glass. Without saying anything he stretched out his hand across the table. I didn’t have any idea what he wanted, so I stretched out my hand a shook his. Needless to say, everyone laughed at me and I still haven’t lived it down.

Rochelle and I have our own bathroom here. During the first week in broken Spanish, I asked if we could have more toilet paper because we were running low. My Peruvian mom looked surprised but didn’t say much. The next time we asked, she said, “Are we supposed to buy toilet paper for you?” We asked Pastor Jim if this was a cultural thing, and he said that toilet paper is a person hygiene item. We have found this to be true as even public bathrooms don’t have toilet paper and people carry their own.

“I unknowingly went to a reunion of the dead yesterday.” Another Arriba student said this the first week we were here after going to a memorial service with his pastor, but we still tease him about going to a séance.

Language Bloopers

In the processor of learning a language, one makes a million mistakes. I am trying to make the majority of my million in the first few months of my time here in Peru.

I was talking to Pastor Jim about a combi (like a mini bus) that I call the little green bunny because I thought the side said, “conejo,” (rabbit) but actually says, “consejo,” (advise). I still call it the little green bunny when I am talking to my bilingual friends.

I told my family that I ate darkness (tinieblas) instead of at a restaurant (Tinajas). They asked me if I ate with Satan.

One of the other Arriba students was helping her family fix lunch. She was excited to eat fish (pescado), and she told her Peruvian dad, “Me gusta pecado.” Which means, “I like sin.”

I said, “All we like bees have gone astray…” (Isaiah 52:6). (Abejas instead of Ovejas…remember that the b and v both sound like the b in English.)

Tuesday night I was eating dinner with my family, the tv was on, and everyone was talking when I realized that Mr. Funegra had asked me a question. I didn’t hear what he had said exactly, so I asked him to repeat what he said using the phrase, “Otra vez?,” which literally means “another time.” This would have been fine except his question was, “Janae, when are you going to get married?”

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Things I'm thankful for...

It is hard for me to believe that I have been in Peru for almost two months. Throughout my time here, God has been showing me time after time that He is in control and that He has a perfect plan for my time here and for my life.

I have been thankful for the Bible. I cherish my English time in the morning with the Lord. My Spanish Bible has also been a blessing as I learn to pray in Spanish and am beginning to be able to talk about spiritual things with Spanish speaking people. I am enjoying memorizing verses in Spanish. Memorization is common here. Many of the kids and teens are willing and even anxious to memorize and quote their verses and recite them for the class. Almost every class I attend involves a memory verse and they remember them the next week. This is particularly important because I don´t think everyone there has a Bible.

The Carltons have also been a blessing. They lead our group. We go to them when we have questions about culture and life in Peru. I think they have done a fabulous job preparing us for our time here. I am thankful for Friday nights (American night) with them. This allows us to compartmentalize a little each week, build team unity, and keeps us accountable for how we are adjusting. I am thankful for their joy and servant attitudes.

Classes have helped me to adjust and evaluate. I am thankful for the godly professors who have provided insight from God´s Word about how to change and cope with the transition.

My "family" here has also been a blessing. I realized this when we were away from them for two whole days this last week. It felt good to go "home" and catch up with what was happening in their lives. Their desire to serve God has really been an encouragement to me. They help me learn Spanish by talking to me, listening to me, and correcting my many mistakes. They have been key in helping to learn the language and culture. The desire to be able to communicate freely with them pushes me daily in my Spanish studies.

Church, although different in many ways, has the same purpose-to worship God and disciple believers. I have enjoyed helping wherever I can in the various activities of the church and getting to know God´s family here. I am learning new choruses and the translations to many of the hymns I love.

I am thankful for the group God planned for this year. Although we have many different personalities, we are all here to serve God and are learning a lot together. We are told often that we are special in that we all came with some knowledge of Spanish. This has helped us to transition more smoothly. They have been encouraging to me as we all transition to life in Peru.

Yesterday, I realized how comfortable I am starting to be with the daily things of life. I am no longer afraid of swallowing water when I brush my teeth or sure that any raw vegetable is going to make me sick. I saludar my family and friends without having to think about it (and I know which cheek to kiss!). I know that yogurt is something you drink. I am no longer apprehensive when I get on the bus that it is not going to go where I want to go or that I will not know where to get off. I am comfortable enough to study and read and glance up occassionally and know where I am. The forty-five minute ride to and from school seems relatively short. I am starting to learn questions to strike up conversations with people on the bus and learning which ones are likely to respond. I know to pick my chicken out of a dish and eat it with my fingers (because "it is more delicious that way"). I am learning where the keys I want to type are on the keyboard even when the pictures are wrong.

Lastly, for today, I am thankful for creation. I am daily reminded of how great God is in the splendor of the mountains, how He cares for detail in the plants and flowers, and of His diversity and vastness in how different His creation is here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

An Interesting Week

On Monday we learned that the bus strike for Wednesday and Thursday was supposed to include a taxi strike as well. Bus strikes draw a lot of attention because they are the number one mode of transportation. Without the buses running, many people are stranded from work and school (sometimes this leads to rioting). In order to be sure that we would be able to return to school the next morning (and perhaps as a measure of safety as well), we spent the night at the school (in one of the apartments used for the teachers). Caleb stayed at the Carlton's. It did bring up some questions of whether God would ever use me here as a teacher and stay that apartment, but I'm trying not to plan too much of the future. One of the two mornings, we woke up early to see how far up the mountain we could climb before classes. The mountains are a constant marvel to me of God's creative power. We enjoyed our time and made it about halfway up a short mountain.

On Wednesday night, Rochelle and I went with the Poes to the house of a family in Miraflores. It was beautiful. We had luncheon (which is like a snack around the time of dinner). I enjoyed hearing about her conversions and the missionaries she knew in Trujillo. However, after about three hours of rapid Spanish conversation, I was mentally exhausted and ready to return to Fetzer and work on homework.

God has shown me more and more of what an opportunity it is to be here. I am truly blessed!

Friday, June 26, 2009

We have carnéts!

It is hard to believe that we passed the first month marker already. I thought I was started to be a little more brave about speaking Spanish; then we went to immigration yesterday. I was afraid of saying something wrong or ending up in the wrong place and not being able to meet up with our helper, but God was faithful and we were able to get our carnéts. The security guards were definitely laughing at us because I always look lost.

Life is beginning to fall into a routine. Classes, buses, directions...I wouldn't go as far as saying that I am confident, but they are proceeding well. The bus system has been a blessing. The five of us took our first trip to downtown Lima without Pastor Jim or any other guides this last week. We made it home before dark (which is at about 6pm), but it was close.

I don't know if people in the states are still scrambling over A1H1, but it is a big deal here. Just this morning, my hostess lectured me about making sure that I wash my hands a lot and am careful about the air I breathe on the bus. She takes good care of me. I think she is a little more concerned that she would normally be because Rochelle and I both have colds, but we are recovering quickly (possibly from all of the fruit we eat).

A special blessing of language learning has been learning to communicate how great my God is. This morning I asked Vicki if she would help me learn words to praise God and pray. We got out my Spanish Bible and starting looking up verses. I can't think of anything better about which to talk. I am enjoying learning to communicate spiritual things. My Christian friends here have really been a blessing.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Me Quemé

Well, it has happened. My first Peruvian injury. We were cooking late Sunday night, and Zerela tossed a "hamburger" (chicken patty) into the frying pan next to where I was frying eggs. The oil splattered on my left hand leaving some pretty purple "stains."

We just finished the Prison epistles. If Linguistics was to help us learn how to learn the language, this class was to help us learn to live more and more like Christ. Next week we only have Spanish class, so we can really dig into language learning! After that, we have Anthropology to help learn how to learn and understand a new culture. Thanks for all of your prayers.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Poco a poco

Time is flying here (as I am sure it is there as well). We have our midterm tomorrow (I am writing this Thursday night) and then we will be halfway through our second class! I am enjoying studying the prison epistles with Dr. Newman. One of our assignments is to journal everyday how what we have been learning applies to our lives. It has been really good for me to be transparent with myself and to help me to remember that I am studying for more than just a mental exercise. Spanish is still going full steam. I think it is kind of like trying to drink out of a fire hydrant (maybe not quite that bad, but you get the picture). When I was in high school, my Spanish teacher told our class, “When learning a language, you have to make a million mistakes before you are fluent.” I am trying to use all of my mistakes in the first two months, and I think I might make it. I really get in trouble when I try to translate sayings, but my new mantra is, “Poco a Poco” (little by little). I am reminded of that daily. It is not uncommon for a four year old to correct me, and kids can’t understand why I don’t understand what they are saying. I am learning about other types of communication and learning to be okay with not knowing/understanding what is going on around me because God knows what he is doing and I can trust him. Sometimes my brain feels like it has completely turned to mush and I cannot formulate sentences in English or in Spanish. That is when I know it is time to take a break.

Now I just wish my stomach could take a break. I think it is boycotting. I thoroughly enjoy the food (although I wish they drank more water with their meals…most drinks contain a lot of sugar). High carb diets are right up my alley. I have started to implement a more rigorous exercise schedule to try to keep up with it. My hostess takes me for “walks” at night. We usually go to the park and run around the concrete soccer field (of course we have to climb part of a mountain to get there).

Friday, June 5, 2009

As all of you are beginning to pull out your lighter clothes, we are starting bundle up. I have only seen the sun for two days since we arrived in Lima. The Peruvians are wearing winter coats, scarves, and gloves. I am wearing my sweaters, but really the temps are still in the upper fifties. It has misted a few times (maybe I should have brought that umbrella). Mostly, it is like living in a cloud that smells like exhaust fumes. I am living on a mountain (with a great view of the city from my window).

The first two weeks have gone really quickly, but looking back I can’t believe everything that has happened in two weeks. We are starting to take off in our Castellano (Spanish) and feel more comfortable striking up conversation on the bus. I am still struggling with verb conjugation, so I try to stick with present, past, and future conversations. I am frustrated by my lack of vocabulary options, but we are learning new words everyday.

Food: Our diet seems to be mostly carbs and fruits with a little bit of chicken and an even smaller amount of vegetables. I enjoy the rice and potatoes. I love all of the fresh bread and the variety of fresh fruit available in the “winter.” For breakfast we often have a drinkable oatmeal to start our day out right. Of course, to be truly Peruvian, it contains a lot of sugar. Peruvians are known to add sugar to everything even Pepsi! I haven’t tried any really weird food yet, but I am looking forward to some of the local treats!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Bus and Misc.

Commonly referred to as el carro, the bus is my new form of transportation. We are slowly learning the routes (through many mishaps) and starting to understand this new culture. Like buses in the States, we do not use seat belts. But just how many people can fit on a Peruvian bus? . . . one more. This week I rode on the steps with the door open (don't worry, the cobrador was behind me). I am constantly reminded of God´s continual protection. Personal space does not exist, and I am learning to push my way throught the crowd to get off of the bus. Often when you are standing up, you cannot see out the window. I have missed my stop a few times because of this. However, this has helped me to learn my way around my stops a little better.

This week in Linguistics, our prof has been starting the day with a short devotional. He challenged us from Psalms 84:5,¨Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways.¨ This passage has been an encouragement to me this week as I follow those well-established roads that God has already laid in my heart. The next verse talks about the hard times that this¨blessed man¨ will go through. In the end, he will look back and realize that the dry (Baca) valley has turned into a land of springs. God has a purpose for taking us to the dry places! That is where we are needed most!

Lima is definitely dry. We are starting winter here. It is like living in a cloud. It doesn´t rain, but we don´t see the sun either. It was a little weird to see people in winter coats on the bus when I was comfortable in my t-shirt, but I am adjusting to that, too.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Saturday was the first day we were on our own. We decided to go to la cabina (like an internet cafe). Unfortunately, we didn't know how to use our key, so we were locked out of the house until after jovenes (similar to youth group).

First impressions of churches: We will be going to two different churches. Our main church, Las Viñas Altas, is just starting so it does not have services on Sunday mornings.
Our Sunday morning church is in Manchay. The building is brick with dirt floors (this area of Lima does not have running water). Sunday morning service is like Sunday school. We will be attending the junior-senior high girl's class. One of the older ladies invited us over for lunch, but we had to go home so we could make it to evening services in Viñas Altas. In the future, we will ride the bus there, but this week our host missionary let us ride with his family.
On Saturdays (3:30-7), we go to Las Viñas Altas for jovenes. It is in an old restaurant but looks like a dance studio because there are mirrors surrounding it. On Sunday afternoons, we have a kid's club followed by a family service. The church is still quite small, but the people are great.

First bus rides: The first day our host missionary's wife came and rode the bus to school with us. It was very crowded. Last night, we rode the bus home by ourselves.

First Grocery shopping: We get to make our own lunches at school, so we had to buy food yesterday. It was hard figuring out what everything was and comparing soles to dollars, but we made it (and lunch was good today).

First day of classes: The arriba center is nice. I like being surrounded by books and bricks with a lot of windows. We keep the windows and doors open most of the time. (They don't even have screens here--it is so dry that there are not very many bugs) Our spanish tutors are great, and I think we are catching on pretty quickly.

Walls are everywhere! Houses are surrounded by locked walls (often the tops have broken glass to discourage climing).

Our house: We live on a mountain! We see a lot of lights when we look out our window at night. We live on the second and third floor of a building. The house is very nice and our host and hostess are very gracious. The food is pretty good, too.