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!