Saturday, December 27, 2008

15,803 feet above sea level!!!

It was incredibly difficult, and incredibly high, and incredibly hard to breathe... but the bottom line is that IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!!  We hiked to Huaytapallana - a glacier range just outside of Huancayo.  With every step, it was more and more breathtaking (no pun intended, but true).  I really couldn't believe that every time I looked up at the glacier range, it was more beautiful than 5 minutes ago.  And absolutely HUGE!  It took 12 hours, out the front door at 6 a.m. and back again at 6 p.m.  It was tough.  We are all sunburned, windburned, and chapped from the cold.  But I wouldn't trade it for anything... it was the hike of a lifetime!  

See the photos at this link...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Everyone together for Christmas

We have the whole family together for Christmas!  It's fantastic to have the house full of my own kids.  And it's like they haven't skipped a beat... they still argue about ridiculous things, the boys still gang up on the girls, and they all still stay up into the wee hours of the morning watching movies and curling up under blankets on the couch.  Sarah and I had the house pretty controlled and civilized, but then the testosterone level was raised when Ryan and Miles arrived and now everything is completely out of control... burping out loud and other body noises that are completely disgusting now mingle with the Christmas carols playing in the living room.  We are going through milk like crazy and they never seem to stop eating.  And I love it!  I'm so glad everyone is here for Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Impromptu Teaching/Preaching

In Mexico, we frequently encountered this issue... if you (the missionary) show up to a church service, you WILL be asked to preach the message for the day.  Talk about striking fear into your heart!  We were always able to plead out of this in Mexico because of our pitiful Spanish skills.  However, we cannot get out of it now.  We are fluent (whatever that means) and we are "the resident authority" on the Bible... that isn't our pride or ego saying that - the pastors admittedly tell us that they don't know enough and they need help and training and discipleship in The Word.  So far, we haven't been "surprised".  We have known ahead of time that we would be preaching and teaching, so we have been prepared and have studied the appropriate vocabulary for the lesson.  However, today was a new day...

We got up this morning and decided to go out to the Quechua church in Chilca for their Sunday School time.  We really enjoy this congregation and they have LOTS of kids.  It is a good place for Sarah to attend Sunday School and she has made lots of friends there from previous visits.  We planned to just "show up" and offer to help with the kids in whatever way we were needed.  Okay - so we were thinking that we would help serve snacks and observe the lesson and be "crowd control" with the kids.  But when we arrived, we were asked to teach the 10+ year olds.  Initial panic, then questions... "what is the theme for this week?" - "Whatever you want to do" was the answer.  "How long is the lesson time?" - "An hour and a half or two hours usually."  Again, panic... how do I pull a lesson out of the air and make it last for an hour and a half to two hours with no supplies???

So, off we went and we decided to do The Birth of Jesus.  (by the way, we are very familiar this particular age group - they can smell fear and they can eat you alive in about two seconds, so it was very important to look confident and assured)  We brainstormed a list of characters and they took turns trying to retell the story from memory.  Then we read the story from the Bible - Luke's version.  But wait - where are the 3 wise men?  Disturbing!  So we began to search for the wise men... oh, here they are in Matthew!  Then we had a discussion about the angel/angels in the story.  Exactly how many were there?  Some were ready to defend that there was only one, but others believed there were more.  So off we went again on a search through the Bible to find and count the angels... Wow - there were several!!!  Once we got all of the characters straight and we were able to prove our beliefs through The Word, we acted out the story.  Getting a Joseph volunteer was a challenge, since no one wanted to be married to Mary or be responsible for the naked plastic baby, but we finally got a volunteer and began our drama.  The actors used their Bibles and said the appropriate words at the appropriate times.  The three kings/wise men brought their gifts (two plastic toy trucks and a toy tiger).  It was awesome!

The most awesome part was that God provided all of the materials that we needed to teach this group of 25+ ten to fourteen year olds... the Bible.  And He made our Spanish sufficient to teach for two hours.  Incredible!  So, we survived this time.  Trust me, I will be prepared from now on!!!   I won't "just appear" at a church without having a backup plan, just in case we are asked to preach or teach.  You never know...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Our first Thanksgiving in Peru

We have successfully had our first Thanksgiving dinner in Peru.  It was a much better attempt than we had in Costa Rica!!!  We remembered our Costa Rican "Barbie-sized oven" and were thankful this year that we have a normal sized oven.  We remembered the Costa Rica turkey that cost nearly $70, and we were thankful that we now live where turkey costs less than $25.  We remembered the pitiful attempt at cornbread last year (without cornmeal) and we were so thankful for the supporters that sent packages of cornbread mix in the mail to Peru.  We remembered the lack of orange sweet potatoes in Costa Rica (theirs are white) and we were so thankful for the fantastic sweet potato casserole that Liz and Sarah prepared this year.  I was so thankful, once again, for the time that my mother spent handwriting all of the family recipes in a special cookbook for me.  And these were just the thanks that I thought of during dinner!  There is so much more to be thankful for!
See the photos for our turkey "surprise"... when Billy was getting the turkey ready for the oven, he reached in the carcass to pull out the usual package of giblets/innards/neck.  Instead, he let out a holler when he pulled THIS out!  It really made the whole turkey experience a little too personal.  I don't much like looking into the eyes of what I'm about to shove into a 350 degree oven.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The magic of a projector

This will probably be a bit incoherent, but I don't have a lot of time...

We have been blessed with the ministry finances to purchase a projector for our computer.  In our opinion, it has already "paid for itself" in the response that it has gotten!  

We began working with the Quechua church in Chilca this week.  The pastor asked us to begin helping with their children's ministry - they have several things going on with children and they are pretty overwhelmed with kids!  On Wednesday nights, they have a children's worship service. On Sunday mornings, they have Sunday School from 10-12 and they have so many children that they cannot hold adult services in the same building (adults meet in the evening). This same church also administers the Compassion International children's program in this area, dealing with 200+ children on MWF for bible study, school tutoring, and feeding them lunch.  We will be helping out with the Compassion kids, too.

We started helping out during this past week.  On Wednesday night, we took the new projector to the children's worship and showed the first half of The Prince of Egypt (story of Moses).  Over 250 children showed up to see the movie, and many more children and adults walked in off the street to see what was going on.  We will show the second half this Wednesday and the church is wondering just how many will come this week!!!  They say that the 250 last week was a low number of children, since it was storming outside and everyone has to walk to get to church.

It was such a hit that the pastor asked us to preach this week (Thursday night service) and show the movie "La Esperanza" (The Hope) - an overview of the entire bible and it's application to our lives.  Then the Compassion International administrator asked if we would show it again on Saturday night to the Compassion families, since the majority of them are not Christians and the church wants to reach out to them.  

This morning, we attended the Sunday School class - 200 children packed the little sanctuary and approximately 20 volunteer adults led them in singing, lessons, a drama about sexual abuse, more singing, and serving snacks.  It was an amazing morning!  Again, we are told that the number was low today because there was a regional church "anniversary" program that took many of the families away this weekend to attend the program.  

This week proves to be very busy for us - we have a leadership training workshop set to begin in 15 minutes (AAAHHH!!!), we show the movie on Wednesday, we preach in Chilca Thursday, Billy preaches in another Chilca church Sunday, Thanksgiving (we are going to try to celebrate as well as possible), ... all of this on top of our normal schedule of teaching and leading bible studies.  Pray for stamina this week!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


The title for this week's post is probably the word that I have used most often during the course of the week... AMAZING!  
  • In an uncertain economy, when everyone seems to be cutting back and pinching pennies, our supporters did exactly the opposite and sent in MORE support funds than usual!  Amazing!
  • And, of course, the USA elections were amazing.  I'm not about to debate politics here... Suffice to say that as a teacher who has spent the past 15 years in classrooms filled with underprivileged children and children of color & other races  who don't think that they will ever amount to anything because of their skin or their parent's place in life, I was so happy to see the USA turn this page in history.  Putting all of politics aside, this is a big step for the USA.  I hope that my former students are perking up and taking notice that they DO have opportunities and hope.  I sat and cried as I watched the final election counts roll in, mostly because I was thinking of a couple of my former students... Karina (probably the smartest child I ever had in my classes) told me one time that she really wanted to be a doctor, but "I'm hispanic and I'm a girl - it won't ever happen".  And Luis, who wanted to be a scientist, but "I'll probably just end up working on a farm, because that's all that us Mexicans can do."  
  • During our morning quiet time, Billy was talking about how he really wanted to work with a certain pastor here in Peru, and how he really still felt called to work with children - especially street children and underprivileged kids.  And he was praying for that to happen someday.  That same afternoon, that EXACT pastor stopped by the house and asked Billy if we could come minister on Wednesday nights to a group of children at their church.  AND, as though that weren't amazing enough, he also asked us to help with their Compassion International kids during the week.  AMAZING!!!
  • We took a hike with some of our bible study group and walked along the original Huanca trail (pre-Inca).  It made me think a lot about the paths that the people of the Bible walked - primitive, rocky paths on the sides of mountains.  The view was spectacular!  We were hiking along the ridge at the top of one mountain and looking out over the valleys on both sides.  And across the valley we could see Huatapallana and the snowcapped peaks of the Andes.  The sky was incredible, the fields were beautiful... it was amazing!  And I don't think I'll ever get tired of seeing real shepherds herding their sheep, or of donkeys carrying loads of harvest on their backs, or of Quechua women carrying giant bundles of fresh cut flowers on their backs.  AMAZING!
Hope you see some of God's amazing work this week... it's there!  Just look for it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No particular topic...

Okay - so I have no particular topic or theme this post, other than to say that our life in general is kind-of random and the only topic or theme that runs congruent to everything would be ministry and Jesus (obviously).  This week's randomness includes:
Sarah's birthday... Sarah turned 5 this week.  She had a party at her school, complete with a clown and a pinata, etc.  It was fun - very different from the USA - another cultural learning experience for all of us.  By the way, jello is a staple food for birthday parties, as are a knockoff of Cheetos... it just isn't a birthday party unless these two items are present (I was told this info NUMEROUS times).
Adult ESL... Laurie has added to her already full schedule by taking on a trio of 20-something girls who want to learn English.  They come every afternoon for an hour to practice and have conversations.  One of them has relatives in the USA and wants to speak well enough to go to New York (I wasn't aware that New Yorkers spoke English :) HA!)  
Open Garage Classroom... We have finally opened the garage as a classroom and we have activities and classes each afternoon from 3-5 for whoever appears and wants to read, talk, play games, etc.
Sarah's Dance classes... Sarah has started taking traditional dance 3 nights each week.  The National Champion for traditional dance lives across the street and her older sister is the dance teacher.  She comes to our home MWF for an hour each night to teach dance to Sarah.  Sarah is having a great time!  She wanted to take ballet, but ballet is unheard of here in the mountains. So this is the next best thing, and she is happy with whatever kind of dance she can take!
Jack Sparrow's owners... If you have been following the blog, you know that we "inherited" a parrot a few weeks ago.  Well, the owners finally appeared.  Actually, they are our neighbors, but the mother works in the jungle and isn't there often.  The son is the actual owner, but he is in college in Lima and the parrot can't travel over the mountains to Lima.  The grandparents live next door and they can't really take care of the parrot well and give it a lot of attention. So, long story short, they gave the parrot to Sarah to keep.  They decided that it was in better hands with us, since we hold it every day and talk to it, etc.  PS - Jack is a female and her name was Reina (Queen).  Now what should we call her???  She answers to Jack now, and Queen Jack doesn't quite sound right.  
Miles' Wisdom Teeth... Miles had his wisdom teeth taken out in College Station yesterday.  He seems to be doing well.  It was SO hard on Billy to not be able to be there with him.  We really miss our boys!  Can't wait to see them in December!!!
Ballots... We just received our official ballots for the presidential election - oh yippie!  I know it is our duty and our right, etc... but speaking for myself - I'm just not sure what the best option is this time and voting seems like more of a burden than a privilege to me right now.  The news and info we see out-of-country makes both sides seem like loons!  I have no idea what is truth and what is propaganda.  For me, it would have been easier if the mail had been delayed (like usual) and we didn't receive the ballots in time.  Leave it to the USPostal service and the Peruvian service to get it together just in time to get my ballot to me!!!  Oh happy day...

I don't know what else to say... see, I told you this would be a random post!!!  Oreo the Cat, Charlotte the dog, and Jack the Parrot are all watching me post this and probably wondering, "What on earth does she have to say that is so important?"  To which I reply, "Absolutely nothing!!!"  Watching paint dry is probably more interesting than reading some of my blogs, but I feel compelled and obligated to post because there are people out there who actually log how many days it has been since my last post and start to wonder about my safety and health if they don't hear from me.  

Monday, October 20, 2008

Back into the Classroom

It feels so awesome to be back in the classroom!!!  I really miss that part of my life and I am so happy to be back in that role again, even if it is pretty crazy and hectic!  Because of they way our visas are written, we cannot earn a salary/money while we are living in Peru, so all of our work has to be volunteer.  It is a ministry to the schools, as they don't have to pay a salary and they get a well-qualified teacher.  So happy to be teaching:
  • On Mondays and Wednesdays, I am A SCIENCE TEACHER AGAIN!!!  Hallelujah!!!  I have 18 students in a multi-age classroom (2nd-5th graders all in the same room).  It is fantastic to again teach about vertebrates and invertebrates, animal classifications, life cycles, etc., even if it is in a different language.  I have to do as much studying as the kids do to prepare for my lessons because the vocabulary is all new to me!
  • On Wednesday mornings, I teach English at Sarah's school.  I have 22 students, ages 3-6 years old.  Preschool/kindergarten teaching all over again!
  • On Thursday afternoons, Billy and I have 2 kids who come to the house to learn English.  One is 13 years old and one is 8.  They asked if they could bring siblings or friends, so we'll see how many we have this week....
  • Also on Thursday afternoons, we have Maria.  Maria is a widow/mother of 7 children who is "illiterate" (she cannot read or write, even her own name).  She has decided to try to learn, although she is convinced that she cannot.  So far, she can write her name!!!  She is very excited with this accomplishment and we see her spirit growing with empowerment! She is ready to learn to read and write her children's names now.
It is great to be teaching again!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

You never know what might fall out of the sky...

You never know what just might fall out of the sky and land in your backyard!  Meet the newest member of our family.  This is "Jack Sparrow" (named for the pirate in Pirates of the Caribbean).  He appeared in our backyard Saturday.  We have no idea how he came to us... his wings are clipped, so he can't fly.  Our backyard is surrounded by 14 foot concrete walls, with 5 more feet of netting above that.  So unless Jack is a former NBA player and has a heck of a jump, we aren't sure how he arrived here.  Nevertheless, here he is.  He isn't in the greatest of shape - he is underweight, he has an injured wing and a cut on his foot, and he is molting (so he looks pretty pitiful).  We feel like he was possibly an abused pet - he seems to have issues with men - whenever Billy approaches him, he lets out a terrible yell or he makes a sound that can best be described as a growl.  He loves Sarah!!!  He almost purrs and coos when she is around (if a bird can purr).  He isn't very fond of his cage that we bought him.  He would rather be out of it, standing on top of it or sitting in the kitchen window.  When he is out of his cage, he "talks" to whoever is in the room.  We need to find out what else he might eat besides bananas... so far, he isn't interested in anything but bananas.  Maybe that's why he is so skinny - no one could gain weight eating nothing but bananas!!!  If anyone knows anything about Blue Meeley Amazon Parrots, give us a clue!!!  

Friday, October 3, 2008

Home from the Jungle

 Billy is home from his week in the jungle.  He went to Puerto Bermudez to teach a group of 12 how to lead bible study and discipleship groups.  This group wants to start study groups in the jungle.  The theory of multiplication is working wonders here in Peru!!!  Our team disciples people, then they go out and start their own groups, who go out and start their own groups, etc.  As far as we can tell, our groups are now in their third or fourth "generation" of multiplication.  It's hard to know, because once we disciple them and they are standing on their own two feet, we have no idea what their impact is in the world - their isn't a way to track their growth.  It's an amazing work!

The jungle held many new and exciting and "interesting" experiences for Billy.  It took 2 days of driving to get into the place where these disciples were training.  The first day was mostly on paved road, but the second day was completely dirt/rock/holes/boulders.  

In the jungle, it is not uncommon to have a scarlet macaw spend the morning yelling at you while you are trying to lead a meeting.  Nor is it uncommon for bats to fly in and circle your head while you are having a prayer service - and we're not talking little tiny Mexican freetail bats... these are giant jungle bats!  There is a village "pet" named Lucha... she is a tapir who walks the streets and enters any open store that catches her fancy for a treat - she likes bananas.  It is interesting to buy a soft drink while standing next to a tapir at the counter!

Food was "different".  Lots of yucca and rice!  One day they ate sopa de platanos (green banana soup) with fish parts.  Another day was a fish broth soup, in which Billy received the fish head.  The type of fish they were serving that day was what we know as a sucker fish - you know the sucker mouth fish that clean the sides of aquariums?  Well they come from the jungle and they are huge and they suck/filter the mud at the bottom of the river.  So Billy received the head, which was a complement to him because it is "the good part" they told him.  He picked off what little meat there was on the head and called it a day, but was informed that he left all of the good stuff - the sucker lips and the eyes are the most important part.  Not wanting to offend anyone, he did the gracious missionary thing and ate "the good parts", much to the delight of the others at the table.  "How to win friends and Influence people, by Billy Drum!"  In doing this feat, he made fast friends of several people, who then convinced the cook to make him a special type of tamale for lunch (yes, the fish head soup was breakfast).  The tamale was in the shape of a giant hershey's kiss, wrapped in a banana leaf.  It was filled with chicken, rice, corn, and a hard boiled egg.  He said it was delicious!!!  All in all, he says that the food wasn't terrible and he didn't die or bring home any internal parasites, so all is well.  Plus, he made great friends over the dinner table.  

This bug landed on the table one night and Billy grabbed it to check it out, much to the horror of all of the other people at the table.  "It will kill you!  It's venomous!"  But Billy knew better... it is really a relative of our Texas cicada.  It mimics several other things - from the side, it mimics a lizard or baby crocodile; when it flies, it looks like a butterfly; and when it lands and opens it's wings really big, it looks like an owl's face.  In reality, it doesn't even have a true mouth - it has a proboscis that sucks the juice out of plants, like a butterfly's tongue.  He and I have both had a great time teaching others the truth about this "deadly insect".

Billy can't wait to return, and he can't wait to take us with him.  He now has new friends.  One friend wants the whole family to come and he will meet us with his boat and take us to his house (3 hours upriver deeper into the jungle) to spend several days with his family.  I'm sure we will do it - maybe next year after the rainy season passes.  

Monday, September 22, 2008

Lots to talk about...

  • Did you know that 70+% of the WORLD either cannot read or prefers to obtain information through oral transmission???  Some people are very literate, but don't choose to read to obtain information.  This is even true in the USA.  Seventy percent of people are oral learners and don't/can't process information well through written expression.  What does this mean for us on the mission field in Peru?  Billy and I have really been struggling with the fact that so many people here aren't being exposed to The Word because they can't read the Bible, can't participate in a bible study, aren't literate, or their heart language isn't Spanish - it's one of the MANY forms of Quechua.  We are now embarking on a quest to develop a disciple program that is completely oral transmission and discussion.  What this also means for us is that WE HAVE TO BECOME SUPER PROFICIENT AT THE LANGUAGE AND TELLING BIBLE STORIES AND TRUTHS IN SPANISH WITHOUT THE HELP OF THE WRITTEN WORD!!!  Wow!  So this is one of our current projects.
  • We visited Pastor Gonzalo's church in Chilca this weekend to watch/visit their youth group.  It is a mostly Quechua church in a poorer area of Huancayo.  Neither one of us really wanted to go, mostly because we have been to A LOT of sad, poorly done youth groups in the past... you know the ones - bored teens, dead music, silence during discussion time, teen boys who act up and teen girls who spend more time giggling and making fun of people than paying attention.  Well, happily, this wasn't one of those!!!  There were 30 teens there, all engaged in the activity, all using the bible with incredible proficiency, all begging to interact and be a part of the discussion... how refreshing!!!  We knew when we went that they wanted us to maybe be adult sponsors and helpers (they have student leaders), thus we were not really excited.  Now we are super excited!!!  They invited us to return every Saturday night, and they even invited us to their Youth Dinner next month.  Really nice kids!  We had a great time.
  • We have an empty garage (one car-size) in our house here and we don't intend to buy a car anytime soon, or ever.  So God started fussing at me the other day about using the garage space to teach neighborhood kids after school.  Still trying to mull it over in our minds, but it looks like we will throw open the garage doors in the afternoons for a couple of hours each day and teach english, tutor, do homework with kids, play games, and read to kids, tell bible stories, do crafts - whoever wants to drop by and hang out and learn.  It would just be a matter of getting a few more books, a few games, a couple of tables and some chairs, etc.  Nothing extravagant.  We're not starting a school or anything, just opening our home (garage) and using the space for His Glory!
  • Billy heads to the jungle tomorrow to teach/train people who want to lead bible studies and disciple groups in the Amazon jungle.  He will be there for the whole week, returning to Huancayo next Tuesday.
  • Our language helper, Milka, is working with us on our language issues.  She helps with oral work (telling bible stories, testimony, etc.), with translations of my bible study materials, vocabulary, etc.  She is a teacher by trade, so we are happy to have her.  She is also going to help us start a bible study/Kid's Club program in the local special needs school.
  • We had some donations specifically for the purchase of books, so we were able to buy a case of bibles last week and 200 bible story books.  The bible story books are for giving away to children who don't have any or who want to know more.  
So, all in all, everything is great here and we are too busy to even sit down, really.  Thanks be to God!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tooth Fairy / Tooth Mouse?

Sarah lost her first tooth today.  It has been in the works for a long time... a LONG time!  The permanent tooth is actually almost fully grown in directly behind it, but she was so afraid to actually pull the baby tooth out that it has taken weeks and weeks for this day to come.  The tooth was literally hanging out of her mouth by the time it came out today.

So this brings up the whole Tooth Fairy issue... we asked Liz what the custom here is for loosing teeth.  She said, "Oh - The Tooth Mouse (Ratoncito de los dientes or Ratoncito Perez) comes in the middle of the night to get the tooth and leaves a coin under your pillow."  Wow - that sounds just like our North American custom except for the fact that it is a mouse and not a fairy.  She thought our fairy idea was a little strange / we think that having a mouse run into your child's bed to take a tooth is a little strange.  Either way, this being Sarah's first lost tooth and all of her friends are losing teeth, we figure that she might as well learn the Peruvian custom.  She already knew about the Tooth Fairy, so we just explained that maybe fairies can't fly here (you know, we do have a severe lack of oxygen and atmosphere in the Andes) and that mice are better for the job in Peru.

After doing a little research, here is what we found out with regard to tooth fairy/tooth mouse customs around the world:

The tooth fairy is a fun tradition in most American households, but in many parts of the world it's the tooth mouse that leaves treats behind for kids who've lost their baby teeth. Brill (author) tells of the origin of the tooth fairy, the tooth mouse, tooth witches, and more. She traces the history of lost teeth back to the ancient Egyptians, who tossed their teeth to the sun because they believed the sun provided strong teeth. In those days -- when people didn't live so long, and before sugar and other tooth-attacking additives were around -- adult teeth often lasted a lifetime. Indeed, Brill tells readers, the connection between teeth and strength was rooted -- no pun intended -- in the fact that teeth stayed hard as stone even after a person died!

Among the beliefs Brill explores in this compact and beautifully illustrated tale of teeth beliefs:

·               Australian mothers were said to crush their children's baby teeth and eat the powder.

·               In parts of England, mothers at one time burned their children's baby teeth so that evil witches couldn't get their hands on them and gain control of the children.

·               In some parts of the world, a child's baby tooth would be placed in nests where rats or snakes were known to live because people believed evil witches disliked those animals and wouldn't go near them.

·               In many parts of the world, parents placed their children's teeth in mouse nests. They thought that would result in a new tooth growing in the lost tooth's place, just as a mouse's lost teeth somehow re-grew!

·               In other parts of the world, mothers hid their children's teeth from animals because, they believed, if an animal found the tooth, a tooth like that animal's would grow in the mouth of the child.

At one time in Europe, there was a tradition to bury baby teeth that fell out.[2] Some academics hold that the Tooth Fairy evolved from the tooth mouse depicted in an 18th century French language fairy tale. In "La Bonne Petite Souris," a mouse changes into a fairy to help a good queen defeat an evil king by hiding under his pillow to torture him and knocking out all his teeth.

This combination of ancient international traditions has evolved into one that is distinct Anglosaxon and Latin American cultures among others.

Tooth tradition is present in several western cultures under different names. For example in Spanish-speaking countries, this character is called Ratoncito Pérez, a little mouse with a common surname, or just "ratón de los dientes" (Tooth Mouse). The "Ratoncito Pérez" character was created around 1894 by the priest Luis Coloma (1851–1915), a member of the Real Academia Española since 1908. The Crown asked Coloma to write a tale for the eight-year old Alfonso XIII, as one of his teeth had fallen out. A Ratón Pérez appeared in the tale of the Vain Little Mouse. The Ratoncito Pérez was used by Colgate marketing in Venezuela[3] and Spain.

In Italy also the Tooth Fairy (Fatina) is often substituted by a small mouse (topino). In France, this character is called La Petite Souris (« The Little Mouse »). From parts of LowlandScotland, comes a tradition similar to the fairy mouse: a white fairy rat which purchases the teeth with coins.

In some Asian countries, such as Korea, Vietnam and India, when a child loses a tooth the usual custom is that he or she should throw it onto the roof if it came from the lower jaw, or into the space beneath the floor if it came from the upper jaw.  While doing this, the child shouts a request for the tooth to be replaced with the tooth of a mouse. This tradition is based on the fact that the teeth of mice go on growing for their whole life, a characteristic of all rodents.

In parts of India, young children offer their discarded milk tooth to the sun, sometimes wrapped in a tiny rag of cotton turf.

Interesting reading!!!!  The original thought processes behind some of these customs is pretty wild.  We're just happy to be in Peru - where the going rate for a lost tooth is 1 sole (30 cents).  I hear that the going rate in the USA would break the bank pretty quickly!!!  


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hurricane Ike

Oh, the trials of being so far from "home" and loved ones!  Just yesterday, we were worried about our son, Ryan, and what he was going to need to do to flee from Hurricane Ike.  He attends Texas A&M University in Kingsville, Texas and they closed the university on Wednesday to use it as a National Guard post and begin procedures for evacuating the Texas Gulf coast as the hurricane approaches.  As of this morning, Ryan has dodged the bullet and Hurricane Ike has  begun to turn northeast.  Now, it will miss Ryan and he will be on the "good side" of the storm (as though there is a good side in a hurricane).  HOWEVER... now Hurricane Ike is headed directly toward the Houston-Galveston area and straight up toward my mom and Miles and all of our friends in south Texas!  Our home church is again open as an official shelter for evacuees, the highways are again bumper to bumper, schools and businesses are again closed and life is again crazy... memories of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  It is tough to be away from loved ones when these things occur.  Please join us in prayer, wherever you are, as we in Peru watch and pray for our families and friends.  If you are reading this from Texas, please know that the Mission Society Peru team and all of our ministry friends and neighbors are lifting you up as you prepare to ride this out.  You are being watched and prayed for and loved from South America!!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Trip to Lima

We have just returned from yet another "quick trip" to Lima.  We had to meet with immigration one more time - this time, to make Sarah an official resident of Peru.  So now we are all official card-carrying members/residents of the great country of Peru.  I say "quick trip" in a completely tongue-in-cheek sort of way because nothing is quick here.  We took a bus on Thursday from Huancayo to Lima (7 hours).  We spent half of Friday in the immigration office waiting for Sarah's paperwork to be processed.  Then we spent the rest of the weekend taking care of purchasing things that we cannot get in the mountains.  Then we took the ever so fun 7 hour bus ride home.  Don't get me wrong... all was not terrible.  We took advantage of being in a modern city and we went out to eat a couple of times.  Sarah was very happy to get to visit McDonalds for the first time in months.  I was WAY HAPPY to get to visit Starbucks!!!!  And we found a sushi restaurant around the corner on the last night, so we were excited about that.

So let me tell you about how you get items into the mountains from Lima...  We wanted a couple of lamps for the house, and they don't sell lamps here in Huancayo (bare bulbs from the ceiling is the norm).  After asking several people, "Where can we buy lamps?", and getting no real answers, we finally stumbled upon a floor lamp in a hardware store and we found two table lamps (hand carved) in a tiny hole-in-the-wall store.  Now, how to get them home on the bus???  We knew that we could pay for extra freight on the bus, but we would need to pack the lamps in a box (of course, they didn't come in a box).  Back in Texas, we would have just run down to Brookshire Bros. grocery and gotten boxes, or over to Cooters Liquor store for really good heavy duty boxes... but this isn't Texas.  We were told to go over to the neighborhood across the highway and find the man with the boxes near the Mercado, so off we went.  We couldn't find any boxes anywhere - we were forced to start asking around.  Finally we found "the man with the boxes"... he has a station wagon FILLED with flattened, used boxes.  He sells them out of the back of the car.  This was really feeling like a bad drug deal... we were making a clandestine box deal in the dark of night on the side of the road from a man who sells out of his broken down station wagon.  We paid 10 soles ($3) for two old HP computer boxes and started our walk back across the highway to our hotel to box up our lamps and lampshades for the bus trip to Huancayo.  At one point, all we could see of Sarah was two tiny legs walking under a giant box as she tried to help carry it across the way.   You'll be happy to know that the lamps made it home to Huancayo and are proudly plugged in and serving us well!

Just a side-note... on the bus ride home, we left Lima in the usual smoggy haze, drove through a snowstorm at the top of the pass in the Andes (halfway home), and passed through a thunderstorm closer to home, only to arrive in Huancayo to sunny skies and spring-like temperatures.  We were the only passengers on the bus that WERE NOT with the old-folks tour group from Lima who was traveling to Huancayo on a tour.  Everyone on the trip was easily double our ages and having the time of their lives traveling together - singing, dancing, laughing, handing out candy to each other, and giving the "stewardess" on the bus a run for her money.  

All is well here.  I am in my third week of teaching a bible study to college girls on Monday nights and high school girls on Wednesday nights.  We will begin hosting a disciple class in our home on Thursday nights this week.  We hired a Peruvian tutor today to begin helping us with some intricacies of Peruvian spanish (it is different than Costa Rican spanish in many ways) and to help me translate the bible study materials.  Sarah is doing awesome!  We are often asked if she was born in Peru because her spanish is flawless.  People can't believe that she has only been here for 3 months... they want to default to the idea that she must have been here forever and that Billy and I are the foreigners.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The beginning of a new bible study group

Last night was the first night of my new bible study group!!!  I still can't believe that I'm leading a bible study in Spanish in Peru - it is almost too far-fetched for me to comprehend! 

Backing up a bit to inform those who haven't been following this saga... A month or so ago, a Peruvian college student (Susan) told me that she had a group of girls who wanted to do a bible study together.  They had done a study together before and wanted to do more, but didn't have materials or a leader or a place, etc.  Susan asked me to help her find a study and to lead it, and I offered to supply the materials and host it in my home.  So my job for the past month (among other things) has been to find a study and prepare for last night.  This proved to be a much more difficult task than I ever imagined, for several reasons:
  1. There is a GIANT lack of GOOD bible study resources available in Spanish.
  2. What IS available in Spanish is usually written for the spanish-speaking American audience, therefore it is NOT culturally relevant or appropriate for the Peruvian audience.
  3. There is a vast desert when it comes to available resources and materials within Peru, and especially within Huancayo.
  4. I am dealing with a group of girls who are teens and college-aged.  The materials that are available for this age/audience are either not culturally appropriate or non-existent. 
I polled many of my friends/missionary peers/ pastor-types, etc. for their ideas and thoughts, and received several great ideas, but for one reason or another, none would work for this group.  Finally, I locked on to a bible study that incorporated study and making a scrapbook.  This appealed to Susan in that the girls would study and have fun making something and having fellowship time in the process, plus the fact that scrapbooking is non-existent in Huancayo and this was a totally new concept.  So I ordered the book/study over the internet, Billy brought it back from the States, and all I would have to do is translate it for the study.  HA!  If life were only that easy...

The book that we THOUGHT was about Spiritual Gifts (see Paul's writings in Romans and 1 Corinthians) was not.  It was about gifts from God, but not spiritual gifts.  Susan had already told the girls about the study and the scrapbook aspect and we were a week from starting the study.  So that left me with only one option... write a bible study in Spanish over Spiritual Gifts.  It wasn't easy, and I had to learn a lot of new spanish vocabulary QUICKLY and have lots of conversations in the kitchen with Liz as to how to explain something or say another thing correctly, etc.  She even read my "lesson plans" and corrected them and helped me revise my homeworks.

Last night, we had 10 girls - 5 teens and 5 college-girls.  There are 4 more who want to join the group, but couldn't come last night (2 more teens and 2 more college-girls).  The girls decided that starting next week, they would split into two groups by age, which is better for discussion and for scrapbook workspace.  We had a great first night.  They had WAY TOO MUCH FUN starting their scrapbooks (to the tune of staying at my house until 10:30 p.m.).  They were kind-of funny because they haven't ever used pretty patterned papers or a paper cutter, etc.   They wanted to try everything out and their first scrapbook pages used A LOT of different elements, just for the sake of using them and trying them. 

I had snacks and drinks out in the kitchen, which was not the cultural presentation, evidently.  The college girls arrived first and I directed them to the kitchen to get a plate and a drink... they went to the kitchen a stood in front of the food and just stared until one of them (the one who is studying to be a chef) announced that this is what is called a "buffet" and you have to serve yourself -- then everyone said "Ooohhh!" and started to fill their plates.  Then there was a discussion as to how to get the coffee pot off of the coffee maker -- they use a tea kettle on the stove.  It was very interesting and left me feeling very privileged... even with all of the sacrifices that we have made and all of the things that we are doing without and the dramatic difference in our lives now compared to before, we still have a standard of living that is higher than normal.  In a way, it makes me feel sad and embarrassed and culturally-inappropriate.  Who would have thought that a fruit plate and a plate of cookies and a coffee maker would have been a cultural difference?

It was fun.  I was excited.  I still can't believe that I led a bible study in Spanish.  I didn't go to sleep until after midnight... too much adrenaline.  I'll keep you posted on the two group's progress and I'll take photos of the final scrapbook products.  Ciao!  

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Just a normal Sunday...

Let me tell you about our "normal" Sunday...
It began last night (Saturday night), really.  Many things in our home run on propane gas.  We buy/refill tanks just like we had in the States for the gas grill.  Mainly, our oven and our hot water heater are the big things.  So while Billy was in the States, one of our tanks ran out and Liz and I changed it.  Now, normal people would go fill that tank so it wouldn't be empty - but NO, the gas company will only pick up and refill two tanks at a time (not single tanks).  So yesterday, Billy was cooking dinner and the oven tank ran out, so he took it off and hooked up the reserve tank (we have 4 tanks in total).  Keep track here... we now have two empty tanks, a working tank on the stove, and a working tank on the hot water heater.  But, you guessed it, the hot water heater gas tank went out just as I got in to take a bath.  No hot water until the gas man can come and exchange the tanks (he rides a bike with propane tanks strapped to the back).  The one saving grace was that we have a second hot water heater that only serves the office bathroom and it is electric... so I think to myself, "Self, don't fret.  You can take a shower tomorrow in the office."

So, tomorrow comes - Sunday.  We woke up to no electricity.  Great.  No hot water in the shower.  Okay.  I'll just take a bucket bath to get ready for church.  By the way... Liz's house didn't have electricity for two days this week and they lost all of their food in their fridge, etc, so I'm having a mild anxiety attack thinking about the possibility of no electricity for days.  So - back to the story... when the electricity is out, the pump doesn't work, so the only water we get is a trickle that is working off of gravity flow from the roof - Joy!  Eventually, we all get "clean" and we manage to eat breakfast and get ready for church.  Side note... you should NOT wash your hair in a bucket and expect to have it dry correctly and look presentable for church when your hairdryer is ELECTRIC!  Duh!

Okay - the family is good to go, we all have our Bibles, and we are out the door.  That's when Billy says, "I just shut the door and I don't have my keys."  Are you kidding me!!!???  You see, doors in latin america don't have doorknobs.  You literally open the door with your key - you insert the key in the lock and turn it and the door opens, no handle involved.  The downside of this is that every time the door closes, it is locked and you need your key.  Just last week, Sarah and I were out in the backyard and the wind slammed the kitchen door closed and we were locked out of the house in our own backyard!  Thankfully, a window wasn't shut well and I was able to pull the bars apart just enough to squeeze Sarah through.  But THIS TIME - no such luck.  We were in the front yard and the house was locked up tighter than Fort Knox.  Oh, did I mention that there is a separate lock on the front gate and the key is ALSO in the house?  Yeah, so we are locked in our own front yard.  We did manage to get out of the front yard and go to church, leaving the locked house behind until we returned.

When we came home, Billy did his very best Spiderman imitation and climbed up on the front fence, jumped over to the brick sidewall, climbed/swung over to the balcony, and managed to get to the balcony door without breaking any limbs... you know, at our age, breaking a hip could be a bad plan! :)  He then broke a window (we'll have to have that replaced tomorrow) and managed to get his hands on another key and open the balcony door.  Our hero!

Tonight, we have cardboard on our window, the electricity came back on, the gas man came and replaced all of the tanks, I have had a nice shower, and my hair is dry.  All in a day's work...
I think tomorrow we'll get another key or two and strategically place them - what do you think?  I wonder if I can find a battery-powered hairdryer...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

School Days (or "daze")

Yesterday was Sarah's first day of school here in Peru.  Actually, it is the mid-year point here.  The school year runs from March through December.  The schools here just had their two week mid-year break and they started back up yesterday.  Sarah was so excited to get to start school and finally meet some friends that she will see every day (not just at Kid's Club).  She just trotted right in and started class like it was an everyday occurrence.  The only thing that stumped her was that she didn't know the words to the national anthem and the pledge to the flag (of Peru).

I took Liz with me as a language helper, because I predicted that there might be vocabulary that would be new to me during the registration process, or legal-type things that I might not understand.  I received a HUGE complement when we sat down with the director of the school and she began to try to speak English to me and said, "I will speak English because you don't speak Spanish", to which Liz jumped in and replied, "Yes she does.  She speaks very good Spanish.  You can speak Spanish to her."  I didn't get a chance to stick up for myself because Liz did it for me, but it was so nice to hear!!!  

So, once again, I have an incredible burden in my heart for the ESL students back home in Texas because I TOTALLY know how their parents feel when they come to register their kids for school.  Folks, chances are that these people are NOT complete idiots... they just don't understand how you do things or WHY you do them that way.  For example, it never dawned on me that I would have to purchase everything imaginable for Sarah.  I expected to buy crayons and paper and scissors, etc. (normal school supplies in the USA).  I did NOT expect to have to buy modeling clay, paint, books, several different types of glue, etc.  And since it is mid-year and there aren't any books left to purchase, I have been given the master set of books to take and have copied... which means I have to now find a copy place and figure out how to explain what I need and that I need it TODAY because they need their master set back.  And her school has dance and karate and cooking classes as part of their curriculum, which I have to go and rent the clothes for (you don't buy the outfits, you rent them).  And, by the way, children in Latin America don't use crayons past 2 or 3 years old -- they use colored pencils.  Crayons are for training babies.  I ran into that in Costa Rica a little bit, but even more so here.

And all of those times when I just couldn't understand why Luis and Daniel and Jorge just wouldn't say "Mrs. Drum"... they called me "Miss" all of the time.  I remember how much this used to drive other teachers crazy.  Well, guess what... in Latin America, that is all you are allowed to call a teacher!  "Miss" is the proper way to address a teacher, even for a parent.  I asked for Sarah's teacher's name yesterday and was met with a strange look, but was told that her name was Rocia.  However, everyone must call her "Miss".  Liz assured me that this is completely normal.  It isn't normal to even know your teacher's real name.

And Sarah, at 4 years old, brought home two pages of homework last night.  Granted, it was easy and we had fun doing it, but I was surprised.  According to Liz, she will have homework every night.  By the way, we did the homework WRONG because I didn't understand the vocabulary in the instructions (Liz just told me).  How can I be so stupid???  My mom skills and my teacher skills are taking a beating here...

So, once again, I'm a teacher of 15 years, the Science Department Head, a curriculum writer, a team leader, etc... and I'm a complete idiot in the schools of another country/culture!  I have been brought to my knees by a school supply list.  I was completely blindsided by the registration process and the fees that are paid to schools.  It is so frustrating to be at the top of your game in your culture, and be a "special needs case" in another.

We're hanging in there... we're learning.  I just wish I could have been a better advocate for my ESL kids' parents back in Texas... I understand their feelings now.  God bless them - it's rough!