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.