Monday, October 5, 2009

Going to church

We went to church with a friend yesterday and it was really great! To back up a little and give you some history on our experiences with going to church here in Huancayo...
  • it is REALLY boring
  • it is at least 2 painful hours long
  • the train-of-thought in the sermon usually cannot be followed, by us or the Peruvians
  • if you can follow the sermon, the doctrine / theology is "off" and sometimes not even Biblical
  • the music is less-than-pleasant and it seems that no one knows the words (there are no hymnals or bulletins in most churches)
  • we are almost always asked to stand up and speak about ourselves since we are gringos
  • we are almost always recruited to be the new pastors / teachers /volunteers etc. or are asked to support something financially because "gringos have money"
So, to make a long story short, we don't get really excited about attending the Peruvian churches. We LOVE to attend the church in Chilca (Casa de Oracion - Quechua) and help with their children's worship service at least once each month. And we have met some very nice "church people" here. And we have seen the absolute best VBS program we have ever seen in the USA or Peru in a church here in Huancayo. And we help in churches as far as teaching occasionally (Laurie is going to teach at a church women's group next week on nutrition and a Bible Study over what the Bible says about food / taking care of our bodies). But, alas, the general Sunday worship experience is less-than pleasant and there just isn't much going on... the worship seems less than worshipful... just obligatory. The people come because they have to, they don't enjoy it or participate in it, and there isn't really much for them to learn. And on top of all of that, you have the in-fighting and the legalism that really sends people for a loop.

So when Ivan asked us to go to church with him, we said yes, but we were skeptical. Boy, were we wrong!!! Hallelujah - I think we finally found a church!

First of all, they started 5 minutes EARLY!!! Unheard of in Peruvian culture!!! We sang 3 very upbeat praise songs, then broke up for Sunday School (children, youth, and adults). The Sunday School teacher was well prepared and everyone in the class participated. After Sunday School (which ended exactly on time), we all came back together for worship service. Service began with each class going to the front of the church and telling about what they studied in Sunday School. Sarah's class was taught by the pastor and they told the Bible verse for the day and acted it out with hand motions - very cute. The youth (about 15 of them) told their study verse and theme for the day, and the adults (us included) said our memory verse and theme for the day. Then the service turned to a prayer and several praise songs. By the way, we knew all of the praise band members... they are the "kids" from our Friday night praise band ministry and from our disciple groups. The music was AWESOME and all of the congregation (even the 80+ year olds) danced and clapped and sang LOUDLY. The pastor's sermon was excellent - well thought-out with a main question and an outline with supporting details... amazing for this culture! Then more singing, an offering, and communion. This is the first time we have taken communion in over a year!!! When it was all said and done, everyone hugged and kissed and said goodbye to each other, see you tomorrow. And they will, because there is something going on in this church every day of the week!

My favorite part was when the praise band made a boo-boo and the music got off and the singing was "messed up"... they started to laugh, and the congregation all laughed with them... not laughing AT them, but really laughing with them. It was very light and understanding and sweet. Ivan says it is normal... that this day was more formal and stiff than most, maybe because we showed up and everyone was nervous to have the gringo visitors - he says there is usually more laughing and more family atmosphere. I can't imagine - I thought it was perfect!

And when it was all over, no one asked us to preach or teach or lead anything (not that we aren't open to that, but we also need to just worship sometimes - not always lead). We look forward to returning and worshiping with this congregation again... and laughing with them much more in our future together. Because I'm positive that God is smiling and laughing, too.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Looking up...

Things are looking up a bit in the village of Iscos. You may remember that our last post was an urgent plea for prayer after our Kid's Club was attacked and our presence in the town was under persecution. A couple of weeks later, the mayor and the city council members (I use these terms very loosely... it IS NOT the same as in the USA) had a meeting regarding the oppression that we were feeling and the harassment from the local school personnel. The city officials decided to call a meeting of all involved parties - the mayor, city council members, local school director, local school teachers, directors of surrounding schools, our staff, and our lawyer.

During the meeting, our lawyer had a formal reading of the agreement/contract that we have with the city. Each point in the agreement was discussed with the committee - this was not news to them, as they all had to read it and sign off on it before we began work in the village. He also explained our goals and purposes for being in the community and working with the children of Iscos. He was very upfront in stating that our #1 purpose is to teach the word of God and share the love of Christ with the community, and our #2 purpose is to educate the children who do not have an opportunity to attend school.

In the end, the city council voted in our favor and the mayor spoke on our behalf. The mayor also said, "This town NEEDS more love and we NEED someone to teach the word of God here. We are glad that you are here." This was a huge victory!!!

Since the meeting, the local school director has greeted our director with handshakes and kind words in the mornings. The verbal abuse has stopped and things seem to be going well. No, we are not so naive as to believe that everyone has come to love us overnight, but we do believe that God can do ALL things and use ALL things for good. So, we are moving forward in Iscos and continue to work with our students and teach the love of Christ and hold Kid's Club on Fridays.

Thank you for your prayers!!! We do believe in the power of prayer and we do believe that your intercession on behalf of the children made a difference. Thank you. To God be the Glory!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Urgent Plea for Prayer!

Dear Family, Friends, Brother & Sisters in Christ, Supporters, Church
family:

It is with such a mixture of emotions that we write to you tonight with
this urgent plea for prayers. God never said that this job would be
easy. In fact, the Bible promises us that it will be difficult - that there
will be trials and troubles and that the road will be rough. Today, we
have truly come face to face with The Enemy and this has surely been
the toughest day that we have faced so far. We write to you today
because we are in need of URGENT PRAYERS.

Some background… At the beginning of this month, we began the Kuyay
Talpuy school in the pueblo of San Juan de Iscos. We have the
blessing of the municipality, the mayor, the city council, etc. We have a
contract with the city that states what our goals and objectives are.
The city even blessed us with a classroom within the city hall. We have
reached out to children in the community who cannot afford to attend
the local school because they cannot afford the uniform, school supplies,
or even food. Our goal has always been to get them into a school
setting and provide for them all that is needed to succeed. We are
preparing them to enter the local school system and we have sponsors
from the USA who provide their school supplies, uniforms, teacher
salary, and a hot, balanced lunch each day.

Since the first week of school, we have been under attack (quite literally)
from the local school officials. They have tried to undermine our
efforts by spreading rumors in the community that we are trying to
steal children and send them to the USA, that we are poisoning their
food, that we are giving drugs to the children of the community, that we
are undermining the community morals through reggae music and false
teachings, etc. They succeeded in cutting our student attendance in
half . We went from serving 30 children (and a waiting list) to only
having 17 students. The local school told the parents of our students
that our school was illegal and if they attended, they would not be allowed
to enroll in the local school when the time comes. They even
called the Ministry of Education and tried to have us closed down…
which didn’t work because we are completely legal and have all of our
contracts, permissions, and papers, plus all of our teachers are certified
and licensed, as are we. We do not charge money for our services and
we do not take students away from the local school, therefore, the
Ministry of Education had no cause to disturb us and walked away from
the issue.

During our first week of Kid’s Club (a weekly children’s bible study/
fiesta, much like Vacation Bible School in the USA), we had 80+ children
in attendance. The next week, we had less than half of that
number and we realized that the local school did not allow children to
leave through the front gate as usual (the front gate faces the park
where we hold Kid’s Club). We also realized that there were several
teachers and the director standing at the gate watching Kid’s Club.
When Club began, the teacher’s stepped out and most of the local
school children screamed, grabbed their backpacks and ran away. A
couple said, “Hurry! Run! Teacher is watching!” We began to get a
glimpse of what was occurring in the school. However, we continued
with Club as usual and refused to be discouraged.

This week, we learned that the director of the local school held a
meeting with the teachers and the parents. She told the audience that
the children were prohibited to attend the Kid’s Club because we are
evangelicals, we are plotting to give drugs to their children, we are
actually the devil in disguise, we are teaching bad morals, and we bribe
children with crafts and candy and prizes.

Today, in Kid’s Club, once again, children from the local school did not
exit through the front gate. But they still came to Club (in smaller
numbers, but they came). When Club began and we started the singing
and the music, the director stepped out of the gate and watched
while a teacher stormed across the park swinging a leather belt and
screaming at the children to go home and leave Club. She swung the
belt at children and attacked the Club while the director looked on.
Almost every child ran into the hills. We were left with about 10
children and a handful of parents.

I must say that I am VERY proud of our team. They did not succumb
to their knee-jerk reactions to fight with the woman. We did not
allow her to actually make contact with children, but we did not fight
with her either. We continued to lead Club, telling the Bible story for
the day, teaching the lesson, and loving the kids who remained. We
will NOT back down in the face of persecution. We WILL stand up
for the name of Christ and continue to proclaim it in the pueblo of
Iscos.

Brothers and Sisters, we will face more trials. This is not over. We
were literally attacked today, both physically and spiritually. Our
hearts are broken for the children. We literally broke down and cried
at the end of club today. Together as a team, we prayed over this persecution. We prayed for the local school and for the director and the teachers. We prayed for the children of Iscos, for their families, and for the city officials. We prayed right there in the middle of the park, where
we were attacked during Club today. We know that this is not over, and that it is likely to get worse before it gets better.

So we write to you tonight to ask for prayers for this situation. We ask for prayers for our team, for our family, and for the children we serve.
We ask for prayers of safety. We ask for you to pray for our courage to stand firm in the face of persecution. We ask for your support as we continue to teach the Bible and share the love of Christ. We ask for you to pray for protection. But most of all, we ask for you to intercede on
behalf of the children… to ask God to do mighty works in Iscos and to command The Enemy to stand down!

We have but two responses to every situation… fear or faith. We can fear that we will be overcome, we can fear for our safety, we can fear that the children will not hear the Word of God or will not feel the love of Christ… or, we can have faith that God can do all things! We can have
faith that He is bigger and stronger and more powerful than anything that can be brought against us. We can have faith in His plan and in His promises. We can have faith in the Bible and in the Word and in all that we know to be Truth in Him.

One of our team told us today, “You are in Jonah’s shoes and this is your Nineveh. You can’t back down. You have to tell them about Christ’s love.” We have been studying Paul and his journeys… he met with many obstacles, with much persecution, and with much suffering. And yet, my favorite Bible verses come from these times - from Paul’s writings on perseverance. A very dear friend pointed out to me many years ago that the root word in “persevere” is “severe”. This road is hard, Friends. We need your prayers.

Please join us in prayer. Please share this prayer request with as many as you can. We have friends all around the world… please help us literally circle the world with prayer for the children of Iscos. Please take this plea to work with you, to Sunday school, read it in worship on Sunday,
email it to friends and family… we need as many people praying for this situation as possible. We believe in the power of prayer and that our God is Greater than All Things… he is Todopodoroso! (All-Powerful)

Thank you! Blessings in His Name,
Laurie & Billy


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Busy, busy

Sorry!!! I realize it has been almost a month since my last blog entry! So, what's been going on? Well...
  • The Kuyay Talpuy school is finally open. We opened on August 10th in San Juan de Iscos. For info on the school and to see photos, go to www.kuyayperu.org
  • Today, Billy is in Iscos helping the little school move into it's permanent home. Yes, we spent three weeks in a temporary classroom awaiting the repairs and final construction of our "real" classroom.
  • We went to Lima to pick up our new missionary team members at the airport. The McEuen family arrived here after spending a year in Costa Rica in language school. We are SOOOO happy that they have finally arrived!!!
  • We began our homeschool curriculum with Sarah and have now completed 6 weeks. We are having a lot of fun with it and she is learning so much and so quickly!
  • Billy has been working long-distance with Ron Phillips to get the kinks out of our medical database in the computer. The system is really awesome! When patients come to receive medical/dental/optical care, they put their finger on a fingerprint scanner and the computer finds them, enters their data, and they are tracked through the system of services. After the first medical campaign in July, we have beefed up the computer memory and worked on refining the system. As of today, we are ready to test-drive it again on the next medical campaign - beginning Saturday!
  • Laurie has been studying and taking an online course through the Institute for International Medicine (INMED) to help further prepare for the medical missions. Medicine and Health practices are VERY different in other cultures and it is crucial to understand the culture and the language and the underlying ideas when dealing with medical issues in another country/culture.
  • We have been preparing for the next two medical campaigns. One begins this weekend in Puerto Bermudez (jungle). The next will be in mid-September to Iscosazin (jungle). These will be very different from the last medical mission to the mountains in that they are in the jungle (different diseases, illnesses, climate, etc.) and that they are in completely different cultural groups (jungle cultures are NOT like mountain cultures).
So we have been busy! Sorry to have neglected the blog site... maybe I'll do better in September...

Friday, July 31, 2009

I promise not to...


This week has been a practice in patience and a lesson in trust. We have been working to enroll children in the new Kuyay Talpuy education center that will open on August 10th. The purpose of the Kuyay Talpuy school is to make education available to children who do not have the economic resources to attend school in Peru, to get them off the streets and out of the fields, and to witness to their families by loving their children. There are LOTS of these children out there (over 25% of children in Peru are in this situation - the percentage is higher in our area). In trying to meet the families and find these children, we have been met with distrust and fears that we didn't expect:
  • People who don't trust us to feed their children lunch each day because we might put chemicals in their food and poison them.
  • People who are afraid that we are part of a child smuggling scheme and we are just trying to steal their children and send them to other countries.
  • People who are afraid that we are just trying to gain entrance into their lives so we can steal their livestock.
  • People who are illiterate themselves, and so are very afraid of the forms that they are signing.
  • People who are afraid that we are from the government and are trying to find out what they might be doing wrong.
And so we have had to be very patient. And we have had to literally promise not to poison their children, steal their livestock, sell their children, etc. Slowly, step by step, we are gaining some confidence. At first, we only signed up 2 children in one day. Then 2 more on another day. It seemed that we would never fill the classroom! But then we enrolled 7 one day, and 10 the next! And we realized that the children are our focus, but we will also be ministering to their families through the LOVE that we show to them and to their children... step by step, they will see that we are trustworthy and that we aren't to be feared and that we were sent by Christ to love them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ridiculous things that we wish we had...

We don't miss a lot of foods from the USA, but there are a few things that we have missed over the past couple of years and we are slowly finding ways to bring them into our lives in Peru (okay, I am perfectly aware that this is a ridiculous list of items, but it's the truth):
  • Ranch dressing... there's no such animal here. One day I found a bottle of liquidy stuff that was labeled as ranch dressing, but wasn't even close to what my mouth had in mind. THANK YOU JESUS for allowing someone to come up with the idea of Ranch dressing in packets/envelopes! I bought some dry mix while we were in the States in June and it is so wonderful to have real ranch dressing for dipping my veggies now!!!
  • Kool-Aid... again, no such thing here. I, myself, am not such a giant fan of Kool-Aid, but Sarah and Billy are. And I have to admit, there is just something about drinking a glass of Tropical Punch or Cherry Kool-Aid that really feels very American and homey.
  • Any drink mixes... I know, Kool-Aid is a drink mix so this is a little redundant. But a recent short-term mission team left us with two containers of powdered Gatorade and I will be eternally grateful. They also gifted me with several left-over mixes of those little single-serving mixes you dump in a water bottle... don't know what they are technically called, since they arrived on the scene post-Drums-in-Texas a couple of years ago. Yummy!!! I really love the Lipton Green Tea on the Go!!! And the lemonade flavor really made me realize how much I miss Country Time lemonade (not as good a fresh lemonade from our own lemon trees in Costa Rica, but really yummy still.)
  • Tacos... we have found one place that has something they call tacos, but they aren't, really. And that restaurant is 10 hours from Huancayo, so we won't be making it a habit to eat there. We did bring back a few taco seasoning packets, which is better than nothing.
  • Blue Bell... enough said!
  • I really wish I could figure out how to make something similar to a Cherry Limeade or a Cherry Lime Slush or a Lemon Berry Slush from Sonic... que rico!
Maybe I'm just hungry...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Crazy week

It has been a long, crazy week...
  • We returned from the medical campaign in Panao and we were BEAT! Seeing 1600+ patients in four days is exhausting, not to mention the fact that we were also translating and helping to lead the team. Took a day to do nothing but sleep (which Billy took very literally and DID sleep for the better part of 10 daylight hours), then a day to travel back to Huancayo and get ready for the week.
  • Went back to teaching on Tuesday to a fiasco. Not only had my classes not been covered, nor had my plans been taught or carried out for the past 10 days, but the entire country of Peru decided to close school because of the possibility of swine flu! It isn't a choice whether to close or not - it is a mandate from the government, punishable by heavy fines and penalty of revoking your license - teaching certificate for 6 months. So my school closed down until August 3rd (two and a half weeks). Since I was already planning to finish my teaching commitment on July 24th, my career came to a quicker end than anticipated.
  • On Tuesday night, we got the "go ahead" to move into the house down the street. We had been excitedly waiting for this to happen, and the McEuen family is going to take our old house when they arrive in August. So, we began the process of moving our stuff down the street. Two of our bible study teens showed up to help, then Maria and her kids showed up to help, then our new neighbors jumped in and helped... it was really cool! On Wednesday morning, we finished the process with the help of Maria's kids, Karina from Cochas, and Liz.
  • Also on Tuesday, two of our dearest bible study girls (really, more like two grown daughters of ours) found out that they would be leaving on a journey that will take them out of Peru forever. They have been hoping for this for over a year (and we had been hoping it wouldn't ever occur). Can't go into details, but we were devastated by the news and we pray for them and fear for their safety. After a long goodbye and lots of tears, they were gone.
  • On Thursday, Billy and Darwin and Milagros spent from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. waiting to get a contract signed by the mayor of Iscos, who wasn't even there for the meeting, then didn't show up to work all day. Also, the lady who scheduled the meeting to meet with parents and sign children up for the new education center decided not to show up and sent word that she would be available to meet again on August 5th. Billy was LESS than happy...
  • We love the new house! We don't love the hassle of moving fixtures (water filters, pumps, etc.) or of moving services (phone, cable, internet, etc.). None of this happens easily or quickly here. The plumber has been with us for two days so far, and he isn't finished yet. As he left today, he said, "I thought I had it fixed (the pressure pump), but when I turned it on, it blew up. I'll see you Monday." And that was it...
  • Billy is finally on the mend from his bout with who-knows-what last week and part of this week. The fever only lasted two days, but the cough and congestion has been horrendous for the entire time and he has been super tired. After we changed his meds at the beginning of the week, he started to improve. Today, he seems almost back to normal (which never was "normal", but...).
So here we are at the end of a crazy week and looking at the coming week... a planned transportation strike on the 21st (never pretty), meetings with the city officials in Iscos to hash out some issues with the opening of the new education center, national fiestas and parades for Peruvian independence day... it never stops, does it?

Okay - there were great things, too. Sarah has a new friend that is her same age and lives next door to our new house. The weather is fabulous!!! I didn't have to work this week, which sure made moving to the new house a much easier process. We had lots of help moving, and they did it happily, willingly, and only got pizza in return for their efforts. The new house is great and will provide us with many more opportunities due to space.

Hope you have a great up-coming week! Please pray for us to experience a smooth week, in comparison to last week. We'll pray that some our fantastic weather and temps blow your direction! :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

New Adventure


We are off on a new adventure.  We are headed to Panao, Peru to receive a medical mission team from the States and to translate for them as they strive to meet the needs of the people here.  This is new and challenging on several levels for us:
  • We will be translating for the doctors and the patients, so we will be working our brains in both directions - English and Spanish, and also in more detailed terms (medical Spanish).
  • We will be working in an area that we are unfamiliar with.  Billy has been in Panao for a day or two to help set up the pre-mission stuff, but other than that, we don't know the people or the area or the culture there.
  • We will be piloting the new database system that Ron Phillips wrote especially for this purpose... we will be logging every patient using a fingerprint scanner and typed data.  In this way, we can track patients and better monitor the medications that they receive and the doctors that they see.  In the past, there has been an issue with people mysteriously changing identities ;) and getting back in the patient line, only to receive opposing medications, etc.  Not good.  Hopefully, the new system will work like clockwork and all with be wonderful!
  • This area is relatively new to "gringos" - like the first gringos in the area were within the last 20 years.  So we are still strange creatures to this people group.  Also, we will be facing the legend of the pishtaco... an Andean legend about gringos/light-skinned people who come to steal organs or suck the fat out of children to use in American factories as machine oil.  I know it sounds ridiculous to us, but it is a very vivid story/belief in many minds here and we are hoping that it doesn't pose a problem for us.  :)  When Billy was setting up the pre-field mission stuff, lots of people hid around corners and children yelled "pishtaco, pishtaco!" and ran away.  
We'll post more about the trip when we return.  Please pray for safety and for many medical successes as we work to serve the people of Panao in the coming week.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We did it... Guinea Pig dinner


Well, we finally did it... we ate cuy.  Cuy is a traditional dish in Peru.  A cuy is a guinea pig.  

Okay - don't go crazy and act like I just ate the family cat!  I raised guinea pigs when I was growing up... they were cute little long-haired guinea pigs.  I have very fond memories of going out the back door and hearing them squeal their cute little high-pitched squeals because they knew I was coming out to see them.  I remember "Pearl" and "Digby" and "Santa" and "King"...

It's not like that here.  People raise cuy with the same passion that we raise cattle in Texas.  It is very common to go to someone's home and be shown their cuy pens.  With great pride they will show you how fat they are, how prolific they are, and how many they are raising.  It is not unusual for someone to have a special room or place in their home (usually in or very near the kitchen) where they tend their cuy.  

So for Father's Day, we went out to eat a special Father's Day lunch of cuy.  We have the Mitchells (from Texas) and the Goshorn family (from Kentucky) here visiting and working with us for awhile, and all wanted to try the traditional cuy before they leave Peru... "you just can't go to Peru and not at least try cuy!".

Bottom line -- It was really good.  And, no joke, it tastes like chicken.  I know - they say that about everything that is "weird" to eat.  But it's true.  It tastes like dark meat chicken.  The skin is pretty greasy and I peeled that away, but the meat was very good.  Several of us had "Cuy Colorado" which is cuy cooked/baked in a spicy sauce.  A couple of us had fried cuy.  It was all good.

So, there you have it.  We did it.  It didn't kill us.  We'll do it again sometime, without hesitation.  I just can't eat it while thinking about my cute little friends in the backyard...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

Long time, no see (or post)

Okay, okay... I know it has been a long time!  Sorry.  Let me catch you up to date (kind of like when a TV program picks up the second episode in a "to be continued" series).  Since we last posted...
  • Laurie had pneumonia and was down for about a week.  What at first seemed like body soreness from several hikes in one week, turned into a 103+ fever and a trip to the emergency room for tests and xrays.  No wonder she couldn't breathe!  Who knew?
  • We went back to the States for Miles' high school graduation.  It was great to get to be there for this momentous occasion!
  • We spent a whirlwind week visiting family and friends in Texas.  It was wonderful to see everyone (or at least everyone that you can possibly fit into a few days of visiting).  We enjoyed WAY too much food while we were home and really need to go back on our Peruvian diet and exercise plan to lose the weight we gained in Texas!!!
  • We took the kids on a quick trip to Disney.  It was a graduation celebration / we're all together as a family celebration / vacation, etc.  It was fun to get to be with all of our children at one time without the distractions and competition of other things.  Just the family and Mickey.
  • We parted ways with our boys once again.  They boarded a plane for College Station and we boarded a plane for Peru.  They are both staying in College Station right now - Miles is preparing for college (Texas A&M Corpus Christi) and enjoying his last weeks with his friends before everyone leaves, and Ryan is taking a couple of weeks to visiting with Granny and his friends back home before starting the second summer term back at Texas A&M Kingsville.
  • We came home to Peru and met up with friends/fellow missionaries Midge and Betty Mitchell.  They are staying with us in our home for most of this month.  They have spent their days here helping us in our ministries, watching what we do on a daily basis, and doing some ministry of their own... they are teaching art classes at the orphanage each day.  We have had a great time so far and we are so grateful to have people in the house who #1 are Texans and understand our needs (TACOS), #2 are fellow missionaries and understand what we do and why we do it, #3 we don't have to speak our second language to talk to them, #4 want to help and do everything that we do, and #5 are eager to learn about the Peruvian culture and try different foods, customs, and see different places.
  • We have made LOTS of progress on the education center in Iscos (for street children).  We have hired a director and a teacher.  We have met with the mayor again and the city officials and everything is going great with the municipality.  We have seen our new building/classrooms and are making progress on what needs to be done before we open, etc.  And we have 13 sponsors for the children... we lack 17 more.
  • We have a team in Huancayo right now from Asbury, Kentucky.  They are here working on a construction project and doing children's ministry (Kid's Club).  We are helping to lead the team, as well as acting as translators.
So, a lot has transpired since we last posted!!!  Sorry to have let so much time lapse... but we're a little swamped right now!  :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Street Kids ministry


We are continuing to work toward opening our street kids educational ministry.  Billy had a great day Tuesday, meeting with different people in several areas outside of town.  He finally landed in the town of Isco... a tiny town in the shadow of the Huaytapallana glacier range.  After visiting with the mayor and the officials in the municipal building, he was introduced to the director of the food program in the area (think WIC and food stamps, but in Peru).  The director was very excited about the possibilities and is helping us with many things, including getting firm numbers for us on the amount it will cost to reintegrate the street children into the school system, how many children are not in school in the area, and helping to find us a donated space-building to use to start the center.  We meet with them again tomorrow (Friday).

Please pray for this endeavor.  This is Billy´s passion!!!  He aches for these children every day. Approximately 20-25% of the child population in Peru cannot afford to attend school.  Instead, they are on the streets, or working in the fields with their parents.  Their parents would like for them to be in school, but just can´t afford it.  When they get into school, they need LOTS of support and reinforcement because they are very far behind academically... but most of their parents are illiterate and cannot help them with school work.  So we will be working with them in several ways:  
  1. financial support through sponsorships from USA supporters - supporters who will commit to paying the school tuition and the cost of school supplies for the school year.
  2. academic support through the tutoring center - Peruvian teachers/tutors (and us) will meet with the kids every day at the tutoring center to help with homework, study, reinforce academic concepts, and fill in the academic gaps.  
  3. ministry to the children as well as to their families in the form of sharing the gospel, bible study opportunities, discipleship opportunities, oral bible storytelling, etc.
We hope to open the tutoring center sometime this summer.  Please pray for the planning process, the sponsorship process, and our ability to find the children and the families that truly want an education.  Pray for Peruvian teachers/tutors to sign on to help support the kids. 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mission Discovery Podcast


Here is an interview with us that our friend Maury Buchanan from Mission Discovery recorded today.  Enjoy!
(photo 2004 - Mexico)

OPENING DAY!!! Kid's Club at the orphanage...


Celebrate with us!!!  We just returned from Opening Day of our new Kid's Club at the orphanage!  This day has been a couple of months in the planning... when we took a team of college kids from the Wesley Foundation to visit the local orphanage, we were asked if there was any way we could help teach the kids more about the Bible and Christ.  That was back in March.  In talking about the possibility of a Kid's Club at the orphanage, we had some young ladies jump on the opportunity to work with the kids and lead this ministry -- Hallelujah!!!  This is exactly what we want - Peruvians leading ministries to their own people.  We are here to support and encourage and help, but it is so much better when local people take responsibility and ownership for their brothers and sisters in Christ!

So, after receiving an anonymous donation to cover the sound equipment and puppets and game items, we were ready to start.  This morning at 10:00, we officially opened Kid's Club in La Aldea Rosario, Huancayo, Peru!!!  WOO HOO!!!  With 6 Peruvian young ladies in the lead, and two gringo missionaries in the wings, we taught several Christian songs with dance steps and hand movements, prayed with the kids, played several games, taught a bible story about the love of Christ and how is death was meant to save us all.

It was fun.  It was CHALLENGING - first time, need to establish rules and procedures, tough kids, etc.  Please pray for the kids... they are well fed and clean and sheltered, but that is about it.  There are too many kids and not enough staff.  Many of the kids were found on the streets and have spent a lifetime of fighting and scratching to survive... this carries over into the orphanage and there is lots of fighting and yelling to get what they want, or were removed from extremely abusive situations.  It is going to be a long process of loving on them and trying to teach them to love each other and to talk through their problems - not fight.   They need a lot of love and patience.  Also, please pray for their little hearts and how they see the world... it is not part of Peruvian culture to adopt children.  Once they are in the orphanage, they are there to stay forever, until they "age out" and are put back out on the street at 16 years old.  It's a rough life with little perceived hope.  Pray for our ability to shine the light of Christ into their lives and sow seeds of His hope.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Full Weekend

We have had a full weekend, and it doesn't stop here!  Yesterday was Dia de la Familia (Family Day) at school.  All of the families went to el campo (the country) for a retreat day together.  We played all kinds of games - kind of like field day in the USA.  We ate picnic lunches by the river, then played more games.  Had an AWESOME time with the other families from the school.  Got sunburned, of course.  Started the day out freezing and wearing sweaters and coats, in mid-day had to shed everything down to t-shirts and played in the river because we were burning up, then had to put on all of the layers again when the sun dipped behind the mountains.

Today, we went back to the country to Cochas Chica - a small rural community of less than 3000 (looks more like 300 to me).  Almost all of the families in this town are artisans.  We met a family in Cochas Chica a couple of weeks ago when we were visiting the area.  The whole family is Christian and they started a church in the middle of town.  They asked us to come and have lunch with them and talk about how to start a children's program / sunday school, and also to talk about some adult education / bible study things with them.

So out we went at noon today.  When we arrived, the whole family was there preparing to make pachamanca... a traditional Peruvian meal cooked in a pit in the ground with hot rocks.  We helped make humitas (sweet tamales), place all of the ingredients in the pit (potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, chicken, lamb, etc.), and spent the next couple of hours chatting and learning about gourd carving.  Pedro carves bible stories into the gourds and uses them to tell the stories and witness to others about Christ.  The food was great, the company was fantastic, and we have been invited to become part of their family... our family away from home, they said.  We visited their church and were invited back for a service Wednesday night - to teach and to share and to help them find new ways to learn the Bible.  Great day!

Tomorrow, it's back to Cochas Chica (after school and after Billy works with the Compassion kids) for a birthday party.  We have been invited to join in the celebration by another artisan family who is custom-carving some gourds for our mission agency.  Guess what's for lunch???  PACHAMANCA!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Marketing is NOT cross-cultural!


We laugh A LOT about the names of things / products here, because they FOR SURE wouldn´t go over in the USA.  
  • chocolate candy named "Crack"... do you think we will get stopped in customs if we bring home a suitcase full of "Crack" in May?
  • Bimbos... not only the name of bread, but also a hamburger joint.  I´m thinking that they might be a great sponsor for a drill team or a halftime show.  Can´t you imagine the shirts with the sponsor´s name plastered across the chest?
  • And don´t forget the Bimbo snack product "Kranky" yogurt bites.  I always think of yogurt as a peaceful product, not a cranky fit-throwing snack.
  • Apocalypse...  a bus company.  Not sure that I want to ride the mountain passes and pray that I survive the narrow roads, landslides, and giant falling boulders while riding in a bus called The Apocalypse!
  • Lay´s potato chips... when pronounced in Spanish, it is "lice".  Anyone for a big bag of lice for a snack?
  • Horniman tea...  enough said.  It is the leading brand of tea bags here.
I´ll keep you posted on other brands as I find them  :)



















Saturday, April 18, 2009

The List


 - By Laurie   Okay - so I'm a list person.  I get it from my mother.  She is a list person to the nth degree!!!  She even writes things like "get up" on her list, just so she can cross them off.  I'm not that bad.  Most of the time, my list is in my head - I just don't have too much on it these days and I can keep up with it in my head.  But sometimes, I get overwhelmed or too busy or too stressed and I have to write it down.

But this is a different kind of list.  Many years ago, I made a list and I kept it in my Bible.  It was a list of life goals and things I hoped to see or do in my lifetime.  The list was fluid... it changed and morphed and some things fell off of it as I matured.  Some things actually happened and I was so surprised!  It isn't a list of things that I set out to make happen.  It's just kind-of a list of hopes and dreams and "somedays".

When I was in language school, one of our assignments was to write a list exactly like the one I already had (so I was really happy that I didn't have to create it on the spur of the moment - but I did have to translate it and present it in my class).  I found out that it is amazing how you can sit next to someone in class every day for 5 hours, plus eat with them, plus serve in missions with them, and really not KNOW them until you read their list of hopes and dreams.  I found out a lot about my classmates and missionary peers that week.  Because somehow it isn't just enough to read the list... you have to discuss it and justify your hopes and explain the "whys" behind your feelings. 

So today, I pulled out my list and was looking to see how it has changed in the last year.  Here it is... maybe there is more to me than you thought, too...
  1. visit the Galapagos Islands
  2. sail on a tall ship
  3. write a book
  4. go to high tea
  5. visit Africa / safari
  6. ride horses on the beach
  7. a deep desire to be in medicine / health care
  8. backpack in the Andes
  9. visit the lost civilizations
  10. ride in a horse-drawn carriage
  11. take a horse-drawn sleigh ride at night in the snow
  12. learn Spanish and become FLUENT
  13. live in the Amazon jungle
  14. go to the Kentucky Derby in a big hat and fancy dress
  15. be a published photographer
  16. see a horse give birth to her foal
  17. work for National Geographic
  18. eat in a cafe in the Mediterranean / France / Italy
  19. see the paintings of the Old Masters (Renoir, Monet, etc.)
  20. visit the great cathedrals of the world
So that's where it stands right now.  Some things have been marked off over the years, others added.  Some things seemed really silly and self-centered when I looked back at them from years past.  Some things on my list today seem like impossibilities, given my current situation and all... but so did other things that I can now look at and smile and say "Thank you for allowing that one to come true, God.  I never expected that!"    

Friday, April 10, 2009

Random photos of interest

A giant beet statue!  I never dreamed I would see that!

Carnero en palito... literally translates to "lamb on a stick."

Llama rides at the fair.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Semana Santa - Holy Week

Okay - so we have some questions and concerns about Holy Week here.  For example:
  • On Palm Sunday, we were approached by many vendors who were trying to sell us palms. Not a big issue - it's Palm Sunday.  However, the palms were woven into the shape of ears of corn???  The weaving was AMAZING, but why ears of corn?  They were also selling bundles/sheaves of wheat.  Hmmm...  Upon asking about it, it seems that it has something to do with sacrificing harvest items/blessing the harvest, and fertility.
  • Beginning on Palm Sunday and lasting all week, there are tables and tents of vendors selling bread shaped in the form of a baby.  In fact, it is called "baby bread" in Quechua.  I also asked about this and was told again that it has something to do with fertility.  I'm not quite sure what Christ's Last Supper, Crucifixion, and Resurrection have to do with fertility.
  • Not being able to give up on the baby bread thing, today I asked one of the vendors, "Why is the bread in the shape of a baby?"  Okay, now hold on to your pants because this one is going to blow you over...  her response, in her exact words, was "It's a tradition for Holy Week to honor, you know, Mr. What's-His-Name, for Holy Week."  WHAT?!!  MR. WHAT'S-HIS-NAME?!  Oh, you mean JESUS?!!!!!  I promise, no lie, that was exactly what she said.  And her booth was set up directly beside the church!  Ask Billy, he was there!
Remember the palm crosses that we make/receive for Palm Sunday every year?  I've made many a palm cross!  Today, while walking on the street, I ran across a palm vendor who was selling palm crosses for 1 sole (30 cents) and they were so beautiful that Sarah and I had to break down and buy a couple.  AMAZING!  And there were much bigger, better ones than these, but we went for the normal size.  Cool, huh?  Can you imagine making a basket full of these to hand out during Palm Sunday service?

Okay, that's all for now.  I'll continue my quest to learn more about Holy Week here and report back to you.  In the meantime, I'm going to go and pray to Mr. What's-His-Name and thank Him for the sacrifice of his life for mine.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Taking the back roads.





Well, I usually have nothing to say that is blog-worthy, but I wanted to share my adventure from this weekend with you.  It all started when we were going to take the University of Georgia team back to Lima from Huancayo.  The morning before we were to leave I heard that there were three rock slides that had blocked the main highway between these two towns.  After researching further, we found that this was true and we may not get through the next day on the bus.  Genaro, our Peruvian friend and fellow worker, found 2 vans that could carry all 17 of us and our luggage on a different route over the mountains.

We started our journey at 6am on paved road but even before we left Huancayo we were on a rock and dirt road leading out of the city, eating egg and bacon sandwiches that were prepared for us by Liz and Edith.  It became increasingly narrower and rougher, leading us higher into the mountains.

The scenery was incredible!  Small villages, rivers, water falls, canyons, tunnels, llamas and alpacas grazing in the fields and, eventually, the snow capped pass at the top of the mountains.  We stopped along the way for breaks and photo ops, as well as taking a break at the top of the Andes at a lake for photos and a snowball fight.  Here the scenery was open mountain meadows and lakes. 

After this, we had our first encounter with the very narrow roads.  Three trucks were in competition for who would get to pass first.  Finally, one of them conceded and we were able to continue our journey.  After 10 hours on this twisting turning road with many blind curves, we ended up in Cañete in the desert on the pacific coast.  Our van drivers informed us that we would have to take other transportation from here to Lima (an estimated 2 hours away).  There is a law here that requires transportation companies to have certain permits before they can enter Lima with passengers and our drivers did not get the necessary permission from the police to do this and risked losing their vans and going to jail if they continued on their journey with us as passengers.  Genaro searched and found 2 different vans capable of taking us the rest of the way to Lima and our hotel.  The rest of the drive was along the coastline through a desolate but beautiful desert.  The team leader wanted to let the students experience the Pacific ocean, so we stopped at a beach along the way to let them get their feet (and some bodies!) wet.  Two extremes in one day – snowball fights in the Andes, and sunset on a Pacific beach.  We watched the sunset and then continued our journey into Lima.  We got to our hotel about 8:00 and decided to meet up at 8:30 to go and eat dinner, since none of us had eaten another meal since 6 that morning.  Fortunately, some of us had chips and snacks that we shared in the vans.  We got to bed at midnight and were awakened at 3am to travel to the airport for a 5:30 flight. 

Before leaving for the airport, Genaro and I had checked road conditions and it appeared that they may be clear, but upon arriving at the airport we found out that there were a total of 6 rockslides blocking the road now for a total of over 20 kilometers being impassable.  After dropping our team off, we canceled our bus tickets and went searching for alternative transportation.  In one of the most dangerous parts of Lima we found a driver that was willing to drive us and another passenger to Huancayo in his Toyota corolla!  He “knew” of another route through the mountains.  Well, we started this journey at 8am from Lima.  Just outside of town our driver turned onto a rock and dirt road to begin our off-road journey.  It wasn’t long until, to my surprise, he stopped to ask directions from some people in front of their house.  The 2 men there had no clue how to get through but the lady of the house seemed to know what she was talking about, so we followed her direction. 

Eventually we hit our first low water crossing and our driver, being unaccustomed to off-road driving in a Corolla, got stuck.  We tried to help and direct him but we were informed that he knew what he was doing, it was his car, and we should keep our opinions to ourselves.  He kind of reminded me of a Peruvian Archie Bunker.   We had many of these crossings to make and in fact one of them was under a pretty incredible water fall.  We did eventually meet up with the driver’s friend who actually had made the trip before.  But “Archie” knew best and decided to pass his buddy, since he was going too slow for his liking, and he continued to ask directions of people who were walking along the road carrying sticks on their backs, or riding their donkey’s, or other daily tasks.  The road we were on was both rougher and narrower than the one we had been on the day before.  It reminded me of the ranch roads I have been on in the Big Bend area of Texas.

We eventually reached a point where there were many vehicles stopped in the road.  There was a large rock slide blocking our path.  We were on the side of a cliff that dropped down over 200 feet to a roaring river below, and there was no way to turn around.  It was already noon and to try and go back would have been really rough.  So all the men (or almost all - it is typical for some men to just watch and not participate) and some of the women from the stopped busses and cars began the task of removing the rocks and dirt from our path.  “Archie” was not quite satisfied with these men just watching so he occasionally yelled for them to come and help out.  Rocks the size of bathtubs were dug around, shoved and rolled down the cliff, much to the delight of us men who watched them crash into the river, laughing and cheering like little boys.  Of course there were too many bosses and not enough workers, so some tasks took longer than they should.  One man, thinking that I could not understand Spanish, just pointed at me and made hand motions to tell me what he thought I should be doing.  I just took it in stride and kept moving dirt and rocks. 

After moving many of these rocks out of the way, the task of moving the largest rock was at hand.  This rock was about 8 feet in length, 5-6 feet wide and about 3-4 feet deep.  Needless to say, it was very large.  A portion of it lay under the cliff from which it had fallen and there were other rocks hanging precariously above a portion the work area.  We had partially lifted the rock using pry bars, picks, shovels, other rocks and hydraulic jacks when a guy appears with 3-4 sticks of dynamite.  Apparently it is common to carry around a few sticks with you “just in case”.  Well the group voted him down and we kept working to move the boulder.  After a while, we successfully flipped it over once, but it still blocked passage.  It was decided to go ahead use the dynamite to break the rock apart.  I am not accustomed to this, so I moved faaarrrrr away and watched from a distance.  A handful of men prepared the dynamite.  A few minutes later, some of them came running up the road asking “Does anyone have any matches?”  I couldn’t help but laugh… you carry dynamite in your car, but no matches???  Eventually they found some and ignited the fuse.  It was pretty unspectacular.  There was a rather large boom, the rock moved up and then back down and there was grey smoke.  When we got back to the rock, it looked the same except that it was now in 4 large pieces - much easier to handle.  In no time the road was cleared and we continued on our route with only and hour and a half delay. 

Again, we went to the top of the world and back down only to climb again to about 16,000 feet in Ticlio on the main highway.  We had spent 9 hours on the back road.  By this time we were very hungry, since our last meal was in the airport (3 donuts) at 4:00 am.  We stopped in the next restaurant.  We asked the waitress what there was to eat for dinner.  Her list started with sheep head and feet soup followed by mariposa soup.  To this we asked what is mariposa soup?  She said it is a surprise!  Well, after hearing that she actually listed head and foot soup, we were not going for the surprise!  Genaro asked her if she possibly had lomo saltado (a mixture of beef, potatoes, onions and peppers) to which she said yes, so we ordered that. 

After all of that we ended up in Huancayo at 9pm, 13 hours later.  Such is the adventurous life of a missionary.

~Billy

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Aldea Infantil - The Orphanage

We had the privilege of taking the University of Georgia - Wesley Foundation kids to the orphanage this week to spend a couple of hours with the kids.  We knew there was an orphanage here, but hadn't ever located it.  So I was pretty surprised to figure out that it is NEXT DOOR to my school!!!  Okay - no, I'm not really stupid or unobservant... it looks like a medium sized farm with some brightly painted buildings in the far corner.  It's not like there is a giant billboard out front that says "THE ORPHANAGE".  So I was pretty surprised and excited to know that it was right next to me every day!

Immediately, we were in heaven!  This was what we felt called to do so many years ago!  When we first visited Peru, we felt the call on our hearts to serve children, specifically street children and abandoned children.  And here we were!!!  The orphanage houses 80 children - babies to 14 years old.  Government regulations say that when the kids turn 15, they have to leave the orphanage and find their own way in the world.

Everyone has a story -- some were abandoned at the orphanage because their parents were in extreme poverty and couldn't care for them, some have been molested/raped by family members, some are alone due to the death of parents, some were found on the streets or in trash bins as babies... the stories are heartbreaking, and there are 80 stories to be heard!

Monica is 10 years old (they think).  She was abandoned as a toddler because (best guess) she is a hermaphrodite... she was born as both sexes  - male parts and female parts.  She is really precious and very loving.  She made Billy a paper crown with glitter letters and completely stole his heart.

Charlie is the oldest in the orphanage at 23.  He is an exception to the rule.  He has Down's Syndrome and cannot survive on his own.  They found him when he was (best guess) 4-5 years old.  He was literally living with a pack of dogs on the street.  He couldn't walk - he crawled on all fours like the dogs.  He couldn't speak - he growled and barked and whined.  He had the social skills of a dog - he fought over food and bit people who came too close.  Today, he is a loving sweet young man who loves to give hugs, dance, and play the drums.  He is lucky -- new legislation states that the orphanage can no longer accept children with mental or physical handicaps because they don't have a full time nurse, a counselor, or any special training to deal with those issues (and can't afford to get them).  If children come with these issues, they are turned away.  

There are 7 siblings who were brought to the orphanage because the youngest child was born with a cleft pallet and required too much attention and care.  The mom decided that she couldn't take care of everyone, so she gave them up.  She wants to work and save money to have the baby's lip fixed (not the pallet - too expensive), but it is doubtful that this will ever happen.

There is Oscar (11), who hugs Billy a hundred times and sometimes won't let go.  And John (13), who voluntarily checks himself in to the orphanage when life on the streets gets too bad or he gets too hungry.  He lasts about a week or so, then checks himself out to try it again.  If the weather gets bad or he can't sleep or eat, he comes back.  

The kids make their own shoes - they work on them in a workshop/class in their spare time.  They live in "casitas" of 8-10 kids with a substitute mom who cooks for them and helps them with school work.  They wash their own clothes and clean their own houses.  They all take care of each other.  They are super well behaved!!!  It is really an awesome place.

We rented a bus 3 nights this week to take the kids to the live concerts that the U of Georgia kids were holding downtown.  They danced until they literally couldn't stand up anymore!  One boy actually fell asleep between the drum set and a native drum during the concert - how do you fall asleep in the drum section???!!!  They loved every minute of it and were sad to see it end last night.

We are going to take Kid's Club "on the road" and do it at the orphanage once per month... we don't have enough workers/helpers to do it more often yet.  Pray for workers!!!!  And pray for our new kids - we're already in love with them.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

We occasionally have people who come to the door to ask for money or things - they know that we are missionaries and North Americans.  We have a personal policy to not give money (causes all kinds of issues) and to try to build relationships with people that are NOT based on the things that we can give them... real relationships built on love and Christ.  Many times, we have talked to people for awhile, prayed for them, and explained our "no money" decision - but we will often times give people food if we believe that there is a real need.

So yesterday, at the lunch table, the adults were having a discussion about how much people pay for things in the USA verses here, what salaries are in the USA, etc.  Moises jokingly says, "Wow! You can pay me that!"  At this, this little ears across the table from me (Sarah) perked up and she answered, "We can't give you money... but we can give you fruit.  Would you like some fruit?"  HA HA!!!  We died laughing!!!  She is listening to everything we do and say, even when it is to people outside the front gate...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Graduation


We have been hosting a new disciple group for a few weeks now.  They meet on Saturday nights.  The members of this group were already friends from a local English language school (2o-somethings) and their disciple leader is their teacher at the language school.  I have to say, they have quite the group going on... they meet for 3+ hours each Saturday night (you would think that 20-somethings would not choose to meet for a bible study for 3+ hours every Saturday?!) and they do more laughing than any group we have encountered in Peru!!!  Several times, Billy and I have listened in to see what on earth they could be laughing about... but it actually seems that they are really talking about the Bible and their disciple lesson, they are just having a bang-up time doing it!  

So about a week ago, two of the "kids" in this group asked Billy if he would be their padrino (godfather) for their graduation from language school.  Billy was honored and said that he would.  Of course, as fate would have it, we had once again said yes to something that wasn't exactly as it seemed.  A couple of days later, the two students and their leader (appropriately named "Moises") came to meet with Billy about his padrino-ness... this is when we found out that Billy had agreed to be the padrino for the ENTIRE graduating class (15 students), he needed to give the graduation address/speech, and he would need to give each student a graduation gift as they received their diploma!!!  HA!!!  

Last night, Billy went to the graduation ceremony.  He gave his speech, managed to cross cultural barriers and actually get a few good laughs from jokes that truly translated (usually, they don't translate at all), and all went well.  One student even asked him to present him with his diploma and stand with him, since his parents couldn't be there.  Each graduate speaks a few words during the ceremony, and one of the girls (one of the disciple students) got up and spoke about Billy and how the first time she met him, he was warm and funny and she instantly liked him - he's not like most foreigners.  How sweet!!!  So Billy came home pretty happy and very glad that he had accepted the invitation.  

Poco a poco... Little by little, we will live by example and show people love and friendship and let Christ shine through us...   

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Craziness...

This week can best be described as "craziness".  It has been a week of learning, that's for sure!
  • For starters, let me just assure people that if strange things show up on the right hand side of this blogsite (in the videos/slideshows/photos bar) WE DIDN'T PUT THEM THERE!  If it isn't a video of us and our ministry, it isn't from us.  I don't know what is going crazy over there on the far right, but this morning 4 videos of VW commercials appeared???  Every once in awhile, a random video from YouTube appears.  Who knows???  
  • Quote of the month (maybe of the YEAR) from Alejandra, one of the ladies in the discipleship program and a leader in discipleship groups in Huancayo -- "It is easier to work with demon-possessed non-believers than it is to work with church people!"  More on this in the newsletter this month...
  • We had a 2 hour conversation with Liz yesterday about the concept of friendship here in Peru.  She has family in the USA, so she has seen and heard about the USA friendship model and she was telling us about the differences between "there" and "here".  So it seems that there AREN'T friendships here... at least not like we know them.  Our USA model of friendship doesn't exist here.  Basically, the conversation started out with us saying that we are missing our friends from home and the types of things we used to do together... cookout on the weekends, hang out at each other's homes, play cards or board games, etc.  After a little of our pining away for friends, she explained that we needed to know that those types of friendships don't exist here - basically, we are hoping and praying for something that probably will never happen because Peruvians don't have that as a part of their culture.  It's a lot deeper than that... we are writing and researching and really digging into this topic now, because it effects how they view the gospel.  It was an awesome discussion, but also brought up so many underlying factors about culture.  We'll let you know more as we dig deeper into this area.
  • My math class is in full-swing.  VERY different than the USA model of math!  They are loving the way that I teach math and we are having a lot of fun together.  I don't quite understand the time schedule and the logic behind how things are run, but I'm not questioning it either... just adjusting and learning a new thought process.  By the way, the majority of kids in "summer school" are not there for remediation - they are there by choice because they want to stay on top of things and be ready for the next year!  Wow!  What a concept!  Even in the little kid's classes!
Speaking of school, got to run and catch a combi so I won't be late to class.  It costs me about 25 cents to catch a combi (minivan public transportation) and ride about 3-4 miles up the road to the school, then another 25 cents to get back home.  Ciao!!!