Monday, December 20, 2010

Aliens and Strangers "at home"

Strangers. Aliens in a foreign land.

Actually, citizens of this land... born and raised here... should be home, right? Hmmm. Sometimes it feels like home, and sometimes it doesn't.

We don't understand smart phones, smart cars, or smart anything else. We had to step aside and watch/learn how to use the video rental box thing. Same with the photo printing machine - we had to finally ask for help after spending several minutes trying to follow the instructions on the machine, only to be treated like we were complete idiots by the "customer service" girl. Really, a lot of our coming back transition has been very much like our first days after moving to Costa Rica and Peru. We do a lot of watching and trying to learn how things are done. Sometimes we look like fish-out-of-water to everyone around us.

We have spent time with friends and family as we visit and reconnect. Last week, we had the pleasure of spending time and eating lunch in the home of our good friends who were missionaries to South Africa for 8 years... oh, how special that time was! They completely understand our re-entry issues. They were able to really connect with us and speak some sanity into our confused feelings. This weekend, we had coffee (which turned into a 4 hour visit) with another missionary friend and a friend in ministry... again, we found peace and sanity and understanding in people who have also experienced the same issues. So glad that there are other "aliens" and fish-out-of-water that we can lean on!

This re-entry is difficult. If you see us at the store and we look lost, we probably are. If you see us in town and our eyes seem glazed over, we're just a little overwhelmed. If we seem confused or strange or out-of-sorts, just know that it's not you... we aren't sure exactly what it is, but it's probably not you. We can't really put our finger on it or name this feeling yet... we aren't tired, and we aren't depressed, and we aren't crazy... we're just here, trying to figure it all out. Be patient with us.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pregnant? Old?

So, the other day, Sarah and I are waiting in line to buy groceries. I think everyone in Huancayo had the same idea... to go and buy grocieries at exactly the same time, making about 15 check-out lines with about 25+ people in each one! Billy left us in line in the store while he went off to the bank. We waited, and waited, and waited, and waited... We watched other people (a favorite grocery store activity), we chatted with some folks standing around us, and we waited some more... Finally, we arrived at the front of the line. It was finally our turn!

As I began to reach into my cart and put things on the counter, the check-out girl says, "Are you pregnant?" Okay, now I don't have to tell any North American that THAT IS NOT A CULTURALLY ACCEPTABLE QUESTION! You don't ask any woman if she is pregnant, no matter how round or tired or frazzled she might be! Then I thought, "Maybe I didn't hear her correctly. Maybe my translation skills are too tired today." So I tried to clarify - "Excuse me? What did you ask?" Again she asks, "Are you pregnant?"

So now I'm feeling pretty pitiful. I mean, come on! I've been watching my intake and I've been doing my Rodney Yee yoga and my Jillian Michaels Shred... how on earth could this woman think that I'm pregnant? On top of that, I'm obviously past normal child-bearing years. I don't love to admit it, but I even have gray hair! I have two college-age sons. Let's get real here!

"No, I'm not pregnant," I say to the teenaged checker. So she replies, "Well, you're not old and you're not pregnant, so you need to leave my line." At this point, I am totally confused and thinking that there is obviously a big communication breakdown. "Pardon me?", I say again. "I don't understand."

So she points to the sign that I hadn't noticed (maybe because I had been standing in lines with hundreds of other shoppers who are also 5 feet tall - maybe that's why we didn't see the sign that hangs about 15-20 feet above our heads!!! - Just saying, it's tough being "altitude-challenged"!) The sign reads that this checkout line is for Pregnant people and Old people. After reading the sign, I looked back at her and said, "Seriously? I didn't see the sign. Do I really have to change lines after waiting all this time?" Yes, she was serious...

When Billy returned to the store to try to find us, he was a bit confused to find us in another line and STILL waiting to check out. He was even more confused when I announced to him that, "I'm not pregnant! Neither am I old!" His face was priceless!
Just another fun day in Peru... :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Going Away

We are currently in the mad rush to get things finalized, packed, and ready for us to leave Peru for our 4 month "furlough". I really detest the word "furlough" right now... I guess from being raised in a military family where the word evokes images of R&R (rest and relaxation), shore leave, fun, time off, and vacation... it means nothing of the sort for us! In theory, we are supposed to rest and debrief and reflect while in The States -- but we are supposed to do that in between running all over kingdom come doing speaking engagements and dinner appointments and fundraising ventures! Some of our missionary friends are also on their "furlough" in The States right now, except their mission agency has changed the name to Homeland Mission Assignment (HMA) because in truth, we are "home" but still doing ministry and still working and still on assignment. Our friends say a more accurate name would be HMA = Hurridly Moving Around. I'm starting to agree with them... our calendar looks like anything BUT rest or relaxation!

Not that we're complaining. We are very excited to go "home" and see our boys and our families and our friends. We are very excited to be home for Christmas for the first time in several years. We will be home for Thanksgiving dinner. We will ring in the new year with friends. We're pretty excited! But we're pretty worried and stressed, too. Re-entry Shock is rarely pretty or easy and it is a very real issue for people who are out of the country and out of the culture for so long. Thankfully, there are people at home who are aware of this and they are already putting things in motion to ease our re-entry... people who have arranged for our short-term housing, groceries, transportation, etc. We thank God for these good friends!!!

Leaving here (Peru) won't be easy. It has become our home. We love the people we live and work with. We love the ministry work here. We are tightly connected to our students and the community. It will be rough. Friday, the communities of Iscos and Patarcocha combined in an effort to give us a going away party... see the photos for the story.

1. cookout

2. Mama Elva gives a going away speech

3. The children and moms danced and sang

4. We played party games

5. We had a "who can design the best outfit out of newspaper and toilet paper" contest

Friday, September 3, 2010

Being a witness in the world

The following are excerpts from my devotional readings this morning. While reading them and trying to discern how to apply them to my life, I was struck with the thought that I needed to post them to my blog. Sometimes God puts ideas in my head that seem a little crazy to me, but I try to comply and follow-through, so here goes:

From the devotional My Heart-Christ's Home Through the Year...
"Jesus' disciples will need to look more saved if I am to believe in their Savior", says Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher. The world is looking for followers of Christ who look like Jesus. The world looks at believers not only for right belief but also for a distinctive Christlike lifestyle, a faith expressed through action. They are saying, "Show me your faith by the way you live and serve in this hurting world." Service exemplifies the way Christianity is supposed to be lived. Believers who visibly and actively serve present Jesus to a watching world.

From the book More Than Conquerors, A Call to Radical Discipleship by Simon Guillebaud...
What happened to radical Christianity, the un-nice brand of Christianity that turned the world upside down? What happened to the smashing, life-threatening, anti-institutional gospel that spread through the first century like wildfire and was considered by those in power to be dangerous? -What happened to the kind of Christians whose hearts were on fire, who had no fear, who spoke the truth no matter what the consequence, who made the world uncomfortable, who were willing to follow Jesus wherever he went? What happened to the kind of Christians who were filled with passion and gratitude, and who every day were unable to get over the grace of God?

I want to play my part in turning the world upside down; I want to be fearless, bold, uncompromising and passionate in reaching out to the lost on behalf of the King of Kings; I never want to get over the grace of God; I want to be prepared to follow Jesus wherever he went; and I invite you to join me in this pursuit. As C.T. Studd declared, "If Jesus Christ is God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him." So may the God of grace help you and me to rediscover this dangerous, revolutionary, earth-transforming message, and translate it into our daily living.

So, do with that what you will. It made a pretty big impact on my devotional time and I'm still "chewing" on it and rolling it around in my head... What would the world look like if Christians were like these two passages? Incredible thought...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Shepherding 101

Shepherds are a DAILY part of my life here. Almost everyone I know is a shepherd... maybe their only animals are not sheep, but they own sheep, too. In fact, it isn't uncommon for many of the people that we are around to own two or three cows, a dozen chickens, a couple of pigs, a donkey, and a handful of sheep. They generally herd them all together in a different kind of "flock" (which is actually a really good description of the community that we work with... they are definitely all different and yet they make up a very different kind of "flock").

When we first came to Peru, I have to say that my entire experience with sheep boiled down to petting some at a petting zoo, and taking pictures of them at the county fair. Other than that, I knew absolutely nothing about sheep. So the descriptions in the Bible and the stories revolving around sheep (more than 700 references!) completely eluded me. I knew the stories of the Good Shepherd, the Lost Sheep, etc... but they really didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. They were just stories. Until I came to Peru...

So now I am learning a lot about sheep and shepherds. And it is beginning to make so much more sense to me! Recently, I was searching for a Bible study for the summer months for the interns to work on while they are here. I literally stumbled upon (okay, we know that there are no coincidences.... God led me to this) a bible study called "Scouting the Divine" by Margaret Feinberg. She looks into the themes of sheep/shepherds, farming, vineyards, and beekeeping in the Bible and connects them with real people from today and the modern practices of these "jobs". She also brings in the history and culture behind these themes. We are learning so much!!! And I'm now connecting so much more with sheep and shepherds in my daily life here - serving the people of Peru.

Just today, we watched a small herd of sheep and their two shepherds... the sheep managed to get away from the shepherds (who were walking behind the sheep) and take off down the mountain, at which point the shepherds began yelling and running after them. A little while later, here they came again, back up the mountain, this time being LED by the shepherds and everyone (the sheep) was following in line and behaving. Hmmmmm..... It was a great illustration of some of the things we had just studied this week about good and bad shepherds and how sheep react to being pushed vs. led.

I highly recommend this Bible study... even if you don't live in Peru or spend time daily with shepherds or farmers! I think you will connect with the Bible a little bit better if you dig deeper into these themes.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Moment in the life of the Stream

Yesterday, we spent the day with some great Peruvian friends. They happen to have a house that sits "on the stream" that goes through town... literally, their house is not 10 feet from the stream. The good part is that they sit "above" the stream about 10 feet, too, on a little ridge. So, from their backyard I had a really good view of the comings and goings at the stream all day. Now, that might sound all romantic and nice, but reserve your judgement until you read all of what happened at the stream in a matter of 2 or 3 hours...
  • I watched two young girls take baths and wash their hair in the pool in the bend of the stream. (no, they weren't naked! They bathed the exposed parts of their bodies while wearing shorts and tank tops.)
  • When the girls left, I watched a woman bring the breakfast dishes to the same pool and do dishes.
  • About 15 minutes after the dishwasher left, a husband and wife came to the same pool and proceeded to wash mystery meat parts. At one point, they washed intestines by pouring stream water through the intestines MANY times... all the while, the dog sat below them in the stream and caught any stray meat parts that were washed out.
  • Upstream from the meat washers about 10 yards (at the same time the meat washers were working) 4 little boys decided to wash all of their muddy toys.
  • A few minutes later, a woman came down with a broom. Her pigs have been tied up about 15 feet from the stream all this time. She proceeds to sweep the pig area and tidy up the place by sweeping all of the pig-ness to the stream.
Are you getting the picture? And my friends live toward the bottom end of town, so this stream has already passed through much of the village. No telling what has occurred upstream from my where I was perched... Is it any wonder that we have so many complaints of stomach issues, intestinal parasites, e.coli, etc?????

PS - Did I mention that this town has no public sewage / drainage yet?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

camping

We went camping this weekend... You have to understand that our family is of the mindset that unless you backpack for miles and unless it is super primitive and unless you have to suffer greatly for the privlege of being alone in God's wilderness, then it just isn't camping. We raised the boys that way. We have made fun of the "sissies" that camp with air mattresses and pull up in their fancy campers and hook up to the electricity at the campsite and complain because the water in the shower isn't hot enough. That is NOT camping! In the States, we have some friends who actually complained that their microwave broke during their "campout" and that they were so happy that they had a DRYER in their camper! We quickly informed them that they were not campers... they were on a rolling hotel vacation.

So, back to the weekend. Yes, we did backpack to our site, although it was not a very long hike in (we are, mind you, backpacking with a 6 year old ballarina princess). And, no, we did not have electricity or water or bathrooms or showers. We did have to cook on our backpack stove, and it was VERY cold at night, and we did not have lanterns or any conveniences. But it was still very mild compared to our past camping experiences. The boys would have said it wasn't good enough, but they are "Indiana Jones/National Geographic/Jeff Corwin" type campers... if you're not muddy and bloody when it's over, it wasn't camping :)

But the point was to get away for a day or two and for Sarah to have a great time in the country, and we accomplished both of those goals. We had a roaring fire (Thank you, Jesus, because I think I would have frozen to death without it). We looked at the stars and planets in a near-perfect sky. We were amazed by owls flying and hunting near us. We managed to surprise several shepherds who obviously are not accustomed to random gringos setting up tents and starting fires in the country. It was a lot of fun!

In the morning, after breakfast and coffee (and after Sarah made friends with a grazing sheep she named Margaret), we decided to hike back in a different direction. We took off over the first hill in the direction of a nearby town. The views as we hiked over the mountains were fabulous! We hiked past shepherds and through fields of wheat and other grains, past a group of farmers harvesting and sorting potatoes, through streams and beautiful valleys of wildflowers... I was so great that when we arrived at the town, we decided that we just weren't finished with hiking yet! So we decided to hike some more and head over the next mountain to the next town. Again, breathtaking views and incredible wildflowers, rock formations, etc.

I can't wait until the next campout...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Animals

My experiences with animals IN ONE DAY...
  • During my quiet time, Sarah rocked the rocking chair onto the dog's foot. The screaming and crying and whimpering that followed was WAY less than quiet.
  • The cat came running into the house after we found him trapped in Sarah's playhouse. We chased him down to make sure that he went outside for awhile to take care of his morning business. However, he refused to leave the porch because the ground was wet from the rain last night. He just sat at the door and meowed.
  • I dodged several piles of animal business taking Sarah to and from her morning lessons.
  • The parrot is depressed... don't know if she is sick or cold or what, but she isn't speaking today and won't leave her cage. Great - nothing like having a depressed parrot! Are there parrot counselors?
  • On the way to Iscos, we had to change cars and get into a collectivo. Although the animals were not present at the moment, they had obviously been VERY CLOSE to the people who were riding with us!
  • Arrived in Iscos and was immediately met on the path by two bulls, a donkey, and a sheep. The donkey and the sheep didn't particularly cause me any alarm, but I'm from Texas and you don't just go walking down the path head-on with two bulls! And, by the way, they both had big horns! I survived and made it into the building to see our students.
  • Left the building to walk to the park for recess, only to again meet the donkey in the path. However, this time he was rolling around on his back in the middle of the path and there was no getting around him. So we waited for him to finish his roll. Then we passed him and headed to the park.
  • On the way back from the park, with 20 children in tow (ages 3 & 4 years old), TWO MORE BULLS, a cow, two pigs and several sheep turned onto the path directly behind us. The bulls were being pretty vocal about who should have the right of way on the path, and I was agreeing. But have you ever tried to herd 20 preschoolers??? It's like herding cats! We managed to get back to the classroom without being trampled, butted, kicked, or tossed - but we were a little muddier than we wanted to be.
  • While we had Kid's Club, the guinea pigs (cuy) sang along with our songs in their high pitched squeeling voices.
  • After Kid's Club, we left the building to catch a car back to Chupaca. Guess who was outside the door??? The two bulls, the donkey and the sheep! We did our best to quietly and casually walk by.
  • A dog fight ensued while we waited to catch a car. Then one of the losers in the dog fight came toward us and decided to take out his sore-loser complex on Sarah via some ugly barking and threats, but she was saved by her faithful steed (she was riding her stick horse).
  • We changed from the car to the combi in Chupaca and headed back to Huancayo. We were detained at one point because a huge passenger bus (think Greyhound or fancy tour bus) was stopped in the road. When we could finally see what was happening, we had to laugh... the entire luggage compartment below the bus was filled with sheep. They were trying to offload the sheep in the middle of the road and herd them toward the market area - tomorrow is animal market day. Amazing! An entire luggage compartment filled with sheep!
All of that before lunch...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Prayers needed

A dear friend sent me this poem last night, and I thought it was perfect for the start of this very difficult day:

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;*
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My morning - goodbye UGA...

4:45 a.m. Look at the clock and silently curse that my body clock has been reset to wake up at the time that the cooks have been arriving each day - except they don't work today, so I'm awake for nothing. Roll back over and try to sleep a little longer.

5:50 a.m. Open my eyes and bolt out of bed. Tell Billy that it is 5:50 - he says that he set his alarm for 6, to which I remind him that we are in charge of breakfast for the team this morning and it is at 6:30. Now he jumps out of bed, too. Both of us run downstairs in our pajamas and scramble to make coffee and get the breakfast buffet (continental breakfast) out in the dining room and make sure all dishes/silverware/glasses, etc are out and ready. Run back upstairs to get dressed and ready.

6:20 a.m. For the first time all week, the Peruvian translators are here EARLY! They have come to say goodbye to the team. They are amazed that they are first today.

6:30 a.m. The team arrives at the front door with all of their luggage in tow, ready for their last breakfast before they board the bus for Lima. Tears flow again as the team sees that the Peruvian translators are here to see them off.

6:35 a.m. The boys on the team break into a spontaneous BackStreet Boys song and serenade the girls. Hysterical! Laughter flows for quite a while afterwards. Sarah wobbles down the stairs in her Hannah Montana jammies and says that the singing woke her up, but she is happy and in a good mood about it.

6:50 a.m. I cannot believe that we have already drained two giant thermos push-pots of coffee! College kids really put away the java!

7:00 a.m. Billy flags down two taxis and loads all of the luggage. He and Ritchie take the luggage to the bus station to begin the check-in process while the team finishes up breakfast and says their goodbyes. I realize that he left without saying goodbye to us... I know he just forgot, but I'm a little sad. I'll call him later on his cell.

7:15 a.m. I give the "10 minute warning" for last-chance bathroom stops, water, etc. The team starts taking last minute photos with us and gathering their things. Tears begin to flow again. Johana escapes the sadness by doing breakfast dishes in the kitchen for me.

7:25 a.m. Rosa appears with Abel. They are here to say their goodbyes to the team and to pick up empty plastic bottles for recycling. The team begins to file out the door. Lots of hugs and kisses and tears. Aaron and Leah stand at the door and count heads.

7:30 a.m. They're off - walking to the bus station with their Peruvian counterparts. Audra and I begin to straighten the house and picking up breakfast things. Ash and Arthur have a conversation about leadership training and mission things, then they begin to move the tables back to the McEuen's house before running off to a local leadership workshop.

7:45 a.m. Phone rings... Billy realized that he forgot to tell us goodbye. He talks to me, then Sarah. We'll see him again tomorrow morning.

7:50 a.m. Audra and I finish with putting furniture back where it belongs and separating dishes. Mary Alice disappeared into thin air... where on Earth did she go? Maybe she went to help Ash and Arthur???

8:00 a.m. Mostly done... Audra goes home. We assume Ash and Arthur have gone on to the leadership workshop. Never did find Mary Alice again. I piddle around a little more, putting small things away and carrying things back upstairs. Darwin calls to tell us about two meetings Monday - says he'll call again tomorrow when Billy gets home. Rosa sets a meeting for Monday morning with Billy to discuss Kid's Club. Sarah wants to play Candy Land or Barbies or horses or stuffed animals with me when I finish. Charlotte and Oreo (dog and cat) are running around the house like crazed beasts - excited that the furniture is back to normal and they have space to play. They find a SuperBall and begin to bounce it and chase it around the first floor. Jackie (parrot) is yelling that she hasn't been fed yet. All I can think about is the leftover pizza in the fridge, a cup of coffee, and a nap.

It's only 8 a.m. Can I just turn the rest of the world off, or at least on pause, just until tomorrow? Please??? No, I guess I'll just blog for a bit and then go play a riveting game of CandyLand... I'm hoping to draw the double purple card right off the bat :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Teams, Open Doors, Relational Ministry


Okay, okay, okay... I KNOW it has been over a month since I posted. Honestly - I'm terrible at this! Sometimes I think I have something good to write about, but by the time I actually get home and have time to post it, it just doesn't seem so interesting anymore... at least not interesting enough for other people to read. And then there's my "awesome team members" that keep bringing up the fact that I haven't posted in so long... Thanks, Guys, for being my constant accountability partners and reminding me of how behind I am in the blog world! :)

So, what have we been up to??? Well, we had a couple of awesome teams come to Peru to do some short-term mission work over the past few weeks!

The team from McDonough UMC, Georgia came down and spent a week doing a two-part mission -- they spent their mornings working in a local orphanage leading Kid's Club and loving on the children, and they spent their afternoons working with the pueblo of Cochas leading Kid's Club and helping the town to open 3 new Kid's Clubs of their own. To say that it was an incredible week is a gross understatement! It was beyond incredible and they really opened many doors for us "full timers" who will now follow up on their work and further the ministry via the groundwork they laid.

We also had a team from the University of Georgia - Wesley Foundation. They spent a week doing various ministries... they worked with a local Christian school leading chapel each day and teaching in the English classes, they performed in several concerts during the week, they helped with small groups, and they helped us work with a new ministry to local prostitutes. One of the things that this particular team did that was a real treat and treasure to us was they came with the desire to pray over and speak blessings into the lives of the Peruvian workers that work with us in the ministry, and to encourage and pray for us - the full time missionaries on the field.

Both teams spent time learning culture and working to understand more about the ministries here, the people here, and how God is working in lives here in Peru. Relational ministry is all about building relationships with EVERYONE... with your team, with the missionaries, with the locals, with the cooks and translators and neighbors, etc, etc, etc. As short term team coordinators, we feel that a VITAL part of our job is to facilitate and foster these relationships.

We have had a wonderful few weeks and God has opened many doors for us. Now we say goodbye to short term teams for a while (until mid April) and we work to walk through those doors God has opened and build upon the work that the short-termers did while they were here. It's a full-time job, but we are so happy to have "part time team members" that come in and help us... they round out our team and our lives. Thanks, McDonough UMC and UGA-Wesley!!! We loved hosting you and we truly love what you have given to Peru and to us! Rest assured, we are watering the seeds that you planted! Thank you!!!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Too much on my mind...

I keep thinking that I need to blog, but then I get distracted because there is just too much on my mind! There's probably a reason that my devotional readings every day for the past week or so have been about patience, don't worry, focus on Jesus, etc...

What's on my mind?
  • Trying to entertain Billy's mom. She has been here for three weeks. One more week and then she will return to the USA. I know she doesn't have to be entertained, but you feel obligated to show people a good time and teach them all about Peru when they fly all this way to see it! So when we are entertaining her, I feel guilty because I'm not working. And when I'm working, I feel guilty because I'm not spending time with her. It's a catch 22.
  • The first short term team of 2010 comes in Friday, so we are trying to wrap up all the loose ends and get everything done before their arrival.
  • When you have people, you have conflicts. Inner strife and struggles among people who need to work as a team, etc...
  • My good friend back home just lost her son in an accident this weekend... feeling so far away and really wanting to be there with my friends right now as they all come together to comfort Terri.
  • Sarah is sick - not fun for anyone, especially Sarah.
  • The mayor of Iscos is still working to make us move (Kuyay Talpuy school). Not that we really care what he does, but it is a constant daily stress that he is causing. Trying to be Christian and maintain my good values and nice-ness is really starting to wear me down!
  • Intently following my friend, Erin, as she serves as a disaster nurse in Haiti right now. She has been working long hours with little equipment or support. She has been stuck twice in one week with dirty needles. She needs a lot of prayers.
Okay - so I'm not whining, just saying that THERE IS A LOT ON MY MIND! Lot's of good things are happening, too, thank goodness!
  • Got to Skype with Navasota High School today and see lots of my old students (now freshmen and sophmores) and teach lessons on Peruvian culture and geography, etc. That was cool!
  • We have a great doctor and clinic around the corner... we took Sarah in on an emergency visit with severe stomach cramps, chills, and a high fever. We saw the doctor, received our meds, and were back home within 30 minutes! And it only cost us $20 total. That ROCKS!!!
  • Finally finalized the team of translators, cooks, workers, etc for the upcoming team.
  • Talked to my best friend in the States today on the phone.
It's all gonna work out in the end. As Billy says, "It's all good."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Organized

We're trying to get organized... okay, truth be known, I'M trying to get organized. Anyone who knows us well knows that I (laurie) am the one who cares about organization and Billy is happy with however things fall, literally. So I have taken advantage of the past couple of days (Billy has been gone to Lima) and I have cleaned and reorganized the mission office. It feels AWESOME! I am not so naive as to think that it will stay this way... in fact, I am pretty sure that by bedtime tonight, it will be a disaster again. But at least it feels really good right now.

My reason for working so hard to try to get organized is that we have A LOT on our plate right now and we can't afford to not be organized. We have several short-term teams coming this year and we have to be completely on-the-ball to pull this off. The first team of the year will arrive in four weeks and we are in the final stages of getting them here. While they are here, we will have a visitor arrive from the States for several days to work (yes, their travel plans overlap). Two weeks after the first team departs, the next team arrives. And so it will go until mid-August... teams coming, teams going, visitors coming and going, interns arriving to work for a few months, etc. And not much time in between. Therefore, we have to be prepared and organized:
  • reservations at hotels must be made anywhere from 30-60 days in advance and a deposit must be paid when the reservations are made (in person, of course) which means a trip to Lima to pay up.
  • transportation must be arranged (charter busses or tickets on bus lines, local transportation, etc). Again, deposits must be paid.
  • food - cooks need to be contracted, menus prepared, shopping at the market, reserves of gas ordered, etc.
  • translators must be contracted
  • ministry initiatives must be finalized and a Peruvian team must be assembled to work alongside the North Americans
  • Schedules must be finalized and ministry initiatives programmed
  • Water needs to be purchased in bulk, water filters need to be changed...
  • Who is going to Lima to pick up the team and accompany them? (that means at least 2 days of travel for that person) Who is leading devotionals and worship time? Who is responsible for the training and accountability?
And these are only some of the things on the checklist for a "regular" short-term ministry team. If it is a medical mission, you can add about 50 more things to the list!!!

In other words, organization is not a luxury - it is a MUST! And we still have on-going ministries that don't stop while short-term teams are here. For this reason, we always have Peruvian counterparts who we train and work with daily so that the ministries are Peruvian-run and will continue in our absence.

So I gave Billy a bad rap in the first paragraph... in reality, he likes the organization and he will be happy to see the office when he gets home today. He just isn't the one who LIVES for organization. Billy is happy with however things are. I, on the other hand, would be really excited if I get to heaven and find out that The Container Store has recently redecorated God's throne room! Or if Tupperware has a special section in heaven... wow! Just imagine it!!! That would be perfect!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Start

Okay - don't pass out! I know it has been a LONG time since I last posted a blog. Honestly, I just plain ol' got tired. I know that isn't a good excuse, but it's the truth. But recently I was guilted in to trying to give it a go again... a new start for the new year. So, I'll try to be better at posting regularly. I'm not promising that the posts will always be exciting or adventurous, because life just isn't always exciting or adventurous. But I will try to keep you updated a little better...

We just returned from taking Laurie's mom and both boys back to Lima to catch their planes for the USA. They spent 3 weeks here with us to celebrate Christmas. Of course, each person had a different flight on a different day, so this meant spending an entire week in Lima going back and forth to the airport, sleeping in a hotel, and finding ways to stay occupied during the day. Because the bus ride from our home in Huancayo to Lima is 7+ hours one-way, going home in between flights just wasn't an option. Needless to say, we know lots more about Lima now than before, as we have walked the streets and visited every possible museum or ruin imaginable!

Back in Huancayo now, we are getting back to work and starting the year in a whirlwind. We spent the beginning of this week redesigning the newsletter. This being the beginning of the 5th year for the newsletter (not our 5th year in Peru, but the 5th year since our acceptance of the call to Peru), we were getting a little tired of the "old look" and wanting to spice it up a little. We won't be doing that again any time soon.... what a stress! However, it is now done with a new look and feel and we have a new start for the newsletter now. The website and blog will come next, but don't hold your breath... they are pretty far down the priority list!

The rest of our time right now is being taken up by planning for the short-term teams that are coming to serve in Peru in 2010. The first team will arrive in a month, so we are in the finalizing stages of getting their registrations, reservations, bus tickets, food prep and menus, ministry activities, supplies, etc... lots to do to get ready for just one week of service with a short-term team! Less than two weeks after that team leaves, another one comes in - so we have to be ahead of the plans on everyone. And the existing ministries can't fall behind... we still have to keep the Kuyay Talpuy school running and the disciple meetings going and the Kid's Club moving... Thank goodness we have good Peruvian workers who can pretty much do everything without us!

Sarah has begun her "vacaciones utiles" (Useful Vacation) classes. Pretty much that just equates to "summer enrichment programs" in the USA. She is taking a package of classes that is offered at an art institute close to our house... piano, art, dance, and theatre - each class is one hour. She goes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for January and February. This is only offered during summer vacation here. Most Peruvian children do not take extracurricular activities during the school year, only during vacation time. However, Sarah will continue with the piano lessons when the school year starts in March. During the regular school year, piano is 5 days a week/1 hour each day. She is loving her classes. As I type this, she is upstairs practicing "Happy Birthday" on the piano (electric keyboard) so she will be ready for class tomorrow.

Laurie is about to start planning for Sarah's homeschool curriculum that will begin again in March. Because of the teams that are coming and the demanding time schedule that we will soon have, she needs to get the plans set and materials purchased so all will go smoothly when March arrives. Billy's mother is coming next week to spend a month with us and she is playing "pack mule" to 50 pounds of school books for Sarah's lessons! And another visitor in February is trying to bring in some science materials that we are hoping for.

Okay - enough for now. We are sharing a computer right now (hard drive crash on the desktop computer) and Billy is waiting to get back on here and get back to work on the team preparations. I promise to do better on the blogging... ~Laurie