Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

This Is Home

A lot has happened in these past two weeks and I’m slightly dissappointed in myself for not keeping up better tabs with my blog to keep you all better informed.  For that, I’m sorry.  Yet, there is much to praise God about from this time. 

We are now in Puno!  We are finally here.  I mean, we are FINALLY HERE!  Thank goodness. 

There are so many things that I want to fill you in on.  I’ll try to give you the best of the best of what’s happened.  On the 4th we packed all of our things into one big moving truck and sent it ahead to Puno and followed it in route, leaving Arequipa at 2 a.m. on a bus.  I was so happy that I took my earplugs, it made all the difference and I was surprisingly well rested by the time we got to Puno. 

We get to the house and we are all peeing our pants with anticipation, because remember how we never saw this house?  I was in the first taxi to get to the house and the owner, Asuncion, greeted us and directed us into the house.  We went up to the second floor, which is accessible from outside, and she tells me that the people that were living in the house are still downstairs and can’t move out for three days yet.  This is exactly what we feared would happen.  Chad’s taxi pulled up right when she told me this so I just smiled and said, “okay,” and went and told Chad… and then said, “Let’s be gracious!” 

Turns out, that the man living downstairs was moving to another place, but that person hadn’t moved out yet, so he couldn’t move out yet.  It’s a culture thing we are finding out.  So, we brought everything that we could into the second floor and then sent some over to the Pastor’s house for storage.  The third floor wasn’t to be open for us, but Asuncion let the guys put all their mattresses in the “living room” type tin roof thing on the third floor and that’s where we slept for the midterm.  The Duerre’s took refuge in one of the guy’s rooms with the kids… which was tight, and the girls took the other guy’s room. 

Have you guessed it yet?  Have you figured it out?  You might not have, but if you were us and know what Peru is like you’d have guessed it by now.  The man didn’t move out of the downstairs apartment for a little over a week… not just three days.  But, if they had moved out promptly, Asuncion and her family would not be doing the work they are on the house to fix it up for us.  It is turning out to be the perfect house for us, even though we never saw it.  God definitely came through and provided for us again! 

Through all this mess Asuncion shared with us that we have been a tremendous witness to her family and the people who lived downstairs.  Asuncion is a Christian woman, but her husband and son are not.  We have been able to show them Christ’s love through this epidemic.  It’s really been quite amazing, though at times uncomfortable. 

But, now we are all moved into the house, for the most part.  Asuncion is making a ton of repairs on the house and also is adding on a shower room for the Duerre family on the first floor and she is painting everything and she is tiling the patio in the back AND she is putting carpeting down in the Duerre’s bedroom AND she is getting cupboards and kitchen furniture for downstairs.  She says that God deserves the best and since we are servants of the Lord this is her way of giving Him the best.  Amen! 

We have been so blessed with the new family that we are encountering in Puno.  Around Thanksgiving I thought I was never more thankful in my life.  It’s bee superseded.  I have never been more thankful in my life than right now with the people that God has provided for us.  The support that we have in Puno.  The very second day that we were here in Puno a group of us walked out of the house to go shopping for some things for the house.  On our way out the door we bumped into a friend of the Pastor’s, Hermelinda.  We greeted each other and then she said she would help us go shopping.  We walked around Puno getting prices of everything that we needed so we could come back another day.  While walking around the city she shared her heart with us and how she wanted to start an English school to bring people to the church…  This was actually one of the first things that she said to me, which at that moment I knew she was a Godsend, because this is part of Joel and my plan for our ministry, teaching English!  Later, she tells me that she is opening a restaurant in her house, something in Peru that we call a menu.  That means, REALLY CHEAP LUNCH!  Her price is S./5 or about a dollar and a half.  You get soup, a plate of food, juice and dessert.  It’s unbeatable.  She only lives six houses down from us.  It’s such a blessing… AND she’s a Christian woman willing to help us in any way possible. 

Then, there’s the Pastor and his wife.  To hear them talk about this city has been a blessing in itself.  They are so passionate and loving toward this people and they are so willing to help us as well.  We were very scared about getting to know the Pastor, because he is ultimately the boss of us here in Puno.  He knows the land, the people, everything.  We have to follow him and if he had a false impression of our purpose here in Puno (e.g. building numbers in his own church) then we would be having some difficult head-butting situations.  But, Praise GOD!!!!!!  He is on board and knows our purpose and is passionate about it as well!  They have told us numerous times that if we need anything we ought to let them know. 

There’s also a family in the church that invited us over to their house just the other day to bake.  They found out that Kristen and I love to make food so we went over to make some brownies.  Milagros is the woman’s name and Paul is her husband and they have a little 3 year old boy Mateo.  We made brownies and just had a whole afternoon filled with fellowship.  They were so warm and welcoming and also offered their help for anything that we need. 

We are all so very very very blessed to be working with this church here in Puno!  They are all willing and active in the church.  We are just so blessed.  Praise God.

Here are some pictures of the house.  I have a link here that is a photo album of the rest of the things.  There’s just too many to put here. 

The house we live in!!!  Pretty purple!     This is the house.  I didn’t realize how big it looked until I was taking this picture.  It’s HUGE!

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(Top Right) This is what our showercurtain rod is hung up with… take a guess at what it is, that’s right, a telephone cord! (Top Left) Our kitchen is a great size.  We now have curtains up so people can’t see in at night.  Unfortunately, that nice dinning set is Chad and Amanda’s and though it’s still up here, it’s going down soon.  (Mid right) This is the view we have from outside our kitchen window. (Mid Left) Our electric showerhead is our second savior.  It makes a whishing sound when it’s on… that’s when you know you have HOT WATER!!!!! (Bottom right) We called him Rex.  We have no idea what his real name is, but he’s the dog next door that likes to peek out this hole on his owners roof.  We’ve met him on the street and he is a BEAUTIFUL boxer.  Everyone is scared of him, but I know he is just a ball of dog fun!  He is actually really really sweet and friendly.  (Bottom left) This is our back patio that Asuncion is going to be tiling.  Those dogs are gross, and not kind. 

Lately, God has been walking me through fear.  This is something that I dealt with when I first got to Peru as well.  Today I read through Phillipians in the first chapter.  Paul talks about how living in Christ is living and death would be going to Him.  I don’t think I’m going to die here in Peru, but I’ve been fearing the encounters we’ll have with aggressive people.  In Ephesians I read in chapter six how the battle we fight is not of the flesh, rather it is spiritual.  This gave me comfort, because obviously nothing can touch me spiritually.  I am safe.  We have already claimed victory in Christ on spiritual warfare, the rest doesn’t really matter. 

Please, continue praying that God will prepare the hearts in Puno.  He is making such obvious displays of his provision already that it’s hard to doubt that He’s going to do more.  We are so happy and are praising the Lord in what He’s done already. 

Also, before I forget, we were giving our districts for where we will be working.  These are probably just names to you, but keep these district names in your prayers as well.  Joel and I have Santa Rosa, Ricardo Palma and Juli (pronounced Hhhhhhoo-lee).  I’m excited to go to Juli because it is called Peru’s Little Rome!  OOOOOooo!   

That is all for now!  Love you all!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It’s Ho Ho H-over!

Guess what!  In Peru, people celebrate Christmas too!  - Amanda

This year’s Christmas I would say has been, well I’m sitting here looking at those words and I have a million words that could fit.  Here’s a few: shut-up, stretching, blessed, numb, unifying, sad, happy, exhausting, relaxing.  I definitely missed the high-strung element of Christmas that most of you in the States suffered through.  Sorry! 

I think there were a lot of things that went through my head this Christmas.  Sometimes I was confused that I wasn’t as upset that I was so far from home for Christmas.  Other times I was frustrated with my partner for not being more excited about Christmas.  On Christmas day I felt disconnected with him and he went to a church service in the evening… I was upset.  But, I was happy to be with people that I love and got to spend such an important day with them. 

This year I thought a lot about Mary and what she must have went through.  Sometimes, I don’t like that it seems that the originality of thought is gone from biblical stories.  It feels cliché to talk about what Mary must have been thinking, and I absolutely despise the song “Mary Did You Know?”  Sorry, all you folks out there that idolize this song… it’s actually a song I could do without the rest of my life.  But, in the story of Christ’s birth represented in Luke 2:19 that Mary stored up the things the Shepherds told her, about the angels and what they said.  It just had to of been wild being her.  These people were real humans.  I think that something we forget about often.  They were not majestic people, but ordinary and simple.  They had thoughts and feelings and it had to of been a complicated mess of emotions and thoughts that Mary was filtering through.  And yet she was faithful.

Because we did not have snow and all the things Christmas staples that make Christmas-time feel like Christmas-time, we had to put a real effort forward to get ourselves in the mood.  One could call it, Christmas foreplay.  I decided to take my lunch money and buy some felt to make everyone who would be here for Christmas a Christmas stocking.  It took about a week to make everyone’s stocking, but it really helped me get into Christmas.


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On Christmas Eve we had a partaaaaaay!  Amanda and I baked all day long and even the day before we were working until late at night to make all our awesome cookies.  So, on Christmas Eve we all got together and had communion, then read the Christmas story.  After that it was a free-for-all to the spread.

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Then after we were all done eating, we played a few games.  First, we played Bing-o.  There were prizes to be won!  We played like you play the White Elephant.  Prizes could be stolen.  Franci ended up with a soap case and a wash cloth, Joel got notebooks, Allison got chapstick, Ella got a pen, and I got a keychain!  Then we played a game Sixto suggested.  His games are always interesting.  I’ve written three attempts to explain the game and it’s just not worth the trouble.  The gist is you pass two rags around the circle and you have to untie and retie knots in them and if you are caught with the two rags in your lap, you are out.  If you are out, then you get a punishment.  Lindy was a statue and had to let us put him in whatever possition we put him in, Franci had to chug a glass of soda, Joel had to put on lipstick, Vincent had to do push-ups, Gladys had to walk like a duck, and Geremias had to hop like a bunny. 

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We had fun fun fun fun!  Later, Garren put on his Christmas pajamas he had gotten from home and joined the kids in their new pajamas.  Then, the kids put out some cookies and milk for Santa Claus.  Thomas had to have chocolate milk in his cup for Santa.

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Then, Garren’s family in the States always watched “It’s a Wonderful Life,” on Christmas Eve, so following this tradition we sat down to watch it.  Amanda decided right away she was going to not make it through the movie, so went to bed.  Chad followed soon after, but both were awakened to the following bustle in the streets.  I tried posting the video here, but it’s not working.  Just check out my facebook wall, I have the video there. 
On Christmas Day we were all supposed to get together at 7:30 am to open presents, but it’s apparently not as exciting for the Peruvians to wake up really early in the morning just to open presents.  So, we ended up opening presents closer to 9:00.  Chad and Amanda had setup a pretty sweet presentation for us. 


We all got a blanket, toothbrush, razor, 2011 agenda, Choko cookies, and some candy.  


And Chad and Amanda got these stellar hats. 


Then, we crashed and I skyped with my parents!  There was really nothing I could do for them for Christmas, sending wise, it’s even more expensive sending from here to the States, at least it seems to be so.  This is what I decided to do for my family. 

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!  And I hope everyone has a Happy New Year!  We officially are moving to Puno the 5th of January!  Please pray that all of our things arrive in Puno safely! 

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Can you believe that it’s almost Christmas?  We have been working really hard to get ourselves into the Christmas spirit.  It’s strange, almost like a chore.  I’ve wondered the years that I was in college why Christmas never seemed the same, and now I’m realizing that if you just let it pass by it’s not going to hold much meaning.  Last year I put up a tree in our humble house and I had friends come over to help me decorate and we made pretty little decorations as crafts.  It was such a good time and I’m making myself sad thinking about it.  Dang it!

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I’m glad that I happened to have these pictures handy form last year.  They make me feel good.  The white stars were made out of ribbon, something my mother and sister and I used to make for Christmases.  The white flowers and ball were origami.  The red and gold ornaments were Wal-Mart provided… that dear store.  Now, I’m listening to Owl City and it’s taking me back to the winter drives back and forth from Mount Vernon to home.  I was really naïve to think that the Christmas season wasn’t going to be hard.  If I had known last year where I’d be this year then I would have done better to appreciate it.  Our tree here stands at a lowly two feet tall.  Ooooo.  At least it is thicker than a Charlie Brown tree. 

This is my favorite picture of our Christmas tree with Thomas and Ella!

Maybe not much more…  But this is my favorite picture of the kids with the tree!

There have been quite a few people that have gone home for the Christmas season, so now it’s just Garren and I as the only two North Americans and then the Duerre family.  I think it’s been good for us though, having our time together.  My Christmas wish this year was a DSLR camera, but I don’t think that’s going to happen, I’m going to have to keep on stealing Kristen’s and Amanda’s.  This Thursday is our baking day!  We are making Pill Bottle Cookies, these awesome Soft Sugar Cookies with a Frosting I found, maaaaybe Autumn Cheesecake and some other things Amanda has up her sleeve.  Check out the links, you might find something you like and remember to check out The Handicapped Kitchen every once in a while to see what I’ve got going on in the kitchen.  I’ve also been working on making everyone who is here a stocking.  I got some felt and beads and went to work.  I’ll post some pictures later this week!

To help us get into the Christmas spirit the kids had a Christmas program at the church where they go to school.  I was so excited to go! 

“Jo jo jo, yo soy la Navidad, porque tengo muchos regalos para todos los ninos” “Vamos hasta Belen, para que veamos los que ha sucedido”

Thomas was Santa Claus and Ella was a pastorcita or a little shepherd.  They both had lines in Spanish too!  We are so proud of them, even though they never speak Spanish in front of us. 

I believe that I’ve shared with you that we found our house in Puno.  One hardship down… here’s another!  One of our best here in Peru has gone home to deal with a difficult situation.  Roy’s mother has been in and out of the hospital and they are now trying to dissolve some clots that she has in her lungs.  His family has said that she seems to have given up hope and he has decided to go home for some time to see if he can turn the situation at all.  He has until the end of January to decide if he can come back and still be able to join the Puno team.  If not, he can join with a future team to a future city project.  Please pray that he is able to make an easy decision.  We are behind him no matter the result. 

Thank you all for your prayers.  I love you all so much and hope you have a very Merry Christmas!  I’ll be sure to post later this week with cookie and stocking pictures! 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Three Days in Puno

Do any of you like to travel via Greyhound?  Believe it or not I’m posting this entry from a bus on the way back to Arequipa from Puno.  Chad has a Internet key you can plug into the USB port of your computer and anywhere we have Claro phone service we have internet service as well.  Who would have thought in Peru we’d have this kind of technology?  We tried watching some T.V. online but it wasn’t strong enough a connection. 

I figure I should give you a heads up on how our house search went in Puno.  We left early Sunday morning to get in Puno in the afternoon and still be able to go to their church service at 6 pm.  Saturday I woke up with the start of a pretty ugly cold.  Sunday morning I woke up feeling the worst I have yet in Peru.  I don’t know what it was, whether it was a cold or allergies, but Sunday morning I laid there and begged God to lay His healing hand on me.  Now from Arequipa we go 7,000 or so feet above sea level to 12,000 feet (don’t quote me on that).   With the heavy contrast in the change of altitude my congestion felt like it was turning into the jaws of life prying my head open.  Some of the others were getting ill too.  So, we definitely were seeing the spiritual warfare as we were trying to find this house.

The first day of searching the city was Monday.  If you’re asking how we knew how to look for homes here in Puno, I was thinking the same thing.  Basically we were told to walk around the city, knock on doors, and simply ask people if they knew of any places available.  There are very few places that will actually advertise in newspapers.  There are also walls around the city where ads are posted. 

(I just quickly want to add as a side note the poster we just passed.  Apparently, coming soon to a city near me is some kind of midget parade… don’t try to read too much into it, it means exactly what it says.  A midget show of some sort.)

We spent the day walking around the city asking everyone we could about houses.  Joel and I didn’t have any luck at all the whole day.  We were assigned to an area where it was basically just commercial buildings and nothing residential.  At the end of the day we all got together and talked about what was found.  One group found an anticresis, but we didn’t know if we would be approved for it. 

By Tuesday I had woken up feeling nearly 100% better, which I believe was seriously a divine healing from God.  So, Tuesday we sent some of the 40/40’s home, because we had already scoured the city and only had a couple appointments to look at a few places.  Chad, Garren, Sixto and I stayed and in the afternoon went to look at this one house.  It was a house the our Pastor used to live in, and he assured us that it would be a good fit.  We met the landlady there and she told us she had to ask the tenants if it would be okay if we could look in the house.  Well, they refused to let us in.  Throughout this whole ordeal we were thinking this would never happen in the States.  Are you kidding me?  Your landlord is here and is telling you to let them show their own property and you are saying no?  You are ridiculous. 

So, the landlady (her name is Asuncion) asks us in to her apartment, which is the third floor of the house she owns.  There, both she and the pastor try telling us it’s a great place and it will definitely work for our 14 people, but we were trying to be insistent that we couldn’t sign a contract for two years if we didn’t see the place.  Apparently, the renters had let Asuncion in with some other interested parties several times before and they were sick of letting more people in their house.  It was very frustrating… very Peruvian.  This house was kind of our last option too, so we were getting very upset that we couldn’t even see what potentially could be the best thing we had found yet, besides the anticrisis.  So, Asuncion told us we could sign on for three months and if we didn’t like it we could find another place.  We did it.

We had been praying for so long for the perfect place and the fact that God hadn’t given us anything quickly has been speaking to me that we needed to be faithful and believe that He would provide.  Now, this was the fifth time that we had come to Puno looking for a place and the one place we didn’t look at is the place that we decided on… and we all felt at peace with it.  Now we just have to tell everyone else on our team! 

My lap is getting hot from the computer.  Thank you all for your prayers.  We still might have to make another move after this, but praise the Lord that He has given us at least “a place to land,” as Chad says.  I’m excited to actually get to see this place, but we will have to wait until at least the 4th of January.  So, it looks like we are going to be spending Christmas in Arequipa!