Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hug Attacks and Blue Eyes

                I’m sorry that I have not kept better updates. So much has happened since my last post, not really sure where to start. Well, here’s some exciting news to tell, last week two of the girls from Morning Star Children’s home were able to leave with their families. Claudia was blessed with a great couple from Italy who, after spending a week here in Peru with her, were able to take begin their trip to her new home in Italy on Monday. I was blessed with an opportunity to speak and pray with her before her parents came to take her home. It was a special moment that I am very grateful to have gotten as well as the opportunity to have gotten to know her during my time here. Please be in prayer for this family as they adjust to living with each other and grow in their love for each other. Rita is another girl that through a series of events ended up at the children’s home but the court approval came through and her parents (who live in the mountains and had sent her down to Ferrenafe to receive an education) walked the four day journey down the mountain (this is the only mode of transportation for getting down the mountain they live in) to pick up their little girl. An exciting part of her story as well is that during her time here she professed to know Christ as her Savior and wanted to be baptized. Thankfully she was baptized on Sunday because she was reunited with her parents on Tuesday as they embarked on the four day journey back up the mountain. Please pray for Rita as she returns to her life in the mountains, that the transition would be smooth and that she would be a shining light in her community.
            So I was talking to someone the other day and I said something about my day to them and they found it interesting, even though it was something I now think of as ‘normal.’ So I am trying to look at Peru with new eyes once again in order to give a better view of life here. So here are just some random thoughts: 1) Sidewalks. Peruvian sidewalks are a disaster waiting to happen for clutzy people. They are uneven with random holes perfect for falling into. No joke, I have seen more of Peru while looking down than I have of it looking up. Without fail every time I look back to talk to someone, I end up tripping over something. 2) Dogs. On the fifteen minute walk to the compound there are about 100 dogs that loiter the streets (ok so maybe that number is a little high but it sure feels like it sometimes). Usually they keep to themselves but once in a while they get a little feisty. I have had many of them run after me barking and growling (thankfully they are scared of getting hit by rocks since that is what everyone does to them when they attack. So usually all you have to do is bend down like you are picking up a rock and they back off. However, I have been in situations with a dog nipping at my heels when all I had in my hand was a coffee mug, he got the message. And so far my ankles are still intact). 3) Blue eyes. Never in my life have I been complimented so much on my eyes. People will just stare at them and say how much they like them. My favorite was when this cute little three year old boy I was sitting next to (during a service at my friend’s church) leaned over his grandma to ask me what my name was and tell me that he thought my eyes were beautiful.
            And of course I love my kids at the school! Still not convinced that teaching is my calling (though it is for this particular time in my life) but I love just getting to love on the kids. My favorite part of the day with my three year olds is right after their Spanish class when I am sitting down (one of my only chances to do so during the day) and everyday Jhon will start a hug dog pile that ends with all twenty-two of them joining in. They just want someone to love them and spend time with them and I am privileged to be that person. My other favorite part of the day is after school and classes when I can just talk with my third graders and the other kids at the school. Some of them “walk us home” since their houses are on the way to where to I live. It starts as a big group from the school and then dwindles down as they each get to the street where they live. They talk and talk, even though they know that I don’t understand half of what they say, they just want someone to listen and to care. There such a need here for God’s love to be shared in a community of poverty and broken homes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Plague of Egyptian Proportions!!!!

            It’s hard to believe that I have already been here a month, time really flies when you’re having fun! For those of you who have been on me about finding a guy while I am here, well it has happened (and quickly at that!). We met at a get together for missionaries and volunteers in the area and he is the son of a missionary couple from South Africa. I know it’s fast but he already wants to marry me and is super sweet, I have decided though to take it slow so we shall see (the age and height might be a problem in the long run). I received my first ‘teacher’s apple’ (ok so in reality it was an orange and I couldn’t eat because it came from the market and needed to be cleaned first, but hey I got a fruit from a student, cool beans! And bunny trail with that, since the water is not clean and obviously the fruits and vegetables, we have to put everything including dishes in bleach water. I am pretty sure that by now my insides are nice and sparkly white)
            Crickets, who knew they were so big, there are so many and that they can fly! Cricket killing battles have become a nightly ritual for me, a part of my nightly routine. Kill  a couple crickets, wash my face, kill some more crickets, brush my teeth, kill some more, read my Bible, kill a boat load more, turn off the light, kill more and then go to bed and hope I killed enough (otherwise they play tag all night, flying around the room, in my bed and they must be blind or something because they run into everything, including me! Good thing I brought earplugs so I am able to block them out, because those little guys are loud). And they smell terrible when you smash them (don’t ask how I know that, trust me, you don’t want to know!) Then tonight I came in to find a full out Egyptian plague taking place in my room, they were everywhere! I spent five or ten minutes smashing and sweeping them up (filling up a whole dustpan) before I came back armed with tape and plastic bags to try and patch the holes in my ceiling that they are coming in through (right now I am really praying that they aren’t able to eat through plastic!) Needless to say I have opened my one bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups I brought with me….
            God has been teaching me a lot during my time here. Since coming here there have been things that have happened back home (for example when I found out my mom was in the hospital I was about ready to be on a plane back home) and I have felt like crap from being sick the whole time (I really take good health for granted until I no longer have it, it’s so nice to be able to breath out of my nose again and be able to make it through the day without falling exhausted into bed every couple of hours) and surprisingly I have not experienced any homesickness yet (although I do miss pumpkin spice coffee and lattes, thanks y’all for reminding me every day what I am missing out on with your daily facebook posts, I appreciate it! Haha just kidding but I do miss country music like crazy! And you better believe that what country I have on computer is blasted as I clean my room or work on lessons plans and worksheets) but I am enjoying my time here immensely and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now. I know that this is where God wants me and He has given me a peace and assurance of being here. I started reading I Corinthians on Monday and I found it interesting how it follows the pattern of what God has been teaching me the past couple of weeks, 26) “For consider your calling, brothers, not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many of you were powerful, not many of you were of noble birth. 27) But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. 28) God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are. 29) So that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30)And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord!’” Never before has this truth been more real to me than it is now. Every day I am faced with situations and circumstances that I am not equipped to handle, yet every time I know how to handle it or what to do. This is God working through me and is nothing I am doing in my own strength. Though it is not always easy, it is inspiring (and yes, sometimes tiring) to experience Him working through my life. And is important for me to daily be reminded that this is God’s hand in my life and not anything I am doing in myself, and I believe David said it best when he said, “I say to the Lord, you are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” [Psalm 16:2] For a long time I have been on a sort of quest that I will likely be on for the rest of my earthly life, figuring what it means to find my identity in Christ alone. Perhaps that is it, everything in me that is good, that is worth living for is Christ. Oh well, I still have a long way to go, God’s sure got His work cut out for Him with me!
            News from the compound, Strong Tower (the school) is gearing up for our Spring Picnic on Saturday! Please pray for this time of outreach to the parents and families of the students. Daniel’s parents (and little sister) arrived yesterday and will be leaving on Monday (Peru requires that all adopting families stay six days in the area with the child before leaving for good). Also, another of the children will (Lord willing) be adopted at the end of the month as well so prayers would be much appreciated for this process and the child as this progresses (and the cool thing is that somehow they know that they will be leaving even though they have not been told. They act different and just tonight they were writing sweet little letters for myself as well as the house parent). Thank you for your prayers, they are much appreciated and felt, hope y’all are starting to enjoy a little bit of fall (that is if we actually had a fall!)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My soup waved at me....and then I rode a Llama!

            This past weekend I was able to travel with twelve women from the church up the Andes Mountains to Cajamarca for a Women’s Retreat. We had to get up early in the morning to drive to the bus station in Chiclayo where I realized that I had not brought my passport (if I hadn’t already felt like a stupid American since coming here, I did then for sure). Thankfully someone was able to find it and bring it to me just as the bus was pulling out (literally he waved at them to stop as it was pulling out of the station). Now this bus was a double decker charter bus…and we went up and down twisty windy roads at speeds I never thought would have been possible in one of those. We rode on the top layer, and no joke, it swayed from side to side the whole time and when we would cut around corners that were never made for a vehicle that size, people and bags would slide from side of the bus to the other (and my seat buddy slept the whole time so he kept falling into my seat with each twist and turn). The trip was six hours long, so half way through it we made a stop where I paid to use the bathroom for the first time. Side note, for the first time in my life I am thankful that I am not taller because here everything is small and short. The bathroom walls and stalls come to my shoulders so I see everyone and they see me, there’s not room for my legs in rows, chairs are short (haha I have lost count of how many times I sit down with a thud because I wasn’t expecting it to be so low!), and steps are so small only half of my foot fits on them (this makes going down them interesting, I have adopted a sort of crab walk otherwise I end up falling). Back on the bus we watched a couple of movies, one of them being Battleship (which I am going to have to watch in English sometime because I really enjoyed it) and let me tell you, who needs those expensive 4D experience movie theaters when you can watch an action movie while swaying back and forth through sharp turns on a double decker bus!
            Once we got to Cajamarca we split up into groups of 2 and took motos (they have motos everywhere here. They are hard to describe but they are motorcycles that have three wheels with a bench in the back and then the driver rides on the front) to go to Central Biblico Cajamarca (Church). This was a beautiful campus with many school classrooms and a large auditorium (could seat about 200 on the floor level) that closely resembled a church you might find in the states, even had two stained glass windows. We attended opening services for the conference and then dropped into bed (many in our group were not feeling so well from the ride, altitude and colds). In the morning we got up at 5am to go to the Inca Hot Springs (because there was no water in the church bathrooms. Yeah use your imagination for how that would work with nearly 200 women staying there for 3 days…) for a MUCH needed bath. This was another first as I had never paid for a bath before but it was so worth it! It was the hottest shower I’ve had since coming to Peru and I absolutely enjoyed every minute of it.
At lunch I was not feeling so well and running a fever when one of the men set a nice big bowl of soup (in the mountains we ate soup at every meal, even breakfast. Though on a bright note, for the first time in my life people don’t look at me and assume that I don’t eat very much, buddy they pile my plate high and usually I eat every bit of it) with a big ‘ol chicken foot waving at me. As I ate my way around it, it just seemed to be taunting me from the slowly diminishing broth and potatoes (they also put potatoes in every meal, lets just say I am taking a potato fast for a little while). It was just bones and skin with no meat and I was trying to figure out if I could manage to get it down when one of the ladies I was eating with saw my distressed look and offered to eat it for me. I quickly said yes and she picked it up, popped it in her mouth and ate it all (even the bones) leaving nothing left in the bowl. Then the woman next to me proceeded to tell me how she cooks (and they eat) the whole chicken, head, beak, eyes and all! The rest of the table then laughed as I failed to hide the surprised look on my face. 
The weekend was filled with different speakers and workshops but on Saturday we all piled into buses to drive an hour and half more up the mountains to a community that is run by believers. It was a really neat place that grows their own food, makes various dairy products…and even has their own zoo complete with lions, bears, and jaguars (but no tigers). In order to complete our tour of the zoo we had to walk all over the mountain, in some spots climbing rocks and others crossing little streams. At one point I was starting to feel the altitude and lack of food (they served a strange green soup at breakfast that many people did not eat) when this little old lady (with a cane!) climbs up beside me and that gave me the needed energy to keep going (that and the chocolate covered marshmallow I had stuck in my backpack when they passed them out at morning meeting, yummy!). The view from the top was beautiful with mountains on all sides (this FL girl was loving all the mountains! It was way better than anything we have in Clermont! Haha). At one point some of us paid half a sole to take a picture on a llama, y’all I rode a llama…and the best part? It didn’t spit on me!
After a long day of ‘mountain climbing’, zoo exploring, and closing ceremonies we were headed to the bus station to catch our 9:45pm bus back to Chiclayo. Before we could board the bus we had to leave our fingerprint next to our seat number and then when we got on the bus they made us put our seat belts on (no one wears seat belts here so that plus the finger print made me feel a bit uneasy). As soon as we started down the mountain, I knew why they required all of that, this driver was majorly speeding! He was going so fast even I got a little dizzy (and I don’t ever get motion sickness), let’s just say that me and God had some good conversations as I fell asleep, praying for our lives. About an hour into the six hour trip I woke up to hear the passenger behind me throwing up (and since my seat was leaned back and she was leaned forward she was practically on top of me) I quickly sat my seat upright as others around me started to throw up as well. Now for those of y’all who don’t know, I have a terrible gag reflex and I can deal with blood and gore all day but if someone starts throwing up I have a hard time not joining them. I remembered that I had earplugs in my backpack so I shoved those in my ears, squeezed my eyes shut tight, and just prayed that I wouldn’t join the group of vomiters. Well the Lord answers prayers and I managed to fall asleep and not wake up until we were pulling into the bus station at Chiclayo (the driver was driving so fast we got there an hour early!), we had made it there in one piece and I had managed not to join the ranks of a vomiter. All in all, it was a great weekend of fellowship with fellow women and believers filled with sightseeing, conferences, and many first experiences (plus it was three days away from kids!).
Things are going well here but I would ask that you continue to pray for the health of everyone here. Several of the volunteers are sick as well as some of the kids. Personally I am actually starting to feel better (and it was not until I started feeling better a couple days ago that I realized just how sick I have been since I got here) but am still trying to figure out how to balance and time manage everything (this whole teaching thing and helping with the kids is more time consuming than I thought). Also please pray for Daniel as he will (Lord willing) be adopted in the next couple of weeks. Pray for him as he is prepared to leave and for his family as they prepare to come pick him up and take him to his new home (where he will have a five year old sister who was also adopted from Morning Star). An update on my mom, she had the surgery and is doing much better. Thank you for your prayers for her and my family during this time.
Oh I have to throw in a funny ‘learning a new language oopsie’ (this is a daily occurrence and if I tried to list them all we would be here all day!). So on the trip I bought a bottle of orange juice and I was reading the label when I saw vitamin a,b, y c and I was like, wait a second they have a vitamin y here? What is vitamin y? Of course I had to say that out loud before I realized that it was not vitamin y but vitamin a, b, AND c! Oh my I still have a looooonnnngggg ways to go!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Still got all my digits!

This morning as I was walking from my room up to the house for breakfast it was very overcast and cold with a mist so heavy it felt like rain. I prayed that it wouldn’t rain though because my room seems to have sprung a leak with holes in the ceiling ‘patched’ with clear duct tape (Duct tape fixes everything right?  ;)). Thankfully it did not rain, but what did happen is that that this girl did finish her first full week of teaching! It has been a learning experience for sure with much more learning to come. I feel like I have a better idea of how things work for my three year old class. The day begins at 8:00 with English class and all the fun activities that go along with that, such as teaching a room full of three year olds how to use scissors. Now, with 21 of them, I was skeptical at times that I would make it out with all of my digits still intact. But miracles do happen and I was able to complete the project and still have ten fingers to count with. Then there is Spanish class, Playground or Recess time (this is my second favorite part of the day), then Snack time (yep you guessed it, this is my favorite part of the day and since Peruvians don’t eat lunch until 2:00pm it is a much needed source of energy between breakfast and lunch!), then play time, end of day review and time to go at 11:30. After telling all of my ‘little angels’ (as Mark calls them) goodbye for the day I go and finish up last minute preparations for my 3rd grade English class which goes until 1:30. This class is a bit more tricky because, with the three year olds it’s not like I can damage their academic career (though I have been very surprised by how quickly they pick up on the things we are learning) but with the third graders it is more important that they receive adequate education. They are at that age where they think it is little kidish to sing songs but they all want my attention and approval of each problem they do on their worksheet…all at the same time(that is all 25 of them!). Sometimes I feel like a puppet literally being pulled back and forth across the room with each child wanting their time with me. But it is teaching me patience and time management as I try to spend time with each of them since most of them do not receive this much desired one-on-one time at home. Oh and another thing that I was unaware of before I got here is that I use “y’all” a lot. The first time I used it in class my kids just sat there looking at me blankly and the missionaries are from Canada so I am a loner with the usage of y’all here. Who knows, maybe I can start a y’all fad in Peru….
Though I have adapted quickly to many things, there are still laughable experiences that I must adjust to. Such as the perils of my outside bathroom. Let me tell you, I learn something new about it every day, but I have not figured out how to use it at night without getting attacked by killer crickets and various other unidentified bugs. The other night I was washing my face when some sort of bug stuck to the cleanser still on face. Haha I can only imagine what that scene looked like! And for those of you who have shown concern I seem to have learned my lesson with the shower and so far no more getting shocked.
In preparing to come here I expected to get sick in the first month or so that I was here, however I did not expect to get sick with everything within the first week! I already have my eyes, nose, ears, throat, and stomach covered (thanks to the kids passing their stomach bug and sore throat sickness to me) so I think I am good and covered for sickness for a while! The thing is, I didn’t get sick from the food or water as one would think but from the kids. We have had a lot of them out sick the past two weeks because the weather has been colder. So I guess the prayer is not for immunity to the food and water but to build a defense to the children and all the germs that come along with them and wiping their runny noses all day.
Many people have asked me about the food, well let me tell you that my plan to ‘fatten up’ before coming here is backfiring because I am eating so much good starchy food here that I will continue to ‘fatten up!’ Haha of course the much anticipated rice makes its way into a meal everyday but the Peruvian way of preparing rice is to do so with garlic and let me tell you, you have to try it! Once you have you will never make it plain again, it is so good! But I am also rather culturally confused right now too. The other day in one house I had meatballs with tomato sauce…and rice. Then the next day in the other house I had spaghetti noodles (and rice of course!) with chicken prepared in a spicy red sauce. Then tonight one of the couples took us volunteers out for dinner in the city (Chiclayo) and we had Chinese. Haha it’s a good thing that I am not a picky eater and love all types of food because that is exactly what I am getting to experience here.
            By far my favorite activity to be apart of in casa #1 is after dinner and right before the kids go to bed when all 13 of us gather in the front room to read the Bible. Some of the boys are too young to read but they repeat after Alberto as he reads for them and I read my verse in English. Hearing all their voices reading God’s Word warms my heart each time and is so encouraging and uplifting. Last night as we were all sitting down to read (and of course the boys were again  all trying to sit by me at once…they haven’t figured out yet that I only have two sides!) little Edwin looked up at me and said, “tu ME  amiga” (you’re MY friend). It’s the little moments like this that remind me of why I am here. Or when Claudia told me at breakfast on Wednesday (in English), “I love you.” I am realizing that there is much need here for love and I pray that I am able to give it. As my mom said, I am praying for a bigger heart to be able to love these kids as Christ does. A love that sadly they had not experienced before coming here but Lord willing they will have from now until eternity.
            Prayers this week would be 1) for the kids in the school (and the home) to get better because we have been having FL-like weather, one day it’s hot and sunny, then the next couple days it’s cold and overcast. Everyone is practicing sharing which is good but it would even better if they were sharing something other than their sickness! 2) For me to be able to give the love that these kids need as I am not sure if my heart is big enough to love as much as they need, that I would learn selfless, Christ-like love. Also that I would regain full health once again so that I can serve to a fuller capacity and not be a burden to anyone here.
*Also I just found out that my mom was admitted to the hospital this morning so please pray for her as she is in a lot of pain and I don’t really know any details but I believe there was something said about her having surgery on Monday. So please keep her and my family in your prayers while she is going through this

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Don't hold razors up to the shower head...ever!

Nothing says time to get up like animals crawling on your roof and enthusiastic soccer fans blowing horns in the stadium on a cool, overcast Sunday morning. Well it’s been, not even a week yet and it has been jam packed with lots of new experiences, some good, some unpleasant. Top of the unpleasant would for sure be learning how to change a poopy cloth diaper, yeah my gag reflex almost won in that war. I have learned so much the past few days and know that I have so much more to learn. Lesson #365, don’t hold your razor too close to the shower head, you will electrocute yourself. Haha the shower water is warmed through an electric shower head and apparently you cannot hold metal close to it while standing in a pool of water. Yeah my whole right side felt it, all the way down to my toes!
But I have been here long even to start sort of figuring out a schedule. I eat my meals and spend my free time with the families in the homes. Here on the compound there is a two story house where the children live with their house parents. On the bottom floor the house parents are a Peruvian couple [Rosa and Alberto], they don’t speak any English so sometimes it is hard to communicate but they are so sweet and do a great job with the children. They have three children of their own [Eli (my roommate), David and Dafne] plus they care for five boys who are 9yr-9months old [David, Niem, Jorge, Edwin (who is also in my class) and baby Solomon] and two girls [Maria and Rita]. They are a fun clan to be around, I am used to big crazy meal times with my own family so I feel right at home with them. Plus the kids are learning English in school so they will help me with my Spanish as I help them with their English. Upstairs the house parent is Shula and she cares for two girls [Perla and Claudia] and two little boys [Daniel and Andrew] plus there is another volunteer [Rachel] who is currently living with them and since they both speak English it is nice to hang out there as well.
                My first two days of teaching could have gone better but could have gone a lot worse. All in all I am pretty happy with how they turned out and I was even able to learn all my three year old class names [which is an accomplishment because they have different names and each one has at least four names] but praying that I get over this allergy/sinus thing quickly because it makes hard to teach when I am sneezing and blowing my nose every few minutes. On Friday we had parent teacher meetings, thankfully all I had to do was sit there and smile while the three year old helper [Rosa] talked with the parents about how their children were doing and introduced me as the new teach for the rest of the year. Even though I only understood maybe 25% of what was said, it was good to get to meet each child’s parent(s) in order to better understand that child and their home situation. I still have a lot to learn about teaching though and have more lesson planning to do today for the rest of the week [lookie there, I’m using words like lesson planning…what has the world come to?].
                Yesterday I got to get off the compound and go to the city [Chiclayo] for some shopping. We crammed into a taxi and settled in for the twenty minute ride. Once out of the town of Peublo Neuvo, there is a paved road that leads into Chiclayo. Along the sides of the road there are piles of dirt and trash and beyond that there are rice fields, sugar cane fields and factories. Also, the closer we got the city the better I could see the many mountains lined up in the distance. Once in the city, the traffic was not nearly as crazy as I thought it would be. Intersections aren’t really marked, lanes are a suggestion, and who needs a turn signal when you can just have one of your passengers hang out the window to signal for you? I was surprised that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and the part of the city that we were in was nice and fairly clean. A huge surprise came when we went to the Supermarket and it reminded me of a Publix/Walmart/Best Buy combined. It was very neat and clean and felt like I was in a store back home. It was very large with an area for food, clothes, toiletries, electronics, etc. You name it, they probably had it.
                Today I will get to experience church here for the first time and it is a special Sunday for the community as well. Each Sunday school has prepared a dance/song or skit that they will perform after the church has their usual service. I am excited to see what they have prepared because I have heard and seen many of the classes practicing each day after school.
                So things are going well, I am already getting attached to some of the children and am slowly adjusting to life here. Some things you can pray for are, 1) Many of the children in the school and homes here have been sick with a fever and stomach bug so pray that they get over it quickly and that it does not continue to spread [because the greeting here is a kiss, everyone is constantly in each other’s faces so the only way of protecting against sickness is really just prayer], 2) For the adoption of the children here at the home [that is why I have included names as well so you can pray specifically, as much as we love having them here, the ultimate goal is to be able to place them with a family of their own], 3) For me to continue to adjust, to learn Spanish and to build up my immunity to the area [it is VERY dusty here], food, water [it is very salty], etc. Thanks y’all, prayers are much appreciated!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

No Gum, what?

Word to the wise, don’t make your last “American meal” a big ‘ol whopper complete with onions…when you are in an airport that doesn’t sell gum. Yes this is how I began my journey to Peru, however God used even something as trivial as a gum to remind me that He knows everything about me and that He pays attention to even the smallest of details. One of my big concerns about this trip was maneuvering international travel alone (since I know very little Spanish at this point). I had traveled down to South America (Paraguay) last summer so I had some sort of idea of what to expect but then I had traveled with a group, one of those having grown up in Paraguay. So I started praying that God would send me what I like to call “helper angels” that were kind and spoke English to help me out, and you know what? He did just that. On my first flight (remember I am still missing my gum right now) I was seated next to a sweet mother and daughter duo. They spoke English so we made small talk and the mother offered me gum as we were taking off (yes it may seem trivial but it was a reminder to me of how detail oriented my God is).
 Another great thing is that I had window seat on all of my flights so I was able to look out throughout the flights and see bits of landscape. As the first plane lifted off of the runway in Orlando, I realized that this is what it means to jump out of your comfort zone and trust in God completely (like Peter did when he jumped out of that boat into the stormy water with nothing but his faith in Christ to hold him up). I was leaving behind everything that I had ever known, everything that was familiar and comfortable to me, all the people that I know and love, to go to a place I’ve never been with people I’ve never met, who speak a language I don’t know,  to teach. Me teach? Ha! God does have a sense of humor and I don’t really know yet what exactly I have gotten myself into but I do know that God opened a door and I jumped through it (although knowing me and my (non)graceful self, I more likely fell headfirst into it and will probably end up landing on my head instead of my feet, but hey God said GO, He didn’t say it had to be graceful). At a worship service on Friday I felt like God had laid the message on the speaker’s heart just for me to hear. He spoke from Isaiah 6:8, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’” He talked about how serving God is commitment, it is not something that you do half-heartedly or do for your own personal benefit. You do it because it God has asked of you and my desire is that this is my heart as well, that I am doing this solely to glorify and profit God, not for anything that I might benefit from it personally. James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this, to visit the orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
I arrived in San Salvador without any problems and was greeted at the terminal with a smell that was some sort of combination between hospital sterile and back alley sewage. Other than though it was fairly clean and I quickly found my gate after passing by tourist shops, coffee shops, and even a Subway. I did not get to see San Salvador outside of the airport but as we were descending I was I able to take in the lush green landscape and watch the beautiful orange and pink sunset as it ducked down behind the mountains. After a short layover I was back in the air (on a little 96 passenger plane) and on my way to Lima, Peru. The passenger next to me was another answer to prayer. See, when we first started our flight, the attendants passed out customs forms for us to fill out for when we arrived in Peru. Of course they were all in Spanish. I figure most of them out but was not quite sure about a couple of the blanks. Before this my seat buddy had been quietly enjoying her book and that’s when I noticed that it was in English. She was more than happy to help me finish filling out the form and we got to talking. I found out that she was from Peru and she was able to tell me some useful information about the area. Once arriving in Lima I had to figure out where to go for customs, then find my bags and go through customs for my bags. When you go through the check for bags you push a button and it will randomly show green or red. If a green light shows you can continue through, if it’s a red light, well you have to go to a side line and they will search your bags. Of course I got the red the light and had to be searched. But once they completed the process I was able to make my way back to the check-in desk to re-check my bags for my last flight and go through security once again. Praise the Lord for Starbuck’s Frappuccinos because at this point my body is telling me it is 4:00 o’clock in the morning (and since I have had 3hr and 4hr flight, I only got maybe an hour nap in between the two) but I still had to wait 3hr before my flight began to board.
As I stepped off the plane in Chiclayo and walked onto the runway a cold wind met my face as I my eyes took in the beautiful mountains still in a haze as the sun continued to rise higher in the sky, and my ears were welcomed by the sound of sea gulls singing their morning song. Chiclayo is the main city in the area but the compound that houses Strong Tower school and Morning Star Children’s home is located about 15-20 minutes outside of the city in a small town called Pueblo Nuevo. It is a beautiful school secured on it’s boarders by a ten foot tall wall with school buildings, children’s homes and a playground inside. I arrived just after classes started so I was given the grand tour of the school and the homes that house the children. It was like being in a dream and watching from afar because honestly I was so tired from being up for over 24hr that it was a lot to take in.
My room is located on the roof of one of the school buildings and since it is not fully enclosed, it’s a good thing that bugs don’t bother me (yeah good thing Brian and Adrian aren’t here!) because they are everywhere. In my clothes, on the walls, probably in my bed and even on my keyboard while I’m typing. And this morning I woke up to something big walking around on the roof, I’m just telling myself that it was a bird…. Of course I couldn’t figure out the shower so I got to have a cold shower this morning (Oh and did I mention that the shower is outside and it gets down in the 50’s at night) so that helped me wake up this morning, coffee is for pussies! But honestly I love my room, it has one of those  cool, narrow spiral staircase to get up (yes I will be taking a face plant in the near future) and it sits up high so I can look out at the town (and even though the town has no paved roads, they have a nice soccer stadium that is so close to the compound I could throw a ball into it from my room) and I get a great view of the sunrise in the morning and then the sunset behind me at night. And my roommate Elizabeth is a sweetheart through she doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak much Spanish, I am looking forward to getting to know her.
Today was my first day shadowing at the school. As the students poured in through the main gate into the courtyard (all 160+ of them) I realized there was no need for a jacket in the mornings (even though it was a bit cold) because as soon as the children start arriving all the teachers are swarmed by children on all sides. Even though they don’t know me I was adopted right in with them and lost the use of my hands as they were always in the hands of several children at once. It’s a good thing I was one of the best in my grade at playing three-legged race when I was little because walking around with kids hanging off of every side is a lot like that. The day was spent learning the ropes in the three year old class (I will taking over on Thursday when their teacher leaves) and also figuring out how English class works for the third graders. There have been many surprises since arriving here, one of them being that I will also be the teacher for the third grade English class, God’s sense of humor is really killing me right now! Haha
So anywho that got long, I’m sorry! Hope I didn’t bore you but all of that to say that God is good, He helped me through traveling and now I am ready to tackle this whole teaching thing. I would really appreciate your prayers as I go through lesson plans and start figuring things out for taking over classes on Thursday and for me to be a quick study at Spanish as this would make my transition much easier. I have a ring that I have worn since highschool and written on it is a great reminder, “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

            So I’ve never been much of a writer and I am sorry if this boring to read (not really sure how this whole blogging thing works) but I promise to post cool God stories and pictures once I am down there!

            This time last year I was gearing up for my last semester of college, twelve months later I am preparing to move to Peru to teach (with the time between finding out about the opportunity and actually leaving being just 30 days). When I tell this to my unsaved coworkers, they think that I am out of mind. To them I seem crazy, I graduated college at 21, was the youngest applicant to be offered the position as a Criminal Justice Specialist for the County Sheriff’s Department (which through a series of events I ended up having to turn down), moved back home and have been working as a Field Representative for six months. Now I am packing up and moving to Peru to teach 22 three year olds in a country I’ve never been to, where they speak a language that I took two semesters of five years ago, and I don’t know anyone there. Also, because my background is in Psychology and Criminal Justice I have absolutely no experience teaching and am much more comfortable working with inmates than I am working with large quantities of little people.

Yes, in the world’s eyes I am crazy having turned down what would be considered a good job and now traveling to a new place where I don’t speak the language and don’t know anyone [2 Corinthians 5:13a, “If we are ‘out of our mind,’ as some say, it is for God”], but I am confident in the peace God has given me concerning this decision and know that this is exactly where God wants me to be right now. I would rather be in the most dangerous place in the world if that was God will for me than to be outside of God’s will in what the world would consider the “safest place.”

            I know that I have shared this with some of you before but this is something that a friend of mine from college shared with me a while ago but it has stuck with me ever since. He told me that God has painted a 25 foot mural of my life. Right now I can only see what is painted right in front of my face, and it may not make any sense at the time, but as time goes on, I step back. And step by step I am able to see more and more of the picture until ultimately at the end, I can see how every piece, every trial, every struggle, and every victory blended together like the pieces of a puzzle to create the picture of my life. One that the God of the universe cared enough about to orchestrate down to the very last detail. God has been teaching me a lot since graduation about seeking His wisdom and figuring out what I like to call “active patience” (waiting on Him and His timing without becoming stagnant, still keeping active while waiting) and I know that He has many more areas of my life that He will be working on while I am down in Peru.

            I am excited to see what He has in store and would very much appreciate your prayers as I embark on this new adventure. I think one of my theme verses for this experience is going to be Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengths me” because there is no way that I am qualified or able to do this on my own, it will only be through Christ and your prayers!

T-minus 4 days and counting…..