In the midst of planning a New Years vacation to Buenos Aires, I have come across some baffling information about Gol Transportes Aereos, a low-cost Brazilian airline. Since I had never heard of the airline, I checked a few places to see what the general consensus was regarding its legitimacy and safety. Good news so far- only one accident. The baffling part is the type of accident it was. According to Wikipedia, a Gol plane went off radar in Sept 06 and ended up crashing into another plane in mid air. The other plane ended up landing with some damage. The remains of the Gol plane were found in the Amazon, and everyone aboard (154 people) died.
What I want to know is this: HOW IN THE WORLD DID TWO AIRPLANES CRASH INTO ONE ANOTHER IN MID AIR?? It seems like it would be very difficult to do. Wikipedia says the accident triggered a major crisis in the Brazilian civil airline market. I would imagine so!
I continued my research and found an entire list on Wikipedia of all "notable" civilian and military mid-air collisions. The first one recorded is from 1938. The most recent one is from this July, when two news helicopters collided over Phoenix, Arizona while covering a police chase. One of them was broadcasting live when it happened. You can see videos on YouTube. Second fascinating mid-air collision: 1988. Two Aermacchi MB-339 collided during an airshow above Ramstein Air Base and fell onto the audience. I wonder if people thought it was part of the show for a while.
All told there have been 25 "notable mid-air collisions" according to Wikipedia. The 60s and 70s seem to be the worst decades with 10 between them.
Tim hit a low-ish point last night. During the day yesterday he took the wrong bus twice and ended up doing a lot of walking. He's out speaking Spanish from 8-4:30 between art and language school (coming home exhausted). I think his ongoing uneasy stomach is getting to him. And he seems remarkably affected by some missing elements of our new home- warm lighting and cozy seating.
Last night he told me that he thinks maybe he is experiencing some degree of culture shock. Makes sense. This is harder for him than me because of his language ability (or disability). My prayer is that as everything around us is changing, he would cling to the unseen things that don't change. Would you pray, too? More than anything, he needs the sustaining love of God, the filling presence of the Holy Spirit.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18
If illness has been our number one issue, showers have been number two. Let's take today as an example. Yesterday I started taking a shower, but before I got shampoo in my hair, it turned freezing (the kind that gives you a headache). I ended up getting out with wet but dirty hair. I knew that if I didn't wash my hair today, I couldn't go out in public, so I was determined to make this happen one way or another.
This morning Tim took a shower that began luke-warm and turned freezing within maybe 2 minutes. I didn't have to leave early, so I waited. An hour later, I checked out the water. So-so. I decided to go for it. I got in, but again, before I had a chance to put shampoo in my hair, it turned cold. I pointed the water down and at the wall and tried to continue my hair-washing without getting my body in. It was rather difficult and unsuccessful, so finally I just turned it back to the faucet, knelt in the tub, and tried it that way. Within a few minutes it turned warm again, so I put it back on a shower. By the end of my shower, it was beautiful- almost hot, really. And hot is not really the kind of thing you could wish for around here. Only a couple of times have I gotten the mirrors to steam up.
What an adventure! I'm not sure which I would enjoy more- water that was consistently cold (as it is in many parts of the world) or this uncertainty. Regardless, it ensures that no morning is ever boring.
Yesterday I did a 3 hour observation of the main plaza to glean some cultural gems (something we learned about at CIT). The most interesting thing I found was the variety of items for sale:
I also got a manicure yesterday, one of my new ideas for how to meet un-churchy people and get to know the culture from their perspective. A manicure is $3, so it’s a pretty do-able price for an hour of chatting. My manicurist (Ana Lucia) is 30, very hip, and an enthusiastic talker. I think if I can go every week while we are in Arequipa (through sometime in March), I will have a good opportunity to learn and maybe also to share with her some about the things that matter to me.
Last night I helped Joni with her English homework and then taught her how to knit. She seems to be warming up to me and talking a little more. She is so shy. I am hoping to continue working with her at night and am considering asking her to do a Bible study with me. It would have to be something very very simple.
Lastly, this morning I was taking a nap and was disturbed by some strange noises. I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter, and what to me wondering eyes did appear but … a parade of child protesters! How odd. I’m not sure what they were protesting because they were marching away from me.
Today I began my art classes. The whole process has been quite interesting. I'm not really sure how it works, I think I'm just paying the professor directly and I believe it's the same cost for 2 classes as it is for 4 (about $30 a month). I wasn't really sure what class I was taking until I showed up this morning, it turns out it's a figure drawing class using paint (monochromatic for those interested) instead of charcoal. Despite the ambiguity of the situation, I thoroughly enjoyed the class and the feeling of holding a paintbrush and smelling oil and turpentine.
Several people asked me if I was coming to a different class which is on Monday and Wednesdays and I decided to go for it. I think it's a figure painting class where I can use more than one color of paint, YEAH, but who knows what it will be. Below are some photos Hannah took of the school. The clases are held in an old historic building downtown.
Today was a long day and we needed a little taste of home tonight so we are currently listening to Market Place on WFAE (NPR) online. For those of you in Charlotte, the low tonight is 32 degrees and there's a delay on I-77 and Brookshire Frwy (who's suprised). NPR quote of the day from a lawyer referring to a case involving Burger King in 1967, "My God! I'm 88 years old. I can't remember anything beyond last week!" (For the full effect get your grandfather to say it)
Health update: We're delicate but feeling much better. Keep praying!
During the last two weeks, I have been thinking a lot about ways I can offer myself while I am here. I have been praying and asking God to show me a way I can make a difference. I expected the answer to be in helping at an orphanage or joining a club somewhere. It seems He is opening doors much closer to home, in fact, in my home, serving the two women who serve me every day. Their names are Lula (with the laundry to the left) and Joni.
Joni is 17, although you might guess more like 12 or 13. She moved here from Cuzco (the mountains) a year ago. She is Quechua, a descendent of the Incas, and did not learn Spanish until she came to work in this house. She lives in a room on the roof, works during the day, and goes to school in the afternoons. She is so simple and so complex at the same time, the fruit of her culture and I expect, of many years of difficult living and perhaps harsh treatment. She is in the 7th grade, despite her age, and is having a difficult time. I imagine that education as a cultural value is foreign to her. Joni is timid and so much still a child.
Lula is 32 and has worked here for 6 years. I wonder what she was like when she came. She told me Friday about how hard her life had been, beaten by her stepmother until she almost died, working since the age of 4, living on the streets for a while, doing every kind of odd job. The woman I know now is full of life and joy, although she has many questions to ask of God. She also has a daughter, Andrea (to the left), who is 8. Lula's salary is maybe $100/month. Andrea's private school is $20/month. Then there's food, housing (they don't live here), and transportation. Lula has been saving up all year to buy Andrea a $30 mandolin for Christmas.
Would the Lord use me here? Please pray that He would open doors for me to offer myself. I am a little intimidated by the task. Pray that I would remember that it is His work and not mine, that I am here to do His will but not be responsible for it! What I want most to give them is the little I know about God and His love for them. Pray that I would have the right words to share with Joni's little heart and Lula's, too, that has endured so much.
PS- Joni is at school right now, but I will take her picture soon and show it to you!
Tim and I spent some precious time tonight singing worship songs. Being here I have the distinct feeling of doing exactly what I am called to do. There is something deeply peaceful about this assurance that I am in the center of God's will for me. It brings a new kind of closeness with Him. Not to mention that mentally I feel absolutely right here. I expected (and perhaps it is yet to come) that being in this culture would grow my anxious nature. The exact opposite has occured so far. I feel like I turned from a brittle piece of dry spaghetti into a wet noodle- in all the best ways! Flexibility is my new middle name. Also "Ani-bones" in reference to the fact that after a night of illness and two days of barely eating, my ribs are starting to show. Keep praying for my health!
Anyway, I was reading Lamentations tonight and was again struck (as always) by the beauty of the book (in the Bible). In the midst of grief and complaint, the writer pauses to remember a few true things.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope. Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:21-26
Therefore I have hope. This illness will not consume me, and He has new compassions for me in the morning.
I spent most of last night thinking about how the Bible says suffering is a way of identifying with Christ and knowing Him more. Compared to his, my suffering was pretty mild, but it didn’t feel that way. I was up all night with some sort of food-related stomach problems. Tim has been sick for two weeks in a variety of forms, but this was my first significant attack. Nonetheless, in terms of intensity, I think I beat him. When we chose to move here, we knew we would have this to look forward to. Digestive health is just part of the package, a little something we had to hand over to gain so much.
Tim happened to email Grace (Cubas, one of our team leaders) last night and in his email, mentioned our health issues. This morning when the sun finally came up and I was feeling a little more stable, I got to read her response. She reminded us not to give in to discouragement, and to make deliberate efforts to clothe ourselves in thankfulness. So here are some things I want to consciously thank God for this morning, both because He deserves it and because I know that an attitude of gratitude will go a long way for me today.
Miriam, my host mom, who prayed for me at the breakfast table and is fixing jello for me for lunch. In general, our host family has been so precious and good to us.
Tim, who was a tremendous comfort to me last night and this morning, gave me a hand and foot massage. I am so grateful to be here in Peru, and after seeing him sick for 2 weeks, remember even more the sacrifices he is making on my behalf.
The awesome weather here. Blue skies, warm air. Every day is a good hair day.
A meaningful conversation last night with Lula, our housekeeper. I think it was my first “deep” conversation in Spanish since we’ve been here. We talked about some rather delicate topics, and as I told her, I am so grateful for her willingness to help me get to know this culture in every way. It is a gift to me, and I think, to the Lord who is calling me to this work.
The Living Beyond Yourself Bible study I am doing right now. And the Holy Spirit! who grants to me from an infinite source of energy, the power to know the Father’s will and to live it.
Jesus, who suffered so much so that I would have the opportunity to have a friendship with God.
My family, scattered across the world, who are supporting me in a million ways.
My fascinating economist language school teacher, Juan Carlos, who every day teaches me new crazy things. It’s somewhere between being in college one on one and ethnographic interviewing.
In [your salvation] you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. I Peter 1:6-7
Tonight we had Thanksgiving dinner with all the missionaries from the language school along with a handful of Peruvians. I wasn't really looking forward to it to be honest. Thanksgiving has always seemed a little hokey to me, plus there's the inevitable stomachache. I was also nervous I would spend the evening speaking English, which wouldn't have helped my language learning.
In the end, we had a beautiful evening. I got to spend most of it speaking Spanish. What really stood out to me was that I shared it with people so like and unlike me at the same time. As we stood around the table to thank God for His generous provision, there were representatives from the US, Canada, England, Austria, Germany, and of course, Peru. And at the same time, we were a group united by a common desire to follow God in Peru and give our lives to bring the people of Peru closer to Him.
It was Thanksgiving 12 years ago that I felt distinctly called to this work. I have spent the intervening time in preparation. And here I am. My heart really was filled with thanks tonight. I am so grateful for all the good things God has put in my life, and in particular, how easy and full of joy this transition has been so far. I am grateful for the resiliency of my body, for my growing ability to communicate comfortably in Spanish, for Tim's partnership, for our precious host family, for the intimate devotional time I have had with God this past week.
Before we ate tonight, three different people read the same passage from the Bible in three different languages- German, Spanish, and English. We went around the circle giving thanks for all the ways God has condescended to bless us, most of the adults in English, the children in all three languages. The presence of God fell like a thick blanket in our midst. After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they creid out in a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." Revelation 7:9-10
Tim's continuing obsession with typewriters is bringing him much joy here in Arequipa. In Sept/Oct he was wistfully dreaming of bringing a typewriter with him to Peru. Then, walking down a street one day, we noticed that there were several people sitting on benches with typewriters (typing things). I think people pay them to type stuff up. So Tim started searching for a typewriter here, but all the ones in the store were in bad shape. Lo and behold, in the end, he didn't even have to buy one! The O'Briens have an old manual typewriter in beautiful condition that they are letting him use. I am expecting great novels out of him before we leave Arequipa.
The three foreigners in our house (Anarosa, Tim, and me) were sick yesterday. I think I was in the best condition of us all, two bouts of nausea and a little uneasiness in the stomach but nothing to keep me from attacking the day. Tim was worse. He stayed home in bed all day. We didn't eat anything particularly interesting on Sunday, but it must have been food-related. The best guess we have is the salad, which was really just lettuce. Miriam (our host mom) says she washed it with some special disinfectant (necessary here), but I think it must not have worked. Anyway, Tim says he is feeling better this morning. It was bound to happen some day.
On another note, I just looked on Google Analytics and found out that since July 1, this blog has been read in 38 states (US) and 29 countries! I am so curious who in the world (literally) is interested. Obviously "the nations" are of great interest to me, or else I wouldn't be here writing from Peru. So here is the list: US, Peru, Turkey, UK, Canada, Bulgaria, El Salvador, Australia, Italy, Brazil, Spain, Guatemala, Portugal, France, India, Germany, Netherlands, Japan, Thailand, Greece, Mexico, Hong Kong, Argentina, Taiwan, Sweden, Israel, New Zealand, Kenya, Russia. 9 of those I could take a guess at, but I don't have a clue how the other 20 stumbled upon this blog.
Thought you might be interested in seeing some of the real estate options for us in Puerto Supe. In general, it is hard to find anywhere to rent. There are tons of empty houses, but no one has a clear title, so they are all held up in legal disputes. As you see from these photos, the houses that are available need a little work. This one happens to be quite large (a little bigger than our house in the States) but would need new paint plus kitchen appliances.
Thank you for all your prayers for us, and specifically for your prayers that I would make myself available to the "new thing" I believe God has for me here. This week I started the 10-week Beth Moore Bible study Living Beyond Yourself. You can pay $25 or so online and then you have a daily homework assignment to download (the same as the ones in the paperback workbooks you can buy in the US) and a weekly video teaching to watch on the web.
The study is about the Holy Spirit, His role and power in our lives. So far it has been a real gift in my day. First of all I just feel glad to have a structure to guide me daily in studying the Bible. Second I am happy to be learning new things. I feel deeply grateful for the resource right now- a place for me to dive into the Bible and into my our heart. Depth in a life space where I am mostly finding superficiality (due both to my language abilities and to the fact that I don't really know anyone well). So far what I am getting most out of the study (after 3 days) is the motivation to spend time in prayer and in worship. I am so glad that we have our instruments here and that music is something that we can take wherever we go.
The second response to my (and I think your) prayers is harder to explain, hard enough that I won't really try to much here. Let it suffice that on His initiative and not mine, I had a sweet time of prayer this afternoon laying my heart bare before God and asking Him to meet the deep desires of my heart. There is so much that I want out of life, so much that the world can't give me- not Christian service, not a godly husband, not the dearest friends. Are my desires too big? Too big for this world for sure. I am praying that God, who made time and earth and me, will meet me here in my thirst.
The other day we were trying to explain to Diego (the 20 something oldest child in our host family) what a "yuppy" was. Tim started telling him how the word comes from "young professional." Diego responded that we must then be "yummies"-- young missionaries!
I've been trying to capture just what it feels like to ride in a taxi here but I have had little luck. Afterall, how do I take a video or photo that comunicates what it feels like to drive into an intersection on the wrong side of the road, through a red light, with cars coming at you from both sides and straight ahead with a driver who is furious that anyone else is in his way? Well that is just what happens every 30 seconds here. Although the picture doesn't quite capture this, I think it communicates some of the feeling (yes that is a beer can in the cup holder - we're not sure if it was a joke or not). Lights and lanes are mere suggestions and the speed limit is how fast can you go with out hitting anyone.
I was amazed by the insanity of the taxi drivers in China but I believe the ones here are far worse. Yesterday we had a guy that I'm pretty sure was high. He constantly drove on both sides of the road yelling at the oncoming traffic to get out of his way while singing and bobbing his head fiercly along with the 80's rock music on the radio. I don't believe he used his brake once on the 10 minute trip home. I think the best comparison would be to watch a 6 year playing a racecar game and instead of wrecking, you come 2 inches from hitting the other car.
Despite the danger, taxis are also the easiest way to get around. It only costs $1-1.33 to go anywhere within the city and it's relatively quick. The other option is to take a combi which is a large van that you jump on and off of usually while it is still moving. Many of the locals say the combi drivers are worse than the taxis (if you've seen the Harry Potter movie with the night bus, it's pretty similar) but it's cheap (only 20 cents per person).
Here in Arequipa the taxis can be bit dangerous (there are different scams to rob passengers) so you usually call a cab to pick you up, especially if you're a gringo. It usually isn't a big deal because there are so many they arrive within 2-3 minutes. To contrast this while we were in Lima with the Cubas's, Cesar preferred to call his "friend" to come pick us up. The problem being that his friend was usually on the other side of town and we'd have to wait an hour for him to arrive to drive us only a mile or two. Of course we only would call his friend right as we were ready to walk out the door. This has resulted in Hannah and I's new favorite expression, "Let me call my friend."
A little more about the earthquake for those who are interested. It originated in the north of Chili about 400-500 miles away and although it was just slightly weaker (7.7) than the one that hit Peru recently. I believe it struck a relatively remote area and didn't do too much damage. You can read more about it here.
Well they´ve put me to work. I´m reading La serpiente de oro by Ciro Alegria, a well known Peruvian author. Normally when I read in Spanish, I pass over words I don´t know unless they keep me from getting the general idea. This time I am looking up all the words I don´t know and am shocked by how many there are! I´ve spent hours today working on less than ten pages, and have written down 200-300 vocab words. Here are some of the more random ones:
fulano de tal- Mr. So-and-So
mengano- another word for Mr. So-and-So!
acurrucarse- to snuggle up
coquear- to chew coca (leaves)
la acequia- irrigation canal
You can imagine that when I get into this kind of vocabulary, there are endless amounts of specific bizarre vocabulary that I haven´t learned yet.
PS- We had our first earthquake today. The epicenter was in the north of Chile. It was a pretty serious earthquake there (7.0?). Here the house, furniture, etc. shook, but nothing very interesting to report.
Plaza de las Armas at night Santa sells in November everywhere The view from our rooftop- Misti, an "active" volcano of 19,000 ft.
Sorry for no news in a while. I made a video tour of our host home and have been trying to upload it for a few days. No luck yet. Instead, I'll offer a few other thoughts:
There is another student now living in the room next to us. She is German but speaks Spanish well enough to communicate comfortably. For some reason, she keeps trying to speak German to us by accident. I think it's Tim's hair and height. Anyway, it's always a shock and a little bit confusing. It takes us a moment to determine whether she is speaking Spanish (she has a strong German accent in her Spanish too) that we don't understand or something entirely different.
Our first and second days of school were pretty fun! We started with 2 classes each, conversation and grammar. Tim is getting a little tired of conjugating stem-changing verbs but sees the benefit I think. My first grammar class was with a couple that was returning to the language school after a year for a review. We spent 90 minutes covering 11 questions about ser and estar. There is so much that I need to learn, but the pace definitely seemed slow to me. Fortunately, on day two, the principal told me that he thought I should drop that class. For now, I don't have a grammar class because there isn't a teacher available. Sooner or later I will start that again.
For now I am just in a conversation class (one on one), which has been AWESOME. We just spend the 90 minutes talking about Peruvian culture. It's an open invitation for me to ask all my random questions and find out more about what the heck is going on around me. Yesterday my teacher had me go out and buy two Peruvian novels, also, so maybe we will be reading those. I feel like I'm back in my college Spanish classes! I have asked for a second conversation class in the meantime (waiting for my grammar class), and I may soon begin with one on one pronunciation help also.
In our expeditions we have seen a lot of pirated material around here. DVDs and CDs are everywhere, and not just sold by street vendors. There are tons of permanent stores that just sell pirated stuff. I also discovered recently that half of the bookstores are "illegal." I bought Tim a Spanish-English dictionary for $2, but once he took a look at it, he noticed that it is missing a few pages. It also looks like the rest of the pages were photocopied or something. Yesterday when I bought my novels at a legal bookstore, they were more like $10-$20, which for a Peruvian would be outrageous. The bus costs $0.15, a taxi $1, so the gap is pretty huge. After thinking about it for a second, we decided that we need to stick to the legal stuff here. Besides supporting legitimate industry, we are also getting paid a decent wage in American dollars. We can afford to respect American laws.
Last note. I would love your prayers for spiritual renewal. It feels a little strange to ask for that, since I am here living out the dream God put in my heart, surrounded by precious, encouraging people who also want to put God first in their lives. Nonetheless, I kind of feel like these past weeks I've been living on the fumes of past friendship with God, not desperate as of yet, but approaching a problem. I am convinced that God has something new for me each day, that He wants to do a "new thing" here in Peru, even during this time in Arequipa. Pray that I would make myself available to fresh wind and fresh fire.
After our botched conference idea, we did a little touring today. This convent is from the 1550s and looks a lot like southern Spain (but with better weather). This afternoon we are going to a real, live Peruvian birthday party (actually our second, after Mama Cubas' the first day we were in Peru). Hope to get some good photos and learn some new fascinating thing about the culture!
Yesterday I went with my host mother to the ladies' meeting at the church that our host family goes to. It was supposed to start at 4 I think, which is when we arrived. No one else was there. At 4:15 or so, maybe 5 more people arrived. Another 10 trickled in over time. We spent the next hour knitting of all things, which made me quickly feel at home! Around 5:15, Tim called and asked me if we were finishing up. I let him know that we hadn't started yet! Anyway, the meeting was fun, it lasted about 4 hours, the women were gracious, and I was able to communicate fairly well.
The meeting was at the church building, and there was a sign inside about a conference for leadership with young people ("jovenes," which I think includes late teens to 30 or so). I told my host mother, Miriam, that we might be interested in going if possible. It was for today (Saturday), so I wasn't sure we would be able to sign up so late. She made a million phone calls and determined that we should be able to go Saturday morning around 9 or 9:30 with Pedro, the church pastor and her cousin.
This morning we were all ready to go. We went out to buy sunblock and bug spray (per Miriam's recommendation), and while we were out, she had to leave. When we got back, she had already left for a physical therapy appointment. She called to apologize for not staying to say goodbye, which seemed a little odd to me for some reason. As we were getting off the phone, she told me to have a good weekend. Weekend? Hmmmm. I thought we were only going to be gone today. I discussed it with Tim for a minute, and we decided that maybe in Peru you can say "Have a good weekend," and only mean one day.
When Pedro showed up (at 10:30, not 9), he asked us where our sleeping bags were. Oops. As I tried to communicate to him that I hadn't know it was overnight, I had another one of those moments where I felt like I couldn't speak Spanish. We definitely are not interested in an overnight trip at this point since we are still adjusting to the altitude and the culture. It's an adventure we're not quite up for yet if we have a choice.
So we're back home now. In general, we mostly don't know what is going on around us, partly due to the language and probably more due to the cultural gap. So please pray for us to continue feeling comfortable in the dark and to have the patience for flexibility. So far so good, but I could imagine this eventually getting frustrating.
We explored the Plaza de las Armas this morning and were thoroughly impressed. I felt like I was in Spain. Except when the "demonstration" came by. The police escorted the strike people around the Plaza, and the riot police stood to the side with very threatening looks on their faces.
We also bought some electronics today- much more expensive than we thought. An entree at a fairly nice restaurant seems to be $3-6. Tim's electric razor was $100, my hair dryer and hair straightener were $50 together. Not bad, really, but probably unaffordable to the general population. Nonetheless, we're glad to have them and have bought them here. Otherwise the process of getting electricity to our American electronics is a little cumbersome.
Lastly, we went YARN SHOPPING. I don't know that I have been so excited in a long, long time. The store we went to was attached to a factory that dyes the yarn, I think. Then they export it to all different places around the world. If they don't have enough left to fill a half kilo-ish bag, they package it and sell it for cheap at the attached store. The first yarn I found was the exact one I just bought to make my mom a shawl (there is a picture of it in an earlier blog). It was $8 per skein, I think. Today I bought 12 skeins for $10. Another package of 12 that I bought was $4- again, American elite brands like Debbie Bliss and Plymouth that cost $8-$10 per skein at home. They are all blends of Alpaca and silk.
Enough about money. Don't worry, I won't have any reason to go back to the yarn store for a long time. I've got a lot to keep me busy. Soon we begin language school and I will have something other than shopping to keep me busy.
To begin with, we got the cell phones! Two more hours of waiting in the cell phone store. We thought we were going to miss our flight. In the end, the lady let us go without checking all our papers, and I got a call later on from her about something she will have to send me. Oh my. Anyway, they returned my $700 (in cash) and then we paid a much more reasonable price for cell phones and a deposit to guarantee that we won't cheat them.
We are in Arequipa now, further south and higher up. It is very dry and pretty sunny here- 76 degrees when we arrived at 2 pm. It is spring right now, so I suppose it will get a little warmer soon. We are living with a host family, Julio and Miriam and their oldish children Diego, Pablo, and Daniela. Also Joni, who lives on the roof, but I'm not sure what's going on there. I think she is one of the maids. The house is super fun, and our accomodations surpassed our expectations. We have a comfortable room with plenty of space and a double bed. I think right now I am on some other house's internet, but there is internet nonetheless. Everything is provided- food, laundry, cleaning, etc.
To be honest, we're a little lost about what's going on in the house, not due to language barriers, but rather lack of orientation. The privacy and mental space is kind of nice, but I am also very curious about what the heck we're doing. We don't start school until Monday. Is there anything we have to do between now and then? What will we do tomorrow? What time are meals? Do we eat with the family or does everyone come as they please? What do people eat for meals? As you can imagine, food is of utmost importance to me right now. Are other people sharing our bathroom? Are we expected to spend our time in the family living space? I probably should make a list of questions for Miriam and ask her tomorrow.
So far this town seems very different. Lima has 9 million people, Arequipa 2 million, Puerto Supe 12,000. Puerto is quiet and friendly and something like summer camp in the sense that everything is close together, there's not much of anything, you walk in the middle of the road, and people all greet each other when they walk by. Lima is a booming metropolis, not fancy like New York but more like San Jose, Costa Rica or something. If you have traveled in Latin America, I'm sure you can imagine the place. Arequipa is supposed to be more of a European city, but so far we haven't seen that part (maybe tomorrow, when we plan to go to the Plaza). What we've seen so far reminds me more of the poor parts of Bejing, really. Or of some other impoverished place that also has a lot of people. Also there are a lot more Quechua people here- descendents of the Incas who still look the way you imagine they did 500 years ago when the Spaniards came.
Five trips to the cell phone store, $700, and 7 hours of waiting later.... We still have no cell phones. We are going back this morning with Cesar. At 7:45 last night (the place closed at 6), they said it would work out this morning the way we want it to. I'm a little suspicious, particularly regarding our schedule, which involves a flight at 12:30. Please pray! When we get on that plane, we would love to have cell phones and the $700 be put toward something useful at least, maybe a credit on our account.
Here's what we accomplished yesterday: 1. Made some color copies of our passport. 2. Got them notarized. 3. Bought maps of Lima.
That's all. It took all day. I knew to expect this, but it is humorous nonetheless to see how everything takes a million times as long here as I think it should. Also I had some delicious ceviche for lunch- raw seafood marinated in lemon juice and a few other things. Scallops, fish, octopus, (cooked) shrimp, and some other unknown specimen.
Today we are getting cell phones, going to the tourist market, and dropping off our paperwork for resident visas. Maybe. Tomorrow we fly to Arequipa to begin language school.
We returned today from a short trip to Puerto Supe, the town where we will move after language school. I think at first Tim was a little shocked. The town is pretty much just like the photos we've been showing everyone, but seeing it "in living color" (not too much color really, mostly brown and gray) was a new experience. By the time we took a nap that afternoon, I think we were both in a daze. Tim slept, which renewed him significantly, and I sat down to remember why it was that we had come. By the end of that time, I felt like a new woman. I am so thrilled that God has called us to this place and have real hope for the work we will do in Puerto Supe.
That night the Comunidad Cristiana had a welcome reception for us. We realized that even people who live far away and in conditions like this are made of the same stuff we are- hearts and hopes and broken dreams. It was reassuring to gather together with a group of men, women and a few children who really aren't that different from us. Everyone was of course surprised by our age (thinking like the rest of the world that we were more like 17), and they were super excited I think to hear that we had come to work with our peer group. So far there has not really been ministry in that area, apart from a sweet and small group of guys that our teammate Kyle has befriended.
I got to have a great conversation with one young woman in the Comunidad Cristiana about the work I want to do- both a ministry with those exploring faith from the outside and a ministry equipping Peruvian young women for leadership. We talked some also about the idea of working toward sustainability within the culture, making sure that the contributions we are making as missionaries are beginning something that can continue on just fine without us later. That has been a big issue for me in the last few days. It's a difficult thing to do. Anyway, I was encouraged by my conversation with this girl and hope to be able to share my vision with other women later. We will be returning for a week or so at Christmas, I think, which is actually not all that far away.
Language is going well. We have new names here- Timo (Deem-oh, short from Timoteo) and Ani (ah-nee). I feel like I am pretty much able to communicate whatever I want, but it never sounds as good as I want it to. I am increasingly excited about the prospect of working on accent and trying to become as Peruvian as possible in my language. Tim is also communicating with people and is able to have short conversations about basic things. His vocabulary is always surprising. This morning he woke up and said to me, "Soy una langosta" (I'm a lobster, referring to his sunburn). When did he learn that word? My funniest moment I think so far was trying to thank Monica yesterday for not selling me rice pudding when she realized it was old. I said to her, "Eres una mujer integra" and then reflecting on it realized that I had told her she was a whole woman when I had meant a woman of integrity. Oh dear.
The weather is interesting- very humid, which I didn't expect at all. I have seriously wavy hair around here. It's a little chilly right now, which wouldn't matter except that none of the houses have heat or air conditioning. Nonetheless, with a light jacket, we seem fine. It's definitely cloudy. Except when we went to see the 5000 year old ruins outside of town and got sunburnt. I felt like I was in Egypt.
Oh, there is so much to say, but surely you are getting bored by now. Please pray for us if you can- emotional rest, language ability, connecting with our teammates, health, encouragement. We are having a great "vacation" so far, but eventually this whole thing might sink in! I do feel grateful for the international travel we have done before in the developing world. It is making this country seem more familiar and predictable in a comforting way.
We wasted no time today jumping into the culture- 3 hour "dinner" (1 pm) with the Cubas family (Grace, Cesar, and about 10 others) and then on to one of their homes to celebrate Mama Cubas's 84th birthday for another few hours. Kyle is also here, and the three of them have been so welcoming and wonderful.