Friday, December 31, 2010

Home for the Holiday......

The closest thing to heaven on this planet anywhere, is a quiet Christmas morning in the Colorado snow!

Some of you heard that I had a chance to come home to Colorado for Christmas. When I left, when I got on that plane in May, I had no idea if I would be able to come home and visit during the entire 27 month period. But an opportunity opened up since our group is done with school and we don’t move to Puno for another week or so.


The day I found out we were not moving to Puno until the beginning of January, I was dreading 3 – 4 weeks with little to do. I hopped online and looked at tickets. I had already committed to babysitting at the beginning of the next week so I looked at leaving the day after my babysitting commitment. Thoughts were running through my head that going home for Christmas was a pipe dream, impossible to execute as it was already December 8th when I looked at tickets and I could not leave the country without special permission from the government. But, I looked at ticket prices and dates anyway, just to check. I pulled up prices for a two week stay at home and to my surprise, I found round trip tickets from Lima to Denver for $988! I thought $1600 was a decent price as I have even seen round trip tickets as high as $2600. Immediately, I called my dad for advice, I didn’t want to make the decision on whether or not I should come home by myself. Which is actually quite strange since usually I’m an impulse buyer and very independent, hehe.


Obviously, Mom and Dad agreed that since everything seemed to be falling into place and I had idle time, it would be a good idea to come home for Christmas. Since it was only 7 days from the day I found the tickets to the day I would get to Denver, we decided to keep the trip a secret and surprise my little sis, Brookie. I also got the chance to surprise my Grandma and Grandpa Carlson as well as my little “sis”, Jessi-Bear.

Grandpa's Chili, I also got some of dad's yummy turkey chili and I made homemade cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. Yummy food!

One Christmas present each on Christmas Eve, our family tradition!

Being home for Christmas was wonderful. Yes, I got to open presents on Christmas Eve and morning, but I got some other wonderful presents before Christmas.

I got to…..

spend time with my Mommy, Daddy and Sissy,

see snow,

smell Colorado crisp winter air,

stare at the beauty of the Rocky Mountains,

look at Christmas lights,

have conversations and coffee with friends,

enjoy lunch and dinner dates with friends and family,

go horseback riding,

spend precious time with my grandparents,

bake Christmas goodies with Brooke,

help at the Breakfast with Santa outreach,

watch a few snowflakes fall,

wear high heels almost daily,

hug so many people I miss and love,

sleep in my old bed (with my sissy),

take hot showers,

and simply be in the same house as my family.


There is so much more I could list! I am very grateful for the two weeks I had in Colorado. There are people I didn’t get to see and things I didn’t get to do, but I’m thankful for the opportunities I did have.

Family favorites, Heritage Square and the Georgetown train.

As I write this, I am actually on the plane to Lima. I will arrive to the Lima airport in about another hour and a half then I have a few hours in the airport until my morning flight to Arequipa. Leaving this time was so much different. Yes, it was still difficult to leave my loved ones, my closest friends and my family. When I left in May I was excited to embark on this journey but I was also scared. This time, I am excited to get back to my Puno family, the people who I’ve lived with, people I love and call family, true family. I’m excited to get back to my partner Francisca. Although we have our differences and sometimes our partnership is a struggle, I can hardly wait to get back and work on strengthening our relationship as friends and as a team with God at the center. Also, I’m pumped to moved to Puno and get started on the actual work God has prepared for us.


Despite my excitement to get back to Peru, leaving my family Wednesday morning was difficult. Dad prayed for me as mom and Brooke put their hands on my shoulders. I’m so incredibly grateful for our little family and our strong relationships. But our closeness does make it harder to be away from them! It was difficult to walk away from them yet again, knowing I will be away from them for many months. But, they will be in Peru on a short term trip in just over 5 months!


I truly hope you all experienced a blessed Christmas season. Maybe not material blessings, but blessings in the form of time with family, simple pleasures, and the experience of a powerful celebration of the birth of our Savior.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Most of you probably know "casa" is spanish for house. But "hogar" means home. And that has been my prayer the past few weeks, that God would provide our group with a home in Puno where we can be a family, have fun, relax, rest, prepare for our cell groups and more. It doesn't matter if the house we find is perfect, but that it is the place God has for us, the home we need.


So, let me tell you what happened.....

We left Sunday morning on a 6 hour bus ride to Puno. We arrived and got settled in the hostal. This is the first time I've ever stayed in a hostal and it was okay. I'm grateful we and our stuff were safe and we had a place to rest. Well, I didn't sleep very well, the bed was incredibly hard. Other drawbacks included the leftover sock in the bathroom from the previous traveler and the dead fish smell in the bathroom. But, we had an electric shower head and therefore had hot showers 24 hours a day! At this point I'd rather have a hot shower than a good night’s rest so it worked out well!


Anyway, we arrived in Puno just in time for the rain, which I loved since I haven't seen rain in over 6 months. And, we even got to see a few minutes of baby hail! Our Peruvian counterparts had never seen hail before! They were like children seeing something new for the first time and eating these weird little ice balls falling from heaven. My partner Francisca has told at least 5 people here in Arequipa about her first experience with hail. How cute!


Sunday we basically just hung out in town, went to the evening church service, and spent time with Pastor Herman and his family. Then Monday morning we got together and assigned different parts of the city to each pair to start the search. Here, you don’t just hop onto the internet and got to or google, look at pictures and details of each house/apartment and call if you’re interested or move on if you’re not. No, here, you go to this giant classifieds board in town and look for ads advertising houses or apartments for rent. Then you call on these ads to see if you can take a look at the place in person. This doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, the thing is, there are only a handful of advertisements on this board. So the board is just where to start. After that, you must walk around town looking for signs in windows saying “Se Alquila” (for rent) or looking for places that look empty and knocking on the neighbors door to ask them if they know anything. Also, talking to tienda owners is a good idea as well.

Here's the board. There's houses for rent, for sale, jobs, items for sale and more! And a picture from the streets of Puno.

On Monday we all split up after looking at the board and started knocking on doors and walking around town in our designated areas. Francisca and I walked and walked and walked. We found two places that had just been rented out and found another place we were able to take a look at but ended up not working out. During our 5 or so hours of walking around a part of the city called Huascar, we took a few photos and had a good time chatting and spending time together.

Our group reconvened in the late afternoon, looked at a few places together, ate dinner and went to bed after a long day of searching. Then Tuesday most of us left Puno to head back to Arequipa on the noon bus while leaving behind Chad, Garren, Trevor and Sixto to continue the search with Pastor Herman. There were some good possibilities from our search the day before that they needed to check out along with a new lead on the house pastor and his family used to live in.


When we were almost back to Arequipa I realized I missed a call from Trevor and called him back. He told me they found a place! But he also told me they hadn’t even seen it! Of course I was confused but he explained that they went to the house Pastor Herman used to live in and the current resident would not let them view the house. The owner explained she had other people interested and that they needed to make a decision right then. Pastor described the house to the boys, it’s actually two different apartments, one on top of the other. Even without seeing the house, all the boys that stayed behind felt a peace about this place and agreed to sign a 3 month contract. So we have a place! We will be moving the first week in January. We are not sure if this is the place we will be living for all of our time in Puno or just for the first 3 months to get us up there and more time to search. God will reveal His plan to us in His timing. But at this time, we know our prayers are answered and that we have a hogar in Puno to start our time and work in just a few short weeks! Thanks for your prayerful support in this process!

Here's a little Peruvian lady climbing up the stairs to her tiny home.
And a picture of the door that fell and almost hit Franci and I.

And finally, a Chevy pickup, don't see many of these here! This one's for D and Vic, I hope you guys are proud of me! ;)

Saturday, December 4, 2010


We graduated from Bible classes last night! And by "we", I mean the Puno team. We started classes in the middle of August and had our last class yesterday morning, then graduation last night. Through a variety of circumstances and revisions, we finished the courses in a record 4.5 months (normally its a 6 month process). There were classes on culture, discipleship, relationships, Bible history, prayer and more. Some classes were incredibly insightful and useful to me personally and to our work in Puno. Other classes weren't quite so useful to me but hopefully spoke to others in a different way.

Graduating is a huge transition. Since I have been here I have been living in Arequipa and either in spanish classes or Bible classes. Now I will be moving to a new city, Puno, and be working with people everyday, trying to explain Christ's gift and the Father's mercy & love and the ability to have a personal relationship with Him. Quiet different from sitting in a classroom! These first 6 months have been so helpful to acclamate to the culture, learn how to communicate in spanish, build relationships with my Extreme family, grow spiritually, help with cell groups and help with impact events. I think more than any class we took in our classroom, I learned in the classroom of this city, Arequipa, in the class called "time". Time can be our biggest enemy and our best friend. Time is my enemy in that there is so much more time until I see my family again, so much time until I eat a meal with friends, hug my loved ones, and wear the variety of pumps waiting for me in my closet, hehe! But, time is my greatest advantage here. I've had time to let God prepare me, time to learn, time to grown. And I will have time in Puno. Time to build relationships, time to disciple, time to let God plant 3 churches through me and my partner Francisca. Time make a difference.
That all being said. Even though these 6 months have been awesome to prepare me, and I feel more prepared today for what God has asked me to do than the day I set my foot in Peru. I still feel unprepared and inadequate. God called me to a task that is impossible, impossible without Him. Of course I know deep down that God has and will continue to equip me, that He is working through me. A couple weeks ago I read Matthew chapter 10 where Jesus has just given the disciples the authority to drive out evil spirits and miraculously heal the sick. I feel like that's the point we are at right now. We just graduated and God has said, ok, now go. Go and make disciples, go and play with the children, go and help the physically ill, go and tell the story of my son.
Well, in Matthew chapter 10 Jesus gives the disciples instructions before he officially sends them out to do the work of the Father and evangelize. I took the mandates he gave the disciples and put them into my own words thinking about planting churches in Peru but these are mandates from the Father, mandates to ALL of His disciples no matter where they are. We all need to practice these commands as disciples.

*Go to the spiritually lost (v.6)
* Tell the story of our Father and His son (v.7)
* Help people physically (v.7)
* Show the love and mercy God has shown me (v.8)
* Give of myself, my life, my spiritual gifts and everything God has given me without holding back (v.8)
* Trust in the provisions of God (vv. 9-10)
* Give a solemn warning to those who reject God's message (v.14)
* Guard my innocence in Christ but be wise to the ways of the world (v.16)
* Be street wise and on guard (v.17) * In times of trouble, don't worry about what to say, just let the Spirit work and speak through me (vv.19-20)
* Accept the fact that I will be hated or persecuted because of who I love & proclaim (v.22)
* Stand firm in my beliefs through the strength of God (v.22)
* Be like my teacher, Jesus, follow his example (v.25)
* What God speaks to me personally in the quietness of my personal time with Him, speak to others, share it without holding back (v.27)
* Don't be afraid of man, be afraid of the work of the devil in man and fear God (v.28)
* Remember that I am worthy in the eyes of my Father (v.31)
* Demonstrate to God and man that I am His follower by proudly acknowledging His name in public (v.32)
* Put my love for God above everything and everyone in my life including myself, my mom, dad, sissy, and more (v.37)
* Daily commit myself, my being and my life to Christ and follow Him (vv.38-39)
* Give up my life, the life I had planned and exchange it to God for His perfect plan for me (v.39)
* Receive hospitality with a humble and grateful heart because those who show hospitality to me are actually showing hospitality to Jesus through me and God through Jesus (v.40)
* Be hospitable and giving to the people I encounter (v.42)