Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Distress & Sin.....

Franci and I have recently started reading Psalms together. We read one Psalm before we go to bed just about every night and after reading we pray then go to sleep. Well, reading the Bible in spanish in the King James version does nothing for me. I just can't understand it! So, I've been reading Psalms on my own in English to better understand what we are reading at night. Psalm 4 has been stuck with me for a few days now. I read this Psalm and immediatley verse 1 reminds me of one of my favorite verses, 1 John 5:14-15 that says, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His Will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of Him." I love this verse because it gives me confidence in God's faithfulness and I know that if what I'm asking for is in line with His will, I'll have it, its only a matter or timing.
But, what's really stuck with me in Psalm 4 is the fact that David is in distress, he's in trouble, he's in a bad situation and he's pleading to God. I'm not in the same situation as David. I'm not being accused, I don't have a kingdom turning their back on me, I'm not being slandered. What I'm going through is nothing compared to David but I can relate to being in a frustrating situation. Normally I'm a very easy going and happy girl, but these last few days our situation has been wearing on me. Especially yesterday. Yesterday was our day off and I was so excited since we didn't get a day off the week before. I wanted to be lazy and just enjoy the day. Well, I went to go take a shower at about noon and there was no more water! Our water tank gets filled up every night and that's all the water we have for the day. Beause of this, we are trying to be cautious of our water usage and have a shower schedule where everyone gets 4 showers a week. Yesterday was my day and without a shower yesterday I would have to wait until Wednesday to get a shower.....yuck! But, I wasn't too distressed about not getting a shower because Pastor Herman and his wife Diana have been so gracious and open with us. They have told us we can use their shower, washing machine and anything we need at their house. We are so incredibly blessed to be working with them. They don't have much but they are willing to share what they have with us!
I was going to go over to their house to shower but had to find something to wear. I started digging through my bags of clothes and got frustrated and tired of digging through bags for 3 weeks. Its hard to find anything and its just plain anoying after such a long time. When we packed up in Arequipa I had no idea I would be living out of these bags for almost a month. Otherwise, I would have organized everything differently. I got so frustrated I couldn't find anything to wear and stopped myself. I went into my room, onto my computer and called my Momma. I just needed my Momma at that moment. But as I was calling her on skype, the internet went out! Thank goodness, I have my skype calls fowarded to my cell phone and Momma called me back. Since the internet wasn't working the call forwarded to my cell phone and I was able to vent and cry to my Momma. I felt so much better after talking to Mommy and getting some tears out.
After my conversation with my Mommy I found some clothes and walked in my pj's with a towel, clothes, and shampoo in hand the 1/4 mile to pastor's house. I got a quick but hot shower and felt much better. How funny I must have looked, a gringa with no make up, messy hair, in sweats walking the streets of Puno carrying shower stuff. haha!
This is a time of distress for me. I have been easily frustrated the past few days as this situaton of not being settled, not having a place to put my stuff, and not having water has been wearing on me. The first two weeks of discomfort really didn't bother me. But now, I struggle daily to keep a good attitude. Well, this is where Psalm 4 comes in. I have been thinking over and over on verse 4 part a, "In your anger do not sin;". Ouch! It's when things are going wrong that its so much easier to fall into sin. And during these days I have been thinking, at this point in my walk with God, what are the sins I struggle with? On Sunday night Pastor Herman preached on Colossians chapter 3 and I was slapped in the face a list of sins I struggle with. I struggle with thinking of earthly things too often (what to wear, money, etc.), I can be greedy, I struggle with valuing my computer more than my Bible, I can be impatient and self-centered, I can be anxious, ungrateful and more. These things, these sins I struggle with, are heightened in times of distress like right now.
So that takes us to verses 5 and 8 in Psalm 4. David decided that in his time of distress he must not worry and fall into sin, but instead trust in God. He decides to stay away from sin and the problems he is facing, but instead put his trust and problems in God's hands. After he does this, he can "lie down an sleep in peace" in the safe, strong arms of our Savior.
My prayer is that we can all recognize when we are in times of distress and instead of running to our vices, that we run to God, that we stay away from sin no matter where we are on the road with Christ. We all need to put our problems and trust in Him and instead of sinning and worrying, we have the opportunity to rest in His arms, what an awesome exchange!

Psalm 4
Answer me when I call to you
O my righteous God
Give me relief from my distress;
be merciful to me and hear my prayer.
How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame?
How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?
Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
the Lord will hear when I call to him.
In your anger do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.
Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord.
Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?"
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.
You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when their grain and new wine abound.
I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Day in Ilave.....

Just a few days after arriving in Puno we had the chance to go to a town called Ilave which is in the district of Puno but about an hour and a half away from our house. We got up in the morning, walked to the pastor’s house, took taxis down to the little local “bus station”, hopped on a van (about 15 adults and 4 children) and rode out to Ilave. The scenery on the way out there is absolutely beautiful! There were gorgeous green chacras (farms), trees, hills, mountains, sheep, donkeys, and more. We then got off the bus and hopped into other taxis to take us from city center of Ilave to a house out in the country. We arrived after our taxi and van journey, all of us with about 8 bags of used clothes. We walked to one lady’s house and practiced the word (camisiraki) which is ¿Como estas? In Spanish or How are you? In English. In Ilave they speak Aymara, an ancient language. But luckily for us, many residents also speak Spanish.

We learned a few more Aymara words like waliki which means bueno or good and petted a calf. He was actually licking my pants for a little while which made me laugh. Then we went over to another house with the clothes and introduced ourselves to many more people. Once there was about 25-30 people there, we stood in a circle and sang praise songs, mostly kid-type praise songs, as we clapped in unison. Next we pulled all the clothes out of the bags and separated them into piles of men, women and children. We started with a few children at a time and dug through the piles to find clothes that would fit each child, then moved onto another set of children. This went on until everyone there had at least 4-5 new clothing items to fit them. Then we let everyone fend for themselves to pick out more clothes and shoes from the leftovers.

It was a great opportunity to show God’s love to these people just by conversing with them, playing with the children, and providing for a need. Because of our time out in Ilave, and God’s words through Pastor Herman and his wife Diana, there were 5 people that day that made a decision to turn their lives around! What a great start! How amazing and faithful is our God!

After the neighbor’s left, going back to their own farms to tend to their daily duties, our hosts’ took us inside the house and served us lunch. We sat down on benches around a little concrete room as our hostess brought in a blanket wrapped up and set it on the floor. It smelled like potatoes. And sure enough. She opened up the blanket and there was a pile of steamy potatoes. Then she brought in a bowl of cheese and two bowls of aji sauce (a delicious spicy sauce made from aji, cracker/bread crumbs, cheese and peanuts). There was all the food on the concrete floor, we weren’t exactly sure what to do. But here is the process……

1) Grab a potato

2) Peel the potato

3) Put potato skin on the blanket

4) Dip peeled potato into aji sauce

5) Take a few bites

6) Dip potato back into community aji sauce bowl (yes, double dip!)

7) Take a few more bites

8) Repeat until potato is completely in your stomach

9) Choose another potato and repeat steps 1 – 8

What an experience! It was awesome and yummy! But then, of course after the salty cheese and eating those potatoes, we were thirsty. So, the host brought in a bucket of well water and one mug. They dipped the mug into the bucket and the first person drank from the mug. Then when that person was done they dipped the mug back into the bucket and it was the next person’s turn to drink the water. I was about the 10th person to drink from the mug. But the water was cool and delicious!

I’m sure you have read the book, “If you give a mouse a cookie”. We’ll, if you give us potatoes and cheese, we will need some water. And if you give us some water, we will need to use the bathroom. But I use the word bathroom very liberally here. A few of us took turns walking out into the field behind the house to a little round shack made of stone. And when I say shack you might think of a wood building with a roof, leaning and creaky. No, this was a stone circle only waist high with a little cutout as an “entrance”. So you walk into the stone circle, pull down your pants, and squat over the hole in the ground carefully placing your feet on the wooden boards so as not to fall in. Then you stand back up and pull up your pants while you stare out at the field and anyone else around. I must say, it gets the award for best bathroom view. But the problem is others can view you too. Haha!

So after we got to know one another, petted the calf, sung songs to our Savior, heard a short message, passed out clothes, spent more time together, took lots of pictures, ate our potato lunch, drank well water, and went to the bathroom, we said our goodbyes to the family that hosted us for the day. Then with some walking, waiting, taxis and combis, we were finally back home in Puno overlooking Lake Titicaca once again. It was an awesome day in Ilave and a great start to our journey here in Puno!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hello Puno....

Well, it seems like everything in Peru takes longer and is more complicated but we are in Puno with all our stuff, praise God. So here’s how the move went. On Monday we packed up everything from our Arequipa house. My stuff has definitely grown. I came down here with two large suitcases, on smaller suitcase and a backpack. Now I have two large suitcases, two smaller suitcases, two bags, a backpack and a purse! Ay! Anyway, we all got packed up and on Tuesday morning the moving truck came to our house…early! That rarely happens here! With our whole team and the help of the Arequipa team we got everything loaded in about an hour and then started cleaning the apartments. Tuesday night we went out to dinner with just about everyone from Extreme in Arequipa at the food court in the new mall. Most of us ate at McDonald’s, a new addition to Arequipa and something we definitely don’t have in Puno. After dinner we went to the apartments of Dennis and Denise and Rachel, Extreme office staffers as all our beds and furniture were packed up in the truck. The entire group laid around on couches, the floor and extra beds for a few hours rest before we got up at 1 am to head to the bus station.

Our bus was supposed to leave at 2am but the bus didn’t even arrive until 2:30 at the bus station. That wait for the bus was brutal for all of us. We just wanted to get on the bus and get to sleep instead of standing around in the station. Although we were exhausted and frustrated, even the kiddos were very well behaved and we kept the griping to a minimum and tried to be patient. Finally, we were on the bus and heading out of town! We all went straight to sleep. Franci and I woke up about an hour or so into the trip as there was a vent in the roof of the bus that was blowing fierce cold air right onto us. I got up and tried to shut the vent but it wouldn’t close. I stuffed a small extra blanket in the gaping hole to block some of the wind but after a few minutes the blanket just fell. So we just had to deal with it and go back to sleep. Later, while we were sleeping, Garren was able to close the vent as he was cold and annoyed as well. But all said and done, we got a fairly good amount of sleep on the bus. Although, not quite enough to be ready for the task of unloading the truck that would await us in Puno!

We arrived in Puno and drove up to our new house in three separate taxis to fit us all. The house is very adorable from the outside. Its white and a dark purple. We were all very excited but were soon let down with bad news. The previous tenant had rented out both the second and third floor which is what we will be doing as well. He had cleared out of the second floor but his new place is not ready yet and therefore he is still occupying the first floor. In the states, this would all be handled very differently. We have a contract that says we have both floors starting the 4th of January and we arrived on the 5th to find out we cannot use both floors. So, we’ve had to be flexible and the owner is trying to accommodate us. We’ve loaded everything onto the second floor and the occupant on the first floor must be out by Tuesday at the latest. Currently, none of us are in the rooms in which we will be staying in the future. The Duerre family is staying in one of the boys rooms on the second floor and Franci and I are staying in the other of the boys rooms. The boys have all their mattresses laid out on the floor on the third story in a large living room. So, unfortunately, we have been unable to unpack much and are living out of suitcases for the time being.

Another disappointment we encountered when we got to the house was the room for Franci and myself. The second floor is all for the 40/40’s and the first floor is for the Duerre’s. So out of the three rooms on the second floor, Franci and I get the smallest one as we are the only two girls and there are 8 guys. The smallest room is very, very small. We would probably only be able to put our bed in there and would have to put our dressers elsewhere as we would not be able to open the drawers or walk around with everything in there! I was disappointed and frustrated with the room but was willing to live there and make it work somehow. But, God has truly blessed us and the owner is going to rent us another bathroom and bedroom on the third floor just for the girls! This is such a blessing. The room is much larger and I was really hoping not to share a bathroom with eight boys!

Right now other smaller problems we have encountered is that right now about 20 people are living in this house and the water tank is running out each night. So we cannot flush the toilet, wash dishes, shower, wash our hands or drink water when the water runs out until the next day. It has gone out as early as 5 pm but normally is running out closer to 9 or 10 pm. We also must have someone in the house at all times as we have men in and out repairing windows, leaks and more. The ower is very kind and is helping complete all repairs needed to make this house function for us. Right now I hear the scraping of the man repairing windows in one room and the hammering of another man right below our kitchen creating a shower on the first floor for the Duerre’s. But Amanda and I just discussed how we have been living with construction men in and out of our houses since October so this is actually normal for us!

Although things have not gone as planned and we are a bit uncomfortable for now. Overall, things are going well and despite setbacks and the situation, I feel truly blessed. Sometimes it’s hard to see the good through the bad. But I’m so grateful all of our stuff made the trip without being broken or stolen. I’m also grateful to be all in one place with my family and grateful to be in this beautiful city about to embark on the work I left my Colorado home for in May. I’m thankful God is reminding me of and showing me all his blessings through the muck.

Chad waiting wth the kids in the bus station at 2:30 in the morning.

The view from our kitchen table!

Our house!

New Years.....

I spent New Years Eve with my brothers Trevor and Micah. We bough sparklers and firecrackers in the afternoon then went home. As we were walking around we saw a lot of yellow items for sale. This is a Peruvian tradition. Yellow means good luck so on New Year’s you are supposed to wear yellow underwear, hats and more. Other strange traditions I have heard of are…..if you want to travel in the new year, you must pack a suitcase and run around the block with it at midnight. Or, people create a life-size doll/figure with hay and clothes, basically like a scarecrow. Then, at midnight, you burn it in the street as a symbol of burning off the old year.

So that night after the market, we did some sparklers and a couple firecrackers in the early evening. Then Trevor and I made ranch crackers. It was simple and easy, you can check out the recipie at: http://thehandicappedkitchen.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/new-year-ranch-crackers/. We used one of the packets of ranch seasoning that I brought back from the states. With the crackers, we ate the Elk Sausage a friend had mailed me along with a can of cheese whiz I brought back as a joke. It was perfect snack food for New Year’s Eve. After the snacks were made, ranch crackers, elk summer sausage, canned cheese, and homemade kettle corn, we sat down and watched a movie. A few minutes before midnight we went up to the roof to watch the fireworks and it was a spectacular sight! There were fireworks surrounding us, people shooting them off from their streets and houses all over the city of 1.5 million people! I also saw two muñecas (dolls) being burned in the street by our house.

We celebrated with hugs, sparklers and more firecrackers! It was a simple yet fun evening!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I got a lovely, warm welcome back to Peru. Here's what happened.....

Micah, Trevor and I went down to a market by the Plaza de Armas (basically, downtown) on New Year's Eve. We walked around and bought some fireworks and sparklers for later that day. Also, we saw a street show that was incredibly strange with a traditionally dressed Peruvin woman whipping Peruvian men while another guy changed into a mini skirt and spandex shirt that said "baby" then gave lap dances to old men watching this strange show. The actors, if you want to call them that, were engulfed in a crowd of onlookers and everyone seemed to be enjoying the show. Micah, Trevor and I watched in horror and suprise, like a car accident, we just couldn't look away. So, that was a weird part of our little outing but it got worse.

We walked to a combi route and hopped on to get back to our house. As we rode the combi men and women got on and off at different spots as usual. One man got on and stood next to me. I was suspicious of this man because he did have a large coat draped over one arm and I thought about how easy it would be to steal something of someones under that puffy coat. But I didn't think much of it as I examined his positioning, there was no way that hand could reach to my purse which was securely around my neck and body as well as zipped up all the way. Then as more people got on the combi, this man changed positions and he was right up next to me, our bodies touching which is normal for rush hour. As he moved he excused himself for bumping up next to me and proceeded to ask me if I was getting off. Right after I answered, no, I wasn't getting off yet, I felt something strange and realized he had his hand, the one under the large puffy coat, was inside my purse! I was shocked but luckily was quick enough to react. Immediatley let out a scream and pushed him away. Then grabbed at his hand to see what he had taken. I felt my camera in his greasy hand under that large coat. Quickly I smacked his hand and the camera fell to the floor of the combi. Right away I retrieved my camera from the ground and put it back in my purse. By the time I was standing back up he was still there and without thinking I smacked him on the shoulder and shouted, "No!" with as scream as if he were a naughty child. Just as this was all happening the combi was stopping. The thief got off in a rush and while the combi was still stopped and he was walking away I frantically searched my purse to make sure I had the most important and most expensive items such as my money purse, my glucometer, my camera of course I had but checked to make sure, and my cell phone. Thanks to God, I had eveything! And thanks to God for helping me to be react so clearly and retrive the stolen camera.

Normally I'm such a sissy, I thought that I would just stand and scream if anything bad ever happened to me. But I'm glad to know that I can react as needed in times of need. Yes, of course I let out a scream as well, that was my first reaction, but I'm so glad I was able to move past the standing and screaming part!

So, on my second day back in Peru, this was my welcome home! haha! But one final thought on this incident came from my friend Trevor who was nearby on the combi when this happened. One of the first things Trevor said to me after this all happened, was that he wanted to scream obscenities in spanish at the man, although he refrained. But the other thing Trevor said was, "It's so hard to be a missionary." I thought he was changing the subject, I had no idea what he was talkng about. He then explained the thoughts going on in his head. That although we were very angry with this man, that we need to love him. Ouch! Way to put it into perspective Trev! Not because we are missionary's (and you all know I hate that word), but that we are Christians, that we love God and have made a commitment to live more like Jesus eveyday. Its because of this that we need to love him. So don't hate the man that tried to rob me, love him and pray for him.

Matthew 6:27-28, 32

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.