Thursday, September 29, 2011


Many may know me as a 'princess', or even as high maintenance, which can both be very true. For those of you who know that side of me, you would be so proud and impressed with my daily bathroom choices. Literally, finding a bathroom when we are out working can be difficult. I will admit to 'popping a squat' as needed. Like the one time I peed behind a soccer court only to find out some lady was up on her roof watching me, or another time I had Chad keep a lookout for me while I peed behind a car on a dark street in Ilave. Being a girl here can be difficult. There is not always a bathroom around and when there is, the condition is questionable and you have to pay. Yep, I pay S/. 0.30 - 0.50 ($0.10 -0.20) to use these public "bathrooms". Oh yeah, and the price I pay includes a few squares of toilet paper, not on a roll in the stall, but handed to you personally before you enter. So, over the last week or so I've taken some pictures of the bathrooms we frequent to share in this experience with you. Its not the same as in person, but hopefully you'll get a little idea of what daily life is like here! ;)

So here's the first and best bathroom. This is the bathroom Franci and I share. It's an all-in-one type bathroom. You see the drain on the floor? That's because our shower head is directly above it. No curtain, no separate shower, its all right there. But, I love our little bathroom. It's functional, we don't have to share it with the guys, and we have and electrical shower head for hot water. Yes, electrical shower head. Peru does not know that water and electricity don't mix. I've shocked myself a few times but now know only to adjust the water pressure with two fingers on the metal lever covered in a thin casing of plastic.
This bathroom I would probably rate second best. It wins in convenience and price as it's the bathroom in the house we rent in Yanamayo. Most of our contacts live nearby within 3-5 blocks so we can always make a quick stop at the house as needed during the day. The only problem is, we get one flush a day. The water only runs from about 5am to 7am. So by the time we get to the house, there is no running water. One of the neighbors occasionally fills up the trash can with water so we can flush the toilet with a bucket of water. But, he's quite unreliable and we've gone many weeks without water. The good thing is, when the water runs in the morning, it fills up the pipes and that's why we get one flush a day.
This is the public bathroom we use when we're in Huascar. We literally have to walk 15-20 minutes to get here and it's the closest public bathroom. Its actually decent and has running water which is a perk. You can flush the toilet and run your hands under some water in the sink. But there urinal cracks me up! Which brings me to another point....most bathrooms are unisex.
In Chucuito we've found a really cute menu (restaurant) where we eat lunch and use the bathroom. Here's the bathroom. Very typical. Concrete, no toilet seat, a bucket for a trash can, and a metal door that doesn't shut all the way. But its free with lunch!
Of course we have outhouses too! When Mom and Dad were here, we were in a combi heading to Ilave to spend the day out on the farm and Mom saw all these little blue outhouses lining the road and up into the hills. Mom expressed to Dad and I how impressed she was with the availability of rest stops on the way to Ilave. This is what I told her, "Mom, you see those houses out there?" "Yeah." she responded. "Well, these are the bathrooms for those houses." Mom was astonished and embarrassed. Out in the country, even in the outskirts of town like Chucuito and Yanamayo, people use outhouses. That is their one and only bathroom. Above you can see the 'door', a potato sack that really only covers your bottom half, in Ilave you can gaze out at the farm, sheep and crops while squatting in the outhouse over the hole in the planks of wood.
And of course, an official squatty potty. This is from the public bathroom in a market called Bellavista. It's pretty simple. Put your feet on the feet marks and squat. Toilet paper goes in the trash can like everywhere else in Peru and then you go out, grab a bucket of water and splash it on the squatty potty.

So there you go! Now you know and have seen more than you want to!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Grape Juice....

If nothing else, this time in Peru has changed me. I am not the same girl I was even three months ago, continually, God is teaching me, growing me, working in me and through me. And the opportunity to see another corner of the World, has changed my life and perspective forever. The most amazing thing to me is that God's Word is living. I know that to be true through my experiences here. Not only do I see it living and moving in hearts and lives, I see it living and moving in my heart and life. God's Word has come to life for me, with new perspectives, with my new self, God speaks to me in new ways through His Spirit and Word.
A few days ago I read Isaiah chapter 65. If I were back in the states, I might have passed over this chapter without much thought, or at the very least it would have had a different meaning for me. But right here and right now, I can take this chapter very literally, let me explain why....
Isaiah 65:1-15 - Judgement and Salvation
1 “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
2 All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations—
3 a people who continually provoke me
to my very face,
offering sacrifices in gardens
and burning incense on altars of brick;
4 who sit among the graves
and spend their nights keeping secret vigil;
who eat the flesh of pigs,
and whose pots hold broth of impure meat;
5 who say, ‘Keep away; don’t come near me,
for I am too sacred for you!’
Such people are smoke in my nostrils,
a fire that keeps burning all day.
6 “See, it stands written before me:
I will not keep silent but will pay back in full;
I will pay it back into their laps—
7 both your sins and the sins of your ancestors,”
says the LORD.
“Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains
and defied me on the hills,
I will measure into their laps
the full payment for their former deeds.”
8 This is what the LORD says:
“As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes
and people say, ‘Don’t destroy it,
there is still a blessing in it,’
so will I do in behalf of my servants;
I will not destroy them all.
9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,
and from Judah those who will possess my mountains;
my chosen people will inherit them,
and there will my servants live.
10 Sharon will become a pasture for flocks,
and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds,
for my people who seek me.
11 “But as for you who forsake the LORD
and forget my holy mountain,
who spread a table for Fortune
and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny,
12 I will destine you for the sword,
and all of you will fall in the slaughter;
for I called but you did not answer,
I spoke but you did not listen.
You did evil in my sight
and chose what displeases me.”
13 Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
“My servants will eat,
but you will go hungry;
my servants will drink,
but you will go thirsty;
my servants will rejoice,
but you will be put to shame.
14 My servants will sing
out of the joy of their hearts,
but you will cry out
from anguish of heart
and wail in brokenness of spirit.
15 You will leave your name
for my chosen ones to use in their curses;
the Sovereign LORD will put you to death,
but to his servants he will give another name.
16 Whoever invokes a blessing in the land
will do so by the one true God;
whoever takes an oath in the land
will swear by the one true God.
For the past troubles will be forgotten
and hidden from my eyes.

I read these verses and I think about Puno, I think about the friends and contacts we have made, the people with whom we disciple on a regular basis. Take verses 1 and 2, God has come to Puno, He has brought us, a team of nine adults to spread His Word, love, compassion, mercy and joy in a city that has ignored Him, a city that has not cried out for His help but instead focuses on partying, drinking, women and worshiping idols. God out of His compassion, brought us here to this city. It was not because there was a great number of people searching for His face, God showed up here in Puno and said, "Here I am, Here I am".

And despite God's presence, the people of Puno continue to provoke God to His face. People here literally burn incense, worship idols, are involved in witchcraft, participate in sacrificial ceremonies and more. And I'm not just talking about Puno in general, I'm talking about people we know, people who allow us to come into their house and talk about the Bible. Let me give you a few examples.......

Isabel lives in Huascar, we have been meeting with her for a few months and she has been fairly consistently faithful in receiving us and The Word. She's very interested in the Bible, the history and the reasons we believe why we do. While my parents were here in June, Isabel gave my mother witch blessed cocaine seed and quinoa seeds to take back home (which she obviously did not do). Isabel told us that Mom should put a candle in the seeds and light the candle on Tuesday's and Thursday's and she would be blessed with riches. Despite trying to teach her directly from the Word over a period of weeks, she still truly, from the bottom of her heart, believes in this witchcraft and believes its okay.

Another example, Ines. Ines lives in Yanamayo where she runs a little tienda and knits for extra money. I love Ines, she is incredibly sweet and I love her hugs and warmth. She told me at one point that she does not have faith in any religion that will not allow her to worship her idols. She prays to virgins and saints, she has a saint in a glass case in her tienda to which she prays and lights candles. Her idol worship is a form of security to her and has expressed the difficulty of letting go of this known practice close to her heart and life.

Serafina, she also lives in Yanamayo. She is very generous and has opened up to Franci and I tremendously. At the very beginning she was shy and unwilling to share with us. But now, we can hardly get her to be quiet! The last time we visited her, we sat on her bed chatting, catching up, talking about life, struggles, and the family. During this visit, she talked about her father and his illness. Very openly, she told us that they were going to bring in a witch doctor to try and heal her sick father. Then the next week, we went to visit her and her father opened the door and told us Serafina was busy and would not be able to meet with us. We can only assume that at that very moment, they were with the witch doctor as her father does not live with her but came into town specifically for this occasion.

And, Lola. Lola is a tiny old woman who climbs the hill to Alto Huascar where she lives. That's how we originally met her, as she was slowly but steadily climbing up the steep hill to her house. We ran into her on the street the other day and she was carrying a rabbit in a bag. We chatted and she explained her grandson is sick, she was taking the rabbit up to her house where they would hover the rabbit above the boy's body. The theory is that the rabbit would die after hovering it above the sick body, then they will cut the animal open and decide which organ cause the death. Whatever organ failed the rabbit, is the problem with the child, then they will treat the child's illness according to the dead rabbit.

These are just a few examples of idol worship, witchcraft and other practices that rightfully so, provoke our Lord. It's the next few verses that worry me. God is faithful to those who love Him, He is compassionate and merciful, but He punishes those who defy Him. Verses 6 and 7 are very clear. God will pay pay for utter defiance, God does not have mercy on those with whom He's tried to reach and yet they continue to pursue their own imaginations. Literally, people here continue to climb the mountains, burn incense, sacrifice animals and blatantly defy our Lord.

So first, God reveals Himself to a people who have yet to realize their need for Him, to a people who believe in other God's, to a people who pursue their own will and way of life and see nothing wrong with that. God holds His hand out to them, He stretches His arm to touch them and retrieve them from the muck. But, the people decide they don't want to follow Him but would rather continue in their own ways of defiance to Him, they tell Him to "Stay Away". God has no problem punishing those who reject Him, He will even punish their children and their children's children for their blatant defiance and rejection.

But in verses 8-10, God reminds us of His faithfulness and His redemption. When there is hope of a true servant, He will not destroy, He will not punish, but He will instead bless those who seek Him. I have hope, I have hope there is juice left in some of these grapes, in some of these women, Isabel, Ines, Serafina, Lola, and more. I have hope that they will not be punished and destroyed, but that God would take the little juice, the little they have, and use that to turn them into wine, use that to turn them into true servants of Him. But they must call on His name, they must seek Him and be willing to change their beliefs and ways. Pray for these women and countless others. Pray that these chains of idol worship and witchcraft would be broken in the city of Puno.

These beliefs and actions are literally part of the culture and way of life in Puno. In Yanamayo they had to move the police station from one building to another. So they painted the new building and have fixed it up to look professional. But not only have they painted and fixed up crumbling walls, they also put in a 'capilla', in English it translates to a 'chapel'. It's not a chapel like we would think of, but a small building encasing a virgin or saint 'doll' for prayer and worship. This is a governmental building, the police station, with a religious capilla. It got me thinking and now every police station I go by, I look to see if there is a capilla and sure enough, every single police station has a capilla. So do the markets, random street corners, the top of many hills and other places as well. These beliefs run deep, not only Catholic beliefs, but ancient Inca beliefs and witchcraft, these actions are taught and part of life here. But, that doesn't mean they grieve the Holy Spirit less, that doesn't mean God will decide its okay. Verses 11-12 reiterate the seriousness of the situation, reiterate the fact that God will not tolerate this defiance, God will not tolerate being ignored after He compassionately tries to reach out. The consequences will be death, hunger, thirst, shame, anguish and brokenness.

It's depressing and scary but true. The good part is, the blessings. For God's true servants, those who leave behind all kinds of evil and instead of pursing their own imaginations, pursue His Will and path. For those, He promises mercy, life, food, drink, joy, a new life, a new land and forgiveness.

Reading this part of Isaiah does make me realize the seriousness of this situation, the seriousness of being in Puno, a city of idol worship and witchcraft. My prayer is that there would be juice left in these people, in these grapes. I pray that through Franci and I, through Garren and Geremias, through Trevor, Sixto and Nelson, and through Chad and Amanda, God would turn these drops of juice into faithful servants, servants who will be blessed by our Lord instead of provoking people who are sentenced to judgement and death. Pray with me. Help me in prayer for these lives, these souls and their future, pray that they would be drops of juice turned into true and faithful servants, blessed and accepted by our Lord.

Isaiah 65:22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.