Thursday, April 26, 2012

Little America…..

After two long weeks of impact events with a group of 30+ short term volunteers, construction of a new church building here in Puno and finding and meeting new contacts from the outreach events, our entire team was tired and worn out.  Going into this short term trip, we knew we would be tired so we planned a three day break to celebrate a job well done, rest up and rejuvenate for these final three months in Puno.  Trevor, Garren and I decided the thing that would rejuvenate us the most was a little bit of American culture.  Here in Puno we have gone out, the three of us, exactly three times in 13 months.  So three twenty-something’s, stuck in the cold, secluded, farm town of Puno, we needed a break from this place and some North American food and coffee.  Where do we get the closest thing to North America?  Arequipa which is now little America.  When we arrived in Arequipa almost two years ago, there was exactly one Plaza Vea (WalMart-ish store), there was one Dominos, one KFC and one Burger King.  There was no such thing as Starbucks or McDonald’s or malls or large grocery store chains.  Arequipa has been booming in the past year and now there are three Starbucks, a few McDonald’s, one TGIFriday’s, one Chili’s and three huge malls!  So Trevor Garren and I hopped on a bus at 11pm on Sunday night for the six hour trek to eat, literally, that was our main goal, to enjoy warm weather, drink coffee (specifically, Starbucks) and eat our hearts out.

In our attempt to enjoy some North American culture and way of life, our Peruvian bus broke down in the middle of the mountains at 3am.  Thanks to God, seriously, they were able to jimmy-rig the bus and we made it to Arequipa only an hour or two later than expected.  We wandered around the city for three days, reminiscing of our arrival to Peru, this city of Arequipa almost two years ago, remembering how this place was so foreign to us and now it’s the closest thing we have to home.  DSCF1520

Honestly, I enjoyed the food, we ate all the stuff we can’t get in Puno, McDonald’s, TGIFriday’s, Mexican food, pizza and more.  We ate a lot!  And I sipped on a latte everyday, that’s how we started each day, spending the entire morning in Starbucks enjoying the smells and the ambiance while reading or chatting.  I had fun seeing friends who live in Arequipa and spending time with Trevor and Garren outside of work and the cold. 

But as much as I enjoyed our time and the coffee and the friends and the food, I was saddened and scared.  The sad part of me was sad because I just want to be home now.  being in little America made me realize how much I miss home and actually having a social life and being able to grab a Starbucks or go out with friends.  And the other part of me was scared.  Honestly, I’m a bit frightened at the idea of going home and the reverse culture shock.  Here I walk alongside the pigs and sheep.  I watch cholas (mountain ladies) walk their alpaca’s to the grassy areas as their skirts sway back and forth with every step.  I see children playing with trash strewn about in the streets, using plastic bottles as soccer balls and broken pieces of plastic tubing as a shovel to play in the dirt.  I walk into houses that before I would never consider a “house” but a glorified, permanent, tent.  The things I see and experience here have become normal.  And that scares me.  What am I going to do in the states.  I’m going to marvel at homes with four walls, insulation and running water, I’m going to be walking on sidewalks and not with the sheep and pigs but with people dressed in modern clothing, probably with a cell phone glued to their ear, I’m going to eat food I used to know and will not see rice and pasta and potatoes on the same plate.  DSCF1542 DSCF1531

I desperately want to go home but at the same time, just as coming here was a shock and a big change, going home will be a shock and a change.  I’m sure I’ll adjust quickly and get back into the groove of driving instead of catching a combi or taxi, of wearing heels instead of brown hiking boots, of using a purse instead of a backpack.  But I never want to get used to the way I lived life before in the states.  I never want to go back to my old self.  God has changed me and molded me into a different woman and that I want to go with me, I’m packing the new me and bringing her to the states.  The me that has seen and experienced so much from this city and this culture, the me that has grown closer to her Heavenly Father and has learned to disciple, preach and lead only through the guidance and wisdom of the Spirit.  I will be glad to fall back into some old habits, like grabbing a latte before church on Sunday, but so many other things, I want to leave behind forever, only moving forward in my life and ministry to the Father, using this experience as a part of me forever.


Thursday, April 12, 2012


Burrrr, it’s cold again in Puno!  It is rainy and cloudy, which at 13,000 feet, makes it quite chilly.  When you first heard I was coming to Peru, did you think…, sweaty, humid, jungle?  I did!  But, here I am, in the cold, rain and sleet of the Andes.  Working in the rain and cold makes everything more difficult, especially since our job is mostly outside.  Even when we disciple people, less than half of them let us into their houses. With most of our contacts, especially in Huascar, we sit on rocks or sidewalk right outside their house and read the Bible and pray.  It’s great when the sun is out, when the sun is out I’d rather be outside warming up than in a cold, dark, cement house.  But in the rain, it’s miserable.  With raindrops falling on my Bible, cold wind blowing in my face, shivering and gritting my teeth, I talk about God.  Sometimes I hate it.  Sometimes I just want to get the lesson over with, pray already and say our goodbyes so I can at least warm up by walking to the next place.  Sometimes my heart just isn’t in it. 
Is it really that cold here?  No, its not THAT cold.  The forecast this week calls for highs in the 50’s and lows in the 30’s.  But, when you are outside all day with clouds covering the sun, rain falling and wind blowing, then you go home to a house that’s a cozy 50 – 55 degrees, it gets to you after a while.  Not to mention the leak in our room, the puddle I have to cross to get to my room, the black mold in our bathroom and the layers and layers of clothes, I’m tired of it all.  And all I could think about today in the cold of Yanamayo was, that it’s only going to get worse.  We had a cold rainy summer, now we are in fall and the rain keeps coming along with clouds and wind, then in May, June and July, comes the freezing cold.  Literally, that’s what they call it here, the freezing, because temperatures drop below freezing most of the day. 
DSC_0196-1 DSC_0195-1
There has been so much rain this year, many of the potato crops have been ruined from too much moisture.   Because of a leak in our roof, Franci and I have black mold in our bathroom.
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A storm coming in, the view from my room and the puddle from the stairs to my room, the black door in the back.
P1060765 Layers and layers of clothes!
But, I can’t let the cold get to me, I can’t let this hinder what we are striving to achieve here in Puno.  Instead, I need to keep positive, keep focused on God, keep in the forefront of my mind the need here in Puno, the need for the Gospel and salvation through Christ.  My prayer today as we worked was that God would renew my passion for this city and these people so I can continue on, strong and more passionate than ever for these last 3 months despite the cold, despite the “senioritis”, despite the many reasons I’m anxious to go home. 
I’m home now, warmed with a fleece blanket, sweats, two pairs of socks and a hot water bottle on my feet.  It’s easy to say and write, right now, that I want to be passionate and work hard.  But when we are out in the cold and the rain, it’s a different story.  The good thing is, I am not relying on my weak, fleshly strength, but God is my strength, God is the reason I’ve been able to live in Peru for 22 months, His strength is what has kept me going and what will keep me going.  I am His servant, He is my strength.  His work through me here is not in vain, instead, it is the work of gathering His people and bringing them back to Him, which this work is never done in vain, it is never done with our strength, it is always done to His glory, for His Kingdom, with His strength.
Isaiah 49:1-5
The Servant of the Lord
49 Listen to me, O coastlands,
and give attention, you peoples from afar.
The Lord called me from the womb,
from the body of my mother he named my name.
2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword;
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow;
in his quiver he hid me away.
3 And he said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
4 But I said, “I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my right is with the Lord,
and my recompense with my God.”
5 And now the Lord says,
he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him;
and that Israel might be gathered to him—
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—