Saturday, May 15, 2010
This week out team made the trip from Tarma to Chincha in order to attend a conference on using the Gospel to teach literacy. Chincha is roughly a 10-hour bus ride away from Tarma, which we decided to make in two days. Monday we make the 6.5 hour trip to Lima and stayed the night in our apartment there, rising the next morning to make the final 3.5 hours to Chincha. The two day conference focused on the basic steps to teach illiterate people how to read, later incorporating Bible verses and scripture in lessons and homework thus allowing the Bible to be the first book the newly literate read. It was a fascinating process to see how you first take sounds and associate them to pictures, and later to letters and words. While we only work with a handful of illiterate people here in Tarma, it was definitely a worthwhile training to attend since our ministry could (in the future) extend past Tarma and into the Quechua-speaking regions.
While we were in Chincha we were blessed to spend a bit of time with Gordy and Bear Grover, TouchGlobal missionaries working with the earthquake relief by building houses for the desperately poor. Working alongside Gordy and Bear are Felix and Nancy Zavala, the other Peruvian missionaries that the ADIEL sent last year with Elsa and Julio. The Zavala family has been working closely with Gordy and Bear in the compassion ministry and Bible teaching in the area for the past year, and have seen a lot of growth in the people in their ministry. It was a blessing to spend some time with them and encourage them in their work as well. Now all of the Peruvian missionaries, along with Meredith and myself, are certified to teach literacy to Spanish-speakers in our areas. It will be very interesting to see if God opens any doors to use this training in the coming months. Until then, we will keep plugging away at the work at hand. Keep praying for us as we are entering into some busy months of ministry in Tarma.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Wow, what a HUGE deal Mothers Day is here in Peru. I won’t lie that it continues to be a fascinating to experience the “same” holidays we celebrate in the States but on a different level here in Peru. Mothers Day could possibly be classified as one of the biggest days of the year here. I think it would be in the line-up with Christmas, Easter and the Peruvian Independence Day. Due to the strong Catholic roots, and the importance placed on the Virgin Mary, this sacred attitude has extended upon all mothers who are in turn lifted up in glory on Mothers Day. Here it is expected that you not only give a gift to your own mother, but to EVERY mother you know. And that gets pricey. Almost every school puts on an extravagant Mothers Day event involving dancing, singing, theatrical performances and cookouts. So knowing that Mothers Day (MD from here on out) is such a big deal, we as a team had to decide what to do. After some creative thinking we decided to pull from my North American roots and copy the traditional Sunday school teacher Christmas gift – a ready-made-mix-in-a-bag! This past weekend we spent a few hours mixing up 50 batches of basic pancake mix, and then added chocolate chips (thanks to everyone that has been sending chocolate chips!) to make it more special. We printed out recipe cards for the liquid ingredients that would need to be added, and placed a poem about mothers on the backside. We then spent several hours on Saturday handing out the bags to EVERY MOTHER WE KNOW in Tarma. Our pancake bags were met with delight, and it was a blessing for us to be able to bless the women we’ve gotten to know here.
In addition to our own MD gifting, I was obligated to participate in Stephen Hawking’s MD event (the school where I’m teaching English); obligated because I am a Stephen Hawking teacher. But more than feelings of obligation were feelings of delight because I am falling in love with my kids more and more as I spend more time with them. The kids have been working hard over the past months preparing dances and songs and plays to present to their mothers on their special day. It was a strange experience for me on some levels because MD is not as highly emphasized in the States, and it was interesting to see these kids put so much work and preparation into the event. On another level I was amazed at the pride I felt for my kids when I watched them dance. I had absolutely nothing to do with the preparation of this event, (beyond helping put invitations together) yet I was beaming with pride as I watched these kids perform, almost as if I was their own mother. I am wondering more and more if God is going to use Stephen Hawking and these kids as my key role of ministry for the remainder of my time in Tarma. I have confessed before that I have been frustrated over my lack of emotional bond with Tarma and its people, but for the first time, because of these kids I’m starting to feel joy in the work that I’m doing. I’m interested to see what God will do with this new excitement for ministry in the months to come. But so that you can see what a typical Peruvian dance looks like, I’ve placed some links to a dance in three parts. This group of students are my 1st graders (a 7th grader equivalent in the States), who danced this typical dance for their moms at the MD event. I filmed it in three parts because it’s a bit long, so you'll have to watch them in order. Enjoy!
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Today I woke up and realized that today I complete one full year in Peru. (Check out the "Then and Now" pictures!) It’s a little hard to believe that the time has passed so quickly, even though each day passed by rather slowly. One year ago today I was on a plane headed toward the unknown, toward my future ministry not having a clue what to expect. I suppose that’s really how it goes in every part of life: the first day of school, the first day at a new job, the first day of marriage, the first day of being a parent. Well, after a year in Peru I feel completely different and not so different at all. I am a year older, I am more independent, I am closer to being bilingual. I’ve traveled and lived on my own, I have participated in spreading the gospel and fulfilling the great commission through loving, serving and discipling the people of Tarma. Yet I am still the same small girl that left home a year and a half ago. I am still that dreamer who loves laughter more than anything, the girl who yearns to do all that God has asked of her, the girl that loves her home in Lincoln.
I went back a year in my blog to see what I had written that first day in Peru, and I thought I would share it with you - - -
“On May 4th I flew from Dallas to Miami, then on to Lima and arrived in Peru at 10:00pm. I had so many people praying for me as I passed through customs, which always makes me a little nervous. In Peru they use this random traffic light system where, after you’ve picked up all of your luggage, you pass through another line until you reach this post with a red and a green light. You push the button and if the light shines green you can pass through and make your way to the airport exit. If the light shines red, you are escorted off to the side to have your luggage searched. Thank you all who were praying for a green light for me, because after packing my luggage to the brim, I was worried that if they searched through it at the airport, I wouldn’t get everything packed back into my suitcases :) But again, the little graces from our Lord – I received all of my luggage, (3 suitcases, a backpack and a computer case) loaded it up onto a cart, passed through the line and received a green light. Meredith McAllister my teammate was there waiting for me when I exited the airport, along with Bethany Leach, a short-term intern that has been with the mission for the past two months. We loaded my stuff into a taxi and made the journey back to the apartment I will be sharing with Meredith and our two Peruvian roommates for the next 2-3 months.
When I had informed Meredith of my flight details a month ago, she warned me that they had already planned on making the six hour trip to Tarma the day after I arrived. So long story short, I got “home” around 11:30pm Monday night, had time to repack my duffle, went to bed, and at 8:00am Tuesday we were on the bus to Tarma. I feel like “whirlwind” is the adjective I will use to describe these few days I have spent in Peru. We were in Tarma from Tuesday thru Thursday, meeting with the people Meredith has gotten to know from here many trips there, teaching English classes, and looking for leads on potential apartments. Because we didn’t have internet, it has taken me a lot longer to get my blog updated for you all. While it was crazy to arrive in this new country and right away make a three day trip six hours from Lima, I was really thankful for the chance to visit the city where our ministry will be focused. I quickly fell in love with this quaint little town that reminded me so much of Lincoln. Obviously the culture and appearance is about as different as you can get from Lincoln, but the size of the city, the small-town feel was a breath of fresh air after living in San Jose (population 1 million) and now Lima (population 9 million). I am excited to get settled and begin our ministry. The next few months will be transition months as little by little we get ourselves from here to there. We got back from Tarma Thursday around 4:30pm and the last couple of days have been spent getting acclimated to the city, meeting the pastors of the ADIEL (the Evangelical Free Churches of Lima), getting meetings set up and learning about the ministry. I will admit that these last couple of days has been information overload for me, but after this weekend things will settle down and hopefully I will be able to catch up with myself. Part of the problem is that Bethany Leach (the intern) has been living in the room that will be mine, but she doesn’t leave until next Tuesday to go back home – so I have been sleeping on the couch and living out of my suitcases. I tend to like to settle and organize myself, so until I can unpack and settle into my room – my brain and life feels cluttered and unorganized and it is harder for me to be at peace because I have this big thing that needs doing, but I can’t do it yet. Does that make any sense? Maybe I’m a little weird here.
Overall, the week has gone well, and quickly too. I am so thankful that I am finally in the place that I have talked about going for so long. God was and is so faithful to bring me every step of the way, to provide for my needs and to grace me with His love and affirmation. I look forward to keeping you posted (more regularly :)) on the coming weeks as I get more settled here. Thank you all for your many prayers and your emails of encouragement.”
So that was me a year ago, just starting out as a missionary in a foreign land. It is amazing how far God has brought me, and I know that it is only because of Him that I have made it to this day. It is because of Him and because of all of you who are continually praying for me and lifting me up to the Father. It is your faithful support, your emails and care packages. I am so thankful for all of you and I hope that I have done a decent job at helping you to feel more like an active part of this ministry. So how am I celebrating today? With BBQ Chili and cinnamon rolls! I’ve invited our close friends Denise and Martin to share a typical North American lunch with me and my team. Nothing like the taste of home to help celebrate surviving a year away from it! I know have 8 months left in Tarma and 9-10 months left in Peru. I have no doubt that God will remain faithful to the end.