Friday, July 30, 2010

Learning to cook Peruvian

So as Elsa and I have been alone all week; and as I’ve been sick, we haven’t been doing a lot of cooking. But thankfully each day I’m getting a little better and my energy and appetite have returned and now I’m just waiting for the rest of the yellow to leave my eyes so that I will once again look like a normal human being. As part of the Fiestas Patrias celebrations, yesterday was the great Military Parade in Lima that hosted the president and all of the countries grand officials and military officers. So Elsa and I sat on the couch yesterday morning and watched the parade together for a few hours. Afterward there was a morning program that hosted a local chef who was preparing a new twist on an old dish: Pasta a la Huancaina con Bruchettas. Translation: Huancaina pasta with Shish kebabs. Elsa decided that the dish looked good, and I was in the mood to cook again, so we decided that we would try making the meal for lunch today. Elsa left this morning to go buy the ingredients that we lacked, and we spent a lovely afternoon cooking together. Huancaina sauce is a typical sauce of Peru that is made out of egg yolks, aji peppers and cheese that is typically eaten with potatoes. But in this dish it was the sauce eaten with spaghetti and chicken shish kebabs with grilled peppers and onions. I’ll just go ahead and tell you that this was one of the best meals I’ve had in a while and I’m looking forward to cooking it for my family once I get home. The chef made his shish kebabs using tuna meat, so I assume you can use beef, chicken or seafood. The problem is the Aji pepper. It’s a pepper specific to Peru that I had never heard of until I got here. I don’t know if you can find it in Lincoln, let alone the States. So I will be on a mission when I get home to locate the aji pepper so that I can continue enjoying the delicious Peruvian cuisine that I am learning to prepare. In case any of you are adventurous and want to try making the sauce with a different pepper or perhaps you find some Aji someday, I will share my new recipe with you. Good Luck!

Huancaina Pasta & Shish kebabs

Huancaina sauce:

• 4 hard-boiled egg yolks
• 5 medium fresh Aji peppers
• ¼ kilo fresh cheese
• Lemon juice
• Milk
• Oil
• Parsley
• Parmesan Cheese

Remove seeds from Aji peppers and boil in water with a tsp. sugar. Blend the egg yolks, chopped cheese, milk, lemon juice and oil and Aji until it has a semi-thick and creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Boil 1 pound spaghetti noodles and set aside.

Shish kebabs:

• Red and Green peppers cut in chunks
• Onion cut in chunks
• Preferred meat (beef/chicken/seafood) cut in chunks and seasoned with salt, pepper, oregano or your favorite marinade.

Cook vegetables and meat in a sauté or place on skewers and cook on the grill until done.
In a large pan pour the Huancaina sauce to boil, add spaghetti and parmesan cheese; mix well. Serve on plates topped with parsley and parmesan, place shish kebabs, or open meat and veggies on top of the mound of spaghetti. Serve hot.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Parades, Lonches and Yellow Eyeballs

Today is the local celebration of two holidays: Tarma Day (26th) and Fiestas Patrias (28th-29th). The festivities are beginning this morning at 11:00 with a parade of all of the local schools and institutions, including my school, Stephen Hawking. Today I was going to be in my very first parade. I had to buy a tailored skirt, a blouse and vest and black heels for this event, but it was going to be well worth it to experience the joy that my students were exuding by being able to parade with their school. Unfortunately Hepatitis A is apparently quite contagious, so I’ve been quarantined to my home for the next couple of weeks. Okay, quarantined is a little dramatic, but the doctor said I should be teaching and making contact with large groups of people. So, being a little disappointed, I am staying home from the festivities today. Actually, I’ll be going out in a couple hours for my follow-up appointment at the clinic to see if the doctor has anything new to share.
Apart from the festivities I was going to participate in, I was also hosting a lonche (a dinner/tea/part) for my freshman girls at school. I had invited them over to share fun food, games, and some scrapbooking activities with me this evening, which of course now I will also have to cancel. All in all, this lonche will be fairly easy to reschedule, but it is difficult for me not to be able to do much right now. I feel fine apart from fatigue and having freaky yellow eyeballs, but I’m not supposed to over-exert myself, nor spend time around a lot of people, which in the end kind of prevents me from doing my job here. Please be praying for a quick recovery so that I can get back out there and finish the work I came here to do :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Heart Check

“This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:6

Over the past two weeks I’ve had a lot of time on my own to meditate on God’s word, and on my own spiritual life. It’s been an interesting process to turn over the rocks in my life and see what is really living underneath, where people can’t see. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’ve become a different person here in Peru, and I’ve had to deal with some of the more negative side-effects of being here. For example, while I’ve gotten past culture shock and learning how to work with a team of personalities that are very different from mine, I’ve still maintained an attitude of frustration and a lack of grace for the people and situations around me. My natural reaction to most things is, “What is wrong with people!!!!” which, I will admit is not the holiest mindset. So I’ve spent some time reflecting over the above verse and the entire book of 1 John to remind myself what it truly means to love.
I can’t say that I’ve had a great revelation, or that I’ve turned a 180 in my attitude and mindset, but little by little I think God is softening my heart to the circumstances around me. I think I’m more aware of my failings which, then allows me to make a change, and hopefully face these final six months with a joy and a peace that passes all understanding.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Common Courtesy, oh how I miss thee

I woke up at 7:30 this morning to a horrendous pounding noise that was shaking the house. I look outside and see Don Dario (our landlord) pounding away at a cement slab outside Meredith’s window, trying to make a hole to take out a wooden telephone pole that lives there. I’m pretty sure he’s waken up the whole neighborhood, and while I’m convinced that sleeping-in is a concept that most people of Tarma do not practice, I was still annoyed by the ruckus so early on a Saturday. I miss common courtesy. I lament the lack of it every time I inevitably compare something annoying that occurs here to the basic knowledge that people back home have of not doing that specific annoying thing. For example, Pacha (our misbehaved dog) likes to wake up at 6:00am every morning. She likes to wake up and PLAY PLAY PLAY! Playing of course involves barking, and barking outside your bedroom door at 6:00 in the morning involves you getting woken up. And a dear roommate who can’t stand to have the dog sleep outside at night, that gets up with Pacha to play with her outside our bedrooms early in the morning, involves me lamenting the lack of common courtesy.
Speaking of Pacha our misbehaved dog, last night I came home to her having escaped her caged-in back balcony after having ripped a bunch of newspapers and a cardboard box to shreds. I was so mad that I decided to discipline her by not giving her dinner and making her sleep outside last night. I put her box out and then tied her leash to the metal railing so that she could move in and out of her box ( in case she needed to go to the bathroom), but was out of reach of anything she could possibly destroy or make noise with. Success! I think I’m going to put her out there for the next couple of nights, at least until the girls get home and the dear roommate starts to coddle her again. I might have been able to really sleep in this morning if it hadn’t been for the pounding. Oh well, such is life in Tarma.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Back in Tarma

Well after two weeks of going back and forth between Tarma and Lima, I’m glad to finally be home in for a while. It’s been a whirlwind month and I’m glad for a slower week to get my head around the responsibilities of July. After being gone I tend to feel a bit disorganized and have long lists of “catch-up” items to take care of. Due to my English classes, I have come back to Tarma sooner than my roommates and will be here alone for the next several days. I’ll admit that I’m glad for a little bit of alone time after having been around people constantly for the last three weeks. Now that I’m back I have plans to get on top of homework assignments that need to be graded, and I also need to write my semester exam to give my students next week. I also need to organize some Bible study material for our upcoming book study on 1 John and catch up with a bunch of emailing!
Part of the reason that I’m excited about a few days of solitude is that in the busyness of the last month, my time with the Lord has been hit or miss, and I’m longing for some deep time in the Word and in prayer over a number of different things. I’d appreciate prayer over the next four days; that God would reveal himself and his will to me through his Word and through time meditating on his truths. I want to get on my knees in prayer over the ministry and the future of my team in preparation for our one-year review with the pastors and missionaries of the ADIEL. I also want to begin praying over some possibilities for life once I get back to the states. I am hitting the 6-month mark and know that these last months will go by incredibly fast. I’d love your prayers as I’m seeking the Lord about these things! Thanks!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

They came, they stayed, they went

Wow, what a whirlwind week! I can’t believe the days have flown by as fast as they have and I am sitting in my Lima apartment this morning, alone once again. At 6:00 this morning I said goodbye to my parents and my brother at the airport after a fantastic week together in Peru. It was hard to say goodbye since I would have loved to have had more time with them, but I am thankful that they were able to come at all. It was a busy week and now that I’m at the end of it I’m finding myself a little bit exhausted and thankful that I’ll have a few days to rest before heading back to Tarma. In all my family and I spent two days in Lima, two days in Tarma, and two days on a bus traveling between the two cities. I felt like I was able to give them a good picture of my life, and though the time was short, I think they now can understand what it means when I say “I went to the market and picked up a couple of chicken breasts” (see picture above).
The week started out with a Lima church service at La Viña del Señnor Church (The Vine of the Lord) followed by lunch with my roommate Raquel and the pastor and his family, Cesar, Gabi and their almost 2 year-old son Nicolas. We went to my favorite restaurant in Lima called TANTA, and my family liked it so much that we went back at the end of the week for another meal! In Lima we walked around various parts of the city, did a little shopping and for my Mom’s birthday I took the family to a nice restaurant out on the ocean called La Rosa Nautica (The Nautical Rose), for a fancy dinner. The wait staff sung Happy Birthday to my mom and we all enjoyed the spectacle.
Once we were in Tarma the days passed by a little more calmly. I took the family to the market and it was great to show them what grocery shopping was like. Mom and I spent an evening making pizza together in my little kitchen in Tarma, and I loved watching her washing dishes in my little sink! We had lunch with my team one day, and mom, dad and Daniel came to a couple of my English classes. My brother taught some of my 12 year-old boys some self-defense moves, and we did a little country swing dance expo for them as well.
For me it was a blessing to have my family experience what I do on a day-to-day basis. I can explain my life here all I want, but you can only grasp so much of my reality without experiencing it yourself. I’m so thankful that God provided the means for my family to come and share in my ministry and life here. They encouraged me, uplifted me, and gave me wisdom to chew on in the days to come. I hope you enjoy some of the pictures of our week together!