Friday, October 29, 2010

The Final Events

As Stephen Hawking’s anniversary events started to wind down, they did so with a bang-of-a-final-show. Last Saturday night hosted the closing events for this year’s anniversary season. The students have been preparing for a month now, each grade to present its own performance of cultural dance. The event started off with a parade through town to advertise the show, with yours truly front and center holding the school’s banner (I’m convinced this became my role when not enough teachers showed up on time). Once we all got to Tarma’s coliseum we put on the finishing touches to the decorations, sound and lighting and waited for the people to arrive. And boy did they arrive. A third of the coliseum was filled by 7:00 and the show began. Along with the students of Stephen Hawking a group of talented college kids from Cesar Vallejo University of Dance (from Lima) were also present to perform various cultural numbers. Impressive doesn’t even begin to describe the night.
I felt like the proud mother of a baby who is first learning how to crawl. My kids performing with grace and cultural pride brought me close to tears several times. The pride in the room was contagious, and I was more than proud of how hard my kids had worked to perform their dances that night. For someone who comes from a culture of mixed cultures, there is a subtle sense of sadness when you see the long-standing history and tradition of another culture. We don’t have these traditions and dances and stories in our history, but it’s nice to appreciate those of someone else’s.
So the night was a huge success and all my kids were happy with the outcome. In order for you to experience the longstanding tradition of dance in Peru, I’ve put the videos of my student’s performances on youtube for your viewing pleasure:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Great Pumpkin Carving

Well as promised, here are a few pictures of my first attempt carving zapallo with my kids at Stephen Hawking. Overall I would classify this year’s attempt as a complete success! I think that the kids had fun and I enjoyed watching them stick their hands inside the zapallo and dig out the pulp, draw on an original face design, and cut it out piece by piece. I’ve really enjoyed sharing parts of our culture with the kids as I’ve taught them English this year. The point of this lesson was to learn six new verbs: to carve, to scoop, to put, to remove, to draw, and to light; and to learn the form of giving directions. We practiced the six steps to carving a pumpkin (zapallo) and then we put those steps into practice. I also took a few minutes to share with the kids the fable behind the Jack-O-Lantern. If you’ve never heard it, here it is for your reading pleasure (courtesy of Wikipedia):

A History of the Pumpkin
An Irish Fabel: One story says that Jack tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree, and once he was up there Jack quickly placed crosses around the trunk or carved a cross into the bark, so that the Devil couldn't get down. In the myths, Jack only lets the Devil go when he agrees never to take his soul. After a while the thief died, as all living things do. Of course, his life had been too sinful for Jack to go to heaven; however, the Devil had promised not to take his soul, and so he was barred from hell as well. Jack now had nowhere to go. He asked how he would see where to go, as he had no light, and the Devil mockingly tossed him an ember that would never burn out from the flames of hell. Jack carved out one of his turnips (which was his favorite food), put the ember inside it, and began endlessly wandering the Earth for a resting place. He became known as "Jack of the Lantern", or Jack-o'-Lantern.

In America, the carved pumpkin was first associated with the harvest season in general, long before it became an emblem of Halloween.[5] The poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who was born in 1807, wrote "The Pumpkin" (1850):[6]

“Oh!—fruit loved of boyhood!—the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!”

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Busy little bees

I’m getting busier and busier and this is a good thing. In the last 4-6 weeks life in Tarma has been pleasant and (as we say here)tranquilo, and I was content doing the day-to-day of team responsibilities and not having an overwhelming amount of lists on my plate. But as the seasons are changing, so is the amount on my plate – and I’m actually welcoming the coming weeks of busyness more than I thought I would. I’m in charge of planning the upcoming short-term team from WI that will be arriving in Nov, and it has been an exciting new responsibility. The team will be here in 4 short weeks, and there is still a lot of planning and organizing to do. In the midst of the planning we are having our “end-of-Bible-study-Celebration” event tomorrow night which we are hoping to change from marking the end of s study to a monthly unified celebration (or worship service) where all of our separate Bible study groups can come together as the body of Christ. This has been a challenge because people generally don’t like to mix circles here in Tarma, and in the past, we’ve had few people show up to our celebration events. We are hoping to promote the event as we are trying to move forward with the church plant and will be having celebrations both in Nov and Dec as well. If people can learn how to interact better with each other, then there might be hope of regular unified services at some point in the future. Beyond this we are still taking the work day-by-day, praying that the Spirit would move in people’s lives and change people’s priorities.

In other news, next week I will start my 4th quarter at Stephen Hawking high school, teaching English. And to kick off the quarter I will be repeating the cultural lesson I gave to my students last year at the Instituto Americano, and teach the North American tradition of carving pumpkins. Those of you who remember the fiasco last year will remember that I discovered the hard way that the pumpkins here in Peru are not hallow, and it was more work than it was worth. So this year I’ve decided to use the zapallo – a pumpkin shaped squash, with hopes of a smoother carving process. I’ll have stories and pictures and maybe even some video to post next week. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Life as I know it

Today is another day in the “normal” life of me. Just kidding, I don’t think normal and me should go in the same sentence, nonetheless, today is about as normal as it gets here. I’ve spent the morning working on my to-do’s for the week, exercising, preparing for my class at Stephen Hawking etc. This afternoon consists of said class, and a Bible study with some neighbors. The only abnormal thing about today is that Meredith is leaving for Lima to attend the annual ADIEL leadership conference. Elsa is already in Lima because she’s taking a week of vacation that will end with the conference, and Julio will be leaving tomorrow to attend as well, which leaves me alone in Tarma for the next 5 days. Why you ask? Well here’s my new “Life as I know it” summed up in one thought:
Each day that passes brings me one day closer to the end of my commitment with ReachGlobal, and that affects every decision, every rationalization, every strategy from here on out.
This weekend is Stephen Hawking’s one-year anniversary as an institution, and the weekend and month in general are going to be filled with celebratory activities and exhibitions throughout town. At this point in my term, it made more sense for me to stay and participate in these events, to continue to spend time with my students and fellow teachers, rather than to attend a leadership conference where I will learn things I would only have a few months to put into practice. So my team is off to Lima and I am content to stay here and continue on with life and ministry.
I had a very encouraging conversation with my church-planting coach this week, and I confessed to him that I’ve felt guilt because I’ve not been 100% focused on Tarma in the past couple of weeks. I am an incurable planner, and with my time quickly coming to an end here, I find it hard not to think ahead and plan for the next stage/season of life. As a result, I haven’t been 100% here. My coach encouraged me not to try to be. I am now entering into a time of transition and having a divided focus at this point is fairly common. I can’t tell you all how relieved I was to hear this. Because these days I’m having a hard time not thinking about home and the future life that awaits there. Bit by bit I’m closing one season of life and I will soon be entering another. But until then, I will do my utmost best to remain as diligent to my call, to work hard to do all that I can before I’m gone. And for now, that includes spending time celebrating the one-year anniversary of Stephen Hawking High school.