Christmas to March

Hello friends and family! Yes, I am still alive. I have to get you all caught up. 🙂 (Self- correct typos please)

So for Christmas, I went with my friend Dhaly to her house two days. We took a bus Christmas Eve and had the traditional Christmas dinner at 11:00pm (only a little early, since the custom is to eat at 12:00pm!) We ate all the Peruvian staples: turkey, hot chocolate, and paneton (fruit cake). Her family was so nice, I honestly felt at home. Dhaly is one of 5 siblings although only her two sisters were home for Christmas. Pictured from left to right are Melissa, Dhaly, Oscar (Dad), Esperanza (Mom), and Candy- not pictured is Abuelo, who I believe is in his nineties. I feel very blessed to have been invited to spend the holiday with them.

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Next up, New Years!! Look closely- I am not the one with a mustache painted on my face. That’s because I stayed up until 5:00am! Success. We celebrated New Years with an all-out girls night. The three girls in the first picture: Eyni, Esthefany, and Jessica joined the house December 29th- just in time for the fun. We painted nails, braided hair, did our makeup, made cookies, watched a movie, played charades, ate chicken and paneton. Oh, we also did Karaoke. New years day we went to the beach for the afternoon (a Trujillo tradition)- it was packed!

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Then, around the 10th of January we began the moving process! If you’ve been following us on the Corazon de Esperanza facebook page, you’ve seen these pictures already, but the first is of the “old” house, which we are adding a floor to for the eventual boys floor, and the second is the very first picture of the volunteers room in the new house. Now things are much more organized. 🙂 We were told the construction on the other house could take between 3-6 months. It’s different living here; we’re all on the same floor and the offices are in the “foyer” area. There’s not very much privacy, but it’s kind of fun being all together. Also, there is a large patio, which is painted with kids movie animals. We put a lot of work into the place to make it livable, the first week the laundry room flooded three times, there were no shower curtains, little closet space (for a house of 9 girls that’s catastrophic), and we’ve had trouble with just about every toilet here. All in all though, we are glad to have 1 shower with hot water. 🙂

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Next was a quick trip to Ecuador with Dhaly to renew my visa. We stayed with friends of Dhaly’s. Neither of us had a camera… so I stole pictures off the internet. It was so cool. The house we stayed in was right off the beach and every night the bay emptied out and every day it filled back up. I had never seen anything like that. We went on a boat tour and saw crocodiles (in a crocodile sanctuary)- so cool. We also went to church and youth group with the family we were staying with (they were pastors of the church). Dhaly told me I had to give the talk to youth group, and I cried because I was so nervous. It was a joke. Haha. Gullible me. I didn’t have to give the talk. Then we spent an afternoon in Ecuador where we had coconut water and black oysters (I think)- oh, surprisingly I did not get sick once while on this trip and we had fish every day! Praise the lord!

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Shortly after, near the end of January Breanna joined the gang! How to describe Brea… she’s a younger version of myself. I adore her company, and appreciate the work she is doing with the kids program in el Cerrito. Brea is 18 and will be volunteering for six months. She actually comes from the same church my family used to go to in Overland Park and she knows Jacob (my brother) through his roommate. She came with her dad who stayed a week and pretty much fixed up the whole house. Thanks again Aaron! While he was here I got to play tour guide and showed them around Huanchaco, the Plaza de Armas, and we went to the Botanical Gardens for the first time with the girls (and Dhaly’s sister who was in town!)

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A week later Jan arrived! Jan (the tall one) will be volunteering with us for a year. We actually met when I went on the short mission trip last summer. She has been on 4 summer mission trips with Robyn and decided she wanted to make a bigger impact. She quit her job (teaching 4 and 5 year olds), gave away a bunch of stuff, boxed the rest, and moved down here. And I am SOO thankful she did. We work in opposite ways- she is organized, whereas I am… not. She likes to sit down and get things done, whereas I like to brainstorm the best ways to start a task. She keeps things simple, where I am Ms. Complex. She thinks before she speaks, whereas I speak while I think. She is clean, while I am… well I wouldn’t say dirty, but, messy? Luckily I don’t think I drive her crazy. I am so glad she is here- we have made leaps already with the program under her care. So excited to be working with her a year!

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One week later I went to Lima to meet Staci (my stepmom) and cousins Ashley and Alyson! We had a great time! The first day we went to La Punta of Callao for a boat tour to see the islands and were able to swim with sea lions. Well, not just swim- they kissed our feet! While I sat there five minutes with my feet floating above the water for them to kiss my feet, Ashley waited 30 seconds and they were all over hers. I guess she has sweet feet or something. For Valentines day we went to the Magical water fountains at night and bought a smorgasbord of sandwiches and desserts for dinner after eating a late lunch at Bembos (Pronounced Bimbos). Another evening we invited my Peruvian family to dinner, and were in turn invited to breakfast the next morning. I have the best families. They were able to see a little bit of central Lima as well when we visited the Plaza de Armas and Catacombs in the San Francisco Church.  We also went shopping for jewelry supplies (in bulk) for our womens program for three hours- I think that was the girls’ favorite part. Thankfully, they were patient with me as I organized our taxis and did my best to translate. 🙂

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We flew back to Trujillo to meet Robyn’s PERU CREW 2015 group. Staci and the girls were three of the seven who came to volunteer for a week. The other four include: Elias (the brave), Terri (loves purple), Robyn (crazy), and Bonnie (modela!). This group was small but powerful, and helped out a ton with Hilos (womens project). We had a photo shoot, organized the supplies from Lima, painted an orphanage, visited the women and children in cerrito (of-course taking cool crafts and new games). We went to the beach, Chan Chan, and also made Moche ceramics. It was a blessing to have their help. I was so sad to see them go.

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I look like a turd in my work uniform, but I figure you all will want to see it. (don’t look at the next picture or you’ll ruin the story).

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So I just started teaching at a Christian school this week. I teach English for 1st grade, which is 5/6 year olds (basically kindergarten) as well as level 3 (I think Sophomore age ish) in high school. I will write another post about my school and teaching another time, but I will leave you with this story from the first day. So… I get to school wear my black pants from the states, because we had to have our uniforms especially made and they hadn’t given them to us yet. The morning of the first day they handed them to us and so I went and put them on. We had a nice (long) greet the parents ceremony where we stood the whole time and then the kids got to see there new rooms. During this time my self and the English coordinator (Liana- she is from Canada and I love her) were called into the book meeting… side note: so I guess in Peru parents in private schools have to vote for the books their kids are going to use- and they do it on the first day of school…. any way. We were called into the meeting and there weren’t any chairs left, so I sat down on a little bench that juts out of the wall. I was sitting there whispering to Liana when I realized my fingers were wet and saw red paint on them from where I had been touching the bench. My first thought: Who paints a bench on the first day of school? Second thought: I bet I have red paint all over my entire behind. I slowing stood to show Liana, who confirmed my suspicions. Now, generally paint in Peru does not come out, but right before she went up to talk to the parents she said, “I don’t know, you might try washing it out real quick with water.” So I side stepped out of the room, trying to prevent the parents from seeing my red butt, but in the end had to turn and run to leave the room. Luckily I had my other black pants to wear and was able to wash the stained ones right away. However, it didn’t come out. I tried scrubbing with water (in the only bathroom in the school) to no avail and resorted to asking a lady from my church to help me. She found detergent and a brush and washed the paint right out. I honestly think it was washable paint- because- miraculously it all game out!

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That’s just the beginning of my teaching stories, undoubtedly there will be more to come.

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