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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The Month of November

I am sorry I have failed you all this month by not posting. I don’t know where the time has gone. I feel like each week something unplanned happens and absorbs time from my well-laid plans. Nevertheless time goes on. I’ve compiled a bunch of pictures from this month to give you an idea of what I’ve been up to. 🙂

Math Tutoring: I’ve been tutoring one of the girls in the house algebra 3-4 times a week and it has been really fun to 1) get to spend time with her and 2) work math problems. 🙂 I still haven’t decided what the plans are for next year- if I continue volunteering OR get a teaching job OR a combination of both. Please pray that that decision will be made clear.

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Garage Sale- Last month we had a lot of things in the inventory closet that we decided we’d never use so we organized a garage sell for the employees at Luz de Vida and I was also able to sell a few Hilos items 🙂

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Thanksgiving- This was truly a blessing! The team all worked together to make this a special day for me although most knew very little about Thanksgiving. They made an American flag table cloth, placemats with my facebook profile picture on it, an acrostic poem with my name telling me thanks for my work. Futhermore everyone asked questions about Thanksgiving and then went around and said one thing they were thankful for. We sang Great is Your Faithfulness in both Spanish and English. Patty and Dhaly put on a skit “A day in the life of Ann.” The three scenes consisted of 1. A guy called the house five times asking for the wrong place. He would not stop calling and so I just decided to answer in English to try and deter him (so he would understand) that he had the wrong number. They thought it was funny. Scene 2. I tripped while running in the park with Patty (I was not hurt) Scene 3. We played a balloon popping game at a birthday party and somehow the chair fell out from underneath me and I fell on the ground. It is true; all these are very common events in my life. 🙂 We had broccoli casserole, lime chicken (turkey substitute), mashed potatoes, and apple cobbler with chocolate chip ice cream. Peruvians don’t usually eat vegetables like the broccoli casserole and their mashed potatoes are typically more of like a puree. Afterwards we took pictures and played games. It was a very special evening I won’t forget.

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Fire safety Training- This was funny. We had a man come and teach all the women of the house how to put out fires. He showed us videos and talked to us and then we went on the roof and practiced putting out a real fire! Little did I know all the ashes would all into the patios on the first floor. Good thing I swept them that morning! 😦

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Lunch on a regular day- so usually we eat lunch with the girls in the house too, but for some reason they weren’t there. Anyway, what I wanted to show you is that the employees sometimes eat with us too and it is always a great time. Patty is the psychologist (with her back turned), Betsy is smiling at the camera, she fills the role of the social worker, and Dhaly (who is trying to escape the picture) is the girl’s coach. I’m very lucky to call them friends.

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A Mouse! This was exciting! (And yes, I wanted to keep her as a pet) I was sitting at the computer when this little friend scuttled across the living room. I screamed and ran for Patty to help me. We both chased her around the living room with a broom jumping on the furniture and trying to guide her into the patio. Once we got her into the patio, we then trapped her in a box. Patty and the other workers thought we should beat her to death with a broom, and in the end I got in trouble for the fact that I wouldn’t allow it and instead carried her to a nearby park and put her in the trashcan (secretly hoping she would escape).

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Robyn, Araceli, and Gordon’s Visit- Robyn (middle picture) is my state side boss. She is the president of the organization I volunteer for and was also the leader of the volunteer group I came with last year. She is a BIG reason I am here volunteering now. She came down for three days with her daughter, Araceli, and Gordon, one of the beneficiaries for the organization. It was so wonderful to have them here. Araceli celebrated her 15th birthday and it was the first time she had been back in five years. While Robyn was here we went shopping, talked, hung out with the youth, ate out, and just visited the women in El Cerrito. I wish they came here more often 🙂

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Youth Group- So youth group has been fun. Although they haven’t asked me to sing worship again (thank goodness), I was asked to collaborate in preparing and presenting the three week personal finance workshop, prepare games, and help out in a skit.

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Students learning about curriculum vitaes and job readiness

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How NOT to interview for a job skit- I am out of the picture, but I wore the blond wig and was the Interviewer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Teaching about budgeting

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This picture shows two of the girls who are applying to live in the house!

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The youth are planning a show of the kids in my women’s program. Can’t wait to see it- there will be singing and dancing!

 

Games!

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Speaking for Beth Moore Bible Study- So I attend a Friday morning bible study with the women from my church- not the group that is pictured here, but another group. We watch Beth Moore’s Esther video in English and then the leaders of the the group translate it and share it with the other groups. Well… they asked me for help translating one video and little did I know… I ended up also giving the talk and preparing the powerpoint and handout as well. It was a STRESSFUL experience, but through it all I was reminded why I do things- for the Lord and NOT for men. Imagine how inadequate I felt speaking to these women who were twice my age and also in a foreign language. Luckily I was not alone. In the end I did not offend anyone and the women told me they really enjoyed the talk- some even invited me over tho their homes.

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Women’s Project- Oh the womens project. I really love these ladies! They are so gracious and patient with me. I wish I was doing a better job with projecting the vision for the program and with establishing stability. We’ve had changes to the days we meet, and the products we’re doings, and I feel like I just can’t get everything straight. Please pray that we would receive vision for the project and that I would stop over-complicating things. In the pictures below I show a typical day where I collect products, a class with the knitting professor, Esperanza wearing the very first hat I’ve ever made, and our most recent project of Christmas Stockings. The women are happiest when they are learning and when they get paid. Also, this week they were specially attentive to the point that they stopped working on their jewelry to listen to Nancy share the bible with them!

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Seed Jewlery- This is our side endeavor. The women are still warming up to this idea, but out of demand we are making more because everyone here seems to want to buy our seed necklaces. I am really excited about working with our jewelry teacher- Graciela, who also stays with us every other weekend to care for the girsl/ the house. She is a blessing to work with!

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Developing Skills: Photography and Knitting/ Crocheting- need I say more? I am so thankful for everyone’s suggestions for my photography. It really does help! Also, I am finally to the point where I enjoy knitting! 🙂 I just wish my stitches would all come out evenly.

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Heath Issues- So I don’t think I’ve blogged about my root canal. Here is the story: In the middle of October I had severe tooth pain and headaches (there was slight pain/ headaches for a few weeks) but it became so strong pain meds weren’t cutting it, so I went to a dentist my friends recommended. I got half way there in a taxi and realized I had forgotten my money at home. All my money. I felt so bad for the taxi driver- being stupid I didn’t think to have him drive me back to the house so I could grab my money and pay him- instead I offered him the pens and pencils I had in my purse. Haha. I tried again the next morning. When I got there the dentist hit my teeth with some tool to see which one was giving me pain and then removed the fillings in two teeth. He is a very kind man and was talking to me about my church (while also working in my mouth). Stupidly I tried to respond to a question and spit not only in his face, but also the face of the dental hygienist. They kindly explained that I should spit in the sink next time- they had, but didn’t use the sucker tool exclusively to remove extra water etc. Then he told me that I had a deep cavity that had reached the nerve. At that my tears started falling. I felt so silly crying but I couldn’t help it. I’ve had a root canal before  and it was a horrible drawn out process where I had to have an additional ‘crown lengthening surgery ‘and multiple appointments with different dentists. Although this root canal will also take multiple appointments they will all be with him and it’s easier to schedule with my current ‘job’. While he completed this first part he turned on Christian piano music, but then felt the need to show me the nerve he had removed. He stuck the thing in front of my face; it looked like a bloody little larva. I did not want to see that! Obviously I survived and actually had my second appointment already (which was more painful, but still went well). What was also interesting was that they don’t have set payment schedules and didn’t ask for any form of ID. All in all it will be about S/ 600 to get the whole thing done. I already threw myself a little pity party and am coping with the whole ordeal. In fact, I wrote this story a few weeks ago and just hadn’t posted it- but now I am done with the root canal completely! All went well.

However, the last few weeks my fingers have been peeling. And still kind of are, although not to that extent. I went to a friend who is a doctor and she prescribed two creams- one to fight fungi and one to fight an allergy in case I had had an allergic reaction to soap or lotion or something. Like I said, I am doing better, but it’s not completely gone yet and we are still not sure what the cause was. It’s kind of a running joke that I am Jobabita- Little Job, because when it comes to my heath, it seems to be just one thing after another.

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Well, this ends the month of November. I will be more faithful posting in December. Love you all very much!

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Three weeks in one!

There are so many new things to tell you about that I have been putting off writing because it’s overwhelming. Please forgive me if I am not chronological and if I make no sense. So first off, I got sick with the- well you know when you eat something and it doesn’t sit well in your stomach. Luckily I was only sick for a few days and now I am all better. It might have been from when we made ceviche- which is fish that is cooked only with the acid from lime juice. We made it in el Cerrito with the hilos women. It was such a fun day! I helped cut onions, make cancha (cooked corn kernals) and oversaw the making of crema de la huancaina. It was a highlight for the week.

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We also went to an orphanage and worked with the girls there on a three day health, fitness, and nutrition workshop. Hayley, Adrienne, and I designed the class and included exercises, snack, songs, games, and crafts about the functions, locations, and care of different parts of the body. The girls really were fun to get to know. It was funny; they got rowdier each day as they got to know us better so I got to use my teacher skills. However, it’s hard managing a bunch of girls speaking another language! Luckily Liz lent us a member of the team each day we were there- Anita went on Monday, Paty on Tuesday, and Dhaly on Thursday. They were a huge help.

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Last week Adrienne and Hayley gave a talk to the women on nutrition and exercise and I tried to modify it for our Monday night youth group. It was interesting… luckily I didn’t have to fill much time because I probably should have prepared better for my first talk. Youth group was Monday night and then Hayley and Adrienne left early Tuesday morning. It was sad to see them go. The house is not the same without them. They really were a lot of fun. I miss the guitar music and my running buddies, although I think I failed them in the last week because I didn’t really run much. Fail.

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Also, since I last wrote I have struggled with technology big time. First I accidently plugged the wrong end of a USB cable into my computer and it shut the whole thing down. My computer would not start for an entire evening. How did I survive you may ask… well let me tell you it was a life changing experience (joke). Luckily the house has other computers and God the next day it started up like nothing had happened. More detrimental was that I lost my cell phone (my cheap Peruvian one) this Saturday. I think it fell out of my pocket while I was riding in the moto up to el Cerrito for our second crochet class. I also left the professional camera in el Cerrito and had to take a 30 minute taxi to go retrieve it on Monday because although our classroom is locked I would be in big trouble if anything happened to it. I know am forgetting something else, but I also broke two lids to two different large pots in one day. I dropped one and it shattered all over the floor and the handle broke off the other. Not a good day.

More about my women’s ministry: the classes really are a lot of fun. But it seriously takes me at least 3 times, if not 5 times as long to do things as the other women. Although I am slow, I am enjoying learning. It was really great to see how content the women were working on the hats we’re making. They really do like to crochet. If only I could figure out how the whole business side and design aspect of things works. I know this is nonsensical, but I worried myself into a headache today overthinking at I needed to do to make progress on our Hilos program. It’s really hard for me to remember that God has or will give me the tools I need to accomplish the task he has in mind for the program. I am struggling though with being patient and content in the meantime. Today however, I went with Maria and Yovana to buy yarn. It was really funny because the guy would not put all the color of yarn out. We would ask for more colors and he would say he didn’t have them and then ten minutes later he would hand it over. Just silliness.

(The hat I have on is what we are currently making)

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So lastly, last night I helped our director lead/ put together a personal finance/ budgeting workshop. It is part one of three. When we sat down to plan we realized we did the exact same thing to manage our money- basically Dave Ramsey money envelopes and zero balance budget. I was really impressed with our director because she came up with that method herself without having learned it from the US. Smart lady! I am excited to see how the youth respond to what we’re teaching them and if they actually do it.

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Weird things Peruvians do

Too many funny things have happened this week to go unmentioned (and also I still haven’t had time to write out a long post about what I’ve been up) so here is a list of “weird” things about Perú.” This is just the start 🙂 Also, it would be so much better with pictures but I don’t’ have time- bug me about it and I’ll try and add them later.

  • People use ovens to store random things. For example, today I opened up my oven and there were Styrofoam cups and a Styrofoam serving platter. Another time the girls had stored frying pans in their oven. My Peruvian mother in Lima would store pots and pans in hers as well. So I’ve learned to check the ovens before turning them on.
  • We sweep and mop outside here; the patios and the garage. It’s like an everyday chore. I just don’t understand why we have to clean outside. It’s just going to get dirty again tomorrow!
  • The washing machine plays songs if you leave your clothes in it for a long time after it finishes washing them. It plays little joyful jigs kinda like a bell tower does on the top of every hour. Except it’s a washing machine…
  • We can only take the trash out between 7-10pm; but then they pick it up every day. Wouldn’t it be easier to pick it up a certain day but any hour you want?? It just irritates me and exacerbates my fear of the dark.
  • Dogs wear clothes here. Like all dogs sport their little shirts or dresses, big dogs, little dogs, homeless dogs- all of them. I’ve been told it’s because we’re still in “winter” and it’s so they won’t be cold.
  • There are random holes in the sidewalk practically everywhere. What are they for? No idea. Must be pretty important if you have to risk twisting your ankle every few feet.
  • The smallest bill is a S/10 (reads 10 soles). Therefore change can add up to a lot more. Most people carry around a small coin purse; including many men.
  • Unfortunately people tell you you’ve gained weight to your face. Like it’s a casual thing “Oh, I’ve noticed you’ve gained wait, how interesting” “Oh look! You’re getting a belly” “Oh yeah… you need to work on your abs.” It’s becoming less of a shock…. or at least I try to look at it as more of an encouragement to continue dieting and working out.
  • It’s customary to apologize for being on time. And on-time means on-time, not early. Early is not accepted.

I love my new home.

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I can’t believe it’s been a whole month!

Hello pueblo. Whoo this week was a doozy, but I survived. The month of October is a month of transition for me. First off, I am no longer the only American volunteer here (yay!). Hayley and Adrienne Ross are here for three weeks! They got here last Friday and have settled right in.

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This Monday we went to a children’s home (for kids who have been removed from their homes and families by the state) to play with the kids, give medical checks, and get a feel for what the kids need since they will be working with another home extensively next week. Hayley is a pediatrician and Adrienne works camps for kids with special needs but also majored in exercise science and is in hot demand here! Everyone wants to know what exercises to do. Perhaps it’s because summer is around the corner…  Adrienne is going to give a few health and exercise classes with the team and girls in our youth group. I personally can’t wait! I also now have friends to run with me in the park! (Dhaly included) I’m doing my best to show them around, but really need to read up on Trujillo stats and history.

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Last night we had their ‘Welcome Night.’ I am kinda in charge of picking and leading (haha) praise songs. This week went significantly better than last… however, we couldn’t really hear the music and were a few seconds ahead of the beat on one song. But no one wants to hear about that. Instead, let me tell you about my banana cake… cakes. So I am also in charge of refreshments, and have a budget I have to keep. I don’t know why this stresses me out so much, but the budget part/ making sure there is enough food for everyone is stressful! I think as I get used to the prices of foods it will be better. Anyway, last night I decided to make banana cake with a crunchy topping. After making the batter it seriously looked like the cake would turn out 1cm tall. So I doubled the recipe. Everything is in stinking meters and gram.  (You’re probably thinking- how great! An application for your math degree… well I would prefer less practical applications). If it wasn’t for my friend Ali, Adrienne, and Hayley I wouldn’t have finished the cake in time. However, it all turned out great and instead of one cake we had two! Oops. And although everyone liked it, I’m now realizing what Dhaly meant when she said you have to be careful you don’t make anything too amazing or they will always expect greatness. (She may have used different words). But I do want to give another BIG thank you to ALI, everything I was supposed to do for the party would have been a big fail without her.

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Also this weekend was my first weekend as the girls’ coach. We had some interesting moments, but no one died so I consider it a success.  For lunch on Saturday Maribel made fried chicken and a noodle/ veggie dish. Minutes before we were supposed to eat she was chopping at frozen chicken with a knife. We had both forgotten to defrost it. I really should have been helping her more; but I feel like it’s the blind leading the less blind. I really wish I could just skip over this whole ‘make mistakes’ part of the learning process, but that’s life. At least five people have told me this week to ‘relax,’ I guess I look tense and stressed out. It really is interesting all the phases I have gone through mentally/ emotionally while here. That’s a topic for another post though.

We’ve made a little bit of progress with my women’s program and have found a teacher who can come and teach the women how to crochet and knit on Saturdays. We will have the bible study part and a review part on Fridays. Furthermore, we are still going to look into making a business out of the project, but are trusting in God (big time) to show us the direction of the mission/ project. I’m very excited to see where it goes!

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Timing

I can’t believe I’ve only been in Trujillo for two weeks; seems like I’ve been here for months.  So much has happened since I wrote last. Where to start… So Thursday Dhaly and I spend the afternoon baking cookies (oatmeal with cocoa powder) for the kids’ snack on Friday. It’s interesting; the bags of flour they use are half the size of the bags we usually buy. Also, the baking powder was in a little package (not a container). In the next month I will take over making snacks and drinks for our youth nights and for the kids on Fridays. I’m sure many interesting stories will come from this as I am on a budget and I haven’t cooked a single thing here without help.  (Luckily the girls, Dhaly, and my friend Ali are experts).  After making cookies Samuel, one of the guys in our youth group, came over and helped us put together a desk for Dhaly.  At one point we needed a screw to take out a wooden peg. I ran downstairs to grab one from the shed and came up to find that Samuel had removed one from the door to use! Crazy or Resourceful? I can’t decide. J That evening I went to a choir concert with Ali to hear one of her students sing. I was expecting kids choir, but the quality of singing surprised me. They were great! Afterwards we ate at Rocky’s- known for fried chicken and the McDonald’s like play area. This was when I asked the mother if her child was going to be macho or hembra- words for male and female only associated with animals. This week seems to be an extended lesson on “thinking before speaking.”

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Fridays are always a busy day. In the morning, Dhaly and I attend a Beth Moore bible study on Esther. The best part is that we watch the videos in English! I can be somewhat helpful. This week’s talk was on Esther Chapter 5 and how she asked the king to a second banquet instead of confronting the issue. This theme of waiting and being patient (especially with words and speaking) was particularly timely. I feel like the language barrier has slowed down my habit of immediately speaking my mind, but also the culture here is different and I still haven’t really figured it out. There are lots of things I haven’t figured out. It’s been a very humbling week. This weekend I had to ask a friend how to clean my bathroom. I couldn’t really find paper towels, or cleaning supplies, and didn’t know if they do anything special. (In you are wondering- I learned that we use a towel and different cleaning supplies, also they have nice smelling stuff for when we mop the floors- otherwise cleaning is the same).  Also, it is my job to clean the laundry room which is great because I feel like I do relatively nothing cleaning wise compared to the girls in our house. However, it was my first time using the mop and I ended up spilling the bucket of water all over the floor. Dhaly made it look easy. Next time I won’t use as much water.

I also learned this week that when you lock your keys in your room, like Dhaly did, that you have to break in through a window to retrieve them. I won’t show you a picture or my mom will kill me, but I climbed down into her bathroom window from the roof. Mission Accomplished. If a teaching job doesn’t work out, I might try breaking into houses (joke). We also didn’t have electricity one morning. That means no wifi, no lights, no microwave, no coffee- well actually I learned how to light the stove with a match and also that you can make coffee on the stove too. The good part was that we also had to preserve water and couldn’t do the dishes that morning or shower. J Luckily, the electricity came back on before noon. The things I took for granted.

Friday afternoon I interviewed most of the women I will be working with on the crocheting business.  I had a little “office” (two stools outside the room we use for the women) and asked them questions about themselves etc. A lady arrived late and I tried to joke that the woman I was currently interviewing was in trouble. It didn’t work. They both were confused until I said I need to practice my jokes. That got a laugh. Overall the interviews were a little disheartening because they all seem to want different things/ have different suggestions with regard to crocheting things, but at the same time it was nice to get to know them a little better. I could really use extra prayer in this area, that the direction we take the program in would be clear.

One last bit about the weekend then I am calling it a night. Saturday Ali and I painted our nails and did yoga and Sunday I went to church. There was a special service today where we had a church-wide bible competition over the book of James. It was really fun! Then tonight Paty (our Psychologist at Luz de Vida) and Dhaly and I went to eat at Chili’s. It was nice to feel somewhat at home in an American restaurant but I was also able to ask for a glass of ice water! People here usually drink pop or juice. Also, correct me if I am wrong, but I thought it was odd and funny that the meal I chose was called Sweet and Spice Chicken. Not Sweet and Spicy Chicken. It made me laugh anyway.  In fin, I miss everyone at home a lot. Don’t hesitate to email or facebook me if you ever want to chat. Also, I’m posting more frequent and perhaps more formal things on our Corazón de Esperanza facebook page if you are interested.

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Poco a Poco

This week has been slow and frustrating but also had some really great moments! First, it has been frustrating in that I can’t just do things on my own as easily! I can’t drive to Walmart and get floss or step outside the house and go for a run.. In fact, I did not leave the house for the first 6 days I was there. However, little by little I am learning how to navigate my way around the city, use the buses, buy things (yes, I found floss), and speak a little more freely. (It’s the speaking that gets me, not the listening; I understand or can figure out most everything people say to me).

I spent most of the week working on inventorying and organizing our supplies, games, and materials with Aracely (I’m not sure what her title is; I know she pays the bills and is in charge of the children’s program until she leaves us in October.) We finally finished today! I will try and add a picture tomorrow because the ‘closet’ that we keep it in doesn’t have lights. I’ve learned that my weekends, Monday nights, and Fridays will be my busiest times. Monday nights we host a youth group for teens in our scholarship program. Fridays I joined Dhaly’s Beth Moore Esther morning bible study and also have the women’s program in the afternoons. This weekend was pretty busy as well since all Saturday we celebrated the Día del Juventud (basically like Mother’s/Father’s day, except for young people- it makes me laugh). Then in the evening I attended Dhaly’s youth group (for ‘older’ youths). It was a lot of fun. I am very thankful to have her as a friend and housemate. I’m not sure I’ve told you about Dhaly yet, so just in-case: Dhaly is the ‘entrenadora’. She is in charge of the house, mentoring the girls, overseeing schedules/ budgets/ cleaning, and much more. She lives in the house during the week and has weekends off. I’d be lost without her.

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(Left to right, top to bottom)- Día del Juventud- team picture, Monday Night Youth Group- playing a game, Mujeres Virtuosas- making seed necklaces, Dhaly 

Surprisingly (not), many funny things have happened this week. 1. I accidently set off the house alarm. I thought it was turned off because the door was open, turns out it wasn’t. I ran upstairs to find Dhaly coming out of her room wrapped up in a towel… oops. Luckily the cops didn’t come. Promptly after that I dropped my hair clip in the toilet. I wish I had written down all the funny things I’ve said this week, but I didn’t. There is one however, that sticks out. As we were riding back in a taxi from the Día del Juventud I was teaching the teens and Paty, our psychologist, some words in English. She then asked me to “cuenta hasta que lleguemos al casa” or at least that is what I heard. The translation is “count until we get back to the house” I asked “in English?” and she said “yes”… I thought it was strange, but started counting anyway “one, two, three, four…” and she looked at me and said “sing”. To sing in Spanish is Cantar. To count is Contar. Heheh. Oops.

You may be wondering what the food is like here. It is pretty good. We eat a late, small breakfast, usually bread or eggs. Then lunch is at 1:00. The girls buy groceries and cook a large meal every day. They learn new recipes and we rate them on how good it tastes. It’s kinda fun. Then dinner is on our own- usually leftovers, eggs, or bread, and occasionally we go out to eat. The saddest part was that until this week we ate relatively no fruit or vegetables- just meat, rice, and beans. In fact, I’ve eaten parts of the chicken I didn’t know existed- something in the stomach… but also I had a few bites of chicken feet. I thought I had grabbed a leg… won’t make that mistake again. Today however, Luz made a salad with veggies and chicken. Also, a couple days ago I mentioned to Dhaly that I was sad we didn’t have any fruit on hand and a couple hours later we hear a guy on the street with a fruit cart. Dhaly grabbed money and we both ran after the cart. It’s sad how much happiness bananas, oranges, and limes can bring. What’s interesting though is that we tried to pay the vendor with a S/. 10 bill and it turned out to be counterfeit!

I have learned many lessons and hope to learn many more. I am looking forward to really getting started on my women’s project in the coming weeks and to welcoming Hayley and Adrienne, two volunteers who will be with us for most of October.  Once again, if you have any questions please ask them- also, I would like to make another video. Any suggestions on topics?

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