Sorry for not writing yesterday! I decided now would be GREAT time to start throwing out some specific prayer requests as my departure draws nearer. I didn't write yesterday mainly because I was in a funk and was getting frustrated.
I researched and found all of the measurements for my carry on and for the rest of my luggage, and started figuring out what I had here at home to work with. It started out great! The bag that I usually use for week-long trips is small enough to be my carry on, and obviously big enough to fit a LOT. So I went on and made a list of things that would be necessary in a carry on, and let me tell you, that's a really long list. Long story short, I fit just about everything in it, besides the things I discovered I would really like to have in addition. When I read about the carry on size, I didn't read anything about a weight restriction (if anyone knows about a weight restriction please let me know!) but I weighed my packed bag anyway. The first time I weighed it, it said 10 pounds. I thought there was NO WAY it was only 10 pounds, so I tried again with me holding it, and it said it was 15 pounds. I was really frustrated at that point, and unpacked everything and sat there in my funk.
Prior to this, my mom ever so kindly brought up the suitcase that I had planned on taking from downstairs and weighed it for me. My luggage cannot exceed 50 pounds, and I can have two bags. To me, two bags seems like way too much for one person to lug around 4 different airports, including a carry on and whatever else I end up bringing. Anyway, I want to try and stick to just one bag, BUT the suitcase alone weighs 7 pounds empty. That's insane to me, and only added to my frustration.
So to conclude this unnecessarily long story, here are a few of the specific prayers that I would really appreciate right now!
- going with the flow when things don't go my way
- peace in knowing that God is in control of all of this
- staying focused on one thing at a time
- provision (I can bring American money to Peru to be exchanged, but they have to be mint condition $20 bills, and those are REALLY hard to find)
- nerves (this is my first time flying, and I'm scared!)
- a sound heart, especially since I'm leaving everyone :(
- a servant's heart, I can't wait to show His love
- finding time to spend with my friends and family before I leave AND work as much as I can to save up
Those are my main needs at the moment, and thank you so much for the love, support, and prayers thus far :)
After having made a list of random things I didn't have for my trip, we went to the store! The wall outlets in Peru are different from the United States and sometimes there is more power coming through the outlets, so we bought some adapters. Now I'll be able to charge my phone and computer without completely frying both of them! I also got some hanging organizers, as I'll be sharing one standard closet with two other girls! Storage space is really limited. I also got a little first aid kit, just in case (it's super cute by the way). And because of the high altitude of over 11,000 feet above sea level, skin burns extremely easily or ALL skin types, so I got a big bottle of sunscreen ;) I started picking up some little things as well to pack in my carry ons like stain sticks, because I'm a mess! Another little thing you wouldn't really think about bringing is hand sanitizer, the water in Peru is not safe to drink or cook with, so washing your hands before and after meals is also difficult. We picked up a couple of bottles for the trip there. I had also ordered a bunk bed organizer (which came in today) since I will be staying on the top bunk, a bunk bed shelf, and a little over the shoulder backpack for cruising around town.
There are so many more things that I keep thinking of needing, but the issue is that I'm still not 100% sure what's legal to take on a plane or what's legal to cross over the border with! I guess that's just one more thing to add to my research list!
One of the reasons I wanted to make this blog was to put out prayer requests and different things I would need, so I decided to make a little wish list. This feels super weird for me because I do NOT like asking for things. At this point in time, there isn't really anything that I need or want for my travels, but I am sure that I'll be here updating every now and then:
-Instax Mini 8 Camera Film
Today in church I felt nothing but love and support from my community and friends, and let me tell you, it's the best feeling ever. Multiple families came up to me today and told me that they would be praying the whole way, and even a few special individuals that had made extremely generous donations toward my trip.
Albino and Sandy were at church today with their family, and they arrived while I was talking with another couple. Doriana, the oldest of the Rodriguez children saw me right away and came running and yelling, "Dana!!" (On a side note, I have only ever met Doriana, and her brother Toby and sister Felicity one time over FaceTime, but these kids are the sweetest, most outgoing and innocent human beings I have ever had the joy of knowing). I have never been more sure about my decision until today.
The church service was great, but honestly, my favorite part of going to church is being able to talk and mingle with the community before and after the service. After church, Doriana came up to me again and asked if I could help her pass out some pens that she had brought with her from Peru. So Doriana, Toby, and I wandered around passing out pens to the kids. While doing so, we had this conversation:
Doriana: "Did you know that all the people living with us speak Spanish? Do you know Spanish?"
Me: "I did know that! I speak a little bit of Spanish, do you?"
Doriana: "Yes I speak a little bit too. The people living at our house are going to teach us Spanish, and you have to help me and Toby teach them English. Also, they are going to teach us Quechua! We're going to know three languages, Dana!"
Me: "That's amazing, and I can't wait!"
So hey, I'm going to know three languages when I come home!
The support that I have received has been such a blessing, and I am so thankful that God has placed these people in my life. After church and lunch, my parents and I spent the afternoon with my family. The love and support that I have received from them has also made this change much easier. I said my hellos, and took a seat in the recliner. My lovely aunt came over and we talked about my plans and just how good God is and how he works in such amazing ways. I am so thankful that my family knows and loves God too, I know many families aren't like that.
Today has been such an encouragement and I pray that the rest of my time here in the United States is like today, full of the same love and laughter and fellowship :)
Another interaction today before leaving church:
Doriana: *running up to me to give me another hug* "I can't wait until you come live with us! We're going to have so much fun! I can't wait!"
This is my first post! YAY! I'm sitting at the kitchen table at home this morning and mom says to me, "I've got a deeper question for you". So here goes another little part of my journey.
For a year or two I had my heart set on going into youth ministry and working with high school kids. I loved my youth group and the friendships and opportunities that came from it. I wanted to be able to give those same experiences to kids as a leader. But something changed in me that pushed me away from that, and I had never really thought about it until now when my mom asked, "What changed your mind?"
The middle of my junior year through the end of my senior year I was caught up in a friend group that was nothing but toxic for my faith. The boyfriend at the time had completely dropped the church and wanted nothing to do with it, and had even expressed how he didn't like me going to church with those people. A "best friend" at the time had never been apart of the church, and had judged me for spending "so much of your free time doing church things". Another "friend" told me that youth ministry would not be a wise financial choice for college, that kids were awful, and that there would be no way I could live off of the money it brought in unless I married into money. And I began to think, maybe they're right, and I pushed my faith to the side to try and fit in.
Shortly before graduation I had a falling out with these three particular people, and for a while, I was a real life representation of depression. I cried daily (if not twice daily), I pushed my family away, I didn't want to hang out with other friends, and I for CERTAIN did not want to go to God for help. These people had hurt me so badly that I really didn't know what to do. I honestly can't tell you exactly how I came out of this funk, but I know that it had something to do with my mom's constant prayers for me ;) As I completely dropped these three people, my life got better. They would still message me occasionally about how I was making a bad decision, however. Through going to God and praying constantly over THEM, I learned to forgive and to know that I was not who they said I was, I am who God says I am.
My faith grew from there, I dig into the Bible every night, turn down friends who are out to make bad decisions, and I've learned that God has a beautiful plan for my life, and that I can't wait to see what it is.
At times, my faith shakes a little bit, like when I am reminded of those experiences with those people or when they pop in now and then to make a negative comment about me or something that I've been doing. But I have God, my family, and my closest friends to thank for who I've been shaped into today.
In the fall after I return from Peru, my current plans are to attend Valparaiso University (a school that these same people told me was too far away for them to be able to see me) to major in youth ministry. And who knows, God works in crazy ways, and things change.