Well, this blog definitely did not turn out like I had intended, but I am totally okay with that. Trying to update everyday became to be too much, and I kept forgetting. For a little while, I felt bad about not updating. But them I thought about how I was really just trying to live my life and experience everything that I could. Plus, that'll make for more fun stories when I'm home :)
I have some downtime and thought that before I forgot, I should at least post one more time. It's Sunday, and in 5 more days, I'll be back in the United States :) Here is a rough outline for my last week in Peru:
Tonight: Delia is bringing her friends from church to the house and we're having what's called a "chocolatada". Drinking hot chocolate, eating panetón (like fruit cake but bread), and exchanging small gifts.
Monday: my last day at Casa Josefina :( It will definitely be one of the hardest things to say goodbye to all these babies!
Tuesday: shopping for Wednesday, then building ginger bread houses with the jovenes! It's my last meeting with all of them :(
Wednesday: start packing! I'm donating my clothes to the Corason church. Later at Corason, we're baking Christmas cookies with the kids :) This will by FAR be the hardest goodbye! I've made lasting relationships with these students and I don't want it to end
Thursday: packing, laundry, finding time to eat, and saying my goodbyes. I'm not sure if any of the jovenes will come to the airport or not, but I hope so!
I also thought I'd add my flight itinerary here too, since I could use all the prayers I can get! This will be my first time flying alone:
December 20 (Thursday)
Leave Cusco, PE @ 8:12 pm
Land in Lima, PE @ 9:44 pm
Leave Lima, PE @ 11:15 pm
December 21 (Friday)
Land in Miami, FL @ 5:04 am
Leave Miami, FL @ 6:50 am
Land in Chicago, IL (O'Hare) @ 9:20 am
Leave Chicago, IL @ 9:55 am
Land in GR, MI @ 11:58 am
I bolded my time through Chicago because I am nervous about that one. O'Hare is a huge airport, and I have 35 minutes from landing to take off. I'm praying that I'm in at least the same terminal! With all of the holiday travelers, this will definitely be the most stressful stop! I am thankful for my parents, who said that if I don't make my flight and can't catch another plane within 2 and a half hours, that they'll come down and get me :)
I can't wait to be home, I miss my family, friends, and community SO much! Thanks so much for your prayers and thinking of me while here :) And an extra special thank you to those who donated! I'll see you all soon!
Quite some time has passed since my last post, and I actually think it's the longest I've gone without writing!
The past week was a struggle, I stayed home most of the time. This is also because I got sick again, not fun. I'm thankful for Delia, who made me tea, and Sandy and Albino who made orange juice and sprite runs for me ;)
This week has probably been the best one yet. I've kept busy, and enjoyed myself doing so. Of course, Monday's are my Casa Josefina days. I'm finally getting used to their daily rhythm, which makes things much easier. I'm becoming an expert at getting babies to eat ALL their food, drink ALL their milk, and even changing poopy diapers ;) My favorite time is still when they get to play, inside and outside. They're so funny, crawling around each other and me, and they love being pushed on the swings. I can't remember if I've shared this yet, but I got to watch one of the little guys take his first steps! It's moments like these that make the long days so worth it!
Yesterday, I sat and had breakfast with Manuel. He was telling me about a place that has a human "slingshot" and a bungee jump. He doesn't remember where it is or what it's called, but I'm determined to find out. It sounds like a good time. I took the bus over to the mall, I needed toothpaste. I could've gone to the store down the street, but I felt like walking around some. So in addition to toothpaste, I left with muffins, cookies, and a bag of gummy worms... oops. I got home and had some lunch, then headed over to the park. I sat there for about 4 hours, reading, journaling, and studying. Despite having my sunhat, I could feel myself starting to burn, so I went back to the house. Manuel and Misael were cooking lunch (at 3:30) and they asked if I'd stay and join them. Instead of the basic arroz con huevo, they fried some potatoes to throw on top too. Misael explained that it was healthier that way 😂. After cleaning up, the sun had started to set, and wasn't as blazing. I grabbed a book that Sandy is letting me borrow and sat out on the front step, enjoying the sun, breeze, and fresh air. It's been really nice, there is construction on Avenida Cinco, so no cars are allowed down it. By then, the construction workers had gone home, leaving the street quieter than I have ever heard it (or not heard it in this case). It made for a really nice time.
Later that night, we had our meeting. The universities are having their equivalent to finals week, so some of the students were gone. Delia is in Lima working. There were three of us, but despite that, we played an insanely fun game of spoons. It never gets old!
Today, I've got to get some American dollars exchanged for soles, I've run out! It's pretty cloudy today, so it might even be another good day to read in the park. Then later on, I'll be heading up to Corason :) I missed last week Friday from being sick (and got sick there the last Wednesday) so I'm really missing it!
Hope you are all doing well, and it was great to be able to see some of you on Sunday! Praying for peace and rest as the holidays draw nearer!!
Today is All Saint's Day, which is a highly celebrated holiday here in Peru. Some call it Dia de los Muertos. There is specially baked breads for the kids, and "vigilias" that last all into the night. Most of the jovenes have gone home to their families to celebrate, so I get today to myself :)
This week has been alright, I've been in a "I don't want to do anything" mood lately. On Monday, I made is successfully to the orphanage, 15 minutes early. Being early is NOT at all normal, as most people show up to parties and meetings an hour or so late. I've been joking that I'm going to take one of these sweet babies home. Sad to admit, but I have my favorite little guys ;) It has been amazing to interact with the babies and start to get to know their little quirks. I got home absolutely exhausted, it's a long day!
On Tuesday, I did absolutely nothing, and I'm okay with that! However, we did have our meeting. This week was a little bit different, it was a time for everyone to vent and share some of the frustrations they've been having. Even to call specific people out. Thank goodness that this is a safe environment. I shared my frustrations with feeling inadequate in the way that I cut vegetables when I'm helping cook. Most times, I don't do it the "right" way that they're all used to, and they'll take it away from me and start over. To us Americans, food is food no matter how it's cut, and it all tastes the same. It's just something cultural that I have to deal with. Since then, things have been much better between all of us. Our cliques are beginning to break up and be more inclusive.
Yesterday of course was Halloween, which up until a few years ago, was not celebrated in Peru at all. There is a relatively large population of devil worshipers, as well as human sacrifice. It has been something that the population has struggled with, since these things do happen quite often, why should we encourage it? When there are parties and such, it is stressed that it is NOT a Halloween party, but a fall festival. At Corason we held a party. Beforehand, I went down to the store to pick up some candy (as well as some fruit for myself ;). The kids decorated candy bags, and we played a ton of games. We taught them some Christian songs, and did a Bible lesson about how we are God's children, and we are here to worship HIM, and not Satan. I think I had my fill of candy for the next two weeks! It was another late night.
Today I'm heading to the park to do my Bible study and journaling. After having talked to Sandy, we agreed that we always feel better after getting out. What better reason to get out and study in God's creation?
Some of you have heard, others maybe not. But I have decided to head home at Christmas. I know my goal was to stay for 6 months, but this has been an extremely difficult time for me. A new language, multiple new cultures, new experiences, living in a huge city (I hate that), and knowing that I'm missing some milestone - moments at home have made things hard. I went into this trip with few expectations, which was good, but at the same time it's been tough. I have my flight booked now. I'll be leaving Cusco on December 20 at around 8:30 pm, stopping in Lima for a long layover, then to Miami the next day, off to Chicago, and finally landing in Grand Rapids at around noon on December 21. Of course, it's during the holidays, so who knows what kind of delays there will be.
My biggest prayer request right now are that this next month and a half-ish is fun, eye opening, and that I make the most of what I have here.
I miss my family, friends, home, church, my car (having not driven in a month is driving me nuts!), food, air not filled with bus exhaust, and clean streets. These things and people I have taken advantage of, we really don't realize how blessed we are to live in America. I was talking with Sandy about some of these things. Yes, there are so many things wrong with America. But if we're not going to personally work to better it and simply complain about it, leave. Experience a new culture to see just how good we have it. One of the things I've taken advantage of is diversity. We oftentimes think of America as being very white and racist. Yes, that may be true, but here in Peru, I've been able to count on my two hands the Caucasian people I've seen living here. The people here don't know how to deal with a white person, because we aren't around a lot. Think about the U.S. How many cultures have you interacted with? For most people, it's quite a lot! Another thing that I have experienced is being treated like a child for not knowing the culture and language very well. I began thinking about it some more. When I worked at Russ', there were always customers from other backgrounds who came in! How did I treat them? I'll admit that I talked to them in the way I would speak to a child. I now know how awful that feels! I am so thankful for the experiences I've had in this short time already.
I cannot wait to get home and truly treasure the people and things that mean the most to me. Hug your families and friends today for me. Tell them you love them and you're thankful for everything they've done for you. Take a look around at what God has graciously given you. Thank Him for it. I sure wish I would've done so more often.
It's been a little while since I've written, but that's alright! I'm back!
This week has been pretty low key, not a whole lot going on. Hence, not much to write about. I still love going to Corason, the kids are absolutely precious! This week, we've been teaching them the vegetables in English, and yesterday, we painted with vegetables!
Despite struggling a LOT lately, I have had some good moments :) My faith has grown immensely, and I honestly spend hours a day studying the Bible, and I love it. I have a sketch book that I've been filling with some of my favorite verses. On hard days, I read through them and am reminded of God's love for me.
I also want to thank my family and close friends for reaching out to me this week to check on me! It means a lot and I miss you all!
Today, we had a meeting that takes place on the last Saturday of every month. We talk about life goals, which has been really helpful actually. Some of my goals include, becoming COMPLETELY fluent in Spanish, studying the Word of God everyday, running everyday, eating better, and taking better care of myself. The latter are some of the most difficult, unfortunately. However, I have a plan, people to keep me accountable, and motivation!
After the meeting, Albino called a family member who, for 10 soles per plate, delivered a plate of chicken, potatoes, and even a little sugar cookie bar for lunch. It was AMAZING. I was supposed to go up to the mountains today, but the ladies who go, didn't today. So Delia, Emanuel, and I went down to the grocery store (we've been craving peanut butter). Unfortunately, it costs $10 American dollars. We also looked for some cake. Delia and I are going to church tomorrow and need to bring a cake, but we decided to buy one on the way there. As we walked back up to the house, we decided that we were hungry, so we stopped at a street vendor and bought what's called salchipapas. It's French fries, sausage, noodles, and some rice. Most Peruvians eat it covered in ketchup and mayo, so I had to too! It was actually amazing.
Overall, it's been a good day, and I'm hoping more will continue.
Thank you for your prayers!
It has been QUITE the last couple of days!
As a lot of you know, I started my first day at the Casa Josefina orphanage :) I am scheduled to start at 7 am, which makes for a bright and early 4:30 am wake up, since the the walk to the bus stop takes a good 10 minutes, the bus ride takes about a half an hour as well as the walk into the village.
So I got up at 4:30, trying not to wake Delia or Elli up, and took a shower. It was cold since something is up with the water heater. Yikes. I went downstairs for breakfast and burnt my egg! I wasn't discourage though, I was too excited! I headed back up to my room to get the rest of my things around, and left the house at around 5:50. As I was nearing the bus stop, I saw the bus I needed take off. I didn't think it was that big of a deal, so I sat patiently for another 15 minutes until the next bus came. I was probably more confident than I should have been, as I rode the bus for an hour. It took me to the end of the route, which should've been a bridge in front of the entrance to the village. However, I ended up at the end of the opposite route. I didn't panic, I just started walking a little ways, trying to find a store to put minutes on the loaner phone I have. Of course, no one was open that early. I tried calling Sandy, despite not having minutes, the phone sends a text to the intended receiver that they're trying to be contacted. After about 7 tries, she called me back. We discussed my options. I had no idea where I was, but was just going to take the bus back in the other direction. Albino suggested that I take a taxi instead, since the bus ride would take another hour, and I was already late. Sandy called the orphanage and explained my situation. I didn't have enough money for a taxi, just enough for two-way bus fare. Albino said that he would pay the taxi driver when I got to the house. I hopped into a taxi and asked him to bring me to Universidad Andina, which is where the bus stop is. He said it was too far, so I hopped back out and flagged down yet another. He agreed to take me, so off we went. The taxi ride took about 45 minutes. I got to the house without being hurt, that is except for my pride.
Albino and Sandy agreed to drive me to Casa Josefina, and we went over the fact that next Monday, I'll have to get on the bus on the other side of the street. I got there a little less than two hours late, around 9.
I am absolutely in love with this place. There are 7 infants, which I get to help take care of. The first thing I got to do was take two of the babies to the doctor with another employee. We took Gina (7 months old) and Almendra (1 year old). It was quite the experience, holding two babies in your lap in a taxi. It was so interesting to see how the health care systems work here, and I'm thankful for the U.S. in that aspect. I was told that Almendra was born premature (I heard she was born 7 months premature, but I am probably wrong) at 2.2 pounds. Despite being a year old, she is the size of a 5 month old. Even so, she sits up, crawls, and does everything else a normal one year old would do! If I could, I would take her home (but Dad said no bringing babies home)! I am probably going to invest in some scrubs, since I was puked on twice and pooped on!
The house has their own taxi driver, who takes the older children to and from school. I leave at four with him, and he drops me off at the bridge for free so that I can catch the bus. The bus ride home was quick (15 minutes maybe) and it was fun! I'd never had such a fun driver or attendant! They were listening to loud music and dancing. I got home, ate dinner, and just about crashed immediately. I think I slept for a good 12 hours last night.
This morning has been by far the worst ones. This is a very difficult time. I've been away for a little more than a month now. There are so many milestones that I know I'll miss and have missed while I'm gone. A wedding in the family, baptisms, and I know I'll miss my sister's 18th birthday, as well as some of my closest friends. I don't know if I can handle missing Christmas too. I'm looking into coming home early for Christmas, and cutting my time to three months. Please pray for me as I'm struggling a lot with being demeaned in public, discriminated against, excluded, and treated like a child.
Yesterday's adventure was absolutely amazing!
Delia and I were up at six, we made a quick breakfast and started cooking lunch. She called is "espageti" (spaghetti) but it was a typical Peruvian mix of pasta, egg, and veggies, not the spaghetti we are used to.
We left the house at 8, and had to make a quick pitstop at Delia's work and a store to add minutes to her phone. Finally at around 9:30, we were back on the bus to the mountain!
On the way up, Delia asked me if I wanted any fruit, and of course I wanted fruit! We stopped at a market and bough half a kilo of peaches (6 of them). They're very tiny, and I explained to Delia just how big they can get in the U.S.! We washed them before leaving (since my stomach can't handle eating fresh, unwashed fruit).
We got to Christo Blanco, which is a HUGE, white statue of Jesus that overlooks downtown. From up there, you can see all of Cusco, including downtown and the Plaza de Armas (which is the home screen photo of my blog!). Next to Christo Blanco are also three huge, wood crosses. We took a few pictures, then began walking further up the mountain. We didn't really know what we were going to go explore.
That was, until we ran into a tiny man (I say tiny because he maybe stood as tall as my elbow). He had horses, and for VERY cheap he would take us to go see some ruins. We got on his horses and spent the rest of the afternoon riding to ruins, descending, and exploring by foot. It was one of the coolest things I've ever done! I took so many pictures, they didn't all send to my email :/ I'll resend them and post later!
As we rode, I was continually thanking God for the beautiful scenery that He has given us to explore and appreciate.
It's even a few days since I've posted, but since I'm getting into more of a rhythm, there isn't always much to share! I may only be posting once or twice a week now.
As a lot of you know, I have been struggling a lot with being homesick. The busier I get, though, the better it is to focus on living life here in Peru!
This morning, there was absolutely nothing but some quinoa (we eat and prepare it like oatmeal in the U.S.). "Falta pan!" is what Delia said this morning. (There's no bread). We took the quinoa off the burner and went down the road a little ways. She bought some eggs while I went and bought bread. On the way back up towards the house, the view of the mountain is absolutely stunning. So, her and I made plans to climb it on Thursday! We're waking up at 6 am, making breakfast and lunch, then packing a picnic to eat at the top! I couldn't be more excited! My first real hike! I'll have lots of pictures later on this week :)
Today, I decided to make something a little more American to share with everyone for lunch. I went down the the Main Street to pick up Alfredo sauce and a loaf of bread for garlic bread. I think it went over pretty well :)
I usually don't go to Corason on Tuesdays, but one of the girls is celebrating her birthday, and I was asked to bring a little snack to share. I picked up some animal crackers while at Canasta (it's like a Meijer). I'll be going up to Corason three times this week!
Tomorrow is my meeting at Casa Josefina! Finally!
Also, a quick shout out to my parents for helping me out of my funk this morning ;) I'm feeling much better!
It's been a rough morning! I woke up feeling absolutely awful, my stomach is upset and I've been nauseous.
Delia is such a sweetheart and made me some tea that they drink when they aren't feeling well. I'm laying in bed right now because that's about all I can handle!
I'm supposed to head up the village today, but that probably won't happen unless there's a miracle!
To catch you up on a few things:
- We finally got in touch with Casa Josefina, the orphanage where I'll be volunteering! I meet with them this week Wednesday (10/17). Then, my first day should be that next Monday (10/22).
- I have decided not to return to the village ministry near Tupon. I know that God had his hand in that decision and the gut feelings I was getting. (My mama gets them too ;)
- Delia and I have really begun to connect more. We've talked about relationships, friendships, some of our fears and dreams, and our relationships with God. Next Sunday, we're going to church together and I'm going to help teach some English! Delia has begun listening to Christian music solely in English, as well as listening to Hillsong sermons.
- Emanuel only lets me talk to him in English so that I can help him practice.
- Eidison's mother is sick and he has been at home for the past week and a half helping to take care of her, prayers for her and their family!
- There's a new student who lives with us two nights a week! Her class gets out at 9 p.m., and by that time there is no bus to take her back to her village. Since there are no more beds left on the girl's floor, she shares a bed with my other roommate, Elli.
- Hand washing laundry is a lot of work.
- Summer has arrived, and so has the rain! It has rained for the past three days, and will continue to do so until I head back home.
- Most days I do not speak any English at all, unless it is to blog or talk with my family. (My Spanish is rapidly getting better!)
- I've started praying out loud, which has been absolutely amazing for my relationship with God!
I miss everyone so much and I hope that you are all doing well and are in good health! Sending love from Cusco!
This is the view of Corason that I get every time I go! Yesterday, it had been raining. I found this whole scene strangely beautiful.
The first four pictures are more of Corason! The views that I've seen here are by far my favorites! The next two are walking down the center of Avenida Cultura, the Main Street through Cusco. The statue in picture six usually has water pouring down it and fountains, it wasn't running when I took the picture though. The last two are of Corason again!
I didn't get a chance to write yesterday, I wasn't feeling at that well.
I hung out here at home, working on a few different things. It wasn't a super eventful day! Later on, I left at around 2:30 to head on up to Corason for my volunteer orientation. We planned this week out, and then went down to play with the kids. Tuesday's aren't my scheduled day, but since I was there, I decided to stay. They don't need many volunteers on Tuesday's because it's just a free day for the students to play and get help with whatever they need. They're all kind of sick too (it's the transition from spring to summer) so I think that hasn't been helping!
I got home just in time to make some tea and buy bread for our weekly meeting. Things were going well until I started coming down with a fever. Sandy sent me up to bed real quick! It doesn't help that both of my roommates are currently sick!
I woke up this morning with no voice, but after some tea and breakfast, I'm feeling better! As long as I'm feeling good the rest of the day, I'm heading back up to Corason!
I was walking up the mountain by myself last night and I hear a little voice yelling from below, "hermanita!!" (little sister). I turned around and stopped to wait for her. I have no idea who she is and I've never met her, but she knew that I was going up to Corason, which she knows is a safe place. She came running up and immediately took my had. We walked up together the rest of the way! It's God's precious children like her that make life so worthwhile!