Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Church in Peru

The main work Melissa and I are doing here in Peru is with the congregations. In Callao, we attend the Monte Sion and Filadelfia congregations. In Huanuco, we attend the Huanuco congregation. 

At Monte Sion, we currently have adult class on Fridays, then kids class and church on Saturday. When I was here in 2011, we had basically a full house every week for church. It was a fun mix of adults and kids of all ages. This time, it is a completely different story. Last weekend, no one even came to church. I am curious why? What changed? It can't be just because of the colder than usual weather. The kids still come like it's their job. Showing up promptly when we arrive, which is impressive considering this is a culture of people routinely showing up late. Also, they have an actual church building now with a concrete floor and space and chairs with backs on them instead of benches. What gives? 

Then, in Huanuco, I think the congregation is getting a little burnt out. Like in Filadelfia, it is all family members and not that many, so they have to be prepared to preach and share and open their home (as that is where they are meeting for now) every week. The difference from Filadelfia is the amount of motivation to keep things going. Callao is closer to Lima, so when people from the church visit Peru, they visit the congregation, but Huanuco is a bit of a trek considering the amount of time and the reasons people come to visit. Plus, Wilfredo and Virgilio, the driving forces behind the congregations in Callao are nearby to keep things going, not just visiting a few times a year. It makes it easy to have a lull in activity when you don't have anyone watching you making sure you are keeping up with the routine. It is also easy to get caught up doing other things that life gives you to do such as working, going to school, being in a relationship, taking care of your family, sheep, goats, chickens, and pigs. There is plenty to keep them busy without having to add the responsibility of church to it. 

Church in Peru is currently quite traditional, with the exception of being open to using recorded music and PowerPoint during services. A nice thing about their traditional is that people do get up and clap and sometimes even dance/move to songs. There is always a sermon, anywhere from 20-60 min long. Church always follows the same patterns - not a lot of audience participation. Services last an hour and a half to 2 hours. Kids don't seem to attend services anymore. 

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the traditional, but coming from San Francisco, where we had a much more free flowing method of doing things, it is weird to be confined to this type of service again. 

So, that is the downside of church things here in Peru. In all of the meetings we have attended the main theme for what the congregations want/need from us is MOTIVATION. We are doing our best to figure out what all they do and how we can help motivate them. It's been just shy of 2 months and we sort of have a better idea, but it is still difficult to know for sure. We want to try to bring new ideas and perspectives, but change is not an easy thing to accept. We try to take advantage of our moments of leadership to incorporate things we like and how we like to do them. With the language barrier, it is a bit difficult to share exactly why we are doing what we are doing, but if we try it enough times and adapt to how they respond, maybe it will work? 

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

New International Version (NIV)

11 Yo sé los planes que tengo para ustedes, planes para su bienestar y no para su mal, a fin de darles un futuro lleno de esperanza. Yo, el Señor, lo afirmo.

Jeremías 29:11

Dios Habla Hoy (DHH)

On a more positive note, we had a blast for El Dia del Nino! The theme was Jesus Christ is my Superhero, so we dressed up as superheroes of course! It was by far the most fun we have had at church. :) We need more days like this. Special events require a bit more planning and time, but that is when people seem to be most energized. Hmm, how do we make everyday feel like a special occasion? 

~nos vemos~

Monday, August 26, 2013

Huanuco - Segunda Vez

We just got back this morning from our visit to Huanuco!

We left at 9am on Friday morning and arrived at 7pm that evening - a long long bus ride! Fortunately, we had the awesome seats right up front, so we got the full panoramic view during the trip to do some sight-seeing. We literally experienced all of the seasons in 8 hours - we had the sun blasting in the window, then there was rain, then there was snow, back to rain, back to sun. It was a crazy ride, but we arrived in one piece.

We had a full weekend of visiting with the Herrera Family! Friday night, we went to dinner with Orlando, Tonio, Vanesa, and Henry. Saturday, we drove up to Huacora and visited with Virgilio's brother, Antonio. Saturday evening, we had a meeting with the whole gang - Orlando, Carolina, Tonio, Yimi, Yulissa, Eynor, Karen, Wilfredo, Virgilio, Rolie, Nelly, Orlando's mom, and Henry. Sunday, we spent all day at Orlando's house eating, exploring, and churching.

**Here I am with Antonio in Huacora. I was super excited to get to visit a second time, but unfortunately there was no view as it was foggy all day. However, we still had a blast. We tried picante de cuy and tokosh. Both were surprisingly good. Cuy is guinea pig and the meat had a surprisingly rich flavor to it. It is quite the delicacy in Peru. Last time I visited, they had the little guys running around the kitchen (the warmest building), but not this time. And I tried tokosh last time I was here, but not a sweetened version, so it was a pleasant surprise to eat it and not be grossed out. Tokosh is made from fermented potatoes, these happened to have been chilling since January, so about 8 months old. Yum...or something!**

**These are pictures from Orlando's place in Huancachupa. On our way down the hill from Huacora we stopped to buy some trout and then we ate fried trout for breakfast. Oh man, it was so tasty! They raise pigs, so we got to play with them - those little ones run and squeal like nobody's business. Karen was able to snatch up a resting and unspecting victim so we could take a picture with one. I don't think he will be scarred for life.**

**Eynor was our tour guide as we wandered around the hill behind their house to search for some ruins. We found some! Wilfredo was saying they were probably adobe. Cool that there is still part of it standing! **

**Also, the Herrera's have 2 white sheep, 1 black sheep, 1 ram, and 1 goat. They do drink the goat's milk, but not regularly.**

Sunday night, it decided to start raining cats and dogs, which made trekking down the hill from Orlando's quite interesting. Most of the road is very rough, then there is a part that is smoothed out, but all of it is dirt and rocks. Though a bit terrifying, we made it safely down the hill.

We left Huanuco at 10pm and arrived in Lima at 6am. I should probably take a nap soon as I only slept for 4 hours off and on.

~nos vemos~

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


The other day, we headed to the center of Lima to pick up some items for Children's Day. This market is huge! We wove up and down in and out and I am not sure how we didn't get lost. Unfortunately, they were sorely lacking in Superhero decorations, but it was still a fun trip and fairly successful otherwise. 

Last time I was in Peru, I went to get juice at least once a week. It is just so dang good! All ingredients are fresh and natural, the atmosphere is interesting, and it sort of makes you feel like a local. Haha. 

When we were making our way through the Lima market, I had a craving for some jugo/juice. And sure enough, right down the ramp from where we were standing was the place to be! 

We looked around at 2 or 3 vendors and then I saw something I wanted to try, and before I said yes, the lady started making it, so we pulled up a stool at the counter. It was not on the main route, so not a lot of traffic walking by. We were surrounded by chicken vendors, hence the birds hanging in the background of the picture of Melissa. Luckily, it did not smell horrible, so it was actually quite a good spot to sit. 


My juice was simply called "combinado." I can't remember all of the fruits she put in, but there was mention of mango and papaya, and honey. It was delicious. Simple and juicy. 

Melissa ordered "banana con leche," which was banana blended with milk and algarrobina. Mm mm mm. 

By the way, they do make them with vegetable juice too, which I would also highly recommend. 

Whenever I pass through a market, I try to take in where the jugerias are, because you just never know when you're gonna get a hankerin' for some fresh squeezed juice. ¡Salud! 

~nos vemos~

Monday, August 19, 2013


One of my absolute favorite parts of going to other countries is eating the local cuisine. It is always an experience! Some things are so awesome and some things are misses, but at the end of it, you can say you've tried it and will know if it is something you want to repeat. In Peru, I am living with a host family, so we get to eat what they typically eat. Graciela or someone in the house typically prepares the food first thing in the morning, then we warm it up for lunch and again for dinner. Haha. Not the most appetizing way to go about eating hot food, but it does the trick, well at the least the food is warmer than room temperature when we eat. 

I have taken pictures of some of the lovely things we have eaten, so let me explain... 

1. Ceviche: Yum yum yum. Absolutely a repeat over and over and over again. Ceviche is unique to Peru/South America. It is raw white fish that is "cooked" with the acid of lime juice. It is mixed with lots of onions, bell pepper, cilantro, chili peppers, and you can get creative with other things. It was served with a piece of iceberg lettuce. We also had corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, and popcorn to go with it. Typically, it is eaten during the summer, so everything was cold, but Wilfredo made an exception for us, so we didn't have to wait 4 months to get to taste it. He is kind of famous for his mad ceviche skills in the family. And his sister Consuelo sells fish at the market, so he called her up the night before and we got the prime selection of fish. Having connections doesn't hurt. If you're ever here, you MUST try ceviche (but be careful, because it isn't cooked, make sure it is served in a clean place)! 

2. Lima Beans: My family loves them baby lima beans, so I am quite familiar with them. However, I have not seen full size lima beans before now. Same great taste, but 3x as much bean. They are boiled and then you peel of the skin and eat them. I'm not sure why, but vegetables are way bigger here! These make an excellent snack or side dish, kind of like edamame from a Japanese food restaurant. 

3. Bean Salad: I will have to get back to you with the name on this guy, but it is white beans mixed with a little water, salt, oil and cilantro. It is sold in a plastic bag and everyone just goes to town on this stuff when Gomercindo brings it home. Another tasty treat here. Btw, Peru is HUGE on snacks! This is another example of a fairly healthy, fresh snack that tastes great. 

4. Pizza: Admittedly, not a home-cooked meal, but this is what meat and Hawaiian pizza look like in Peru. Again with the huge size of meat and pineapple. It was pretty much normal pizza. It was lacking in sauce, could have used more. Otherwise, it was quite tasty and nice to eat when we got home from church at 10pm and didn't have enough food left to reheat for everyone. (PS - We are supposed to try Domino's or Papa John's at some point and I am curious to see if that is all the same...or not.) 

5. Arroz con Pollo: When I heard everyone raving about this dish, I was a bit unimpressed. We eat chicken and rice nearly everyday, so I couldn't believe this would be so spectacular. I was pleasantly surprised and would definitely request this dish too! The rice was mixed with spinach, which is why it is green. I'm not sure what they seasoned the chicken with, but there was also some spinach in that. There were some carrots mixed in there. It was served with a side salad of avocado, tomatoes, and onion. 

6. Anchovies: Hahaha..yup, I learned how to eat anchovies. If you fry fish, it is edible. Holds true for these guys too. We popped off the head, then took out the spine, and good to go to eat the rest. It just takes like fish, nothing spectacular to report, but it's not gross, like I thought it would be. Totally edible. 

7. Soup, Split Pea Puree, Rice, Fried Fish, Broccoli: This has been our most popular dish of late. We eat this at least once a week. It's good. It's even better when you add some ricoto - some sort of spicy pepper. 

8. Milk: So, this isn't food, but it worth mentioning. They have started selling milk that has to be refrigerated, which was not the case when I was here in 2011. But, the standby, especially for winter is evaporated/condensed milk. Add hot water and a spoonful of sugar and it isn't so bad. 

9. Manzanita: These bananas are just delicious. They are the perfect size of banana too. The flavor is different than a regular banana, kind of like an apple, hence the name (manzana = apple). They are my favorite. We have also eaten regular banana, plantains, orange colored bananas, and a smaller banana that is super sweet. You just can't go wrong with bananas and I love that there is variety here! 

10. Cancha: As I said before, the vegetables are bigger here. That includes the kernels on the corn. Take those huge size kernels and pop them like popcorn and you get cancha. And some salt and enjoy. Definitely one of my favorite snacks here! 

Well, this is only a small account of the things I have tried so far, but I will be sure to post more in the future when I get pictures. Time to go enjoy me some more delicious Peruvian cuisine. :) 

~nos vemos~

Friday, August 9, 2013

Learning to Run in Callao

Fortunately for me, Melissa likes to run too. Our goal is to keep each other motivated to exercise. (Otherwise, our days will consist of sitting on the couch all day except Fri-Sun evenings when we go to church things. This would NOT be a good thing.)

I have been trying to get into running for a while (ohh, about 5 years..), but every time I run into some problem. Eg. Hurting my achilles/ankle, extreme stomach pains, cold sweats while running, foot cramps, etc. Running and I have a love/hate relationship. But, like it or not, I will persevere. 

This is only week 2 of running, but we have a course we like and currently easing our way in by starting at 2 miles and inching our way towards 3 and so on.. 

Our course starts in front of the house on Avenida Quilca. This is a fairly major road with lots of small intersections. Traffic here has a mind of its own, so we have to be very cautious, especially on this part of the trek. 

Then, we run down Ave Peru. This is the "blissful" part of the run. In the middle of this major road there is a wide walkway with grass on either side. I feel very protected in the middle of this part and we pass a lot of other people walking down it which keeps the stray dogs from chasing us. This part of the trip goes down between all of the mechanic's shops, so we get a good amount of whistling and honking at that part. 

Then, we turn onto Ave Tomas Valle. It is always disconcerting when having to guess how long it will take the light to turn green and people shoot off the line like they are racing for pink slips. However, at this light there are usually some kids out there doing cartwheels and flips (trying to make some money..I am not sure if they do it because they are bored, want to help the family, or their parents tell them to do it), and they know the timing, so if they are out it is safe to cross. The rest of the route down this road is similar to Ave Peru, minus the shops, so people mostly just honk at us, but they are usually preoccupied with the traffic to notice us.

The final leg of our route is down the frontage road. This part is not so bad once you cross the street, where there is not crosswalk and the cars could be going straight or turning and they are moving quite fast from coming off the freeway. There is usually a decent gap to go or you just go when everyone else starts going. This stretch can be a little challenging weaving in and out of people as it is where you catch combis and taxis. Otherwise, it is the least busy road.

Next week, we will probably have to start adding on detours or something to make our run longer. Should be interesting finding less busy roads, but also routes that involve the least number of dogs to chase us.

Check out Melissa's video on the mobile app, Vine! Just use my name to search for me: Katrina Petz.

~nos vemos~

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Assorted thoughts - Movies, Doctors, & Toilet Seats

Last time I talked about my movie experience going to the theater, where we saw a movie with Spanish subtitles. Btw, that kept me really busy during the movie because I was watching the movie in English, reading the Spanish subtitles, and reading the English subtitles when they were talking in Japanese. But anyway, today we watched Poseidon on TV, and it was a dubbed version, meaning it was completely in Spanish, no subtitles or English. I thought it would be really hard to watch because the mouths are obviously not going to matchup to the words and I thought the voices would be an odd fit to the character’s looks. For instance, we watched a movie clip with Morgan Freeman, and he has a very distinct and famous voice, so to see his character and not hear his voice is quite odd and hard to get used to. However, it was not so bad. They time the speaking to be slower or faster depending on the length of that character talking. Also, at least for this movie, the voices matched pretty well to the characters. So, those are my thoughts on dubbed movies.

In other news...

This week, we spent a significant amount of time at the doctor’s office. I have now talked to 4 doctors here and only one of them spoke English. It’s been an experience and quite the test of Spanish, because when a doctor asks what your symptoms are, you don’t want to mess that information up. I have learned a lot of new words and body language does help a lot still. Everyone we have talked to has been very good and seems to have prescribed the correct things as everyone is better now. 

It is not horribly expensive to see a doctor here, like in the US. I can’t remember the name of the first place, but it was at the Minka shopping center. It only cost 8 soles to see the doctor there and we waited maybe 10-15min to see him. He knew a little bit of English, but we stuck with Spanish and he was understanding about talking slow enough for us to understand. The only problem was that he did not give my friend strong enough pain pills, but otherwise she got the stuff she needed. We also went to the emergency room at Clinica Providencia, which cost 100 soles. The nurse that gave my friend an injection was very good and everyone was very nice there. There was one doctor that spoke English, and we eventually were able to talk with him. I think he loved being able to speak with us in English as he kept coming back to talk with us. We returned to this clinic for my other friend for a regular visit, which cost 40 soles to see the doctor and 30 soles to get lab tests done. She was a nice enough doctor as well and made sure to cover all her bases, hence the lab tests. 

Another interesting thing is you pay per pill here. Ciprofloxacin, is a 5 day, 2 pills per day antibiotic, and it costs about 10 soles for the 10 pills. I think it is quite convenient to just buy what you need. Just for some perspective, right now 1 sol is about US $0.35. Also noteworthy, all of the facilities were clean and well-maintained. My only complaint is that they still didn’t have seats on the toilets. Otherwise, it was a very good medical experience, at least for these symptoms.

And for now, I will end on this toilet seat business. What is up with no toilet seats?! I was informed that people steal the seats. Uh, why? What are you going to do with a toilet seat? Unlike everything else that is sold anywhere and everywhere, there are no toilet seat vendors that I have seen. You can buy a house on the side of the road. You can get all kinds of snacks brought right to your car window. Every few blocks there is a restaurant or convenience store. Yet, NO toilet seats. Also, very rarely is there toilet paper or soap to wash your hands or towels to dry them. My tips for these occurrences: bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer EVERYWHERE and learn to hover. Finally, cherish the moments when there are toilet seats to be used. The house has one and the Mall Aventura bathrooms have seats. Win! 

~nos vemos~