Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving from Peru!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you all enjoy the company of your family and loved ones. I hope you eat some delicious turkey and pumpkin pie. I hope that you take a moment to think about all of the blessings in your life and give thanks to God (or whatever thing or person you want to thank) for the amazing life that you have. And I hope that you can soak up a little bit of today's festivities for me. :)

This is officially my first Thanksgiving away from home. I have spent Thanksgiving in Virigina, but I was still with my brother, so it doesn't really count as "away". But now, I'm in Peru and have no family here and we will not be eating turkey or pumpkin pie. It's a little bit hard to be completely removed from the festivities of the day. I wish I could be there to hang out with everyone. Sometimes, my grandma brings these popper deals that have paper crowns to wear and some sort of whistle or "prize" of sorts. And of course, Thanksgiving is always good food. There will be plenty of Turkey Days to be celebrated in the future, but still feels weird to not be there now to watch the Macy's Day Parade with everyone and do the Thanksgiving Day things.

At the same time, I am still very thankful for the many blessings in my life. I can't believe I have been living in Peru for nearly 5 months. I have made some new friends and have built deeper relationships with those I already knew. I am very thankful for their love and generosity they have shared with us. Working with the church has been an incredible and interesting journey. We have seen the ups and downs with how things are going here. We are continually learning about how we can respond to God's vision for the congregations, people, and communities here. While still a struggle, I am certain I have to know a bit more Spanish than when I started, though it doesn't always feel like that.

And I am glad I can share these blessings with my new friend Melissa. It is crazy to think back to May/June when we first became Facebook friends and talked very briefly on Skype. We barely knew each other before arriving in Peru and committing to live together for a year. Talk about a bit of a leap of faith. In these months, not only have we been learning how to live in Peru, but also how to live and work with each. I think we have done pretty well so far. It is a great comfort to have someone to share with, both the good news and bad news. We also have fairly common interests, so we can bond over music, tv shows, food, and exercise, etc. We still have a ways to go on this journey together in Peru, and I am looking forward to seeing where it takes us. Thank you Melissa for being an awesome WSC partner!

To share Thanksgiving with our family here in Peru, we made hand turkeys at church and had everyone write and share what they are thankful for. It was a fun and simple activity. I especially liked that people named their turkeys - mostly after themselves, but it was cute.

We are thankful!
Fabrizio and Eynor are our resident turkeys.

So, while I am not home to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family and I miss them, I am thankful for many things and am happy to be in Peru! Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Carolina's birthday, so we still get to celebrate something! Last night, we decorated the kitchen a little bit with a sign that said "Feliz Cumpleanos" and we made a paper chain to hang over the kitchen door. I hope it was a pleasant surprise for her this morning. I didn't wake up at 5am to see her reaction, my apologies. We bought a gold garland and hung it up in the kitchen as well, but it wasn't up anymore this morning. It probably wasn't the best idea to hang over the stove, but we only had tape and that wasn't going to stick to the brick, so window over the stove it was. Hopefully, it didn't get taken down because it was burnt! Hahaha. Feliz Cumpleanos Carolina!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

River Trip - Build Your House on the Rock, Dude

On Saturday morning, 11.23.13, Fabrizio knocked on my door around 9am. "Hermanaaaaa." He then proceeded to remind me that the first week we arrived we promised that we would take the boys to go swimming in the river. With the assortment of getting sick, rain, and the river being really dirty, 5 weeks had passed and we still hadn't gone. While it wasn't what I had planned to do this Saturday morning, he had reason, so Melissa, Eynor, Fabrizio, and I got ready to go and headed down to the river.

I don't know how we pulled it off, but none of the dogs followed us, thankfully. The route to the river is full of dogs and it just sucks to walk it with them.

When we got to the river, we set our stuff down on some rocks and immediately waded into the water. Well, turns out going to the river right after it rains is not the best idea. The water was freezing cold, but that was to be expected. The current was also very very strong! The upside was that there wasn't a million people there washing clothes, in fact, no one was there. We had the river all to ourselves.

This is the river on a very busy day - kind of hard to see,
but there is no additional space to squeeze in to wash your clothes. 

Melissa and Eynor were courageous and ventured across immediately. I stayed back with Fabrizio. He really wanted to wade out as far as them, but the problem is that he can't swim, the river is very rocky, and he is super small. It would be disastrous if the current took off with him. Also, it is hard enough to navigate the slippery rocks in the river and the strong current alone, so with a Fabrizio attached to your arm, it is a bit more difficult.

Melissa and Eynor were able to get out of the river and look around for a "better" place to "swim," so we moved upstream a bit. While there really was not swimming to be had and the current was still very strong, it ended up being a nice place to chill.

When you first step into the river, it is sandy, the water is slower, and it is easy to walk. Then you get a few steps further and the rocks get bigger, uneven, and slippery and the current is stronger. Once you get over the short treacherous part, there was a little island of rocks and it was lovely. I had to walk all the way across to say that I made it to the other side of the river, but that island of rocks was really where it was at.

Fabrizio and Melissa took off down the river to find another spot to swim. Eynor ran into his buddies and went off and played with them. And I just sat on the island of rocks in between.

It was most enjoyable to sit on the rocks and feel the cool water against my skin and hear it rushing over the rocks and head downstream. As always, as soon as we attempt to go swimming, the clouds roll in, so it wasn't blazing hot anymore, but still nice enough. From my seat, I could watch Eynor playing with his buddies, splashing and throwing mud at each other and floating in the water a bit. And I could turn around and see Melissa and Fabrizio chilling in the water as well. I just sat and listened and watched and was. The island of rocks was a blessing. I could just sit and enjoy everything around me. It was beautiful.

Then, Eynor lost his shoes, so I had to jump into action to retrieve them before they washed away. I bonked my knee pretty good on a rock, but I saved the shoes!

When Melissa and Fabrizio returned, we decided to check out another part of the river, which meant getting Fabrizio back across the short treachous part. I'm not sure what happened, but Melissa lost her footing and started heading downstream and then I lost my footing and hit my other knee on a rock. It was less than desirable, but we successfully got Fabrizio across without problems. He then proceeded to make fun of us for getting hurt but he was all fine.

At any rate, we went up stream a little bit and then walked in the water and jumped on some rocks for a bit longer before taking off.

We got home right as it started to sprinkle. Good timing.

Typically, I prefer everything to be planned out and arranged ahead of time, but this ended up being quite a happy adventure. While not a perfect trip, it was a good time. I will always remember my little rock island in the middle of the fast-paced river. And for the moment, I have my battle wounds on my knees to keep the memory fresh.

Eynor and Fabrizio playing in the river on an earlier visit.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saludos a Monte Sion

November marked the 1 year anniversary of having a new church building at Monte Sion. Since we couldn't be there to celebrate in person, we sent them a a hello from Huanuco. Here is the video!

(Hopefully the Spanish is decent. :D) 

Dog Blog

Here at Huancachupa, we live with 6 dogs, and encounter many more on a daily basis. The dogs have become our friends and are involved in many of our conversations. A bit odd for the non-dog-lover that I am, but I admit, I enjoy these dogs.

So, the cast is Oso (bear), Loki (from Thor, which I thought was Lucky until recently), Scotty (like the Scott brand TP), Mojada (Wet), Pom Pom (aka Pelusa - fuzz/hairy), and Hueso (bone). I think it is hilarious they just use common words to name their dogs. This dog is always wet, let's call her wet...hence, Mojada.

As for the non-dog-lover business, I greatly dislike when they rub their wet noses on me, try to lick me, jump up on me when they have muddy/wet paws, or snap at me. I am also not a huge fan of the crazy barking fits that keep me from sleeping or wake me up at ridiculous hours. Ugh.

However, I am becoming a fan of their companionship. For instance, often, I will find Pom Pom sitting under my chair or bounding at me for pets..and it's so dang cute. This I can appreciate. Also, a while back, we went to the river to wash our clothes, and this guy was very curious and kept coming over to us and bothering us until Scotty and Loki showed him whose boss and barked a good deal at him to keep him on edge. He asked me if they bite, so I told him they did, even though I haven't seen them bite anyone. Always a possibility though.. At any rate, he stopped bothering us.

It is also fun to learn their personalities. Hueso, Pom Pom, and Mojada are the puppies of the group They are super playful and like to bite each other when playing. Oso, Loki, and Scotty are the older dogs.

Hueso is the curious one and always has his ears up and alert to find out where he needs to go next. Melissa complains that this is the reason he has the most insects living in his's gross. But he is always there if anything is happening. And if Melissa is involved, she is in her lap or as close to in her lap as he can be. The other day, he wiggled his way into her lap while she was squatting down petting another dog. As Melissa says, "He's a mess."

Pom Pom has a thing for (or maybe against) Rolen and barks like crazy when he come to visit. It's hilarious. The other day, he came in and she started barking, and this time he sort of played around with her. For some reason, she thought she would find cover in the sink, but really just cornered herself. It was great. She is also called "the kitchen witch" because she guards the kitchen. The first night I was here, she bit my ankle when I was going into the kitchen, and she continues to guard the kitchen now, but it easier on my ankles. She is always waiting for more food and always drinking water, like she is deprived or something, which she in fact, is not. I think she is the cutest.

Mojada is Melissa's favorite because she is a trouble-maker. She is a little under the weather at the moment, but when she is at full health, she is always causing trouble and getting into fights with the other dogs. She is super energetic and thinks she is the queen of the house. She has decided she is allowed to sit on the couch in the living room. Haha. Mischievious little girl.

Oso is the oldest of the dogs and we refer to him as the grumpy old man. He has this hilarious growl that is real deep and piggish sounding. Cracks us up. When you pet him, he smiles with teeth. Also, he waits up for us to get back when it is dark. The other night, we got back around 8pm and sure enough, he came bounding at us, growling - we think he was scolding us for getting back when it is already dark. Then, he wanted pets. He's my favorite.

Loki is the biggest of the dogs and is very mellow. He sort of has sad eyes that remind me of Eeyor. He always walks up to me and just stares at me with his sad me, pet me. He typically lays on the ground in front of our room, which is also next to the bathroom. So, when I want to shower, I have to drag my bucket of water to the bathroom. The first few weeks, Loki wouldn't move and then I would splash water all over him trying to lift the heavy bucket over him and balancing between all the dogs legs finding a place to step. Now, when he hears me coming with my water, he gets up and moves. We have a good system.

Scotty is Fabrizio's dog from Lima. He is a very independent dog and likes to go exploring. He is the one that shared his sickness with Mojada, so he has been a bit more chill, but he is getting better and likes to play a bit more now. He is the culprit of all of the muddy paw prints on my jeans. Tisk tisk. Also, he is a very smelly dog. I think he has gas. Unfortunately for us, he enjoy the piece of ground right in front of the door to our room the most. Needless to say, he gets pushed away a lot. Poor guy. He's a good dog though, after all, he did protect us at the river.

So yea, these dogs are fun and have become our friends of Huancachupa. They can be obnoxious, but they're cute sometimes too.

And wouldn't you know - they like to dance too! Check out our video of them getting down. :)

~nos vemos~

El Gimnasio

When we were preparing to come to Huanuco, we knew we wanted to keep up exercising, so we downloaded a bunch of videos to follow and such since we weren't sure what the running situation would be here. We live at the top of a hill, and running on the hill would be deadly. 

This week, we had the glorious experience of trying out the gym in Peru. Yimi (pronounced "Jimmy") asked us if we wanted to go to the gym. Being the adventurous spirits, in need of new places to visit and things to try out, we decided to give it a shot. 

The first time, we walked to 3 different gyms before we landed on one to try out. The first gym didn't have any women, so Yimi thought that would be awkward for us. The second gym closes from 12-1pm and we arrived at 11:45pm. The third gym was just right...or something. 

The gym we ended up at on Monday, first of all, cost S/. 2.50 (that's less than $1!). That is a price I can handle. It was a small gym, but had the basic gym equipment. Mostly, it just didn't have as many of each thing as the gyms in the States. One or maybe 2 of each machine/station. Each gym we went to, Melissa was looking for cardio machines, so first thing her and Yimi hopped on the elipticals. Unfortunately, there were only 2. While standing waiting for them to finish for my turn, an employee from the gym came up to me and was like do this ab machine, 15 reps x 4. After my turn on the eliptical and everyone doing a turn at the ab machine, we then were guided through a leg workout (at no additional cost; say what?!). All of the machines were things I have used in the states. (Some of them were even Golds Gym brand.) We did all of the machines that target thighs. Hmm.. Everything went pretty well, except that the trainer was a bit rude. I know that being blunt is a thing here - you're fat, you're really short, you're Chinese (even if you're not), are common things to hear. However, someone trying to make a pitch of why they should be your trainer, should be a bit more suave about things. At any rate, we weren't looking for a trainer, we just wanted to use the machines at the gym because they have things we can't do at home on our own. Plus, it's fun and different. 

On Wednesday, we visited another gym. It is closer to the market (main part of town), so it cost S/. 3 (a little over a buck). Still not gonna break the bank. This gym was a lot bigger with more space between equipment and some open floor space to do non-equipment things. Melissa's favorite part was that they had a mascot at this gym - it was a little black Scotty (?) dog. He was pretty cute and was just sort of hanging out at the gym. Again, somehow, we ended up working with a trainer and he wanted to do the exact same things we had done on Monday. Why?? Idk. We were already a bit sore from Monday, so doing the same things on Wednesday, was a bit rough, but we stuck with it for a while. One of the machines is for working out your inner thighs, and well, it is the most awkward machine to use at the gym. On top of that, it faced into the big open room that is full of people. So, you sit on this machine and open and close your legs.. and everyone can watch. Not that they were, but it doesn't make the machine less awkward to use. Finally, after doing all leg exercises, we gave up on following the trainer. We just wanted to do an arm work out because we don't have weights at home. More awkwardness ensued as there wasn't a lot of space in front of the weight wall, so we snuck into this little corner in front of another machine that people kept coming over to to take the weights. At the other gym, people would stare at us, but we seemed to be more of a spectacle at this gym. Every time we switched equipment there were eyes following us. 

Maybe, when we go back to the gym in the future, we can tell the trainer what we want to do rather than just being told what to do. It is nice to have them tell you what things to do and how to do them though. I also enjoy being able to switch up the workout routine. 

I am definitely glad to be back to healthy so that we can take on these activities again. In Callao, we had gotten into a pretty good exercise routine and it felt good to be active. When we moved here and then got sick on top of it, it threw everything off. We enjoy being able to exercise just as something to do on our own.. plus it makes eating potatoes and rice for or with every meal not so horrible (still not ideal, but we don't get much say in that department). 

This morning, we got Yimi (and Fabrizio and Eynor for a few seconds) to do Thai Chi with us. We follow a video that is instructed by Dan Fiori - I think it is geared towards the elderly, but whatevs. Thai Chi is about focusing on energy, balance, and breathing. I liked the videos because Fiori is good about explaining how to do the moves and how to transition from one thing to the next. He also explains the benefits of the moves, such as "This move helps lower blood pressure" and "If you do this move often enough you could grow .5 inch", which I am not sure if either of those have happened, but it makes for a good time imitating him. It's a good way to start the morning. 

Now, about that papa rellena (fried mashed potatoes with a boiled egg and onions inside) and french fries {YUM!} I just ate for breakfast... How many miles do I need to run to work that off?? Hahaha, probably better not to think about it. 

*Just enjoying life* :) 

~nos vemos

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Communion in Peru...and Around the World

Last Sunday, we planned to do communion, but there was a little bit lacking when it came to the actually acquiring of the things required to partake of communion. At the last minute, we were looking around at what we had: water and animal crackers. Well, that became our awesome communion meal.

So far, we have had bread for all of the communion services. That one is easy. Bread is very cheap and easy to come by, when you make time to go get it.. :O We also have quite the variety to choose from. Camote (sweet potato) bread is my favorite so far to use.

As fast the the wine (juice) goes, we have had freshly made chicha morada and grape juice. I am not a big fan of the chicha, but made with enough lime juice I can handle it. It was really fun to see Wilfredo use grapes and make his own grape juice from scratch too. In the States, it is so easy to just go to the store and buy a jug of grape juice or what have you, which is fine, but not nearly as exciting.

So animal crackers and water is not the typical communion here in Peru, but we had to make do with our circumstances. I think we still got the message across.

This got me thinking about what other people around the world use for their communion. Anyone have any unique communion experiences they would like to share? Leave me a comment! :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Better Late Than Never - Here's what happened last week!

Alrighty, going on the 2nd full week here in Huanuco. We're still working on the work routine aspects of our stay here in terms of when things are happening and when we need to be ready, but we have a pretty good daily routine. Everyone here gets up and gets going really early, as in, they wake up at 5am and are gone by 8am, usually. While I am not so good at getting up at 5am, I have moved from my 9am wake-up time in Callao, to 7:15am here in Huanuco. It seems necessary to get up earlier here. The days seems to come and go so quickly. I like to get up and laze around a bit, but when you get up and everyone is running around, it is hard to just sit and do nothing. So, my morning routine thus far is to get up, say hi to people, do some thai chi, eat breakfast, work on stuff/study, exercise, and shower. By then, it is either time for us to head down the hill to see what's happening below or spend a little more time working before the chillun's get home from school and we move into English class and hanging out with Eynor and Fabrizio. Really, these few hours in the morning are the only alone time we get, so better to get up early and take advantage, than to sleep all morning and never be alone until I hop into bed at night. Fortunately, the weather is mostly beautiful and that makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning (plus, it is motivation to get things done before the sun gets too strong).


On Tuesday, we had a new group for English class. Last week, it was Eynor, Fabrizio, and Estefaney. This time, we were in a different place and our new students are Rossmeri, Imelda, Emily, Fabiola, and Lisbeth. We opted to start with food as it usually goes over well. I like to hear about the different kinds of food they enjoy and it is easy for them to talk about. The catch is keeping it to foods we have an English word for as well. Maracuya and aguaymanto are not fruits we have in the least not that I have seen...and I wouldn't know their translation if they did. "Strawberry" seemed to be the hardest one to remember and pronounce. Also quite a challenge having an age range of 5-12 years. I think it went pretty well, and we'll know for next week to prepare something for the variety.


Que Miedo!
On Wednesday, we celebrated a little bit of Halloween. We are working on food and commadjectives, so decided to incorporate the theme into the class. First, we tested out vampire fangs (los dientes de los vampiros). They were delicious (ricos/deliciosos).

Then, we bobbed for red apples (manzanas rojas). Eynor started us off with a clever move and grabbed the apple by the stem with his teeth. It was a good plan until Yimi took all of the stems off of the apples. Challenge accepted. Fabrizio was the contemplative bobber as he spent most of his time trying to decide which was the best apple to dive after. Then, Yimi set the bar high and removed 3/5 apples. Next came Melissa, the competitive bobber, who was able to remove 4/5. I also took a turn and got 4/5 (thank you, thank you), but Yimi came back with a vengence and got all 5!

Finally, we carved an orange pumpkin (calabaza naranja). We literally bought the last one at the grocery store. The orange pumpkins are not common here, green and white pumpkins are the typical sort. Fabrizio and Eynor found the guts of the pumpkin to be repulsive, so they didn't really help clean the pumpkin out. Haha. Yimi helped clean it out and we gave him the honor of wielding the very large knife to cut out the face. And of course we toasted up the seeds, tasty.
Yimi, Katrina, Fabrizio, y Melissa
After dinner the little boys had to go to bed, so then we watched the movie "The Conjuring" or "El Conjuro" in Spanish. It was a freaky exorcism movie, appropriate for Halloween. It was their first time celebrating Halloween and they seemed to enjoy the activities, I know I did. :)


Concierto de Marcos Witt
On Thursday, we went to the Marcos Witt concert with Vanesa and her friend Marco. It was a lot of fun and the music was great! When I was here last time, I was introduced to his song, "Yo Te Busco", which I really like, but that was the only song of his that I knew. The concert ended with fireworks, always enjoyable. The only part that was less than stellar was that we had to wait 4.5 hours for the concert to start. The ticket said it started at 5pm, so we got there at 4:45. We were among the first 20 people to show up. We just assumed it was running on Peru time and would prob start around 6 or 7pm. Well, those hours came and went. Finally, at 9:15pm Witt came on stage. Live and learn. I still had a good time.
Melissa, Katrina, y Vanesa

The learning moment of this week was balancing my concept of time with Huanuco's concept of time. Mostly, it means keeping cool when things are constantly getting changed. Maybe someday I will figure out how to be fluid with time. I just don't know how to schedule anything like this.


And for a little update.. I wrote this on my computer, so it would be quick to upload once I had internet access, so it is a little behind the times. 

We got sick again, but not to worry. We hit up the hospital and got some shots and meds. We are starting to feel much better now and even plan to venture off the hill after 4 days of barely leaving our room except to go to the hospital. Yay! 

Hope you are all doing well and if you read this, update me on what's going on where ever you are (state, country, stage of life, etc..). Thanks! 

~nos vemos~