Wednesday, March 26, 2014

MEADS Comes to Lima, Peru

It's been an excellent week! I can appreciate a little change of pace here and there to keep things interesting. 

On Tuesday night, Apostle Carlos Mejia from Honduras and Assistant Apostle Steve Hatch from the US arrived in Lima. Wilfredo picked them up from the airport, and after a moment to settle in at his house, came to Quilca to say hi to those of us here. 

So started our week of meetings and meeting up with Carlos and Steve.. 

MEADS Participants
 In preparation for our meeting starting at 8pm on Wednesday night, we ate dinner. We know that any sort of gathering will be more than an hour, so we wanted to be prepared for any and all delays to come by not having to think about growling stomachs. Upon arrival, we were promptly given an egg and hot dog sandwich and some Inca Kola (which is called "lonche" - lunche - lunch). Haha. At least we didn't have to worry about things running long and being hungry. (It is a frequent problem with meetings.) It was fun to hang out and chat with everyone. Even though we live pretty close, we don't often get together to just hang out unless there is a birthday or some sort of special thing happening. I am very excited to head to Honduras and try some Honduran food. :) Carlos was telling me about their homemade tortillas and Steve was telling me about their fast-food on steroids. It just sounds like an experience that needs to be had. I enjoy talking about food from other places, and even better, eating it. Nom nom nom.

In the name of trying new things, Carlos felt we needed to experience "Don Lucho" cuisine. For breakfast, Carlos, Steve, and Wilfredo picked Melissa and me up and headed out. As it turns out, Don Lucho is a chicharron (fried pork)/pork restaurant, not really my idea of breakfast food, but gotta try it out. We order the "Don Lucho Fuerte" to share. It is a platter of meat. We had chicharron, ham, and blood sausage. I could live without blood sausage. It's got a weird texture. Bleck! The chicharron and ham were delicious. We also had some fried sweet potatoes, also tasty. I ate so much! That night, Carlos taught us about Christian Ethics at Marlene's house. We had a good conversation about ethics and the enduring principles. Also, Yimi and Cristian arrived from Huanuco. 

Friday night we headed to Monte Sion for a sort of "opening ceremony" worship service. We weren't given a theme to work with and had just been told on Sunday that Melissa and I were to plan the service. So finally on Thursday night, we had a chance to ask what Wilfredo what he wanted to speak about. He said he was going to preach about "You Choose." He was giggling the whole time and seemed to be joking, so I assumed that meant that Melissa and I needed to pick a theme. You know the saying about the word "assume"?? Quite applicable here. Melissa and I planned this service all about unity and diversity and growing together as we grow closer to God. We had dynamic activities and found some interesting scriptures. Then, we get to church and I ask Wilfredo what he is preparing to speak about and he said "You Choose" again. Oh crap, he wasn't kidding. Well, it was too late to plan something else so we just made do. Fortunately, it somehow still worked together and I think everyone had a good time and I found that I am not good at identifying jokes. Oh well. I think Carlos' new favorite game is Cliques, so that will be one to remember! 

Saturday and Sunday were MEADS days. Carlos taught about Pastoral Care on Saturday and Steve taught about the Gospel of Mark on Sunday. It was my first experience with MEADS, so I didn't really know what to expect. It felt pretty similar to the ASL classes that we had at church in Modesto. I'm not sure what the differing objectives are. It was cool to get everyone together for activities in Monte Sion. We had some people show up that we weren't expecting, which is all anyone could hope for in terms of why we chose that particular location. Melissa and I were in charge of planning snacks for breaks and all of that seemed to go over pretty well. The food Maria's family made was also delicious for dinner Saturday and lunch Sunday. It was a nice time learning, fellowship-ing, and worshiping! 

Monday was a special day for Cristian - it was his first time going to the beach! This was his first time in Lima and it was obligatory that he experience the Pacific Ocean. We headed to La Costa Verde and played around in the water a little and watched the surfers. I enjoy a good visit to the beach, which was then followed up by a trip to eat some gelato. :) 

Graciela and Cristian @ the beach!
Sorry for the delay on my post, I have been binge-reading Insurgent. Haha. 

~nos vemos~

Monday, March 17, 2014

What a CrAZy week!

Sunset at Monte Sion
Hmm, last week seems like it was years ago. So many things happened! Let me give you a brief recap.

Between Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, we FINALLY finished painting and cleaning Monte Sion!!! It's was a glorious (as Melissa always says) moment when we set up the chairs for church and could sit down and be at peace. No more thinking about painting or cleaning, just enjoying. I'm excited to have it all done for MEADS, which will start on Friday. Hope everyone appreciates the change of scenery as much as we do. The old, white, dank box wasn't so fun to visit each week. The nice warm colors on the walls and full of people all weekend will be spectacular. 

Zombie Billy
Prudencio painting the trim.
Melissa tackling the back of the church!

Hard Working Folks
Wednesday was a less good day for Wilfredo. He left his house in the morning to run some errands and when he got home just a few hours later, his house had been robbed. All of the houses here have open roof plans and I always thought it was curious because it is prime access to getting into someone's house. I just assumed that no one took on the added obstacle of getting onto the roof and that was why people didn't have problems. Well, I guess not. None of his doors were broken and I don't think any locks were broken. Who knows how many people were there, but presumably they used the roof and managed to take all of Wilfredo's valuables. Fortunately they didn't use the door, or they might have taken off with his furniture too. So that was less than good news to get, especially coming the day before he headed to Colombia. Yikes!

To add to the pain, Karen and Graciela found his house flooded on Saturday. Billy and I went on Friday to give the dogs food and so Billy could say his goodbyes to Verbanita (the puppy). We had issues with the key, so that primarily occupied my mind while we were there, but I did walk in to check on things real quick and everything seemed fine. Not sure what happened between then and the next day, but apparently a pipe on the roof was broken and just flooded everything. Bummer dude. Bummer. I think they got it all cleaned up and hopefully the water is fully shut off until it can be fixed.

The good part to Wednesday was that it was Sandra's birthday. She was able to spend time with her family before they headed back home, which I am sure she appreciated. Sunday night, we celebrated her birthday with a yummy cake with lots of candles on top. I got used to seeing just 1 or a question mark, which seems to be the preferred candle. Age is a big secret here, partly because I don't think anyone knows how old they actually are. Details. Feliz cumpleanos, Sandra! 

La Punta - Beach Trip
Ana, Graciela, Sandra, Billy, Rocio,
Me, & Melissa. Karen took the picture.
Friday afternoon we said our goodbyes to Billy and Ana. They left at 3pm to begin their day and half long bus ride back to Pomabamba. Sandra is known to cry a lot. She always says she is a "llorona" or "cry baby" because everything makes her cry. One time, we were watching Esto es Guerra, which is a game show where scantily clad women and very muscular men compete in teams (Leones v. Cobras) in assorted timed activities. Well, one of the team members was leaving as his wife was about to have a baby, and both Billy and Sandra were sitting there watching it with tears in their eyes. It was both cute and hilarious at the same time that they got so emotional about it. Anyways, I digress. When we said our goodbyes to Ana and Billy, Ana started getting choked up and had tears streaming down her face. We know where Billy and Sandra got it from. And I am a contagious crier, so of course I got choked up. Goodbyes suck.

I promised Billy I would give him a call on Friday at 3pm to check in with him. I look forward to hearing about their trip home, which sounds like it was quite an adventure! Apparently, it rained a lot the few days before they left and the roads were HORRIBLE. Graciela told me they had to get out of the bus and walk for parts because cars and their bus couldn't pass. Can you imagine if that happened in the States?! Me either. They would have canceled the trip, no doubt. But we're in Peru and we persevere here! Otherwise, I hear they made it home safely. Also, I will have to ask about his first week of school. Apparently start date is just a suggestion, so he missed the first week of class. Hopefully his teachers showed up, apparently that is also just a suggestion.

This weekend was an average church weekend. Unfortunately, no one showed up for class on Friday night at Monte Sion. No kids showed up for class on Saturday either. So it goes.

We had a nice service at Monte Sion. Prudencio and Marlene presided and Betzabe spoke. I like when Prudencio presides because he is a thinker and likes to share about his experience with the scripture. Marlene is good for music, but she doesn't plan ahead and is always searching through the computer while other people are sharing and it can be distracting, especially when songs start randomly blaring. Betzabe hasn't given a sermon in a while, but she gave a nice concise talk. I appreciated it a lot. Hermana Maruja, Hermana Elsa and her daughter Nicole, and Hermana Maria joined us.

I have a confession to make - well, it's really quite well known - I procrastinate. Like crazy. I try very hard to break the habit and I occasionally succeed. This weekend, I did not. So, I woke up at 7:30am (before my alarm) on Sunday morning to get to work on preparing my class and testimony for church in the afternoon. Don't get me wrong, I had been thinking about these things over the past few days, but just hadn't actually prepared anything. That is when my computer decided to give me hell, or rather it likes to freeze. I spent 4 hours talking with Windows tech support trying to get it fixed. Well, my computer is now bug free, but it still doesn't work properly! But that's another story. Computer problems and procrastination make for a long morning. 

We made it to church in time to get it cleaned-up and all set-up in time for class to start. I shared about Holy Attention per the information from the church website. We took a moment to think about who or what we would like to give our attention to and how we could do something for that person or thing. It was interesting to hear about what was on people's minds. Jhonny was thinking about the kids in the jungle (he recently vacationed in Iquitos), Gladys was thinking about people that are "forgotten" at church (she watched a movie about forgotten people), Melissa was thinking about the people on the Malaysia flight (it's all over the news here too), and I was thinking about the kids at Monte Sion (I don't get out much). We'll see if anyone continues to spend time dwelling in those thoughts and exploring ways to promote them. 

For church, the theme was Believe in Christ and Melissa gave the sermon. Gladys asked me to share as part of the service, so I shared the poem "Footprints." Mirtha sent me a message today asking for the poem, which was cool. Glad that the words of the poem touched someone else. I love it. 

After church, 10 of us loaded up into our very own combi (at least for a few minutes) and headed home. Oddly enough, this was the FIRST time we went home on a combi after church. Usually Wilfredo drives us. Then, we ran to the grocery store to load up on food for the week. Pretty nice when you can buy food for 9 people for a week+ for less than S/. 500 (~$180). We enjoyed some chicken and french fries for dinner and then cake for Sandra's birthday. To finish up the weekend, Melissa, Sandra, and I watched the movie "Nebraska" (I haven't decided if I would recommend it or not..maybe?). 

Now, onto a new week that will certainly be full and busy as well. Wilfredo, Steve, and Carlos arrive tomorrow! Buen viaje a ellos! 

(OK, not so brief, sorry.)

~nos vemos

Karen, Me, and Billy

P.S. 4 more months until we will be back in the USA! 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Whole New View!

This week was incredibly busy and labor intensive. We took on the project of painting the church at Monte Sion! It was ridiculous, but fun and oh so worth it. 

Everything piled in the middle to prep for
painting - white walls in the background. 
We spent Wednesday through Saturday at Monte Sion. The first day was spent sanding down the walls to smooth them out. Supposedly, paint sticks better to smooth walls than textured walls. At the very least, it meant the kids of Monte Sion could help with something. They came in full force, about 20 kids, on Wednesday afternoon and we handed them a little piece of sandpaper and they ran around sanding everything in sight! It was great for me, because when we set out to start this project all I could think about was how sore my shoulders would be and how long it would take and how much of a waste of time it would be to sand down the walls. The kids did most of the work, so WIN! Yes, I do realize that in the States we probably broke a million laws, especially with all the dust from sanding down the walls floating around and no one wearing masks. But, we're in Peru. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. So with that, we finished sanding down the walls. 

Melissa and Wilfredo kicking off the painting!

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were painting days. It was quite a headache picking out the paint. Jhonny was in charge of the colors, but apparently all he did was pick some random colors he liked and put them into a picture for people to pick from. He didn't actually pick paint colors and brands or any of that sort of helpful information. We went to Sodimac, spent about an hour thinking about which color most closely matched the color in the picture of the picture we pulled up from Facebook on Wilfredo's phone (so you know that it was very easy to match, NOT). While we waited for the paint to get mixed, we had to run through the materials we had and that which we may find at Monte Sion to paint. For people that have done this job so many times, you would think they would just know. Instead, we had to play 20 questions and ask Wilfredo, do we need this? do we have that? Finally, we set off to Monte Sion and got the paint brushes rolling. 

As close as the little ones got to the paint.
We started painting Thursday afternoon. Wilfredo, Billy, Melissa, and I did the painting that day for about 4 hours. We finished a first coat of the main wall color. Wilfredo kept saying he didn't want the kids to help because they would mess it up. By the end of the day Friday, he had given in and let the older kids, about 8-12 years old, help paint. Carmen, Shirley, Elias, and Gaby were the lucky (or not-so-lucky) kids to pitch in with the work. There were moments when some adults Miriam, Maria, Doris, and Maruja, from Monte Sion also dropped in to help. All help was greatly appreciated! 

Saturday, things really started to come together once we got all of the first coat done and some even a second coat (btw, in Spanish, they say a 2nd hand - "segunda mano", not 2nd coat). What a difference paint makes! 

Gladys preaching in the freshly painted church.

Church that night was all the more pleasant. It feels so homey and warm with some nice colors on the walls. :) 

Unfortunately, we are still not done. What was planned to take 3 days, is now going on 5 days, with hopefully only 1 more day. We ran out of paint and sunlight to finish the outside today. Once that is all done and we do some inside touch-ups, then we just have to wash the floor and all will be well. 

Now, we have to start planning on how they want to decorate and personalize the church. In the past they taped up styrofoam arty things, which is not necessarily bad, but not so permanent. Any suggestions? 

Billy and Elias playing dress up with
the used blue tape. Very resourceful.

Some Memorable Moments/Notes: 

- I have listened to more music in English in the last week than I have in the last 8 months. 
- We ate a whole lot of greasy food and drank a whole lot of soda. It was awesome, but I can feel it now. Must keep exercising. 
- Got bossed around by Billy, who is 10 yrs old, btw. He couldn't stand not being in on the action. 
- Blue tape kind of sucks when it pulls the paint off the wall and is pointless if you only use it for part of the way. 
- The ladders we have may be horrifyingly unsafe, but they have been effective and thank God no one fell. 
- Children make great volunteers/helpers! Just gotta keep 'em reigned in. 
- Billy "fell in love" with Maricielo and has sought her out every time we got to Monte Sion. He wants to write her a letter and give her a ring. Ah, young love. Haha.  
- Prudencio calls Inca Kola is water. *SMH* 
- Monte Sion is a BIG church building. 
- Prudencio and Wilfredo are painting machines. I don't think I ever saw them take a break, other than for a quick gulp of soda/water.

Well, I think that's all for now. I hope we finish painting ASAP and convince people to  get it decorated ASAP, so we can just enjoy the finished product and get to the important stuff - reaching out to people in the community! 

~nos vemos~

Billy and I enjoying a little gaseosa.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Baking and Church - Community Service of My Favorite Kind

This week was fairly ordinary, but I learned and taught a few interesting things, so I will share about that. 

I love baking. With a recipe in hand and some measuring devices, I'll give it a shot. Apparently, people are a bit more reserved when it comes to the baking. Every time I bake something, everyone is just in complete awe. It's hilarious, but it also makes it even more fun to bake. Almost since the first day I got here, people have been asking me about cupcakes. What are these little pastries? How do you make them? Is it hard to make? They watch Cupcake Wars and assorted other Food Network shows about cupcakes, which has sparked some curiosity. So, the other week I was poking around Tottus and found a cupcake pan and figured I could finally make some cupcakes and muffins. Yum! 

On Wednesday night, Billy and Karen and I got to work on the cupcakes. I found a simple recipe for banana and vanilla cupcakes on the app. Bananas are a very easy to find ingredient here and I love bananas, so seemed like a good combination. I brought measuring cups with me, but as they weren't getting any use here in Lima, I left them in Huanuco last year, so back to baking without measuring cups...keeping things interesting. Haha. I found that we have a small glass cup that seems to be approximately the size of a 1 cup measuring cup, so it has become my go-to measure. Fortunately, I do have a bit of experience with measuring, so I can sort of eyeball it. Billy assisted with measuring, cracking eggs, and cleaning the pan. Karen got home in time to fill the pan. Then, we mixed up some frosting while we waited for the cupcakes to cool. 

Banana Muffins!
Around 8ish, we had a church leadership meeting, so I had to leave the cupcake madness for a bit. After a while, I was anxious to try out the cupcakes, so I ran back downstairs so we could put the icing on the cupcakes and dig in! I figured it would be cool to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes, turns out, not the best plan, but got the job done. Ended up being a nice experience to spend time with Billy and Karen and then a delicious dessert for our meeting. Pretty much everyone said they were good. 

Then on Sunday morning I wanted to make banana muffins, which Billy and Ana helped me prepare with Karen and Sandra supervising. I think Billy officially knows how to mix ingredients together now! Use that elbow grease! Mmm, I love me some banana muffins. As it turns out, muffins are more popular than cupcakes because they are not as sweet. Billy is convinced that eating the cupcakes gave him a cold because they were too sugary. I don't think that's possible, but at any rate, the muffins were more to his liking. I got a few other comments in kind, so I may stick to the muffin to find baking soda and shortening to stick to the recipe. Know any alternative names for baking soda other than el bicarbonato de soda? No ones knows what it is and I'm not sure how else to ask for it.  

On a completely different note, I had a pretty good week in terms of church things. We have had some butting heads and conflicts of the sort of late that have made things way less than desirable at times. I don't know what happened, but this week had a whole lot less tension. With that, I was able to do more planning before the weekend got started. For once, I wasn't running around trying to figure out what I was going to teach for my classes. Also, I can respect a well-planned class that doesn't require a bunch of parts and prep. 

On Friday night I taught the Monte Sion adult class about the 4 Spiritual Types. I am sure I didn't do it justice, but it was good to introduce them to the subject and get them thinking about it. I think they enjoyed learning about them nonetheless. I learned that I have moved more in the 4 category, surprise surprise. [To oversimplify, 1s are head/intellectual church peeps, 2s are heart/emotional types, 3s are mystical/meditative types, and 4s are the doer/action types.] Also, Wilfredo seemed to think it was interesting and hopefully something we can bring to the Filadelfia congregation where we are currently trying to switch up church. Oddly enough, their idea of switching up church is moving towards the bulletin style service that we've been trying to move away from in the States. Whatever floats their boat. The one nice thing is that you know what will happen next and have a better idea for when things will end. The downside is that people don't know how to estimate well and don't compensate for things running long, so I think church will continue to be loonnngg. I know, I know, there shouldn't be a time limit on church, but I'm from the 1-hr church upbringing. Change is hard! 

Bigotes! (Mustaches!)
On Saturday, I had my usual kids class. Only 6 of the kids showed up, but they made up an amazing class! Like the kids, I most enjoy the activities. Having a "discussion" with 3-7 year-olds is not easy. I thought they would like to talk about the places they like to explore and go and they all said they liked to play with their friends on the soccer field. At least they talk, right? Anyway, we played Simon Says and Musical Chairs. We had a good time. Also, school starts next week, so I thought I would get the kids a back-to-school gift. Working with my budget, I opted for decorating pencils. So, I bought some pencils and then taped a mustache and the scripture Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" - on them and handed them out to the kids. They all seems pretty excited to get back to school and have... recess! 

The good thing that did come from said church service was that I was introduced to a pretty interesting scripture from Romans 12:1-2  (MSG), which says: 

Place Your Life Before God

12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

So, as we move in to lent, I will keep this in mind. I will have to work on the "readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it" part, but whatever better time than the present and the lenten season to do so?! Otherwise, I thought it was a cool scripture and am glad Jhonny brought it to my attention in his sermon, even if it was a 50-minute sermon. Oh Peru. 

I've got 2 more days to figure out what exactly I'm going to do for lent. The church has a "schedule" that will come in handy. What are you going to do/not do? Ideas? 

~nos vemos~