Sunday, November 1, 2009

Coming to America

So, I think that I stole this title from an 80's movie (I have not seen) but it feels appropriate.  For those of you who have not must not know my Mom!  But we are indeed coming home for a vacation and then staying for a month longer so that I can work on collecting supplies for two medical clinics that we will be apart of in the jungle.

We have now been in Peru for 9 months.  It has been nine months full of a range of emotions and experiences.  We have witnessed God changing lives, discovered a new culture and way of life, learned (and continue to learn) a new language, and have grown stronger as a little family.  We have also experienced culture shock, home sickness, and struggled to hear the still quiet voice of God.  If was  completely honest, and I have promised to be that, it has been the longest and most challenging nine months of my life.  I am looking forward to soaking up some familiarity of my family and dear friends.

This journey to the US will only bring us to California and Idaho.  We are sad that we will not venture to Louisiana where we have a wonderful support system.  But we will get to see Brad's family who will meet us in Idaho for Thanksgiving.  But we will send tokens of our love and appreciation back to those people with our LA family.

We are looking forward to seeing as many people as we can.  We are planning on sharing about our experiences in Peru at Mountain View Church of the Nazarene in Wilder, Idaho on Sunday, Nov. 22 during the 10:30 am service.  If you would to see some pictures and hear our stories please join us there!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Puerto Maldonado Project #1

We have just finished up with the 3rd project for Extreme Peru.  This project was located in Puerto Maldonado and its objective was to build the first phase on the 40/40 house.  Our Puerto Maldonado 40/40s are coming to an end of their training in Iquitos and need a place to live!

This project was on a smaller scale with only 14 short term volunteers from the U.S. and they were all men.  Since this was a construction project the only long term staff needed for the full two weeks were Dennis Linnel and Brad.  Denise and I tagged along to help prepare lunches for the construction crew and hold a kids festival (basically a VBS) for the local church.  It was a successful project with a terrific group of men!  The first phase of the house was completed and we averaged 68 kids a day for our 3 day kid's festival.  32 of these kids prayed to accept Jesus into their hearts!

Here are some pictures:

So, we don't really travel light!  I blame it on Tyler.  This is the primary form of transportation in the jungle cities, motocars.  In the incredible heat you come to look forward to the open air taxis for the breeze.  The drivers can get just as much luggage on the back of a motocar then can in a van.

This was what the house looked like when we arrived.  A Peruvian crew has been working on this house for a couple of months.

Everything is made from concrete.  Here is Brad looking like he did every day after work!  It was quite fun washing all these concrete covered clothes.

Here they are building the concrete wall that will surround the house.

After two weeks the second level walls are complete and they are placing the roof.

Each column that is poured for the walls is placed into a 4 ft hole.  Tyler is measuring a hole for his Dad.

This is the last day we were in Puerto and the roof is on!  The next phase will start in a couple weeks to finish the inside of the house as well as to paint.

After two hard weeks of work the guys took a day to tour the jungle.  Brad went with them and came back with some great pictures.  Here are a few:

This is a bridge in a tree top canopy.  It is 42 meters high (126 feet).  I am glad that I missed this opportunity.  The only thing worse for me would be a giant snake in the middle.

On the way home in the boat after a fun day in the jungle.

Brad will return to Puerto Maldonado for the second phase of the construction project.  This project will also include alot of impact events to spread the love of Jesus to the city of Puerto Maldonado.  Please keep this project in your prayers as 17 of our staff members will be there with 30+ short term volunteers from the U.S.  God has big plans for this city!  You can visit Extreme Nazarene for more information and pictures about both Puerto projects.

Bunk Bed Project

Just wanted to post some pictures of the bunk bed project that Brad has been working on.  Extreme did not have the needed tools to complete this project so the Men's Group of Mountain View Nazarene in Wilder, Idaho gave the money to buy the tools. 

Here is Brad (wearing the head of a guinea pig mascot) standing next to some of the completed beds.

The rooms are fairly small and they need to house 24 people per room so the bunk beds are three high.

Here are the rest of the beds waiting to be put together.  There will be 48 beds in total!

Thanks to this great group of men who understand the value of a good power tool!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Update from Arequipa 0 and 1...Iquitos too!

It has been a while since I have updated this blog and many things have happened in our lives here in Peru. Let's get caught up!

The last time I wrote I told you that the projects were just beginning in Arequipa and Brad was heading to Iquitos to work on the 40/40 housing. I stayed in Arequipa with Tyler to work on the first Extreme project. I stayed very busy caring for the short term volunteers. A stomach virus hit and almost half of the volunteers were affected at one time throughout the two weeks. But God prevailed as He always does and many people of Arequipa were told about the love of Jesus Christ and made life changing decisions. Even our bus driver accepted Christ!

I didn't take any pictures myself but the communications team documented every moment. Please take a look at this link to see what happened during Arequipa 0.

Brad was working in Iquitos making improvements to the housing for our 40/40 missionaries. He was able to help a team install false ceilings to provide a sound barrier from the loud rain as well as place a barrier between the people and the rats and bats. After the ceilings were installed Brad painted the dormitories. He then laid tile in both rooms. He then begun to raise the sidewalks to prevent flooding in the rooms. When it rains it rains!

Here is a picture of the water flooding over the sidewalk (before it was raised) just a few minutes into the rainstorm.

Here is a picture of the tile and paint in the girl's dormitory room.
Brad made it back in time for the second project to begin in Arequipa. He was gone for 3 weeks and it was a long 3 weeks for us all! The second project was just as wonderful as the first. We enjoyed working with the volunteers that came from the United States. They were a fun, hard-working group.

One of the fun cultural events that took place was a dance competition.
Brad worked around the clock (one night, literally) with the construction crew to finish the Zamacola Church of the Nazarene and the 40/40 Training Center.

Inside the church before it was completed.
Please take a look at this link to see the pictures from Arequipa 1. You can see the completed construction project there.

The next project will be in Puerto Maldanado where we will be builidng the housing for our 40/40 missionaries. They are getting close to the end of their training in Iquitos and will be ready to move into their new home in November to start planting churches in Puerto.

We were blessed to welcome the new 40/40 missionaries to Arequipa just over a week ago. This group will attend language school in Arequipa for 3 months (like we did) and then move to Iquitos for their training. After training this group will divide into Pucallpa and Iquitos for church planting. This group is full of energy and ready to get to work. We have had the pleasure of having groups of them over to our home for dinner and we are very impressed with quality of their character. God is going to use them to do great things.

Here is our growing staff at our weekly lunch together.
God is continually at work in our lives. We are adjusting to our lives here and are feeling like we may be feeling more normal in a different culture. Thank you for your continued prayer and support. We are looking forward to our trip home in November to see you and thank you in person.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

And the projects begin...

I just wanted to let you know that our first project with Extreme starts tomorrow! Everyone is very excited to meet the people who have given up their time and money to join us here in Arequipa to minister to the people here. There are 35 people coming in the first project for almost two weeks. Then a about a week after they leave around 80 people arrive for the second phase. Please pray that God is glorified in all of the project's events and that Satan doesn't have the chance to wiggle his way in.

Brad left yesterday to start working on improving the housing of our 40/40's in Iquitos. He will be living there in the guy's bunkhouse and working during the days for three weeks. Tyler and I already miss him but are very proud of his commitment to this ministry. Please be in prayer for our family as we are separated for this time. We know that it is a very tiny piece of time compared to the time some of our family have spent apart because of their jobs in the military so we refuse to whine about it! We have very good friends working with Extreme that have already stepped up to help me with Tyler. God is very good in working out all the details.

We will get some pictures posted of Brad's work in Iquitos and the Arequipa projects as soon as possible.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Trip to Lima and Iquitos (June '09)

Better late than never, right? We wanted to add a post about our trip to Lima and Iquitos in June but have had a few other things going so here we go...

The first stop we had to make was in Lima to finish our residency process. We had bus tickets purchased already to go to Iquitos when we received notification that we could pick up our cards in Lima to finalize our residency. So, we ended up spending a few extra days in Lima waiting for our appointment. The first night we stayed in a "clean" but "old" hotel in Lima. We weren't sure about the safety of this place so we decided to find something else. I looked online and looked for familiar names and found a Best Western! We were excited to find out that the hotel was in walking distance from the ocean and a shopping center with American restaurants.

This is the view of the coast from the shopping center. You can click here to see all our pictures from our long weekend in Lima.
After a few relaxing days in Lima we were off to Iquitos. Our jobs with Extreme are to support the 40/40 missionaries. Brad and I will travel to each location to research the community for resources for the team there. In case you don't know about 40/40 it is the church planting system where 40 people from outside of Peru are paired with 40 people from Peru to work to plant 3 churches per pair. So, in total they will plant 120 churches in Peru. The first group of 40/40 missionaries is currently in Iquitos attending training and then will move to Puerto Maldonado to live and work there.

While in Iquitos we stayed with the Smith family in their apartment. We had a wonderful time visiting with them and the 40/40s. We had the opportunity to meet and get to know the Peruvian counterparts and were so impressed with each one.

Here is a picture of the Puerto Maldonado team of 40/40 missionaries. You can see more of the team and where they live here.

We both enjoyed the city of Iquitos. It is a city of around 400,000 people but the city had a small town feel. The heat is incredible and forces the people to hang out on their porches visiting with neighbors. Iquitos is completely surrounded by water and jungle. The only way into the city is by boat or plane. We took a boat ride to the Amazon River and visited a local tribe and animal conservatory.

Here is a picture of the edge of town.

While visiting the "native" tribe that came from Columbia to live on the island for tourism (this is what they told me) we were painted with war paint, danced in the meeting hut, and the guys took a try at blowing the dart gun. The boat ride there and back totaled three hours but was very beautiful. We visited a jungle animal conservatory on the way back from meeting the tribe and got some fun pictures. You can check out all of our pictures from the Amazon boat ride here and here.

Here is Brad using the blow dart gun. He actually had a great aim!
It was a fun and productive trip. It was hard to leave our friends but are so proud of the work they are doing even while in school. Please keep them in your prayers as they are still feeling the effects of culture shock with the addition of very intense training. They are an amazing team handpicked by an all-knowing God. It is our privilege to serve them while they are serving the people of Iquitos.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Brad update

We just met with the neurologist after all test results were compiled.  He went over every page, picture and test and Brad is healthy!  The doctor could see (and showed us) where there is some fluid in the base of the left side of Brad's brain.  This is a "variant of normal" according to this doctor and could not cause the problems that Brad had with his speech eleven days ago.  His conclusion was that it was either 1) Transient Ischemic Attack (the "mini" stroke) or 2) Complicated Migraines.  He decided to treat Brad for both giving him a low dose aspirin to prevent a recurrence of the TIA and another medication to prevent Migraine headaches.

We are feeling very relieved that Brad will not have to undergo any major treatment for something life-altering or life-threatening.  We will continue with our original plan to send all results to a physician in the U.S. for another opinion.  But for now we are going to continue our lives and jobs that we were called here to do.  But this was also a wake up call to live a healthier life and have committed to each other to change our eating and exercise habits.  We have to be good stewards of the bodies that God gave us.

We are so amazed at the outpouring of love and support that we have received.  We do not know how to express this to each and every one of you but to tell you that we would be honored to return the blessing one day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to two amazing dads! 

Thank you, Brad, for being such a wonderful daddy to our son.  Your love and patience for Tyler amazes me every day.  I think that you were made to be a dad.  From the time our son was born you have known what to do, you are so natural at being a parent.  I am so blessed to share this job with you!

This is my favorite picture of my husband and son.

Dad, thank you for being such a wonderful daddy to my sisters and me.  I have learned so much about how I want to parent my child from you.  I miss you so much, especially on this day.  I look forward to times when we can meet for lunch or coffee.  I treasure these times we spend together.

Here is a picture of the man that I am blessed to call "Dad."

Friday, June 19, 2009


Life has a way of flying in crazy directions without asking permission.  We graduated from language school, accepted the role as cluster support, found an apartment in 15 minutes and moved in hours later, traveled to Lima to finish the residency process, traveled to Iquitos to spend 10 days in the jungle with fellow Extremies, landed back in Arequipa to spend a lazy weekend, all to wake up Monday morning with a crises on our hands.  And all of this has happened in the last month.  But God has been with us the entire way.  There is no doubt about His presence in our crazy lives.

I wanted to do a fun blog about our trip to the jungle but now need to take the time to update you on Brad's health.  The crises I mentioned started Monday morning when Brad realized that he could not speak more then a few simple words.  His mind was clear but when he would try to ask me a question the word that he was trying to say would come out a different word or not at all.  He was terrified but did not want to scare me.  I thought he was extremely tired and having a difficult time waking up and suggested he go back to bed.  After a few more minutes and seeing the panic growing in his eyes I realized something was very wrong.  A headache had started and Brad was losing color from his face.

I went next door to the office to ask Abby Duran if she wouldn't mind watching Tyler so I could take Brad to the emergency department.  We took a taxi the short distance to a private clinic near our home.  The emergency room physician could not find anything wrong with Brad's nervous system from a physical assessment and decided to treat the headache and nausea to determine if his difficulty speaking was caused from a Migraine.  30 minutes after IV medication the headache was minimal but Brad could not finish a sentence.  

The medical system is quite different in another country.  Each department within the hospital is independent, at least financially.  You have to pay one department before you can transfer into another department.  So, someone from the emergency department accompanied us upstairs to see the Neurologist and stayed by my side until I had paid the emergency department in full.  What a sweetheart.

The neurologist felt that Brad may have had a stroke and decided to admit him to run some tests to determine what had happened and why.  Brad was then taken by wheelchair pale and limp as a noodle to the next cashier to pay a deposit for a hospital bed.  The lady behind the counter was very kind and allowed Brad to get settled in before paying as I only had a Mastercard and they only accepted Visa!

Brad had an MRI on his head done that Monday evening.  The neurologist came into his room after the viewing the films and told us that he could not give us any results until he talked to the people who administered the test.  Tuesday morning he came in to tell us that he thought he saw a nodule on Brad's brain but the MRI staff thought it was normal.  The neurologist then ordered an EEG.  After the EEG the physician reported that there were some abnormal waves from the left side of Brad's brain (the side of the brain where the speech/language center is located) and he wanted to take the evening to study the results along with the MRI and come back in the morning.

So, Brad had to spend another night in the hospital much to his dismay.  That morning (Wednesday) the doctor discharged Brad with the diagnosis of Complicated Migraine and gave him some medication to take for 15 days and asked him to follow up with another EEG in 15 days.  We were uncomfortable with this and asked my parents to find us a doctor willing to look at Brad's information and give us some recommendations.  My parents acted quickly and located a physician from a local church.  Brad talked to this physician on the phone and we then spent the evening translating all documents from Spanish to English to send to the States.

The following morning (Thursday) Brad woke up with a severe headache located primarily behind his left eye.  This scared me because knowing the left side of the brain holds the language center and Brad had experienced a loss of speech earlier this week.  The EEG had also showed some abnormalities on the left side of the brain.  Our friends we work with in Extreme surrounded us to help send us to Lima for another evaluation there.  First, we went to see the neurologist in Arequipa who still felt that Brad was suffering from Migraines.  We just wanted to be sure he was safe to travel.  Within a couple of hours with the help of our friends plane tickets were purchased and suitcases were packed.

Pastor Segundo and his son met us at the airport and drove us a clinic in Lima.  The emergency room doctor called in a neurologist who stayed with us for 45 minutes discussing every detail and assessing Brad closely.  He believes that Brad had a transient ischemic attack (TIA) which is similar to a small stroke but he described it as what happens when a stroke does not happen.  He ordered several tests to determine what caused this TIA and wants to meet with Brad again after all results are in.  He took Brad off of all the medications prescribed earlier and placed him on aspirin.  The pastor then took us home, ordered us a pizza and gave us a very comfortable bedroom with a private bathroom.

We have spent that last three days here in Lima going to the clinic where Brad is completing all ordered tests.  We have been staying with a wonderful family with the gift of hospitality.  We know that we are in God's hands while we wait for the conclusion of this testing.  We will mostly likely be in Lima until the end of next week.  Monday Brad will meet with a cardiologist who will assess the condition of Brad's heart.  All results should be compiled by Wednesday and we will meet again with the neurologist on Thursday or Friday.

We want to thank all of you for keeping us in your prayers.  We have been amazed at the outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and people whom we have never met.  We believe so much in the power of prayer and have had a peace even in the scary moments.  Life is uncertain but God has never failed us yet.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Extreme Update

Family, Friends and Supporters, 

We wanted to  with share you some of the things that have been going on with our family and Extreme Nazarene.  God is definitely working in Extreme and it is more exciting to be a part of this ministry with each passing day.

First, Brad and I have decided to take on a second position with Extreme as a cluster support family.  This was a quick change but one that was obviously initiated by God.  We both had been thinking about this possibility separately and then it come up in conversation twice in one weekend while chatting with other members of Extreme.  We came together to talk about it on a Sunday and decided that we needed to pray about this as we both agreed that we still felt called to the positions that we came here to do.  When Wednesday arrived the subject was so heavy on our hearts that we knew needed to talk to Brian , the director, to see if it was even a possibility.  Brad called Brian that morning to set up an appointment for the afternoon and we stayed home from school to continue praying.  We went into Brian's office that afternoon and presented our plan of how we believed that we could function in both roles.  Brian laughed a little and confessed that this was the reason he had invited us to dinner that Thursday.  He was going to present this idea to us over dinner.

Brad and I  were excited that not only had God been moving in our hearts, we had recognized this immediately!  I don't know if you can related with us on the pure joy that is in your entire being when you realize that God is working in you.  When you realize that God not only has a plan for your life but He is sharing it with you.  He finds you worthy to work with Him towards the growth of His kingdom.  To me that is very humbling and makes me incredibly nervous!  But Brad and I agree that we have both lived outside of His plan and inside of His plan and life is incredible when you are in the hand of God.

So what is a cluster support family?  Extreme Peru is built on a concept called 40/40.  This brings 40 single adults from inside of Peru and 40 single adults from outside of Peru (right now from the United States).  One Peruvian and one Non-Peruvian are paired together with the objective to plant 3 churches under the leadership of an established church.  The goal is to plant 120 churches in Peru.  Several pairs of missionaries (40/40s) live together in a home in their assigned community.  Each group of 40/40s have a cluster support family that lives with them taking care of them much like dorm parents or resident directors in a college setting.

After sitting down with Brian to discuss the possibilities of us taking on cluster support while being able to accomplish our original positions it was decided that we would take the Cusco group.  This is exciting for many reasons.  First of all, it we will not move to Cusco for a year and half enabling us to complete all our travel for research of the 40/40 sites and to be apart of all the projects with Extreme Peru.  Secondly, we are able to be apart of the church planting.  We have the privilege to be apart of every aspect of Extreme Peru.  Cusco will also allow us easy travel to the other 40/40 sites when they need Brad and I to come and visit for our original roles of logistics and medical support.  When looking at the big picture it seemed that both of our positions were made to go hand in hand!  

With the change of positions came a quick change in the schedule.  We no longer needed to attend training with the current 40/40s in Iquitos as we will be attending the same training with our Cusco 40/40s next year (our 40/40s won't arrive for a year).  So we needed an apartment as school had ended along with our housing.  So here is the second change for the Hunt Family.  We had to find an apartment.  We needed to find a furnished apartment to fit into our budget.  We had three days to look for an apartment before our bus would leave to Iquitos.  We needed to travel to Iquitos even though we are not attending school to research the city for medical resources and logistical purposes since we will have staff there.

Monday morning, the first morning of apartment hunting the realtor drove us next door to our office building to show us a two bedroom furnished apartment.  She told us the price and then said she would like to offer us a different price as the owner is the same owner of our office site.  And amazingly enough it was exactly what we had budgeted.  She also mentioned that the apartment had just opened up yesterday and oh by the way the owner would like to buy you a television.  Two hours later we had signed the contract and two more hours after that we were moving into our new apartment!  So we are now in a safe area of the city 10 steps away from the Extreme office.  Our God is good and is taking care of even the simple details.  There are so many more things to mention about our apartment but I will make that a different entry with pictures.

We realized that Tyler's visa was about to expire and we needed to get to Lima to finish our residency paperwork as soon as we were notified that it was ready.  Thanks to God our paperwork was finished the day we realized we had an issue on hand.  We had to change our travel schedule to allow time in Lima and are not scheduled to leave for Lima/Iquitos until May 29th.  We are currently in Arequipa getting settled in waiting for an appointment time with the Immigration Dept. in Lima.  So if you wouldn't mind lifting the issue with Tyler's visa up in prayer we would appreciate it.  If we can get an appointment in Lima during the grace period we will not have to take Tyler out of the country to renew his visa.  This is an issue of timing in an extremely slow moving process.

Just wanted to give you an update on our lives here with Extreme.  Now that we completed language school (at an intermediate level) we have started working on the tasks we came to complete.  I will keep you informed!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Monkey...One year old!

This year has been the best year of my life so far and that is because of the little man that came into this world one year ago.  I wanted to share with you some pictures from the last year.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

This is my first Mother's Day as a Mom (of a born child).  I had a really nice day.  This morning I went to church by myself since Brad is having problems with his sciatic nerve and is unable to sit for very long.  He kept Tyler at home so that I could listen to the service.  Mother's Day in Peru is a very big celebration and everyone was very excited to wish me my first "feliz dia de mama."  The worship time was very good for me today.  The words to the music were not posted which made it difficult for me to sing along so I decided to pray while my Peruvian brother's and sister's were filling the room with words of praise.  I was able to pray without interruption, something that rarely happens now that I am a mom.  I was also able to understand a good portion of the sermon about the mother of Moses and the sacrifices she made for her child.  After the sermon the children and teens presented the mothers of the church with gifts, sandwiches and juice.

This is the gift given to me by the children of the church.  A flower with a mirror in the center and hand-made card.
The teens contributed towards a gift basket and drew names for the winner...I won.  I am now the proud winner of rice, sugar, cereal, milk, tuna, juice, soup, pasta and salsa!
And waiting for me at home with my two guys was a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers!
And a present signed by my baby!  Inside is a curling iron.  I have been wanting one since we have been in Peru.
I am so blessed to be a mom.  I am so blessed to have a mom of Godly character that has been my role model and mentor.  I miss her terribly today and pray that she is having a blessed day with my sisters at home.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It's May...

I can hardly believe that it is already May again.  It seems like just yesterday it was May and I was counting the days until June when my baby would enter the world.  Little did I know that he would join us early.  So in two weeks we will be celebrating a birthday in the Hunt Family!  I will be sure to post more about that later.

Today has been a day of reflection for me.  I have had to work really hard today to remember why I am here in Peru.  So I have pulled out a piece of notebook paper that I scribbled some challenging words on.  It is from the book Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow.  I haven't read the book because I am still working on the next few lines, they are enough for me right now.

Prescription for Contentment
1.  Never allow yourself to complain about anything--not even the weather.
2.  Never picture yourself in any other circumstance or someplace else.
3.  Never compare your lot with another.
4.  Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise.
5.  Never dwell on tomorrow--remember that [tomorrow] is God's,
not ours.

This challenge has been amazingly difficult for me.  It is much more fun to think of the things I would change, the things that I miss and dream of how they will be in the years to come.  But I think that I agree that allowing my thoughts to wonder only allows them away from what God has asked me to do.  So, I have decided to take the challenge from Linda Dillow and work towards contentment in the life that God has given me here and now.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Culture Shock

I have to apologize for staying away so long but I have not had anything positive to say...and my mother taught me "if you can't say something nice it is better to say nothing at all."  But the last three days I attended the Extreme staff retreat and the first day we reviewed the process of culture shock.  One of the things that I learned is the importance to talk about your feelings and to not hide away.  So, I am going to try to share with you some of what I learned about culture shock and some of my feelings...

The first phase is initial shock.  This is usually just your first initial feelings of the things you see when first arriving.  For example, we were surprised with the amount of taxis and then of course having to ride in one brings a mixture of fear and surprise that they are relatively safe!

The second phase is the vacation phase.  This is usually a time that is fun because you are seeing new places, trying new food and life has a new excitement as it is so different from the old daily grind.  This phase lasts about 4 to 6 weeks...and then you are ready to return home.

I am most likely experiencing the 3rd phase in culture shock.  In this phase you are now homesick, frustrated with not being able to speak the language, tired of the food, and have developed frustrations with the difference in culture.  Since everyone experiences these phases differently there is no set time frame for each phase.

I feel like I have been feeling a frustration with the differences for almost three weeks now.  At first I just wanted to get into my car (which I don't have) and drive far away where no body would stare at me or tell me that my baby needs to be wearing more clothes.  There are times when I do not want to hear one more word in Spanish and in these times I find myself very reluctant to speak Spanish.  I have started to dread going to language school and the fours hours there each day feel like an eternity.

One difference that may be the most difficult for me is the noise level.  There is ALWAYS noise.  Noise in the street, noise in the house, noise at church.  When I wake up the garbage truck plays a song to announce it is arriving and this starts at 6 in the morning until around 9...the same song.  There are barking dogs at every house.  There is a lady selling newspapers up and down the street starting around 7 in the morning screaming "pueblo correo," but to us it sounds like "huevo (eggs), mayo."  Brad thought she was selling eggs and mayonnaise for the longest time.  The doors remain open at church for the entire service even when they are doing construction on the house across the street.  I find myself sitting there mad that they refuse to close the doors instead of trying to focus on why I am in church to begin with.  The security guard for our neighborhood blows  a whistle every five minutes around the clock.  When I first arrived I thought it was an exotic bird (vacation phase) and now I want to throw something at him (culture shock)!  These are just a few of the noises in the streets as there are many more vendors with their own special noise makers to announce their presence.

It is in this phase where Brad and I feel that we lose our focus on a daily basis and take turns reminding each other of our call from God, the amazing things we have witnessed in such a short time period (like the 9 people who gave their hearts to Jesus after watching the Jesus film on Thursday), and that there are people who will not be in Heaven if we are not faithful to His call.  I am so thankful for the technology that enables me to talk with someone, even see their faces weekly and sometimes even daily from home.  I am thankful for the blogging world because reading others testimonies and challenges to grow in my faith have become a support system for me.  I am thankful for Extreme and the well planned events like this retreat that reminds me of why I am here and provides me with a renewed passion for the work that God has allowed me to be apart.

I could write more of my frustrations but I am determined to count my blessings instead.  But there are days when it is to difficult to write these things because they still feel too intense.  I strongly believe that I am to be accountable to you who have chosen to be apart of our support team (prayer and financial) and so I will try to be honest with you at the same time not dwelling on the negative because in reality the positive is so much greater.  Thank you for your prayers, cards, email messages and care packages!  We love you and pray for you too!

By the way, there are three more phases in culture shock to come...I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How Much Would You Pay for a Box of Love (part 2)

I just finished reading my Mom's blog and thought I would write a follow-up to show you how excited her box of love made this little family!  You can read what she had to write in Part 1.

Can you believe that all of this stuff fit into this box?

Tyler is wearing one of the new hats that Mia and Poppa sent.  And do you see the bottles of Diet Dr. Pepper?

And he loves his new toy!

I had to take the picture of the ranch packet!  Thanks to Grandma Jackie we have been enjoying ranch dressing in Peru.  Now Mia has just enabled my addiction further.  I am loving my Moms!

So, thank you to our families who have blessed us with things from home!  They are just "things" but they have come with love attached and for that they are worth every penny I have.  I love you!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Excitement and A Confession

Today we had the privilege to find out the details of the next several months for our positions with Extreme.  I wanted to share them with you!

In case you don't understand what Extreme is doing in Peru over the next three years here is a little run down.  The concept is called 40/40.  This means that 40 American single adults will be paired with 40 Peruvian single adults.  Each pair will be responsible for planting 3 churches in their assigned area.  Not all of the 40/40's will be here at the same time, they will arrive in waves.  The first wave has only 4 Americans and 4 Peruvians as this is the first time this has been tried and they wanted a small group first.

Our wonderful and very passionate first group consists of Wendy, Callie, Olivia and Andrew.  God has handpicked this group, there is no doubt about that!  They like to call themselves "The Cuy" as they are the first group and the guinea pigs.  Cuy is guinea pig in Spanish.  They will be living and working in Puerto Muldanado after their training.  But first they have 3 months of language school in Arequipa then off to Iquitos for job/culture training.

Brad and I have the awesome privilege to care for the needs of the 40/40's.  They will have a couple, Tyson and Tracey Smith (and little Kai), that will live with them and care for their daily and immediate needs.  Brad will provide assistance with any maintenance, safety and transportation needs.  I will provide information on medical resources, assess their physical health periodically and assist with any insurance claims.  We also have the opportunity to accompany them to their training in Iquitos for part of the time.   Then we will return to Arequipa for the next wave of 40/40's arrival.

I was amazed at the details of the evangelism plan for these communities.  God is providing for every need right on time!  This meeting today was just what I needed to lift me out of the funk that I have been in attending language school.  There is frustration that comes with learning a language.  But today I received another glimpse at what God is doing and of what He has allowed me to be apart.  I am going to be taking care of the disciples!  I can hardly wrap my brain around the fact that I may be caring for today's Paul or Peter!  What is God doing calling me?

As I mentioned above, God is providing for this plan right on time!  Part of this provision is in the next wave of 40/40's.  Just this month we received 6 of the 8 people that will be coming in the next wave.  We need 4 more so please be in prayer for these 4 people that God will call to be His disciples as well as the following groups.

And now for the confession...
I am very aware of the sacrifices that people are making back at home so that they can give to our ministry in Peru.  And today I found Dr. Pepper!  I spent over $1 a can and bought 7 of the cans (they only had 9).  So, I am sorry for those who went without this week!  But it tastes so good.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Saturday Peru Review (3/14/09)

So, I am a little late in posting last Saturday's review of the new places we visited in Peru.  But better late than never, right?

We loaded this bus for a four hour tour of Arequipa.  We chose this tour because it included a tour of the city as well as the surrounding areas in the country.  We have realized that we have become a little restless in the city and needed some time in the country.  This tour also featured lunch and we are always excited to try new traditional Peruvian cuisine.  So stay tuned for the second restaurant review (below, way below).  As you can see we had the best seats on the bus and we had seat belts!  Tyler was able to ride in the front pack so he was seat belted in with me (for all those mothers who were worrying about the risk of flying out of the bus).
Here is one of the beautiful buildings inside the city.  I believe this is one of the cathedrals.  
And a tour of Arequipa would not be complete without guinea pigs (cuy) as this is a very popular meal.  By the way, at the end of the Arequipa events in August there will be a cuy feed with 10,000 cuy!  So if you have not signed up to come to Arequipa you should really plan on it as this will be a record breaking event.

Here we are visiting Alpaca Mundo (Alpaca World).  This was one of my favorite stops on the tour.  You were able to see the process of making the yarn and clothing from the beginning to the end.  Here is the beginning...(very friendly little creatures)
And here we are near the end of the process.  This lady is from Cusco and she is making traditional clothing from the wool of the alpaca.  

This was a monument with Jesus in the center and the cross as well.

There were many places on the tour that showed the incredible poverty that exists.  I realized that I have been blind to this in my time here as where we are living in the city we do not face this daily.  Brad and I were motivated by many of these places to learn the language as quickly as possible so that we could get to work!  The reason that God has us here is for these people.  God is giving us a heart and passion for these people as well as the people we come into contact with daily in the city.  Keep them in your prayers.  I believe God is preparing their hearts for the message we will bring to them.
The Restaurant Review....
Again I have forgotten to get the name!  The first picture below is of a very common appetizer that is placed on the table much like chips and salsa in a Mexican restaurant.  It tastes like popcorn that has been turned inside out (the puffed part is inside the kernel).  All three of us like it.
Brad ordered steak, there was actually no steak on the menu so this is what they created for him.  It included tender steak, papas fritas (french fries), a cold fried egg, toasted bread and salsa.
Brad gave this a thumbs up (except for the cold egg)!
I ordered a traditional dish called Rocoto Rellano (stuffed rocoto pepper).  It is stuffed with cheese, ground beef, vegetables and is very spicy.  It has potatoes on the side.  I have had this dish prepared by Patricia in our home and it is my favorite so far.  I did not like this restaurant's version of this dish.
Michelle gave this a thumbs down!
Tyler refused to eat as there were two women at the table next to us and he could not stop flirting long enough to finish one bite.
Tyler gave it a thumbs up!

Brad is a very good photographer and was able to capture the entire day.  If you would like to see these pictures you can see them posted here and here.