Guess what! In Peru, people celebrate Christmas too! – Amanda
This year’s Christmas I would say has been, well I’m sitting here looking at those words and I have a million words that could fit. Here’s a few: shut-up, stretching, blessed, numb, unifying, sad, happy, exhausting, relaxing. I definitely missed the high-strung element of Christmas that most of you in the States suffered through. Sorry!
I think there were a lot of things that went through my head this Christmas. Sometimes I was confused that I wasn’t as upset that I was so far from home for Christmas. Other times I was frustrated with my partner for not being more excited about Christmas. On Christmas day I felt disconnected with him and he went to a church service in the evening… I was upset. But, I was happy to be with people that I love and got to spend such an important day with them.
This year I thought a lot about Mary and what she must have went through. Sometimes, I don’t like that it seems that the originality of thought is gone from biblical stories. It feels cliché to talk about what Mary must have been thinking, and I absolutely despise the song “Mary Did You Know?” Sorry, all you folks out there that idolize this song… it’s actually a song I could do without the rest of my life. But, in the story of Christ’s birth represented in Luke 2:19 that Mary stored up the things the Shepherds told her, about the angels and what they said. It just had to of been wild being her. These people were real humans. I think that something we forget about often. They were not majestic people, but ordinary and simple. They had thoughts and feelings and it had to of been a complicated mess of emotions and thoughts that Mary was filtering through. And yet she was faithful.
Because we did not have snow and all the things Christmas staples that make Christmas-time feel like Christmas-time, we had to put a real effort forward to get ourselves in the mood. One could call it, Christmas foreplay. I decided to take my lunch money and buy some felt to make everyone who would be here for Christmas a Christmas stocking. It took about a week to make everyone’s stocking, but it really helped me get into Christmas.
On Christmas Eve we had a partaaaaaay! Amanda and I baked all day long and even the day before we were working until late at night to make all our awesome cookies. So, on Christmas Eve we all got together and had communion, then read the Christmas story. After that it was a free-for-all to the spread.
Then after we were all done eating, we played a few games. First, we played Bing-o. There were prizes to be won! We played like you play the White Elephant. Prizes could be stolen. Franci ended up with a soap case and a wash cloth, Joel got notebooks, Allison got chapstick, Ella got a pen, and I got a keychain! Then we played a game Sixto suggested. His games are always interesting. I’ve written three attempts to explain the game and it’s just not worth the trouble. The gist is you pass two rags around the circle and you have to untie and retie knots in them and if you are caught with the two rags in your lap, you are out. If you are out, then you get a punishment. Lindy was a statue and had to let us put him in whatever possition we put him in, Franci had to chug a glass of soda, Joel had to put on lipstick, Vincent had to do push-ups, Gladys had to walk like a duck, and Geremias had to hop like a bunny.
We had fun fun fun fun! Later, Garren put on his Christmas pajamas he had gotten from home and joined the kids in their new pajamas. Then, the kids put out some cookies and milk for Santa Claus. Thomas had to have chocolate milk in his cup for Santa.
Then, Garren’s family in the States always watched “It’s a Wonderful Life,” on Christmas Eve, so following this tradition we sat down to watch it. Amanda decided right away she was going to not make it through the movie, so went to bed. Chad followed soon after, but both were awakened to the following bustle in the streets. I tried posting the video here, but it’s not working. Just check out my facebook wall, I have the video there.
On Christmas Day we were all supposed to get together at 7:30 am to open presents, but it’s apparently not as exciting for the Peruvians to wake up really early in the morning just to open presents. So, we ended up opening presents closer to 9:00. Chad and Amanda had setup a pretty sweet presentation for us.
We all got a blanket, toothbrush, razor, 2011 agenda, Choko cookies, and some candy.
And Chad and Amanda got these stellar hats.
Then, we crashed and I skyped with my parents! There was really nothing I could do for them for Christmas, sending wise, it’s even more expensive sending from here to the States, at least it seems to be so. This is what I decided to do for my family.
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! And I hope everyone has a Happy New Year! We officially are moving to Puno the 5th of January! Please pray that all of our things arrive in Puno safely!
Can you believe that it’s almost Christmas? We have been working really hard to get ourselves into the Christmas spirit. It’s strange, almost like a chore. I’ve wondered the years that I was in college why Christmas never seemed the same, and now I’m realizing that if you just let it pass by it’s not going to hold much meaning. Last year I put up a tree in our humble house and I had friends come over to help me decorate and we made pretty little decorations as crafts. It was such a good time and I’m making myself sad thinking about it. Dang it!
I’m glad that I happened to have these pictures handy form last year. They make me feel good. The white stars were made out of ribbon, something my mother and sister and I used to make for Christmases. The white flowers and ball were origami. The red and gold ornaments were Wal-Mart provided… that dear store. Now, I’m listening to Owl City and it’s taking me back to the winter drives back and forth from Mount Vernon to home. I was really naïve to think that the Christmas season wasn’t going to be hard. If I had known last year where I’d be this year then I would have done better to appreciate it. Our tree here stands at a lowly two feet tall. Ooooo. At least it is thicker than a Charlie Brown tree.
Maybe not much more… But this is my favorite picture of the kids with the tree!
There have been quite a few people that have gone home for the Christmas season, so now it’s just Garren and I as the only two North Americans and then the Duerre family. I think it’s been good for us though, having our time together. My Christmas wish this year was a DSLR camera, but I don’t think that’s going to happen, I’m going to have to keep on stealing Kristen’s and Amanda’s. This Thursday is our baking day! We are making Pill Bottle Cookies, these awesome Soft Sugar Cookies with a Frosting I found, maaaaybe Autumn Cheesecake and some other things Amanda has up her sleeve. Check out the links, you might find something you like and remember to check out The Handicapped Kitchen every once in a while to see what I’ve got going on in the kitchen. I’ve also been working on making everyone who is here a stocking. I got some felt and beads and went to work. I’ll post some pictures later this week!
To help us get into the Christmas spirit the kids had a Christmas program at the church where they go to school. I was so excited to go!
|“Jo jo jo, yo soy la Navidad, porque tengo muchos regalos para todos los ninos”
||“Vamos hasta Belen, para que veamos los que ha sucedido”
Thomas was Santa Claus and Ella was a pastorcita or a little shepherd. They both had lines in Spanish too! We are so proud of them, even though they never speak Spanish in front of us.
I believe that I’ve shared with you that we found our house in Puno. One hardship down… here’s another! One of our best here in Peru has gone home to deal with a difficult situation. Roy’s mother has been in and out of the hospital and they are now trying to dissolve some clots that she has in her lungs. His family has said that she seems to have given up hope and he has decided to go home for some time to see if he can turn the situation at all. He has until the end of January to decide if he can come back and still be able to join the Puno team. If not, he can join with a future team to a future city project. Please pray that he is able to make an easy decision. We are behind him no matter the result.
Thank you all for your prayers. I love you all so much and hope you have a very Merry Christmas! I’ll be sure to post later this week with cookie and stocking pictures!
Do any of you like to travel via Greyhound? Believe it or not I’m posting this entry from a bus on the way back to Arequipa from Puno. Chad has a Internet key you can plug into the USB port of your computer and anywhere we have Claro phone service we have internet service as well. Who would have thought in Peru we’d have this kind of technology? We tried watching some T.V. online but it wasn’t strong enough a connection.
I figure I should give you a heads up on how our house search went in Puno. We left early Sunday morning to get in Puno in the afternoon and still be able to go to their church service at 6 pm. Saturday I woke up with the start of a pretty ugly cold. Sunday morning I woke up feeling the worst I have yet in Peru. I don’t know what it was, whether it was a cold or allergies, but Sunday morning I laid there and begged God to lay His healing hand on me. Now from Arequipa we go 7,000 or so feet above sea level to 12,000 feet (don’t quote me on that). With the heavy contrast in the change of altitude my congestion felt like it was turning into the jaws of life prying my head open. Some of the others were getting ill too. So, we definitely were seeing the spiritual warfare as we were trying to find this house.
The first day of searching the city was Monday. If you’re asking how we knew how to look for homes here in Puno, I was thinking the same thing. Basically we were told to walk around the city, knock on doors, and simply ask people if they knew of any places available. There are very few places that will actually advertise in newspapers. There are also walls around the city where ads are posted.
(I just quickly want to add as a side note the poster we just passed. Apparently, coming soon to a city near me is some kind of midget parade… don’t try to read too much into it, it means exactly what it says. A midget show of some sort.)
We spent the day walking around the city asking everyone we could about houses. Joel and I didn’t have any luck at all the whole day. We were assigned to an area where it was basically just commercial buildings and nothing residential. At the end of the day we all got together and talked about what was found. One group found an anticresis, but we didn’t know if we would be approved for it.
By Tuesday I had woken up feeling nearly 100% better, which I believe was seriously a divine healing from God. So, Tuesday we sent some of the 40/40’s home, because we had already scoured the city and only had a couple appointments to look at a few places. Chad, Garren, Sixto and I stayed and in the afternoon went to look at this one house. It was a house the our Pastor used to live in, and he assured us that it would be a good fit. We met the landlady there and she told us she had to ask the tenants if it would be okay if we could look in the house. Well, they refused to let us in. Throughout this whole ordeal we were thinking this would never happen in the States. Are you kidding me? Your landlord is here and is telling you to let them show their own property and you are saying no? You are ridiculous.
So, the landlady (her name is Asuncion) asks us in to her apartment, which is the third floor of the house she owns. There, both she and the pastor try telling us it’s a great place and it will definitely work for our 14 people, but we were trying to be insistent that we couldn’t sign a contract for two years if we didn’t see the place. Apparently, the renters had let Asuncion in with some other interested parties several times before and they were sick of letting more people in their house. It was very frustrating… very Peruvian. This house was kind of our last option too, so we were getting very upset that we couldn’t even see what potentially could be the best thing we had found yet, besides the anticrisis. So, Asuncion told us we could sign on for three months and if we didn’t like it we could find another place. We did it.
We had been praying for so long for the perfect place and the fact that God hadn’t given us anything quickly has been speaking to me that we needed to be faithful and believe that He would provide. Now, this was the fifth time that we had come to Puno looking for a place and the one place we didn’t look at is the place that we decided on… and we all felt at peace with it. Now we just have to tell everyone else on our team!
My lap is getting hot from the computer. Thank you all for your prayers. We still might have to make another move after this, but praise the Lord that He has given us at least “a place to land,” as Chad says. I’m excited to actually get to see this place, but we will have to wait until at least the 4th of January. So, it looks like we are going to be spending Christmas in Arequipa!
I just posted a few days ago, and I was going to hold this post for another time, but I think I need your prayers now… so I´ll post it now. I’m writing and backspacing what I’m writing here because I want to choose my words carefully. I’ve not always been the most humble of people. To be quite honest, sometimes I can be vain. It’s probably just growing up, but I’m learning that some of the crap I used to worry about doesn’t matter (i.e. how I look in pictures, the compliments people give me, etc.) I’m coming to realize those things give me a temporary thrill and then quickly fade… and the hole then quenches further confirmation of self. It’s exhausting, and my only confirmation I need comes from God.
All of that to say, I’m a really talented guy. It’s a shocking statement for me to look at too. Maybe I’m not as talented as I think I am though, maybe all these people have been lying to me all these years. But, what I’ve been told is I’m talented. I: sing, play music, write music, write story ditties here and there, draw, cook, design, learn languages quickly. Basically, that all falls within the art realm, so we could say… ART and everything therein. Why am I telling you I’m talented? Do I need to learn more humility?
I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with my life. Some people feel they have a blank canvas of abilities and don’t have anything to choose from, it’s just as hard having a splatter paint art piece and trying to figure out what to let your eye focus on. Satan really likes to play with me here. Our insecurities are his playground.
Recently, I’ve found myself painfully wishing or perhaps desiring to build on one of these talents. That’s fine! I’ll go through periods where I love to draw and others when I’d rather do other things. The problem is how it turns into covetous attitudes. It’s an ugly feeling. I hate it. I love photography, I don’t have the camera I need yet to practice and get better, maybe something I’ll have to wait to get in the States, but I just saw some pictures online that were gorgeous and I had that deep-set pang in my heart. I wanted that. Not the pictures, but the ability. The ability to capture that beauty. It´s fine wanting to take beautiful pictures, but this strong compulsion is really messing with my focus.
Satan is doing a good job of picking out my past dreams and aspirations and placing them in my mind as what I want right now. I can’t afford having this when I’m about to set out on the true purpose for my being in Peru. I can’t start out like this. I want to take beautiful pictures here and write beautiful songs about this experience, but not to the point of self-glorification. Do you understand? I feel like this has been hard to explain. I need your prayers. I want to be able to use these gifts, rather for my glory for His. My glory can never quench my thirst, but His glory will satisfy.
Turkey, ham, sweet-potatoes casserole, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, paper clips, stuffing, bricks, pumpkin pie, apple pie, booger pie, we ate EVERYTHING for Thanksgiving. Thursday morning we woke up and all came together as a family to share our Thanks. Being away from home and being in an unfamiliar place was harder than I thought it was going to be for Thanksgiving. It was unlike any other Thanksgiving that I’ve ever had, I suppose that goes without saying, but I was stunned by how thankful I was for things like this supporting family here in Peru and even very simple things i.e. hot water. Thanksgiving, this year, was certainly the most meaningful of the other 22 I’ve had.
Now, I’m following in the good American fashion of making everything Christmas-like right after Thanksgiving. So, I’m on the couch writing you this update with earphones in listening to… oh must I say it, Celtic Woman Christmas music! I’ve been stuffing my ears with other Christmas music too, of course. I’ll let you in on a glimpse of what I’m listening to right now.
This Chloe Agnew (in the pink) has an absolutely beautiful voice!
Tomorrow is the last day of class as we get ready to move to Puno!!!! WOW! I can’t believe that these classes went so quickly. It’s really amazing. This last class that we are in is a instructional class about discipleing. I’ll be quite honest, before this week I was really questioning the call. I had a pit in my stomach about the work in Puno, the unknown. This week I went to our cell group and I gave the lesson and it was so encouraging. I don’t necessarily want each of our cell groups to be so “by the book” or stiff. I want to people in our cell groups to be asking questions and learning about things that they are interested in or understanding hard concepts they don’t understand. That’s exactly what our cell group was this week. Ordinarily, I am the one who stays quiet and if there is any question I let Joel take it, but this time God had been preparing me for this discipleship. I think even before I would have been unlikely to let ourselves get so off topic, but I was so content in just listening to these people ask these questions and I was so excited to have the answers! It pushed me back up on the horse for sure.
Has it snowed yet there in the States? I wish I could be there for the snow. I want to stand out in the light snowfall and smell the chill in the air and make a snow angel. Five minutes of that would suffice and then I’d be good for another year! HA! I was talking to a friend the other day and told her that my favorite season wasn’t fall until I left for Costa Rica and had to miss it. Having missed the fall made me appreciate it so much. So, all you winter snow haters you might just have to leave your cold State and go to a place where you won’t have snow for a while so you can come to LOVE driving around town in your rear-wheel drive, squirrely, out-dated clunker in the snow. You should be getting the hint of the experience I’ve had… my parent’s got rid of that thing so that’s done with! When I get back I’m sure they are going to buuuuuuuy me something shiny with great MPG and smells like a new shoe inside… that’s another hint.
I want to delve into this a little more, but I want to get this post up ASAP and I’m about to head out the door. We still have not found a house in Puno. We are going this Sunday, the whole team, to look for a BIG house for all of us to live in. Please pray that we can find the perfect house!
Lastly, I have started a new BLOG! Woooooo! It’s called The Handicapped Kitchen. Check it out. Bookmark it. You’ll love it. If I check my stats and see no one has visited it I will be very upset! It’s a food blog. Need I say more? Now GO!