Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Word form the Lord??

I left my house early this morning - two hours early to be exact. I only have two hours of class per day this week and I have purposed to put the other two hours aside for praying and reading my Bible and journaling. Things I love to do but have not had the time - or should I say - made the time for recently. I knew if I stayed in the house I would spend my two hours cleaning or organizing so I fled to a cafe for coffee and solitude.
When I arrived there was no one in the place. I found a table, took out my Bible and was about to look at the menu when a woman approached me. She was a Peruvian, and she spoke so quitely I couldn't HEAR what she was saying. I memtioned once that she needed to speak up but she didn't. I didn't want to say it again because she would have assumed that I don't understand Spanish. So I strained my ears the best I could to hear here over Ace Of Base blaring in the background.
She saw my Bible and told me that she was also a Christian. I asked when and how she decided to follow Christ and she told me a long story about 2002 when she was in Brasil . . . .unfotunately most of her story was drowned out by the music. I did here her clearly quote James 3:17 and then she spoke of my family and prayed for us. She spoke against discouragement and how inportant it is that we are here . . . .I then realized she was talking to me about me. It was amazing! She hugged me prayed over me and left. I would have thought she was an angel, but she came back and gave me her e-mail address. the waitress says she is a regular at the cafe and often speaks about God.
It is absolutely amazing to me that God knows our needs so well and exactly how to encourage us and exactly how much we can take as far as pain and trials go. I am suddenly starting to have terrible pain and swelling in my gums on one side and am very nervous about what might be going on in my mouth. It seems that everytime I get to the point where I feel like I can actually handle all that is going on in our life God sends something else to stretch us and try us. I was just telling Him how I really can't handle anymore, and he sent an sister in Christ to encourage me. I am so glad she responded to the Lord and talked to me and prayed for me. It was what I needed to be able to handle what God has for me. (Amy)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Sorry to leave you all hanging . . . everyone keeps asking what happened with the computer.

Well the next morning we went to our meeting at the District Attorney's office. The vendedor didn't show up. So he is trouble for possessing stolen goods and now for not appearing. She took our statement and said that there was a new investigation open and that she wanted to get the vendedor's statement before she gave the computer back to us. If he doesn't come to her office she said she would go to his tienda and look for other stolen goods. So now we just wait. But really, we don't mind. We are still just basking in the glow of God's hand in all of this. God is amazing!

We spent the day yesterday at the kids school, Sataurday, 8:30 to 2:30. There was a father's day party and the kick-off to the intermural olympics. The kids are on the "red" team. They walked in the opening parade of colors and them 4 of them danced or sang for the fathers. (3rd grade didn't do anything). It was so cute!

Christian's Father's Day started with a delicious breakfast of eggs benedict - Peruvian style: ciabatta rolls instead of English muffins, and "pizza ham" in lieu of Canadian bacon. It was still very good though. Then we hosted our gringo home church tonight. Scott and Meghan are in Lima. It was fun and we had a lot of people. It amazes me how many people come and go in our small circle of aquaintances. Our friend and fellow SAMer, Marshall, arrives on Tuesday and will live with us for a month while he attends classes at the institute as well.

It is freezing cold in our house right now. There is no heating anywhere here in any of the buildings. When the sun is out the temperature is o.k. It is winter here now so the cold is awful but you roast in the sun. It is crazy. Sweaters are contantly being put on and taken off. The only warm place around here is our bed . . . so good night.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hope in a Lunch Box (edited)

Well through a series of events I brought the kids to school today. Usually Christian brings the kids and I stay home to let in our house helper and give her instructions for the day (before you all start wondering way we can pay a maid here it is because it is expected, for one, for two, it costs us the same to have her clean, iron, and cook for what it would cost for 2 coffees and a cookie at Starbucks - honestly, I can't do it all with out help here.) Anyway . . . Christian stayed at home this morning and I took all the kids on the combi (public bus) to school. Taking the combi is interesting because the combi's job is to pick people up and drop them off but they don't like to stop for anyone. The bus is fast and crowded. When it was time to get off, two blocks from school, I was counting heads, back packs, and lunch boxes. It appeared that everyone and everything was in order as they rapidly exited the bus.

We crossed the street and started up the hill when I noticed that Gavin was missing his lunchbox. "Gavin, where's your lunchbox?" "I don't know. Maybe I dropped it.", he replied. Dropped it? You just dropped your lunch? Really now, how is that possible? Another student from the school passed us on the corner and said that there was a lonchera back across the street. So I sent the kids up the hill to school and went back for the lunch. Of course it was gone. Not to be found - some Peruvian experienced pumpkin pie for the first time today. I went to the school and ended up buying Gavin a nutritious meal of yogurt, chips, Gatorade, and clemintines from the corner store. The kids all went to class and so did I.

My teacher and I went to the police station in Yanahuara, to pick up my denuncia that states I was robbed and I need to get a new ID. All went very well and then we were off to converse over coffee. Christian stayed home because he wasn't feeling great but at noon met me and some friends for a quick lunch and then we were off to the second hand clothing market. It was in a part of town I had never been to before and very interesting - it was strange to rummage through all the American "throw away" clothes, some of which were VERY nice. We couldn't stay long because we needed to get back to the otherside of town to pick up the kids after school. So off we went. Everyone had a great day at school, we took the combi home and had lunch - In Peru they eat their big meal, lunch, between 2 and 4ish. We ate and got ready to leave because we needed to go out and find a new lonchera for Gavin.

That may seem like an easy thing to do but at this time during the school, no. If it were March you could find them on every street corner but this time of you you have to seek out the source and find out who sells the loncheras year round. We had to choices: San Camilo or Siglo XX. The San Camilo area I know pretty well now. It is not the best part of town but you can find EVERYTHING there. I had only been to Siglo XX once before but they have everything, too, so I picked to night as the night to learn. We found a taxi larger than a Tico and made our way out there. When you see the street Siglo XX you might not think there are very many stores, but there are hundreds! You enter one shop and it leads to another, which leads to another, and pretty soon you realize that the entire block is all shops. It can be intimidating and overwhelming at first but we now find it quite interesting.

The first isle we went up we found just about everything on our list. Then we were free to just wander around the shops. We were in the second block of stores when we found ourselves in the computer section - all used, referbished, and most of them probably stolen. Christian, half joking, said, "Keep your eyes out for our stolen computer." and then approached a random vendedor in his 5'x5' cubicle of a store to ask how much used laptops go for. As he was chatting he noticed a Dell Studio Laptop up on the shelf. We asked to see it and the guy wouldn't let us. He lied to us about the brand (said it was a Toshiba - it says Dell right on it) then he lied about the color and also that it wasn't his. Someone had dropped it off to be fixed. We told him we didn't want any trouble and if we could just verify that it WASN'T ours we would be on our way. He continued to refuse so Beth and I left to find the police. We prayed that if God wanted the Police involved that he would let us find one - there was one, only one that I could see for blocks. I explained to him the problem and he can back to the tienda with us. He made the vendedor show us the computer. It was blue, not silver like he said, and had other options that ours had.

Christian went to the tienda across the hall and paid them to use the internet and get our serial numbers for our Dell. (We happened to have them because our new computer broke and we had it serviced Friday. The service tech told us to get the numbers from Dell and if he ever ran across our stolen laptop he'd return it - before Friday we didn't have these numbers in our posession) - Christian printed the e-mail and it was a perfect match. It was OUR Dell. You have to understand that there were over 200 cubicle-like computer tiendas in this block and Christian "just happened" to talk to the guy that had our computer? It was a direct act of God - a miracle.

At this point the police man said the vendedor didn't want trouble and the police man is implying that we should pay the man for our computer to settle the matter. No, gracias. So we, all 10 of us, went to The police station Santa Marta. Here you pay for the taxi to take you and the police man to the station. After much talking amonst them selves (I really don't think the police knew exactly what to do) we went to a different police station, another taxi ride. Again, confusion, and we went back to station SM. Finally, after I realized I had told them the wrong date for the robbery of our house back in March, we all went to police station Y (where I had been in the morning) and finished the paper work there.

Long story a little shorter, the vendedor said he bought the computer from someone and can prove it so tomorrow we have to go to the Y police station again to show the special judge lady our paperwork. Once all of this was done, hours into the process the vendedor decided he would like to just give us the computer if we would drop the process. I f we drop the process the computer goes back to him there is no garantia he would return it. So we are going to continue with all of this in the morning. So we may get our computer back tomorrow. Vamos a ver!

Tonight was long and tiring for all of us (at one point the 5 kids, me, 3 police men, and 2 Peruvian friends were all in the same small SUV! Two police up front, 4 kids, me and a police in the backseat, and two adults and Gavin in the back hatch. I was balancing on one leg with my bottom off the seat to avoid sitting on the policeman's lap.) Lucky for us Dominos was having 2 for 1 pizza night. We didn't eat till 10:30p.m. The kids were exhausted, but it was good for them to expirience all of this first hand. So the appointment is for 9 a.m. We may get it back, we may not, but either way this has encouraged us greatly! God is reminding us of his power -and that bad can be used for good by him. So we went out insearch of a luch box and came home several hours later with a new lonchera and a lot of hope. Not hope for the computer but for all that God can and will do.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Birthday Fun

Hey, we just got a new camera today! So hopefully I will be faithful in posting new pictures, but I just remembered that we had pictures from Beth and Gavin's b-day that Scott and Meghan took.
Lining up for the pinata.Cake number one.Cake number two.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Daniel, anyone?

" . . . so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that you were destined for them. In fact when we were with you we kept telling you that you would be persecuted. And it turned out that way as you well know." I Thes. 3:3-4

This is one of the scriptures that Christian used when he lead homegroup tonight. He was sifting through the scriptures and ideas of why we are here. All of us, the gringos in our home church, have very different yet very similar reasons for being here in Peru. But it is really good to reflect and remind yourself every now-and-again.

My purse was stolen yesterday. It was the final blow for me in a very tough week. Things here can just be very frustrating. No one ever does what they say they will do, and if they do do it, it will get done a week later than you requested. Trafic laws are non-existant. Life here is organized chaos at times. So, when you spend your day running around making photocopies of your id card just to mail a small package to the States and then the mail clerk slathers on a small line of glue to the copy, sticks it on the envelope and then wants you to put it in the slot where your id paper is just going to fall off , you can get a bit frustrated. . . . or you pull up to the gas pump and ask for 60 soles of gasoline, you give him s/60, the reciept says s/60 but then you look at the pump before pulling away only to see s/50 of gas had been pumped . . . .or you leave the park early because the kids need to use the bathroom only to find you got on the bus going the wrong direction only to end up in a part of town you've never even seen on the map.
Finally yesterday I was going out to have coffe with my friend Meghan and baby Mark (he is 3 weeks old). We went to this little coffee shop a few blocks from my house and had chocolate cake and cappucino. It was just what I needed after a frustrating week. We had a great time talking and catching up (I haven't seen much of her in the last 3 weeks) The cafe is very small and you have to walk down stairs to get inside. We sat near the back and I was sitting facing the door so i could see everyone coming in. For some reason my purse was really bothering my neck so I hung it on the back of my chair and leaned against it. The only people who could see it were the waitstaff and I was checking on it every 5 to 10 minutes. We were getting ready to leave aftering having been at our table for well over and hour. I asked for the check and checked my purse. All was well. A group of ladies entered the cafe and were talking to the workers about the cakes and wanted to buy one. As we waited for our check one of the ladies approached the table to see baby Mark - his car seat was on the chair opposite mine. She began to ask questions about the baby and then was telling us that something was wrong with the baby's chin. I stood up to see Mark's head and then the lady suddenly had to leave with her friend. I sat down and the check came. I went to grab my purse and it was gone and so were those two ladies. The other ladies in the store actually bought a cake, while the other two entered the store simlpy to steal something. My wallet with my id card, my drivers license, my cell phone, and my house keys se fueron (left). The worst part was I can't be sure that our address was not on a receipt in my wallet and thus the robbers would have my house number and house keys. It took all last night and most of today to get our locks changed . . . again (they had just been changed in March after the break in) - the locks are welded to the door. Not something you can do your self w/o a welder.
All is now fixed and I have to go to the police station tomorrow to get a report made so I can send it in to get new id papers . . . the sad part is I am scared about what the police station will be like. I am sure it will be a long drawn out process that makes no sense and then I will have to pay what ever the guy at the counter tells me. I doubt there is a standard price sheet at the counter.
If you can not tell I am having a hard time loving neighbor and my enemy right now since they seem to be one-in-the-same.
I know that as followers of Christ we are to expect hardship but I have to be honest things are hard right now and it can get pretty discouraging. There have been a lot of good things lately but they quickly get blocked out by the hard and ugly part of life. Please pray for us that we will see the world around us the way God sees it. We are all either lost or found and we all need compassion, love and mercy in our lives. That IS why we are here. We have the opportunity to share the love of God with the people around us. To show them and tell them that God prefered to become a human and die than to live forever without them. What an amazing love story. A story for all man kind - even the ladies that used my concern for a baby to steal my stuff.
We knew a head of time that by following Christ there would be hardships, and but leaving all that we know to head out somewhere new and different the hardships would be even greater, but when you think about them the way the James describes them in James chapter 1: that we should count it all joy when we face trials because the bring about maturity so in the end we will be lacking in nothing! (My paraphrase and exclamation.) I do want to grow in my faith and learn perserevence and become mature, but I am no Daniel. Just like when we were robbed I pointed out that I am no Job - I honestly am scared to keep maturing because it means more trials. Daniel was 80 years old when he was ready for the trial of the lion's den. He had been through much prior to that event and had been proven faithful , , so I pray to be proven faithful, but I am not sure I ever want to be "ready" to pass throug the trial of the lion's den.
No matter what happens I KNOW that God is good and faithful - unfortunately at times what I know and what I feel are at odds with each other. So God, I pray for and undivided heart. A heart thet seeks only for your honor and glory. Help me to love those who persecute me/ steal me stuff.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The long walk home

We are thoroughly enjoying having our Kombi (VW bus) - it is great to have room for 5 kids and backpacks and lunch boxes. Trying to squish all that in to a taxi at 7:30 in the morning is NOT fun. Well, the kombi is off to the beauty shop tomorrow to get a new coat of red paint. We planned on painting her when we bought her - at the moment the Kombi is tan, silver, and blue - with the words "servicio escolar" scratched off the front and back. We have been pulled over 4 times now and got in our first car accident. Christian has gotten very good at talking with the police and has yet to be hauled off to the station house. (The accident wasn't bad, a taxi wanted to change lanes and drove into the side of our bus. The taxi was much worse off than our bus.)

Saturday we went on a hike with our Swiss friends Christian, Petra, and their son Jan. We took a taxi out to the middle of of no where, about a 20 minute drive. We found ourselves in a valley with the shrine to the Virgin of Chapi protruding out of the mountain side. Interesting and sad all at the same time. . . . 90% of all taxis in Arequipa have a photo card of this icon/doll in them or have her name plastered across the back of their car. We walk through fields and farm land along the river for close to two hours then made our way back to a street and then back to the city. Our friends took a bus back to our side of town and for some reason we felt like walking. We walked, all 7 of us, over 10 km in total, all the way back to the house. Dinner never tasted so good and bed was never such a welcome sight. It was a long but great afternoon.