Monday, March 28, 2011

A Make Shift Department Store

About two weeks ago, the Word Made Flesh ministry set up a mini-store in the ministry center in order to serve some of the girls that attend the weekly Bible study. These young women, who once lived on the streets, are now committed to sustaining a life apart from the streets. They all have young children and many of them are single mom's, or their partners work long hours. Their daily struggles to maintain a healthy lifestyle (physically, mentally, and spiritually) are played out in some of the most poverty stricken areas in Lima.

On this "Ripley" day (Ripley is the name of a very large department store in Lima) the girls paid a minimal amount (about 75 cents) for two large bags. They filled their bags with clothing and accessories that had been donated to the ministry for them and their kids.

Geoff served the young women by being "in charge" of their kids so that they could shop, eat, and fellowship without their children at their feet (he knows the blessing of shopping without kids). The first thing he said when he came home from work that day was, "Lily, I needed you today, to help me hold some babies." He explained how he spent the day caring for the little tots, often holding more than one chunky, adorable, baby at a time...It's a hard job, but somebody has to do it.

The "Ripley" event is just one way that Word Made Flesh is serving and reaching out to our friends.

Several of the girls waiting to enter the "store"

One of our volunteers helping a girl pick out clothes

Friday, March 18, 2011

Many Differences
There are many things that are gained when moving to a new culture. And there are many things that are given up. We now have access to items that were not available to us in the States, while many of the conveniences that we took for granted before, we are no longer able to obtain. Physical objects have not been the only changes to our context. We are also learning to adjust to different perspectives, ideas, and ways of doing things.

As I was thinking about what is different about Peru, I could not stop adding to the list. Below are a few pictures that illustrate, if only in part, the differences that confront us on a daily basis. These pictures cannot communicate all that we hear, smell, and feel that is foreign to our senses - like the constant noise produced from 9 million people sharing this city, the exhaust from the crowded streets, the smell of fish in the markets, and the lack of sun for 8 months out of the year. Nor can the photos fully convey all the benefits that our new environment affords us - like the smell of fresh bread while walking down the street, the beautiful summers here with lots of sun and not a day of rain, the convenience of corner stores, and, most of all, living out God's call for our lives.

Every bathroom here has a little trashcan next to the toilet for throwing used paper into. I guess the sewer system cannot handle paper. The trash picks up everyday here, so it goes out often.

My dryer (which is not a normal amenity here) and my stove are fueled by these gas tanks like the ones used for grills in the states. When they empty, I call the local gas guys and they deliver a full one to my house and take the empty one out. I do this about once a month or so. Sometimes I run out in the middle of cooking a meal...a minor inconvenience.

Every dust pan has a long handle so you don't have to bend over to sweep up. I think this is a great idea, and I guess it is because it is necessary to sweep here multiple times a day (due to all the soot in the air that is constantly settling on everything). This handle is saving our backs.

This is an electric switch on our bathroom wall where we turn on our water heater. We have one small water heater that services our bathrooms (all but one) and no hot water in the kitchen. We usually turn it on in the morning when we wake up and then turn it off after Geoff and I have showered. Then, we turn it on again in the evening if we are going bathe our kids, and then off again before we go to bed. This is a great energy saver. As Mr. Miyagi said in the Karate Kid (2010), "Flip a switch, save the world."

Here is just a few of the foods that are packaged differently here. From the left, parmesan cheese, drinkable yogurt, mayonnaise in a soft package (ketchup and mustard also come like this), milk in a box sold warm on the shelf, and brown eggs in a bag sold warm.

Lastly, Peru has AMAZING fresh fruit. This is only one example. You break it open and eat the insides (which resembles snot with crunchy seeds). It actually tastes good if you can get over the texture.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I have a friend who has an amazing blog which gave me this idea. We came up with some questions about Peru and interviewed each of our kids. Here are the results (unedited, except for our comments in parentheses) and a little glimpse into our lives.

Where do we live?

Chi: I don’t know

Lily: In Lima Peru

Eli: Peru, in God’s kingdom

Zeke: In Peru

Where do your grandparents live?

Chi: in Peru

Lily: In Illinois and St Louis and Champaign

Eli: In America

Zeke: I don’t know

Why did we move to Peru?

Chi: because we had to move back and forth

Zeke: to meet new friends

Eli: Because God called us here

Lily: Because we love God and we obey him

Why do we stay in Peru?

Chi: Just because, we like here

Zeke: Because we like it and its God’s plan

Eli: Because it is our mission that God told us to do

Lily: Because we have a commitment for three years...that’s what I heard you and daddy say

What do you like most about Peru, or where we live?

Chi: Granny dee dee’s house (which, ironically, is in the United States)

Lily: Our big house

Eli: The adventures

Zeke: I like playing Wii

What do you like least about Peru, or where we live?

Chi: There are no real train tracks here or big trains

Lily: I am away from all my family

Eli: I have no friends (ouch, this is enough to break our hearts)

Zeke: There is nothing bad about Peru

Do you speak Spanish or English?

Chi: What does that mean? I speak English and Spanish

Lily: English and Spanish

Eli: A little bit of Spanish and all of English

Zeke: Half Spanish and all English

What is your daddy’s work?

Chi: pushups

Lily: He ministers to kids on the streets

Eli: He helps the poor

Zeke: I don’t know, I have never seen his work (which is not true, he just doesn’t realize it)

What is your mommy’s work?

Chi: school

Lily: Dishes, laundry, and the list goes on and on

Eli: Teach us, mop, and sweep, and wash the dishes and take care of us

Zeke: Her work is teach the kids and cook

What makes your mom happy?

Chi: obeying

Lily: When we play together kindly

Eli: Us obeying her

Zeke: Love

What makes your dad happy?

Chi: obeying too

Lily: When I am mature

Eli: Us obeying him

Zeke: When he plays ball with me

What do you like to do in Peru?

Chi: Play trains with daddy

Zeke: I like to go to the movie theater and cony park and being with my mommy and daddy

Eli: Go to a bodega and get ice cream (small convenient stores)

Lily: Going on fun vacations.

Do you like to take taxis everywhere?

Chi: I like taxis and buses

Zeke: Yes, but sometimes I get motion sickness

Eli: I would rather have our own car

Lily: I don’t like being squished and I want my own window

Do you like Peruvian food?

Chi: Yes

Lily: I LOVE it

Eli: I like some Peruvian food (this really isn’t true, he likes one dish and it is very similar to chicken nuggets)

Zeke: NO

Do you like living in a big city?

Chi: Ya, I do. Is this a big city? This is a big city because it has a ocean.

Lily: The truth...not really. I like country

Eli: No, there is lots of noise and traffic, traffic, traffic

Zeke: Yes, because our house is a three story high building

Do you like going to work with dad?

Chi: Ya, so I can do pushups and be strong.

Lily: Yes, love it, because I get to hold babies.

Eli: I like going to the men’s Bible study because I get to be with dad, alone.

Zeke: Yes, I like being with friends

Do you like being homeschooled?

Chi: I like it because I like my mommy

Lily: It depends on the subject. I love writing, but I hate math. I have the best teacher in the world.

Eli: I love it because I get to learn.

Zeke: Yes, because I am very good at my letters.

Do you like answering these questions?

Chi: Ya, I do not, I do.

Lily: I love it

Eli: I can’t decide. I don’t hate them, but I don’t really love them.

Zeke: I like it.