Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I was recently pondering the "ins" and "outs" of our new life in Lima. In any major transition, there are losses and gains. Some staples become altogether absent. While foreign experiences become regular occurrences. As I considered our "ins" and "outs," I discovered that what has been added to our life through our move to Lima and, more specifically, through our involvement in Santa Rosa is worth far more than the conveniences that have been subtracted.

An Abundance of Dogs
Though we do not own a dog, our kids have adopted several (close to ten) strays in Santa Rosa. Our kids beg us to buy treats for "their" dogs and have even named them. My favorite dog is "Lost," a brown and black mutt whom they now call "Found."

Running Water
There is no running water in Santa Rosa. Water is purchased from a tanker that passes through honking its horn obnoxiously. The water is contained in large tanks that sit in front of each house. When water is needed for cooking or washing, it is carried, a bucket at a time, to wherever it is needed. (The blue bucket on the stool below is used to wash dishes.)

Lots of Sand
Lima is located in a desert, and when you get outside the city, the outlying towns are situated in undulating hills of sand. My kids are constantly covered in sand. We return from Santa Rosa with sand in our car, sand in our hair, sand in our shoes, as well as in other unmentionable places.

Flushing Toilets and Toilet Seats
With no running water, obviously there are no flushing toilets. The toilets, when there are toilets (in some places there are simply holes), are located outside the houses (outhouse style). Although the picture below shows a toilet seat, it was only put there temporarily to please the gringos (North Americans) who were visiting. They were immediately removed after their departure.

Spectacular Views
There are gorgeous views of the ocean, especially at sunset.

Light (natural and artificial)
Although I am told it is coming, one of the things that is currently "out" in Santa Rosa is electricity. We also forfeit the sun for over six months every year. The gray skies roll in in late May and dominate the sky, obscuring the sun, until mid-december. I had no pictures to illustrate the lack of electricity, but this picture depicts the sunless ambience of Lima during the winter.

Lot's of little friends
Our family has gotten a lot bigger since arriving in Lima. We now experience the joy of knowing over 30 kids who were previously not a part of our life. Their smiles, laughter, and energy fill our heart and challenge us to greater degrees of gratitude.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I am always a little taken back when I hear the comments made by first-time visitors to Santa Rosa. Remarks about the beautiful view and serene ambience seem naively Pollyanna as I look at the shacks that litter the hills and listen to stories of families struggling to survive. I have come to realize that it is a matter of perspective.

About a four months ago, I took a friend who was visiting from the States out to Santa Rosa. After participating in the ministry and walking around the pueblo, he summarized his evaluation of the situation with these words: "The people here are really blessed." I shot him a look and thought, Did he just say "blessed?" Maybe he meant "messed," as in messed up! Has he not seen the poverty, the dirty kids, the small shacks that provide minimal shelter, and the myriad of other signs that scream that this isn't the way things are supposed to be?

Before I could comment, he explained that there was a real since of joy and hope among the kids and women that he had not seen in a long time. The pursuit of happiness in the States, according to my friend, was an endless endeavor that filled neighborhoods with fractured families and meaningless lives. "Like a dog chasing his tail, we just keeping running ourselves ragged..."

While I don't agree that the impoverished conditions of Santa Rosa constitute a "blessing," it was interesting to consider his perspective. As inadequate as his appraisal was, it was helpful to be reminded that my friends from Santa Rosa are indeed rich in ways that I am poor. Many of my sisters in Christ have learned to hunger for and trust in Christ in a way that my life experiences make much more difficult.

An even more shocking example of the power of perspective occurred shortly after the visit from my friend. I was visiting one of my friends, and he was explaining how he had been struggling in his walk with Christ since moving to Santa Rosa from the province (the rural area outside of Lima). He informed me that people in the province were more devout, walking several miles each week (even in the rain) to attend church. When I asked him what he thought the difference was between people living in places like Santa Rosa and people living in the provinces, I was floored by his response. Looking me in the eyes, with a look of surprise that I needed an explanation, he exclaimed: "It is all this stuff!"

I nodded my head and pretended to understand his interpretation of the situation. But as his words washed over my mind throughout the course of the day, I began to feel slightly disoriented. Where I see abject poverty, he sees luxurious abundance. Where I see simplicity, he sees materialism. Where I see a need for more, he perceives a need for less (or at least maintenance versus the pursuit of more). Our perspectives could hardly be more different.

Each of these situations has been a helpful reminder of how limited my perspective is. Just when I believe that I am beginning to figure it all out (regardless of what it is), God humbles me through people who are looking at the same world from a completely different angle. The realization of how narrow my vision can be would be devastating had God not condescended to us in His Holy Scripture, revealing His infinite perspective. God's story, and more specifically, His Good News, allows me to understand this world and my life, imbuing it with purpose and meaning.

I thank God for the many people that He has placed in my life, all of them seeing the world from a different angle than me. I thank God for how he uses those people to humble me. I thank God most of all for His Word, His Spirit-breathed, life changing Word.