Bienvenidos a Curahuasi!

They got out of school, packed their bags, packed another four bags full of stuff for us, and traveled for many hours all the way to Curahuasi.  We love the Reid family!  The Reids are nearly always our gracious hosts when we go visiting in Oklahoma and our kids know them as “the ones with the cool pool,” “the place where we always have a great breakfast,” and “the people who have Rocket (their water-loving dog).”  Will has known Robert since their show choir days in high school and loves to claim that he introduced Robert to Amy, his lovely wife, who went to church with Will during med school.  They are faithful and generous supporters of our life here in Curahuasi and what an honor it was to share life with them for a few short days.

Benjamin, 13, and Chloe, 10, enjoyed Peruvian pan común, sort of a puffy pita, and our kids’ bunny rabbits probably best of all.  Amy took in all the views, Robert enjoyed the stars with Will, and everyone seemed to enjoy a little down time away from the pressures of running a business in Oklahoma, being a mom and PT, and going to school.  They got to do a million dishes after supper, hang and take down laundry on the lines, fill the water filter, eat what we eat, meet our friends, tour the hospital and school, and go to women’s prayer group.  I want to congratulate Robert, who had the most authentic experience by getting a stomach bug/ travelers’ sickness/ parasite/ something.

We got to do some traveling with the Reids after their Curahuasi experience.  We did the Sacred Valley ruins tour that we recently accomplished with my dad– Moray, Maras, Ollantaytambo, Pisac, and we added Machu Picchu.  Wow!  It was incredible.  We had gorgeous weather for traveling and we had much-appreciated good restaurant food and lovely lodging.  Machu Picchu and its surrounding mountains were surprising for the jungle growth and the development of the Peruvian tourism.  I was impressed by how well it seemed to be maintained.  It was a great first trip to the famous site with wonderful people.  Our kids really got along well and it was so fun to spend relaxed time together.

I have seen how meaningful it is to just go and be with someone in their daily lives.  It can be an enormous encouragement, whether around the corner or to a far corner of the world.  Thank you, thank you, Reids, for spending the time, money, energy, and sacrifice of comfort to come be with us.  We pray that God will bless you through it and for it in new ways over the next few months.

Please pray on Sundays

The Cathedral in Cuzco on a day we got caught in an ice storm totally unprepared.

The Cathedral in Cuzco on a day we got caught in an ice storm totally unprepared.

On Friday I ran into some fellow American missionaries in town. We were in agreement that it is much better to shop the weekend market on Friday or even Saturday than on Sunday, when the selection is better, but it is super crowded. One friend commented, “You know, it’s Sunday, and you’ve just been to church, and you’re tired…” We all grimaced and nodded.

I sat in church today and a wave of homesickness washed over me. Sundays are tough days for lots of church-going people. Ask any parent of young children, person who has lost a loved one, or someone who is new in town how it feels to go to church and you might be surprised just how difficult it is for them to make themselves do what they know is right.

For missionaries, who were usually involved in their church back home, we miss our friends, we miss feeling important, loved, and known. We miss eating with our friends or extended family after church. We miss the comfort of the familiar pews or seats, air conditioning, heating, carpet, even getting dressed up in “Sunday clothes” that no longer seems appropriate or convenient when we walk through the mud.

We miss the service, the way we’re used to doing it. We miss understanding the whole sermon. It takes a lot of effort to listen in a second language, especially if you’ve been on call at the hospital the night before. Man, oh man, we miss singing in our native language. Something I have heard many excellent second-and third-language speakers say that there is nothing like singing praises in your native tongue and that it never feels quite right any other way. An unusual amount of cultural differences can be observed and felt during a church service—the food, the interactions between people, the teaching, the way they sit down, stand up, clap, you name it. I think I feel most “different” or like a fish out of water on Sunday mornings.

We feel badly for our kids, who would much rather have “home church,” who don’t understand what is being said, who feel like “the gringos” too.

And we just attend church, a church with lots of foreigners. During our stay in Lima, we spent time with a family who is part of a pastoral team. Sunday means a long day of preparing for the worship, teaching Sunday school, time spent with new disciples, speaking Spanish, hosting them in their home. They have a thriving church and there is a lot of maintenance required. Our other friends haven’t found a place to serve in their church yet, even feel rejected and out of place although they moved there to help. Other friends in tough countries feel upset by the lack of attendees, longing to see their friends join in worship with them. Others are waiting for a more formal church to start, meeting to pray in their home with team members or one or two slow converts. Sundays for these friends mean waiting, hoping, asking the Father for help, and surely some homesickness for the churches they have known in the past.

So my plea is that you pick a group of people and pray for them on Sundays. You could pray for the underground church, new churches with few members, missionaries in foreign countries, people who are looking for a church, people who have just moved to your city, parents of young children, pastors’ families, people suffering a loss. I’m sure you can add to this list. We’ll pray too, where we are, thanking God for a group of believers and praying for Him to be magnified on Sundays wherever people meet.

Rethinking

One of my favorite things about our lives right now is the exposure we have to other ways of thinking.  We have Mennonite friends, friends from the deep South, friends from the Northwest, German friends, Paraguayan friends, Seventh Day Adventist friends, Peruvian friends, and Quechua friends.  Hearing about the values and preferences of these cultures makes me reconsider some of our own, and a few months of life here has brought its own set of revelations.  Please pray for me to have an open-minded respect for the way other people do things instead of automatically assuming my way is best.  Here are some new thoughts:

  • Having a dog is worth scooping its poop, especially when I see how much the kids love Inca.
  • Growing your own vegetables is surprisingly exhilarating.
  • Being a vegetarian quickly makes meat seem gross.
  • I should do more to honor the Lord’s day and make it different from the other days of the week.
  • A kiss on the cheek is a much more friendly feeling greeting than a handshake.
  • Perhaps it would be nice to have our big meal at lunch instead of dinner on the weekends.
  • Making your own bread is not a lost art– it is alive and well.
  • I should be more conscious of the value of a little bit of money.
  • It is kind-of fun to enjoy something you cannot get often instead of always having it available.  There were strawberries in the market today and I felt so luxuriously rich considering the possibilities of the bag of red gems in the fridge.
  • We should wear our clothes more times before washing them.
  • Shoes are for utility rather than beauty and the best shoes have good traction (well, I haven’t completely bought this one yet, but for daily life….).
  • Hot drinks are nice and feel so hospitable and sweets are acceptable any time.
  • Having lots of personal interactions while shopping is pleasant, albeit time-consuming.
  • Eggs definitely don’t belong in the fridge.
  • Butter doesn’t necessarily belong in the fridge either.
  • When in doubt, cook more potatoes.
  • Everyone needs some knitted woolen house shoes.  (I haven’t gotten mine yet, but they look wonderful and they even travel when you go visiting!)
  • Going somewhere?  Carry a colorful woven plastic bag.