Gracias.

Another Monday. I just can’t believe how fast time flies. So…. another thankful list:
  • The girl I pay to clean my house once a week. Such a God-send. How did I ever live without her?!
  • Really good music. I’m currently hooked on Thousand Foot Krutch’s CD “Welcome to the Masquerade.” Maybe that’s not “music” to some of you, but the musicality on that CD is phenomenal and I can’t get enough of it!
  • The fact that my husband knew what to do when he saw the cord on my computer going bad. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks we’ll get it fixed and I won’t have to worry about my computer shorting out!
  • Our new motorcycle
  • The fact that we got to drive ourselves to church yesterday on our new motorcycle.
  • New furniture that will be handmade and delivered this week!
  • Candy from America given to us by our guest this week. Sour gummy worms never tasted so good.
  • Cheap seasons of “Monk” purchased downtown Lima.
I have to admit I’m missing two things today: My piano and Frozen Vegetables. Six months with no piano (wow – almost seven now!) is really beginning to take its toll. I miss making music. And as much as I feel all “Susie Home maker” when I cook and freeze my own veggies, boy do I miss the convenience of frozen vegetables! Actually, frozen ANYTHING would be nice. You can buy frozen pizzas, but they come sauce-less (mayonnaise on pizza is just not the same as pizza sauce). You can buy frozen hamburgers, but the texture literally grosses me out. But, that’s pretty much it for the frozen food section. Americans are so spoiled. 😉
 
It’s supposed to be spring here in Peru. Where in the world is the sun, I ask you?!
 
moto2
This is my husband on our new moto. I just love the expression on his face. 🙂
moto4
Me on the moto. Sorry it’s blurry. I can make it move forward, but then Brian FREAKS out so I’m not allowed to go anywhere. Yet. My goal of 2010: Drive the motorcycle on my own. I know I can do it; it’s convincing my husband I won’t kill myself on it that’s the problem!
us
And this is the face of, “How is this picture going to show the motorycle?” It’s frustrating that Brian always, always, always looks better in pictures than I do. =P

Fall?

It’s fall back in in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s not fall here. Some days, it feels like we’re finally pulling out of winter, but on days like today, it feels like we’re heading back into the dead of winter. Spring is supposedly “just around the corner” but on days like today, I’m not so sure!
 
Anyway – in celebration of fall, I spent last week and this weekend baking and making chili, reading a good book in bed, drinking tea, and doing lots of “homey” things. I have figured out how to make cookies with no cookie sheet (they’re expensive and hard to come by) or “real” brown sugar (or white sugar… what to do when a recipe calls for both?!) and with flour that is “preparada” (like Bisquick… only I’m not sure what exactly is in there so I’m not sure what to reduce or not add to make up for it). I made banana muffins (Brian’s all-time favorite) that turned out wonderful. But, the chocolate cupcakes I made tasted like baking powder. I have no idea why. The cookies turned out fine, but not the best. And the chili – I’m so proud of this – was made with kidney beans that I had to hydrate myself. Again, buying beans in a can is an oddity and very, very expensive.
 
I miss fall; it’s not the same having the dreary weather when there’s green grass in abundance, fruit galore, and the lowest temperature is 60. But, on the plus side, long about the time the north starts complaining about STILL being below zero, we’ll be in the middle of summer!
 
I got this idea from a friend’s blog and I think I’m going to do it every Monday as well – Monday Mornings will now be a day to express Thankfulness. In Romans 1, Paul presents God’s case against humanity. In v. 21, one of his arguments is that men didn’t worship God as God, neither did they give Him thanks. I remember in Bible school learning about a whole tribe who didn’t even have a word for “thank you.” We are to give thanks to the Lord – for everything, regardless of the situation. I think I need to verbalize my thanks more often. So, here goes. Thankful Monday #1:
  • a dear husband who’s willing to take time out of his busy day to teach my boys in class their math and science.
  • a house to call my own that finally has one painted, finished bathroom!
  • friends in two hemispheres
  • my job.
  • banana muffins~ how they transcend cultures and give me a taste of home.
  • the foresight back in January of buying two pairs of glasses for our big move.
  • my mom.
  • a new friend who has scads of books I can borrow whenever I want~ making up for the piles of books sitting in my parent’s house that I may or may not ever see again.
What are you thankful for this Monday morning?
 

The Tower of Babel.

Supposedly, sometime this month, I’m to give a devotional in one of the girl’s dorms on a Wednesday night. The original date they gave me didn’t work for me, so I asked them to switch it and then I never heard back about the new date. So, we’ll see when/if I actually end up doing it.

I decided I was going to “bite the bullet” and do it in Spanish! My first “real” speaking time in Spanish. I wrote it out in Spanish (with much help of google translate) on my own and then gave it to a good friend who’s bilingual to fix it. When I got it back today, I read it through and was like, “Wow, not too bad.” Then, I compared it to the one I had written originally and hi-lighted all the places I messed up. sigh.

That’s when it hit me. I FINALLY understand the Tower of Babel!

See, the people at the tower built it to showcase their pride. God, in turn, confused their languages and they all scattered. Deep down, I always wondered – if you’re going to attack someone’s pride, why change their language? I understand now. Because to not be able to communicate, to not be able to express yourself, to not be able to make yourself understood – is incredibly humbling.

Just imagine if you were a highly skilled teacher. You have written books, wrote a 200-page thesis, teach multiple classes, and are asked to be the special speaker at every special event in the area. You move to another country. With a new language. All of a sudden, all the skill you had with words means NOTHING. You are no longer asked to help out. You can’t even participate in your own profession. You’re not even on the LIST of people asked to do special events. You are, essentially, worthless. Why? Because the language is different. Can you feel your pride crumbling?

That’s how it is here. I may have been a Sunday School teacher, Bible club leader, teacher trainer, and women’s teacher in the States, but here – I’m nothing. I’m so far down on the list, I’m not even included. Why? Because I don’t have the language.

So, guess what I’ll be doing every evening after I finish teaching in English?!

Inferma.

There are really only three things here in Peru that truly discourage me.

#3: Lack of Spanish. As much as not knowing the language completely is not a total detriment right here on campus, it does limit us in our other ministries. I’d like to be able to converse better so I could participate more.

#2: Not being able to talk with family. We use the internet to talk with family and for the past two months, the internet has just been horrible, so I haven’t spoken to my mother in two months, my sister since June, and my brother since the day before we left to come here in March. I miss my family. It’s hard on days when I just wanna pick up the phone and talk with my mom and I can’t. Email is nice, but it’s not the same.

#1: Being sick. I used to never get sick and when I did, it was just a cold. But, here… oh good grief. It seems like I’m sick like clock-work – every month and a half, I’m down with something new. The most recent was… yesterday. Woke up with a horrible stomachache and literally didn’t get out of bed all day. Awful. The time before that was in July and literally all I did was throw up for a day. Yup. Good times. And there’s no reason for all these illnesses! We’re careful with what eat, I’m not exposed to odd diseases, I don’t drink the water… it must be the air. The worst is that people here think I’m chronically ill. I’m not! I can promise them that! I used to never get sick! We were told in cultural training to be prepared to be sick frequently. But, when I mentioned that to someone who’s been here for a long time, she looked at like I was crazy and said, “Well, I never had that happen to me! Are you sure that’s true?” I wanted to say, “It affects everyone differently!!!!” But, I held my tongue. It just gets frustrating. To the point where I don’t even wanna tell anybody that I was sick this weekend.

Discouraging? Horribly. It was hard yesterday because all I wanted to do all day was cry and that just made me feel worse. At least I normally get sick on weekends so at least I’m not sick during school… but I’m also sick on my days “off.”

So, any helpful hints on how to get healthier? I’m not sure I can do this for the rest of our first term…. another year and a half. As much as I want to get pregnant, I was so glad I wasn’t pregnant AND sick yesterday. On the plus side… at least it helps me lose weight…

The Goodness of the Lord.

       I could see his frustration mounting. Each question he answered wrong resulted in another hard slash with his pencil across his scrap paper. The sighs and groans kept getting louder with each passing minute. He ran his hands through his long hair and pulled at the ends. The stress was mounting and I knew at any minute, he was going to crack. I asked if I could help and the answer was an emphatic, “I don’t get it. It’s no use.” I watched silently as he broke the lead of his pencil when he shoved it through his paper. He put his head down on his desk and I could tell by the stiffness of his back, he was trying hard not to cry.

                Finally, I asked him to work the stressful math problem on the whiteboard. He pulled himself slowly, grudgingly, from his chair and dragged himself across the floor. He wrote the problem in almost illegible, minuscule numbers and mumbled how he thought the answer should be.

                I went over to the board and helped walk him through the problem, making him think through each step as he did them. When the final, correct answer was produced, I could see the tears of frustration welling up in his eyes. As I tried to explain to him how he can do his work, he just needs to take his time, I could see his lip begin to quiver and his eyes fill with giant teardrops.

                I couldn’t take it anymore. I wrapped my arms around him and held him while he cried out his frustration. I could feel him relax and he just let me hold him until the tears subsided.

                In that moment, I flew back to my own childhood. I could see myself sitting at a small desk in my junior high classroom. Math never made sense to me. Even though I had one of the best math teachers known to man, I just could not grasp it. My mind had never worked things through logically. I remember sitting there, watching my classmates understand easily the concept of the day, and feeling the frustration of not comprehending mounting. Inevitably, I cried in math class. Every day. My poor math teacher. I never understood why I had endured those embarrassing, humiliating, frustrating moments.

                Until today. As I held him while he cried, I knew exactly how he felt. I also knew what not to say and what he would need to hear and do when it was all over. I gave him a break from math and then when math was done, instead of making him sit through two more classes with just me, I let him go home. Homework-less. And all I could think the whole time was how thankful I am for all those horrible days in math class where nothing made sense.

                Psalm 27:13 says, “Yet I am confident that I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.” I think I saw some of that goodness today. I certainly didn’t understand what was happening back when I was 12, but today – it all made so much sense. I can even say that I’m finally grateful for those horrible days in junior high because I can say with true confidence how much I understand what my little student is going through. I don’t have to fake it or pretend to care. In fact, I think I cared too much because I thought I was going to cry right along with him!

                I guess… I’m just so glad I’m here, as his teacher, during these crucial years. I have seen the goodness of the Lord while I am still in the land of the living!

Sixth Covenant.

My absolute favorite authors are Bodie and Brock Thoene. They’ve written the “Zion Chronicles”, the “Zion Covenant”, “Jerusalem Legacy”… and a whole slew of other series. Their most recent series is entitled the “A.D. Chronicles.” Their writing focuses on the Jews and their plight through history. Their writings are so historically accurate, they are used to teach some college level courses! They’re also recognized by the American Library Association and Zionist libraries around the world. You want accurate historical novels? These are it!

The “A.D. Chronicles” follow the life of Christ from the point of view of “lesser” characters in the Bible – like a shepherd at his birth, the blind man from birth that was healed, a healed leprous girl, etc. I love these books. They bring the history around the life of Christ alive. Events and circumstances and ways of life that the Bible doesn’t elaborate on are recorded in these books. Amazing. They also make you think about how things might have been, in a very real sense. On top of all that – they explain Hebrew Scripture in ways I never would’ve known. Makes me want to study Hebrew even more than I already do!

Here’s some quotes from the book “Sixth Covenant.” Jesus has just barely been born and here are some quotes I thought were really thought-provoking:

Mary Speaking: “So soft. Yosef, don’t you know? It’s why he was born. Why he chose to live with us. He’s here, like this, because you and I – everyone, I think – couldn’t imagine what he was really like.” … Joseph’s thoughts: “Blessed are you, O Adonai! How could we approach you as you were in heaven – The Eternal Light, God’s Son – so lofty and holy and beyond ourselves! Before this day our minds could not grasp you!” Mary’s explanation tumbled out. “I’ve thought about it a lot. The why of it all. I knew the minute I saw his sweet face, looked in his eyes. He came to earth the same way we all have come. He came so you and I can see him and hear his voice and, yes, love him. He came to live in our family so we can learn how a family is meant to live. So we can care for his needs for a while and love him as our own child and let him love us – mother and father, aunts, uncles, and cousins – his family, you know? And I think he will show us how to forgive one another too. He came to us like this so we can rock him gently in our arms and sing to him. And you will carry him on your shoulders and never, never be afraid of him again.”

Jesus has been brought to His first Shabbat (Sabbath) meeting, just days old. The day’s text was the story of Joseph revealing himself to his brothers and telling them how he was sent ahead to deliver them from the famine: Joseph of old had proclaimed his identity to his brother shepherds, telling them he was sent by Yahweh to deliver them. Now, here in Bethlehem, Yahweh had sent a fulfillment of that prophecy. Vayigash (“Draw near to me”) was the message of love, forgiveness, and deliverance to the shepherds of the Temple flocks and to a people yet unborn! Vayigash! Draw near to me, declare the Lord. I love you so much I lay aside my awesome power and open my arms to embrace you as the brother you rejected. The family rift between God and His beloved children, as foretold in Scripture, was about to be healed forever by the only Son of the Living God of Israel! … “Vayigash! Bring forth the One who is sent! Lift high the Lord! Vayigash! Draw near to the One who is sent to deliver his brothers! Reveal our Savior to his people! We have not come to him! Our Savior is sent to us from heaven!” … And the reading was a promise to all who worshipped the newborn King that morning: Vayigash! Draw near to me and do not delay! And you will be near to me – you, your sons, your grandchildren, your flock and your cattle, and all that is yours. And I will provide for you there. So you will not be destitute, you, your household, and all that is there.

6 Meses.

I have no idea how to do a link. I wish I did. You know, so I can just say go HERE and you click HERE and it takes you THERE. Well, since I don’t know how to do that, you’re going to have to do it the old fashioned way.

We’ve been here SIX MONTHS and I wrote about our experience on our ministry blog. On the right, click on “Brian and I’s Ministry Blog” and read our thoughts on our first six months overseas.

And if you’d like me to just make a link so you can click HERE and it takes you THERE…. tell me how.

Tall, Not Athletic.

Growing up, I was never considered athletic. In fact, I was the last chosen for teams and even then, I was chosen grudgingly. You know the voice, “And… I guess… if we have to… we’ll take Lisa.” Okay, technically, I wasn’t last, but I was pretty darn close. I know who was last and well… I wasn’t that bad. 🙂 Anyway – I was more the one who would rather stay at home with a good book or play piano three hours a day or go for a run completely by myself. I was not athletic. I was athletic enough to get hit in the head by a basketball and get a life-threatening concussion, if that’s any help in picturing me as a high schooler. And my biggest nightmare – getting screamed at because I’m bad at something. Normally, I don’t need to be told when I’m bad at something. I’m pretty aware of that fact on my own.

I have successfully moved to a competitive culture. So far, I have been able to avoid it. Until this week. Somehow, I got suckered into playing volleyball in, of all things, a competition. Oh save me. I warned most of my teammates that it’s been a good 8-10 years since I’ve even TOUCHED a volleyball. They assured me that was fine. Heh.

Today was literally one of the most miserable afternoons of my adult life. I know I’m not good; I don’t need reminders of that fact. But, being screamed at and told constantly everything I’m doing wrong just seemed like overkill. Ohhh humiliation galore. Normally, I can handle embarrassment. I mean, good grief, my entire life has been an embarrassment most of the time! But this… this was definitely worse than I’ve experienced in years. Probably about since the last time I played volleyball voluntarily. Whatever shred of confidence I had in my volleyball skills has been swiftly kicked out of me and I’m pretty sure it’s not going to return anytime soon. I think it was worse when things were said about me in Spanish that weren’t exactly, shall we say, loving, thinking that I couldn’t understand.

I could feel myself getting angry and lest my anger or my tears just all of a sudden explode, I managed to bow out of the last half of the last game. Hopefully, I left with some grace. But, considering I came home with a swollen arm (good grief, how hard do those balls have to be really???!!!), couldn’t move my fingers, and I was horribly humiliated… I’m pretty sure I won’t be playing tomorrow.

Ah, culture. It’s been a tough three weeks culture-wise. I’m not ready to leave, but I do need to buy more tissues…

September 2009
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