Christmas Images

The Best Christmas Present Ever

Daddys propping the little cousins up for a Christmas Eve Photo

“…sleep in heavenly peace…”

First Bible

Such a wonderful Christmas weekend. Can you tell?

Christmas always starts when family gets here – which was Thursday afternoon for us. My brother and his wife and daughter pulled in from Florida early Thursday afternoon. We were all just in awe of their baby girl. She was three weeks old last time my parents saw her; and now she’s 10 1/2 months old and the first time my sister and I have met her. She’s hilarious. She’s learned to wave and she thinks that’s just the best thing ever. She looks like a little “mini-me” of my brother. My mom had saved toys and clothes from when we were kids and she pulled them out for Charlotte and Elena – so special.

My sister and her husband arrived early Thursday evening and then the party began! Friday, I went to do some last minute shopping with my sister-in-law and then we spent the better portion of the afternoon trying to get a family photo. I’d post one here, but my dad’s the only one that took one, so that will have to wait.

Friday evening was the Christmas Eve service at church – one of my favorite parts of Christmas. My dad had me to do a “Kid’s Korner” where I got to share Luke 2 with the kids, in story form instead of teaching form. I have to admit, just telling a story and not teaching is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be! I also had very small children which made me quick rethink my whole presentation as I was doing it. All of a sudden, there was a lot more hand motions and “knocking on the inn’s door” and repetitions of words than I had planned on! But, it turned out nice, I thought. I had fun doing it anyway. Even though I think I accidentally scared them. I was trying to get the attention of a couple of them right at the time when the angels appeared and I said, “AN ANGEL IN THE SKY” a tad too loudly into the mic. Woops. Got their attention and no one cried, so I guess it wasn’t too loud…

Christmas morning was wonderful, with everyone here. The girls slept through part of it, but that’s okay. We had a nice meal, we played games, and watched movies – it was really special.

My brother and sister-in-law had wanted to go to NYC on Sunday, but with the blizzard that plowed through, shutting down the city, that just wasn’t going to happen – not to mention that they had tires with no tread on them, which wouldn’t have lasted two minutes on the roads out here. They ended up leaving here yesterday afternoon after putting on two new all-season tires in order to just get off our road to the interstate! We got about 6″ of snow, but with the 40mph wind, the drifts were a couple feet and the roads were slick. Well, at least my southern sister-in-law saw her first blizzard!

Now, the big question of the week is – do we go to a party (or 3) New Year’s Eve…. or stay home and continue our tradition (that we had in the States) of movies and junk food? Hmm… believe it or not, this is a tougher decision than it sounds. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Happy New Year!

Back in the U.S.

1st night out in the cold

Well, we’ve been back in the States for a week now. All that anticipation and we’re finally here! Our flight was LONG, but went really well. Elena had a bassinet (which is called a “moises” in Spanish, which I thought was cool!) and slept almost the whole night. I don’t think it was a sound sleep, though, because she slept most of Friday as well. When we landed, it was COLD. We could not get over how COLD the morning was in New York! Brian wore a shortsleeve shirt (who knows WHY) and his sweatshirt was packed in his big suitcase, so he actually ran outside a few times in just the t-shirt. I had a sweater, but thankfully, we had packed a snowsuit, hat, and mittens for Elena. She looked just like she does in the picture above – like a snow bunny, unable to move her arms and legs, just like the kid on “Christmas Story.” So funny! Poor kid is still in shock every time we step outside. She doesn’t cry, she just whines and groans until we get her out of the wind.

Since arriving a week ago, we’ve attended a “Living Christmas Village” at our church, gone to church itself Sunday morning, been to dinner with friends, gone shopping for new clothes, and had brunch with friends. Tomorrow is a charity auction we might attend at church. Sunday evening is caroling, but we’re not sure how that would work with Elena and getting in and out of the car, so we might not go. Tuesday and Wednesday we’re speaking in small groups. The 19th is a special welcome home party for us in the evening at church. The 23rd, my siblings and my niece arrive!! The 24th is the Christmas Eve service (one of my favorite things to do). Then we begin our trek out west. Sometime in there, we want to go to Lancaster to visit friends and our headquarters. Plus, we need to get Elena her shots! What a pain that is turning out to be. She reallly needs them, though, so I hope we can figure all that out soon. We also need to get Christmas pictures taken, Christmas cards mailed out, and do actual Christmas shopping and baking. Good grief. This month is way too short.

It’s nice being back. I keep wanting to write “home”, but it’s not really “home” anymore. I thought we’d have more reverse culture shock than we’re having. Let’s see if I can just list the differences we’ve noticed so far:

  • Traffic is QUIET. No honking, no exorbitant amounts of exhaust pouring out of the vehicles, hardly any buses or taxis.
  • Traffic actually obeys traffic laws. You know, like stopping at stop signs and staying in their own lanes.
  • Stores are quiet. No loud music, no loud talking, no one trying to get you to sample or buy anything.
  • There are like no people outside! No one is out walking around, no one is out offering to wash your car or sell you things or guard your car, no one darting across the busy street.
  • Let me see if I can explain this one – in Peru, when you’re talking with someone and someone else comes up to say something to you, the first person will wait until you’re done with the second person, and then you pick up where you left off. Every conversation gets finished and you don’t normally have more than one person talking to you at a time (unless you’re trying to buy something). Here, you can be having one conversation with someone, get interrupted by someone else, and never come back to the original conversation so you feel like everything is just left open-ended, never finished. You also can have like 5 different people talking to you at once and seriously never finish one of those conversations. It’s tiring. And a little frustrating.
  • Salad is edible straight from the bag. 🙂
  • SO MANY CHOICES when you go to the store! Good grief, how many different ways can the EXACT SAME PRODUCT come in?? Different size, different container, different shape, different color – same stupid cracker.
  • Pump your own gas.
  • Washing clothes, and drying them, takes about an hour and a half. Total. Instead of 2hrs of wash and 3days of drying!
  • Hot water in the sink and water pressure in the shower.
  • Being able to drink water from the sink.
  • COLD fridge!
  • Inflation is a real pain.
  • Being told, “Your baby must be SO hot! Take some of those layers off!” instead of “Your baby is going to get sick! Cover it up!” Funny that the first conversation happens when it’s 20degrees out and the second when it’s 80degrees out!
  • Accents so strong Brian and I literally debated on whether the people were actually speaking English or not.
  • Bagels. Real bagels. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm bagels.
  • Dogs as house pets – and they’re sweet and obedient and CLEAN and fat!
  • Commercials for cat food! (nobody keeps cats as pets in Peru)
  • Having to be on time. Or early. We’re not so good at that.
  • Warm houses – believe it or not, we’re actually too warm in most houses since we’ve gotten used to our house being so cold all the time.
  • Rude people. Strangers can be so mean.
  • Stores and houses right next to the road – in Peru, they’re quite a ways away set back from the road, in some cases with a separate side road in front of them.
  • Perfectly quiet nighttimes. No dogs, no horns, no music, no trucks, no one pounding on our door at midnight or 6am, no hearing other people’s conversations or kids crying next door. So. Quiet.
  • Frozen, packaged food. Yay for frozen pirogies! 🙂
  • $1 for king sized candy bars

I should stop. As you can see, things are different, but not like overly culturally abusive to our senses. Yet. Having conversations are the hardest. It just seems like you never finish anything! You get interrupted or the topic gets changed or something happens…. And it is true what we were told – people either don’t know what to ask, don’t really understand, or maybe even don’t truly care – because you rarely get to talk about your time overseas. Brian gets the “How’s the weather down there?” questions and all anyone really wants to talk to me about is what the baby is currently doing. We have yet to be asked to show pictures, talk about our time, or get to kind of debrief about anything. Good thing we have each other or this could be a real pain. Granted, a lot of pictures and updates are on facebook so people legitimately think they’ve heard/seen it all. Oh well.

Over all, though, things are going just fine. We’re glad to be back. We’re looking forward to Christmas and traveling out west! And to be honest, we’re looking forward to going back home, too.

December 2010
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