Living for Vacation.

It was a foggy morning in Lima. We had to go downtown to get E’s paperwork shortly after she was born. It took us awhile to find our parking spot and then we had to walk to the government office. I cradled my newborn, dressed warmly, covered in a blanket, up next to me as we walked. We had to cross a bridge over the busy highway, the noise of traffic drowning our voices out and making it impossible for us to talk as we crossed. In the middle of the bridge, I noticed a pile of blankets. But as we approached, I realized it wasn’t blankets – it was a woman with two small children beside her, sound asleep. They were wrapped in ponchos and asleep in spite of the constant traffic noise below. Maybe for them, the traffic was their white noise needed to put them to sleep? The woman, whom I assume was the mother, had her head bent, a large hat typical of Peruvian mountain folk atop her head, shielding her from the morning winter drizzle. Another smaller hat lay on the blanket in front of her – the typical sign of begging for a hand-out.

At first, I walked right past. The woman and children never even glanced up. But as I gazed at my warm, well-fed, beautiful newborn daughter in my arms, my heart broke in two. I could not imagine what that mom must be going through having to make her children sleep on a bridge in the cold while hoping someone – anyone – would take pity and throw them a couple of soles. My new mother’s heart couldn’t bear it. I turned around and handed her all the soles I was carrying. Our eyes met. I can still see her brown eyes looking at me when I think about it. And then… that was it. I hurried to catch up to my husband and when we returned from our appointment, they were gone.

This summer, my reading choices have really challenged my thinking. I started with One Thousand Gifts, which I’m still working on, to be honest. I moved to Killing Christians and now I’m halfway through No Longer a Slumdog. In the last book, he asks the question: “Is her life as valuable and precious as…” He’s talking about the beggar children of India – the ones in the lowest caste who have never bathed, never been loved, and know no other life than that of mere daily existence no matter the cost. Are their lives as precious and valuable as.. my daughter’s? my sons’? my husband’s?

He precedes this question by describing a scene similar to the one I just shared – a young beggar girl asking him for change and in that moment, he saw her as more than “just another beggar” and as a little girl the same age as his own daughter. It changed his view – and his way of life.

I have to say, that moment on the bridge changed me as well. I am so thankful for this moment and many, many others while living in Peru that opened my eyes to a life drastically different than my own.

Then on the other hand, Killing Christians is a book entirely devoted to modern-day martyrs for Christ. While these stories are not new to me, it did make me imagine what it would be like to be a mom – pregnant, nursing, leading around preschoolers, protecting teenagers – in a country where it’s illegal to be a Christian. How do you hide a hungry newborn? A tired toddler? A preschooler who doesn’t understand the need for quiet? How do you teach your little ones about Christ while simultaneously trying to keep them quiet in public about their faith? I mean think about it – my kids have been known to sing “Jesus Loves Me” at the top of their lungs in Walmart and they ask questions about God while out in public. How would you teach your children to be bold in their young faith yet wise in where they express it for fear of their lives? I can’t even comprehend that.

My husband and I have talked frequently this year about something a friend told us. We have this great friend who’s in his 90’s and still working and still giving to the Lord. He is full of wisdom and one of the things he has expressed to Brian frequently is, “Christians today live for their vacation. They work so hard all year long and for what? Vacation. They don’t take the time to enjoy their families and life in between their vacations – it’s like they work and scrimp and save for those couple of weeks. What’s the point?”

He’s so right. All I hear all the time from pretty much everyone I’m around is, “I can’t wait for vacation!… We’re saving for vacation…. Vacation is looking so good right now!… I can’t help you; we’ll be on vacation… I don’t do ministry in [pick a month] because we go on vacation…. We have to have our vacation time so we won’t be at church….”

I have to admit something to you: I have struggled all summer with the fact that we don’t get vacation this year. Nor did we get it last year. Or the year before. Or… hmm.. we’ve been married 10 years and we’ve never gone on “vacation” in the traditional sense. It has never bothered me. Until this year. For some reason, the constant talk from everyone about “vacation” has gotten me really down on the fact that we simply won’t get one in the foreseeable future. No Disney. No camping. No beach (my biggest disappointment). Not even a weekend away. Our ministries don’t allow for it, nor can we afford it. It’s made me horribly sad on more than one occasion this summer. I’ve even been frustrated at my husband for not “allowing” us to go on vacation, though I realize that it’s not him.. it’s our finances and what we do for a living that won’t “allow” it.

Then, I cracked open these books and my perspective has begun to change. There are families around the world who would give their left arm to live the life we get to live in the States. Families who literally cannot afford to feed their children so they sell them. Moms who don’t have enough milk to nurse their newborn so the choice is to either listen to the baby scream the scream of hunger constantly or sell the baby in hopes it will get a better life. Husbands and wives whose very lives are in danger every single day because of their faith. Who go to church at 1am and sing songs in a whisper to avoid getting beaten in the street.

And I’m complaining because I don’t get a vacation this summer? Who am I kidding? 

The sad reality is that most American Christians have no clue what life is like in other parts of the world. They literally live for their two-week summer vacation when they can “finally” spend time with their family, go on that dream trip, do whatever “vacation” means to them. Church on Sunday is in the way of “family time” and “vacation.” Ministry over the summer months? Why? It’s vacation time! No one’s going to come anyway, so why do we need to volunteer?

Seriously?

Yet we find ourselves wondering why the Christian faith is not being passed on and why teens and college kids quit coming to church and don’t make their faith their own. Why would they? Their parents have consistently modeled that “life” is more important than “church.” It saddens me when I hear the excuse, “We don’t want to commit because on weekends we sometimes like to just take off and go do something fun so we probably won’t be at church this summer.” Yeah. That hour and a half at church on Sunday really cuts into your down time, doesn’t it.

The church in the States needs a rude awakening that life is not all about us. Would we still even HAVE our faith if we had to live through a fraction of what people around the world have to every single day? Would we keep our faith even if meant being dirt poor and fearing for our lives? Somehow, I doubt it. Why do I say that? Because honestly, a faith that hasn’t been tested and a faith that is put on the backseat on a regular basis is not a lasting faith.

We need to quit “living for the vacation” and begin living for the Lord. Let our hearts be broken for the poor and needy. Let us remember our brothers and sisters who are fighting for their lives at this moment. Let us put Christ above absolutely everything else- including our comforts, finances, and summer vacations. Prioritize your life so that your children see that God comes first, even if it feels “inconvenient.” Give to the poor; sponsor a child; and teach your children to do the same. Go on a missions trip – take your family! Support a missionary, even if … no – especially if – it changes your finances because then you can experience what it means to sacrifice for the Lord – something those missionaries you’re supporting do daily.

Live for eternity, not the next vacation.

School

My life is all about school, baby, and husband. I know some people I work with don’t particularly get how I don’t have “another real ministry”. I’m coming to grips with the fact that some people will never consider what I do a ministry. I’m also working really hard on making sure that even if others don’t consider it a ministry that I always DO think of it as a ministry. I’m in the school more or less from 9-5 with just a little bit of time at home. Today is Wednesday so I have a little more time at home in the morning since I don’t teach preschool today. I came home earlier than planned because the baby decided to have a huge fit. Now she’s zonked out next to me so I’m taking advantage of it. I should be cleaning. But, I can do that later. I’d rather blog. So I am. 🙂

Back in like May, I took the kids on their first field trip of the year. We went to the ocean, about 20min away, to look for science stuff.

It was a blast! The kids loved the morning. I had made up a scavenger hunt list for them. They divided into teams to look for the stuff, which included “signs of life” and “things you can only see at the beach.” A couple ladies from Europe went riding by on horses and pointed out an entire pod of dolphins swimming by just past the breakers. That definitely made the trip worth it. Afterwards, the kids had a sand castle competition, played follow the leader, and then we went to the market to get ice cream. Our next trip will, hopefully, be to the local Papa John’s to see how they make pizza.

Our church in PA and a few other supporters sent some gifts to help us purchase desks, tables, and chairs for my school. What the kids had been using was awful. I mean, we made it work and it could’ve been worse, but they were by no means in good condition. My 9th grader had a desk that was covered in dog stickers that were peeling off. It was one of those old metal desks that squeak and squeal and clang every time you open a drawer. And for some reason, it looked perpetually dirty. I think it was all the rust. My 4th grader had a blue desk that was originally bought by the parents 2 years ago. However, it was really narrow and had a bar right down the middle so she had to pick a side to sit on. Just, awkward. My 11th grader had a desk that could have been good, but he put his feet on it and messed around with it and it broke. My two 1st graders had their choice: either 2 wobbly desks with horrible ridges and broken areas with 3 iddy biddy chairs whose nails that were sticking out caught on their hair, OR a long table that was a hand-me-down from the Bible school (one that wasn’t good enough to use there, so it was given to us) that had just as many ridges, was written all over, way too high for them, and broken in areas, along with a long, heavy, uncomfortable bench to sit on. And that was it! No other options.

Thanks to donations, I was able to purchase:

Nice desks for the big kids – 3 of the 4 drawers lock so they can leave stuff in the classroom.

And…

Two of these tables and a total of 4 of these chairs for my little girls.

SO MUCH BETTER! The kids were thrilled. The little ones have class in the afternoons but couldn’t wait to see the tables, so they came down hours early to check them out. They all wrote thank you notes yesterday and the reason the girls gave for liking their new chairs is because, “They’re comfortable, I can lean back, and I can put my arms on the sides.” And the reason they both gave for liking their new tables was, “They don’t move!” Wobbly desks are now a thing of the past!

Today, the girls had a special treat. There are two girls visiting from the States and one of them knows a little bit of ballet. They have been DREAMING about ballet for over a year, so we asked the visitor to teach them just a little. They had a whole hour this morning and will have another hour Friday morning. They were in H.E.A.V.E.N.!

I’m trying so hard to make school enjoyable and to give the kids opportunities they would have in a “normal” school. It may not be exactly the same and they probably won’t get quite as indepth “extra” studies, but at least they’ll get a sampling of stuff.

So far, a pretty good start to the year and we’re only in our 3rd month of school!

Bump!

Thursday evening, I came home from school, walked in the door, and heard these words from my well-meaning husband:

“Elena fell today.”

My heart sank.

We have pieced the story together and as best we know, here is what happened.

Elena is with her sitter, Eva, every afternoon from 2:30-5. Eva is an 18 year old girl from the jungle city of Iquitos, Peru. She’s a real sweetheart. She began cleaning my home last year and now she cleans when she has a chance and watches the baby the rest of the time. She’s wonderful. We trust her completely. She does what we ask and takes care of Elena how we have asked her to, which I greatly appreciate. [Just, FYI, all the students have work hours every afternoon and each of us missionary women pay half the monthly tuition of one student to clean our homes/watch our kids.] Here she is with baby Elena at my baby shower last October:

Every afternoon, Eva puts Elena down for her nap. They go upstairs and Eva rocks Elena in my rocking chair until Elena falls asleep and then she puts her in her crib. Here is said rocking chair:

Okay, so the focus in this picture is obviously her crib, but you can see the chair in the corner there. It was one of the big things I wanted before Elena was born. Every year, there is a big yard sale at a local Christian school for MK’s and last year, we bought pretty much all our baby supplies there, including this chair. It’s surprisingly comfortable and exactly what I wanted.

I have to admit, it has one flaw: the right arm lifts up a bit and you have to like hit it back down. No big deal, though.

heh.

Okay, so, Brian just *happened* to be home when he heard a HUGE *C*R*A*S*H*/BANG/THUD/C-R-A-C-K….. and then a SCREAM from my baby girl. He RAN upstairs and found Eva smooshed in the corner with her head against that wall, Elena being held up in the air, and the rocking chair on top of her.

Apparently–

Eva was rocking Elena and Elena fell asleep on Eva’s chest [we’re pretty sure Eva fell asleep, too, whether she knew it or not]. Eva said Elena jumped in her sleep and it startled Eva. She moved and thought she heard a crack. Thinking the back of the chair had broke, she shifted to her right, only to find that it was the side that was broken and of course, it just gave. The chair flipped to the right and since it was close to the wall, Eva got stuck against the wall. Somehow when she fell, the entire chair just crumbled. She fell hard, too, because pieces of the chair were everywhere and her glasses were across the room — crazy hard. Brian’s pretty sure Eva got knocked out, too, by how she was acting and how she couldn’t remember it all. Brian got Elena calmed down, but naturally, she just clung to him and wouldn’t go back to Eva. I checked on Eva that evening and she was okay. She was pretty shaken up and worried that I wouldn’t trust her with Elena ever again and her head hurt horribly bad. I’m pretty sure she has a concussion. I need to check on her again tomorrow (she was gone on ministry all weekend) and make sure she’s resting if she got a concussion. Poor thing.

Once I heard the story and saw the chair…

…I was just thankful they weren’t hurt worse. I’m not 100% sure how it happened, like why the chair just fell apart and how they fell so hard, but ultimately it doesn’t really matter. It could’ve happened to any of us; definitely not Eva’s fault. Just glad they’re both okay! She had to get her first bump somehow! At least the story’s interesting and not, “Mom let me fall off the changing table.” ya know?

Here’s her big, beautiful battle scar [which has since disappeared, although she has a little cut still]:

As you can tell, she’s fine. 🙂

Do Over? No?

Today has been a relatively quiet sick day. Yup, I’m sick. The cold that was being passed around my classroom finally landed in my system by the end of the week. Yesterday, it hit me full-on and today I woke up just plain miserable. My baby has a touch of it, but that hasn’t seemed to stop her from acting normal. I, however, have spent the day in bed, enjoying our much speedier internet, and catching up on reading and research online.

The one thing I really spent time researching was baby food. I found a great site on whole baby foods and making it yourself. Now, please trust me, I am by no means a “Susie Homemaker” (which is a phrase I think is utterly ridiculous, but everybody knows what I’m talking about so I use it.). I must make Elena’s baby food because here, I have no choice. They sell a few different cans of food, but it’s all filled with sugar and there is only apples, pears, and like chicken. That’s basically it. We don’t have the organic, sugarless, full-meal variety of baby food available in the States. Therefore, I must dig into my inner Susie and make all of Elena’s food.

It’s really not that hard. Steam the vegetables, puree, and freeze. Easy, right?

I thought so, too.

And then I researched today and found out what a horrible mother I really am.

I gave Elena raw apples and instant oatmeal, sips of Tampico (Peruvian version of Sunny D), and I never strain her food after I puree it. I’m not giving her a big variety of food yet and she’s almost 8mos old. She hasn’t tried a huge variety of fruit and I haven’t given her any seasonings whatsoever. I let her drink homemade apple juice and regular, watered down apple juice from a sippy cup.

I thought I was doing well, but apparently I’m doing it all wrong. Can I have a do over? Please?

At times like this, I have to remind myself that yes, she will live. She won’t remember these months. She will grow up normal. I definitely could have done worse.

It’s also times like this that I struggle with being here, so far from what I deem “normal” – a “normal” doctor I can call whenever I have a random question who gives me “normal” advice like, “One new food at a time, not everything all at once.” A “normal” grocery store where I can just buy canned baby food, baby juice, and a variety of baby cereals. A “normal” bookstore and library where I can buy or check out books on baby food and baby growing up. Being able to live a “normal” distance from my mother so I can ask her my questions and get her advice without having to plan phonecalls around the weather.

Sigh. Not in this life, I guess.

We have traded “normal” for a new kind of “normal.” I have therefore decided that my baby will be abnormal, through no fault of her own. [I just had to pause writing this to get slobbery fart-kisses from my baby… you know, where they put their mouth on your cheek and then blow to make fart noises. L.o.v.e. it.]

So, as much as I would love a do-over where I could “do it all right” with Elena, I can’t. As much as I’d like a different kind of “normal“, that won’t be happening anytime soon. I just gotta keep doing what I’m doing and let God handle the outcome. So far, my baby is a champ of an eater who has 2 very healthy teeth, sleeps through the night, is rarely sick, can sit on her own and pull herself to standing (with help), and who can almost crawl. I think we’re doing okay, even if it’s not perfect or… normal.

Oof.

We have been back in Peru two months now. Feels like an eternity! We have both felt numerous time that Satan does not want us here. He has been working his hardest against us and we’re feeling it. This week was just another one of those weeks.

Brian went to a friend’s house on Monday to help out and something he ate there made him horribly ill. WOW. He was sick for four days with a flu just a few weeks ago and so I think his immune system is down somewhat, which is probably why he got so sick this time around. By 9pm, he was sicker than a dog. I was up until 2am with him, researching online on what to do and keeping him company. We came horribly close to loading up Elena and going to a clinic, but shortly after we decided to go, his stomach cramps began to ease and we decided to wait it out. He was awfully sick Tuesday and even Wednesday, he still had stomach cramps. Then, Thursday morning, I woke up sick. ugh. Totally different symptoms, but still sick. And Brian managed to get a taste of THAT, too! Good grief! Today, I’m feeling miles better, but I think I got slightly dehydrated (I’m still nursing and I’m positive I didn’t watch my fluid intake well enough yesterday) and I haven’t eaten well since Wednesday, so I’m taking it easy today. Brian is finally feeling more like himself and so is getting slowly back to work.

That was just part of this week.

The other half has to do with one of my students. I have been a little concerned about one of my students for awhile now, but never really thought anything more of it than just that maybe she needed to study a little harder. But, just this week, some key things really fell into place. My husband had suggested that maybe she had a learning disability about a month ago, but I shrugged it off. A few other people told me they think she’s “slow.” I hated that label. HATED it. And totally did not believe it. I still don’t. But, this week, I was about at the end of my rope. I happened to be chatting with a friend online, back in the States, who is a teacher. I explained some of the situation to her and immediately she said, “She’s dyslexic.” At first, I didn’t believe her. It didn’t seem to fit. But, she encouraged me to do more research, so I did and…. yeah. She fits the profile.

So now I’m sitting here going, “Now what?”

I have promised her that I will be learning more on how to help her. I have promised her parents that we will work through this and figure it out.

I just have no idea how.

I’m researching, drawing advice from friends, and seeing if any of you out there in cyberworld have any ideas. Keep in mind, she is not bilingual, but is doing school in English. She is not yet speaking in English very much. It’s a totally new situation. I am just completely baffled.

Stuff like this, though, makes me think that THIS is why I’m here. The odds of her finding out she has dyslexia while in a public school are very slim. Her parents had never even heard of it. She has already been labeled as “dumb”, “lazy”, “slow”… and she’s none of that. She has horrible self-esteem and has been having a rough time making friends. If I can help her… change her future… give her confidence for now… that’d be… wonderful.

On another note – I’ve been teaching through the miracles of Jesus to my older kids. I think it’s having more of an impact on me than on them. I taught the miracle of the woman who had the issue of blood for 12 years and then just touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and was healed. She was in a crowd of people and yet was the only one who had the faith to believe that she merely had to touch Him and be healed. I acted out how she would’ve had to have been walking in order to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe while walking through a crowd. I tried to help them realize that she would’ve been an outcast – someone who wouldn’t have even been allowed to enter the temple these last 12 years because the bleeding would have made her unclean. She had spent her life’s savings on doctors and yet, had nothing to show for it. This was her last hope. She just wanted to touch Him. That’s it. And He healed her. Just one touch. Nicole C Mullen does a song called “One Touch” based on this miracle. Here’s the youtube video of her singing it at the Crystal Cathedral. I’m not promoting the Crystal Cathedral, but I am promoting this song!

And with that I leave you for now. Be blessed.

Por fin.

Por Fin = FINALLY! We have internet. There was just so many complications and little issues and the moving of giant, six story towers, and finally! Por fin!, we’re all connected up! And it seems to be faster than before which is a definite plus. I have missed blogging and most of all, I have missed being connected to friends and family via the all powerful Facebook. Now that we’re back online, I really hope to be able to blog a lot more often and get back into the swing of things here.

Getting back to Peru had its ups and downs at the beginning to be honest. Things started out a little rough and we really questioned whether we should stay or not. And then it extended to, well, let’s see how these next two years go and then go from there. And now, finally – por fin, we’re back to thinking we’ll be here for the long haul. I just pray we won’t have these issues each time we come back from furlough. Any of you had that experience? I think we needed a little more training on how to handle furloughs and returns to the field.

Now, we’re back into our regular schedules. My days go something like this:

  • Elena is up by 6:30 and Brian takes her downstairs until about 8. They play, nap, and then share a banana.
  • I’m ready for the day by 8 when I nurse my baby… something that I feel will be soon ending unfortunately.
  • School starts at 9. Or 9:10. I’m notoriously late. We start with a short devotional. Currently, I’m teaching my two older kids the miracles of  Jesus in chronological order.
  • I tutor my 4th grader until 11 when, on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays my preschooler shows up.
  • “Preschool” (or a Lisa-Variation thereof) is from 11-12:30 (sometimes earlier, sometimes later, depending on fussy baby pants…Elena, not the preschooler)
  • Lunch! Elena is currently eating carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, rice cereal, and banana…mmmm! And she nurses again. Man, I’m gonna miss those times together when she finally stops.
  • Back to school by 2. Elena is with her babysitter in the afternoons, normally napping and then playing while she cleans my house.
  • In the afternoons, I teach 2 first graders. Honestly, this is like the highlight of my school day. It’s a blast. I love the Sonlight curriculum, I love my girls, and the time flllies.
  • Home by 5. Dinner with Elena and another nursing session.
  • Make our dinner, normally with Elenabug following me around in her walker begging to be held or played with or laughed at or talked to or… or… or…
  • Dinner with Brian, dishes, and some chill time as a family while Elena takes one more nap (if we’re lucky, she konks out before we eat so we eat in peace and quiet).
  • Play with Elena (aka – keep the baby awake until bedtime) until around 8 when it’s pj’s, evening nursing time, and bedtime for our little ladybug.
  • Elena’s down by 8:30. Brian’s down by like 9. “Me-time” until 10 or so and then LIGHTS OUT.
Fridays, we switch it up a little. I take an hour every Friday morning to do either art, gym, or music with my 5 girls (1 of which I don’t teach during the week). Then in the afternoons, I don’t teach all afternoon; I take an hour with each 1st grader alone to kind of work one-on-one in their different areas because they’re both on different levels. And then I’m done. phew. Weekends are a welcome event. Although this one includes a baby shower and two birthday parties, so it won’t be too relaxing!
And such is life at the moment. Elena is my joy, my love. She eats like a trooper and cries when all her food is gone. She’s got a little bit of an attitude and her sin nature is becoming more and more apparent. And speaking of the little one, she has awakened and thinks it’s a good idea to hit my keyboard so I should get going… Shall return soon!

Back.

We’ve been back in Peru for about 3 weeks now. Elena is sound asleep on my lap and so I’m reaching around her in order to finally type an entry on this, poor neglected blog of mine! Let’s see if I can cover the last few months succinctly:

~~The three months in the States were so wonderful, yet went so quickly. I did most of the things I wanted to do, and yet, I somehow feel like I left a lot undone. I don’t know if it’ll always be this way when we go back on furlough, but this time for sure, I feel like I did not do many of the things I wanted to be sure to do. I know I didn’t spend enough time with friends. I know I didn’t buy some of the things I wanted to be sure to bring back with me (the cherished peanut butter is still in Walmart…I have no clue how that happened). I loved seeing everyone and introducing my daughter to everyone. I have to admit, I had a very hard time leaving my family. I didn’t let myself cry until the day we left and then I lost it. I thought I would make myself sick I cried so hard with my mom. Our flight was late leaving and I’m actually glad we had the extra two hours in the airport so I could kind of gather myself and finish my mourning even before getting on the plane. By the time we landed, I was pretty okay, although it took about a week to really feel “here.”

~~Since being back, I’ve had to do piles and piles of laundry. Today is the first day since we got back that I haven’t done laundry! We had washed everything and put it into  totes and suitcases. I thought it would all be okay, but when I pulled the stuff out, it all smelled just horrendous. I decided to just freshen everything up and it has taken forever. I finally feel like the house is *almost* back in order. With a baby who’s actually using her room and a storage room that’s doubling as a tool shed and needs to be converted to a guest room by April 7, we still have a ways to go.

~~School begins Monday the 28th and I actually feel totally relaxed about the start of school. I have a girl that has helped get the classroom cleaned and organized and wow, was she ever a huge help! Usually I get an afternoon of about 7 women who clean frantically and that works great, but this year, we took our time and she has helped with more than just the basic cleaning, so I feel like the school looks really good. She has ideas for painting our giant, blank wall and she’ll also be helping me arrange the desks and tables. I went through today and threw out tons and tons of JUNK that has been there for the past two years and we have never, ever used. So much of it will be sold at a yardsale at the end of May, the rest got thrown out. It’s like…liberating!

~~Elena has grown and changed so much these months. It really is amazing the difference between newborn and baby. She is all baby – the chubby legs, the toothless grin, the little bald patch on the back of her head, putting everything in her drooly mouth… it’s such a fun stage! She has two little bottom teeth with two top teeth well on their way. She rolls over, she likes to sit up (although she loses her balance quite easily), and like I said, absolutely everything goes straight to her mouth. We started her on baby cereal this week and she loooves it. She would eat everything, I think. If she’s near us while we’re drinking, she grabs the cup or water bottle and pulls it to her mouth and tries to drink out of it. If ever there was a baby ready for food, she is it. ~~

  • I would have to say I’m a little nervous about school this year. Elena has also reached the stage of being very needy, very clingy. She doesn’t like it when I leave the room or if she can’t see me or if she’s left with someone else (her daddy included). I went to a wedding by myself the other week and I found out when I got home that she had cried almost the entire time I had been gone (about 3 hours) – even with a full tummy, clean diaper, lots of sleep, and her daddy. I walked into the house and tears were done. Frustrates Brian to no end. I will be at the school from 9-5 (with 1-2 for lunch), Monday through Friday. Elena will be with me in the morning and then with a babysitter and Daddy in the afternoon. The only problems? 1 – She’s still nursing, so I will either have to find the time to pump or take breaks to nurse, probably both since she needs to eat once mid-morning and once mid-afternoon. 2 – She needs a nap in the middle of the morning and that will require us coming home so I can get her to lay down and take a nap, which these days takes a good hour and a half or more depending on her mood. 3 – She HATES when I leave…how in the world will she handle me being gone 3 hours a day? I anticipate the first few weeks of school being really difficult.
  • I’m also teaching six kids this year – count ’em – 6. 11th grade, 9th grade, 4th grade, two 1st graders, and a Kindergartener. We weren’t planning on doing kindergarten again this year, but she really needs something this year, so we’re starting her slowly this year. The 11th grader won’t be around every day, but he will be around more frequently than last year (so I understand). I’ll be working extensively with the 4th grader, and then actually teaching 1st grade and kindergarten (3 days a week, 2 hours a day).
  • We are doing a lot of hospitality this year. We did quite a bit in 2009, but last year, with the pregnancy, we didn’t do hardly any. This year, I’ll be back to helping the visitors, like briefing them when they arrive, helping with their schedules, and then housing quite a few. We house our first guests on April 7 for 5 days. The main guest this year will be a 16 year old girl for 5 weeks in June/July. That’s a long time! I hope she can stand us for that long! 🙂 Our goal this weekend: Buy a bedroom set for the spare room and a dining room table. Our goal for the next month: Install flooring on our downstairs! (it’s still just plywood)

Well, I hope that fills you in somewhat. Next time I write it should be more indepth and not read like a newsletter.

Missionary Stories.

I emailed my sister this weekend to tell her all about the past few days and she wrote back and said, “Well, now you have interesting missionary stories to tell!” Not quite how I thought she’d perceive what I told her, but I guess she’s right. Course, she was somewhat joking… these are by no means on the bar of Elisabeth Elliot missionary stories. However, they’re the Biegert Missionary Stories and probably about as good as they get. Here goes.

It all started last Monday. We woke up early Monday to the sound of a mototaxi (a motorcycle with a cart attached to the back used as a taxi) driving down the road behind our house – at 5:30. When it left, we started hearing howling. And barking. And whining. By 7, the howling was incredibly loud and right at our front door. Brian came running up the stairs to get the camera and said we had a giant dog, looking in our front window. We’re pretty sure Mr. Mystery Mototaxi Man left his dog behind Monday morning. She’s giant. Some mixed breed German Shepherd thing. Big enough to stand on her back feet and look easily through our front door’s window. BIG dog. It was raining, so she was muddy, wet, stinky, and, like every other dog down here, covered in fleas. Brian had pity and made his first mistake: he gave her leftovers.

Now, we seem to have acquired a dog.

Granted, this is by no means a dog we actually want.

I am a huuuuge dog lover. I grew up with dogs. I felt like no home was complete without a dog, so as soon as we bought our house, we got Gunther, my faithful Dachshund who passed away this year (moment of silence). I have no fear of dogs, although since moving to Peru I have a healthy respect for them. Here, they’re wild. They’re not pets, no matter if they’re kept inside sometimes or not – it’s just not the same. They’re not safe and they all carry some form of disease. Rabies is not uncommon down here (I was convinced THAT’S what I’d die from before we moved here). Dogs run in wild packs – like they’ve reverted back to their “old self” before man ever trained them to wear coats and beg for biscuits.

All that to say – under normal circumstances, she’d be sleeping at the foot of my bed by now. She’s beautiful, young, smart, and easily trainable (Brian got her sitting on command within a day). However. We don’t know her background, where she came from, how she was treated before she got here, or what diseases she’s carrying. She was obviously handled roughly and she has no clue how to “play nice.” She can’t possibly be more than a year old, so you have GIANT puppy with no control. Her way of greeting Brian and I is to jump all over us. If I wasn’t pregnant, I wouldn’t care other than the nuisance of dirty dog and the fact that she’s 80lbs (at least) and not gentle. But, I’m almost 9mo pregnant. Having a giant dog jump on me over and over in greeting is just not a good idea.

So, for the first few days she was here, I had to have someone walk me home and I couldn’t leave the house without Brian being here to distract her. She will literally run you down and jump all over you if she sees you. Brian has had an achy back for a few days now since she’s planted her man-sized paws in the middle of his back more than once. He finally found some thick rope and tied her up, away from the house. At first, everyone wanted to keep her. The night guard thought she’d make a great guard dog (which she would) and wanted to chain her up behind our house to guard our end of the property. My house cleaner thinks she’s adorable, although is scared to death to go near her. She IS trainable, but who here has the time to do so??

Then she started her jumping routine. On the night guard’s daughter. Not cool. Oh, did I mention she also bites? Yeah. Since we don’t know what she’s carrying, you really don’t want her to bite hard enough to break the skin… preferably not biting at all would be good. She’s just not safe.

Brian wants to put her in a car and take her to another district and let her go. Someone will take her in if a pastor over there doesn’t want a guard dog. Now that everyone knows she’s not this great idea, everybody wants to be rid of her, but naturally, no one wants to lend their car in order to do so! She won’t run away… strange dog… and she’s too smart to just walk her to town – she’ll come right back. So, she has to be put in a car and nobody wants to have their car be the one, but nobody wants her here.

Saturday night, I was on my way home from a banquet we held (which goes with Story #2 – yeah, this will be a long post). It was totally pitch black down by my house except for the one light on our door, as usual. I was almost home and I thought I heard something. I looked to my right and there’s this dog barreling full-force directly at me. It was so dark, I couldn’t make out if it was her or another dog and in the panic in my mind, all I could think was, “Rabid Dog!”, especially since I knew she was securely tied up. Or so I thought. Thankfully, it wasn’t a rabid dog. Unfortunately, it was jumping bean herself. I was holding things as well as watching my footing in the dark, then I had to protect myself from this giant, leaping, lunging, excited, 80lb puppy as she leapt towards my giant, pregnant belly. I managed to mostly catch her so my belly didn’t take all the brunt force. But, I had to twist and pull to hold her away from me, keep her from biting, prevent the jumping paws (with super long nails, by the way) from hitting my baby, all the while screaming for Brian to get downstairs and help me.

I didn’t think I was hurt, but within five minutes of being inside, I realized I couldn’t stop shaking, was incredibly tense, and was in so much pain I wasn’t sure I could move. However I moved to hold this dog away from me did not go over so well with the rest of my body. Brian got me upstairs and made me sit down. I took a hot, hot shower, he rubbed muscle rub all over me, I somehow got almost comfortable in bed… all of that took well over an hour. Just moving from the bed to the bathroom made me cry and took about 10min. I haven’t been in so much pain… ever. Lifting my left leg was nigh unto impossible.

I missed the rest of the ladies retreat on Sunday because I literally could barely get out of bed. Brian forced me to stay upstairs, in bed, resting all day. By evening, I made my first trip downstairs and by nighttime, I was able to move more normally. Today, I’m still sore. Stairs are my nemesis. My side is swollen from where a rib has moved or something. My back hurts. BUT, my baby is moving! However, Brian has sworn off much activity for me for the next few weeks and I’m not allowed to do hardly anything, which is driving me nuts. I did laundry today and got chewed out. He doesn’t normally get upset with me. I think he’s worried.

And the stupid dog is still here. After Brian’s reaction to her Saturday night, which was not pretty, we really thought she’d leave. But no. Idiot is tied back up and whining every time Brian walks by. Brian chewed me out as well when I expressed that I was worried about her being outside all alone Saturday night. The dog is now Brian’s enemy. Can we say, “Protective Daddy”?

That is Story #1.

Deep Breath.

Story #2.

This weekend was the annual ladies retreat here at camp. I was actually really looking forward to this year. I understand more Spanish, therefore I feel more sociable. I enjoy running the kiosco (concession stand). I was looking forward to being around women all weekend for once. I thought it would be fun! Then, of course, the dog thing happened and I only got to be around for Saturday. SO upset about this. Just figures.

Saturday, though, turned out to be pretty eventful in and of itself. First off, the ladies that come don’t come from exactly wealthy areas. They come from our church plants which are in some of the poorest areas around Lima. The majority don’t come from good home lives. Some are married, but most of the married ones don’t have good marriages – unsaved spouses, abusive or alcoholic spouses, etc. A whole chunk of them are not married, but have a bunch of children. Many aren’t real sure how to handle their children, so they just run wild. For pretty much all of them, a prerequesite for being able to come is that they can bring their children with them. So, we had about 30(?) women with a whole bunch of kids – never did see exactly how many kids there were.

We are always prepared for this and have a whole children’s program for Saturday and Sunday to keep them occupied. They eat all together so no kids are disturbing the mealtimes – the women can honestly feel as if they’re on a retreat, and yet know their kids are safe.

WELL, that’s at least the idea.

This year (I don’t know if it was the same in other years – I didn’t notice last year, to be honest), a bunch of kids just plain did not want to be in the classes. Did not matter that they played games and watched movies – they did not want to be in there and no one was going to make them. Their moms didn’t care. They let them run wild. We have a nice, child-friendly campus, but by no means is this campus child-safe! We have a lagoon that’s enough water in it for kids to drown if they fall in. We have a playground that’s really high with just enough areas that kids can fall off and get seriously hurt. You know, kid-friendly, not kid-safe. There’s a difference. But, the moms just honestly did not care that their little ones (and I’m talking 2-3yr olds) were running around literally unsupervised all over this big campus.

We were in our very first meeting with the special speaker, almost at the end, when the inevitable happened. Two little ones were playing on the balcony in front of the girls’ dorms. Then they decided to come downstairs. First one, then the other, fell. The little boy could not possibly be more than two years old; the little girl maybe three or so. The little boy fell with the little girl literally on top of him the entire way down – head over heels, hitting every single METAL step before landing on the concrete at the bottom.

The women all screamed and ran to the window. I actually did not see it happen, I was in an area where I couldn’t see out the window. And that is perfectly fine with me. I saw him afterwards and that was bad enough. It’s amazing how much blood can come from one little child.

Praise our Father in Heaven – he was okay. The cut that was pouring blood was near his eye, but he had missed his eye – just barely. The nurse that was here checked him out and said that was the only thing she could find wrong. However, she thought he needed stitches and should go to the doctor’s office in town to get checked out more thoroughly, just in case something else was wrong that wasn’t visible. Everybody here offered to drive the mom and boy up there (it’s literally 2min away by car) and help her from there as well.

She refused.

All she wanted was a band aid. Her reasoning? “He does this all the time! He’s always falling! He’s been hurt worse than this. He’ll be just fine.” A band aid and a lollipop to keep him awake – that’s all she wanted.

I thought I was going to be sick. I’ve had a serious head injury before and so I know a lot about them. One thing I learned is that whenever the head is damaged, you always get it checked out – especially if it’s a child. Their skull is not fully fused yet, so the brain has more opportunity to get damaged. And even if the damage doesn’t show up now, in ten years when that part of the brain is developing, it could show up then. Seriously – the doctors all told me when I was 14 to watch for concussion-like symptoms when I was in my mid-20’s because parts of your brain don’t finish developing until you’re an adult and they were worried I’d damaged parts that I wasn’t using yet. Imagine a little, little boy? OH the odds of having brain problems are just huge. Besides that, there’s internal injuries. He fell down an entire flight of metal stairs with a little girl who’s bigger than him on top of him. Internal bleeding can take awhile to show up; it’s not visible right away. The very least this mom could’ve done was take him to the doctor’s office just to be sure he really was okay.

But no. She did not care.

It just… I don’t know… it’s hard to explain how I felt. It was like – you want so badly to help these single moms who so desperately need assistance. But when you offer it, they refuse. It was free! It was no problem! It was important, even urgent! And she refused.

I’m still just baffled. How do you help someone who doesn’t want help?

It honestly reminded me of the Gospel. Here God is, holding out His hand to us saying, “Just take it! This is all you need! Salvation is free! It’s a gift! It’s urgent! It’s important! Just take it!” And yet, we refuse. We say it’s no big deal. We say we can handle it. We don’t really care enough about the future to want salvation now. We’ll seek it out when things get worse. But for now, we can handle it. Oh the patience of Almighty God to be holding out that gift for generations because He doesn’t want even one to perish.

If you think of it, you can pray for this little boy and his family. I don’t know the home situation. I don’t know if there’s a dad on the scene, or husband. I really am not even sure how many other siblings there are in the picture. I don’t know his name or the name of the mom – honestly, none of the missionaries did. But, if you could, just say a prayer for his health – that everything really is okay. Pray for his mom; she needs help… but I guess you have to be willing to take it when it’s offered or it won’t do you any good. Pray for our pastor’s wives. This situation is typical, especially in that particular church plant. This is the second year I’ve attended the ladies retreat and my respect for our pastor’s wives increases every year. Being a pastor’s wife is never easy, but somehow, here, it just seems that much harder.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SO these weren’t your typical missionary stories. They aren’t book-worthy and chances of lots of people reading them are pretty small. But, it’s our life none-the-less. At least we’re not bored. 🙂

Something… Anything…

I really feel like writing, but I’m not so sure I have much to say. Which probably means this will be really long. Here’s the random, nonsensical thinking of the day for this bleak, chilly Thursday…

~~~One of the kids I used to babysit is in the Marines now. I’m always surprised at how much stuff he can put on facebook considering he’s in the U.S. military. I thought most of that was supposed to be like confidential or something?

~~~I bought new yeast a few weeks ago in anticipation of running out of what I had. I used it last night for the first time. My pizza DID NOT rise. Pathetic. But, I don’t know if that means: the yeast is old, the yeast is no good, my water was too hot, my water wasn’t warm enough, it wasn’t warm enough in the house to rise, I used too much yeast (I had to measure it), or I used too little. I have no idea. I wanted to make like a nice, “real”, homemade meal (as in, NOT pizza or something fast – like an honest-to-goodness homemade meal) on Saturday, including this new roll recipe I found. But now I’m wondering if the rolls will rise or will I be wasting my time? Suggestions?

~~~Tomorrow is the last day of school before a 2-week long break. I don’t know who needs it more, me or the kids.

~~~I’m so ready to meet my baby girl. As much as I’m genuinely enjoying being pregnant these days, Brian and I just can’t keep from wishing it would just be over so we could hold her! I know it’ll come soon enough, but with this being our first, I’m excited.

~~~The study on “Ruth” that I’m going through with my friends is amazing. I’m so thankful for it. It’s just what I needed for this time in my life. Now if only I would buckle down and finish this week’s homework…

~~~Our car is still not done. I cry when I truly think about it. We bought it in April. Granted, it needed a lot of work and the mechanic is doing it at a great price, as long as he can take his time. But, seriously. Since April? And then we find out two weeks ago that he didn’t even know Brian was married, much less that I’m 7 1/2mos pregnant and we NEED the car. Brian’s heading down there today, we hope, to check on it and see how much longer. I hope not much longer. It’d be so nice to be able to go to church and to the store on our own time.

~~~A new phase of culture stress has set in. I’m looking forward to two weeks of no school and a week with just Brian, no schedule, for so many reasons I can’t even begin to count them. It’d be great to have the car so we could go do some baby furniture shopping, too, but I don’t know if that will happen. Regardless, for the first time in who knows how long, Brian and I will get some time to ourselves, with no schedule and no interruptions, before the baby arrives. I’m literally dreaming of that week. Between living with parents for almost two years and then living on a campus where Brian is at everyone’s beck and call 24/7, I’m ready for some time alone with him. A little mini-vacation to recharge and regroup and feel like I can finish out this year strong instead of barely alive.

~~~I translated from English to Spanish yesterday for a women’s brunch for the first time ever. I was intimidated and nervous, but had to keep reminding myself that I talk on a regular basis, in Spanish, with everyone in that room so they all know me and my Spanish-isms and understand me, so it should be okay. Was it, though? I have no idea.

~~~It is super cold today. This is one of those days where I just wanna wrap up in a blanket and my big fluffy robe and read all day, drinking hot chocolate. But alas. That will not happen. Maybe Saturday. We have actually had some sun lately and WOW does that feel amazing. Yesterday felt like spring. I heard from a friend, though, that this has been the coldest winter on record for Lima and she gave some crazy high number of people that have died just from the cold this year. And honestly, it really doesn’t get below 55! But, when there’s drizzly rain, no insulation, no heat, and some of the poor people don’t really have roofs or very sturdy houses – you can see how the cold would be a big issue.

~~~I’m counseling one of the girls that came down with the group about her future. I’m so excited that this trip has really impacted her heart like this. I remember being in her shoes almost 10 years ago. This was our prayer for the group – that at least one would have their life flipped upside down because of the trip. I don’t know where she’ll end up, but it’s exciting to see the possibilities.

~~~A girl from Germany is arriving on Sept 3 and will be here for 11 months. She’s going to be helping in the school as one of the things she’ll be doing. I’m praying this goes well. She’s going to kind of take over during my “maternity leave” and that makes me very relieved. I just hope we can work together. I have some work to do during break to revamp the school system and fit some of her activities in. Fun Fun!

I think that covers it. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my husband? I don’t know what I’d do without him these days.

Expectancy.

We haven’t been back to the States for a year and a half now. Honestly, that’s not that bad. We are scheduled for a furlough this coming December, coming back early March. Short, sweet, and to the point. That’s all we need. Anymore time and you have to readapt, find someone to take your place (which requires training them beforehand), find housing, find a vehicle, etc etc etc. So, three months gives us just enough time to visit family, friends, supporters, and churches, and be back before I start school again. Perfect.

In some ways, I’m not looking forward to going back. I rather enjoyed Christmas last year with just my husband. I like summer in Peru. I consider this home. My house is comfortable and cozy and mine. My baby will be acclimating to her new surroundings. This is home. And you all know I’m not a big fan of traveling.

But then… I’m starting to think and dream more about going back for a visit. There definitely are things I’m looking forward to. So, here’s my list of things I really am dreaming about for when we return for our short visit:

  • Obviously, #1 is introducing everyone to our baby girl!
  • Snow and cozy fireplaces
  • The scent of home. Smells are one of the biggest triggers of memory and I love how my mom’s house smells. She always has candles burning during Christmastime, plus she bakes like incessantly (especially when she knows the whole family will be home shortly). Then, there’s the wood smoke from their fireplace. My dad’s after shave. And just… the scent of home.
  • Panera Bread. God and I used to have coffee dates there on a monthly basis and I fully intend on having at least one when we’re home. Hopefully sans baby and husband – just me and God and my asiago cheese bagel with low-fat, sundried tomato basil cream cheese!
  • Subway. You’ll quickly notice a lot of the things I’m looking forward to are restaurants! Subway is one restaurant that Brian and I always agree on. I actually saw a Subway commercial on TV the other night and about DIED. Most of our channels come from Argentina or Mexico, but it made me wonder – could it be?? Is one coming to Peru?? One can only dream.
  • Red Robin. One of our Peruvian co-workers is coming to the States for awhile in December as well and we’ve already promised him a trip to Red Robin for REAL burgers and bottomless fries!
  • Two more restaurants and then I’m done — Old Country Buffet — because this is one of the few restaurants my mom, who has a strict diet, can eat at, so it’s always, always, always a family thing.
  • Last one – Sheetz. I know it’s not a restaurant. But, it’s my favorite convenience store and it’s just down the hill from our church. We stop there frequently on the way to… anywhere. Great coffee, food made to order – anything from vegetarian wraps to chili cheese fries – and just one of those places that reminds me of life before the mission field. Lunch Sunday afternoons, a quick stop on the way home from a friend’s house because I’m cold and want something warm to drink, even dates with Brian before we were married would end up at Sheetz for snacks and drinks.
  • Road tripping. No, I’m not a big fan of bus or plane travel, but car travel, with my husband? Love it. We love making road trips together. L-O-V-E IT. We have our route down pat from PA to SD, with our favorite places to stop and favorite places to see. I love stocking up the mP3 player with music and my wonderful books on Cd (that drive Brian nuts, but hey if I’m gonna do half the driving, I’m going to listen to what will keep me awake!). We stock the car with random snacks and drinks and pillows and blankets and then just cruise. Normally starting at 4am (which may change with the baby this time!). So fun. This trip back, we’ll be driving to VT, WI, and SD and everywhere in between.
  • Christmas with my family. There’s not much on this earth that compares to having Christmas with the family.
  • South Dakota with friends. Two new babies will have arrived by then and I can’t wait to meet them, plus my niece and nephew that we’ve never met. Plus spend time with some of our closest friends in their cozy coffee shop. And eat real steak.
  • Going to church Sunday mornings…. so cozy and homey and welcoming and just… wonderful.
  • Meeting my other niece for the first time (brother’s daughter) and getting cousin pictures done!

I could probably keep going. So, I guess the good outweighs the bad. With how fast the first half of this year has gone, I’m positive the last half will fly… especially with the baby coming in just TWO MONTHS. We’ll be picking up the crib the beginning of August and then we’ll start organizing the room, I’m sure. Hopefully the beginning of August we’ll get the dresser as well and then I can start washing and putting away clothes. One of my friends, who’s also pregnant and due soon, keeps talking about being sure she’s “sitting right” so the baby is in the right position. Oh goodness. I have enough to worry about without making sure I’m constantly in the right sitting position for my baby! She’ll come out however she wants and I’m not going to add THAT to everything else I need to think about! But anyway.

Two months til baby. Five months til the States. It’s going to FLY.

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