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Friday, September 14, 2012

It's not right or's just different.

Pleasant surprises

We have officially been here a week and a half now! And really we have gotten pretty settled. Of course I (Michelle) have a list going of all we need to do to finish the "settling" process. Even so, the apartment is feeling more like a home now. And we are in a fabulous location! We can walk to two grocery stores in about five minutes! And we can find many things familiar to us from the states (though the US items are not as cheap as in the states!). However, the produce is essentially ALL organic and very flavorful and inexpensive. The produce likely had a one day trip from farm to market! (See pic below of Lee walking to the grocery store "La Canasta")

We also love our view from our apartment, too. (See pics above taken from our living room.) We have enjoyed the weather, too. It is usually about 72 for a high but feels warm in the sun. But then it cools off quickly to the low 40's at night. There is no central heat anywhere, but it does tend to warm up during the day and at night we are not nearly as cold as we expected to be. Of course, when the rainy season comes and it's wet cold, it might be different? But knowing it still close to 100 degrees in Dallas, we are NOT complaining!

And in our nice little neighborhood, there are nice little restaurants that are very good and inexpensive. So its nice to walk to dinner and not pay a fortune. I will try to take more pics of the places we go. Here is us at lunch today with another missionary couple. It was so yummy!

It's not right or wrong, its just different.

This was one thing I remember from a missions training I went through in college. As there are many odd cultural things that can make you crazy (Lee calls it 1000 pinpricks a day), and this little sentence helps you to not become angry at the new culture and to remember that people do things in all different ways, and it's okay and not "wrong." As they taught me, "It's not right or wrong, it's just different."

A new retail experience. There is a store here called Plasticos 2000 which for the most part is a great store! Most of items are plastic (as you might imagine) but tons of other kitchen items, too. I went there last week and again today to outfit the kitchen mostly. But at the end of my shopping, my finger tips were absolutely black with dirt! Lee posited that perhaps they put all the items onto a coal train and imported them directly! So we spent two hours after I returned home washing all our new purchases! Also, while at the store, it was funny because I wanted to buy a whole set of dishes, but they could not find a price on the plates so they would not sell them to me. Really? But I went back today, and they had found a price, so I bought them. Then I came home and washed all the black off of them.

No hot water. The first night we were in our apartment I tried to take a shower. No hot water! And the water was about 40 degrees. I thought for a minute that it might be better to not unpack anymore suitcases because this overseas thing was not going work for me. But then Lee called the missionaries that lived in this apartment before us, and they told us that you first turn on the cold water to a trickle, then turn on the hot water full blast, then the hot water should come on. Otherwise the hot doesn't work. But it still didn't work. But then they told us maybe the waterheater's propane tank was empty. What? So Lee took the propane tank off the stove (yes...the kitchen's gas stove is also powered by a tank that looks like the one on your grill) and took it onto the roof where the hot water heater is and Lee connected it! Hot water...yippee! (However the city does turn off the water from 11 pm to 4 am, so we can't even get a cold shower then, but that's fine. I want to be sleeping then! )

Buying a microwave. At first we had no way to cook working stove (gas can empty and not connected, and we were using it for hot showers) and no microwave. So a family picked us up for dinner and surprised us with a trip the electronics store...which also sells couches, mattresses, and motorcycles, incidentally. We took less than five minutes to choose a model we wanted to buy. That was the easy part. The we had to find a sales person. We did and they took the model number down to check to see if it was in stock. We waited, and waited, and waited. For about 30 minutes. Finally we became a bit more aggressive to find this employee. We laughed cause in the states if you come in to buy something and you say, "I am ready to buy this" the sales staff does not leave your side! Well apparently, they were NOT working on commission. Once we found the sales guy, we still waited longer. Amelia is getting really hungry and not so pleasant at this time.  Finally the dude emerged with a piece of paper. We took the piece of paper to the back of the store and stood in line at the "bank" to buy it. Another 15 minute wait. Then we thought...great we can go now! But no, they had to get the microwave and bring it to the front. And where did our dude go??? Ugh! Thankfully I found some smashed crackers at the bottom of my purse for Amelia. So we meet our microwave at the front of the store, but we can't take it home yet, because yet another dude has to sign it out. Seriously??? We already paid for it! But after another 5 minutes, the guy came and opened the box and pulled out every piece to show us it was indeed all in the box, signed the paper, and we were off!

If it's not right or wrong, but just different, why does it feel SO wrong! ;)

Prayer Requests

1. Pray for our language acquisition! And for new friends to practice our Spanish with.

2. Pray for us to meet those the Lord has for us to meet and minister to.

3. Pray for Lee as he has begun working in the dental clinic.

4. Pray for Amelia as she continues to adjust. She is doing well but sometimes has hard days and is quite obstinate.

Monday, September 10, 2012

And even if He doesn't...

It was midnight, and I was sitting on the edge of the tub under garish light in the bathroom of our room at the Lima airport hotel. We had traveled for over 12 hours, all the while knowing that our bags were not checked through to our final destination, Cuzco.  In Dallas, American Airlines had told us that they could not check them through because of a rule we had no way of knowing; our layover was too long by 1 hour. All attempts to find a solution in Dallas and Miami had failed and every indication pointed to paying out the nose to get our bags to Cuzco.

The previous 72 hours had included waves of nausea and worse afflictions, postponing our flights (with fees incurred), and more stress than we were able to cope with. On top of that, we were travelling with an 18 month old who cannot understand nor communicate her frustration except by screaming. To say the least, our hopes were deflated. I felt like life hung in the balance, and as Michelle and Amelia tried to sleep, I prayed for God to deliver us from yet another trial from which we could not possibly deliver ourselves.

In that moment I remembered three friends from long ago. They had been deported from their homeland by an invading army and separated from their families to be "educated" to serve their new masters. They had to learn a new culture, language, and customs in an environment hostile to all that they knew. I'm sure they wondered, as I did, "Where is our God that will deliver us from this?"
When forced to worship a foreign idol or be thrown into a fiery furnace, they responded, "We serve a God who will deliver us from death, but even if He doesn't, we will not worship these false gods."

I was reminded again that I do not serve God for what He will do for me. My prayers are not tokens dropped into a cosmic vending machine. He has already given me everything I need in sending His son, Jesus. At 1:00 am the TACA desk opened, and I walked over to discover our fate, preparing to rejoice in spite of the outcome, whispering to myself, "and even if He doesn't, He is still good and is worthy of worship."

Fifteen minutes later I left with tears in my eyes. The TACA desk had reassured me that we would not have to pay any further fees, despite the rules. There was no reason for them to allow it, beyond grace. And the three friends? Well, God met them in the fire and preserved them, not a hair was singed. I finally went to sleep resting in His grace and thanking Him for His gifts beyond grace.