November marks our last full month here in Peru. We arrived in March of 2009 so we have been here just about four years. Starting today and continuing through the next three Mondays, I’m going to highlight some events from each of the last four years. If you’ve been one of our faithful followers, this won’t be new information, but if you’ve just recently started following us, this should give you a good look into what we’ve been up to. I hope that regardless you enjoy these entries and that it helps you understand how our time in Peru has been. Leave feedback! If there’s something you want to know about life in Peru, let me know and I’ll answer your questions in the next few weeks.
~We arrived in Peru in March 2009. We were in Lima for just three days before we flew to the jungle city of Iquitos. We had literally no idea what we were getting into! We didn’t know where we were staying in Iquitos, where exactly Llanchama was, what the work was going to be, or even how to communicate with everyone we were going with. It was a stretching, learning, challenging experience. But, it helped us understand the work in Iquitos and it was a fast way of getting to know the culture! While in Iquitos that year, Brian helped build the boy’s dorm and bathroom at the boarding house; I helped with two separate Vacation Bible Schools (as much as possible with my lack of Spanish!).
~When we got back from Iquitos, I began work in the school. The school building was very disorganized and quite messy! The picture above is half of the mess I had to sort through. I got the school cleaned, arranged, and organized and began classes the end of the month (if I remember correctly!). Brian began doing maintenance and started getting used to how things worked here in Peru. He also began clearing the area for our house. We had to wait a few more weeks until work on the house actually began.
~By the end of May, we were moved into our home. It wasn’t completely finished – we had to sleep downstairs with plywood over the stairwell to keep out the breeze since the roof wasn’t done yet. We had no door on the bathroom and no furniture, but we were in! And it was ours! For the first few months, our only furniture was lent to us. I still remember how excited I was when doors were put on the bathrooms! Throughout the year, we accumulated our own furniture, put up curtains, and painted the bathrooms. We housed upwards of 10 guests that first year – I want to say closer to 15 really. Our house was used as a guest house starting the day after we moved in! We couldn’t have been more pleased. We love having guests and were so glad our house was used in this way during our time here.
~Brian went to Iquitos again in July for two full weeks. I stayed behind. To be honest, this was the first time in our marriage that we had been apart for more than a weekend. It was not easy, but we made it! During this trip, he helped build a few lodges for camps in Llanchama. Meanwhile in Lima, I dealt with rogue, giant spiders and celebrating our first 4th of July in South America.
~In August, we joined our co-workers and went to the foothills of the Andes for the annual missionary trip. Cajamarca was beautiful and surprisingly reminded us of the Black Hills of SD! We were excited to be able to say that in one year, we saw the Pacific Ocean, lived in the desert, and visited both the jungle and the Andes Mountains. Who can say that?! So cool. Also in August was our one and only visit from family: my dad came for a week! We were so happy to be able to show him around and let him see a little bit of the life we were settling into.
~We bought a motorcycle in 2009, too. We really needed our own transportation and couldn’t afford a car, so this was the next best thing! We loved having a motorcycle. It gave us a certain amount of mobility and freedom that we didn’t have before. Brian got really good at avoiding dogs, buses, and large trucks. 🙂 Definitely an adventure that I’m really glad we had.
~We spent a lot of time with this little treasure, Cielo. She is a little deaf girl that one of the Bible school girls takes care of. Her single mom does not want her, but also doesn’t want to sign papers to give her up for adoption. Karen, the IBYM student, took Cielo under her wing and began teaching her sign language to help her communicate. For those of you that know Cielo, she is now living permanently with Karen and attending Efata, the Christian deaf school, regularly. She’s doing really well, learning how to read and write and communicate in sign language. In 2009, we took care of her frequently! If we could’ve kept her, we definitely would have. But, God didn’t have that in His plans. Thankfully, she is doing just fine now. We are still so glad we got to know her, though.
~We closed out the year with our first Christmas away from family, in summertime no less! Honestly, I think our Heavenly Father was thinking of us that year: He made it rainy and chilly! For some reason, that really helped me feel more in the Christmas spirit. I kept the blinds closed and pretended it was snowing outside. 🙂
We thoroughly enjoyed our first year in Peru. There were definite trials – not gonna lie. Not knowing Spanish made the first few months difficult for us. The culture was a little hard to get used to, but thankfully our weeks at the Center for Intercultural Training had prepared us for that. It took awhile to get into the swing of things, both in the school and with maintenance. But, once we did, the rhythm of life was busy, but enjoyable. During our first year:
- helped build six buildings, including our house, between here and Iquitos.
- became head of maintenance – over a year earlier than we’d expected.
- grew more accustomed to how maintenance in Peru works.
- learned Spanish by leaps and bounds! Unfortunately, both of the men who helped him learn the most are from the jungle, so he’s got quite the jungle accent now! It’s pretty funny – Peruvians who don’t know Brian ask him what jungle city he’s from. ha!
- worked extensively with my then 2nd grader, Dana, to speak, read, and write English so she could do her work mostly by herself. This occupied my first few months in the school almost exclusively.
- got my then 7th grader, Jeremy, to read his first book. Not only was it his first book ever, it was also in English! He also learned how to do homework, study, and write papers. Lots of accomplishments in just one school year!
- realized the one curriculum was not working and did the research to change it up for 2010 (one of the best decisions I made here!).
- also learned Spanish. Kudos to my father for making me learn French back in 2001; it helped me learn Spanish so quickly just by listening and repeating. Lots of trial and error and laughing at myself, that’s for sure!
This is just the slightest of glimpses into our first year. I wish there was room to share every story, every memory we made that year! Tune in next week for our review of 2010.