6 Years?!


How, how, HOW can it be possible that she is 6?! I go through this every year, and yet somehow, I feel like 6 is a real milestone. I don’t know why.

This little one arrived with a bang and has been surprise after struggle after surprise ever since. She is strong-willed (as evidenced by her delivery – she refuses to conform to the ‘normal’ way of doing anything… from her own birth to how she wears her socks…), independent, yet strangely dependent, friendly, and imaginative. She is super creative and artistic with a beautiful singing voice. She can be extremely obedient, helpful, and caring when she wants to be. 😉

Watching her grow in school has been spectacular. Now, I get to teach her in church, too, since she’s in 1st grade. Just yesterday I watched her join in with all the other kids playing gaga ball and I just couldn’t believe she was big enough to be in the fray with everyone else. She is smart, inquisitive, and just pure lovely inside and out.

I think my heart’s desire for E is that she does not grow bitter towards us being in ministry. Her love language is quality time and sometimes it’s very difficult to give it to her in the quantity that she so desperately needs. This year will be all about my own priorities as I learn to respect her need of, well, me. My other desire is to see her heart shaped to be more like her Savior – to let Him more fully control her attitude and her will. She has great potential; I hope she lets herself be directed well.

I love this girl with everything in me. I’m so glad she’s ours. Happy birthday, baby girl.



7 Years Ago…

Brian has this cool feature on his Facebook that tells you what happened on this day, however many years ago. This morning, he said, “Seven years ago today was our fire!” And we laughed and laughed… and so I thought I’d share this fun memory with you all!

When we first moved to Peru, we lived in what was the guest house (until our home was built a couple months later). It was this comfortable little apartment that was furnished and looked like this:



Cute, right? We loved it!

We began to notice, though, that when the fridge would run, it would clunk. Then eventually the lights would also dim when the fridge would clunk on. And it got progressively louder, until one evening – thankfully, while we were home! – it clunked on and basically exploded. We were sitting on the couch and when we looked over, there were flames shooting out from behind it!

Being the level-headed person that I am, I panicked. I had no idea what to do. Brian very smoothly yanked the cord out of the wall and moved the items that were flammable away from it. It was out pretty much out as quickly as it started.

Then, he fixed the cord and plugged it back in! Good as new. 🙂

Janelle (who is so much bigger now!) holding the burnt cord. You can see the damage to the wall. 

Okay, so looking back on this, it was definitely more exciting to us while it was happening than it is now retelling it. But still – we had a good laugh remembering it this morning and thought you’d enjoy this story, too!

Closing Out

Last week was our last full week here in Peru. We fly out this Thursday morning at 1, which means we will leave our house and the camp here around 7pm Wednesday. Only three days here. How is that possible?

We had a very full week last week. It made the time f-l-y by! Brian was asked to build some cabinet doors and shelves for one of our friends – something they have wanted for years but have never been able to accomplish. Brian did an amazing job (I do believe they look better than mine….). He also worked on a water pump pretty much every day last week. The pool is being built, but they have to continually pump water out of the area they’re building (we live right on the water level) so there is a small, old water pump running almost constantly here, which means it also breaks down frequently. Brian has worked on the motor and the carborator and I don’t know what else pretty much every day since they started the pool over a week ago. When Brian wasn’t doing those two things, he was sorting and organizing and packing here at the house. We spent Saturday trying to go through the downstairs and we actually finished everything but the dishes and pots and pans we’re still using. Phew!

While Brian was out doing that stuff, I was busy finishing up school. Brian helped me extensively with that, too! Tuesday, we took the kids (finally) to the museum.

Janelle, Diana, Dana, Adriana, and Jeremy - with my little Elena tucked in there, too, of course.
Janelle, Diana, Dana, Adriana, and Jeremy – with my little Elena tucked in there, too, of course.

The museum was amazing. I haven’t been to a museum in years and I have never been to one with artificats this old (except for a small one we went to in Cajamarca in 2009). I really enjoyed it, though I was chasing around Elena literally the entire time. Toddlers + museums = horrible combination! We were able to get a guide. It was funny – he started off in English, but ended up switching to Spanish since his English was so bad it was hard for even ME to understand, much less my students! Once he started Spanish, he did a great job making it entertaining for the students. We saw lots of Incan artificats, mummies, paintings, artwork, and a whole floor was on the terrorism that happened here back about 20 years ago.

Gold Incan jewelry
Gold Incan jewelry
Wrappings used on mummies
Wrappings used on mummies

After the museum, we took the kids to Pizza Hut. Everyone, including the adults, were able to get their own pizza (even some of us adults got pasta) and drink. Pizza Hut is a rare treat for everyone, including ourselves, so it was really fun. And to finish off the trip, ice cream!

DSC01166The absolute best part of this trip, in my book, was the fact that the kids earned the entire thing by their bake sale. Neither the parents nor ourselves had to shell out a sol – it even covered gas for the two vehicles. 🙂

Thursday afternoon, I finished classes. We had a run-through of our program that we put on Friday. Friday morning, my students cleaned the classroom really well while Brian and I went and did last minute errands for the program. Then, I had my official freak-out moments right before the program began. In the end, the program went off super well! My kids each “taught” the audience something they learned this year. Four of the five taught something having to do with science! My love of history has apparently not been passed on… After they “taught”, I asked the audience questions and they had a chance to win a prize by answering correctly. My students earned prizes by having their questions answered correctly. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it and my kids did a great job. They also did specials on their recorders and the girls did a choreography and sang a song in English.



The kids each got certificates for their hard work this year. Then, they all surprised me with this:

God bless you; we love you!
God bless you; we love you!

And then, they each shared something they had written for me. They had their little speeches laminated so I could even keep them. I’d repeat them here for you, but they made me cry so I’d rather not repeat them just yet. Trust me, they were super sweet and undeserved. I love these kids. I’m so glad I had the privilege of teaching them these past four years.

Saturday, we worked on packing and got lots done. Unfortunately, Elena is finally feeling the upheaval and is not handling it very well. She’s getting very clingy, which we expected, and is moodier than usual. Pray for her. She’s little, but change is still not easy.

Sunday was our last Sunday at our church here, Vida Nueva (new life). Our pastor surprised us by announcing that it was our last Sunday and explaining a little about what we did here and where we might be going next. He even took the time to pray for us. We had so many people come up to say goodbye afterwards and say they would be praying – people we didn’t even really know! It meant a lot! We got a picture of Elena with her nursery workers whom she loved greatly. They were so generous and gave her a cute little purse as a souvenir of her time in nursery.

Today, we will be having lunch with three of our good friends here. And then it’s the finishing touches on packing.

Continue to keep us in your prayers this week. We have a lot left to do. We need to say some pretty emotional goodbyes. We have an almost 24hr trip to make with two very small children (one who doesn’t sit still for more than 20min at a time if we’re lucky). phew. I’m tired just thinking about all that’s left… I’ll let you know next week how everything goes this week!

Myself with my students, ther moms, and the 3 IBYM girls who helped me this year.
Myself with my students, ther moms, and the 3 IBYM girls who helped me this year.


Our Time in Peru, in Review: 2012

Today is the start of our last full week in Peru. To commemorate the day, here is a review of our last year in Peru! 

In January and February, I was busy with summer camps. This was our only year that we stayed in Lima for the entire summer. I wrote the Bible lessons for camps over the winter and then had the privilege of being one of the teachers during January for children’s camps. I taught three weeks in a row and had an average of 50 kids per week.

In February, I was in charge of the rehearsals for the skits used for teen camps. I had rehearsals almost daily and I had to be in the chapel each evening to make sure they were ready to go. The one pictured above is one that I wrote, based on some verses in Romans about becoming a new man. During the summer, Brian was keeping up on maintenance (lots to do with camps in full swing!). He also stayed with Elena while I was out and about with all my responsibilities. And the best part of the summer: finding out we were expecting Joseph on Valentine’s Day. 🙂

Bible school started back up in April. Brian wanted to do some changes with the afternoon work hours and one of the big ones was to implement community work days. He wanted the kids to see how service can be a ministry and open doors into our community. The first work day, they cleaned up the road leading from our camp up to town. The neighbors were extremely impressed and it did achieve its purpose – opening doors for us into the community.

Brian joined a group of students and some missionaries on a week-long missions trip here in the Lima area where they built a church building for one of the churches that we partner with. This was a first for BCM Peru – a work trip – and it was good for the teens to see that “ministry” is not just preaching on the street.

This year, I again tried to add some extra classes for my students. We did art, music, and baking. They learned how to read basic music and play recorder. They did fun art projects. And they learned how to bake muffins, cookies, and cupcakes! We did baking every Friday in July and froze everything in order to sell it all in their first bake sale during Conoce Al IBYM. They made enough money to cover the expenses and earn a field trip – which we’re going on tomorrow finally! We’ll spend the day at the National History Museum and then go to Pizza Hut for lunch. Fun stuff!

One of Brian’s projects was to build a garage for the vans and a few of the vehicles. We had a visitor from Ireland and he helped Brian out. Brian also worked on the aesthetics of the property and changed the walking entrance.

Brian’s absolute favorite project this year was the greenhouse and garden. A little secret about Brian: he loves gardening. And he’s good at it, too! He has always wanted to plant a garden here and he was finally able to do so this year. He built the greenhouse and then he and Fernando worked on starter plants and getting things going. A few veggies are already being utilized and others are well on their way to becoming food soon. Banana trees, lemon trees, and yuca are a few of the items growing in the garden right now.

My students did an awesome job at their bake sale during CAI! I was so happy with all the work they put into it! I was really sad to miss the last day of it because of a nasty flu.

One of the highlights of the year was Brian’s opportunity to go to Ireland to visit BCM Ireland. He spent about 10 days there (traveling during the Olympics and having a layover in London!) and was able to see a lot of the ministry, meet most of the team, and do a bit of sightseeing. I do wish I could’ve gone with him, but being seven months pregnant and having crazy Elena would’ve made a 24 hour plus trip not fun. So, we stayed home. We didn’t sleep much (Elena really missed Papa those first few days and would fall asleep at 4am), but we survived! The million dollar question, though, is: Are we going to Ireland? Hmm… good question. We’ll let you know when we know. Keep praying!

The night before Joseph was born, Eva and our other friend Cristofer threw Elena a nice birthday party. It came complete with clowns! Our house was a zoo for those few hours, but it was such a nice gesture, especially considering I hadn’t really planned on doing much at all for her this year.

On September 27, we welcomed our little sunshine, Joseph Christopher, into our family. “Joseph” after Joseph in the Old Testament. We listened to a sermon series by Max Lucado over the summer entitled “You’ll Get Through This” and it was on the life of Joseph. This series really meant a lot to us at that time, plus the work Joseph did reminded us a lot of what Brian does. We wanted to name our son after someone in the Bible who has a great reputation – someone he would be proud to be named after. “Christopher” is Brian’s middle name, so he’s named after his daddy.

October 8 was the annual Family Fair. I had helped with the rehearsals for the big play and it went off super well. The rest of October was really family time, getting used to newborn/toddler dynamics and healing from my surgery. Brian was around a lot to help me out – couldn’t have done it without him!

This, our last month here, has been busy with getting the kids on good schedules and working on finishing up our ministries. I have been rehearsing weekly with my students for their program coming up this Friday. I also started teaching Janelle again a few days a week an hour a day and I’m grading the older kids’ work, too. Brian has been tying up loose ends, doing a few projects he’s always wanted to do, and getting the team ready to take over once he’s gone.

Phew. I do believe these four entries covers pretty well our time here in Peru. Naturally, these are just some of the highlights – there’s plenty more that’s gone on that I just didn’t have room for here. But, here’s the plus side: we’ll be back in the States soon, so you can just ask us questions and look at pictures in person then! 🙂 

I know it’s impossible to express on a blog how grateful we are to have spent these years in Peru, so I hope you’re at least getting some of that sentiment from us. We know the Lord brought us here in 2009 for a purpose and hopefully we have accomplished that purpose. We will greatly miss the friends we’ve made here. We did enjoy living in Peru, even with the bugs, dust, and undrinkable water. Our children were born here and we actually have spent most of our married life here in Peru. This has become a part of us and we will never forget our time here. 

Our big question now is: what in the world does God have in store for us next?

Our Time in Peru, in Review: 2011

We’re up to year #3 in Peru – 2011. We arrived back from furlough in early March and hit the ground running. We felt like 2011 was a productive year. We knew Spanish much better, we knew our ministry roles, and we knew our way around. We didn’t travel in 2011, but rather stuck close to home and made the work here our priority. 

–I decided to add some things to the school this year. The first addition was field trips – something the kids had never really done before. We went to visit a local dairy farm in 2010, but that was all we were able to do. Our first field trip of 2011 was to the beach, about 20 minutes away. I came up with a science scavenger hunt list and we spent the morning looking for “science stuff” and then had a sand castle building competition.

–We still had plywood on the floors in our house, but thanks to your help, we were finally able to tile our kitchen floor in April. Brian did it himself (he’s become quit the pro at tiling!) and it turned out so nice. It was so much more convenient having tile in the kitchen than plywood that couldn’t get wet, was never really clean, and splintered easily!

–One of the highlights of 2011 was getting new furniture for my little school. In 2010 (something I forgot last post!), Brian put up a dividing wall in the school so I could have two classrooms instead of just one large room. Part of the school is used for storage for other ministries, so he gave them their own outside entrance and walled it off. In August of 2010, we painted the new walls. Again, thanks to your help, we were able to purchase new desks, chairs, and tables for the kids. They had been working on old picnic tables, uncomfortable benches, and desks that weren’t wide enough to hold their supplies. We found cute little tables for the smaller girls with matching, comfy chairs. We bought office chairs for the older kids and nice desks, with locking drawers. I was even able to get my own desk and chair. The new walls, paint job, and furniture honestly made the school much more comfortable, inviting, and fun to be in.

–Along with adding field trips, I added “extra” classes on Fridays. They included art, gym, and music, and thankfully, a few of my friends chipped in to help teach these classes occasionally. A vsitor was gracious enough to offer to teach my girls a few ballet moves one week! The girls were ecstatic – they had been talking about ballet and wishing for lessons for over a year. It was a blast watching them learn just a few basic ballet moves.

–When we got back from furlough, Brian had a lot of work to do on campus. He spent the first few months just trying to catch up on maintenance as well as working on new projects. He did electricity, plumbing, some construction, and he drew up plans for some buildings in Iquitos, just to name a few of his projects.

July = busiest month of the year. We hosted a teenage girl, Rebekah, for the entire month. She helped me extensively in the school, made a trip to Iquitos, and coerced me into singing a duet with her for Conoce Al IBYM. We loved having her in our home and she was a huge help in the school.

Also in July, a team visited from North Carolina and gave us the best gift ever: the installation of our laminate floor!

Elena did not seriously crawl until this floor went down. She refused to be on her hands and knees on the plywood. So after this floor was installed, she just took off! It was wonderful – and still is amazing – to have this floor.

–Mota was given to us in August by a lady from our little town who owns a bunch of cows and walks them by our house daily so they can graze in the pasture next to our property. We affectionately call her “the cow lady”.. mostly because we can’t pronounce her name (it’s not just us, though – our Peruvian friends have a hard time with her name!). In light of our big move coming up next month, we actually returned Mota to the cow lady last week. She was a good little dog, but I’m sure she’ll be happier chasing cows than she was here with us.

–This is Diana, my little girl who has dyslexia. During August, I had two full weeks where I was able to work just with her since my other students were out of town. We did lots of work with her ABC’s and this is her showing off her 3D artwork of every letter of the alphabet.

–Brian had to completely unplug the entire sewage system here on campus in September. Twice. One of the times he did it was during a special event here on campus so he had to work basically alone. If you’ve ever thought maintenance isn’t “true ministry.” think about this: Brian was able to do this very important (though not glamorous) job while everyone else was able to continue doing “ministry” without a hitch in their day. If he hadn’t been there, the mess would’ve ruined everything instead of just being a minor inconvenience for most. I have to say, I was very proud of my husband for doing this job and making it possible for everyone else to continue doing theirs.

Elena turned 1 in September! I worked with a friend and threw her a very typical, ladybug-themed, Peruvian birthday party. There are three important events in a Peruvian girl’s life: her 15th birthday, her wedding day, and her 1st birthday. There are a lot of expectations on a 1st birthday party here! It was much larger and more elaborate than anything I’ve ever done before, so I was thankful for Elsa who helped me out or it would never have happened! I made something like five batches of brownies, a ton of sugar cookies, and a ladybug shaped cake. Elsa made decorations, prize boxes, games, and emceed the whole afternoon. The kids got their faces painted, played games, ate a ton of food, and broke a piñata. Crazy day!

In October,

…Brian began the construction on our neighbor’s house after he finished drawing up the plans.
…we took the kids on their 2nd field trip – this time to the Lima Zoo.

In November…

…Brian just about finished the structure of the new house. He was working almost completely alone, so I would say he made pretty good time!
…we took the kids on their last field trip of the year – to Papa John’s, where they learned how they make pizzas and got to make their own.

–Every year in November, IBYM does a special Thanksgiving program. For the past three years, I’ve had the privilege of being in charge of this evening. The program in 2011 was by far my favorite. It was a “Celebration of Thanksgiving.”

Throughout the evening, each person in attendance had to write down one thing they were thankful for and come up and share it with everyone. Then, they stuck their piece of paper inside of the word “Gracias.”

By the time the evening was done, “GRACIAS” was filled up with everything we were thankful for that year.

–Finally, in December, I finished out the school year with a little program, complete with a funny skit from the book “A Fly Went By.”

We had a group visit from the States over Christmas and they put on a wonderful Christmas party for all the missionary kids here:

Complete with a nativity building contest!

And we celebrated Elena’s 2nd Christmas, this time in the heat of summer.

  • Brian’s life this year really revolved around general maintenance since the big building projects were done between 2009 and 2010. He did work on improving the IBYM afternoon work hours. He had a new team to work with and get used to. He drew up quite a few different plans for projects here on campus, in Iquitos, and for people outside of BCM.
  • As you can probably see, a lot went on in the school this year. I taught my five students plus took care of Elena who gradually got more and more mobile as the year progressed, making teaching much more difficult! It was a complicated year with figuring out how to work with a dyslexic student, advance my over-achiever student, help one student work independently, and teach English to one who didn’t know any. I also did more writing for other ministries, including the Bible lessons for summer camps 2012.

Sorry these posts are so long ~ it’s hard to condense a year of happenings into a short, concise blog post! I do hope this is giving you a glimpse into our life here. I know it’s helping us remember all the great things that have happened and it’s neat to see how much has changed in just four short years.

Next week we’ll cover our final year in Peru – this year, 2012! 

Our Time in Peru, in Review: 2010

Today is the 2nd installment of the review of our time in Peru. Again, if you have questions about our life in Peru that you’d like answered – even if it’s just something you’re curious about – drop me a note! I’d love to answer your questions. 

We started off 2010 almost the same way we started our time in Peru in 2009: in Iquitos!

–We spent the entire month of January in Iquitos with some of our good friends. The men worked out in Llanchama again, every day. They built a giant cafeteria, another building, and two bathrooms.

the cafeteria, when it was not quite completed. it turned out beautiful! and huge!

The girls and I stayed back in Iquitos most of the time. We finished up prep for VBS. I did school planning. However, most of our time was spent dealing with the heat and preparing meals for the men. It’s amazing how much time it takes to cook for a bunch of men with no pre-made anything! We did everything from scratch and most of the prep began mid-morning.

This dish is called “causa” – made with potatoes, chicken, veggies, and tons of mayo.

It was also this month that we found out I was pregnant with Elena. I thought I’d contracted a parasite – I was so sick! I ended up in a clinic late at night where they finally did blood work to confirm what all my girl friends had been telling me for a week.

 –School this year was more of a challenge. There was an English speaking family here until June and their oldest son joined my kindergarten class for those months. It was interesting – he was a 5 year old boy who only spoke English while my other two kindergartners were 7 year old girls who only spoke Spanish! I spent basically the entire year teaching in English and translating almost everything into Spanish. However, my Spanish greatly improved! Children are the best teachers of a foreign language – they have no qualms in telling you how it really is.

–Brian helped BCM find new transportation. He also had to prepare everything for the different groups that visited. Everything must be ready before groups arrive so that time is not wasted in preparing the work they have come to do. Brian had a lot to do to make sure their accommodations were set as well as their work projects ready to go.

–One of the main highlights of 2010 was the visit from a group from our sending church in July! We were so excited to welcome the group.

They were involved in so much while they were here for 10 days. They helped with Pennies for Peru – puppets, clowns – the works!

Mike, our church’s youth pastor. =)

They participated in a baptismal service for our church plants. They helped with youth group and a women’s meeting. They had a part in church services. And they did work on the campus – they disassembled, moved, and then reassembled a storage building for the campus (the building behind them in the picture). We enjoyed getting to know the teens. Brian loved having coffee time every afternoon with the leaders. It was such a great, encouraging time with them – wish they could’ve stayed longer!

–The most obvious blessing of the year was the arrival of Elena Ruth – “Elena” because it works in any language (important for missionaries!), and “Ruth” after the most amazing woman I ever knew – my grandmother, Ruth Ribble, who passed away too soon in 2001. We welcomed Elena after a scary emergency c-section on September 29. I don’t think she’s stopped moving since. Neither have we! ha!

–This year, I decided to have a special program to finish school. The kids each did something special to show what they’ve learned throughout the year. The little girls read in English, the older kids quoted memorized verses and explained projects they did. I handed out certificates and prizes – the first time the kids have ever been acknowledged for their school work.

–Brian worked on getting the campus ready for our three month departure to the States for our first furlough. After July, Brian worked steadily on normal maintenance. He got the supply shed all organized and arranged with a system that worked for borrowing tools. He did manage to get his first major injury here… a couple days before Elena was born. He was working with a drill and, well, somehow the drill ended up in his thigh. God was watching out for him – it missed bone and a major artery. He still has a weird hole in his leg, but he’s fine. phew.

–On December 3, we flew with our new little baby to the freezing cold north for our first furlough. It was way (WAY) too cold for us when we landed in NYC that morning!

We were able to enjoy Christmas with my family before heading out west for January. To be honest, it was strange being back in the States. You become so accustomed to life in another country that to return can quite frankly be overwhelming at first. Let me just be honest with you – the first few weeks at church even left me totally overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted. Even the way conversations are carried on in the States is totally different than here in Peru.

So, in 2011, Brian:

  • helped find new buses for the ministry (if you ever want an interesting story, ask Brian about the trip to purchase the blue van. He tells it better than I do!).
  • helped build 3 buildings in Iquitos and 3 storage sheds here in Lima.
  • got his supply shed organized and the work hours for the IBYM students began to get revamped.


  • got my two then kindergartners to read and write in English. Janelle was even beginning to speak in English by year’s end. 
  • wrote the Bible lessons for summer camps 2011. Also helped with the writing and revamping of skits and puppet sketches for other ministries.
  • became a mommy. 🙂 That occupied a lot of my time this year.

~This week, on Wednesday, is an international day of prayer and fasting for BCM. I’m going to post some prayer requests Wednesday morning so you can join us! Stay tuned as well for next Monday – the review of 2011.  ~

Our Time in Peru, in Review: 2009

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. 


Us in the main plaza in Iquitos

~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.

Butterflies Brian brought back from Iquitos

~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!

I –

  • 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.

The first (and really only!) IBYM social we (heavily) participated in – Brian was a squirrel (he asked for something manly and got a squirrel – not sure how that happened!) and I was the dove from Noah’s Ark. Good times, good times.