From time to time I begin thinking. (A dangerous habit I know) These past several months have been full of changes for our entire family. For our parents, their kids moved overseas taking their grandkids with them… For our kids we uprooted them from everything they ever knew: house, church, school, climate, language, foods (the list could go on and on…) And for us, well the same list as for our kids but also new work.
First we moved from Salem, Oregon to San Jose, Costa Rica. Our “job” there was to learn Spanish for a year. We attended school from 7:30-12:30 every weekday. Then we would head home to eat lunch and work on homework and communications with friends, family, and supporters back in the states. We got into a pretty good rhythm working around the torrential rains and thunderstorms that would come in the afternoons during 8 of our 12 months there. Shopping took more planning and time on foot than it would in a car for sure as did pretty much everything else. But friends were made, relationships were built and we enjoyed our time there.
December came along and we graduated from language school. Time for another CHANGE!!!! This time to Arequipa, Peru. We switched from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere. Lived in 2 temporary houses then after 3 weeks finally moved into our house here which we had to furnish from scratch. Our kids got sick and tired of going shopping for household goods and were more than grateful for the 2.5 weeks with my parents when they came during January to visit and help us get settled in. Though again our “job” changed… we went from full time language learners to full time culture learners. We hired a house helper who worked out well for a while, but then became unreliable. I hated letting her go, but am grateful for our new house helper that cooks and cleans for us as well as eats and talks with us. Flor has quickly become a part of our weekly routine as have lunches with her and her sweet little boy “Rafo” who comes to “help.” He and our youngest get along quite well and so Andrew has a friend to play with 3 afternoons a week!
Sounds like our change to Peru has gone pretty easy, no? In reality it’s been HARD! There have been days where all I have wanted to do is roll over and go back to sleep. There have been days where I have spent time in tears because of the relationships that I left behind in the states and in Costa Rica. For every relationship I have ever had a part of my heart is with them… when friends find out devastating news I ache to be with them, to hug them, to offer help in whatever way I can. How can I help from so far away? Through prayer I know, but for a person that loves to serve others often times I don’t feel like praying is enough. I want to DO something!!!
Our kids have had a rough time transitioning into the schools here. The style of teaching is so different from what it is in the states and at the school in Costa Rica that they attended. Some days are better than others but for the most part we are just thankful each day when the kids come home saying the day was “more good than bad.” They miss things from the states, but even more so they miss the school they last attended. One misses learning in English more than in Spanish (understandable since the language is mostly new to them). One cringes at the way the teachers speak a bit harsher to the class than their other teachers ever did. One fights writing things down on paper like we are torturing them, the other is getting top grades in their class.
As a mom I want to fix all the problems my kids are facing. I desire to help them have better days. To enjoy their school and to help them make friends that will be there through thick and thin. But it’s not that easy. I can’t just FIX it, I can cry with them and for them. I can fight for them, I can help with the homework but even that sometimes I don’t know how to do. We have help thankfully from teammates and church members here in Peru. But still I struggle. Did we as parents help them all we could to prepare them for this move? How do we help them now? What can we do? Do we pull them out of the school system here and homeschool them? Would that be better or worse? Would they have friends if we took them out of school? It’s not like the kids all play out in the streets here or even in their yards where you can see them… no, there are walls everywhere, you can’t see the houses behind the walls to know if kids live there or not. We still wonder if there are even kids living in our neighborhood as we never see or hear them.
Then there’s a whole different aspect to our lives here…. Ministry! We came to work in an area called Ciudad de Dios. The ministry site is in a dirt road community about 35 minutes from our house without traffic. We go out every Sunday right now to do a Sunday school program with kids and Bible study with youth and adults that come. On average there are about 20 kids and 4 youth or adults each Sunday. It’s small, yet it’s a start. Two Sundays ago a young mom of three kids under the age of 2 (9 month old twins and a 1 yr. 11 mo. old) came in seeking prayer and counsel. She had no idea where her husband had taken off to earlier in the week when he went to the corner market (bodega) for diapers and never returned. She left about an hour later having accepted the Lord as her personal Savior. We pray we will see her again, that she will return and begin attending Bible study. As a leadership team we gathered some food goods to help her and the kids survive that we sent out to her with some of her neighbors. Please be praying for Jessica and her 3 little ones.
My heart aches for the situations that are so prevalent here like this. Even our house helper has a story yet to unfold of how God has brought her to Him and to the homes of many missionaries here in Peru.
In other news: we finally found a vehicle somewhat within our budget that we are buying (I think on Friday)! It is a 2012 Kia Sorento which has enough space for our family and a couple others to head out to the ministry site on Sundays. (We have been squeezing into 2 cars which seat 5 each… 8 in one and 7 in the other) We all look forward to being able to go out in a more comfortable and reliable manner. We pray that this car will be a blessing and not a burden.
Jason and I celebrated our 11th anniversary this past Saturday by spending time with our kids, a woman from our church and a couple of missionaries here in Peru. Yup, pretty romantic isn’t it???? HA! Another perk of being in a foreign country… no family to watch the kids for you. Hmmm… perhaps not so much of a perk. We do try to take a morning breakfast date about once a week while all three kids are in school when our ministry schedule allows for that!! Please pray for us though as the stress of change is hard on marriages as any overseas worker can attest to.
We covet your prayers. We thank God for all who love and pray for us on a regular basis. This has been an unedited reflection of my thoughts this morning and over the past year. I know God is in complete control in all situations and that He has called us to live here in Peru. We are overall thankful to be here and look forward to all that God has planned for the Peruvian people we are beginning to know and love. Please pray for wisdom in our home and ministry. That we would be lights to those that we meet and spend time with. For Jason as he steps in to the LEADER role for the Ciudad de Dios outreach and for our kids that they would continue to adjust to our life here in beautiful sunny Arequipa, Peru.