A little laugh

Seeing things like this make me not so scared to get old.


It's 1:51

I can't make my packaging project to work.
The box won't stay together.
It just keeps busting apart.
And that, right now is the biggest of my worries.
So sad, isn't it.
Just a year ago I was trying to figure out how to cross cultural, sanitary, mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual boundaries.
All in the Spanish language.
Now all it is is school.
I guess I'm just going on with my life.
I've moved.
Also across the country.
What I'm really trying to say is this:
I haven't read or written for Contemporary Art. I'm trying to put it off.





I also miss this little wonder.
And wonderful moments like this.


Every year

Every year I get like this. Camp just takes me over and there is no time for me. There's really no time for anything - especially writing. My 'free' time is taken up with laundry and taking people to Walmart. It's been really different having a car. I'm usually the one who is mooching the rides. And now people are mooching off of me.
I love camp, though. Just being around kids all day every day makes me feel like those days really weren't so far away - which, in all actuality is the truth. But more than that, it allows me to put myself in their shoes. And it's been quite the journey down memory lane.
This past week with my Tweens I was trying to think of what I was thinking when I was their age.
Being with them reminded me of how weird of a kid I was.
And I loved it.
I know this was a totally boring blog, but bear with me. It's been a while since I've written.

P.s. Donate a chair! Search Facebook for Chairs for Church.


New blog

I have a new blog.
+ In addition to this one. 
= Here it is


A tough swim

I’ve now been home for a week and I still haven’t sat down and written my final refection on the year. I think I’ve been scared to. I felt like if I wrote out my final reflection. The last blog. The last journal entry. It would be over. It would be over for real. And I don’t want it to be. My year in Peru was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I don’t want to move on - not just yet.
Life back in the States is different. But actually I think it’s just different to me. For everyone else it’s exactly the same. I’m the one that’s different. I’m the one who’s changed. And I feel like an outsider in my own land. I hear people talking about movies and cell phones and facebook and new apps and...I can’t take it. I’m back in the rat race and I feel like I’m swimming upstream. It's hard to get a breath of fresh air. 
I am thankful to live in America. God has blessed my family beyond measure and I am grateful. But now that I have seen, and touched, and breathed, and lived in another world - I just want to go back. I want to do more. Since I’ve been back, this verse has been really bugging me. Luke 12:48. “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required...” I read that verse with new light now because I have seen the need and because I know that God has blessed me with so much. There's just so much to be done.
I can’t just sit here and do nothing. But I'm scared that I will. I'm scared that this fire is going to go out. But I pray with everything in me that it doesn't. Especially when the time is so close. God is going to come. And it’s going to be soon - I just know it. He is going to ask EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US what we have done with the time and talents and blessings He has given us. And what are we going to answer? What am I going to tell the King of the World who gave EVERYTHING for me? What is He going to see when He looks into our lives? When He looks at Hanna Melara? A life filled with love and sacrifice? Or one filled with self?
I'm scared.
Because the battle against self is the hardest one to fight.

And win.


Soup 14!

Today my mom sent my sister Allison and I to Costco.

The list:

- strawberries
- blueberries
- blackberries
- iced tea
- tomatoes
- fish

Not a lot of stuff, no problemo. We get into Costco, I'm freezing my butt off from the air conditioning in that place. I guess after not feeling any sort of moving air besides the wind from a moving car or motorcycle for 9 months everything feels like ice hitting my body. I hate going in that one room, the one that has all the vegetables and is way too cold, so I make Allison go in and get the berries. She can't find the strawberries so I go in after her in a full run. The strawberries aren't in there. They were right in front of our faces outside of Antarctica. We switch all the tomatoes in the box to get all the prettiest ones and I snatch up a lemon cheesecake sample while Allison pushes the cart. She doesn't know where anything is so we end up in the toilet paper and cleaning supplies aisle looking for the tea. I take over navigating and we get the drinks and now all that's left is the fish. My mom wanted halibut which is the only fish, I have learned, that Costco doesn't carry. So we got some other kind of fish. Talapia. We stand in line to get checked out, a little nervous because we know the rule and we're breaking it. The rule that says that you have to have a Costco membership to shop there. And that the cardholder him/herself has to be present at the time of purchase. Yadda yadda yadda. Well clearly neither Allison or I are my mother so we get the look and the question when we present the card to the cashier.

"Where is Linda Melara?"

"Umm, not here. She's home sick."

"Sooooooooo, she's not here?"

"Correct. Not present. At home. Sick. We're the kids."

"Yes, I understand. But she's not here. We can't allow you to purchase these things if you are not her."

The next thing she did made me bust up laughing. Well, for one, she acts like we're committing the unpardonable sin. But then she started shouting SOUP 14! SOUP 14!


Your code for breaking the law is SOUP?! Bahhhhhhhh.

The person who was supposed to respond to the Soup 14 code was half deaf or something so the cashier just started shouting louder and with more frequency. Which made it even funnier us. Soup 14 guy eventually came over, everyone was looking at us, and then he repeated exactly what the other lady had said. Yeah, I understand. I'm not supposed to buy the food without being Linda Melara. He let us go through, making sure that we knew that this was just a one time thing. Thank you, Mr. Soup 14.

I stacked the food a little too precariously in the back seat of the minivan (oh yeah, we ride in style) and took a corner a little too sharp. The tomatoes and berries took a tumble. When I opened the door of the van the tomatoes fell onto the garage floor. Allison just laughed at me like she always does.


In 10 hours

I'm leaving on a jet plane. And I really don't know when I'll be back again.

I don't know how to feel about this.


This is what I'm going to miss

Trying on glasses with Jader,

 being ordered to work by Daniel while he flirts with Jenessa,

 playing mustaches with Jared, 

 hugs from Giampier,

 eating stale bread on the river with Cecilia,

Elias's laugh,


leaving the chicos home for 2 hours and then coming 
home to find a hawk hanging from the clothesline.

You know, stuff like that.


The time is coming to that time that I don't like to mention : The End.

I hate goodbyes. I don't think it's a natural thing. Or at least for me it's not. Por ejemplo: Last Sabbath I bawled my eyes out in church. I started crying when I was leading out in hymns. As I stood up in the front of the church watching the sun-worn and wrinkled faces of the hermanos that I have come to love like my own family, my throat stopped letting me sing and my eyes got all watery. I kept checking with Alfonso, who was sitting in the very back frantically writing his sermon that he was going to preach in 5 minutes. Uno mas, uno mas, he kept telling me. So after about 5 or 6 hymns he was finally ready. I debated singing my favorite hymn of all time, Es el Amor Divino, but then decided against it because I knew I wouldn't be able to make it through. Ok, time to sing Santo, Santo, Santo. Like every Sabbath. I invited them to stand on the second stanza. Like every Sabbath. Nothing was different. Except for this was going to be the last time I would be doing all this.
I read the children's story. How can Daniel and the Lion's Den make a person cry? Maybe it wasn't the story at all. It was Johnny, Mariela, and Giampier. It was looking at their faces and knowing that they weren't really listening to the story. It was knowing that they were paying more attention to the wasp that was buzzing around my head. Like they do every Sabbath. The tears came because I remembered all of my Sabbaths with them. It was because I remembered having to start bringing two waterbottles to church because I knew that they would drink all of it. I remembered giving Mariela paper to draw on so she would be quiet during the sermon. I remembred fighting with Mariela, insisting that I had 11 fingers and not 10 (I never got her to believe me, no matter how many times I 'counted'.) I remembered Giampier falling asleep on my lap. I remembered playing with his hair. I remembered Johnny, the little troublemaker, how he would stick his fingers in my armpits while we were praying. I remembered him taking all the beads out of my dreads and putting them in his mouth. Gross-o. 

I keep thinking about what I'm going to do with my life when I go back to all the luxuries and commodities of the States. How is it going to be when I don't have to burn the trash? What am I going to do without the rooster to wake me up every morning or the chickens to eat all the leftovers? How am I going to take a shower inside? How am I going to go a morning without eating oatmeal? Where am I going to buy my oranges - 10 for 1 sol? I'm going to freeze when I feel air-conditioning. It's going to be weird having my own car. It's going to be weird to pee in a toilet instead of in the grass. Honestly. It's going to be weird to walk down the street and not get stared/whistled/kissed at/talked to. Ok, that part I'm not going to miss so much. But what's going to happen every evening when all of my neighbors don't come outside, put up a volleyball net in the street, and play until it gets dark?

I don't even know my neighbors at home.

Where is that now?

I guess Peru changed me more than I thought it would.

I was thinking about what I'm going to be taking away from this year. What have I learned? Have I become closer to God? I don't know. I don't know if I necessarily feel closer. But I feel like He showed me more of who I was - who He MADE me to be. Which I believe brings me in closer communion with Him. Creator and creature. I found a peace this year that I've never had before. He showed me a family, and community, friends, and a support system that I will now have for the rest of my life. He challenged me and broke me and changed me and above all LOVED me - despite of myself.

In four days, I will be on American soil. Probably thoroughly freaking out about the prices of everything.

Thanks. For this grand adventure that You have taken me on.

And there shall be many more...


Journey to Inahuaya

Numero uno, things in Peru never go as planned. We were supposed to leave for our last campaign up the river to Inahuaya on Sunday. I think we left on Wednesday. All the days just blended together. Well, we actually left Km 38 on Tuesday, got a flat tire, waited on the side of the highway for hours. Counting cabs. And then it started raining. Not hard though, it was a refreshing sprinkle that fell just as the sun was about to go down. I remember feeling - free. I was laying on the cement without a care in the world. I made sure to stay extra still because I wanted the rain to make an outline of the spot I was laying in. I stood up and there I was, laying on the ground, or at least a blobby outline of me was.
Jader was sitting next to me in his white wifebeater and sunglasses. He's such a cool cat. He was really happy that he was winning our game of counting colored cars. He chose white and pretty much every cab is white. So whenever one would pass he would just start laughing hysterically. Jenessa was on the other side of me and we were laughing about this and that. I didn´t have a care in the world. And even though we were stranded, I wasn't worried. Just taking life as it came.
Anthony and Rebecca and Lucho finally showed up with the convi and after the radiator thoroughly exploded and got the inside of the car drenched and steamy, we were off to the port. Upon our arrival we were notified that the lancha wouldn't be leaving until the next day. So we hung out some more at the port watching a drunk guy with a whistle around his neck. He would walk up to every passerby and honk the whistle as hard as he could. I was sitting on top of the truck with Lucho. He started telling me how much he was going to miss all of us when we left. For two reasons, he told me. One, because you guys have become like my family. And two, he continued, for el refresco that we bring to them when they're working. They are serious about getting their refresco.
We piled into the truck and settled down at Km 8 for the night. The next morning we embarked - but not until 7 o´clock that evening. We strung up our hammocks and then came the people. And chickens. And cabbage. And other animals. And then more people. There was also one bathroom on the whole boat. I chose to be constipated for the 2 days that we were on the boat. The one time I went to the bathroom I had to literally crawl on my hands and knees in whatever nasty wet mess was on the floor and over whatever people happened to be sleeping. I feel really bad because I actually stepped on a man. He was right under my hammock though!
So a few short hours after we set off - BOOM! - we crashed. Into a sand bank. And we were stuck there for 10 hours. All night I heard the engine of the boat running and turning off. Chugging and pulling and trying and failing. When we finally got unstuck, applause went off. We ported in Contamana for the night. Went and played on the playground and ate juanais and chicha morada off the street. Next morning boarded another boat for Inahuaya. When we arrived the Doctor was there to meet us, tell us we had 15 minutes to shower, eat lunch, and set up for clinic.



Crack on the bus

Another Thursday adventure. I way lucked out again with the convi thing. I caught one from the Carretera right outside the house all the way downtown. I got a seat this time. It was suprisingly empty. There was a lady that got in right outside of Campo Verde with a big bucket of pomerosa fruits. The cute old woman sitting in front of me bought 3 and then turned around to offer me one. Te invito, she said with a smile. I accepted and then we ate the delicious fruit together. Every so often she would turn around in her seat to make sure I was still eating. Yes I was still eating. And there was also something eating me up inside. I had a copy of Steps to Christ in my purse. I could feel the outline of it through my bag. My dad had sent me some copies in Spanish.
Now, I'm not usually one to pass out books on the street, or really even to talk about God on the street. If it comes up in conversation, that's great. But it usually doesn't. And I don't make an effort to see that it does. 
I thought about it the whole ride there.
I asked her what time it was. 
But nothing else.
When she got off at her stop, she grabbed my hand and smiled at me. I quickly slipped the little paper book into her hand and said, Te regalo. Gracias por la frutita! She took the book with a smile and got off. Why was that so hard to do? 
I continued on with my errands. Post office, print pictures, send emails to bosses, get stuff for Jonathan, pick up flowers from the house (which I later found out were flowers meant for the cemetary - I don't know what flowers mean. Flowers are flowers to me!)
I was standing on the side of the road and a convi came along. Double score! I climbed up with all my stuff. The flowers got stuffed in someone's face. I looked up under my mop of hair and saw where I had to go. All the way to the back. To fit on a bench that's really only supposed to be for 3 butts. There were already 3 people sitting there. I felt myself falling forward. Puedes agarrar los flores, I asked the lady I was falling onto. She took them from me, shoved them in the face of the guy sitting next to her, and then proceeded to fix the back of my pants which were falling down as I turned and plopped myself down. I guess I had been cracking the whole bus. Oh well. We just started laughing.
That's what I freaking love about this culture. Everyone is there for each other. Whether it's to pull up your pants, or offer you a piece of fruit on the bus, or watch your kids for you while you go to the market, or to start up a game of volleyball in the evening, or to give you a hug and a kiss. Neighbors aren't just people that live next door to you - they're you're family. People aren't superficial here. No one looks at what you're wearing. No one cares. You are a person. You are who you are and not what you buy or how you look.
As I continued my bus ride home, sweating more than I had ever sweat in my life. The lady next to me pulled out a comb and started to comb her hair. Her armpits were in my nose and hair was flying everywhere. Most of it landing in my lap and on my arm. I blew on my arm to try and get the hairs off but I was too sweaty. Gross. Black arm hair. After she was done, she started blowing all over my arms too. Still too sweaty to come off. She wiped me off with her sweat rag and the we continued on our way. The rest of the ride I watched the mom in front of me pick off some scab thing on her kid's head. When she got it off she gave it to him to play with.
I just love this place. 



I think a lot of what makes up life is what occupies our eye space. What we look at tells us a lot about who we are. The places we've been, things that we see, and experiences that we live make us. After living in Peru for over 7 months, I have seen many things. Both the ugly and the beautiful. The things that occupy my eye space here are different than back at home. At home, I saw big buildings. Cars. People on cell phones. Hardly anyone outside. I saw movies. I saw homework. I saw a world of worrying and of schedules. I saw gas prices and the news. 

But here?

What do I see?

What occupies my eye space?

Well, today I saw a man sitting on top of a tall yellow tractor in downtown Pucallpa completely jamming out all by himself. On a guitar with at least 2 broken strings.
I also saw a truck that was painted my favorite color - puke green.
I saw Jenessa down over a liter of Cebada at lunchtime for 5 soles. It was hilarious. 
I saw at least one hundred little black bugs in the split peas. Then we washed them and cooked them.
I saw the laughs of my Peruvian brothers as they made fun of me for breaking the sink this morning.
I saw a family of 4 crammed on a motorcycle. Both of the kids drooped over with the sleepies. 
I saw cows eating and banana trees growing alongside of the highway. 
I saw a cart filled to the brim with fruit. The colors were so pretty. 
I saw a group of old men laughing and joking with each other over some beers on the side of the road.
I saw myself in the mirror - it had been a while. 
I saw motokars. One of my new favorita ways of transportation. 
I saw a sea of green. The Peruvian countryside is one of the prettiest things ever.
I saw homes. The houses here no longer look like shacks to me like they did before. 
I saw Pucallpa. It's about to become alive when the sun goes down. 
I saw my hippie friends on the corner setting up their handmade jewelery to sell. 

I saw glimpses of God. Because He is in all things beautiful.

And now I leave you with this. What do you see? What occupies your eye space? After you read this, why don't you step outside and see all the things that you can see. Look. With eyes and heart wide open. You will be amazed at what you find.



Today I lucked out big time. It´s Thursday, which means it´s a day in Pucallpa. Running errands, going to the post office, sending emails, waiting for pictures to upload, and visiting the girls at Km 8. After waiting for a long time on the side of the road for a motokar to Campo Verde, I arrived in town just as a convi was pulling up at the taxi station. What luck! Instead of taking a taxi and paying 4 soles to get all the way to the centro, I could take a convi and only pay 3. As I approached the convi, I saw that it was already packed to the brim. Oh well, just do it Peruvian style. Cram. I saw that there were still 2 people behind me. Yep, they´re getting in too. I ducked my head and climbed up. No seats. So I stood. Along with some fortunate others. It´s kind of fun to be a gringa on a convi or in a taxi or bus. Everyone pretends not to stare. It makes for some awesomely awkard moments. A little old lady finally got off about 15 kilometers down the road. Which meant I got to sit down. In the very back between two Peruvian men. There was a baby sitting in front of me. I made her cry because I smiled at her. I recognized one of the songs on the radio so I started singing along. That made the people stare even more. Maybe they didn´t think I could speak Spanish. When we finally arrived in Pucallpa, my neck was sore from being hunched over the whole time and my hand was asleep.

I realize now that this wasn´t a very interesting blog to read.

But I saved 1 sole. And that, my friends, is something to celebrate.


Just a small smackeral

"Lo importante is la accion, no el resultado de la accion. debes hacer lo correcto. Tal vez no este dentro de tu capacidad, tal vez no este dentro de tu tiempo que haya algun resultado. Pero eso no significa que debas dejar de hacer lo correcto. Tal vez nunca sepas cual es el resultado de tu accion. Mas si no haces nada, no habra ningun resultado." - Gandhi


The slapper

I got slapped this week by a 70 year-old woman. I think she was trying to love pat my face. But she was doing it intentionally hard. And then she grabbed a handfull of my dreads and told me that I needed to cut my hair off and that I was never going to get a husband looking the way I did. And then she just kept patting my face. Really harrrrrrrd. I purposefully put Slapper at the end of my list of people to see for eyeglass measurements because she was getting on my nerves. I had to personally escort her to a bench and tell her to stay there until I called her. She didn´t listen. She followed me back to my station, kept pulling the sheets back and telling me to see her next. I´ve never heard anyone use the word gringita so many times in one breath. She was also quite a giant of a woman to be Peruvian. She was taller than me by a long shot.
It was campaign week. I measured eyes all week and gave out glasses. Out of the glasses that have been donated to us, most of them are huge and old and totally awesome. I would totally wear them in public, but I guess the Peruvians didn´t think they were as cool. I wore them around the clinic in an effort to encourage the people. I got a lot of people laughing at me. But it was fun. Everytime I would put an 'ugly' pair of glasses on a patient they would insist that they couldn´t see. And then I would let them try on one of the newer pairs, often times not their measurement. Then they would start singing me the Hallelujah chorus about how they could see perfectly. Some people were honest though. They took their big, awesome glasses with a grateful heart because they could finally see.
Sight is one of those things I´ve taken for granted. Because unless you can´t see, you just don´t even notice it. But after having giving people glasses all week, I´ve realized that giving the gift of sight is giving someone a huge thing. Jesus healed many people of blindness. I feel like I got a small taste of doing that too. Except for instead of having Jesus' face be the first that they see, it was a dirty, dreaded gringa.


Future friend, not foe

I want to freeze moments. I want time to stop right here. Because, as I was telling Jenessa last night as she was driving us home from Yarinacocha, this is probably the happiest I´ve been in my life. And I don´t want it to end. She´s leaving in just one month. And then two weeks after her, I´m out too. But I don´t want to think about that moment. Just deal with it when it comes. 
Ever since I can remember, I´ve always looked forward to the next thing. When I was little, like really little, I wanted to go to school so bad. When I grew up a little more, I couldn´t wait until I became a woman. When I was 15, I just wanted to be 16 so I could drive. When I was in high school I just wanted to graduate and move out and be out in the real world. Whatever that meant. I even remember a couple times last year just sitting and day dreaming that I was already done with college and married. I don´t even think I had a boyfriend at the time. What I´m trying to get at is this: For the first time in my life I feel like I am where I am. I am here. And it is now. I am completely in the present. And the future is no longer looming and taunting me. It´s just there, like a friend waiting for my arrival. For the first time, I feel like I live everyday for what it is. I don´t worry about tomorrow because, frankly it´s not worth it. And that´s just how life is here. 
Now how do I transfer this feeling, this way of thinking, this way of life, to when I get back to America? I don´t know how that´s going to work yet, but I´m not worried. Yet. I´ll just tackle it when it comes.



I recently read something about true beauty. Beauty that doesn't have to do with looks. Beauty that is deep and permanent. Beauty that, when you're around it, you know it and you are blessed.

What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. (1 Peter 3:3-4 The Message)

I have seen beautiful women before. You know, the ones that without fail look perfect. But I've also been around women who are really beautiful. Deeply. You just want to be around them because they make you feel good about yourself. They are kind. Funny without trying. And just nice. They put others first and because of that, they shine. My mom is like that.

I think that's the kind of woman I want to be.


The rainy season means one thing for me. Mud. Fat raindrops on the tin roof are a nice thing to fall asleep to, though. Loud, but nice. I don't know how the Peruvians do it, but somehow they manage to walk through the mud in little flimsy flip flops with grace. Their feet are hardly ever dirty when they arrive at their destination. And they most definitely don't wave and flap their arms around trying to catch their balance in the slippery goo. I, on the other hand, without fail, always have muddy feet and am always slipping and sliding my way through the life of the rainy season.
Today, for instance, I went to the market with Stephanie and Rachel. We went to a market that I had never been to before. It was right next to the soccer stadium, Bella Vista. We go there because it's cheaper than Mercado 2, I was told. It was a huge market. Filled with stands upon stands of fruit, vegetables, bras, mayonaise, whatever you could possibly want. I wish markets in the States could be more like that. A mishmash of everything together. And cheap. I don't know of anywhere in Phoenix where I can get 40 oranges for $2.50. Anyways, this market, although cheap, is extremely dirty. I felt like I was wearing suction cups on my feet. Just sucking my way through the vegetable stands. I almost almost got run over by a motokar. It's really hard to try to run out of the way of a quickly approaching motorcycle with suction cups on your feet and 11 kilos of rice and beans and flour on your back.
The best way, I have learned, is just to take your shoes off. Yeah, the mud is dirty. Probably filled with parasites and worms, but for me at least, there is no other way. Besides, I like the squishy feeling and skin is 100% waterproof. Good going, God.


Thank you, Peru

I am learning more and more everyday that the things that Peru has taught me are slowly but surely shaping me. They are molding me into the person I am now. The Hanna that arrived here on August 29, I am now realizing, was different. Not bad, just different. I am also realizing that the things I am learning here probably don't mean anything to the people I left behind. Because life back home is literally another world. So right now, I want to give a toast. An ode. Ballad. Whatever. 

Thank you, Peru:

Thank you, Peru. Because of you I can make a mean pot of rice.
Thank you, Peru. Because of you I can plan Sabbath School, church, write a children's story, a sermon, and plan J.A. in 5 minutes. 
Thank you, Peru. Because of you I can pee boldly anywhere. Outside. In the rain. On a train. With green eggs and ham. In a box. With a fox. Anywhere.
Thank you, Peru. Because of you I know how to use a machete to do anything from hack my way through the jungle to peel an orange. 
Thank you, Peru. Because of you I can give someone a shot in the butt. Or pull out an aching tooth without fear.  
Thank you, Peru. Because of you I can put out a fire with a lemonade bucket. 
Thank you, Peru. Because of you I can ride in a taxi with 8 people and somehow position myself comfortably. 
Thank you, Peru. Because of you I can take a 2 minute shower.
Thank you, Peru. Because of you I have learned how to live without a mirror. Or the desire to use one. (Although sometimes when I pass a store that happens to have glass in the window, I'm startled at what I see.)
Thank you, Peru. Because of you I can make soup at the end of the week with what little or no food we have left. Usually a carrot. An onion. Maybe one or two potatoes. Noodles. Rice. Soy sauce. Oatmeal. Whatever.
Thank you, Peru. Because of you I can openly talk about bodily functions.
Thank you, Peru. Because of you I have learned how to eat oatmeal for breakfast everyday for 6 months and still like it because I'm so hungry.
Thank you, Peru. Because of you I have learned how to fight in a language that is not my own with taxi drivers, motokar drivers, and mean men at the post office who don't want to give me my packages. 
Thank you, Peru. Because of you I have learned how to play volleyball in a lot of mud. And laugh when I fall down. 
Thank you, Peru. Because of you I could probably make a pretty awesome housewife one day. I have also gained a lot of respect for housewives. Boy, do they work hard. 
Thank you, Peru. Because of you I have learned how to burn trash.
Thank you, Peru. Because of you I have learned how to love like I never thought possible. 
Thank you, Peru. Because of you I now have a desire to do more with my life. 
Much much more. 


Un sol

1. A ride from Km 38 to Campo Verde in a motokar (it's 50 centimos if you're willing to cram into a packed convi - but totally worth it)
2. A fresh squeezed glass of orange juice from the fruit lady across the street (ironically named Lady)
3. 40 minutes of internet at the air-conditioned internet cafe
4. 1 hour of internet at the internet cafe without air-conditioning
5. 1 bottle of water
6. 1 scan
7. 10 copies
8. 1 bracelet in Cuzco
9. 2 bags of chicha morada (purple corn drink) off of the street - it's delectable
10. 1 print of a photo
11. 1 Albendazol treatment (worm medicine)
12. 10 green mangoes
13. 2 red mangoes
14. 1 cucumber
15. 1/2 kilo of rice (1 kilo of the rice with lots of rocks in it - not worth it)
16. 5 boxes of matches
17. 1 cucumber
18. 8 really soft rolls of bread from the bakery
19. 1 personal size hunk of cheese
20. 1 brick

All of these things can be purchased here in Peru for one Sol. Which is the US equivalent of about 36 cents. Life is good here. Good and cheap. I'm going to freak out when I go home and a meal costs more than $1.50. But for now, I'm just going to soak up living in the cheap bliss of Peru.

Hot dawwwwwg

I've recently picked up the new job of dog feeder. The job would seem simple enough. Give 3 cups of food to 3 dogs every morning. Yeah, it's easy. But add in the fact that all 3 of the dogs are completely dysfunctional and disobedient and you get to have yourself a little adventure every morning. So let me just tell you a little bit about these dogs.
There are three of them. Shaq, Pudi, and Centurion (more commonly known as Weasel-head.) They are all mentally challenged. Shaq, who I think looks more like a lion than a German Shepherd, never stops barking. And he doesn't have anything to bark at usually. But it's the same pitched bark over and over again. He throws his voice out like a broken record. Pudi is a sweetheart, but always jumps on me. And now that I give her food, she thinks that it's her job to follow me where ever I go. Including this morning when I was taking a shower. She was trying to push the door open and stared at me the whole time through the giant crack in the wood. She's also slightly cross eyed.
Finally, Weasel-head. I've never hated anything before that I can really remember. But I hate this dog. He doesn't listen to anything. Or anyone. And always whines. And always jumps on me and gets me all muddy. And he likes to bite hands. Stupid.
So every morning I take a deep breath and walk out to the dog house. I get trampled. But it's in love, I guess. I am giving them food. Aka I am giving them life. And so should obey me. But they don't. I guess it's a lot worse with us and God.
And I secretly like having a posse of huge dogs surrounding me wherever I go. It makes me feel pretty cool.


Those be the goase (goals)

Last night I dreamt that I was in New York City with my dad. I've never been to NYC before so the scenery was purely from movies and a wacky imagination. I dreamt that I was singing out of the Bible with Stanley from The Office. Get the whaaaaaa?! We were singing from the book of Romans about cows and pigs. I'm pretty sure Romans doesn't talk about farm animals at all. I dreamt that were a natural disaster to strike the Big Apple, all I would need to do would be to find a manhole and sink down into it and put a Glad plastic tupperware top on my head. You know, the blue circle ones?

I've been having lots of crazy dreams lately.

I've also been having lots of thoughts. About my faults. A lot of doubts. I hate being compared to other people. I hate having high expectations on me because then I feel like in order to prove myself worthy, I have to exceed them. I feel like I'm burning myself out trying to please everyone. I want to be remembered here in Peru. Is that a bad thing? I want to make a difference. But it's hard. I hate having that feeling in the pit of my stomach. That feeling that, What if nothing is any better because I was here? I know it's too early know. And maybe I never will. The feelings though. They are so real.

But there I go again. What am I comparing myself to? Human standards. People that matter, but aren't eternal. I guess what I should be concerned about is this: Do I love my neighbor as I love myself? Do I do all things without grumbling and complaining? Do I respect the Earth? I know I'm not there yet, but those be the goals (Hey, that kind of rhymes!) that I'm working towards.



The rainy season has definitely hit. Going outside is like trying to walk through a bowl of soup. Ok, not everywhere, but a lot of places. And I always fall. Always. That has made picking up kids every night for Vacation Bible School a little difficult. Not impossible, just a little slippery.
It was just a normal day. Jonathan and I were driving down the Yerbas Buenas road to pick up the kids. We were running late, of course. Nothing was unusual. As the truck was making its way down the road, a motorkar was just about to pass us going the opposite direction. There were two women in the motokar. I don't know why this hit such a strong note with me. I don't even know why I'm blogging about this. It was a gesture. A small one. That one of the women did. It only lasted 3 seconds and then it was gone. As we were passing, she put up her hands to make a gun, looked me straight in the eye, and moved her mouth as if to say "Bang". You're dead.

She killed me.

We continued down the road. But something felt different. I had to gather my thoughts. I felt numb. I don't even know why it affected me so much. But it did. I had just been shot.

In my heart.


Let us pray - for 3 minutes

I have to admit something. I have never been a huge prayer warrior. I don't wake up at 5 o'clock every morning to pray for 2 hours before each day starts. I know I should pray more often than I do though. But I have this problem with becoming okay with where I'm at. When nothing is going wrong, when I feel like I'm living how I want to be. Oh, boy that's the most dangerous state to get stuck in. And that's where I felt I was at. When I get into the routine of not spending the time with God and still think I'm fine, that's exactly where Satan wants me. That's where he wants all of us. Stuck. Stuck within ourselves and not even caring to reach out to the One who gives us everything - including the life we're wasting.
I think my prayer life, or lack thereof hit me last week when I was invited to attend an all night prayer vigil at my little church in Yerbas Buenas. I had never done, or thought of doing, anything like that before in my life. Ok, I can probably fill up at least 15 minutes of talking to God about stuff, but then what. What do I do for the next 6 hours?
I have been searching for the real truth for the past couple months. Not the stuff they teach in church. I want it raw and real. I've been reading what Jesus says. I want it from Him and no one else. And I've surprised myself about how passionately bitter I've become about some things that our present in the church that I belong to (but that's for a later blog). So, in the intent to spend the night doing some serious searching, I decided to go. Not knowing what I was getting myself into.
Let me just tell you something about the little Yerbas Buenas church. They are old. All of them. They are old and cute and wrinkly and they know all of their hymns by heart because they can't see well enough to read the hymnal anymore. When we got there (Stephanie and Jenessa were kind enough to come with me) after the VBS program at Km 6, Daniel was leading out in hymns. After about an hour of singing and listening to a little message presented by one of the hermanos, Daniel informed me that he was leaving because he was tired and had work in the morning. That little gesture left me in charge of the rest of the night.
Well, we were there to pray, right? So I got up to the front of the church and announced that we were going to divide up for some individual prayer time to really search for God. I said we were going to pray for 30 minutes and then come back together and sing some more songs. I looked at my watch. 11:17. I started my prayer. It felt a little foreign to me. Just because I knew I was going to have to continue for 30 minutes. I could hear the soft whisperings and mumbles of the hermanos. Then I started hearing feet shuffling back to their seats and talking. I looked at my watch again. 11:20. Oh, Lord, I said in my head, This is going to be a long night.
I went ahead and finished my prayer. Towards the end of it, the now-bored church members started singing hymns. It didn't take me very long to figure out that all they wanted to do was sing. They just want to praise their God. They lift their off tune voices to their Savior that they love. So we sang. A lot. Many hymns we sang. Many hymns we sang multiple times.
There was one little old lady in particular. She was a little tramposita (cheater) all night. She just straight up laid down on the cement floor and went to sleep. For the whole night. At the end of the night, rather, at 4:30 in the morning we all gathered together for one last prayer. A family prayer. We held hands and swayed in sleep. When it was her turn to pray, I was almost brought to tears. She called out to her Papacito Dios. She thanked Him for all of his blessings and asked for His presence in our lives. Papacito Dios. She was talking to her Daddy. And it was the most beautiful prayer I had ever heard.
Did I have any grand epiphanies after my praying and searching that night?
Not really.
Did I have an awesome God moment where heaven opened and I saw the singing angels?
Instead I shared a simple night with a simple church family.
I did learn something though.
Life doesn't have to be as complicated as we make it.
Religion doesn't have to be as complicated as we make it.
God is our Daddy.
We are His children. His sheepies.
And this is what Christ's words have been teaching me: The passionate, I-would-do-anything-for-you, devoted love for Jesus needs to come first. And if we don't have that, everything else is in vain. All the religion. All of the hymn singing. All of the offerings. The church services. None of that matters.
God has been teaching me a lot this year. More than I ever thought possible. And it's funny how the lessons always come from the weirdest places. From the 3 minute prayers and simple songs of the old church members of Yerbas Buenas who stayed up all night to worship their Papacito.


The cows

Have you ever been face to face with something and had no idea whether or not it was going to eat you up in one snarf? Maybe it was a big test, or a struggle/temptation, or a frienemy. Maybe it was a cheetah or a rhinoceros. For me, it was a cow. 
I have never been around cows in my life. But now I live on a farm, and with that comes the cows. 
It was fun going to the barn with everyone late one night to watch the birth of a calf. It's fine that the boys bring in a pitcher of milk every morning and I have to boil it to get the germies out. I like hearing the them moo during the day. But when the Doctor asked me to go out to the barn to take pictures of the cows, I didn't know what was going to happen to me. It was just going to be me and them. I told Rachel and Lauren that if I didn't come back in 20 minutes to come searching for me. I really don't know what cows are capable of doing. Probably nothing less than man slaughter. 
As I approached the pen, 20 ears perked up. It was very unnerving to be stared at by 10 cows. And then 40 hooves started walking towards me. Just snap the pictures real quick and leave, I kept telling myself. But something else told me to stay. I think it was Temple Grandin.
The bravest cow approached me. I was fully prepared to get stampeded, but it just stuck out its huge purple tongue and started licking my hand. Later I saw it sticking that same long purple tongue up its nose to lick its cow boogers. How nice.


Fish, sin, and peeing my pants

The funny thing about the Spanish language is the similarity between words. At times it gets rather humerous. Especially for me, someone who likes to try and speak even when I have no idea what I'm saying. Examples: the Spanish word for eye, ojo, is extremely similar to the words for cooking pot, oya, and leaf, oja. So, it's pretty much a recipie for disaster for me. I remember going next door to Shirley's house to ask her if I could borrow a pot. "Hey, Shirley," I started, "¿Puedes prestarme tu ojo?" Roughly translated, Hey Shirley, can I borrow your eye? Good one, genius. I had only been rehursing that one line over and over in my head the whole way over to her house. She just laughed at me, handed me a pot, and then I was on my way.
One good thing about making mistakes is that you usually can remember not to make the same ones. Besides just knowing the difference now between ojo and oya, I also know from another equally embarrassing situation that pescado means fish and pecado means sin. It's all good. If you can't laugh at yourself and your own misfortunes, then what can you laugh at? We all know it's fun to laugh at others, but if you can't laugh at yourself? Well, that's just not really fair.
I can think of a number of times when the only thing I could do was laugh. This year I have found myself in quite a number of pickle situations. And it's been great. I have to be honest, I used to be pretty uptight about stuff like messing up. I liked to do things right. Mistakes equaled failure. Now? Mistakes equal a laugh. I don't know what happened or rather what snapped inside of me. But something did. And I think it was for the better.
A few weeks back I was staying at Km 8 at the clinic. I had only brought 1 change of clothes seeing as I was only going to be staying for 1 day. I fell asleep while reading and was woken up by the sound of rain, Chris and Jonathan banging on the front gate to be let in, and the urge to pee. Ignoring nature's call, I jumped up to try and find the keys to unlock the gate. Couldn't find them. At this point the boys were shouting and my bladder was doing the same. I decided that the boys could wait while I ran to the outhouse to take care of more important business. About half way there, trying to carefully dodge the puddles, I realized the unevitible truth that I wasn't going to make it. In a completely frazzled state I just decided to go right then and there. I just want to let you now that here in Peru it is not a rare sight to see someone peeing on the street, in the grass, anywhere really. And then I didn't make it again. Yep, pee everywhere. The worst part was having to walk back to the house with wet shorts. I felt like a toddler again. 
After changing into my only remaining pants and getting thoroughly laughed at by everyone, I  went outside to brush my teeth. It was still raining. Km 8 is full of puddles and dark. I was just setting myself up for another disaster. The ground was super slippery, and pretty soon I found myself looking up at the stars and soaking wet and muddy. Strike 2. After another round of laughs and one bucket shower later I was in bed. Thinking about the series of events that had just taken place, all I could do was laugh. This is how things are supposed to be, even if there is a little pee and mud involved.


Tomorrow morning

Tomorrow morning I will wake up to the sound of rain. Tomorrow morning my mosquito net will be once again confused for a hammock by a black and white furry lump. I will wake up to that incesently purring machine almost touching my face. Tomorrow morning I will also wake up with the urge to pee. An urge that I will have been trying to ignore since 4. Tomorrow morning I will untuck myself from my trecherous haven and muster up all the wit and strength I possess in the early morning to decend the four steps to the floor. By that time I will be wide awake and have to run outside to the bathroom. Tomorrow morning I have to cook breakfast. We have a lot of bananas. Banana pancakes.