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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.