Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Yo Soy Americana y Estoy 'Loyal'!

Technically speaking, I'm still in America. Apparently the Global Association of Whoever, otherwise known as "they" decided that its politically incorrect to introduce myself as an American. At least that's what my Spanish teacher tells me. But truly, I've never felt more American than now, being by far the minority though hopefully not in the stereotypical arrogant American way! I respect this culture and that Peruvians live the way they do, however I am not Peruvian. and that's ok! I can have cultural humility and yet love my homeland just as much as the Peruvian. In fact, this realization has led me to recognize this trait in myself, and put it in the spotlight for a second.

Loyalty is generally considered a positive characteristic. Although I am happy to say I am a loyal person, but, as my closest and dearest circle knows, its not always in my favor! Here adjusting to this new way of life, and missing my American conveniences, again it has struck close to my heart. I miss my family, i miss my friends, I miss frosted-mini-wheats, Dunkin Donuts, a steady paycheck, my bike. I miss San Diego beaches, and road signs in English. I miss Helvetica font on store fronts, and I miss one stop shopping at Target. And amazon prime. Boy, do i miss free 2 day shipping.

In some of the lower points during this adjustment process, I've come to elevate some of these conveniences to a place they don't belong. (I would pay big bucks for a donut) And this morning, the Lord has given me clarity and I'm happy to share this with my loyal readers. (Hi mom and dad) The Christian walk is similar to living in another country, choosing to leave the comfortable behind, not following the natural selfish man. And no loyalty to that way of life will do anyone any good. The Lord calls us to forsake mother and father, and to even hate them in comparison to our devotion to Christ. That is SUCH a hard word for someone like me. Someone who fiercely loves the people in her life, her everyday comforts and american cereals. How am I going to make it here in this new world? It was this question that made me recognize this issue of loyalty- and the desperate reality that I need to be loyal to the death [of everything else except] Jesus.

The psalmist David over and over proclaims that only God satisfies his heart, and God is the only one He seeks after, early in the morning, late in the night. His enemies, physical, spiritual, emotional, seek to overwhelm him and He cries out to the One who satisfies his heart. Oh that He would satisfy mine!! Is God enough? Of course! More than enough, but my wandering heart deceives me and those thoughts find me in my low moments and tell me no. Things would be better if only... this. Or I will be having an easier time when... that. Nope. False.

So Peru, here we are. and Lord, here you are. Never leaving or forsaking me. Equipping me with your power and none of my own. Because I've got nothing apart from Him- and He is enough!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Perros, Perils, and Prayers!

 I've been telling my friend Sarah, one of the other volunteers, that i am going to write a 'dog blog' about all the dogs in Cusco! Seriously! There are so many, different colors, sizes, shapes, breeds, and many that look even pure-bred. Where is the puppy farm? There has to be a factory somewhere just churning out these guys. And who knows who or if they belong to anyone, except the ones that clearly guard to the death their front doors and garages. I've seen enough dog on dog, then dog on child and then mom on dog violence to know that animal control isn't a big priority in Peru. 

Another non-priority in Peru is the utilization of dumpsters. Those large, metal, nearly dog proofed bins where human trash can be kept. Meaning on trash mornings, when the night before trash is piled in the streets, the dogs are in scavenging paradise, and those poor trash men have to collect the trash strewn about the entire neighborhood. Which brings me to the traffic patterns in the streets. There isn't one. In fact the only ticket I've seen issued to a driver was for stopping too long on the side of the road, therefore impeding the flow of unlimited speeding cars, with no regard to those dogs, children or pedestrians. They simply don't stop. Most of the traffic is taxis and I once foolishly wondered where do the taxis park when they are off duty? Silly me. They are never off duty. I've begun to recognize some of them by elvis dash board bobble heads, or Virgin Mary fuzzy dice on the rear view mirror. Pedestrians run for their lives. I laughed so hard at this sign, because its run or be run over here in Cusco. We went for a weekend trip and again these taxis are crazy. Please see the attached video for proof. I'm so glad I'm alive.

There have been tragedies also. Just this month 51 people were killed in a bus accident in southern Peru after the bus rolled off a winding mountain road. All on board killed. I'm making that particular trip next month. Prayers appreciated. Also while you're praying, I have had more than a few weeks of trying to recoop from a pain in my left rib cage, either a fracture or a costochondritis but it doesn't really matter because I'm supposed to rest and give it several more weeks. Just this weekend I re-injured it doing the oh-so-dangerous risky behavior of sneezing. I dislocated one of those imported ribs at the a costocartilage joint, and now those angry muscles are back with a vengeance. "How dare you sneeze without bracing yourself on something!" Owwww. Well that means I'm hanging out at home, taking some time to not lift children or do PT with them, but all the while trying to brace myself to lift heavy things like my laptop or coffee cup.

This trip has not been as expected. Oooh life, gets me every time. But who was I to assume that coming to Peru as a PT meant that I would actually do PT, or go to a Peruvian church (which i haven't yet) or eat guinea pig (no that one's ok to skip, no gracias.) But really, it hasn't been as expected. I have felt stretched on every side, culturally, linguistically, emotionally and physically. I'm at maybe 50% of my capacity to.. walk. forget biking. (Cusco is a mountain biker's paradise and even though my heart rate is back to normal and I'm not winded walking up steps at these 11,000 ft, I can hear my body laughing at me when I google Inca bike trails.)

So that leaves me here, in my home casa home, seeking the Lord, my heart choosing to praise him instead of question what kind of cruel trick was it that got me here? For though He slay me, yet will I trust Him, and as my mom wisely told me, a seeking heart will not be ignored.

Friday, October 4, 2013

another dia, another monopoly dollar.

I've become really fond of using spanglish. Its the lazy man's language really because you just say whatever comes to mind, whether may be the english or spanish palabra.. err.. word. See! I think it means I'm learning. Not to be confused with easy though, because its not. My brain is tired of trying and some days I just know I'll never get any better. My fluent roommate Chelsie says that progress is hard to track because one day you just realize "Hey, I understood most of that" and I'm really hoping I get there.

 Perdon, sorry to wake you, Cuanto cuesta por la bolsa?
So! what does life look like in Peru? Let me start with the driving. Everybody here takes taxis for the most part, and they are terrifying. The kind of ride where you definitely should wear a seatbelt, but there's no way you want to strap yourself down in case of emergency. Its getting easier to just trust that I'll make it to my destination *fingers crossed* alive. The money here is another conundrum, i still call it monopoly money. It just doesn't seem real yet. The conversion is definitely to my advantage, the US dollar carrying much further than the Peruvian sole. Making shopping more fun. Alpaca stuff in every shape and size, from head to toe, walls to rugs. and I wish you could feel it! Its so suave!! err... soft. Granted, without income, it still could easily add up quickly. The markets and street vendors have so many things for tourists! And I am a total sucker for souvenirs. Check out this vendor in the local artesian market... look closely. 

Never seen corn like this!
The food! I've spotted several displays that i recognize at first as a fried object in the shape of a rodent. Oh that's just chuy, or fried guinea pig to the less adapted human. They eat mostly carbs, lots of bread and I've never seen corn as big before! My host mom is a phenomenal cook and I have really enjoyed the food! All peruvian wine tends to be.. more like juice. Like the kind on sunday mornings you sip and look around and think "this is wine. no this is juice. no wine. no really old juice." But I'm so thankful that the host family makes all our meals and I've felt to welcomed and comfortable in their home.

I've been unfortunately sick these last few weeks here in cusco, and Rosanna and Lucho kindly took me to a local clinic which brings me to the health care system. There's a national health care system in place, decentralized with lots of confusing players. (sound familiar?) Anyway I had the pleasure of going to a clinic here, San Juan de Dios, and paying $13 for a consult, $18 for a chest xray, and about $23 for the medicines to treat a potential pneumonia. Which brings up another interesting aspect of this culture - bargaining. Next to nothing here has a price tag on it, you have to ask and then name a price and then so do they and back and forth until somebody says ok. They haggle for everything. Even my chest x-ray!! which ultimately I had done in the basement of this obscure building next door to a nail salon, so needless to say I was thrilled that Rosanna (host mom) offered to take me.

The weather, we're in the rainy season now which means random showers, sometimes strong, sometimes drizzling. But RAINBOWS galore! its been a beautiful sight to catch frequently here, but i hope I never get used to it!
There are many more things to keep you updated about, but I'm going to write more later about the school and the orphanage I work with. I've taken this week off to recoop from this frustrating illness, feeling weak though grateful for the continued prayers! And if anyone wants any specific Peruvian handicraft or souvenir, I'm happy to go shopping for you! Keep in touch!!