Our family is in Peru for two years to serve with Extreme Nazarene. We are living in the jungle city of Puerto Maldonado supporting our team of 8 missionaries as 12 churches are planted here in 18 months! Please keep checking in to keep up on our our ministry and adventures in Peru!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

An Interesting Easter

Just as Tracy mentioned, Semana Santa has been a huge part of our time with our family, school and out on the town. While Semana Santa has been a constant source of amusement and conversation it has been an incredible open door to learn more about the Catholic traditions and typical Peruvian religious views. Additionally, it has been an incredible opportunity for us to share what it is that makes a relationship with Jesus such a big deal.

As previously described regarding this crazy week, the culminating event for this week of as you would expect is the Hanging and Burning (or Blowing up) of Judas. I was quite surprised when heard about this rather strange tradition after seeing how involved they are in the processions on Palm Sunday, on Good Friday and throughout the week. When we heard about the Quema de Judas events around the city in the wee hours of the morning on Easter Sunday, Olivia, Andrew and I knew we had to see what this was about. We had heard that they string up a Judas character, read what they call the "testament of Judas" which is a series of humorous political commentaries and then they burn Judas. The likeness of Judas as you see in the picture is of their president Alan Garcia, which was a source of much of the humor. Anyway, following the testament we found ourselves closer to Judas then anyone in the crowd, probably because we thought he was going to get burned. To our surprise it was less of a burning than a fantastic explosives demonstration. I can't explain how loud it was to experience each of Judas' paper Mache and bamboo limbs exploding only 15 feet away. We tried to back up when we realized this was a pyrotechnic display but the crowd prevented it. As Judas shrapnel was thrown past or covered faces, I heard Olivia scream out "I'm hit" as a piece of bamboo hit her an inch above her eye. While we were shaken and quite humored by the whole ordeal we were pretty excited to receive at least 10 seconds of our 15 minutes in Monday’s newspaper. This is news and not "Where's Tyson," I'm in there.

While the Quema de Judas and Semana Santa introduced us to this new culture this also provided an excellent platform for us to share how the Christ we know is so drastically different. I have two professors that have helped me understand this week which has been interesting considering they both hold drastically different religious beliefs common to Peru.

Marcos, in the picture to the left is my morning prof and an architecture student at the local University. He and I have a lot in common, we both enjoy writing music, aviation and learning about many different things. He has read through the Bible twice and has had a difficult time justifying what he has read with the Catholic traditions of his mother and the atheist views of his father. As try to wrap my head around the fact that they burn Judas rather than celebrate Christ's Resurrection on Easter. Marcos and I found ourselves in agreement as we discussed the irony of the celebration, knowing that Christ wasn't about revenge, dispise for Judas or for anyone. I then got to share why His Resurrection has made us free from the religious heirarchy and the tradition of praying to Mary. Instead it's Jesus alone; His sacrifice and the relationship we can now have with God is what give us freedom in life.

A cool order of events took place just the other day when Marcos brought out a Spanish crossword puzzle in class and wanted me to fill in some answers. I had done two or three and then he asked me to do the question that was looking for a 6 letter book of the bible. The hitch was that the second letter needed to be an "S" because of the other word running through it. I named off a bunch from the New Testament (names of the books are different here) and none matched. At this point we were struggling with this question and Marcos could have asked me to move on to another question but he didn't. So, I took out my pocket bible and went through the Old Testament. I then flipped to Isaiah or Isaias in Spanish and landed on chapter 50. I then turned to chapter 53 and asked Marcos to read. He did and as many of you know 53 is a very specific prophesies of Christ's death. He read and quickly realized that this was about Jesus, that it was way before Christ and it was a direct prophesy. He appeared floored and I believe that being here during Semana Santa was divine timing for us here in Arequipa and for Marcos. I look forward to what's to come.

I have another professor named Set who is a very strict Catholic and I'll share next time about her beliefs and how they mesh the old Incan traditions and religion with the her Catholic beliefs and how we’ve been able to discuss these differences.

I'm so excited to see God reveal himself to the people here in Peru, because they have a very different view of God, and yet so different that we do in the states.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Semana Santa

This last week we were able to celebrate Semana Santa (Holy Week) here in Arequipa. It was very different in many ways, being a Catholic country, but it was wonderful to experience the culture and traditions of the people here. I am not going to get all my facts/words right when explaining but I will do my best:) Thursday afternoon/evening there is a huge procession for the stations of the cross (I believe). In the center of the city tons of people visited about 13 or 14 churches. We went to the center to see what was happening and there were TONS of people and long, long lines to get into the churches. When we arrived home we had a dinner of pure desserts. Beginning Thursday they don't eat meat (only fish) and so for Thursday & Friday...soley desserts...I was loving it! Our madre made 4 different pudding type dishes. Arroze con leche, another dish similar but more brown, a cinnamon pudding and a cooked fruit/jelly type pudding. Our hermana made some muffins with Kai that day too...she called them a creation de Kai...they were delicious and had manjar in and on them. Kai had stayed the morning with Juana and Regine because no school during Holy Week (Thurs & Fri) for the kiddos.

Friday I stayed home from school to be with Kai. Our Spanish classes were optional, and although I need all the classes I can, my heart was yearning for a morning with my son. We had a good day, going to the store and then meeting up with the Durans at Presto Pizza where the kids could play. I passed on pizza, saving myself for the traditional lunch I knew was coming. And boy was it coming. We were greeted with a soup...first of all, I don't like soups in general, but every day for lunch we have a soup and then another dish after, so I am getting more used to it. But this soup, this was more than I could handle. Again, no meat, but seafood is a go...and they went with it. There were whole camarons (they say they are river shrimp but they are basically crawdads)...eyes, antennas, everything! There were also clams, fish eggs, potatoes and rice. I was able to tear apart the camarons and eat the tails...lots of people eat all of it...brains and all, but thankfully our family didn't suggest it. Tyson chomped down on the fish eggs which you are supposed to chew like gum and then spit out the rest. The sound of Tyson eating those was enough for me and I just pushed mine down in the liquid...I could not do it. I did eat the potatoes and tried a clam but I am really not good at eating weird things...I failed this one:( Friday evening we went to our church for a service. I am still struggling to understand the sermons but it was wonderful to sing and worship with our Peruvian brothers and sisters.

Saturday evening we had a little Easter party with our 40/40s and it was wonderful time. I spent the whole day at home cooking, cleaning and getting ready. It felt really wonderful to be even a little domestic...I miss doing those things! I was able to make some cookies...but had to use a mix because they don't have things like, chocolate chips, or gram crackers or any of the things I was actually looking for. Although I miss cooking sometimes, I am SO glad I have not had to figure out how to cook in this country yet...that will come soon enough:) Kai helped me prepare little "Easter" bags for the 40/40s and we hard boiled eggs for coloring. We had such a fun time with our team! We colored eggs (not a tradition here in Peru), made TONS of French toast...2 loaves worth, had communion and foot washing, played a game and made popcorn! It was a great time.
Everyone showing off their favorite egg
Easter morning Tyson got up really early for the Caime de Judas...that is a post in itself from Tyson who will give you the details:) For breakfast Easter morning we had another traditional dish Adoba...a pork soup dish. Although it was soup, I have to say it was delicious...a bit rich for my stomach for breakfast...but very worth it! We celebrated the Resurrection of our Savior with our Peruvian brothers and sisters and it was wonderful to focus on the Resurrection! After church we went to the office and had an "American" Easter lunch with ham and potatoes and salad with Ranch dressing...so good! There was a egg hunt for the kids and everyone had a wonderful time!
Here is the group of the youngest kiddos getting ready to find eggs

It was a good week and I feel like we were able to learn more about the culture. My observation was that the focus of the traditions was more on the death of Christ and other things, rather than a celebration of the Resurrection of our Savior. I am happy to say that at our church we did celebrate the Resurrection and Jesus was definitely the focus!

On another note, I tried to make some deviled eggs at our lunch from the eggs we colored and had a bad experience. When I took a very tiny taste to see if they were salted correctly, I found the eggs had a distinct fish flavor...not good when it is supposed to be an egg. I decided to toss them in case they were bad..and after all, no one wants a fishy egg right? Well, I am happy I tossed them...for everyone else's sake (except Michelle who also tasted them for me...sorry Michelle!) I was up sick the entire night Sunday vomiting...literally every hour. It was horrible and really my first time of being really sick here. Thank you to all who prayed for me. I had to stay in bed all day yesterday to recover but was able to go to school today and feel a ton better!

Tomorrow and Thursday and Friday we are having a retreat with our entire Extreme Team. Your prayers for a time of refreshment, unity and growth would be very much appreciated!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A cure for sunburn...

Our host family is always suggesting these random remedies for illness, pain, etc. After forgetting to wear sunblock during Kai's birthday party, Tyson took them up on their suggestion for sunburn today...tomatoes. And if you are wondering--yes, it did feel better afterwards!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kai's Birthday Party at the Dinosaur Park!

We had a great day today celebrating Kai's birthday with his friends at the Dinosaur Park here in Arequipa. It is a great little park with dinosaurs (of course), trampolines, play grounds, ball pits, face painting and other fun things for kids of all age groups. Kai had a really fun time celebrating with his friends. We are thankful to have other families around us during this time of transition. We are also so thankful for our friends back home who have sent their prayers and birthday wishes to Kai. We miss you all!

Kai working hard to blow out "all" his candles

Posing with the dinos
Enjoying cupcakes

Kai and his friend, Janna
Inspecting the triceratops' teeth...

A birthday collage...Thank you to all who came and made this a special day for Kai!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Kai turns 2 in Peru!

Today is Kai's 2nd birthday! Tyson and I took the day off school to spend it with our birthday boy:) We went to el marcado to buy him a couple gifts (with doubled as neccessary items like shoes and a backpack:) For lunch we went to the local pizza place Presto Pizza. Kai was really excited about pizza as you can see below and he loved playing in the ball pit in the play area.

In the afternoon we went out for ice cream with our 40/40 crew so they could celebrate with Kai too!
Tyson and I with our birthday boy

When we got home from ice cream we had a wonderful dinner with our host family (yes, we let Kai have ice cream before dinner...it's his bday after all). We had fried chicken and french fries...very American and very yummy. After dinner they brought out this beautiful cake our host sister, Regine, had made. After every meal Kai loves playing with Regine and lately has been loving her Mickey Mouse stuffed animals....so it was very sweet that Mickey was on top of his cake. We feel so thankful that they made Kai's birthday so special for him!

Here is Regine and Renato encouraging Kai to take a bite out of his cake:)

And here is our family singing to Kai

After dinner...and many stories and songs...and after what was supposed to be bedtime...all the sugar came back to bite us! We found Kai in our room with the bottle of lotion...with lots of it on his head:) It was too funny to be very mad and we decided to take a picture. He's transitioned quickly to a two-year-old!It was a fun day celebrating Kai's birthday. We missed being with friends and family but we are blessed to have the friends and family we have here to celebrate special days with! We are excited to have a fiesta for Kai on Saturday with some of his friends here in Peru!