Sunday, November 20, 2011

November newsletter

Olivares family update
Cusco, Peru
Nov. 19, 2011

This week we have been busy with a medical team from Canada. The clinic went well and the team was able to help hundreds of people. Things have been pretty stressful the last several weeks trying to get all the permits and letters we needed in order for the doctors and medicine to enter the country, but thankfully, and thanks to your prayers, they were permitted to enter the country. On the first day of the clinic, the Ministry of Health came and inspected everything and gave us the go ahead. The team is now taking some leisure time to visit Machu Picchu before heading back home next week.

About a week ago, Ricky and Jorge met with the community president about the land. The meeting didn’t result exactly as we hoped. He basically told us (after three months of telling us otherwise) that the land isn’t available to give to the church without first going through the municipality and changing some of the legal jargon. He seems willing to going through the hassle of changing it, but hasn’t set any sort of date as to when he can do that. But he did promise to help us in our search for a church location. It hasn’t been an easy process but we have faith that God will provide. We have faith because first of all, He has always provided and second, His children, the church, desire their own location with the space they need for ministry, community activities and for a business that will help sustain it. Our current location is just too small!

Christmas Party
We hope you got our recent letter about the Christmas party. Plans are being made and the next weeks will fly by. As you read in our previous letter, we need to raise support to pay for the two parties with the children of Cusco and Sangarara as well as festivities with the adults. Our need is for $2,000 in total. Please pray about helping our children in Peru have a wonderful Christmas this year!*

Our family is well… Milan is almost 21 months and Isabella is 3 and 10 months. Isabella is quite the artist and has such a wonderful imagination. She has discovered a joy for photography recently and is learning to play the piano. Milan is Isabella’s biggest fan, loves music and likes to climb on everything. Ricky… likes long walks on the beach… in the rain… just kidding.

Thank you for your prayer, love and words of encouragement!
Tracie, Ricky, Isabella and Milan

*If you would like to make a donation to the Christmas party, make checks payable to: Iberoamerican Ministries and attach a note directing it to the “Olivares Christmas Project”. Send to: IAM PO BOX 1493, Monroe, WA 98272

Thursday, November 10, 2011

a medical team

We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the medical team. They will be here on Sunday. The majority have already (or are about to) leave their homes in Canada. They will meet up with the rest of the team tomorrow morning in Seattle, WA. Then they'll come down to Lima and Sunday morning will fly to Cusco. This year is the fourth of fifth year in a row that we've hosted them. Each year there are several new people, doctors and nurses. We also get to see some familiar faces, people that we love dearly and who love us too! 

Thanks ony to God we haven't ever had issues with the team bringing in a whole pharmacy worth of medicine. But each year it's a nerve-wracking time.... getting letters, signatures, official stamps, etc. For the last 6 weeks we have been trying to get these letters from the Red Cross and Ministry of Health. And if we weren't already aware from previous experiences (in trying to get residency for example, which we still don't have after 7 years, nor will we ever) that most official processes work backwards and in slow-motion, this one has gone above and beyond to test our patience. I will save you the details... Thank god, you say! 

So if you have ever been on a mission trip, a medicial mission trip, have ever lived outside your country or have just traveled here and there or have just been to the DMV, you may have experienced situations that test your patience and faith in humanity! Pray for us, that today (the deadline) we will get the last letter. 

And not only that we get the letter to the team in time for their arrival, but that when they pass through customs that the customs officials are in a good mood and approve the letters... and let them bring in all the boxes of medicine. 

And then not only that, but that on Monday morning when the clinic is scheduled to begin, that the Ministry of Health people show up on time to review all our medicines and that they allow the clinic to go ahead and start!

We are also receiving a team of five translators from Tacna, Peru. Pray they'll have a relatively comfortable, 18 hour bus ride -without any problems. We are looking forward to having them too!

And now to rest a bit. We spent the whole morning in the hot burning sun climbing up and down the stairs passing out flyers and sticking them to doors. I with a 20 or 25 pound baby on my back (it could have been 40 pounds for all I know.. I don't know how much he weighs). I realized a few things. I either must be out of shape or that kid is really heavy. And sweating (when not intentionally working out) is just gross.. i haven't done that in while. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Olivares family update
Cusco, Peru
Sept/Oct 2011
A village church plant
A few months ago we were approached by a brother in our church to begin praying about God’s leading toward starting a new work. This work would be a church plant in Sangarara, an agricultural village nestled high in the Andes Mountains a few hours outside of Cusco. Most residents speak only Quechua and are illiterate. They work herding sheep, cows and pigs. They live by barter. Their lives have been mostly untouched by the western world. There is a group of individuals who have heard the gospel and have placed their faith in Christ. But they have no church, no shepherd, no one to teach them. They
want more. 

So, we visited and prayed, sent Jorge and Janet back to visit, and have met with Eloy, the believer who lives in Sangarara who shared this need in the first place. It encourages us that God has led the believers in our church in this way. We will help support the formation with the idea that the members of our church will be the
leaders and teachers who continue and sustain this work.

We will begin this Saturday, Oct. 15th, with a children’s outreach campaign; with music, children’s songs,
dances, a lesson and breakfast served. We are inviting the entire village, with the hopes to get to know the
families and begin inviting them to the small group that Jorge and Eloy will be starting. The head of police
gave us the approval for the open-air meeting and said he that he also wants to learn more about God. He was so thrilled that he is going to have the entire police force (which isn’t many) attend. 

The small group that is being formed will be led by Eloy. Seeing as Eloy doesn’t speak Spanish and doesn’t
read at all, his wife will read the Bible to him. Jorge will meet with to disciple him on a weekly basis since Jorge is bilingual in Spanish and Quechua. Janet will be leading ministry with the children. We have already begun to collect Bibles in Quechua. The members of the church are compiling worship music in Quechua as well. Everyone is excited at how they can participate in what God is leading us to do in Sangarara.

Prayer needs:
-For the people of Sangarara to have open hearts to receive Christ and to follow Him 
-For interfamily violence and alcoholism that exists in the village
-That it doesn’t rain this Saturday
-For safe travels for everyone who will be going Saturday, we leave Cusco at 6am
-For God’s provision of the approx. $400 we will need monthly, for a location, supplies and travel costs for those who will be going each week.

If you would like to commit to supporting the new work in Sangarara on a monthly basis or send a one-time donation, please make check payable to Iberoamerican Ministries, with a note attached for “Olivares Cusco Ministry” And send to IAM, PO Box 1493, Monroe, WA 98272

Other prayer requests:
-Tracie’s health- her eyes are continuing to have complications, accompanied with pain and blurry vision.
-Jorge and Janet, pray that they will continue to grow and mature in the Lord, as shepherd and teacher.
-Aracely and Carlos, for their marriage and commitment to the Lord and to each other, that they will
continue taking steps of faith. For Aracely who is being discipled as a children’s leader in the church and for
Carlos, who wants to serve, but is easily distracted with other things.
-For the annual children’s Christmas party in December; planning has begun so that this year’s party will be
as much of a blessing as it has been in the past. If you would like to make a donation we’d be grateful!

-Efrain and Olger took steps of faith and were baptized recently. They
also are attending the leadership course that Ricky is leading. Both
men are growing and desiring to serve more in the church.
-Ricardo and Julia, the couple who were recently married in the church
are taking steps toward leadership as well.
-Though we don’t know anything yet, it is possible the neighborhood
association of San Blas will donate a piece of land to the church that we can build on. We praise God in advance knowing we will soon have something… and we continue praying for favor from God and that of the association’s president. And for a meeting and decision to take place soon.

We will close by sending greetings and love from our family to yours. Isabella and Milan are doing well, growing too fast, and bring so much joy to our lives. We are looking forward to the medical team that will be coming in November and the upcoming Christmas celebrations, preparations are already underway!

With love and peace,
Ricky, Tracie, Isabella and Milan

• For donations please attach a note for “Olivares Cusco Ministry”
• Specify it for the “Cusco Christmas Project” if desired
• Send to: IberoAmerican Ministries. PO Box 1493. Monroe, WA 98272

Monday, October 10, 2011

High Altitude Cooking....

Except for the months between Sept 2005 and Jan 2006, where we stayed with Ricky's parents in Santiago, I have spent my entire marriage living in Cusco. I can no longer remember what it was like to cook in a non-altitude environment on a daily basis. Cooking has become a hobby of sorts and I find joy in creating healthy, delicious meals for Ricky and my little ones.

But I do remember what it was like our very first week in Cusco. It took me nearly 7 days to figure out how to cook rice. My sister in law gave me a neat little cookbook called the High-Altitude Cookbook. After trying and failing certain recipes I read the biography of the authors and discovered that these ladies were living at HALF the altitude (in Colorado) that we are. So in our first weeks/months in Cusco, my free time was spent browsing the internet compiling information about high-altitude cooking. Soon I started readjusting and re-writing most of the recipes I had. It was fun and challenging.

After living here for nearly 7 years and cooking for my family every day, I hardly use recipes. Its fun to try things just by seeing a photo or inventing things using what I have in my kitchen. It has been a challenge when I want to try a recipe and can't find those ingredients here in Cusco. I've learned to just skip over such meals (like anything with fish or specialty cheeses or healthy substitutes like agave nectar). What I have learned is how to make an excellent dish with simple ingredients.... my fave is probably home-made pesto. We don't have the luxury of buying it already made and sold in a jar. Besides, what I'm learning is that those jarred/canned/processed foods have ingredients that aren't the freshest or even add terrible additives/colorants/preservatives, etc. Things I have come to abhor. I am thankful that I now have the skills to start a meal from the ground to the table and not have any need for additional store-bought, processed ingredients.

I have become obsessed over the last few years of reading labels and doing research. Like the time when I was learning about the E numbers. Having come from the U.S. where additives are not named as E numbers, I wasn't sure which each number meant. So I looked it up. And now, I know which ones are okay and natural and which ones are unhealthy and even dangerous. There are E numbers that have been approved in the EU and US and others that are not- that Peru uses, since they don't have the same standards.

Cooking in altitude is generally the same when grilling. It changes a bit with boiling since water boils at a lower temperature here. Water evaporates much quicker, so when making anything on the stove top, you have to keep that in mind and give either more water or more time depending on what you're making. I always thought it was weird that Cusquenans made rice by bringing it to a boil and letting it absorb half the water and then they pour off the rest of the water and place a plastic bag over the rice under the lid. How's that for getting BPA's in your food? Well it's normal here and it's almost the only way to cook rice. I avoid the plastic bag, but my rice never comes out as good. Baking is where things change a lot. After trying time and time again to make cookies, after nearly 7 years, I have finally perfected my chocolate chip cookie recipe so that I end up with a fluffy, soft and chewy cookie with the chocolate chips that stay melted inside. Cakes are just as difficult.

It gets complicated but my high-altitude tips are something along the lines of less sugar, less oil/butter, more flour/oats, additional eggs, more liquid, change amount of baking soda and powder - less soda more powder, higher temperature by about 15%, and more time in the oven. Fun, huh!

Friday, October 07, 2011

August baptisms

family and friends coming to watch to baptisms (ignore the clothes in the back... this is my patio!)

Ricky sharing a few words and explaining what is about to happen

Ricky and Jorge with Efrain 

Ricky and Jorge with Raul

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Cusqueña wedding

we were delighted to have a wedding in our little church up in the hills. it was the first wedding we have held here and it was beautiful.

Our view at dusk

 Seeing as the "bride and groom" are in their 60's, they didn't want all the bells and whistles that usually accompany an event like this. There were maybe 15 people in attendance, some of whom did not have any "wedding" clothes to wear. I love that our church doesn't discriminate or demand that people come dressed up, not for service and not for a wedding. Unfortunately every other church I know that exists in Cusco does have a sort of dress code. Many "believers" won't attend a church or sit next to a person wearing "Yanquis" (Sandals made from recycled rubber, typical for the poor and those who work in the fields). 

by their faces you'd think they were at a funeral, but apparently Cusqueñans do the straight face for any formal photo. It is so hard to get them to smile, you say "whiskey! (cheese)" and they do this. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


There are a handful of people I look up to, want to emulate, become like, strive toward having a heart/attitude like theirs. And the truth is, many of them aren't Christians. What does that say about the many Christians out there? Maybe it doesn't say much- but it does say something about me. I am not the same Christian I used to be.

I think living in an underdeveloped country might have to play into this. I no longer look up to people based on what they have or have achieved in life. on the contrary, I find myself drawn toward people that have lived some sort of sacrifice; maybe not the same sacrifice as us, but sacrifice nonetheless. Having or not having money does not matter - but rather the condition of peoples hearts.

A few persons I look up to were there for me selflessly, sacrificially... in the name of Love - but not necessarily in the name of God. Others are persons who are an example of unconditional faith, joy and love to others. Others still are constant, never-changing... not tossed about in the wind through times of adversity or world unrest. Somehow these "Christ-like" characteristics have become part of who they are... and whether they know it or not, they are a reflection of Christ to me.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Saturday afternoon we took the group of youth up to the 'campo', some fields next to the ruins of Saqsaywaman, which are just some ruins (not just some but rather the most important of Inca ruins -even more so than Machu Picchu). It's nice how just a brief jaunt up the hill from the church and we are playing soccer in a field next to these important ruins. I think I even forgot to look at them. It's funny how the Cusqueñans (people of Cusco) and we can have these ruins as a part of our daily lives to the point where they mean nothing to us. It's fun to take visitors there to actually look at the stacks of rocks, slide down the rock face, wander through the caves. But living daily in  a place like this is nothing special. It's not even above average. Which makes me Christians - those who live in their Christian bubbles, surrounded by Christian friends, going to service on Sunday, small group during the week, listening to their Christian music... do they become devoid of what Christianity really is? Are they so used to seeing Christ everywhere they go, just as we see Saqsaywaman, and forget to even look at Him? Can we be playing soccer or doing ministry right next to Jesus without even being with Him?

I don't see Christ every day. Do you know what I see? I see brokenness. Hunger. Violence. Pain. Suffering. I see lives ravaged by poverty. So then where is Jesus? He is us. in us. through us. We have to be HIM.

Can Christians who live in their little Christian circles actually be Christ to those who need Him? How can they if they aren't around people who need Him. I implore you to step out of your bubble, stop getting fat on the Word - and go. be. do. live. be HIM.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

june in cusco

our life has been on fast forward since we got home from the US on June 1st. We had a few busy weeks of preparing for two back to back mission teams, and then the receiving of the teams. The second group stayed with us in our home, which was great, but crazy in and of itself. Imagine 11 people plus two children sharing  two showers (with warm water half the time). No one got really sick though, which was a blessing, because it's so common for at least one to fall ill. Both teams have come and gone now, and the last few days have been spent getting our lives, ministry and house back to "normal".

We also got the short-lived good news that we were expecting again... only to find out soon after that I miscarried. It's been good on one hand to have the teams here because it's kept my mind off things... but also has made it difficult to talk about and grieve through. I am feeling much better these days though, and continue to trust in God's perfect will and timing. We aren't planning our future but if we can have another one eventually, we probably will.

"Normal" for us is anything but. And now my time is going to the preparation of moving yet again. The owners of our house are trying to sell it... they were asking $300K USD.. but have just told us they are going to RAISE the price because our other neighbors are asking $450K and the others (which is even more of a joke) - $800K. Can you believe they would even ask such prices, in dollars too! Well, so is the life in Cusco. People have their eyes closed to the world around them, and only see their own little reality - having no idea what they are actually asking. And the sad thing, is that someone just may pay $450K for a piece of land so they can build a large apartment complex on it, sell them and get rich. It's a joke. Really. If you saw our house you would know it is not worth 300k, there are some serious issues with it, but then again, it is the land that people are paying for. Thus being said, we are looking for another place to rent.

Although moving is such a CHORE, I am looking forward to it - hopefully to a cleaner, safer neighborhood. I am still having issues with my eye condition, and in part living in this dusty environment hasn't been helping. I have not, thankfully, had another severe ocular attack as I have before, but I am dealing with pain and dryness. We keep praying about it

Need to go make lunch for the fam - hopefully I will blog again before the end of the month!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

UV Radiation article

Cuzco and Ultraviolet Radiation

• Researchers at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) have discovered that
Cuzco, Peru is the site where the highest levels of ultraviolet (UV) rays occur on Earth.
• The strength of UV radiation is measured in terms of the UV index. Typically, on this scale, UVI levels
over 10 are considered dangerous to even somewhat prolonged exposure. In an area with a UVI rate of 10, a
fair-complexioned person will typically begin to experience sunburn after half an hour.

Cuzco has a measured peak UVI of 25, considered extremely hazardous to exposed skin.

Fig. 5:  each “pixel” represents a different measured zone. The zone centered over Cuzco (as
indicated on the map) was the only one to top a peak UVI index of 22.

Several factors contribute to this:

  • Cuzco’s elevation, at roughly 2.7 km above sea level. Air scatters and absorbs UV rays; the higher up, the less air to absorb UV.
  • Cloud cover. Clouds absorb, on average, 30% of UV rays. Cuzco, particularly during its dry season, has far fewer clouds, and they contribute to only a rough 9% absorption rate.
  • Ozone depletion. Ozone is a great absorber of ozone. It’s depletion has affected Cuzco, especially during the summer months when moving thinner patches of the ozone layer center over Peru.
  • Peru has the third-highest skin cancer rate in South America; the rate in Cuzco is roughly 8% higher than the rest of the country. Exposure to UV rays is a significant contributor to the formation of skin cancer.

(Source: Liley, J. Ben and Richard McKenzie. “Where on Earth Has the Highest UV?” UV Radiation and Its Effects: 
Update. April 2006. NIWA, Hamilton, New Zealand. Source: Environmental Protection Agency. This information can be found at

Monday, June 06, 2011


Where to begin....

There is so much to write about that I doubt I can fit it into one post. Besides it's late already, kids are finally in bed and I'm exhausted! I probably owe you (two or three) faithful readers several posts to update you on our lives the last several weeks... and I need to write a newsletter to all 250 people on our contact list, 10 of which probably actually read our newsletter (which deserves a blog post all of its own). Needless to say, we are here and for the most part well!

I should just start with now and work my way backwards. So yesterday was the second and final round of presidential elections here in Peru. Our concerns have become a reality, as Ollanta Humala was elected president. His speech last night included something to the effect of, I will help grow the Peruvian economy! It was not a surprise however that the Peruvian stock market fell 12.45% today, they had to close early to keep it from going any lower. It is the largest fall in Peruvian history. This is just the beginning, and if Humala actually intends to help the Peruvian economy grow, he has his work cut out for him. Humala has a bad history - everything from conspiring with the narco-traffickers to violations of human rights. The fear of many is that he is and will be a dictator. As the world is overturning these types of governments, the Peruvians just voted one in. We shall see what the future holds.

Saturday was our first day back to children's Bible school, it was so much fun seeing all those little faces again. I missed them! Janet and Jorge did a great job "holding down the fort"... they really don't need us anymore... or maybe they do, but they are doing so well and we are so proud!

Last week we flew back from the States.... it was a pretty easy journey with Isabella and Milan. It was overnight and since we got to the airport so early, we got the wide seats with no one in front of us. That was a blessing. We set up a little bed on the floor for Isa and she slept well the whole night and we had to wake her for landing in Lima. Milan, on the other hand, had Isa's seat but since he was uncomfortable the whole night, he tossed and turned and almost fell out of the seat several times and wasn't enjoying sleeping in our arms. He managed to sleep a few hours and I slept a few winks in between. It took a few days to catch up.. but here we are and our house was intact and unharmed except for a tremendous layer of dust covering everything. Apparently the city took out the pavement on a road up above our house and they haven't started repaving it yet. Meanwhile, all that red dirt is being blown down into our neighborhood and through the cracks in our windows and doors. It was gross.. it still is. I was just thinking about washing our clothes and hanging them up to dry with that dust floating through the air. Times like this, I wish we had a dryer (which I never thought I'd actually say out loud on a blog post) but we just got back from the States with all sorts of comforts, so I have the right, right?

I will post again about our trip to the States, but I'll just say briefly that we had an amazing time. We were received with so much love by so many people. It was such a short time there and it seemed like every day was a whirlwind of activity. I missed the slow-paced life and was soon tired by the complicated, busyness in the US, but it was so nice seeing all the wonderful people. We were blessed by their humble and good hearts. Our spirits were lifted. I came to several realizations while we were there, which I may or may not post on, but we learned so much .. and it's funny for me to even be writing this, since I was born and raised there, but after being gone for several years, my viewpoint has changed... we learned so much about hospitality, parenting, family, friendship, leadership and the church.

It was a busy trip, but we spent as much time with our family and doing fun things with our kids. We wanted them to thoroughly enjoy themselves, which they did. We got to visit many different cities and fun places like Sea World and Disneyland. Isabella started crying tonight when she saw photos of her two cousins, Madison and Trinity... she said, I want to be there with them. It makes me so sad, but it also blesses me to see her creating relationships that are meaningful and will be lifelong.

Closing for now, I have a sick little one who just awoke

Sunday, May 15, 2011


There is a certain uneasiness among the people in Peru right now; there is a tough decision to be made. The first round of elections for presidency has left the two people above in the running, Ollanta Humala y Keiko Fujimori. Maybe those names don't mean anything to you, but they both are very significant in Peru. Each have an interesting history behind them....and not a good one, to say the least. It always seems that the Peruvians are left to choose, "the worse of two evils". A statement I've heard coming from Peruvian mouths more than once. It's sad it comes to this every 4 years, they people are left to choose either a left-wing, communist ex-military who has led violent manifestations or a person who seems to know nothing about government at all, but whose fame comes from her ex-president father who stole millions from the country, killed thousands and is currently in prison serving a life-sentence for those killings, the only plan of government that she has presented that makes any sense at all does not include the fact that the only reason she wants to become president is to get her father out of prison.

I think Keiko would make for a terrible president, but I'm sure Humala would be worse - mostly because he would probably make it difficult or impossible for Chileans (like Ricky and my children) to get residency or continue living comfortably in Peru. We shall see... and although we don't know what will happen, it sure is an interesting race with lots of drama! We'll keep you posted. The second and final round of elections will be on June 5th.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Easter Sunday in Cusco

We were sad when we realized we wouldn't be in Cusco for Easter. Before we left for the US, we met with Jorge and talked about the weeks we'd be gone. We mentioned Easter and how he could do something special with the congregation if he felt led. Turns out he was. He led an evangelistic campaign in our church's neighborhood to reach out to the community... and 150 people came! We still don't know the details but we'll be sure to get them when we hear from Jorge again

Monday, May 02, 2011

3 weeks

I wish I could sum it up, but I've experienced and realized some important things these last few weeks, about life, friendship, ministry, Christianity, humanity... It may take me a while to mull things over, sift through my thoughts and maybe share here at my own risk.

We are having a wonderful time. Our days are full and joyful. Our kids are thoroughly happy with their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles... And we have seen some dear dear friends and supporters too. It is so special to see an old childhood friend from nearly 20 years ago... and find that we always pick up right where we left off and feel like we haven't missed all this time inbetween. I have loved seeing my little ones meet new friends and even if it takes Milan a whole week to warm up to anyone, its great to see the love and friendship that comes after that week is up!

It is great to be back "home", even though it doesn't feel like home anymore

Friday, April 15, 2011


the fam at Tom's Farms

We arrived on Sunday night.. The kids did relatively great on the 8 hr plane ride from Lima to LA. We have rested up a bit and have had quite a busy schedule already! We will be in Southern California until April 24th at which point we'll be in the NW with my family and in the Seattle area for a little while to see friends there. We'll be back to Southern California in mid-May.

Thanks for praying for our travels! I posted our cell phone # on facebook if you want to call us. We actually will be changing cell phones in a few days, since ours is on the fritz and refuses to cooperate. We'll repost our # when we have it.

We have been blessed beyond words this week... Thanks for your hospitality!


Saturday, April 09, 2011

hugs goodbye if we weren't ever coming back. I'll miss my Peruvian peeps. Even when they ask me silly questions, like, "you are coming back aren't you?" Apparently Isabella is so thoroughly excited that she kept telling people at church that, "vamos a Grandpa's house... y no volveremos mas" (we're going to grandpa's house and we aren't coming back- ever).

Isabella has been wanting to pack for over a week now. I keep entering her room to find her drawers pulled out and clothes strewn across the floor. Today her new toothbrush had a conversation with her old toothbrush that went something like this, "I'm going to Grandpa's house and to Disneyland and to Moni's house where I will have my own special bed, I'm sorry because you are my friend but you can't go with me"

I love all those goodbye hugs, which almost always involve a little whisper in my ear saying, "bring something back for me".

Thursday, April 07, 2011

going "home"

I feel like I've been gone for a very long time when...

- when I am nervous about driving on the US freeways, for I don't know if I will remember all the rules of the road

- when I'm nervous about speaking in front of large groups of people, when I used to do it without any hesitation (something about becoming like the culture where you are living)

-when I'm unsure about how I'll feel about the US culture, and hesitant in advance knowing I will confront materialism at its best, insensitivity and shallowness, but need to be extra-sensitive in return and understanding with compassion.

-when I want to bring food from Cusco with me to the US, because they are comforts for me now, whereas before I would crave only food from "back home"

-when I consider my real "back home" to be Peru 

-when I know I will be culture-shocked by the busy lifestyle and maybe won't want to go so fast

-when I prefer to not use the telephone, as I don't even use my cell phone here and I can't even remember the last time I used it.

- when I know I will be overwhelmed by the mass amount of choices at the supermarket and I just may stare for a very long time.

-when I can't wait to use a dishwasher and clothes dryer again

-when I am surprised by most beautiful sidewalks in the US that no one uses

-when 9pm is super late, and 6am isn't all that early, as in Cusco life and business begins easily at 5am

- when I am awoken at night by the silence, since I have become accustomed to the dogs barking, trucks clamoring by, and guards whistling at night

-when I am shocked and dismayed at the rat-packing that has become so normal in the US, with garages that don't fit a vehicle and enormous refrigerators with food that will go uneaten. Most of our friends in Cusco don't even own a refrigerator.

-when I am thrilled to take a real hot shower and maybe even a bath! How many years has it been... I can't even remember

-when I thoroughly expect to be greeted with a kiss!

.....and so much more..... makes me realize how long I have been away from my country. There are things I do not miss, and other things I am grateful for, and still others that I am thoroughly looking forward to.

Friday, March 25, 2011

another test for the week

Six days after my eye was better, I had another relapse (this is the third time since Nov). This time it wasn't quite as painful or long-lasting, but my vision is still significantly impaired in that eye. I went to the ophthalmologist. Its looking like I have a condition that in my case is caused by the environment here in Cusco, called Keratitis Sicca.

The weather in Cusco is extremely dry (even during the rainy season, if that makes sense) and this city, as of 2006, is considered the city with the highest UV radiation in the world. My condition has caused cracks and scarring on my cornea, which affects the vision, and gives the severe pain and burning. There is no clear cure for this, just try to control the environmental factors and treat the symptoms. The doctor told me I need to stay out of the sun, the wind, the dust, the heat, the cold and away from heaters, hairdryers, air conditioners, fans and anything else (like tv, computer and reading books) that could aggravate my condition. And yes, he was totally serious! I almost laughed because he is basically telling me I need to stay inside. all the time. Oh, and I am not allowed to wear contact lenses anymore... at least not while in Cusco.

Our environment in Cusco is hot, dry, sunny, windy, cold and super dusty, with lots of smog from too many taxis.... is he really saying I need to stay away from all this? I'm a little discouraged at this point and looking forward to following his directions for this week, using the medicine and going back to see him next week. I hope it's gotten better and I can at least go back to wearing contact lenses and leaving my house.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

a new day

Today, my eye feels almost totally better! but I didn't go to the doctor. I still haven't recovered my vision completely but the pain is gone, thankfully. Losing vision is probably pretty serious. I know it is. But i try not to think about that, since we are in Peru and the medical care here isn't good. I will let them touch my teeth... but not my eyes...

The kids are well today. Healthy... all week!!

And today, Ricky fixed my computer! He's the best husband ever

little blessings make me happy

Saturday, March 12, 2011

a time of testing

so sorry for the long absence from blogging... as if i really need to explain myself to all of you, but i really do want you to know what we've been up to recently. we've been back home now for over a month.

we have all been sick since the very day we got home, until now. if not one., then the other, then Ricky, then me...then a combination of... seriously. and we've had some weird totally unexplainable sicknesses, fevers, throwing up/down, whatever you like. this week it's been my turn. i have unexplainable pain and burning in my right eye. There's nothing stuck in there and there's no infection. But it feels like someone rubbed in a few onions and then topped it off with a red chili pepper and a squirt of shampoo. i have lost partial vision in that eye, serious lght sensitivity and a headache to top it off wth. I squint as I write this and take breaks every couple minutes because it hurts that bad. This is day 4. We tried going to the doctor this morning. Conventiently he is out of town til Monday. I'm prayng it gets better by then.

Anyway, I also have been away from blogging because my dear son, whom I love beyond words, broke my laptop. He has this thing with giving a super sweet kiss and then promptly following it up with a hard smack, usually across the side of your head. how to teach him to stop this behavior (or the biting) is a whole other blog topic (any tips?). This particular smack was aimed for the laptop which knocked it out of Ricky's hands and onto the floor. Oh, so I'm using this old donated laptop that is like at least 5 years old, It has a little pet virus or something that makes it select everything while using the mouse. and the keyboard doesnt work too well either.

i've taken over the children's ministry again this year. i'm tryng not to get all stressed out. Ricky is so great though, if it weren't for him I dont' know what I'd do. we've been hearing a lot lately about kidnapping children to sell them over the black market, and even child slave labor (5 kids were just rescued about 15 minutes from our house after being kidnapped, they were in route to Madre de Dios, the Amazon to work in the gold mines) Yikes. I've been watching my own children like a hawk and have this (probably unreasonable)  fear of being seperated from them, for even a moment.

On top of all this, we recently found out that our landlady is going to sell our house which means moving again! We're praying it doesn't sell right away (or at least for the next few years). They are asking $300k for this house btw, whch is CRAZY expensive. If you've seen our house you'd know it wasn't worth that! We can't even take hot showers, we have a water pressure issue. I will tell you the truth, my kids only bathe about once a week. The process involves boiling several pots of water to fill a little plastic tub that we still try and squeeze both kids into at the same time. It's a funny sight really and I should get a photo. I, on the other hand, will not tell you how often I shower. But let me just say that the water here (in the Andes Mountains, 11,400 feet in altitude.. is COLD). And why would the landlords want to fix the water situation knowing they are just going to sell the house?

I have a hunch that I am going through a time of testing... Really, all this is happening at the same time for some reason, no? i'm tryng to be faithful. but truly, i'm just trying to keep my sanity and focus on being a good mother and not go all crazy on my kids. If it weren't for Ricky I would have gone off the deep end a long time ago. That man has an amazing way of grounding me and bringing joy to my life!!! He truly is an example of Christ to us, is an excellent father and servant

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bono on Jesus and Grace

I enjoyed this article and thought I'd share it with you. It was refreshing to hear his stance on Christ as one of forgiveness, grace and the cross.... and not just from a good humanitarian point of view.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

12 months with Milan

These last 12 months have gone by incredibly fast. Milan brings us so much joy... i can hardly remember what it was like before he came along ( I slept better, that's about all I can remember). This little guy has been on developmental fast-track ever since he came into this world at 9:09 on Jan 29th, 2010. It doesn't stop or calm down with this one! He is determined, which I love so much about him, and happy all the time.

I just loved all these photos of Milan, taken over this past year and wanted to share them here to celebrate his birthday with you. 

Happy 1st birthday my sweet boy, you light up our lives!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

a little of everything

our last four weeks have been full... my heart is content that our children are having a good time with family... as are we. 
Isabella with her daddy on Christmas Eve

All Milan wants to do is go outside

Brazil-7 Chile-7. These guys from Brazil work with Ambassadors in Sport, a ministry that is getting connected with the iam ministries in Chile. 

lookin' at the chickens

more futbol


i love watching Ricky play. it's been much too long since i've seen a game.

we've spent good times just like this, around the table with family.

our christmas shot, of course we couldn't get the kids in line... Milan doesn't like being held now that he can walk, and Isa wanted to hold a million things in her arms for the photo.

Cousins, Diego and Israel.. were visiting from the States. Diego is Isabella's favorite cousin. It's a little crush she has on him. Who wouldn't though? He's adorable

This is what I try to do as much as time allows. Any free moment my nose is in a good book.