Monthly Archives: May 2012

May 31, 2011 7:11pm

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I  never post twice in one day, but today I stumbled across this date in 2011 and just had to share it! It will give you more details about my time in Lima last summer, albeit silly details and stories.

I had a facebook group called Mere in Peru where I posted updates & prayer requests whenever I had internet access and time. This was one of my first updates from Lima, after I had started helping with the school. Re-reading it today brought back so many memories, images, and smiles. I don’t think it’s possible for me to ever fully share my Peru experiences with anyone… no one would care to listen for hours on end. But they are memories I will forever cherish. And, if anyone for some odd reason needs me to talk for hours and hours, just ask me about Peru. I will talk your ears off!

 

May 31, 2011  7:11pm

I´ve been sitting here for a few minutes trying to think of some witty line to start off my update, but alas…I have nothing. So I´ll just jump right into the here and now:

It´s Tuesday. I have completed my 2nd day helping at Johannes Gutenburg of El Agustino here in Lima. I´ve been up for 12 hours already. I´ve been around nonstop Spanish for the past 2 days, but met a few people who speak English! (Praise the Lord) I´ve met lots and lots and lots of people, all of whom have been so friendly and open. Let´s rewind to where I left off on Saturday night… Sunday morning I went to help out with Sunday School at the church where Compassion is held. (where I was last Thurs.-Sat., remember?) Of course this gringa didn´t quite fit in…I wore a skirt and my trusty chaco´s and a cute shirt…all the Peruvians there were in sweats (or jeans) and tshirts! God´s got a good sense of humor, no? :p Sunday afternoon was spent with Rosita doing the touristy thing. We went to the Museum of Art in Lima (google: MALI) and saw a few exhibits on famous Peruvian artists, including the newly rennovated painting, The Death of Atahualpa by Luis Montero. Google it because seriously it was really cool. I´m not the most artsy person but I can respect art for what it is…and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time meandering around the art museum in Lima! Sunday night was chill…the BIG debate between Keiko and Ollanta Humala was on.

Peruvian elections for a new president are this Sunday. It´s between a woman and a man. From what I´ve heard from some natives here, one of the candidates is very violent, and the other is very corrupt. It´s going to be interesting to see who wins the election especially since I´ll be here in Peru as history is made!}

Monday morning, bright and early, began my time at the school. I was automatically impressed with the school when I learned that there is a devotion time for teachers before school actually starts…how cool! I spent the day yesterday in a first grade class. I was basically the teacher assistant. I counted, sorted, stacked, and stapled lots and lots of papers for the students! I did whatever the teacher needed doing. I honestly didn´t mind. I´m here to serve, and if God can use me by counting hundreds of papers out, so be it! 🙂

After school yesterday I was in for a treat! As I said before, Rosita, the woman whose house I´m staying at, is a history teacher at the school. Therefore, she´s an excellent tour guide for places around Lima. The evening was spent doing more touristy stuff, (me, her & 2 Paraguayans) including visiting the San Francisco cathedral and catacombs! I´ll include a link because their website is definitely worth a visit. I couldn´t take pictures inside unfortunately (maybe we snuck a few…shhhhhh) but the outside was very pretty and once again, the architecture is phenomenal. Dinner was pollo a la brasa AKA rotisserie chicken (my favorite Peruvian dish!) and lots of fries. We walked around the Center of Lima some more, then came back around 9:30. I was whooped and tired from all the walking! [When we were in the mountains it was much easier because we walked miles and miles everyday. Here, I walk to and from places but much less significant distances…my body has already adjusted to life in Lima!]

This morning started early again, and after devotions, I was placed in a 2nd grade class. There, I cut out letters for various signs around the classroom. Let me tell you…I had such a bad cramp from using scissors all morning! lol. But I think I´m cut out to be a teacher assistant. Get it? 🙂 Today instead of preparing students for a tornado or hurricane drill like I remember from my elementary school days, they prepared students for an earthquake! When writing out what to do before, during, and after one, one little girl said ¨pray and then RUN!¨haha

Lunch is delicious here but it´s my least favorite part of the day. I´m naturally not super talkative like some people so I just awkwardly sit there eating and listening to the conversations of other teachers until someone asks me where I´m from and such. Oh fun.

Today after lunch, I found Rosita and she introduced me to an English teacher at the school. Best introduction that´s been made all week! I spent the afternoon with her talking, doing various teacher tasks, and teaching her high school English class! The students interviewed me (which was crazy…. how can I choose a favorite movie or actor or singer?! especially ones they would recognize! lol) and I answered and asked them questions back. It was really fun. When they found out I was single, the 3 boys in the class got all red in the face and smiley haha the teacher just laughed and laughed. We read a story, answered questions, and did more talking. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the teacher did too! She was thankful for some help with her English! And of course, I didn´t mind one bit.

It´s been a challenge these past 2 days because I don´t fit in at the school and it´s discouraging, but God was looking out for me when he sent me to the English class. I really hope I get the opportunity to help out more there tomorrow or next week. But honestly, I´m counting the days til I get back to work with Compassion…I miss those crazy kids! It´s hard to believe that I only have a week and a day left here in Peru. I´m going to miss the lifestyle, the people, and the places so much! But I will be glad when I don´t have to constantly worry about whether or not I have toilet paper with me at all times! 🙂  {9 out of 10 bathrooms don´t provide TP}

Random facts about the JG school: °

students wear uniforms

°the school provides snacks and lunch for students & staff…yum! 

°it is huge. and divided into kinder (from what I understood…), primary and secondary schools, each with it´s own patio and cafeteria area.

°there are at least 2 pastors that work there.

°gym class for the 2nd grade was this morning. they jumped rope to warm up (anybody have a jump rope I can borrow?) and then learned some volleyball basics

°they are allowed to teach the Bible! yesterday the class learned about Noah

°it was founded by Germans (hence the name) and quite a few Germans work there. I was happy to see what appeared to be other gringos, but alas, it was a bunch of Germans. and for some reason I have a hard time understanding their Spanish. I promise it has nothing to do with where they´re from! lol

°doors open at 7:45 and close at 5. talk about a longgggg day!

°it´s been rainy the past two mornings, which makes the stone ground slickery. I almost wiped out twice yesterday. Rosita just laughed at me.

°the kids are SO loving! that´s one thing I wish American kids were like. they come running up and hug you, always address you as Señorita or Hermana (sister), and are respectful in class. (most of the time)

°there are other branches of the school, including one in Paraguay, which is why 2 of their teachers came to visit Lima. pretty interesting the people one meets while overseas, right?!

°I was asked today why my country was öff¨yesterday. I honestly had no idea what she meant then I remembered  it was Memorial Day. although I didn´t celebrate it, I´m thankful for all those who served my country and who are currently serving. I tried my best to explain what yesterday meant but nobody really understood. Must be an American thing 🙂

Well, my cramp from cutting has now turned into a cramp from typing so that´s all I have for now! I´m planning on a dinner that consists of bread and hot soy milk (don´t knock it until you try it!) and some mandarins… I may or may not have just finished a Sublime, Inca Kola, and some Ritz crackers… whoops? :p As always, love to you all, and God bless. Chao ♥

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The Art of Bus Riding in Lima

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The short two weeks I spent in Lima, Peru were dependent on one major thing– public transportation. It was impossible to walk across town to get to the church I was helping in, and because there are different districts in Lima, of course the one I was in was farthest away from the center of the city… where all the good shopping, food, entertainment was. Therefore, I had to rely on public transportation to get where I needed to go; namely the bus system. (because taxis are a rip-off! And the motor-taxis are sketch)

In Lima, there are busses (micros) everywhere. And you have to pay attention and be cautious as to what bus you are going to take! Riding the bus in Lima is definitely an art that is acquired by spending time there and having to constantly rely on public transportation. Whatever you do, don’t be discouraged- it’s a tough system to learn, so keep at it!

 

First of all, you need to know where to bus stops are.

In El Agustino where I stayed, the nearest stops were on a main road about 3 blocks from the house. The main road was the busiest because it led in and out of El Agustino and was about six lanes wide. Doesn’t sound as impressive as our major highways here in the States, but traffic in Peru is horrendous and dangerous, and nobody pays attention to stop lights or pedestrians. So you need to know the road name where the bus stop is, and the district you are in.

 

Once you find out where the busses come, you need to find a place to stand….

…preferably one with a good view of the road so you can see what bus is coming, and one close to the road so once the bus stops you can hop on it. Literally. Those bus drivers do not wait forever like they do in the States. Sidewalk space is limited though, so you really have to push through people and be aggressive. Be be aggressive!

Now, figure out where you need to go.

Busses in Lima are painted different colors depending on what districts they are going to, there’s usually a letter and number sequence painted on the very top of the front and somewhere on the side. If you’re lucky, the district names that the bus drives through will be on the side of the bus (seen below.) Basically, if you don’t know what you are looking for, it makes it hard to spot! And even two busses that are the same color could take you to opposite places. Some busses run only East to West, North to South, and vice versa… so be careful when choosing which bus and route you need to take! (AKA ask someone the best bus for your destination!!!)

 

When you make it to the bus stop, find a place to stand, and spot the right bus, you need to make a speedy maneuver onto the bus!

Easier said than done because chances are, half the people waiting with you on the curb are trying to get on the same bus as you. Of course they are, because that’s how transportation works!  Basically, I learned to push my way onto the bus and forget about anyone else. Something that was hard for this kind-hearted girl to do ;p

 

Ignore people.

What?! That’s so rude, right?! Well, sometimes you just have to do what you have to do! Push through the crowd to get on the bus. Push people to the back of the bus if you have to in order to find a place to stand. Ignore the rude man not offering you his seat. And most of all, ignore the beggars on the bus. This was so hard for me because once a beggar would start sharing their story about how their parents died, they had no job, their brother was blind (pointing at a fragile little one next to him or her), and how they were hungry and thirsty and needed money, I would become entranced in their words and instinctively reach for my money. But I was informed that you do not give money to beggars on the bus. Nor do you buy candy or food from them if they happen to be selling any. Instead, you look out the window, or down at your book, or you sleep until it’s time to depart from the bus. Ignore people.

You’re on the bus… now what?

Either sit or stand, simple as that. Honestly, most of the time you are lucky if you get a seat. This is something that kind of bothered me, being a young lady in a foreign country. See, here in the States, I expect a man to offer his seat to a lady…but that’s just me. In Peru, forget about it. I had multiple men push past me onto the bus just so they could get a seat. I thought it was so rude!

 

Paying the fee.

Bus rides are super cheap… as in, I would pay less than 1 USD for a ride all the way into the big district of Miraflores (the richest and most tourist-friendly district in Lima, and where the main airport is located). I don’t know the distance in between both locations, but I do know that the bus ride would take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Especially in the afternoons when traffic was at its worst. Anyways, the first time I rode a bus, I made the mistake of keeping my wallet in my bag which was safely tucked under my arm. So as the bus bounced around, I had to dig in my coins and find the right ones to give the attendant. Most of the time I would give the wrong amount, so she would exhale sharply, give me my change, and tear me off a ticket. By the end of my time in Lima, I knew the bus-riding deal :: keep change in your pocket and before you even get on the bus, find out how much the fare is and have it ready. You don’t want to look like a tourist, after all 😉

 

Wait for your stop.

Oh this is so much harder than it would seem. Especially when you are travelling at night… every city street looks the same! (to a Gringa, at least)  I remember one night I was on my way back from Miraflores and I had to stand the entire way back… and because we chose a different bus route than normal, it literally took an hour to get back. My arms were sore from holding onto the bar above my head, and my legs were shaky from having to brace myself against the crazy Lima bus driving that sometimes ensues. When I finally got off the bus on the right street, I felt so relieved!

 

Any form of public transportation in a new place, city, or country can be overwhelming. Especially when you don’t know the system at all. But, I hope with my simple tips, you can master the art of bus riding in Lima, Peru!

Have you ever struggled with public transportation?

Typical busses seen on the streets
Photo taken from here

Q & A with Kara :: Movie/TV Extra

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Today I have a fun Q & A with a friend of a friend, Kara, who is now my friend! Back in March we met for the first time during a fun weekend trip to Wilmington, NC to be extras in a film! It was my first time in Wilmington for something other than a beach trip, and my first time as an extra. Sure I was on the drama team at church, took drama in high school and a theater class in college, but it was nothing like being an extra! Since Kara has some experience extraing in tv shows and movies, I thought it would be neat to ask her some questions and learn from the seasoned extra.

 

1. When did you first start extraing? How was it…were you nervous, excited? Did you go with friends or solo? And how did you first hear about doing it?

When I first started going down to Wilmington to watch filming of One Tree Hill, I met a lot of people that had been extras on the show and they told me if I wanted to be an extra on any production in the area, then I should go sign up with Fincannon, the extras casting company, so that is exactly what I did. My first extra-ing experience was about 2 years ago on the TV show “Playing With Guns.” I was really excited because I not only got to work on a set with the cast and crew, but I also got to work on it with my friend, Kara and her sister Keisha.

 

2. How many times have you been an extra?

I have extraed 6 different times. Once on Playing With Guns, once on the movie Arthur Newman: Golf Pro, once on The Conjuring aka The Warren Files, and three times on One Tree Hill.

 

3. What do you love most about it?

What I love about extra-ing is you get to see what goes on behind the scenes and all the work that goes into making a film production. It is also interesting to watch the actors during the scene and see the different ways that they act when the cameras are on and when they are off. For example, when Patrick Wilson started singing “Red Solo Cup” on the set of The Conjuring, it was so funny!

 

4. What’s been your favorite experience so far? Least favorite experience?

It is so hard to choose a favorite experience, but if I had to choose I would say my experience on Arthur Newman: Golf Pro only because the day I was an extra there were only five of us, so the crew let us watch Emily Blunt and Colin Firth do their scene when the extras weren’t needed, we were also allowed to eat at the cast and crew’s “snack table.” All in all, I didn’t feel like an extra, I felt like part of the crew! My least favorite extraing experience was during filming on Playing With Guns, because it was SO cold! The day we filmed was in February and we were filming a summer scene, so all the extras when in summer clothes, some were even in bikinis. We filmed from 9:00 AM until around 2:30 AM… you can just imagine how cold it is during a February night in a tank top and a skirt on. It was not fun, but it was still an awesome experience.

 

5. For the day we extraed together on The Conjuring, what was your favorite part? Did you like the whole 70s apparel/set? And do you plan on seeing the movie in theaters? (haha I’m probably going to wait until it comes out on dvd…I don’t do well with scary movies in theaters!)

 Extra-ing on The Conjuring was SO much fun. Since the other extra-ing experiences that I’ve had were set in present day, it was fun to dress up as college students in the 1970s. I loved seeing everyone dressed up, it really looked like we went back in time! Since I love scary movies, especially in theaters, I will probably go see it!

 

6. Do you plan on doing it more in the future, if your school/job allows it? Would you ever consider an internship/job in the casting/producing/acting world?

If any opportunity comes my way to be an extra in another production I would be the first one to volunteer! I would also love to get a internship/job in the media production business in the future. I’ve always been interested in film making and extra-ing is just a great start and one of the many ways to get my foot in the door!

Thanks so much Kara for taking time to answer some questions about your experiences! Seriously y’all, she’s had so many opportunities to work alongside of some great actors, and I think it’s so cool that extra-ing is something ANYONE can do. As long as they give you the okay 😉 I’ll admit, I was a little nervous and hesitant about being an extra, but all in all it was a great experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Plus, we had it good that day because our outfits were chosen for us, and we had hair & makeup done! Of course, I was a plain-Jane 70’s girl, so I wasn’t super special, but it was fun sitting in that canvas chair pretending I was more important than simply an extra.

me, Ash, Kara in our hot 70’s clothing
-in the holding room (cafeteria) where we spent hours waiting for the next scene to start filming. And where we finally ate lunch/dinner at 8:00pm after arriving on set around 11:00am!

Seriously… my outfit??? So hot, right?! The jeans were Hillbilly brand and were so uncomfortable! Plus, they were super short and the shoes I had to wear were huge, so basically I felt and looked like a major dork. And if that wasn’t bad enough they gave me a prop to wear…

 

Ash was stuck wearing heels all day and ended up with blisters, I was stuck wearing some hideous glasses that made me look like an even bigger nerd than I already am, and Kara had a cute outfit that they had picked out for her at a pre-fitting!

Can you tell that we were tired & bored after hours of sitting, standing, waiting???

Have you ever worked on a movie set before??? Tell me your experience!

Heavy Heart

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My heart is so heavy right now.  So heavy, in fact, that I am taking a break from the piles of work I have to get done and posting this short, but not-so-sweet post. Blogging helps me clear my head, and if this post accomplishes nothing more than that, I won’t care.

Ever since hearing devastating news about a friend on Sunday, I have been so … different.

If you go back and read the post entitled A Fighter, you might understand a little bit more. But then again, I don’t expect anyone to understand how I’m feeling. That’s the hard part.

When I heard the news that the doctors cannot do anything more to help her sick body, and that they are sending her home, my heart broke. Especially since my dad was the one that told me the news and he started crying as he tried to get the words out, “They are sending her home… there’s nothing else they can do for her.”

Oh my goodness, it was so hard to take in. Just days ago she was doing so well… gaining the weight she had lost when she was unable to eat for weeks. Appearing stronger physically and mentally each day. Yet swollen from her inability to walk and stand for long periods of time. So when I found out that the worst was yet to come, I broke down. Spiritually. I cried and cried out to God asking “why” and asking him to forgive me for oh so much. You see, I am a good friend sometimes… when I want to be. Case in point- the week I heard R was at her worst and didn’t have much longer, I visited three times, for hours each time, and one time even painting her nails all sorts of bright and cheery colors. The following week, when she was doing better, I visited only once.

That was two weeks ago, and I haven’t seen her since. I’ve gotten updates through a mutual friend, but I’ve ached to go visit her and try to get her mind off the hospital and the cancer. Every time I’ve wanted to go, something has come up- couldn’t find the parking pass (to park for free), car was in the shop for an entire week(!), teaching twice a week, having to puppy sit, etc. And although I live a mere 4 miles from the hospital, I never made it by to see R. And I hate myself for that.

One of the reasons I have such a heavy heart today is because I have not visited her as often as I should have; and now she’s going home for good. Gosh it makes me so mad at myself that I couldn’t find an hour to spare. A single hour.

I’ve been trying to get in touch with her today to find out when she leaves the hospital and heads for home, two hours away. I’ve been trying to plan the words to say to ask for forgiveness for being a horrible friend. I’ve been trying to gain the courage to go visit her one last time.

Needless to say, I am an emotional wreck today. Most days my smiles are genuine, but today I can’t even seem to force a fake smile. And I hate it. I’m normally not so down in the dumps or grumpy or moody… but I think I have a valid excuse : a friend is dying and there’s nothing anyone can do to help her anymore; because of my selfishness I may never see her again.

So if you think about it today, say a prayer for R and her family. And pray for me to; to step up and try to be a friend in this hard time. And not be so busy and self-consumed with my life. I need to be others-focused.

Some of my favorite verses in Philippians chapter 2, tell us to: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2: 3-4) 

May we all value others before ourselves.

Afternoon in the Woods

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Yesterday afternoon I needed to be outside. I needed to sweat. To get as far away from people as I could, and to spend some time in my own thoughts and prayers. I got some bad news yesterday morning about my friend and I spent the majority of the afternoon crying, praying, and napping trying to rid myself of a killer headache from the crying. Yeah, it was a bad day for me. Until I put on my hiking shoes and started walking.

If you’ve been around my blog for any amount of time, you know how much I love my hometown of Durham. I love exploring at any of the Eno River State Parks. (post:: Pump Station Trail) And I love where I live… I can simply walk down to the end of my road and head into the woods to explore and hike. So that’s what I did yesterday. It had been almost a year since I had done so, and at first I was a little lost, but then quickly regained my bearings and followed the river to the little safe haven I remember from childhood.

…my footsteps disturbed the peace of the woods. With each crunch crunch of the leaves, I winced a little. So much for a quiet, relaxing hike.

…my hand wove a stick in front of my face, probably making me appear more like a wizard than a hiker. With each whoosh whoosh of the stick, I hoped to tear down spiders and their webs. But I still somehow managed to walk into about a dozen.

…my legs shook as I crossed a single log across the water. With each step I felt and heard the creak creak of the old log, and hoped it wouldn’t crack midway through my crossing.

…my head cleared of all of its thoughts as I sat by the water on a cool, moss-covered rock. With each ripple ripple of the water cascading down, I felt my headache subside, my physical exhaustion disappear, and my heartbeat calm.

An afternoon in the woods was what I needed yesterday. It was a little adventure that I cherished. There’s just something about being outside and sweating and exploring that sets everything right in my world. I took lots of pictures during my hike; finding beauty in everything… from the dead leaves to the piles of boulders, from the river water to the roots of an old tree, stretching into the water. God sure is quite the designer!

If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound???

When we were younger, my brother and I would pretend that Indians hid out behind these boulders!

dead turtle 😦

Why so knotty?

Intricate web

What are you rooted in?

One of these is not like the other

Biggest turtle I’ve ever seen!
It’s been these woods for years… since 2000 at least. I had forgotten all about it

Roots

I’m probably the only one who would consider a pile of rocks as beauty. I’m an outdoors nerd, what can I say?

This is half of the log I crossed that I swear felt like it was going to crack with every new step I took!

Do you ever find solace in nature?

Strangers and Sharing

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How many times growing up did you mom or dad tell you never to talk to strangers???

If you grew up in my family, you heard it a lot. But I was always too shy of a little girl to talk to anyone anyways. Well, now that I am older I make an effort to talk to strangers. Not in a sketch way, but in a kind way. I smile, say “hi!”, or ask “how are you doing?” just in an attempt to do something kind and possibly make their day better.

A few months ago I was out for lunch & cupcakes with a friend. We were sitting outside Gigi’s (YUM!) trying to eat a rich chocolatey cupcake, when this man came up and said “hey ladies! I got a question for ya- will you vote for me?”

Mel and I exchanged a look and then laughed. We were really taken aback that some random dude would stop and want to talk to us while we were clearly enjoying our chocolate cupcakes in front of our faces.

He proceeded to introduce himself, sit down at our table, shake our hands, and give us a dozen high-fives a piece for answering his questions. It was awkward to say the least. He told us about how a project for school could send magazines to hospitalized children or veterans in our state, and that by donating just $20 we could make a difference and help him get one step closer to his project goal.

Again, Mel and I exchanged a look and then she said, “sure!” She is all for donating to good causes and I figured if she was then what harm would it be for me to throw $20 in there?

As he stood up to leave (but not before he asked me out to dinner – awkwardddd or before he hugged us both goodbye- awkward again), Mel asked him if WE could do some question asking. He said, “why not?”

For the next 20 minutes or so, Mel and I asked him about his beliefs… his faith… “do you believe in God?” “who would you say Jesus is?” “is there more than one way to get to Heaven?” “how does one get to Heaven?” “John 14:6 says, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me.’ – that says there is one way to Heaven, what do you think about that?” “Ephesians 2:8-9 says that ‘it is by grace you have been saved through faith…..not by works so that no one can boast.’ so how does that contradict what you said about doing good things gets you to Heaven?” and so on and so forth.

His answers took us by surprise, but they definitely fostered more conversation. When we were finished talking and listening, he thanked us. A heartfelt thanks. “You don’t know how much this means to me. Thank you.” and he hugged us yet again, asked both of us out for dinner, and walked away.

Mel and I stood there trying to soak all that had just happened. Had he really just listened to us sharing the Gospel with him and not ignored it or walked away as soon as we started explaining that his answers didn’t match up with the Bible? Yes, he had. The Lord did a work in that man’s heart that day and I am so thankful that Mel and I were the ones chosen to speak truth into his life. I am thankful we were able to plant a seed into his heart.

Now I’m not one to randomly go up and ask a stranger a personal question about their religion or their faith, but after that day I’ve been more aware of such situations and opportunities. I try not to take any moment for granted because you never know when your breath or someone else’s might be the last. The encounter that day has almost been a challenge for me to share the Gospel wherever I go. And I challenge you to do the same thing.

our Which Which sandwich bags- Sylvester & Cee-Lo

our delicious cupcakes from Gigi’s!

Do you ever talk to strangers???

My First Day in El Agustino

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A year ago today I was wandering around the streets of El Agustino in Lima, Peru.

I had just gotten back from two weeks in the mountains with this family:

Mi familia peruana
-my Peruvian family

And visiting families up in remote mountain villages:

 

 

Kids in Ocopampa

 

And I was all of a sudden in a far different place than I expected:

I was there during their election so signs for candidates were everywhere in the streets

Street flower vendors… wish there were more of these in the States! 🙂

view of the district

 

You see, when I thought of Lima Peru, this is what I imagined:

Plaza de Armas

nice, clean city street

apartment building

Plaza de Armas

la playa
-the beach

But little did I know, Lima is separated into different districts, and the district I would be living and serving in was the poorest of them all. To be honest with you, I was scared. I was mad. I was nervous. I was scared that something would happen to the pale Gringa in the city. I was mad that I wouldn’t be in the nicer part of town… where I could wear the “cute” clothes I had packed (after weeks of t-shirts and sweaters in the mountains) and where I felt safer. I was nervous of what the residents of El Agustino would think of me.

My first day in El Agustino was the worst. I slept in, had a measly breakfast of bread, peanut butter, and some instant coffee. I packed my bag with a notebook (because I was constantly journaling!), camera, water bottle, put money in my pocket, and walked downstairs. I tested my keys in the doors to make sure I wouldn’t be locked out. A friend’s niece was coming to pick me up and show me around town. It was only a little awkward. She was 16, showing a 20-year old Gringa “around town.” That consisted of walking me to the Johannes Gutenberg school I would be helping in, an internet shack (literally), and she helped me experience my first bus ride. There’s a whole post on riding the bus in Lima… trust me. Already been drafted 😉

After all that, we went back to my friend’s house. Her mother was preparing lunch- some kind of fried fish, rice, and lentils. I was so hungry that I ate it up. Peruvians are SO hospitable so she filled my plate up again… I could barely manage to eat half of it before I felt sick… I was dehydrated, still a little scared and nervous. And to top all of that, once we had been introduced and talked a little about Peru in Spanish, there wasn’t much else to say! Following lunch, I sat on their couch and watched tv and movies. For hours. I was bored out of my mind. When my friend finally got home from work (around 7!) she walked me to get dinner and then back to my place.

We had only just met (but she had been an interpreter on my mom’s mission trip to Peru, and she had interpreted for my dad & brother in the Amazon the previous summer!!! Talk about a God-thing!) and when she asked, “how was your day?” I almost broke down in tears. Truth be told, my day had been horrible. I would much rather have spent it hiking up a mountain, struggling to cope with the severe change in elevation, and visiting a little village.

But here was so different… I couldn’t wander the streets alone. I couldn’t walk up to an internet cafe and pay $0.30 for an hour on the computer. I couldn’t cook. I couldn’t explore. I told her it had been a rough day and I was still adjusting. She stayed with me for a little bit, then finally left me with my thoughts. I read my Bible while I ate, and I remember praying that my time in El Agustino would fly by. I even drew a little calendar in the back of my journal counting down the days until I was headed to the airport before the sun rose. I seriously even considered calling my parents and getting a flight home ASAP! I pulled out a note sent from home and cried. I read another note and cried. When I saw that the next note was from my dad, I knew I wouldn’t be able to read it without sobbing. But I did anyways. He had written me almost a note a day, with the date on them so I would know when to read it. My notes are all saved away under my bed in my “Peru box” but that particular note said something like this:

“My daughter… today is your first day in Lima. I wonder what adventures you’ve had today. You are probably missing the mountains and the fresh fried trout, but know that God has you in Lima for a reason. Speak your Spanish. Get out of your comfort zone. Make friends. And be safe. Drink some cafe con leche for me. If you need anything, ask Clara for help. I love you. And Lima will love you. -Padre”

He had written a Bible verse out but I can’t remember it now. But I do remember that although I cried, after finishing the note and wiping my grungy face off, I realized he was right. God had put me in contact with Clara in Lima, who worked out all the details for me to come and help with Compassion and Johannes Gutenberg and she found a place for me to stay. God had brought me to El Agustino and had a plan for me while there. I needn’t worry or be nervous or scared. I simply needed to trust Him.

Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

While I spent the next weeks in El Agustino, I dove into studying the book of 2 Corinthians. And I found so much encouragement and inspiration.

2 Corinthians 1: 3-7  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,   the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us   in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ,   so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation;   if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings,   so also you share in our comfort.”

Although my time in Lima was in the most unexpected of places, El Agustino, the Lord worked in so many ways in my life and the lives of the people I met. Here are just a few of my absolute favorite people who impacted me.

Some of the kids I worked with at Compassion

Ricardo
He would always walk into class, hug and kiss me on the cheek, then sit down and smile at me. ADORABLE little boy, but quite the flirt!

She was a sweetie pie

my 5th graders at Johannes Gutenberg

The entire English class!
I taught them about fruits, then we sang Hillsong songs… best class ever!!! 😀

Rosita, my dear dear sister & friend.
Entire post on her soon.

some of the teachers from Johannes Gutenberg on my last night in El Agustino

Saby, a sweet English teacher who speaks Spanish, Quechua, German & English!!! Such a smart and talented young woman!

Friends and Inca Kola… doesn’t get much better!

Last but not least… Clara. My friend who set up everything for my time in Lima, and who took me to the beach! Love her

 

 

The moral of this entire post (besides my initial remorse about moving to the hectic city from the peaceful mountains) is when you are put in a situation, don’t immediately run away and try to escape it… you are there for a reason. Don’t worry about it; give it to the Lord. And then make the most of the situation. You won’t regret it.

 

 

(((Make sure to check out yeterday’s post!)))

Q & A with Steve Hill :: Skate Across Indiana

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Hi Steve! Thanks for agreeing to do a Q&A for my blog to help get the word out about what you are doing!

Jumping right in to why you are one of my featured friends for a Q&A post: You are doing something really cool next month (June 8-9th) to raise money for something that is very prevalent in Africa. Tell us about it!

Well let me start by introducing myself. My name is Steve Hill, I live in a suburb of Indianapolis called Fishers, Indiana and I’m the creator of a two-day, 160 mile charity skateboard ride called Skate Across Indiana. The ride, which will span the width of the state of Indiana going west to east, benefits HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Now the organization you are raising money for is Christian World Outreach and their work in Zambia & Zimbabwe. How did you get involved with their work initially?

I was introduced to CWO through my parents who have supporting them for a number of years. Back in 2009, I had what I believe to be a God-given calling to travel to Haiti and serve the people there. I ended up going there by myself during the first week in 2010 and working with CWO’s president and some of their Haitian staff members. There I was able to see firsthand the efforts CWO was making to serve and minister to people in the third world. I realized that their ministry wasn’t simply about sharing the Gospel, nor was it solely about providing humanitarian care. It was truly about equipping people with the skills they needed to provide for themselves and their families while providing them with their immediate needs and introducing them to the love of Christ. I returned from Haiti three days before that massive earthquake destroyed much of that country’s infrastructure and cost hundreds of thousands their lives. Having just returned from Haiti, I had a tremendous platform to share my experiences and coach groups on how to best aid the relief effort. I continued to support CWO through that time period and well on into the future.

When I first conceived the idea for Skate Across Indiana, I knew I wanted to use it to benefit CWO. I contacted their president, who I had become friends with while in Haiti and asked how I might best help his organization. He quickly told me that their greatest need was with their AIDS programs in Africa. After he briefly explained to me the nature of the programs, I was immediately on board.

 

Is there any specific reason you wanted to raise money for the work CWO is doing with HIV/AIDS in Africa?

The thing people need to understand about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa is that it is often viewed very differently there than in the States. In certain areas of Africa, both those who contract the virus and those who are orphaned by it are frequently shunned like modern-day lepers. Some view the disease as a curse brought on by an individual’s past transgressions. CWO’s programs teach people not only how to remain HIV-negative and where to receive testing and treatment, but they also teach them how to react lovingly towards those who have the disease. The programs also provide orphans of the disease with a stable environment to grow up in where they can remain within their communities without being institutionalized.

 

When did you first start contemplating doing this?

The whole idea came from a documentary I watched a few years ago called 10 MPH. It was about a group of guys who quit their jobs to ride a segway across the United States. I wanted to do something similar and I wanted to incorporate skateboarding into the mix. I kicked around the idea for a few more years, finally committing to doing it this past winter.

 

Here in the South, we do barbecue chicken dinners or yard sales as fundraisers. I’m curious as to why- why did you choose skateboarding?

As much as I love Bojangles, I love skateboarding so much more. I’ve been skateboarding for the better part of 11 years and as young person, it was instrumental in giving me an identity. Those that stick with skateboarding into adulthood typically do so because they’ve gotten into related side projects like photography, video production, ramp building, or even entrepreneurship. I chose to skateboard across Indiana because it combined my love for skateboarding with another passion of mine, adventure, in a truly unique and exciting way. I’ll admit that it’s a little crazy, but that’s what I like about it.

 

How have you been preparing yourself mentally, physically, emotionally & spiritually for the Skate Across Indiana?

Physically, I work out six days a week. Typically I’ll run 15-20 miles, bike 20, and complete two or three high intensity interval workouts (think Insanity or P90X) in a given week. More recently I’ve been doing 25+ mile training rides on a skateboard to get ready. That’s all in conjunction with a much stricter diet than I’ve kept in the past. I really try to focus on eating a vegetable and protein rich diet without much in the way of artificial or processed foods.

Many of the exercises I do are strenuous and have really helped me improve my focus. Ultimately you can’t totally prepare for something like this. Although I’m confident in my physical ability and my mental fortitude, I’m doing something that no one has ever done before so there’s only so much that I can prepare for. I do expect that a significant part of the attention generated by this event will focus on me, but the fact that at the end of the day this event is about helping people who are in real need, provides me with a huge emotional boost. Likewise there’s a passage in Psalm 121 that I’ve tried to remind myself of on a regular basis that says; “I lift my eyes up to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, creator of heaven and earth.”

 

Wow, that definitely sounds like intense preparation. Have you had lots of support so far? What can people do should they choose to donate or sponsor you?

I have had support come in steadily. My goal is to raise $2000 through this event and I’m confident that many of the people I’ve shared the event with will support the event financially. If you visit http://stevenahill.com/give, you’ll find all of the information you need  to know about supporting the cause.

 

How would you describe your feelings/thoughts/expectations about your ride in a few weeks?

A large part of me is just really excited to get riding. I’m very much looking forward to getting on the road and working through this long ride. Admittedly the process of planning this event and soliciting for donations has been stressful. When things don’t go the way you were hoping they would, it can be a little discouraging, but it’s in those times when I just have to rely on my relationship with Christ for strength and remind myself why I’m doing this. I think it’s easy to get bogged down in the details and miss out on more meaningful things.

 

If Skate Across Indiana turns out to be successful in raising lots of money for CWO, would you ever do it again? Or maybe go to a different state… like Illinois (210 miles in length), North Carolina (500 miles) or Montana (559 miles)?

Ask me again when the ride is over! I’m really not sure what the future may hold in that regard. I have received interest from others in participating in this type of thing in the future, whether it’s on a skateboard or some other non-motorized form of transportation. I’d love to do another state at some point though.

 

Are you going to be doing any tweeting or facebook updating immediately before, during, or after the ride to keep your followers updated?

I’ll definitely be tweeting a lot during the ride. I’ve been using #SkateAcrossIndiana as a way to categorize tweets under one banner. I don’t know much about going viral, but I’d love to get that hashtag trending somewhere. I set up a Skate Across Indiana-specific twitter account (@SkateIndiana) that I plan to use in conjunction with my personal account (@epiclysteve) to provide updates. Both are public, so anyone can visit Twitter and get the latest news with what’s going on.

 

What are your plans for after the ride… going out to celebrate, home to relax, or something else?

That’s a good question. I know I’ll be pretty sore for the next few days after the ride, so I’ll have to take it easy to an extent. However, if I hit that goal of $2,000, I might have to pull together something a little more special.

 

Well I don’t know about you, but I think Steve’s Skate Across Indiana is SUCH a great idea and way to raise funds for HIV/AIDS education and prevention in sub-Saharan Africa! And it’s so unique. If you are interested in supporting Steve financially, go to his website http://stevenahill.com/give . Or if you want to simply support him spiritually, I’m sure he would appreciate the prayers! Go check out his website or his twitter- Steve is a super friendly guy and he would love to know that you stopped by to learn more about Skate Across Indiana!

And today just so happens to be his birthday! Happy Birthday Steve!  Thanks for taking time out of your busy life to answer my questions!