It has been quite a month! Some times two steps forward and one back. And through it all our God is faithful. And that's a fact!
Early in November, I was able to find a permanent (for now) room on the second floor above a "pollo a la braza" or rotisserie chicken place. Every weekend we have yummy smells finding their way up our stairway. The downside is there are bunches of strange people coming and going, the loud music is mostly the same three notes of which my son said, "If I hear this music much longer, I'll jump out of the bus". It's not that Peruvian music is not good, it's just that it's written in minor keys and the mandolin dominates at the high end of the scale, in between are women who sing in a little girl voice and the whole thing makes for difficult appreciation. Some bus drivers vary the music, but many times that is not the case. Sometimes I just put my earphones on to stop hearing it. The chicken guy plays the music at full volume as well. I'll keep the room until the road workers leave the village, since they are occupying all the extra rooms right now. The good news is, I can cook in my room and it's large enough where I can invite ladies for Bible Study or kids for tutoring.
Some of you who came to visit Viraco in 2011 remember Natalie and I am happy to say this is her year to move up to high school. Her older brother Paolo will graduate from high school. I am very proud of both of them. They have truly persevered to get this far.
Greg is already becoming famous for his muffins in Viraco and Machahuay. He is becoming known as a hard worker as he cleans up his house and helps others. There is a story I heard that he impressed onlookers as he ran down the street with an empty gas tank for the stove, exchanged it and ran back up the street with a new full one!!! Several of the ladies let me know how strong he is. When I asked him about it, he just shrugged it off and said "I had muffins in the oven baking, time was of the essence!!" Spoken like a true baker.
On November 21st, I received a note that our paperwork for our carnets had been accepted. That is good news, we won't be plagued with fines for staying to long, we can get Peruvian rates for air fare in country and for tourist attractions. We can actually get paid for tutoring English or Computer Classes. I am very grateful God led us to the correct organization to facilitate the transactions that led to this. Yaaaaah God, as my sister Kay would say. At present, I am sitting here in Arequipa in my room at the Medina family home. I came to town Thanksgiving Thursday bringing a cuy (guinea pig) on my lap. She is pregnant and very nicely marked, so rather than eat her, I bought her so she could bring new blood into the cuy herd we have here. My friend Yrene sold her to me and fixed a basket with alfalfa for her. I made a pad of towels and plastic so that when cuys do what they do, I wouldn't get a wet lap out of the deal. We made the 8 hour trip well, in spite of 3 note music and many temporary road issues. Loyal Mimi was up and waiting for me when cuy and luggage and I arrived at 1:30am. We had a short scare when we opened the basket and the cuy didn't move. I knew she had been thrashing around on the bus but during the cab ride she had gotten to cold. It took a bit of prodding, but she revived and is doing well.
A main reason for my coming down the mountain was to assist with planning Granddaughter Joyce's 15th birthday party. Earlier in the week, big sister Yoki had fallen at church and badly sprained her left ankle, pulling ligaments and tendons. Eco-grams show enough damage that she is in a cast to the knee to give things time to heal. So she was not able to do secret missions in search of party and food preparations. So, I helped in small ways while getting my own errands run.
I was asked by Marco, my Peruvian son, to help teach some English to another mining engineer who is doing a presentation Monday for his company. His name is Charlie Sanchez and I had a few minutes one day to tell him about differences between evangelicals and Peruvian Catholics. He has invited me to come back to their home any time in the future to chat with his Mom. His Mother is taking English Conversation classes and gave both Marco and me nice key chains. I would like to meet her some day.
So the party for Joyce came off nicely at the church. I took her for birthday pizza while the decorations went up. All hands were helping put food together, and we all laughed and had fun till midnight.
One night I stuffed and sewed little animals my Mom makes for me to bring. A few will go to be sold at the Church Bazaar. The proceeds will go to a missions fund for members who are called to work in Viraco/Machahuay or elsewhere in Peru. It's all for the good.
I had planned to leave for Viraco today after our church service, but yesterday I began having intestinal distress. By this morning things were urgent and there was no way I could make an 8 hour bus trip with no amenities. The Medina women have gone into overtime making healing teas and chicken soups and boiled coca colas. I have some tablets I am taking as well. Tomorrow is another day. The good news is that as I sit, lay down, recline in my room I have time to reflect and look at the things here that remind me of the goodness of God. I have my photos of family and friends here. There are loved books gifted to me, handmade cards and other reminders of how much people care about me and the work here. I needed to stop the crazy pace a bit to just, as the song says "be".
So, this is the first Sunday of Advent, as we begin to prepare our hearts again for welcoming a baby who would prove to be our Redeemer, Advocate and Great High Priest, but also my Forgiver and Friend and so much more, I pray that you will take some time as well to "be", to listen, to rest, in the arms of One who is closer than a brother.
In love and appreciation for each of you,