Friday, June 29, 2007

...To Aguas Calientes...

On Tuesday, we took a train from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes. Unfortunately, this meant getting up at 5:15, since the train left at 6:15. Ick.

The train was pretty cool. We definitely got to see more of the country from train-level than from airplane-level. We were both surprised by how big Cuzco is - we were on the train for almost 45 minutes before we finally got out of the city. Almost all of the houses we saw were made out of mud-bricks. I learned that they were sun-dried bricks (as opposed to oven-dried) as we passed several small fields covered in a grid of drying bricks. I attempted to get a picture, but I'm not sure how successful I was...

We also passed several Incan ruins on this trip. The Incan empire was linked by a series of trails that ran through their extensive territory. The train track paralleled this trail for much of our trip, so we got to see many of the remains of old settlements or towns that existed along this trail. It was kind of a preview for what I knew we'd be seeing at Machu Pichu. It was amazing to see how far their empire stretched and to know that I was only seeing a small part of it.

We arrived in Aguas Calientes around 10 in the morning. Probably 80% of the people on the train immediately boarded a bus up to Machu Pichu. Working off the suggestion of osme of the SALI interns, we avoided the bulk of the crowds and waited until Wednesday morning to head up to MP. This gave us all of Tuesday afternoon to rest and hang out in Aguas Calientes. There wasn't much to do, but we ate at a really great restaurant and climbed out onto the rocks in the river. Our room overlooked the river, and we were treated to the sound of the water crashing over the rocks all night. Quite a nice change from our sanctification bird!

To Cuzco...

We are back from Machu Pichu! It was a great trip - definitely worth the tiredness I'm feeling now. I'm going to break down our trip into several postings, which will hopefully make it easier to read (and write).

On Monday, we travelled from Trujillo to Cuzco. Thankfully our travelling was mostly uneventful. However, I was fascinated by the sights during our flight. We were flying parallel to and later into the Andes Mountains. The mountains are so tall, the tops stuck up over the clouds. It was amazing. The photos don't quite do it justice, but it was a crazy feeling to see something taller than the clouds!

When we got to Cuzco, one of the first sights we saw were the airport parking lot! They were grazing on the little bit of grass on the edges of the lot. Unfortunately I wasn't fast enough to get a picture, but they were far from being the last llamas I saw during this trip.

Because we got to Cuzco in the mid-afternoon, we were able to do some sight-seeing. Cuzco was originally the capital of the Incan empire. Now it is an interesting architectural mix of Incan and Spanish colonial architecture. I lost count of the number of cathedrals and convents in the city. The basic Spanish order of operations was to tear down every Incan temple and build a cathedral on that spot. One cathedral was particularly interesting. It had been built on the site of the Sun Temple (I think), but the Spanish had only bothered to take down the parts of Incan architecture that were directly in the path of their cathedral. As a result, rooms of the old Incan temple existed within the cathedral. It was quite an interesting mix. But, as I think about it, ironically appropriate. Instead of insisting on the purity of Christianity in the effort to convert the Incas, in many cases the Spanish created or allowed a mixture between indigenous and Christian beliefs. Like the cathedral, the result is neither Christian or the indigenous religion.

We stayed in a really neat hostel while we were in Cuzco. Our room the first night was the smallest, coolest and coldest room I've ever slept in. Smallest: there was just enough room for the bed and about three feet on each side. Coolest: the back wall of the room was rock, curving into the room like a barrel on its side. Coldest: the nighttime temperatures got down into the 30s while we were there, and there was no heat. Brrr! Even with three blankets and flannels we were still shivering in our bed!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Kids will be Kids!

I just had to post these pics of Colton. They were too funny! He was eating an apple last night, and plyaing with his food. Brian took a few pictures and I wanted to share them...

The second photo is of his "crazy face" and I have to agree. One thing I can say about staying with the's got to be more entertaining than the intern apartments!! :)

Devotional Thoughts

I wanted to share something from my devotion of a few nights ago.

Psalm 102: 25-27 In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.

The first thing that struck me about this passage was how succinctly it summarizes God's plan for the earth. Genesis to Revelation: God created everything, He redeemed it, and He will reign forever.

Maybe it's my architecture training, but I really like the image of God laying the "foundations of the earth." Foundations don't move, and it reminds me that God has created and ordered and sustains the earth. Later in Ps 104:5, it says that God "set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved." Surrounded by people predicting that our actions will make the earth uninhabitable for future generations, it is a comfort, certainly, to remember that God holds the future of the earth, ultimately, not us.

I was also very struck by all the imagery brought to mind by verse 26. That all our works are as dirty rags, that Christ has removed from us our sins, and He has clothed us in His righteousness. What an amazing thing it will be to finally shed our sins once and for all! I know the image appears many times in Scripture, but the passage I referenced in my Bible (in keeping with the Gen-Rev theme) was Rev 21:1-4, specifically the image of Christ's bride, "beautifully dressed for her husband" (v2) and "the old order of things has passed away" (v4). BAck in Psalm 102, it says that the old things will be discarded. Unneeded, unneccessary, they will be done away with and they will no more be a part of us.

The last image, v27, also sent me to Revelation chapter 21:6. Jesus claims and reminds us that He is "the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End." I was just struck by the peace in the knowledge that our God is unchanging, and eternal. That is our Rock, in a world always changing.

I just wanted to share that with you. I know I've read that passage in Psalms at least a dozen times, but this time it just really jumped out at me.

We leave for Cuzco and Machu Pichu tomorrow (Monday) morning, so the blog will be silent for a few days. But when we get back, we should definitely have some great photos to share!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Living with Books

One of my first thoughts upon entering the Ferguson's house, (after excitement of seeing John, Heather and the kids, as well as the relief of being done with travelling for a while) was that their house looks like I expect ours to look in a few more years. As soon as you enter the Ferguson's house, it is obvious that this is a book-loving family. Books are everywhere: in the living room, the study, the upstairs landing, the bedrooms. For a girl who hoped for a library the size of the Beast's in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," their house looks wonderful! :)

Ok, I know that the third photo is on its side, but I just spent the past 5 minutes trying to rotate it! It is rotated on the computer, I don't know why it won't come up in the right orientation on my post. Sorry if you get a crick in your neck!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My First Spanish Joke

I have learned that much of what we say in English doesn't translate into Spanish. To prove this statement is a "Dictionary of American Idioms" that Brian has been using to teach some of the teachers at SALI. And Wes had to explain to Lenin what it meant for him to be 'itching' to help me. But yesterday I heard a funny in Spanish that doesn't translate into English.

The Spanish word for slow is lento. Like most of us, Peruvians have a love-hate relationship with their computers. So instead of referring to their computers as "Pentium III" or "Pentium IV," they jokingly call them "Lentium Tres" or "Lentium Cuatro." I was quite amused. And thought I'd pass along the joke.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Yo hablo Espanol (un poquito)

Today I had my third Spanish lesson. I take lessons from Noami (No-ah-me) the same woman that all the Fergusons take from. Noami is the wife of Eduardo, the pastor of the Arevalo church. She is wonderfully patient and encouraging. I'm really enjoying lessons with her, even if they make my brain tired. I had two hours of Spanish today instead of my usual hour, so my brain is twice as tired. I feel like it's shriveling up inside my skull. Even English is more difficult right now.

But I'm glad to be learning even the little bit I am. Let me see if I can pass on some of my newly acquired knowledge. First, pronunciation: "a" makes the short 'a' sound - ah; "e" makes the long 'a' sound; "i" sounds like long 'e'; "o" sounds like 'o', but short and clipped; "u" sounds likes 'oo'. Got it? The hardest part about vowels is the fact that we Southerners have a tendency to drag out our vowels, and sometimes give them multiple syllables! One thing about Spanish pronunciation makes it easier and harder all at once: every letter sounds when you say a word (except for "h" which is silent) This makes it easier to know how to say a new word, but can sometimes make actually saying the word more dificil (difficult). For example: aeropuerto (airport) is pronounced ah-a-ro-poo-er-to, not forgetting to slightly roll the 'r' sound. I still stumble over that word, every time I see it! Spanish is spoken in the front of the mouth, and you have to form different shapes with your mouth and tongue, so by the end of my lessons, my tongue is tired, as well as my brain. Just sounding out aeropuerto for this blog entry mskes me wonder if it's possible for you tongue to actually cramp.

But learning Spanish is still fun right now, mostly because I'm not dependent on it for daily life. Then it would be stressful. Please continue to pray for the Fergusons as they continue to study and gain fluency in Spanish. I am becoming convinced that there are few things more tiring than trying to learn and talk in a new language.

PS- my title translated is "I Speak Spanish (a little little bit)"

Saturday, June 16, 2007

What's Wrong with This Picture?

The title of this post is a bit of a mis-nomer. I don't actually have any photos to post. Heather and I went out on a shopping trip yesterday, and I didn't take the camera with me because I didn't expect anything "picture-worthy" to happen. This of course ensured that I would want it.

The first funny thing we saw driving through down-town Trujillo was a dog on the roof of a building. This in and of itself is not an uncommon site; you can see it everyday in the neighborhoods. It was the dog's actions that were rather amusing. It walked out to the outside corner of the roof, and began relieving itself. Not something you see every day in the States.

After shopping for a few hours, we decided to take a break and get a snack. We went into a restaurant called D'Marco's and sat down next to a couple gringo girls. A few minutes later, a mission team of about 30 gringos came in. By the time we left, the only Peruvians in the restaurant were the wait staff. It was quite a funny picture in Peru. And not one you see often.

Sorry about the lack of pictures. Brian is more of a picture-taker than I am. I'll try to be better in the future; I know it helps to get a better picture of what it's like here. No pun intended.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Arevalo Design

I have a first-round design for the Arevalo sanctuary building. So far it has Brian's and Heather's stamps of approval. I'll probably talk to PM's architect tomorrow and ask about the feasibility of some aspects of my design. Then I'll have to talk to the rest of the missionaries to see if what I've designed is what they were hoping for.

This project has been an adjustment in my thinking in a couple ways. First, this may actually get built! I know that's what architects do, but it's still an adjustment from school, where I spent months on a project that never made it off the paper. Second, I don't have to go back and forth with my prof about it. I'm sure there will be some give and take with PM, but it's very odd to realize that there is no prof assigning me a grade for this.

Here you can pray that I will have wisdom to be creative and make good decisions. But more importantly, pray that God will be pleased with and honored in the building. It is very important that the building accurately portray God in who He is and how we worship Him. The building can be beautiful, but if it distracts the congregation from worshipping God, it is a failure as a sanctuary.

Thanks to all of you who read our blogs and comment and who are praying for us. It is such an encouragement to me.

Sunday Worship

I think my comments on the past few days will be split up into mini-posts so that the different topics get their own headings and hopefully make more sense.

Sunday worship is probably going to be the hardest part of our time in Peru. The worship services are, of course, in Spanish, which means I can't understand a word. I spent the service reading and praying, but I definitely did not have the same sense of corporate worship. I forget how important that is until I don't have it. Even Brian, John and Heather, who speak some Spanish, can't follow the pastor during the sermon. I'll struggle with this for the next few weeks; the Fergusons have been and will continue to struggle with this for much longer. Please pray for Brian and I, but especially for the Fergusons. Pray that they would quickly grow in their understanding of the language and soon be able to understand and be fed by the entire worship service.

On Sunday evening, the SALI interns came over to the Ferguson's house. This is a weekly event, where they listen to a sermon in English, and sing hymns and praise songs (also in English) together. It was a great time to be fed and it made me very thankful for IPod technology!!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Catching Up

Saturday's main event, the grocery store trip, was very much like grocery store trips in the States. Except for the guinea pig in the meats case. Ick! I was amazed by some of the produce, however. Check out the size of this carrot!

The green fruit is actually a limon. Kind of a cross between a lemon and a lime. It's much smaller than either a lemon or a lime, about the size of a golf ball.

Our taxi-ride home from the grocery store stuck with me, however. I was reminded of the fact that we are witnesses every day, in every situation. I can't remember exactly how the coversation started, but the driver and Heather got into a discussion about the differences between Mormon beliefs and ours. Heather's connection with Peru Mission came up and the driver knew about some of the Mission's work. He goes to a Catholic church in the Arevalo district, and has seen the clinic being built. He was excited to see that because it will be the first clinic in the area, and the people need it. It was a really neat reminder of the Mission's presence and visibility in Trujillo. It also makes me that much more aware of the awesome responsibility and honor I've been given in the design of the Arevalo sanctuary.

One additional prayer request from me: I came down with a cold this weekend. It's not a terrible one, but enough to be annoying and tiring. Pray that I would get better quickly and not be cranky or a wimp about it. ;)

Friday, June 8, 2007

Arevalo Update

Brian and I went out to the Arevalo Parish today. This is the site where we worked last spring, and where I'll be working this summer. It definitely looks different than when we were last there!

This photo was taken from about the same place as the others I posted on June 3. The only difference is that we're higher. The pictures are taken from the highest point on the fellowhip hall building. Last year they had the first two floors walled in, and the third floor laid; this year the third floor has been walled in and the roof of the third floor/ fourth floor has been laid.

The exterior and most of the interior walls of the clinic are up. It was really amazing to look at this building where nothing but holes had been the last time I was there. It was also really cool to see, since I had studied the plans for this building while I was working on my final project. So I knew what was going to go where. This architecture thing is turning out to be pretty cool!

This photo is of the part of the site where the church will sit. It's also kind of an aerial view, taken from the same place as the first photo. The church will be on the corner, between the clinic and the fellowship hall. There's a strip of park area created by the city on the far edge of the site. Right now, it looks like the entrance to the church will be on that side, with the pulpit closest to the fellowship hall. But we'll see!

Today was a rather tiring day. Brian had to do a lot of Spanish-English translation for me at the site, and he learned that his vocabulary does not extend into architectural and construction terms. Hopefully I'll start picking up on more of those pretty quickly.

Tomorrow I'll have another adventure to write about: it is grocery shopping day. Brian and I both want to go, just to get a fuller picture of what life is like in Trujillo.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Real Project

We went up to SALI to talk to the people we'll be working with while we're here. I got a surprise, which you're familiar with if you've read Heather's blog today. I'm going to be working on the design for the church / sanctuary building at the Arevalo site. I was expecting my role to be more an assisting one, so this comes as a surprise. I'm still kind of processing it all. Arevalo is the site we worked at last year, digging the holes for the foundation of the medical clinic, so I'm already familiar with the site and emotionally attached. I'm going out to the site tomorrow to see what's been done since last year. It's going to be great to be working on this project, but somewhat surreal as well. I'm not used to the thought that what I design may actually be built! ;)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

We're Here!

We're finally here! I had my doubts many times during our trip.

Our flight out of College Station was delayed, and then delayed again. We got into Houston at about the time our flight to Lima was leaving. So we missed that flight and were involved in a fair bit of confusion before getting booked on a series of flights that took us to Lima via Miami. We got into Lima at 4:30 am Tuesday, to find that our luggage hadn't come to Lima on the same flight. Thankfully it turned out to have made it on the original flight out of Houston, so it was waiting for us in Lima. We checked into a hotel in Lima, and slept for a few hours. We spent a little time walking around Lima, and got some coffee at Starbucks. That was a nice treat! Our flight from Lima to Trujillo was, for the most part, without incident, and John and Heather were waiting for us at the airport.

Today is our recovery day. We slept late, took showers (finally) and watched a movie with the 5 Ferguson kiddos. It has been great already just to see and visit with the Fergusons. It's going to be great to be part of their family for the next few weeks. Tomorrow we will go up to SALI (where the offices are and where the English language Institute is housed) where we'll meet with the people we'll be working with while we're here.

You can definitely be in prayer for me about tomorrow. Those of you who know me know that meeting a lot of new people tends to make me rather nervous - I can only assume that the language barrier is only going to add to that.

Hopefully I can add some pictures later. I'll have to ask John and Heather how to hook our camera up. Thanks for all your prayers!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Almost Gone...

Well, it's hard to belive, but our trip to Peru is almost here. We fly out of College Station tomorrow around lunch time. We'll get to Lima tomorrow night, and then we'll fly to Trujillo Tuesday night. Because of limited flights between Lima and Trujillo, we could either leave first thing Tuesday morning or later that evening. So we'll spend a day hanging out in Lima.

Many of you probably remember that Brian and I went to Peru last spring break to work with Peru Mission. The main thing we did while we were there was to dig the holes for the foundation of the medical clinic. That clinic is currently under construction, I believe up to the second floor. I'm including some photos of our last trip so you can see what Trujillo is like and so you can see the progress that's been made since we were there last. I'm very excited to see the work that's been done on the clinic.
The first photo is the site before we started work. The second photo shows all the holes we dug for the foundation. Ever tried digging a really deep hole in dry sand? Not much fun. But for me the architecture geek, it was fascinating to watch. I don't know when we'll get out to the Arevalo church, but after we do, I'll upload pictures of the current progress.