Reintroduction

8/4/2011 -- A good friend of mine told me several weeks ago that I should continue blogging my life, not necessarily for any of you that happen to read this, but for me. So my goal with my new start is to reflect on things that have happened, how they've changed me, and how I can apply what I've learned to the future. Feel free to follow along or whatever, I got things under control even if no one ever reads this.

First post is something like half done, expected time of arrival: 1 week.



Sunday, October 31, 2010

Finally! A new post!

10/22/10 (the dates here represent the day that I wrote this entry)
 Wow wow. This week has been a busy and crazy one. My week's theme song is 'Some Beach' by Blake Shelton, look it up on YouTube! Don't have time to grab you a link, but you should listen to it! I chose it because it's tough work here and makes me dream of my beach back home.
 It's a ton of fun here, and I'm starting to get used to it, but honestly, there is no place like home. I miss home a ton, but I'll make it through the next many months, if only just barely.
 This last week was my first full week of actual work down here. 8-12 and 2-6 every day, except Fridays it's 8-2. I will say that working out here can be quite discouraging. Jonathan and I are working on a project out in the woods independent of the Peruvian workers, and for some reason they are all convinced that Jonathan and I don't work very much... Not sure why, but I think it has something to do with Wednesday when they came out and helped. They worked super fast, but did a poor job. Jonathan and I on the other hand work steadily and get the job done right. Something else that makes it tough is the girls. Anytime we come back a little early (I'm talking like 5 minutes) or leave a bit late, they always get after us for slacking off, but they don't have to work all day like we do...
 Anyway, had to get that off my chest. Life is relatively good here though. The food is usually good, especially recently with the Project treasurer and another doctor here visiting. I have also discovered that a lot of work requires a lot of sleep, but the schedule is not conducive to getting a lot of sleep unfortunately. As a result, I'm pretty tired all the time, but am working on a fix to the situation and it looks like next week will be a lot better in the area of time spent sleeping.
 Sunday night the doctor had a meeting with all of us guy SMs to inform us that we needed to be more flexible, more dedicated, take more initiative, have more integrity, and be leaders. That was a weird meeting. He said that he'd never had such laid back guys before and he needed us to change this or he would have to send us home. It would have been funny, except that he was being serious. Examples he cited: the girls did most of the leading, the girls worked even when they were sick, and us guys didn't contribute nearly as much as the girls. (If you can't tell, there is this slight friction that exists between the guys and the girls SMs, I call it slight because we are working on amending it and coming to a compromise.) I will say that, in our defense, the girls have been here longer than us guys, up to a month longer, when he talks about the girls working he's referring to them hanging out with the Peruvian workers while they work, and us guys don't contribute as much because we are trying to catch up on our sleep most of the time. I will admit that I do need to dedicate myself more, but it's not something that is easy to do. I'm working on changing my ways and becoming more a part of the project, but it's tough. I have a hard time agreeing with the way a lot of things are done around here, but the doctor did say we need to be leaders... So maybe I need to suggest a change in some places and make compromises in others.
 Monday was a crazy day. It rained very slightly over our lunch break for maybe 10 or 15 minutes at a time. So when it started raining again at 3:30, Jonathan and I didn't worry about it and kept working because we figured that by the time we walked out of the jungle and back to base, the rain would have stopped. (We also wanted to prove our newly found dedication) By the time we figured out that the rain wasn't about to stopped, we were drenched, so we just kept on working, shouting at the rain as we went! What was funny, is that in the time it rained, we got more done than we had all day. That was cool, the only thing that stopped us from working, was a massive lightning bolt that landed something like 20 feet from us. That was probably the most frightening thing in my life! There was a incredibly bright light and a soul shaking thunder clap, in that instant I thought I was dead, not even kidding! But we made it out alive, so don't fret about us! We are safe and sound and even now I'm relaxing in a dry house listening to the thunder and rain batter the house.
 Tuesday was the day that I got to get up at 5 and cook breakfast!! Woot woot. It was fun as early as I had to get up. One of those things that you have to experience at least once in life. Though in the next 6 months I can expect to experience it once a week. That was a long day and I slept well that night, especially after being up later than usual.
 Wednesday was the day that I experienced ants in the pants. As funny as people make it sound, there is nothing funny about having little critters running up and down your leg biting as they go! Ha! Not something I plan on repeating. In the future I'll make an effort not to place my feet on an ant nest for extended periods of time. Other than that, it was an ordinary day. Well, Jonathan and I went into CampoVerde and picked up some super cheap bread! We got a grocery bag full for the equivalent of a dollar, not bad. It was lower quality bread than you get in the states, but it sure tastes good after a hard days labor!
 Thursday was yesterday, and yet it seems so far away. I can't remember much about it, other than I went to bed early and it rained a slight bit over lunch. It seems like it rained over every lunch break this week, ironic that it rained so much when I didn't have to work. The thing around here is that when it's raining, we don't have to work! So I like rain.
 Today Hannah came out to work with us, so Jonathan and I had some company for the morning at least, she ended up leaving early to head back. It was good though because we got more done than we would have otherwise! What sucks about Fridays is that we work 8-2 with no break, so when 2 comes around the stomach growls are stomach roars. Luckily, we took some bread out to sustain us, which was good because when we came back for lunch, most of it had already been eaten. So we didn't get much grub, I'm looking forward to dinner!
&nbps;One thing I've been working on, is memorizing some verses in Spanish. Right now I've got part of Psalms 23 down. Great verse, so that is my verse of the week. 'Jehova es mi pastor, nada me faltara.' 'The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.'.
 Oh! And I love to hear from you guys, it helps a ton with the homesickness. Just because I'm not around or I haven't talked to you since I left, doesn't mean I don't exist! Please leave a comment, send me something on Facebook, email me (allewoh at gmail.com replace at with @), or you could even write me a letter! My address is as follows:

Anthony Howell
AMOR Projects
c/o Richard Mathews / Hanna Melara
Casilla 202
Pucallpa, PERU

 You must write all of that to make sure that it can be picked up at the post office! And if you feel so inclined, you could even call me if you have an international phone card! (011-51-61-79-0888) That is the number you call from the States to call the satellite phone that we have here. You can't always get through because a lot of the times it's busy or broken, but feel free to try and make sure to ask for Anthony. We are 2 hours ahead of 'Home' time (Oregon time, after Oct 30 we'll be 3 hours ahead due to daylight savings) so keep that in mind when calling please! The main reason I posted that number is because I keep forgetting to tell my mom, so here it is mom! Love you.
 I'm off to take a nap though, I look forward to hearing from you! Peace to you all.

10/28/10

 I'm already in week 6 of my stay here in Peru. That is crazy to think about! The last couple of days have been super hot unfortunately, really makes me miss the coolness of the coast back home. Man do I miss home too. I'm sure looking forward to going back home, that is for sure!
 The last 2 weeks, we've had the treasurer of the project down here, and that has been a relief to have another A.M.O.R. Project leader down here other than just the doctor. It's tough working under a Peruvian as an American because they have such a different mentality of what it means to work or to serve. During a meeting with the doctor, he was telling us what service meant, and I can quote him at one point saying “You do what I tell you to do.” after I made a comment about making my own decisions.
 Having the treasurer down here made a difference because the treasurer wants us to have a good experience so they will get more SMs down here next year. In years past, they've had more guy SMs than this year, last year there were 12 guy SMs and this year only 4. That says something about the way the guys felt about the whole experience. I will say that even though it's tough down here and yes the doctor is not someone I enjoy working for, I don't believe in running away from my problems. I may have done so in the past, but not any more. I know my values and beliefs, and I'm willing to stand up for them. I won't be coming home until the end of April/early May unless I get sent home or I need some kind of medical attention that I can't get down here, but I hope for neither.
 Friday night Jonathan and I called up Michael and spend 34 minutes and 17 seconds working on getting him to get his rear in gear and to get down here. Sounds like he will! But if you see him, remind him too!
 Saturday was like any other Sabbath here in Peru, breakfast, church, lunch, then part of the afternoon off, and then evening church. I wanted to take a break, so I took the evening church off. Saturday night we were informed that we were doing a clinic Sunday morning at 7, wasn't so bad because the doctor promised another day off which is today! (Thursday) So we went and ate some french fries in CampoVerde and then hit the sheets.
 Sunday we drove out 15 kilometers on this junky dirt road to a little village out in the middle of no where. Funny thing is that they had internet! Ha! Out in the wilds of Peru with internet, that was crazy. Anyway, I worked in our pharmacy again counting and handing out pills to the patients seen by the doctor. That was a quick day for some reason, not sure why.
 It rained hard during lunch, and after Caleb got the truck stuck in some deep mud, so they found someone to pull them out. After the Peruvians helped get the truck unstuck, they demanded payment for their work. Another side of the Peruvian mentality that I've discovered.
 Monday I was super tired from working on Sunday because we had to get up so early, but I trudged the 20 minute walk out to where Jonathan and I were working and put in my hours for the day clearing out around the trees that mark the property line. The property line is 3100 meters long, so for the morning we walked out as far as we could, clearing out the trail as we went, then walked back. Even after 2 hours of walking and clearing, we still didn't make it the whole way. It's gonna take a while to get that job done.
 Tuesday I worked with Alfonso, one of the Peruvians, working on some projects back here on site rather than out in the jungle. In the morning we built a door for the cow corral, both dog proof and cow proof, and in the afternoon we worked on roofing the hammock house with thatch roofing. Thatching a roof takes a lot of time. We buy thatch in 2 meter long sections and then put them in in rows using the distance between a Peruvian thumb and fore finger as the distance between each row of thatch. That doesn't sound too complicated until you realize that we are putting this on a circular Peruvian roof. It has a base diameter of something like 7 meters and is probably a good 10 meters tall, so it's tough to get the thatch wrapped around the roof frame. So far it's taken probably 3 days of full work to get two-thirds of the way up the roof, getting faster as it goes though.
 Wednesday Jonathan and I went back out to work in the jungle, and really made a good time of it. In the morning we took out a pineapple and a guanabana, which is some kind of fruit that tastes really weird, with us and enjoyed them for our second breakfast. After lunch we saw some freaky looking bugs, they looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. A crazy looking jerky worm that burrowed into the dirt, a quarter sized flying saucer with legs, and then some unidentified brown bug/lizard thing that I didn't manage to get a very good look at. On top of all those weird things, we've probably seen at least 10 species of ants out here and spent most of our working hours picking ants off ourselves. It is crazy!
 That brings me to today, my day off! I had to explain at least ten times to Daniel, one of the Peruvians, that today was my day off and he didn't need to come banging on my door to tell me I was late for work, but wouldn't ya know, Daniel came and woke me up to tell me I was late for work. Ah well, I had things to do today anyway.
 Unfortunately for the last week there has been a phone card shortage in CampoVerde for some reason, so I wasn't able to call my sister on her birthday or talk to my mom recently, but that problem has now been solved! Some of the girls went into Pucallpa yesterday and got me a bunch of tarjetas de llamar (phone cards). It's nice that some of the girls go into Pucallpa so much because they can get me phone cards without me having to go in with them, and they can check the mail, which they haven't done for the past week and a half. I hope some of you sent me something!
 Dunno if I mentioned it or not, but the treasurer is looking at getting internet down here on site, but it's not looking super good at this point in time. It's all super expensive, but he really wants us to have it, so he's asking around and getting a lot of different quotes, so it looks like he might be getting something done! He is coming in February, so we'll see what happens with that. He was sounding like it's almost for sure going to happen for the SMs next year.
 Please keep in contact! I feel like I've lost contact with anyone back at WWU! I'm working on remedying that, but it's hard with me in Peru.
 Peace to you all!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sick week

10/17/10
 One week ago I taught our pet monkey how to shower and then took him out to the fields to work with me, and then yesterday morning he turned up dead. The dogs here got him and killed him. I was really having some fun with having a monkey as a pet. It was different than having a dog because he was able to climb all over me and everything. Plus he ate like crazy and was an extremely vocal little dude. I'm gonna miss him! Already do in fact.
 Anyway, this week was the most boring week since I got here, especially after the fires and the river trip. Sunday was pretty said back, just worked on my blog and hit up CampoVerde to use the internet. Jonathan and I got back and the Doctor sat us down to explain our job. As much as we assured him we understood what he was saying, we discovered Monday morning that we had no idea.
 Monday came around and we went where we thought we were supposed to go, but after something like 30 minutes, we got back to the Chicos laughing at us. Instead of trekking down the highway, we were supposed to be working right next to the wood shop.
 Our job was to clear out the trees that marked our property line. There were two rows with one tree every 5 meters all along the 3100 meter property line. The doctor said 500 trees, but according to my calculation puts it closer to 1240 trees. Ouch. We had to clear out any grass or bushes around for a meter in case of another fire.
 That was fun stuff, so fun that Tuesday Jonathan and I took the last little bit of our work day and went pineapple hunting out in the burned pineapple fields. I'd say something like 90% of the fields burned. You have to realize that this is a Peruvian pineapple field, so the pineapple plants were extremely hard to get to through all the trees and bushes growing up around them, but we still managed to find 6 massive pineapples after almost an hour of looking. We hauled them back along with the monkey and dropped them off in the kitchen.
 The next morning, Wednesday morning, was the worst morning since I've been in Peru. I spent the whole morning after 3 am with diarrhea. That sucked. After that I spent most of the next three days in, on, or around my bed trying to make myself well. That was about as exciting as it got around here for those days. Being sick is no fun, but being sick in Peru is even worse. No matter what you do, even if you are laying on a bed doing absolutely nothing with a fan blowing on you, you are going to be sweating. I miss home and the weather there. Only 6 and a half more months until I get to come home!
 Yesterday, Saturday, Jonathan preached a sermon about prayer. Nothing too crazy considering his Spanish capabilities, but it was fun to listen too! He had a lot of verses for people to read. After that was my relaxing Sabbath afternoon, and then we had the evening session, and then we watched some Stargate and then bed!
 And that brings me to today! Nothing awesome happened here this week, at least awesome enough for me to call awesome. I did end up finally breaking my headphones, and in the process of trying to fix them I stabbed myself with Jonathan's knife and had to super glue it shut to keep the blood from gushing out. That was pretty exciting I guess, depends on your definition of exciting though.
 Oh! We had a meeting on Wednesday... Or maybe Thursday... The days blend together when you don't do much. But we talked about security and changes that were going to be taking place around here. After the fires and then the robbery, the A.M.O.R. Projects counsel got a talking to from the US State Department. If anything else happens to us down here, we are going to be evacuated out. Craziness.
 So, because of that, we are stepping up security. This means that our curfew is now 7 pm, we cannot go anywhere alone (makes sense), they are going to actually start using the gate, they are going to put in a siren for communication between the two houses, and living spaces are going to be rearranged for the sake of spreading out the men.
 Scared of legal action, the A.M.O.R. Projects counsel also forbade any of us SMs from helping out with fighting any of the fires...... These are fires that are threatening our stuff... Not sure that really makes much sense. But hey, between you and me, I'll be out fighting any fire on our land down here no matter what the counsel tells me. I got away with nothing more than a burned ankle, which is almost healed, so I'm not too worried about another massive blaze sweeping through our jungle. Plus, rainy season is coming!
 We were also informed that the treasurer of the Project is coming down to visit and is seriously considering putting in internet down here! Boo-ya! Internet in site! Sure it won't be any faster than CampoVerde, but it will allow for more communication with the outside. Which is safer and more convenient. You guys would all love to hear about me every night, wouldn't you?
 I would appreciate any prayers that I can get! Still hanging in down here, but sometimes just barely. I'm ready to come home for sure. They said the homesickness would take about 2 weeks to leave, but here I am on my third week and I'm still feeling it. It's a ton of fun down here, don't get me wrong, but I feel like I just ditched my life back home to pursue something different down here.
 One thing I have found though, leaving everything behind has really shown me the value if my life back home. Sometimes you have to leave something behind for a bit to realize how much you love it. I love home. For those of you that don't know me too well, here's a little tidbit. I'm a home boy, always loved being home, never really like going on vacations even. So here I am in Peru, does that make sense? I don't think so.
 Miss you all, definitely looking forward to coming home. Pray for me, remember me, and keep reading my blog! Peace to you all.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Week 3!!!

10/10/10
 Wowee it's been a crazy week down here in Peru. A lot of ridiculous things have happened since Monday when I last posted. The only logical place to start is the beginning, so here we go:
 Tuesday morning we all got packed up to head out on to the river to do some mobile clinics. I was relatively excited considering that I was finally getting used to living here on the compound, so I drug my feet, but went along with it for the adventure of boating part of the Amazon.
 We rolled out at something like 9 with a truck and the back of a taxi stuffed full of all of our junk, we had a ton of stuff between the girls and the medical and dental teams. We drove out to another Adventist mission base and met our two little tourist boats at their dock. The boats were each probably 25 feet in length with 8 rows of 2 seats and a lawn mower engine with a rebar handle. It was quite the sight, but they were to be our homes for the next several days.
 After several hours of travel on the boat, we got to our first destination and set up shop to see patients for medical and dental needs. We probably saw about 50 patients total, not a lot compared to when we were in Pucallpa seeing 150 medical and 40 or 50 dental.
 The doctor (whenever I say “the doctor” I'm referring to Dr. Richard Matthews, the Peruvian in charge of the compound down here) cooked us up some sweet plantain slop, not sure what it was supposed to be, but it was interesting, I'll leave it at that. After we had a plate of weirdness, we headed down the river to the next village and before we knew it, darkness was upon us and we were traversing the river with flashlights.
 We got to the next village late and some people headed up on shore to find a place to sleep and Chris, Caleb, and I set up shop on the boat. Greatest sleep I've ever had due to some guy bailing out his boat three times at evenly spaced intervals throughout the night.
 We were up with the sun and I was tired, hungry and ready to take a nice clean shower. Lo and behold, everyone who had gone ashore to bed down for the night had eaten at a little village version of a restaurant the night before. Lucky for me, they didn't quite eat the owner out of house and home, so I was able to eat a good breakfast and then a good afternoon meal as well.
 The village there was bigger and nicer than expected. Most of the buildings were on stilts and built to at least look nice. Most of them did have thatched roofs, but it was a nice little place. We set up shop in a building that looked as though it had been built by some organization for the village. It was a nice open building and suited our purposes well.
 By early afternoon, we were done with patients, so we ate some coconuts, drinking the milk of course, and got ready to head out. On the way out, Dr. Shire (a doctor from Wisconsin who was with us for two weeks, left yesterday 10/9) found a monkey that one of the little shops was looking to sell, and on our way back to the boat we were dragging a little Martin Monkey with us (that's what the locals called him). He is the cutest thing ever! But really dirty and hard to take care up.
 The consensus was to stop and swim to clean ourselves off, but due to our boat driver getting confused on the details, the other boat stopped while we went on ahead to the village. My boat ended up coming back to a cleaner part of the river to river shower.
 The village we ended up at was probably smaller than the one before and a good mile off the river. So we were lucky they had 2 tractor type things to haul all our stuff to where we were staying. That night we had a house (the school) to stay in! So I was able to lay out and not worry about insects biting me! You have to realize at this point, most of us has so many bug bites that it looked like chicken pox or something. It's crazy itching so much!! Some of the guys broke out some hemorrhoids cream to stop all the itching (0.5% cortisone 3% lidicaine).
 We survived all the bugs, and when Thursday came around we were woken up to the local alarm clock. Some local was rambling away on the local loud speaker at 5 am. He played music and talked for close to 10 minutes, while I was trying to sleep. We managed to catch some more sleep and stumble next door for the clinic after the girls cooked up some food at one of the local's cooking fire.
&nbps;There was probably about the same amount of patients there as the village before, so we were down by mid afternoon and free to do whatever! So we cooked up some lentils and chilled for the remainder of the day. The guys, minus me, all went fishing. The caught a piranha, a catfish, and some other fish that they cooked and ate that night and the next morning.
 This whole time we had the monkey tied up in the corner (we stilled haven't officially named him) and we tried getting him to eat one of the tarantulas that was occupying one of the screen windows, but he was a bit scared of it and left it alone.
 For most of the clinic, Jonathan and I pumped the local well water through a little travel filter that one of the girls had to give everyone water to drink, water to rinse dental tools, and water to mix some of the drugs in suspension.
 The next day was our free day, but no one wanted to stick around, so we packed up and left as soon as we could after breakfast. The tractor things were out in the jungle working, and after waiting 45 minutes, we didn't expect them to show even after one of the locals said 20 minutes to start with. So we turned pack animal and hauled all of our stuff down to the boat, not easy hauling all our belongings and all the medical and dental supplies, but we made it and shipped out by 11 am.
 Word from the doctor told us to expect a 4 hour boat ride, but after four hours and previous experiences with the doctor, I decided that he's either not the greatest at estimating or he just doesn't care. We were still floating out in the river after 4 hours, and none of us were enjoying it a whole lot. The monkey was sleeping and we were all awkwardly trying to do the same.
 The boat I was in had all the guy SMs, Dr. Shire, and two of the girls plus the boat driver. The other boat had the doctor and his wife, plus the rest of the girl SMs. Since we were way ahead of the other boat, it was no big deal when Janessa needed to go relieve herself. We were at a relatively straight stretch of river, so we were looking around for the other boat back behind us. We saw what looked liked our boat pulled over to the side, not sure what was going on, we just waited to see what would happen. I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention, but a metal dingy came flying by us (it had an outboard motor, much faster than anything of the standard lawn mower type engines we'd seen) and as soon as it did our driver (a Peruvian) started shouting at us in rapid Spanish and making gun motions to his head. All we understood from him was that something was wrong and we had to hurrry.
 We shouted for Janessa, who had walked quite the distance to pee, and pushed back out on to the river. The boat that was pulled over was now for sure the other one of ours, and so we turned around and headed back out to meet them. When they caught up to us, we figured out why they had been stopped and why our driver had been shooting himself in the head with his fingers. The other boat had been robbed by 4 shotgun wielding masked guys.
 The ladrones (thieves) had made off with all their cash, anything they deemed valuable, and the boat driver's gas. Some of the girls had packed in some nice backpacking bags, and the robbers just took the whole thing, clothes and all. It was not a pretty sight seeing all the girls crying from the happenstance. Everyone in my boat hid all our valuables as best we could just in case the thieves came back for more, but they determined that they didn't need anything more and didn't come back for us. The boat driver in the other boat had told the robbers that we were all men and armed, so I guesse they didn't want to mess with us and our guns.
 The robbery was pretty serious considering that we now had to get two boats back on one supply of gas. There wasn't much we could do about the thieves loose on the river because they were at least 3 times faster than anything we'd seen on the river and the polica of Peru drive nice cars, but aren't good for much else.
 That was a very disappointing experience far all, not just the girls, but we pulled through and everyone is doing better now, but still missing what was stolen.
 We pulled into Pucallpa about 7:30ish and between unpacking the boats, packing the truck, and finding a taxi, we probably made it back by 11 or so. I then remembered that I still had a sermon to write in Spanish, so I got to that quick and had it done by 12:30 when I went to sleep.
 Sabbath morning I got up a bit earlier than usual and perfected my sermon. I delivered it at church, and the other SMs that were there said it was good, so I was happy. I talked about love, my favorite emotion, citing 1 John 4:16, John 13:34-5, John 15:9-13, and closing with the Love Chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. Good stuff. Those are my verses of the week.
 Sabbath afternoon was relatively relaxing, the girls were set on cleaning up their house and the kitchen, so there was a lot of hustle and bustle. Not something I like doing on the Sabbath, but who am I to tell them what to do.
 After lunch, Jonathan and I did the dishes and then tried to take a nap, but Jonathan and I ended having a long heart to heart talk all afternoon as we rested. We talked about what kinda woman we want to marry (we have different opinions here), why or why not we thought the Bible to be true, discussed miracles, and conversed about logic mixed with religion. Quite the range of stuff, but it kept us going for several hours.
 Last night we played some social games with the girls before stumbling back to our room to watch a movie and then fall into bed to sleep really well.

 This last week has been insanely tiring. With living on the river, sleeping little, doing a lot, the mosquitoes, and getting back late, I'm still really tired. For some reason the girls aren't much for sleeping in even after staying up late, so sleeping in around here is something that rarely happens.
 I still miss home like crazy, but after living up the river for a week, it isn't so bad here on the compound. Right about now I would do anything to not be sweating 24/7 and to see the beach or hug my mom or take a warm shower. After getting hit this hard by homesickness, I will probably never do this again without taking home with me!! Home is where the heart is, and I left my heart back in Oregon.
  Peruvian culture is definitely different from American culture. You're probably thinking 'Duh Anthony', but listen! It's super different! The whole concept of time around here is not cool. I think they just say what you want to hear whether it's true or not. I'm getting sick of that. It's disgustingly dirty around here, every one just burns their trash every night, and in town there's garbage everywhere. Instead of having a problem with overflowing dumps, the Peruvians are just spreading it out.
 I miss home. Can't wait to drive my car, skimboard, really relax, not have to worry about if they'll be something to eat, hug my mom, drink good tasting cold water, have internet in my place of residence, and to actually make a difference.
 Around here, at least to the places we've gone, the people we've been helping expect to be helped. It's hard to explain, but their mentality is to expect us to serve them. It makes it hard for me to feel like I'm really making a difference. It feels more like I'm living up to what they want, not what they need. In the villages we went to, I saw some medicine already there from other missionaries or from the doctor from before. So are we making a difference or making them dependent on us? I dunno, but it's hard to justify the clinic work when people complain about not getting any medication or because their kid didn't get as many stickers from the dental team or complaining about someone getting called to the doctor before them. Maybe it's just me, but that's what I've been experiencing.
 This next week, Jonathan and I are back on the manual labor team! Woot! So we go back to working with the local Peruvian 'Chicos' (as the girls call them), which means learning Spanish! The only way we can communicate with them is our limited amount of Spanish and hand signals, not very efficient. So This will be good!
 Off to CampoVerde to post this. Keep praying for me, please please please!! Need all I can get. Pray that God will bring me home safe. I miss home! Keep the girls that got robbed in your prayers, it was a pretty traumatic event getting a shotgun waved in their faces by some screaming Peruvians.

 Miss you all. Paz, Esperar, y Amor a todos! (Peace, hope, and love to all!)

Monday, October 4, 2010

First real post!

I don´t have the time to fill out all the other stuff I promised, paying for internet by the minute, but enjoy what you get! Miss you all.

9/25/10
It's Sabbath evening and I'm tired. It's been a long week so far, and I really miss home.

Monday.

Not knowing when I was headed out to the airport, I got up early to say good bye to my mom before she went off to work. Through all my getting ready to go, I have discovered that I really don't like goodbyes. Especially when they have to last for such a long time.

After she took off I chilled at home and worked on getting myself packed and made sure that I had everything I needed. With all the offers of people going to write me letters, I went and got myself some more pens so I would have enough to last.

I called Jonathan and figured out that we weren't leaving till later that night after his mom finished cleaning the clinic. That made my day! More time at home for me! Toni came over to say one last goodbye and ended up staying till my mom came home for lunch. When she heard my mom remind me to clean the garage, she offered to stay all afternoon. So we got the garage organized and shuffled the tent trailer around and my car fit!! I said goodbye to my trusty stead and shut the garage door.

Between then and sevenish, I said my last goodbyes to Toni and my mom, and finished packing. Jonathan and Paula came and picked me up about seven and we headed out to Portland. We probably made it to bed about ten or so, not that it really matters, but thought I'd through it in.

Tuesday.

My day started at 3:55 in the morning when Jonathan failed to wake up to his alarm due to the fact that he was wearing ear plugs. I shook him and we were up. We got all ready to go and met the shuttle. I ended up leaving my water bottle on the shuttle, but things happen. After what happened last time we were at the airport, Jonathan and I were early and probably spent at least twenty minutes waiting for our boarding time. This was an eternity compared to last time, but time enough to use the internet and relax for a bit.

The plane rides were nothing crazy, 3ish hours to Los Angeles, (Did not like the layout of that airport) 9ish hours to Bogotá, and then 3ish hours to Lima. You have to realize that by the time we flew in to Lima, it was 12:30 am Wednesday, so read on!

Wednesday.

Hours and hours of airplane travel are horrible!! I have discovered a great dislike of long distance travel by plane, especially when leaving for long periods of time. Goodbyes are not fun and getting used to another way of doing things is something I've done too much of recently. Honestly I'm ready to settle down and make a routine of life the way that I like it. Which to some, may not be a routine, but just a way of doing things.

In the last year and a few days extra (depends on when this is posted), I have packed all my stuff into my car (or suitcases) and moved four times. Ouch. Just wait till I get home, then I'll get on with getting my life settled. Reading this, you might be thinking that I hated the last year of my life, but it has helped me figure out who I am, which is good. Now I have another 8 months on my plate. Which reminds me! I'm actually coming home in May, not June. This is great!! The reason for this is because that's when the winter session missionaries leave. So if I stay till June like I was planning, I'd be here by myself, or with Jonathan. I am a happy man!

This might make you think that I hate it here, but let me tell you something: it is a lot of fun here! I'm learning a lot of Spanish and working hard. It's all good. I also just realized that I am writing this all under Wednesday's section....

Wednesday!! It was 12:30 and me and Jonathan were in Lima and had a flight at 6:30. Luckily going through customs took up much of that time. I came out with a 90 day visa, which is perfect because I'm headed out to visit my grandparents in Costa Rica for Christmas break. We pulled ourselves out of that about 2ish I think, and headed out to check in for our next flight. That was a nightmare, and I will finish it tomorrow when I get more sleep.

9/26/10

It's Sunday morning! We are headed into Pucallpa to use the airport's free wifi and to do some shopping. Jonathan and I have discovered that it is very hot at night here, so we are seriously considering investing in a fan.

Wednesday (9/22) continued.

We ended up waiting around in the lobby for two hours just sitting around. At first we thought we only had one hour till the check in counter opened, but when 3 o'clock came around, we found out that we had till 4. If we had known this before, we would have holed up somewhere and slept a good two hours.

When check in finally opened, we were informed that Start Peru, the airline we were flying to Pucallpa with, failed to transfer the flight that we missed to that morning like we had asked them too. So we had to purchase a ticket on the spot, and then also pay the overweight fees because they didn't accept the international weight limits (two 50lb bags). So we ended up flying out of Lima something like $140 poorer. Ouch.

I was so tired on this flight, that it flew by. Before I knew it, we were landing in Pucallpa to be picked up by people that we didn't even know. We had been reassured that we would be easy to spot, being the only white guys with the lost look in their eyes.

We were greeted by the Doctor and the dentist as well as Caleb, one of the guys already down here. We tossed our bags in the back of their beat up Toyota and we were off to Kilometer 38, as our site is called because it's on kilometer 38 of the only paved road between Pucallpa and Lima. The road is a super nice road for Peru!! It's like a US road, paved, flat and one lane each way. Though it is big enough that it's as if there is a middle lane in the road.

Imagine flying down the road at 120 km/hr with little motokars (basically a motorcycle with an extension and then two wheels on the back with seats for passengers) and crazy taxi drivers everywhere and being super exhausted and trying to figure out who was who and make conversation all at the same time. That was us, plus the super humidity and hot sun. Wowee. It was just about then that I was wondering what I got myself into. Nine months in a foreign country? I'm crazy.
It took about half an hour or so to get back to the compound where we met the 8 other SMs, 6 girls and 2 guys. Jonathan and I were quick to claim our rights and went to catch some sleep for most of the day.


10/3/10

That evening we ate and hung out with the other people there. We met some of the local Peruvians that work for the Doctor, they are pretty cool guys. Nothing too crazy happened that night, the girls claimed that the food we got, lentils and rice, was much better than usual, and after a week and a half, I will have to agree with that statement.

In Peru the sun goes down about 6:30 every night, so that should mean that most of the people here go to bed early, right? Key word is should. The early dropping of the sun does result in it being super easy to hit the sheets early, and I will say that it's something that I really like! Though I really miss home still.

Thursday/Friday (9/22-23)
Jonathan and I got a chance to work with Daniel and Hector, two of the Peruvian workers, building a sidewalk from one house to the other on the compound. It was tough work mixing the sand and cement with nothing more than a couple of shovels and a pick ax. By the end of the Peruvian work day, 8-12 and 2-6, we were both tired.

It's tough work doing manual labor like that, but also working with guys that don't speak any English makes it even harder. That is the best way to learn Spanish though, being forced to learn it just to be able to communicate with the other guys there. So far I've learned quite a bit, but still am no where fluent. I don't expect to be having real conversations for another several months. I have learned that among guys, even with a language barrier, there is the universal topic of girls! Ha! Always something that any two guys can easily talk about unless one or both of them is gay... That just gets kinda complicated.


10/4/10

Saturday

Sabbath here is not something I would call restful unfortunately. It's not like we have to work or anything, it's just that we have to be in church almost all day. That first Sabbath was no exception. Church from 9:30 to 11:30 and then we broke for lunch, then right after lunch we had to run the games for the kids all afternoon. I will say that it isn't so bad, in fact it's kinda fun in the afternoon, except for the fact that we are required to. We aren't given much of a choice. If any of you know me much at all, I hate said situations. I can deal with it, I just resent people who put me in such a position. Just a heads up.

My Sabbath was still worth writing about though! Church was similar, but kind of a knock off of our church service. Their church building is a basic structure with four walls, a tin roof, and a cement stage. There was maybe 25 people there, so not a whole lot. We sang hymns in Spanish, something I'm getting more and more used to, and then listened to the speaker in Spanish, something I have yet to get used to. Ha, but everyone speaks Spanish here, so it's no big deal.

Lunch was provided at a cost of 6 soles (2.77 to the dollar) which is kinda ironic for it being the Sabbath. Someone offered to make us lunch, then charged us for it. It was good though! After lunch we were in charge of keeping of keeping the kids entertained for the afternoon. Luckily the Doctor had some stuff planned and the girls already had experience keeping them all busy. So Jonathan and I just kinda tagged along and practiced looking busy.

Saturday nights the other SMs said that they usually partied Adventist style, so popcorn and games or a movie. But! Saturday night I was tired enough that I didn't stay up late enough to see what was happening. It was great! I love sleep, especially here.

Sunday

I'm officially claiming Sundays as my day of the three 'R's: Rest, recuperation, and relaxation. The first Sunday we went into Pucallpa, the closest actual city (about 38 kilometers away), and got a tour of the place, or at least a tour of the main places where we were told that we'd spend the most time. Jonathan and I invested in a fan to make it so we could actually sleep at night instead of lying awake sweating all night dreaming of sleep.

Pucallpa is a cool place, nothing too crazy, but definitely bigger than LC. To get to Pucallpa, we have to walk out to the road from our compound, grab a motokar to CampoVerde (1ish soles), and then grab a taxi to Pucallpa (3sh soles). Total trip time is about 45 minutes or so. Not always worth it to go, but the airport in Pucallpa has free wifi! Though that first Sunday it was so slow that I couldn't even check my email or post to my blog, thus I'm posting this so late.

Monday-Friday

I'm throwing these all in one because this week was super long and super tiring. So let me tell you why:
I somehow allowed myself to be drafted into the clinic team, everyone other than the Peruvians are on it. So I found myself trucking out early with the team to do triage (pre doctor stuff). One of the locals that were helping out ended up taking over my job because of my lack of Spanish, but it was good because she was a lot more efficient than I was. I just ended up doing blood pressures for most of the day.
The rest of the week for clinic I helped in the pharmacy counting pills and telling the patients how much and how often. For that week we were in Pucallpa at a place that Puma, the Doctor's friend, had picked out for us. It was just a little community in a house near the Adventist church.

Tuesday we ended up leaving early to take the dentist to the airport, she was just there to teach the dental SMs the basics of dental work and that was all.

Thursday we got a call, there was a fire out in the jungle behind the compound. So we ended up leaving 3:30 or 4ish to get back to fight the fire as soon as we could. The fire wasn't too massive luckily, but there was enough dry leaves to keep it going until we were able to load up the tractor trailer with a massive water tank and fill it up at the well. We all road out with machetes and buckets to fight the fire.

Caleb and Chris, the other two guy SMs, managed to catch a sloth that was getting away from the fire during all the chaos. By the time it was dark we had it all out. Or at least we thought we did. Over the next several days, Thursday through Saturday night, we ended up spending 20 or 25 hours fighting fires out behind and next to the compound due to it rising out of the ashes. We ended up waking up during the nights several times to go out and fight the fire, so between clinics, the fire, and the small amount of food that we are allotted, this last week was a tough one. Saturday alone we spent seven straight hours (5:30-12:30) fighting two massive fires trying to keep them away from the houses and keep them from getting too big. This was all purely with machetes, shovels, hoes, and buckets of water from the tractor. Tough stuff.

Sunday-Monday 10/3-4

Sunday we all got up exhausted, I didn't manage to pull myself outta bed until 11:15 or so. We were all sore and tired from a long week before. Luckily for us, it cooled down big time and rained a bit. Right after eating breakfast I grabbed my machete and walked out around where the fires had been looking for anything that might be going up in the near future. It's crazy how much a fire leaves behind even in cold and slightly rainy weather. I found tons of super hot coals and smoking logs. It's a sorry sight to see all the burned landscape. Thank God for the rain or we might have spent many more hours fighting the blazing heat.

Through all of this, I will say that I got lucky enough to only come out with a burn on my foot from getting a hot coal stuck in my boot. I still have all my hair, I can still breathe well, and I'm still alive! So don't worry about me, if a massive fire can't get me, then I'll be fine. God is good.

Yesterday and today (while I write this, today is the 4th of October) have been very relaxing. I have done very little in either days other than writing this and writing some letters. Last night we went to Pucallpa for food and today I'm going into CampoVerde for internet in a bit.

Overall thoughts so far:

What ever made me want to spend 7 months in Peru away from home? I have no idea. I miss home like crazy right now. I would do anything to get myself home for good, but I'm gonna put in my time here as best as I can. It's been 2 weeks now, so the rest of time shouldn't be too bad. Good news is that the winter SMs all leave in early May! So I can get away with leaving here and going home the first week of May! Woohoo!!! I'm pretty happy about that!

Food wise, if it's cooked right, the food can be pretty good. Though there is rarely enough to really feed everyone what they want. So it's looking like I'm going to be spending a little extra on food to buy my own supplemental food. On top of that, the food cooked isn't always something that has much in the way of nutritional value. Lotsa of watered down oatmeal and sweet Arroz con leche (rice mixed with milk) for breakfast. Jonathan and I are trying to get everyone to consider hiring a cook from around here to shop and cook for us. That would be absolutely amazing! Not gonna lie.

Internet is extremely unreliable around here, you've probably already figured that out because of how much I've been able to post so far. On top of that, there is little free time. I've been promised free time, but have received very little. I'll give it time and let you know how it turns out.

This next week we are headed up the river on boats to do some mobile clinics up there, and then next week it's back to manual labor for me. And let me tell you, after one week of clinics, I am super excited to put my back to work! Even though it's a lot harder, it's so much more fun for me and I actually get some exercise!

Off to post this! Peace, hope and Love to you all! Keep me in your prayers please! I need all I can get.