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.



Monday, December 27, 2010

Costa Rican thoughts.

12/26/10

 It's the day after Christmas, and you know what's really weird? This year didn't really feel like Christmas. We had the meals and the family get together here in Costa Rica, but there something about living in hot weather that makes you feel like you're in an eternal summer. Sure it is a bunch cooler here than in Peru, but it's still in the 60s, no where near a good winter temperature.
 That made me question, what makes a 'good' Christmas? I'm in Costa Rica for Christmas, and that, for some, makes a perfect Christmas. I'm even down here with family and once again, for some, that makes the perfect Christmas.‎ Then there is the gift part of Christmas, giving and receiving. Does that make a good Christmas? Ha. No idea.
 For businesses, Christmas is a time to rack in some profit, for churches, it's a time to wrangle up everyone for a special service, for families, it's a time to spend together, for students, it's a time to recuperate, for kids, it's a time to get presents, for parents, it's a time to live up to your kids Christmas dreams, but for Anthony... Every year it's a little different. This year, Christmas is a time to catch up and reconnect with people I haven't seen in months, a time for starting school applications, and a time to chill and relax in a 'modern' environment.
 As much as I enjoy the modern comforts of life, living without them has really shown me the joys of a 'simple' life. We are chasing after technology to make life easier, but ya know what, life is super easy without all of that. It's just a matter of your definition of easy, that's all.
 I guess what I'm trying to say with this is much simpler than I'm making it out to be. What if I did mission work with my life? Just a thought, but a possibility indeed. As much as I love technology and computers, it sure is nice living without them sometimes. Yes, I am looking at getting a degree in Software Development, but something my dad told me (paraphrasing) is that God gives you talents for a reason and there is no reason for you to ignore them. If you're good with computers and love programming, then do it.
 True stuff. So there you go, that's what I've been thinking about this break. I love working with my hands, and it's tough to do that back in the states. I am coming back, don't worry about that, but I can't make any promises about how long I'll stay. I have a list of things I need to do before I do anything crazy with my life: get a degree and find myself a wife. A wise person tells me that I should have a degree and I do believe that my mom has reason to tell me this. As to the getting a wife part, a companion in life is always appreciated. Someone to share dreams and enjoy life with.
 We'll see what happens with life. But ya know, my life is like this blog post, it has a purpose, but is kinda helter skelter. Ha!
 Costa Rica is super awesome! My grandparents have been kind enough to put me and Jonathan up and to feed us, so my costs have been pretty low thus far. They are pretty awesome! We've gone for a super scenic drive throw the valley and the next day went driving up Volcan Irazú, which is the only place in the world you can see both the Pacific and the Atlantic. Unfortunately that is only true on clear days.
 But the Sunday of traveling to get here was absolutely crazy!! I just remembered that I didn't post that in my last post. It's a story for the ages!
 Our day of travel started out about 6:15 am when we walked out the front door of the house we're staying in at Km 38. Jonathan and I walked out to the road and across to buy some coconuts for breakfast and what a great breakfast it was! We waited for a taxi to drive by, which took as long as it takes to eat a coconut. The taxi driver took us into Pucallpa and dropped us off near the airport, so we took a motokar the rest of the way.
 When we got to the airport, we were informed that our reservations had been canceled. No idea why, but they had. So we had to purchase another flight on the spot and get that all figured out. In doing this, the lady that was helping us thought that we were making our return flight together, and at the time we weren't. So I had to wait for 20 minutes while she figured out how to change the reservations. But she finally got it figured out and we hopped on the plane at 9.
 We landed in Lima on time and collected our bags to head to the counter to check in. The guy guarding the line asked us for our vaccination records, and lucky me, I missed the memo about having to bring it with me. So I told him I had a copy on my computer, but he didn't like that, so he sent me to the little clinic in the airport to get my vaccination "re-certified".
 I showed up in the little clinic and showed the doctor the copy I had on my computer, she didn't care much about that, telling me that I needed to have the original faxed by my doctor. So she gave me the fax number and pointed me up to the phone and internet cafe upstairs. I had a brilliant idea, and decided I was just going to print it out real quick and use that, so I got up the stairs and asked the attractive girl running the counter if she had a printer I could use. Smart me, I guessed the word for printer and got it wrong. She had no idea what I was talking about, but after explaining myself as best as I could using my limited Spanish vocabulary and hand motions, she nodded yes and pointed my towards one of the open computers.
 I made the file transfer with my thumb drive and had a copy printed out in just a couple minutes. She charged me 4 soles and I was off with my copy.
 The line guard liked it, but when I got to the counter, my copy was shot down. The attendant said that I needed the original copy, but with my copy I could go get mine "re-certified". I still had no idea what that meant, but I went back to the clinic as directed. The doctor questioned my copy, but after I told her that my "doctor" had just emailed it to me, she agreed to give me a Peruvian copy for 35 Soles (about 12 bucks).
 So with my Peruvian vaccination copy in hand, I was able to pass through all levels of vaccination screening and get my boarding pass. The lady working the counter didn't even have time to explain the boarding pass like usual, because me and Jonathan had 30 minutes till boarding by that point. So we ran through the terminal to get to the airport tax and security.
 We made it through in time and were at the terminal with time to spare. Jonathan grabbed some lunch, and we sat and waited for a few minutes before boarding and take off.
 We took off on time, but 35-40 minutes into the flight, some guy had a mild heart attack. So we had to turn around and fly back to Lima, not even kidding.
 By the time we got back and sat around for half an hour waiting for who knows what, there was no way we were going to make our connection outta Panama city. We had no idea what was going to happen, but on our descent into Panama City, the captain informed us that the connection to Costa Rica was at gate 19.
 As soon as we landed, Jonathan and I booked the half mile to gate 19 only to discover that it was the wrong gate. We asked the gate attendants, and they pointed us to gate 22. We hurried back to that gate and got our boarding passes reprinted and had 10 minutes to relax before we took off.
 When we landed in Costa Rica, we discovered that they had lost our bags, so after waiting in line for an hour or so, our suspicions were confirmed and the baggage claim dude gave us a little receipt and told us to call in the morning.
 We walked out of the airport just hoping someone was there to pick us up, but since we were two or three hours later than planned, there was no one. What do you do when there's no one to pick you up in a foreign airport and you don't have a number to call?
 Well, ha, I eventually remembered that they lived near a school, so I asked one of the taxi drivers if he knew where the school was, he didn't, so he called his Papi and his Papi knew. The thing was, that he wasn't an official airport taxi driver, so we had to walk with him away from the airport and wait for him to bring his taxi around. That was pretty questionable, but he was our only hope.
 We got in his taxi, and he took us to where he his Pap told him the school was and it was not the right school. We informed him of such and then he spent a good 20 minutes asking everyone he saw if they knew where the school was. No one had heard of it.
 His Papi eventually looked it up on the internet and called our taxi driver back. We were on the wrong end of town. The guy explains that he doesn't have time to take us there, but has a friend that will.
 So he drops us off with his friend, who is an official taxi driver and who takes us straight to where we need to go. The thing is that my grandparents house has a nice big metal fence complete with a big wrought iron gate which is set away from the house. We tried shouting a couple times, but we didn't think it looked that good to have two young guys shouting at someone's gate at 1 in the morning.
 So I figured that the guard of the school would be able to help us, and we walked up the school to talk to him. We told him who we were and asked if he would call my grandma for us. He was extremely skeptical when he called her, but he told us she'd open the gate, and finally we made our destination.
 That was quite the adventure, and the next day the airport dropped our bags off at the house, so it even ended well.
 Other than that whole fiasco, Costa Rica has been pretty sweet. We're headed out to MonteVerde today (12/27) and then the beach on Sunday! So we have ourselves a good vacation. Been able to catch up with a buncha people via the internet, so that's been pretty sweet.
 And something else that is pretty much awesome, is that my hard drive in my laptop came up with an error a couple weeks ago, and so I talked to Dell over this break. They are gonna replace the hard drive while I'm in Peru! They have an office down there, so it's convenient and won't cost me a dime! That is nice!
 Keep me in your prayers, even though I am on vacation, anything could happen and prayers are always appreciated. So keep doing what you're doing, whether it be school, work, or whatever else you might be doing.


Paz a usted,
Antonio

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Last week to vacation!

12/22/10

 I am now in Costa Rica!! Woo hoo!! So because of this, I've had a
change of schedule and had a difficult time setting aside the time to be
able to write my blog. There ain't no time like the present!
 Usually I write my blogs on Sunday, but this last Sunday I spent the
whole day doing a crazy amount of traveling. Just about everything that
could have gone wrong, did during our travels, but before I tell you about
it, I gotta get you caught up on everything that happened the week before!
&nbpsLast Sunday afternoon, a week and a half ago, us SMs had some nice
bonding time together. Those of us that were at 38 played some games
together and spent most of the afternoon laughing together. That was a lotta
fun for sure, a good start to last week before break.
 Monday was a day to remember, at least for confirming some suspicions
of mine. Over the last week or two (last week or two before last Monday),
the A.M.O.R. Projects treasurer has been communicating with Hannah on the
specifications of his house that we are going to build for him (he intends
to move down to Peru). So Monday morning we started clearing out the area in
our grassland for a new home.
 The guys told me that the idea was to cut down all the grass, using
machetes and the weed eater, let it dry in the sun, and then burn it in the
afternoon. Great idea, except that it was a super windy day and our method
of control burning involved standing around like Peruvia6ns and enjoying the
sight. By the time we were able to get the fire under control, it had burned
about four times the amount that was planned.
 Now what this really makes me think is that the fires we had earlier
this year were due to Peruvian style control burning. My reasons for
believing this were confirmed watching the Peruvian workers burn out the
house area as well as the fact that the week there were fires, the Peruvians
had been doing some control burning. Hmm.
 Monday evening Daniel Pua informed me that I would be taking Lynn, the
two week volunteer, to the airport and I had to leave at three in the
morning. The thing was that Lynn had been staying at Km 8 so I had to pick
him up because finding a taxi that early in the morning was not very likely.
 So I woke up Tuesday morning about 3:15 and jumped in the truck and
off I went. I got to the clinic at Km 8 and was greeted by a surprised Lynn.
His flight didn't leave until 6:30 or something and I got there at 4. So I
hung out with Lynn for an hour and a half while he packed. It was cool
though, Chris, Caleb, and Cecilia (the intern Doc working the Km 8 clinic),
came with us to use internet. I napped while they surfed.
 The rest of Tuesday I worked with the guys clearing out the house area
and getting it ready to start construction. I do believe that it rained nice
and hard that afternoon, because it did one of the days... Can't say it's
super important which, but you should know that the rainy season is
starting. So it'll start raining more here in the future (well in Peru, not
here).
 Wednesday morning I had been expecting to take Janessa, Chris, and
Caleb to the airport, but luckily Janessa was kind enough to inform me the
night before that the Doc had decided to go instead. He's not the kinda
person to let me know those kind of things. He just expects everyone to keep
up.
 Wednesday was a weird day. One of the Peruvians decided that he was
going to start ordering me around. So I ended up hanging out with sick
Jonathan for half the morning. I don't believe in working with the guys when
they treat me like that. The afternoon, unfortunately, wasn't much better.
Elias and I started working while the other guys were off picking mangoes.
Lucio, Elias, and I were all working on digging out a 4 square meter hole
for compost and such for the house. We had 3 tools, a pick ax, and 2
shovels, one of which was broken.
 So Elias and I started working, him with the pick ax and me with the
good shovel. Lucio came over after several minutes and demanded to have the
nicer of the two shovels. I laughed at him, refused, and continued working.
I didn't think it was a big deal because it was his fault that he didn't
have the shovel he wanted, he was the one that had been off picking mangoes
when work started, but he took it seriously. He watched Elias and I work for
a couple minutes and then once again demanded the shovel claiming it as his
own. I sensed his seriousness this time and saved him my laughter, but still
refused him the shovel. This went on for maybe 10 minutes with him watching
us work and demanding the shovel every few minutes.
 And then, he determined that it was all or nothing for the shovel and
he made a grab for the pala (shovel in Spanish). Testosterone flared and I
tightened my grip on it as he he tried to wrench it from my grasp. I asked
him to stop and then demanded that he stop, but to no avail. Now I don't
believe in settling things physically, especially with my friends. So I
released the shovel into his hands and went to find other work to do.
 Going through something like this really makes me wonder what would
have happened if I hadn't given up the shovel to him. What if we had settled
it with fists? Well according to the teachings of my mom, bads things would
have ensued. Nothing should be settled with a fight. Even if I had a good
chance of winning considering that I'm a good head taller and at least a
good 20 pounds heavier than Lucio (pronounced Lucho).
 In one sense it would have been a good thing, I would have the respect
of the other guys and wouldn't have to worry about him pushing me around
like that any more, but is that the 'Christian' way to deal with it? Don't
think so. So that afternoon I built a new front gate with Daniel.
 The next day the Doc was off to Lima to attend to some business, so he
asked me to go with him to the airport. Well actually, I asked him what he
planned on doing with the truck after he drove to the airport and he gladly
informed me that I would be driving it back. Makes me wonder if he was just
going to tell me right before he had to go.
 Thursday morning early, no idea what time, I woke up with a horrible
stomach ache. I felt like I was on the verge of throwing up. That continued
for a long time, or at least it seemed like a long time, until Elias showed
up at 5:30 wondering why I wasn't out at the corral to help him milk the
cows. I struggled outta bed hoping I wouldn't barf and explained my
predicament to him. He was sympathetic and gave my stomach a nice hefty pat
and told me to get better quick. Funny guy!
 I managed to get some sleep before I had to get up, the Doc wanted to
leave at 8, and I pulled my self outta bed at about 7:15 to see if being
awake would make myself feel any better. The smell of food turned my stomach
around several times, but I managed to hang out in the other house with the
food for a bit.
 8 o’clock came around and the Doc was walking around outside with his
kids and the dogs, and when I asked him, he informed me that we'd be leaving
at 10. Great. Coulda slept in a bit more, oh well.
 So I chilled with Hannah and Rebecca till we had to leave, trying to
convince myself that my sickness was just a mind over matter situation.
There was no one else to drive them with Jonathan sick as well, so I had to
man it up and at least try to feel better.
 By the time the Doc came around to go, I had made no progress at
feeling better, but I hopped into the car anyway. By the time we made the
airport I was thoroughly convinced that I was crazy, but life is all about
the memories you make and the risks you take.
 I had Hannah and Rebecca with me, Hannah had some stuff to do in
Pucallpa which had something to do with her passport replacement and Rebecca
was along for the ride, so we had a good time chilling in Pucallpa. Even
though this involved waiting in line at the bank for a good hour and a half.
 I discovered that the dogs of Pucallpa are really easy to make friends
with, I pet one once and he followed me around for the next couple hours.
Really makes me look forward to getting myself a pup.
 Anyway, I made it through the day fine, and picked up the girls at Km
8 at about 4, after getting lost in some back woods Peruvian village. That
little detour started when I said I knew a shortcut... Ha!
 Anyway, after breaking a little wooden bridge and getting laughed at
by a crowd of villagers, we managed to find the clinic. And when we made it
back to 38, I collapsed on my bed and don't really remember anything until
the next morning. Has something to do with fighting the fever I had, but
that sleep was sweet, not gonna lie.
 Friday I spent laying around trying to feel better, which wasn't very
successful. I started some anti parasite meds and avoided food at all costs.
I didn't feel like I should be providing the food for the party going on in
my intestines.
 So Thursday and Friday I fasted, and let me tell you something: If you
wanna make even a piece of dry white bread taste like something amazing, try
not eating for two days before you eat it. That was the best picecof bread
I've ever had in my life!
 Sabbath was just a chill day for me. Rachel's dad came and I met him,
nice guy. So we took him on a tour to go see the clinic at Km 8. My stomach
was feeling a bit better with only eating a little bit, so when we went to
eat at a little restaurant in CampoVerde, I helped myself to some fries. One
last party before we all left for our vacation.
 That week was crazy! And now I'm in Costa Rica!! Woot! I'll have to catch you up on the Costa Rica stuff later today or sometime this week because I have stuff to do! But it's nice to sit down and reminisce about last week. I put some pictures up on Facebook! Working on getting some more up, we'll see how that goes.
 So yeah, nothing too crazy in the life of Anthony right now. Really enjoying the warm showers, fast internet, and the cool weather. All are AMAZING! Even got to eat at Taco Bell yesterday! Ha! But still keep me in your prayers. Even though it is vacation, I still have a life to live and things to do. If you still have any interest in donating to the Jersey fund, it's still open for donations! Just send me an email. And if you are still wondering what to get Anthony for Christmas, send me a letter!!!!

Anthony Howell
C/O Hannah Melara & Richard Matthews
Casilla 202
Pucallpa PERU


Live strong, love strong, and be strong,
Antonio

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What's in a name?

12/12/10

 Started out this blog by typing 11 as the month. Ha! Way too far
behind the times. It's the 12th of December and this morning it was hot
enough for me to take an unheated morning shower. I should be walking around
in jackets and hearing about snow in the weather reports, instead I can
expect sun, heat, humidity, maybe rain, and more sun. What a life!! I can
tell you why Europe advanced a lot faster than South America, because the
Natives down here spent all their time trying not too work too hard because
of the heat and humidity. I firmly believe that man was not meant to live in
these conditions, but there ain't nothing I can do about it. Some people
like it I guess, and it's alright when it rains every now and then, but it's
been a week since it rained last! I'm dying here! Well it feels like that
anyway. Every tried to sleep and sweat at the same time? I'm not any good at
that, even though I've been putting in a bunch of time practicing this week.
 This week though was pretty crazy. It seems like I did so much!! I
decided that I should start taking notes every night so I can tell you all
the exciting things I do around here, or at least keep you posted on any
interesting thoughts that I have (that is thoughts that I think are
interesting).
 So before I get into this week, I wanted to share a couple of
observations and the succeeding thought processes.
 First off, in all the hustle and bustle going on around Christmas
break planning, I've heard travel budgets discussed and it was making me
wonder: It is cool to spend donated money for your mission trip on your
vacation? You can probably guess my opinion, but I'll just say that people
can do whatever they want with the money they have or the money they've
acquired.
 This made me think, people give money for missions, but lot of times,
especially with SMs, they don't know what is done with the money. So I've
decided to start keeping track of my expenditures and give an approximate
expenses up until now. I believe that it's fair that those who have given me
money know what I do with it. You might be thinking that it would be really
easy for me to fudge the results, but I'll be honest. Give me a week or so
and I'll post my expenses thus far and then from here on out I'll list
weekly expenses in my blog.
 On the topic of money, one thing that is pretty predominant around
here is the use of attractive women in seductive clothing and poses to sell
things. I saw a big sign advertising Soy cooking oil and it had a scantily
clad woman posing with the big 'Soya' logo in the background. Doesn't make
much sense, but the fact that it works doesn't make much sense either. I'm
not gonna be walking through a little tienda (shop or store) looking for
cooking oil and think: Man oh man, hot women pose seductively with this
stuff. And then follow up and buy it. But as I learned in psych class,
that's not how it works, you see the sign (well a man sees the sign) and
connects the hot woman with the cooking oil so that when he sees the cooking
oil in the store and thinks hot woman, which spikes whatever hormones in the
brain, and he buys it. I, on the other hand, am too smart for such
advertising.
 Another similar example of this, is that anytime I've seen the
Peruvian version of the 'Help Wanted' sign, it always says 'Se necessita una
Señorita' indicating that they think a señorita would sell more than any
señor could. I just thought that was funny.
 Anyway, the best part now! All about what I've done this week! Woot!
Monday morning I had to take Jonathan and Chris out to Km 8 because the doc
didn't end up taking them like they expecting. So I got back from that
midway through the morning and had to go searching for the guys to find
where we were working. The tractor wasn't around, so I just followed the
tracks out back to the Caña fields (caña is a purple grass that the cows
really like and I guess it makes a good juice). We were just doing some mass
clearing of all the other bushes growing up around the grass, so it was
purely machete work. Which means that it was a lot of fun! Ha! But it got me
thinking, if I have two hands, why not use two machetes? So that afternoon
when we went back out to work, I brought along another machete and it was
not only more efficient, but more fun as well! The guys all made fun of me
for it, but what don't they make fun of me for? Ha.
 Tuesday was more work out in the Caña fields, so nothing crazy. I did
end up with some kind of sliver in my thumb, so one of the other guys dug it
out with a thorn he found. It was a funny way to do surgery, but sometimes
you just gotta do whatever works.
 Wednesday (12/8) was a holiday for 2 different reasons, it was some
religious holiday (no idea what) and the anniversary of the local
district/state that we live in. Because of this, I had the day off. Well, I
kinda had the day off.
 The guys told me to be ready to play soccer by 9:30, and so I was all
geared up, watered, and ready to go by 9, but none of the guys were there
except Erick and he didn't know anything. So I waited and Lucio dropped by
with his motokar about 11ish and took the girls to Yerbas Bueñas where we'd
be playing. I thought this meant that we were going to play soon, but nope,
Erick wasn't ready to leave. I ended up just sitting around the house until
about noon when Elias came and picked me up on his motorcycle. Even then we
didn't start playing till 1ish.
 What went down Wednesday afternoon was a big soccer tournament with 6
teams I think. We ended up playing 3 or 4 games. And guess what? I was the
only gringo playing, but who woulda known. Ha! It was fun, I was probably
the worst player there, but it was pretty fun. Got a massive blister on my
big toe because my cleats don't fit very well, but I still had a good time.
By the end though, after sitting in the sun all day and running hard, I was
ready to go back and go to bed. Which I did.
 Thursday Hannah and Shirley (the doc's wife) asked me to take them
into Pucallpa to go shopping and hit up the post office. There were a total
of 12 packages there! None of which were for any of the guys, but whatever,
no big deal. I got to experience driving downtown in a town where there are
no lanes, 10 times more motorcycles and motokars than cars, and next to no
traffic laws. It was craziness!! Then to top off the driving experience, we
picked all the people from km 8 as well to bring them back for the party.
 We got back and started cooking for our Christmas dinner. I helped out
with my favorite part of kitchen work, chopping stuff up, and then they
didn't need much more help so I chilled and played soccer with the guys till
it got dark (about 6:30ish). For supper we invited the doc and his family
over along with Lucio (one of the worker's) and his family. It was a pretty
packed room with all the SMs, the two families, and all the Peruvian workers
and we barely had enough food, but it was fun. Hannah put together a video
and slide show that we watched, but a large majority of the photos were from
before Jonathan and I got here. So I decided that I'm going to start taking
more photos of me and the guys out making memories.
 Friday the doc needed the guys to all go into Pucallpa to get set up
to be able to withdraw their paychecks (they do all get paid, even though
they try to tell me otherwise). The reason none of them can drive is because
none of them have their license, it cost 300 soles to get a driver's license
down here. So I had the pleasure of driving a truck full of Peruvians and
all the girls who live at Km 8 into Pucallpa. It was a grand total of 11
people and all their stuff in a 5 seater pickup truck. It was ridiculous,
but in Peru, things like that are possible.
 I dropped the girls off at 8 and took the guys into Pucallpa to go to
the bank. This involved a lot of sitting around and waiting, but it was fun
driving around Pucallpa with the guys, even though they did more making fun
of my Spanish than helping me with the directions. We got out of there fine
with the dog food the doc requested and made it back to 38 safe and sound.
 This Sabbath was the first time that I wasn't asked to do anything for
church, so it was nice to just chill in our congregation of 10. Right after
church I had to go pick up the girls from the other church, and bring them
back to 38. Dunno if I've explained it, but when we SMs are at 38 (our main
site) we split up between two churches. I was the only driver so I had to be
the taxi and pick up everyone.
 I then went and picked up the people out at 8, which was basically
everyone except Me, Hannah, Janessa, and Rebecca. Elias and I brought them
back and we had some really good soup and beans with rice for lunch.
Probably the best meal I've had since I got here.
 Sabbath night we had our church Christmas fiesta which meant that I
went up and rounded up the people from my church (Yerbas Bueñas literally
means Good Grass or Good Fields) and drove them out to Santa Elvita
(pronounced SantElvita) for the party. One of the ladies from Santa Elvita
made a humongous pot of hot chocolate, like the biggest pot I've ever seen
in my life full of homemade hot chocolate! It was crazy!!! They also have a
tradition of getting a certain kind of fruit cake for Christmas, it's
Patatones brand and is basically a Christmas icon around here. Pretty much
it's just a sweet bread with candied fruits in it. I just tasted a little
bit, not bad, but not something I'll be making any traditions out of.
 And that brings me to today! Well at least after trying to vaccinate a
cow with 3 Peruvians who don't know what they're doing last night. Ha! That
was crazy. This weekend I am on guard duty with Elias which means we have to
milk the cows in the morning, and I've gotten pretty good at lassoing them
cattle. Pretty soon I'll start talking Spanish with a southern drawl too.
 I saw a buncha Spiderman shirts on several of the kids last night, and
it made me think, it's a good thing that Spiderman was an American because
he'd be pretty stuck down here. There are no tall buildings to swing from
down here. Ha! Peruvian Spiderman, ha.
 Anyways, I've got my Christmas plans all under control. My Grandma
agreed to fly me up to her place in Costa Rica for Christmas! I'm pretty
sure I already told you that, but I'm excited! Me and Jonathan are gonna try
to do some surfing and just a lot of relaxing, we'll see how that all works
out.
 This week though, the doc is leaving on Wednesday and said that our
vacation officially starts Wednesday, so I probably won't be working more
than Monday Tuesday this week. That will be nice. Don't have much to do this
week other than those two days of work. Just gotta get myself ready to
vacation, but how hard is that?
 I also discovered that I can comment back on any comments you guys
post on my blog, so as of now, I promise to reply to any comments you put up
on this blog and any from here on out. There is no notification system in
place, so I can't tell when I get comments, but I will start checking them
when I post each week's ponderings.
 Keep me in your prayers please. I still miss home a bunch, definitely
looking forward to coming home in 20 weeks (just counted). Seems so far
away. Around here it doesn't feel much like Christmas because of the
constant hot weather, so I don't actually feel like I'm missing out on much.
Which is good, but I do miss this time of year. The break between quarters,
being able to see my breath in the air, chilling at home, hanging out in LC.
 I have found out the reason why they say you get less homesick after a
certain amount of time, or at least the reason I have gotten less homesick,
it's because I don't like thinking about things that make me sad, so my mind
has trained itself to not think about home as much, thus making myself 'less
homesick'. I miss home right about now though because I'm thinking about it.
 Ah well, not much I can do about that. I'll see you all soon enough.
Soon is relative.
 Wouldn't mind a letter for Christmas though! It's less than 2 bucks to
send a letter to me, and let me tell you, it's the best thing you could do
for me for Christmas (besides coming to visit, ha!). So think about that,
don't have too, but I would be a grateful person!
 "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper
you, not to harm you." Jeremiah 29:11
 Love strong, live strong, and be strong.


Peace,
Antonio

Just thought I'd list all the nicknames the Peruvians have and do call me:
Machete, Antonia, Antoinella, Chivo, Gringito, Cocoliso, and probably more,
but can't remember right now. You have to realize that they love calling my
name, they'll be walking by or just look at me and saw "Machete" or
"Antoinella", depending on the Peruvian, and nothing more. It's hilarious! One guy even calls me Cuñado, which means brother in law, because he jokes about marrying my sister! Haha!
They're good guys. Ha! Peace.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Week of the Wasp

12/5/10
 First time I wrote the date up above, I wrote 11 instead of 12. Tells you how far behind the times I am, ha! Right now we don't have electricity, so I'm gonna type for as long as I can, we'll see how long that ends up being. Anyway, this week was crazy!! Keep reading to hear about it!
 Monday I already told you about, so I'm starting with Tuesday. Well actually, I don't think I told you that I got stung 4 times Monday by wasps, that was fun. Woke up Tuesday expecting to have my right eye swollen shut because one of the bites was above my right eye, but it was nothing. Just slightly swollen, not enough to impair my sight.
 So Tuesday morning, Daniel (one of the Chicos) came and woke me up at 6:55 telling me that I had to go to the airport right away for some new guy. I didn't believe him at first, but after I jumped outta bed and had the doc explain what was going on to me, I was in the truck and driving to the airport.
 I got there, expecting a new SM, and found myself throwing the luggage of a grown man into the back of the truck. His name is Lynn and he's actually Chris's (one of the SMs) mom's Fiance. He had some extra time on his hands, so he decided to come on down and help us out!
 He heard from Jenni that we were interested in getting our hands on some American goodies, so he brought with him some granola, peanut butter, craisins, and some other stuff. The craisins are already gone and we're well on our way through the other stuff.
 When we got back to 38, he was ready to jump right in and help us out, so after breakfast, he helped me and Lucio spray down the animals and then came out to the lemon fields and found the tractor stuck on some massive log. We worked on getting it out, but didn't have time before lunch. After lunch, Lynn crashed and we went back out and cut the tractor free with a chain saw. We actually ended up doing that twice because Daniel ended up getting it stuck twice, ha! But gotta have the whole experience down here in Peru! That does include trying to dig out a massive tractor with a machete and hoe twice in 4 hours.
 Anyway, we spent all week cleaning out the lemon trees. This involves cutting up all the grass and bushes around each tree with a machete and then scraping up the ground with a hoe to pull all the grass off so stuff has a harder time growing again. It's repetitive, not too hard, but still fun with all the guys. There was a total of something like 1000 trees. Yikes. That is why it took so long!
 Now Tuesday night something crazy happened, a new calf was born! Elias and I went out to check on the cow to see how it was doing because we knew it was about time for the calf to come out, and there were 2 hooves sticking out! So we shouted for everyone else and watched the calf slowly get squeezed out. The whole process took about 30 minutes or so, but what was amazing was that the calf could walk within 5 minutes of popping out. Not fair! Wish I coulda come strolling outta the hospital 10 minutes after I was born.
 Watching a birth is truly thought provoking though. The gift of life just doesn't make any sense at all. With man's level of knowledge, it's an impossible feat. It's like a computer creating another computer. The thing is that this 'baby' computer would have to have an impossibly complex operating system. Coding that would allow it to write it's own drivers, writes it's own programs with the instruction of fellow computers, and on top if this all, it would be able to independently create it's on thought processes. That's just incredible. I could spend the rest of my life writing and studying code and not come up with anything near that. Not something I think about very much, but life seems like it should be impossible.
 That was a pretty neat experience and the next day the calf was out with the cow herd running around with everyone else. Crazy stuff if you ask me.
 Wednesday I got stung another 4 times. It was ironic because I was in the midst of explaining to Lynn about how there were a lot of wasps around, and that's when I got all four stings. I'm sick of them wasps! They really like the lemon trees though, and now we gotta go back and fertilize them all. So you'll probably be reading about more wasp stings in the future. Just a heads up.
 Other than work, the girls who are staying out at Km 8 came back for their day off. That was nice to see them around again. It's like we are all a family down here, so when they leave and we don't see them for a while, it's like a reunion when they come back! Plus Rachel made some pumpkin bread and Lauren made some blueberry muffins and those were very good.
 Thursday I woke up with my left eye swollen mostly shut after getting stung on my eyebrow Wednesday. That caused the guys to start calling me Chino, ha! (Spanish for Chinese) With all the other names they call me, it was just another nickname, nothing crazy. I thought it was pretty funny though. My eye did get better as the day went on and I was eventually able to see out of it without trying too hard to keep my eye open. Nothing noteworthy really went down Thursday that I can remember. There was just four of us SMs here at 38 with the others all at 8, so it was really relaxing. Nothing to worry about and nothing really going on other than work, food, and sleep.
 Well nothing too crazy until the afternoon. It was raining relatively hard, so we went and worked in the Hangar, the massive building here on site. Daniel Pua and Elias went and worked on the tractor while Daniel Ruis and I worked on replacing some inner tubes and tires on the wheel barrows. We got the first inner tube and tire replaced and went ahead and filled it up. Unfortunately we didn't have a pressure gauge and Daniel wasn't very good at feeling when it was too full, so he kept saying "mas aire Machete!" (more air Machete!) and you can probably guess what happened next: I had the inner tube explode in my lap!! Haha! It destroyed the wheel (metal part) and put a nice big long tear in the inner tube, making them both obsolete. It was quite the traumatizing experience for the first split second, but for the rest of that second and many more, it was quite hilarious, not gonna lie!
 Friday was a good day as well. Got all of the lemon trees finished by noon, so we had a relaxing 2 hours of just fixing some of the electrical wiring between the outside lights. Though I did get stung for the 9th time that week when Laura came running away from the hive with a swarm of wasps chasing her. I'll call last week "Wasp Week" because of all the stings I received. It brings my wasp sting total to 10 since I got here.
 After lunch, I went with Alfonso and Laura into Pucallpa to buy some soccer cleats because the guys want me to play on their team with them. I was able to get my hands on a decent pair of cleats for 80 soles! (About 30 USD) The team I'll be playing on is the project team, so it's all the Peruvian workers and those of the American guys that want to play.
 But listen! We are interested in getting ourselves jerseys and shorts, but none of us have the money for it. If you are interested in sponsoring one of us, it only cost 10 USD for a jersey and shorts combo and there are 12 of us total. So just send me an email and let me know whats going down and we'll get it figured out. We play a bunch of games so they won't be going to waste, and if you want some kind of compensation for your donation (like a thank you note or something) or you need a tax deductible receipt, I can try to work something out, email me! (anthony.howell AT wallawalla.edu (replace the AT with the symbol '@')).
 Sabbath was pretty chill, just church and then a relaxing afternoon. I ended up trying to keep a young guy under control during church, that was fun! Crazy little guy loved my facial hair and loved hearing me talk English and loved being loud in church, ha! It was fun though. I look forward to having my own kids someday.
 Sabbath afternoon was pretty relaxing, and JA (pronounced Hota Ah. The evening vespers) was pretty chill and relaxing. We got done with JA early, so Hannah and I went out back of the church and picked a bunch of Granadilla! Which is this orange fruit that grows on a vine and has a slimy inside that is super good! It's disgusting the first time you eat it just because of the texture, but it has a great taste!!
 Last night I just dinked around on my computer for a bit using the internet. We now have a little USB device that allows us to use internet via cell towers! Granted it's not very fast, slow enough that you type in the URL then go do something else for a few minutes and then come back to using the internet. I figured out a way to share the connection with the Mac users down here, so they were happy to be able to use internet on their computers.
 Lent my computer to them last night, and here I am today! Went and did the weeks grocery shopping this morning. Bought all the food for 6 people for a grand total of 135 soles! (just short of 50 USD). Cheap food!! And good food. So that brings me up to now. Just chilling on my computer getting myself logged into my blog so I can post this. Can't think of anything pressing you should know, just the usual around here. Remember that if you have 10 bucks that you don't mind giving away, we could use the money for our jerseys! =)
 Keep praying for me, I know there are a lot of you that do, and I really appreciate that. I'm working on figuring out who I am while I'm down here. So far so good. Still looking forward to coming home. I miss it a ton even now. It so does not feel like December down here. It's still averaging 85-90 degrees everyday around here. I'm gonna freeze when I get home, ha!
 Anyway, miss you guys. Gotta get some other things done around here. Stay posted for more action packed Peruvian adventures!!!!!!!!


Peace,
Antwon