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, December 12, 2010

What's in a name?


 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
 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
 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
 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
 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.


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.

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