What’s old that I’m still enjoying?

One night, back in the days when we lived in Enmore, we were sitting around the lounge room but I was tired so I went to bed quite early.  About 15 minutes later I heard Martin get up and say, “I’m going to bed to enjoy my wife”.  Everyone roured with laughter and blushed a lot in my bedroom.  Martin tried to correct himself saying what he had meant to say which was, “I’m going to bed to join my wife” but it was too late and we were teased about it a lot.

Anyway, that was about 6 years ago and we are both bit older now as is the relationship but we are still very much enjoying each other as Martin put it.

Three people and three foods on a desert island

When I saw this was the next topic I thought, “great an easy one for once” but I have now been thinking about it for three days on and off and I still have not really come up with an answer I am happy with it.  But it’s time to just pick three and get it over and done with.

Three people:  The first two are easy and obvious.  Martin and Nina.  The third a lot harder.  Not because there are not lots of people but because I feel kind of sorry for the third person having to be with us.  I thought about picking a cousin of Nina’s as a playmate but couldn’t decide so I have decided to go with my sister Gemma.  Mostly because I like her a lot.  She’s good to talk to, mostly fairly positive and I laugh with her more than anyone.  I also think she’d enjoy playing with Nina and with us most of the time.

Three foods:  Bread, avocado and cheese.  I know these aren’t really that healthy so I couldn’t survive for that long on these but I decided not to go down that road rather just what foods I like and go together well.  I know I’d get sick of them but what three foods wouldn’t I get sick of.

Grace & Healing

Last night I was watching Sister Act 2 on the TV, (remember those movies, I forgot how much I loved them) and was so moved by that song Happy Day. Don’t laugh it really is amazing (as they say) when we realise that with God we don’t have to feel guilty about all the things we have done that have hurt others and ourselves.  Not that I feel I am fully there on this but even taking a few steps towards the realisation that God can truly let it go makes it so much easier to begin that process of letting it go too which is truly so liberating.  “Oh Happy Day”.

Although it is bitter sweet as it also makes me that much sadder to realise that the church instead of making people feel this forgiveness, happiness and freedom to be themselves traps people in guilt.

Before re-watching Sister Act grace has been a bit of a theme in my life, for over a year now.  Mostly I am becoming more and more aware of my own need for grace and the healing it brings.  My own guilt that grace can free me from and allow me to be the person I truly am inside not a person defined by the things I have done wrong.  And thus why I need so much to forgive people in my life.  To allow them too, to be free from guilt and become the people that God sees and loves in them.  Richard Rohr puts it this way:

“Most apologies people make to you are sort of embarassing and don’t work out because in granting them you are big hearted and generous, a great person and very often other are demeaned. It doesn’t make others feel better about themselves, they just feel you are big hearted. Of course, we would appreciate having some big hearted people around but Jesus is asking us to go one step deeper. Jesus isn’t saying “I’m big hearted, you’re sinful”. When Jesus forgives it isn’t so much an act of mercy as it is a loyalty to the truth of who you are. To really forgive someone is to recognise who they are, to admit and affirm who they are and to know their best selves will brought out only in the prescence of an accepting and believing person. Forgiveness is believing in a person and not allowing that person to be destryed by self hatred. This is a way of forgiving that doesn’t make you look good but them look good. That is the way God forgives us. In forgiving us God gives us back our dignity and self worth. He is loyal to the truth of who we are. God affrims we are good persons who have sinned, God asserts we are not bad.”

I am pretty sure I have put this quote on this blog before (I know I have sent it out in various letters).  What can I say I am obsessed with Richard Rohr and this is what I believe about God’s grace  and why it can be so healing right now, on earth, if we just let it.




Sick again

Another late night trip with Nina to the hospital last night.  We put Nina to bed around 7.30 as usual.  She’s had a runny nose for about almost a week but has been very happy so we weren’t at all worried about it.  But then she woke up around 11.30 with a terrible cough and was having trouble breathing.  We were very concerned about this so rushed to the hospital.  The paediatrician checked her over and said she had “crup” which is a virus going around and causes swelling in the throat making it difficult to breathe.   She had to have an injection and breathe on a ventilator for about twenty minutes.  Both these experiences were pretty awful for her and for us who had to hold her down against her will.  Anyway, he recommended some medicines and sent us home around 1am I think.  Nina slept with me all night so I could listen to her breathing.  It was pretty hoarse but okay.  I didn’t sleep much I was pretty worked up from the stress of it and I was half awake so I could listen to her.  Now that she is napping I am going to bed too.  I hate it when she is sick.


I feel like I should say something very profound about family seeing as I have such an amazing one but I don’t really know what to except how grateful to God I am for them.  All of them, my husband and daughter of course and my parents, my sister, my step father and brother and sister, my grandparents, my aunties and uncles and my cousins.  We have our struggles and are broken people in lots of ways but you’re all awesome.  I don’t really know my extended family at all but I have some amazing friends too from my childhood church who I consider my extended family.  You’re all awesome too.  I am who I am because of you.

I also feel very blessed by Martin’s family.  I’ve had my struggles as they’re very different to mine.  I know that every family is a bit of it’s own culture but there really is a big difference between Australian families and Peruvian families.  It has taken me awhile to get used to it but I am getting there now and so have really learned to appreciate the good things about them.  One of the things I love most is how close Martin is to his cousins, second cousins and third children.  They don’t use terminology like that though.  A cousin is a cousin and their children are your nieces and nephews and your parents cousins are your aunties and uncles.  Nina and I have been automatically accepted.  They all call me “prima” (cousin) or “tia” (auntie) or “sobrina” (niece) and it does give a sense of belonging.

I went swimming today for the first time in a few weeks.  So much has been happening with overseas visitors,  Nina’s party and I guess also I was just feeling a bit low on energy.  Once you get out of the habit of exercising, even for a week or so it can take  a bit of effort to get back into it .  It feels good though now that I have and to be back to my routine.  You know how much I love it.

Last week was a particularly full week but really interesting.  I worked four days translating for a woman who was here representing a Swiss company who wants to buy fairtrade, organic dehydrated mangoes from an association of mango farmers here.  Currently her company is buying from a place in South Africa but it is not organic of fairtrade certified.  The company aims to assist all their suppliers move towards these certification but the current suppliers are years off this so they are looking elsewhere.  The market in Switzerland sure is miles ahead than Australia in terms of their interest in fair trade.  Her company sells to the two major supermarkets in Switzerland who have 80% of the market.  These supermarkets have as much as their products fairtrade as possible and are always trying to buy more.

The association who hired me to translate for them is organic as well as fairtrade certified although I have to say there are a few little issues.  They are honestly trying though the Swiss company has concerns about food safety and the quality of the dehydrated mangoes. The dehydrating plant was built with donations from a foreign embassy and another NGO.  It was obviously built too quickly as they wanted to spend the money donated to them and be ready for this season but the Swiss company says they need to do a lot more samples.  They said they would have been better building something half the size and building up once they had tested it and had the market but because they were donated a certain amount to build a plant they had to use it.  It certainly highlights a problem with large donations without relationship.  Anyway, she made some suggestions and her company is willing to assist with expertise to help them improve their quality and food safety.  I do hope they can.  It would be really positive for the association and the farmers.

I really enjoyed translating although it is hard work.  I learned a lot but have a lot more to learn.  I also learned a lot about fairtrade, organic and the market.  I would like to do more of this kind of work.

A photo I love

This photo was taken in Ayabaca.  There are not a lot of foreign tourists in Ayabaca but lots and lots of Peruvians who pilgrim there to see “El Senor Cautivo de Ayabaca”  (the captive Lord of Ayabaca).  This is a statue of Jesus that the people believe was sculptured by angels who were sent by God in the early days of the town.  Peruvians pilgrim there especially in October to pray in front of the statue.

It is impressive in some ways but I found the image very hard to connect too.  I just can’t fully believe that praying to a certain statue of Jesus will mean my prayers will be heard and I worry that all the fuss around it just gives more power to the church etc etc.  However, I know some people do find it very helpful so I will try to keep an open, non judgmental mind.

On the day we were there, this man was playing with a little girl outside the church.  He would throw the toy bird and the little girl would run and pick it up and give it back to him.  Nina watched them for awhile and then joined in.  The man would throw the bird and they would all squeal with delight as they ran to be the first one to collect it.  The other girl mostly got there first but Nina got it a few times.  This is her giving it back.  Watching them I certainly connected with Jesus.


I am feeling much better about Nina’s party now.  Since the night of her party when I wrote that post lots of people have been telling me how good an afternoon it was and how much they and their kids enjoyed it etc etc.  I am quite pissed off at myself for getting so stressed about all those more trivial things when I should have been trying to enjoy it.  I guess, as a host, I am a bit like that.  But it reminded me that even when you think that everything is going terribly, maybe you just need to try to see things from another perspective.

There is always hope.

On a slightly less trivial note I read this is the Sojourners magazine the other day.  “Christians are called upon to tell and retell the story of hope, grace, and change that we see acted out in the scriptures. It is through hearing and responding to this story that our own lives and stories are transformed today.”  I am constantly amazed at how often I find my story in the stories of the Bible and how much it transforms things for me.  The little book I wrote, “praying the stories of our lives” is full of such stories and here is another one.

Anyone who has read this blog in the last 9 months would know that things here in Peru haven’t gone entirely as we have planned.  While it has been a truly amazing year, we love so much of our life here and I see this time as such a gift from God for us, we did have so many hopes and dreams about what we would have liked to have done here particularly around birthing stuff and sustainable agriculture that we have not really been able to achieve.  While there have been some little things, that have been very significant to us and I hope to those involved, in general I feel that maybe it’s just not the right time.  I feel like there will be birth justice here soon and that people will start taking sustainability more seriously very soon but we are just a little too early.  After the last birth and a meeting with director I was asked to write a letter with my concerns and seeking permission (again) to attend births.  I have heard nothing in response and imagine that it has been totally ignored.  I have decided not to keep trying.  We have only three months to go now and I want to focus now on the women who I have built up relationships with and their families.  But I guess there is a sense of failure and disappointment particularly with myself and I am struggling a lot with self doubt.

Anyway, I was reading the other day about Moses who after 40 years of leading the Israelites through the desert was not able to enter the promised land.  I have never thought much about this until now but can you imagine his disappointment?  We know the end of the story and that the Israelites do make it but Moses didn’t and in that moment more than I could ever imagine he would have had to trust in God.  All he had was hope.  Of course I am not Moses and my story does not even compare in terms of size and time dedicated etc but I like him only have hope now.  Hope that God will some time choose to water the seeds that we have planted.  We may not not get to see it but that is not what is important.  It is not about us at all, only that His will be done and that justice comes.

There is always hope.


I feel like I am not going to be a very good mother to Nina on the party front.  I find throwing parties really, really stressful.  For weeks building up to this one I have lied awake at night thinking about it and worrying.  Children’s parties here are a really big deal and I didn’t really want to do but it may be the only birthday Nina has here and people really wanted a chance to celebrate her.   I also wanted to thank them all for how welcoming they have been with us so we decided to do it.  I pretty much did it Peruvian style which is pretty over the top but I figured it was important.

Martin assures me that everyone had a really good time but for me it felt like everything went wrong.  We had it at the pool as it is a great outside area where kids can run around and play etc.  We also didn’t think everyone would fit in the house and didn’t want to have clean up but when I rocked up three, the time the party was supposed to start, the guy who was supposed to bringing the chairs and tables and putting up balloons and the pinata (absolutely essential at any Latin American party) had done nothing.  There were about half the amount of chairs needed and that’s it.  I was very grateful at that moment that most Peruvians rock up late.  By 3.45 when most people were starting to get there he had it pretty much sorted but I was stressed out of my brain and worrying about the people who were there.  The clown arrived at 4 as organised but the guy on chairs was supposed to have a microphone for him but it wasn’t there.  At 4.30 it still wasn’t so the clown started but been heard by almost hundred people was impossible without it.  Thankfully about 10 minutes in the microphone arrived.  I tired to do a speech that actually meant a lot to me but I was so stressed and emotional I hardly got any of it out and I don’t know if anyone understood me anyway.

We stared serving dinner at 6.  Everything was supposed to winding down by then but it wasn’t so everyone just ate around the chaos of kids dancing, breaking the pinata etc.  Totally not how it’s supposed to be done but I guess Peruvians are pretty flexible.  I was absolutely certain there wasn’t going to be enough food as a whole bunch of family I was not expecting came and I spent a lot of time worrying about that but some how there was.  I am sure God did another loaves and fishes type thing as He always manages to do.

There wasn’t really enough prizes so we just gave out more lollies of which there was way too much.  The kids were fine about it but I worry about diabetes. Not to mention the fruit salad and yoghurt, the one healthy thing, got forgotton.

By the end of the party Nina was getting into it but I think she was fairly overwhelmed by the people and I had to carry her around most of the afternoon night which wasn’t easy as also people were needing a hundred other things.

It’s going to take me awhile to get over it so I hope it’s a few years before Nina starts asking for the next one.

What I don’t like about living in Chulucanas

Expectations:  Yesterday I mentioned how much I like the sense of community here but the downside was gossip.  The other downside is there is a lot of unspoken expectations that I sometimes miss.  Certainly as time goes on I feel like I miss them less and less although sometimes I don’t miss them but rather I disagree with them.  For example on the weekend we are having a party for Nina and there seems to be an expectation that we invite every child in the extended family even if Nina nor I have met them and that we provide ridiculous amounts of lollies as well as party bags for the children.  At this stage I have decided to just go along with so as not to offend but I don’t feel entirely comfortable with it

Punctuality:  People are always late and nothing ever starts on time.  In fact a lot of things don’t even have a start time they just start when people rock up.  People often say they are going to come to something and then don’t.  It seems it’s ruder to say you are not going to come than to say you are and then not show up.  I guess there are different ways of doing things and it seems to work for Peruvians most of the time but for someone like me it is immensely frustrating.

“It’s not what you know but who you know”:  I know this is something that happens in all the world but here it is certainly more deeply ingrained than I have ever experienced.  In government organisations, the church as well as private organisations.  I have talked about our personal experience of not getting jobs because of it and since then I have seen it happen to others often.  I feel so frustrated by how much potential there is in Chulucanas but nothing ever seems to move forward as the best people are not been put into the positions. It also doesn’t move forward because people in positions of power don’t like change but that’s everywhere too.

Hierarchies:  I find Peru to be quite hierarchical.  There are lots of titles used eg if you are a doctor, they call you doctor like in Aus, but also if you are an engineer engineer, teacher, teacher,  nurse, nurse etc and then it feels like people are treated accordingly.  Lots of people still have maids and nannies and while there are some exceptions of course they are generally grossly unpaid. I also do not feel they are treated as they should be, it’s not as extreme as the way it is portrayed in “the help” but I never feel entirely comfortable with it.

No cinema and only pirate DVD’s:  There is no cinema in Chulucanas and I miss going to the movies.  But the worst thing is that there is nowhere to buy or rent DVD’s that aren’t pirate.  Not even in Piura.  I don’t feel great about getting pirate movies but it’s also just really frustrating as the movies are very rarely of good quality and so at some point we miss a part of the movie as it jumps.

Machismo:  I have mentioned this various times so I don’t really need to go into again but I really do find it difficult to live with.

Variety of food:  Peruvian people love their food and it is becoming pretty famous worldwide and there is a lot of it that I like a lot but there is not that much variety for a vegetarian even a pescatarian like me.  I do miss Thai food, Indian food, Japanese food, Lebanese food, Italian food etc.

My family and friends are not here:  This is definitely the thing that I find hardest about living here in Chulucanas.  I do miss everyone so much.  Having people around who you can talk to about everything, who really know you and still love you is certainly rare.