Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Binders Full of...Letters

I have been working on a little project. Actually it's kind of a big project, and I'm still working on it. I have been trying to figure out a better way to store my letters from my sponsor kids, other than folding them up and putting them in a pretty box. We have too many kids and too many letters to keep doing that. It's also impractical when you want to go back and look through old letters. So I have been working on making binders for each of my kids! I'm pretty much done with Tasya's, so I will use hers in photo examples in this post (sorry for the poor quality of the pics!)

I started out by picking out different colors of binders for each of my kids. Tasya's happens to be pink, as that is her favorite color, and she was our first sponsor child.



I created covers for each binder in Microsoft Word. Tasya's name is across the top. I left space for her picture, and at the bottom, I created a map. I found a nice world map clip art on Google, and a cute heart clip art. I placed a heart over Kentucky's location on the map, and a heart over north Sulawesi, where Tasya lives. Then I connected them with a dotted line.



Inside the binder, I have extra-long pocket dividers. I say extra long because the tabs actually poke out from between the pages, to where you can actually read them. The first tab is labeled "Info."



Inside this section, I have a page for Tasya's information, which I got from Michelle over at Blogging from the Boonies. There is a spot on this document for a photo, too!



The second page is also from Michelle- a page for prayer requests. Tasya hasn't sent me any prayer requests since I started putting her binder together, but I plan on keeping track of them here, so I will have an easy reference when she asks me to pray for specific things, and I can go back and ask her if she has any praises to report!



Also in the Info section, I have both pastor letters I have received from Tasya's project. One is from a guy who works there, and I think we received it the summer before last. The other one is from the pastor of the church where her child development center is located, and we received it a few months ago. I will also place any country updates from Compassion in this section.



After that, I have a divider for each year we've been sponsoring Tasya, with more to go! We started sponsoring her in July 2010, so we have lots of letters from her! It's so much fun going back and reading the older letters. She even included her fingerprint on her first letter!




The good thing about including pocket dividers is that you have a place to store any extra things your sponsor child sends. This can include artwork, Bible verses, extra photographs, or anything else you receive. A few months ago, Tasya made me some bookmarks with Indonesian scripture verses, and a heart-shaped card. This is where I keep them!



I hope someday I am able to go to Sulawesi and meet this precious girl. She means so much to me, and I would love the opportunity to take my binder to her and show her how much I value each letter she sends to me!


It's a big pink binder full of love!


How do you store letters from your sponsor kids? The binder thing seemed like a good idea until I realized that with 9 sponsor kids, plus a binder for those kids we have lost, I would need to clear off a shelf on one of my bookcases! : )

Monday, June 24, 2013

Kindness, Week Twenty Five

Here are this week's acts of kindness! I have been less active this past week since I hurt my back and have been home from work, but I still found some kind things to do. : )

June 18- Took candy to friends. Me and my cane went to Bible study this night, because I had not yet realized the seriousness of my injury. It hurt a lot. Anyway, on my trip to Pennsylvania last weekend, I got a bag of chocolates to share with my friends in Bible study. I used to bake something pretty much every week for my friends, but since I had surgery in January I haven't been doing that. I think this was the first time I have brought treats for them all year- and it felt good! : )

June 19- Supported a fellow sponsor. I did some shopping on Etsy on this day because I needed more soap. I found the Etsy shop of Sonja over at Conspiracy of Love. Sonja gives the profits from her sales to Compassion! She has lots of beautiful and affordable handmade jewelry in her shop in addition to the pretty-smelling goat's milk soap I got! Go check it out!

June 20- Pledged to help with a fundraiser. On this day, a friend of mine posted on facebook that her daughter (who is the cutest, funniest little girl I know) was doing a fundraiser for the pet camp she's attending, run by the local Humane Society. They were selling bags of dog treats, and the person who raised the most money would win a prize. I told her I'd definitely buy a bag, and she could get the money for it from me the next time I saw her at the library. Thanks to generous friends, my buddy raised $190 for the Humane Society, and she won!

June 21- Tried to check in with a friend. A friend of mine has been feeling down lately, and I have attempted many times to get in touch with her to check on her and try to cheer her up. On this day I emailed her AND sent a card. Sometimes, when we aren't feeling well, we shut others out and don't let our friends in. I know this from experience. I also know, though, that even when I'm not reaching out to people when I'm depressed or not feeling well, I still appreciate it when people send me cards or emails telling me they're thinking about me and they hope I'm well. I think this is universal.

June 22- Got a gift. My mom and I went shopping on this day for decorations and prizes for the double shower we are throwing for two of our Bible study friends (one is adopting from Haiti and another is having a baby in August.) While we were there I found this really cool 5-year gardening journal and showed it to my mom. She and my dad have started a really nice garden this year (my mom pushed for it but my dad does most of the caretaking) and she has been all about garden stuff for several months. That journal spent some time in our cart during our too-long shopping trip, but she ended up putting it back on the shelf because we were spending so much money on other stuff. And I went back and got it, and bought it as a surprise for her and dad. The book is really cool- they can keep track of the things that happen in their garden for the next several years, and it has tips and grid paper for planning and lots of other cool stuff. I was glad that I was able to get this for my parents!

June 23- Added to my purchase. I had another opportunity to tack on a little extra to my bill to support a good cause! I ordered a book on eBay recently (an adoption book that I've been looking for at a good price for months) and at checkout, they gave me the option to add a dollar to support the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Our local children's hospital, Kosair's, is great, and I have a few different acts of kindness planned for them down the road!

June 24- Added another dollar! This day I contributed to my local pharmacy's fundraising effort to send kids with Muscular Dystrophy to camp. Also I visited my mom at work because it was her first day after being off 10+ weeks for her surgery. I wanted to stop by and give her a hug and encourage her because I knew that she was worried about going back to work. And those two things are basically all I did today because when I got home I had to take my pain pills, and I slept a lot.




Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Kindness, Week Twenty Four

Here are this past week's acts of kindness!

June 11- Made a package for my sponsor kids. The more our far-away family grows, the longer it takes (and the more expensive it gets!) to send hand-written letters and goodies to our kids! On this day, I spent the afternoon handwriting letters, picking out treats (postcards, sticker and activity books, even two tiny devotionals I found on clearance at Lifeway!) and labeling everything. I hope everything I sent makes it through OK, and that the kids like them!

June 12- Made my voice heard. This is another one of those easy-yet-important acts of civic duty you can do. I signed a petition and wrote letters asking my government to treat the NSA leaker fairly and humanely. I am not passing judgment on what he did, but I am worried that because of the magnitude of the information he made available to the public, and the tremendous backlash our government has received from both the media and the general public, that he won't be treated very fairly. I hope and pray that we extend the same courtesy and fairness to him that we do all others who wind up on the witness stand.

June 13- Played Santa. This week I found some really cool stuff on clearance at a gift shop, and I picked up a few things for some of my loved ones, as just-because presents. Even the smallest little gift can really brighten someone's day! On this day, I delivered the surprises I got.

June 14- Hit the road. This is the day that I departed for my trip to Pennsylvania to visit my cousin. I have been wanting to visit her since she moved up there two years ago, but I especially wanted and needed to go now, as she has been experiencing some pretty stressful times lately. Sometimes just being with someone and providing a fun distraction is a great act of kindness and love.

June 15- Supported small businesses. Being on a tight schedule in unfamiliar territory made coming up with an act of kindness on this day a little more difficult. On this day, my act(s) of kindness was to support small, local businesses, and give them a break when I could! Almost everything I got on my trip came from locally owned shops. I also made a conscious effort to pay in cash  so those business owners could avoid paying credit/debit card fees, and I spread my purchases out over several shops instead of getting everything at the one big souvenir store we visited. Every little bit helps!

June 16- Prayed. This was the day I spent almost every waking hour in the car (and every napping hour, too.) I was reading a book on compassionate living on my Kindle, and listening to praise music on my iPod. I decided to turn my Kindle off and spend some time in prayer. I prayed for several people I know who are experiencing all kinds of circumstances- those experiencing trials and difficult times, giving thanks for people who have offered words of encouragement to me lately, praying for a friend who is on the cusp of making a commitment to follow Jesus. I prayed for broken relationships and growing families, too.

June 17- Brought in some treats. My coworkers and I are under quite a bit of stress right now, with summer reading and all the craziness that comes along with it. I know that some of you still may not believe that working at a library could be a stressful job, but it really is at times. Anyway, on my trip I picked up a bag of treats from the Gertrude Hawk candy store to share with my coworkers. I left it on our kitchen table with a note, and I think that everyone who tried one of the candies liked them! Sometimes it's nice to surprise everyone with a little treat, whether it's candy, a pan of brownies, or whatever. It makes being stuck at work a little more fun!



Monday, June 17, 2013

Sweet Greetings

On Mondays, blogging Compassion sponsors often post the letters they may have received during the week. I am linking up with Blogging from the Boonies- please check out Michelle's lovely blog and the wonderful Compassion-related resources she posts there.


I had two letters waiting for me when I got back from my trip this weekend! Both of them touched on the same topic- after my surgery, I told my kids that I had lots of friends and family that were helping me during my recovery. I asked they had ever helped a loved one after an illness. 

The first letter I opened was from Tasya in Indonesia. 


16 April 2013

Shalom!First of all I would like to tell you that I'm in good health. Yes, I've taken care of my younger and older siblings who were sick. I'm so glad to be able to help my parents.
I'm happy in school to have a lot of good friends. My school is going on well and soon I will face my grade promotion exam. I'll also get a few days vacation. I'm so excited. Even that it's holiday, but I'm able to study and help my parents working.
I also have siblings and I'm able to play with them. We play together joyfully.
The weather here is sometimes rain and sometimes hot. Is it raining there?
I pray for you dear mama and family to be blessed by the Lord.

Love,
Tasya 

Tasya is the sweetest kid! Her parents have raised her so well. I love her so much!
The second letter I opened was from Joane in Haiti. 


Dear Jessi, 
My heart overflows with joy to get this opportunity to write to you in the name of God Almighty. How are you, your family, your health and activities? My family and I are very well, thanks to God. It is very cold where I live. I pray that you'll recover. My school is going very well. I've just taken the 2nd term exam and I hope I'll pass. Yes I take care of my family and friends when they're sick. Thanks for the letter and your prayers and wishes. I'm glad to hear from you. President Michel Martelly visited Ennery on Apri 7 to inaugurate the new road with our deputy. He made us a lot of promises and paid many children's school fees. He promised us a university, a vocational school and free schooling. I thank you for the monetary gift of March. I bought shoes with it. Thanks for your prayers and support. I pray that God will protect you in all you do. God bless you!

Joane


It must have been very exciting for Joane's community to have a visit from the president! I hope he follows through on his promises and works to better the lives of the people in Haiti. 


This week we also got our info packet on our newest correspondence kid, Carlos! I'm looking forward to reading through it and learning more about his community. 



I'm the only one that calls it the Oatmeal State.

I have had quite the busy weekend- I actually have something to post about other than sponsorship! Haha.

This weekend, my dad, my aunt, and myself took a trip up to Pennsylvania to visit my cousin Melissa. Melissa has been living there since late in the summer of 2011, working for a university on a project. She will be moving back home to the bluegrass state later this year. This is the first time I've been able to go up and see her.

Our trip started a little after 2 in the afternoon on Friday. My aunt had a lunch meeting on Friday, and I had to work that morning, so after work I ran home, changed clothes, and my pappaw and my dad came to pick me up. Pappaw took the both of us over to my aunt's house to wait for her to get home. We loaded up her car and hit the road. I'm glad she has such a spacious and comfy car, because it was a very long trip! I had loaded up my Kindle with library books in anticipation for the long drive. I read Mary Beth Chapman's Choosing to See on the way up there, and I thought it was good. I like reading adoption stories, even though this one was sad because she wrote the book after the Chapmans lost their youngest daughter Maria Sue.

We made pretty good time until we hit one of the cities in Ohio- it might have been Cincinnati, but I'm not sure. There was sooooo much traffic. We crept along for what felt like a long time, but was probably about half an hour or 45 minutes. I haven't been to Ohio in forever. It is very flat. I even held my camera up to the window a few times and took pictures of the completely flat landscape. The sky looked very pretty that day, though, so that was nice.

One thing we always do whenever we go on a trip is stop at Cracker Barrel. We didn't eat there on this trip, but we did use their restrooms a few times, because that's nicer than stopping at a rest stop. At the first Cracker Barrel, I got a mustache sucker for my brother, because it made me laugh. I also got some little Dover activity books for some of my sponsor kids. I love those things!



We stopped for dinner around Columbus, I think. One goal I had for this trip was to eat at restaurants I don't have the opportunity to visit back home. We had dinner at Uno's. We used to have an Uno's down the street from where I work, but it closed a long time ago. We decided to get appetizers because that would probably be faster than ordering entrees. I got a little half a crispy pizza with eggplant, tomato, pesto, feta, and caramelized onions. It was really good. Dia (that's what I call my aunt) and my dad got an appetizer platter. It came with two avocado spring rolls with a tamarind-cashew dipping sauce. They don't like avocado, so I ate the spring rolls for them.. They were very overstuffed- way too much avocado! But the sauce was SO GOOD. I want to try to find a recipe for it. The service was really slow at the restaurant, so we also lost some time there, and then we got back on the road.

It was getting dark as we drove through a tiny bit of West Virginia, but I liked what I saw. It was hilly and green. We drove over a river, and I saw a riverboat. I liked the way the town lights settled in the valleys. Then we made it to Pennsylvania, which, unlike Ohio, was not flat. Pennsylvania has some pretty ridiculous toll roads, too. But one thing they do have going for them? Their rest stops. They were very nice, especially at night, when there weren't lots of people. Most of the ones we drove by looked like lodges, with wood framing. We only stopped at one, but inside there was a kind of food court with several restaurant options, a full Starbucks, and a big, clean, well-stocked convenience store with lots of souvenirs. There were several young Amish women hanging around at the rest stop we visited. All but one of them were wearing bonnets. I don't know what they were doing out so late- it was almost midnight! Anyway, after that we headed on and got to my cousin's after 2 in the morning, and we crashed.

The next morning, we stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast, and then we headed out to Gettysburg. It took a little less than 2 hours to get there, I think. I fell asleep on the way because I didn't get much sleep the night before. Our visit to Gettyburg was pretty well timed, because this July is the 150th anniversary of the battle. We purchased tickets for a bus tour, then we were able to stop at a few of the shops before our tour started. We ducked in a little hole-in-the-wall place and shared a bucket of fresh made, hand-cut french fries for a snack, then powerwalked back over to the place where the tour would depart.

Our tour guide looked like Stan Lee. He was very knowledgeable of the area and the history of the battle, even telling us specific times of day when the events occurred. The bus went through part of the town, where you could see the train station Lincoln arrived at that November for the dedication of the cemetery, the hotel where he stayed, several buildings that were standing at the time of the battle (marked with bronze plaques), and other sights. We saw one building on this part of the tour that still had a piece of artillery embedded in it. It was interesting, but spooky. I think the guide said that there are 9 such buildings standing in Gettysburg today.


The Gettysburg courthouse


This is the train station in Gettysburg, where Lincoln arrived in November of 1863 to attend the dedication of the cemetery


The tour then went into the battlefield area, which is basically farmland. Fortunately they have been able to reclaim a lot of it for historical preservation (the tour guide pointed out one part where there used to be a Ford dealership.) We made our first of three stops near the eternal flame memorial, which was very big. When we got out of the bus, we stepped onto the pavement, and then onto the ground. I felt something when my feet left the blacktop. I'm not saying it for dramatic effect- I really felt something. It was like sadness seeping up through the ground and into my shoes. I felt like crying, looking out over this beautiful green landscape. I couldn't keep my eyes in one place for long without my imagination filling in images of fallen and bleeding soldiers, hearing imaginary shouts and gunfire, smelling the powder and the blood. It was overwhelmingly sad. I have always been enamored with history, but I have never cared much for learning about the Civil War. I think that has changed now. I plan to do some reading in the next few months about this incredibly sad and bloody time in our nation's history.









Our second stop was just to use the restroom back at the building where our tour departed from, so I stayed on the bus. The second leg of the tour featured a lot more monuments. There are over one thousand three hundred monuments at Gettysburg. Most of them are honoring the Union states, though,  of course, since as our tour guide said, history is written by the winners. That and the south was flat broke after the war, and didn't have lots of extra money for monuments to be erected in a Union state. But I digress. I got some pretty good pictures of some of the monuments from the bus, thanks to my camera's digital image stabilization feature. I plan on going back and looking up the monuments I got pictures of, so I can learn more about them.







Our last stop on the tour was near the area called the Devil's Den, a rocky hillside covered in huge boulders and slabs of rock that came up from an ancient volcano. I was interested to learn about that part, since I never thought about volcanoes in Pennsylvania! We spent some time listening to our tour guide talk about the battle while looking out over the landscape from our high perch. Then it was back on the bus, and back to the tour starting point. All in all, the tour took about two hours. It was a great experience. I wish we had more time to do a personal tour of the park, too.



Post-tour, we went and found an ice cream and candy shop. Dad and I got ice cream cones (as the second part of our lunch, of course) while my cousin went a few doors down looking for soft serve. I got a chocolate peanut butter scoop in a waffle cone, and let me tell you, it was probably the best ice cream I have ever tasted. We walked along the streets of Gettysburg, ducking in shops here and there. There was a shop full of just books and maps, a shop with some really cool World War II memorabilia (including patriotic posters and pin-up stuff), a really neat gift shop where Melissa found a pretty centerpiece (and I found lots of jewelry I liked!), and a Victorian clothing and accessory shop I know my mom would have loved. Unfortunately, they didn't allow photographs in the shop, which is kind of dumb. They had cameo jewelry, hair accessories like hair rats and snoods, bloomers and underthings, and incredibly expensive Victorian clothing. I wish I could have taken pictures for my mom- she just LOVES Victorian history. Gettysburg is full of all kinds of interesting shops. We spent quite a bit of time there, but we only saw a handful of what the town had to offer. They even have a cupcake shop! It was so cute- lots of pink and cupcake-themed decor. I didn't get a cupcake here because I was planning on getting something else sweet later in the day. I did take pictures, though!



We left Gettysburg and headed back to King of Prussia, where my cousin lives. She and my aunt dropped my dad and I off at the humongous mall across the street from her neighborhood so we could get a start on our shopping while they took the candy and cupcakes back to my cousin's apartment. The first store we visited was Build A Bear. We have one in Louisville, but I never visit it because I think doing Build A Bear is something special reserved for family vacations! I had a gift card, so I made a flop-eared bunny. When one of the employees asked me if I had a name picked out and I said no, she asked if it was a girl bunny or a boy bunny. I said "It depends on whether or not I find a cute boy outfit or a cute girl outfit." Girl won out. So now I have a new stuffed animal. : ) My aunt and cousin came and found us as we were wrapping up our purchase at Build A Bear (dad made a dog for my mom), and then we proceeded to the candy store. Gertrude Hawk chocolates are made in Pennsylvania, and they have even made appearances on The Office (though they aren't mentioned by name.) I got quite a bit at this store- treats for me, my in-laws, my coworkers, my Bible study group, and more for me! In the end, my bag from the candy store weighed as much, if not more than, my purse. If you know me, you know that is quite an accomplishment. I am notoriously bad about carrying huge, heavy purses.



We didn't really have time to do any more shopping, so we went on over to Maggiano's, where we had dinner reservations. Maggiano's is wonderful. It's a fantastic Italian restaurant that, though it is a national chain, doesn't taste or feel like a chain restaurant. We don't have one anywhere close to where I live, but I did visit one of the franchises on our trip to Florida last year. One of the cool things about Maggiano's is that with a lot of dishes, you get another dish to take home for later! So we got lots of leftovers for my cousin to eat this week. I got eggplant parmesan, and it was so good. I also got a piece of tiramisu to go. After dinner we went back to Melissa's apartment and we all watched Night at the Museum together. I ate my tiramisu during the movie. It was so good. Then we went to bed.

The next morning, we had breakfast at a little restaurant next door to Maggiano's called the Corner Bakery Cafe. They reminded me of Panera in that they offered pastries and breakfast dishes as well as soups, salads and sandwiches at lunchtime. I ordered a chocolate muffin, which was warm and fresh out of the oven, and a caramel latte. After breakfast, we loaded up the car and hit the road again. It's sad that our trip had to be so short, but I am glad that I got to visit Melissa and see where she's been living these last two years. I'm also really glad I had the opportunity to visit Gettysburg.

The trip home was pretty uneventful. We stopped at one of those rest stops for lunch, and had pizza and garlic knots from a place called Famiglia's. It was pretty decent- on par with a lot of mall pizza, I guess. It was really the only place at this particular rest stop that was vegetarian-friendly (the other choices were Burger King, Popeye's chicken, and ice cream.) We also made a little detour and stopped at Hershey's Chocolate World on the way home. That was fun! We rode the little ride that takes you through and explains how they make their chocolate, then toured the gift shop area. It was super busy and loud. It kind of reminded me of Disney World. They have a huge section of Hershey products that you can find pretty much anywhere, but then they had lots of fun stuff like cute t-shirts, handbags, plush characters, gift sets, lotions and candles, and plenty of other things. They also had a few bakery counters (along with other food offerings.) Dia and my dad got cookie sandwiches for later, and I got a slab of peanut butter cup fudge. It was really yummy.






After that, it was pretty much a straight trip home. We stopped at Friday's for dinner (and once again tried and failed to eat quickly by just ordering appetizers) and made a stop at a Russell Stover's store, and got home a little after 10 last night. I'm glad we had such a good trip, and I'm happy to be home!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Country Profile: Peru

I hope you like my profile on Peru!





The Peruvian coat of arms includes a vicuña, which is a relative of the alpaca.



The Land: 

Peru occupies 496,225 square miles of the western part of South America. It is about twice the size of the US state of Texas. Only about 3% of the land is suitable for farming. Most of the population lives in the western part of the country. Peru is divided into three distinct regions: the narrow, dry coastal plain in the west, the tropical lowlands of the Amazon River basin in the east, and the high Andes mountains in the middle. The Andes rise to elevations of 22,000 feet in some parts. Forests cover more than half the country. Peru has a wide variety of plants and animals, from desert wildlife to tropical rainforests. Peru is home to many interesting and diverse animals, such as tapirs, jaguars, alpacas, and monkeys. Mild earthquakes are common in Peru. Larger, more destructive earthquakes take place less frequently. Peru and Bolivia share the highest navigable body of water in the world- Lake Titicaca. Winter along the coast is foggy, humid, and cool, but the coastal areas generally see little rainfall. Temperatures around Peru vary significantly, because of the changes in elevation and other factors. Lima, the country's capital city, stays temperate through most of the year, averaging about 65 degrees. 



Some horses chilling in front of the beautiful Andes mountains


One of my favorite animals- the majestic tapir. The babies have stripey patterns to help them hide from predators. The only natural enemy of adults is the jaguar, which jumps down on them from the trees. The tapir's defense is then to run, plowing down trees and vegetation on its way. Most of the natural pathways through the forests are made by tapirs!




Population: 

Almost 30 million people live in Peru. The population is growing by about 1% annually. Peru has an ethnically diverse population. There are many groups of indigenous people in Peru; most of them live in the forest areas. Language and culture among the different groups is diverse. Almost half of the population is made up of people with indigenous heritage. Another 37% is people of mixed indigenous and European heritage. Fifteen percent of the population is of European heritage, and the last few percent are descendants of African slaves and other groups, such as Asian immigrants. A little more than a fourth of the population is younger than 15. Lima is the largest city. Over 8 million people live there! More than three-fourths of the population live in urban areas. Fun fact: people who live in the jungle areas are often referred to as charapas. That's a type of turtle commonly found in the area. 



Peruvian women in the Andes


Language:

Three languages are officially recognized in Peru: Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara. The last two are indigenous languages. Many Peruvians speak Spanish and an indigenous language. About 40 different indigenous languages are spoken in the Amazon alone, and almost 30% of the people don't speak any Spanish. Quechua was the language of the Incan empire. We get some of our words from Quechua, including condor, guano, puma, and llama. Aymara is spoken by about 300,000 Peruvians. Most of them live in the southern part of the country. Peruvians who have a more formal education may learn English as a second or third language. 


Religion: 


The Roman Catholic Church was the state church in Peru until 1979. Today there is freedom of religion and all churches enjoy equal political status, but about 81 percent of Peruvians are still Roman Catholic and the church continues to play a significant role in their lives. There are also Protestant and Evangelical churches in Peru. Many indigenous peoples who are Catholic mix traditional beliefs with Christian values, sometimes calling indigenous gods by Christian names.



A church in Colca Canyon, Peru


The People:

Peruvians are strong-willed and often nationalistic. They are fiercely proud of their country. They have faced many challenges, both political and economic, but they maintain a strong desire to endure and succeed. The people have a good sense of humor and are accommodating, helpful, and eager to please. However, they may be sensitive about certain things. Jokes about their lifestyle, especially from foreigners, are offensive. Personal criticism, if necessary, is expected to be expressed in a positive manner. The Peruvian concept of time is more relaxed than in industrialized nations. Peruvians generally consider people to be more important than schedules. Social events such as parties rarely start on time, though people tend to be more punctual for appointments and other business meetings. Sadly, indigenous people are sometimes discriminated against by Peru's mestizo and European populations. Indigenous people usually live in rural areas, but even those who move to the city and adopt an urban lifestyle are not often accepted. This has fueled great resentment and is one source of the country's social problems. Afro-Peruvians also face discrimination and often exclusively fill menial jobs such as hotel doormen and funeral pallbearers. Some exclusive clubs in Lima deny membership to indigenous people and Afro-Peruvians. 

Western-style clothing is worn in Lima and other urban areas. People dress up when going to public places. Women of all economic classes and ages take pride in their appearances and most wear jewelry and makeup. It is considered bad taste to leave home wearing old or dirty clothes. Suits and ties are standard for professional men, while women wear business suits or other Western styles. Some high-end modern wear is influenced by indigenous styles, colors, and designs.Younger generations tend to dress more casually, wearing jeans, T-shirts, jerseys from their favorite sports teams, and other athletic gear after school and on weekends. Students at both public and private schools are nearly always required to wear school uniforms, which may consist of slacks or shorts for boys, skirts or shorts for girls, and short-sleeved shirts and sweaters for both. Rural campesinos (peasants) who live in remote areas wear traditional outfits related to their ethnic background. Their clothes are often made of handwoven, brightly colored fabrics. A traditional outfit for women might include buckled leather shoes, a sweater, and several colorful skirts worn in layers. Men wear dark-colored pants and shoes with a light-colored short-sleeved shirt. Traditionally, men dress in white linen suits for special occasions. In jungle regions, informality is common. Hats are a significant component of rural dress. Along the coast, wide brimmed hats are popular among ranchers, cowboys, and others who work outdoors. In mountainous regions near Bolivia, women wear colorful embroidered hats or bowler hats adorned with feathers or other items. Peru is also home to the chullo, a hat made from wool that has earflaps and ties under the chin. Chullos often bear images of llamas or other animals native to Peru. Peru is a major producer of textiles made from llama and alpaca fur. Clothing made from alpaca textiles especially are known for their warmth and comfort; they are available everywhere—from street vendors to upscale fashion boutiques. A friend from church gave me a pair of alpaca socks after I had surgery and they are amazingly, toasty warm! I love them!


A Peruvian family wearing traditional, colorful clothing


When being introduced or meeting for the first time, members of the opposite sex usually shake hands. Women (and close friends of the opposite sex) commonly kiss each other on one cheek when meeting and parting. Men usually shake hands or pat each other on the shoulder. An arm around the shoulders or a pat on the back is a polite way to greet young people. Typical greetings include Buenos días (Good morning), Buenas tardes (Good afternoon), and Buenas noches (Good evening/night). Friends address each other by first name. Older people are addressed as Señor (Mr.) or Señora (Mrs.), followed by their last name, or—among those who are familiar with them—Don and Doña, without their last name. Women and girls often are addressed by strangers as Señorita (Miss). Peruvians are often animated and use a lot of hand gestures while conversing. One beckons by holding the palm of the hand downward and waving all of the fingers. People stand very close to each other when they talk, often lightly touching the arm or shoulder of the person with whom they are speaking. Hugs among friends are common. Constant eye contact is important. On buses, men usually give their seats to women or elderly persons.

Peruvians enjoy visiting one another. Most visits between friends and relatives are unannounced. However, when one visits other people, it is polite to make advance arrangements. Visitors are expected to feel at home and be comfortable. The traditional greeting Está en su casa (You are in your house) reflects Peruvian hospitality. Hosts always offer their guests drinks (water, juice, soda, etc.) and may offer other refreshments, but declining them is not impolite. Though the practice is declining, it was once common for hosts to invite people visiting around 5:30 p.m. to stay for lonche, a light breakfast-type meal served around 6 p.m. Hosts appreciate special acknowledgment of children in the home. It is polite to show concern for the health of the hosts' family and relatives. When visiting a home, one is not expected to bring gifts, but small gifts such as fruit or wine are welcome on any occasion. Dinner guests commonly bring such gifts.



Family:

Urban Peruvian families have an average of three children, while four or five is common among rural ones. Extended families frequently live together or near each other. Not only do single adult children often live with their parents, but newly married couples may do the same until they can afford a place of their own. Even then, such couples may not move far, as many parents build another floor onto their houses for subsequent generations. Most Peruvians have relationships with even distant relatives (such as great-aunts or uncles and third cousins). A common weekend pastime is for families to gather and spend most of the day cooking, eating, and socializing. Children are expected to begin helping with household chores around age eight. Girls typically wash dishes and help in the kitchen, while boys take out the garbage and do more physically demanding chores. Grown children typically care for their aging parents; retirement homes are very rare. The father is considered the head of the family. Because the mother usually spends most of her time at home, she is in charge of the children and their day-to-day activities. The father usually is consulted only for important matters. The mother is also responsible for caring for the household. However, many middle- and upper-class women hire housekeepers and nannies. Women who fill these positions have usually moved to cities to escape the harsh conditions of rural life. They often leave family and sometimes their own young children behind, only to end up working six days a week for extremely low wages. Though they are part of the formal economy, these women enjoy few employment rights. In response to the abundance of domestic help, Peruvian houses and apartments of all sizes are now built with servants’ quarters. Women in rural areas cook, clean, and care for children in addition to working alongside men in tasks related to farming, construction, and animal tending. Both men and women must carry goods to market over long distances, often without shoes. Women in urban areas  occasionally work outside of the home, and over 40 percent of the labor force is female. Women work as teachers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, and business owners. They also hold many positions in government: over 20 percent of Peruvian legislators are women. However, in general, traditional attitudes stop the promotion of women into senior levels in many occupations. Many women work informally as sidewalk vendors, selling vegetables, clothes, prepared foods, and pirated forms of media. 


Peruvian children help their parents by caring for livestock


Living:

Peru's diverse regions and climates are home to a variety of dwellings, from modern housing complexes in metropolitan Lima to ancient ruins incorporated into more modern structures in Cuzco to thatched huts in remote jungle regions. Apartments made of brick and concrete are the most common form of urban housing. Wood is very seldom used as a building material due to the high cost of transporting it across the Andes. Upscale apartment buildings offer balconies and windows with nice views. Government subsidized apartments, located in large buildings, are available to low-income families. Many city dwellers live in brick houses with large windows; these houses tend to be in close proximity to others, with little room for a yard. Instead, houses share a nearby recreational area, which typically includes a patio, a lawn, and a barbeque area. Most homes have open living rooms that are used for entertaining rather than relaxing; instead of featuring televisions, they are usually filled with large tables able to accommodate groups of guests. The exterior walls of most houses are painted in pastel colors, and the floors are usually made out of tile or hardwood, though dirt floors are standard among the poor. Few rural homes have access to electricity and most cooking is done over an open fire. In urban homes, family portraits—especially of ancestors—are often displayed on cream- or pastel-colored walls. Religious figures are a common form of decoration. Traditional interiors featuring Spanish colonial styles are still popular. Upscale apartments may feature local art in addition to fine furnishings. Rural homes are furnished simply. In jungle regions, hammocks and mosquito netting are common. Central heating and air conditioning are rare in Peruvian houses. It is common for more than one nuclear family to live in the same house. Often, a married child will live with a spouse and children on the second floor of the parental home. In some cases, families rent out their spare rooms. A lot of people, including many professionals, cannot afford to buy their own houses, so they live in these rooms or, if they are somewhat better off, in apartments. Families who build their own homes will often not do so all at once. Construction is expensive, so many people build in stages. Very poor families live in shantytowns, where houses—most of them made out of adobe—tend to be much less expensive. Adobe structures do not hold up well during earthquakes, which are common in Peru.


A row of homes in Peru


Young people meet at school or parties, and men are usually the ones to initiate dates. Young men begin dating around age 16 or 17 and girls at 15, though some families do not allow their daughters to date until graduating from high school. Young people in urban areas get together on weekends to go to parks, movies, dinner, and friends’ houses. They also enjoy dancing at fiestas (parties) and other social gatherings. Dating is exclusive: people do not date more than one person at the same time. Only after a couple breaks up are they allowed to date others. Entering into a romantic relationship is considered a serious step. Men usually marry in their late twenties, while women generally marry in their early twenties. People in rural areas often marry at younger ages. Typically, a man asks a woman’s father for permission to marry her before proposing. Couples are often engaged for a year, in part because it can take that long to secure an available date at a church. A church ceremony follows a civil ceremony. From the church, the wedding party moves to a restaurant, private residence, or reception hall to celebrate. Following a one- or two-course meal, guests dance to music provided by a live band or disc jockey. Gifts received by newlyweds often include household items and appliances. The party generally lasts until the early morning hours. Poor couples may take part in group weddings, in which multiple couples are married in a church at the same time. Common-law marriages are prevalent in urban areas and represent another cheaper alternative to traditional church weddings. Couples must live together for at least two years before being eligible to go before a judge and have their relationship recognized as a common-law marriage, which grants them all the rights and obligations of a formal marriage. They are widely accepted, except among the upper classes. Divorce is quite common in Peru, and because of this, there are not as many social stigmas associated with divorce as in other countries. 


A happy newlywed couple


According to superstition, a pregnant woman should give in to her antojos (cravings) so she won't lose her baby. Though no longer an accepted belief, this tradition is still largely followed. Friends and family of a pregnant woman typically throw her a baby shower, which both men and women attend. Once the baby is born, those close to the parents visit, bringing small gifts and flowers. Sometimes multiple sons will all carry their father’s first name, with different middle names (for example, three brothers may be named Luis Miguel, Luis Santiago, and Luis Angel). Only the oldest girl may be named after her mother. Babies are also named after Catholic saints or movie stars or other celebrities. Anglicized versions of names are common (Ronald instead of Ronaldo), as are names reflecting Peru’s multicultural heritage. Babies born to Catholic families are baptized and christened within three months of birth. A party is held afterward for family and friends. Those in attendance receive small cards featuring the child’s name and date of christening, which they pin to their clothing. It is customary for the godmother to provide the baby’s baptism clothes and for the godfather to give the baby a gift of gold, usually a gold bracelet featuring the baby’s name. As a signal of generosity and abundance, godfathers typically throw handfuls of coins onto the ground for children to collect. Godparents remain important throughout a child’s life, visiting on birthdays and other special occasions.

By tradition, girls enter adulthood on their quinceañera (fifteenth birthday). The quinceañera is celebrated throughout Peruvian society, regardless of a family’s economic standing. The event is an all-night formal party, which friends and family attend. The birthday girl wears a dress chosen after much consideration. She begins the party by entering the room with her father, passing through a line of girls and boys on each side. She collects a flower from each boy and blows out a candle from each girl. A large meal is served, and guests dance between each course. The girl dances, typically a waltz, with her father and with other male relatives throughout the night. Peruvian children legally become adults at age 18, when they are allowed to drive, drink alcohol, and vote. Most 18-year-olds are eager to receive their National Identity Document, which is carried always and is needed for business and legal transactions. 


Food:

Main staples in the Peruvian diet include potatoes, rice, chicken, fish, beans, and a variety of tropical fruits. Corn, which is native to Peru, is a staple among the indigenous people. Guinea pigs are eaten throughout the country and are raised in nearly all rural homes and some urban ones. Ceviche (raw fish marinated in lemon juice and seasoned with garlic and shredded onion) is popular on the coast. Papa a la Huancaina is a cooled, sliced baked potato topped with sliced eggs and a sauce (such as hot chili). Highland dishes often include potatoes, onions, and garlic. In jungle regions, game and fish make up an important part of people’s diets. Fresh vegetables are eaten in season. People purchase most food on a daily basis, either in small corner stores (in cities) or large open-air markets. 

Peruvians eat breakfast between 7 and 10 a.m. It normally includes coffee, tea, or fruit juice, accompanied by cold cuts on buttered rolls. Lunch, consumed between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m., is a large meal consisting of a light first course, like soup, and a main course, often stew and rice. Peruvians often make enough food in the afternoon for both lunch and dinner. Dinner is usually eaten between 8 and 10 p.m.

Peruvians eat in the continental style, with the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right. They keep both hands (but not elbows) above the table at all times. Proper table manners are very important. It is impolite to converse with only one person at the table without including the rest of the group. If this occurs, Peruvians will often repeat the saying Secretos en reunión es mala educación (It is bad manners to tell secrets in gatherings). Guests are expected to eat all of the food that is offered; excuses for not eating something are to be given tactfully. 


A Peruvian meal may include stew and rice


Recreation: 

The most popular sport in Peru is fútbol (soccer). Boys begin playing as young as age five (a soccer ball is a common gift in early childhood) and continue into their adult lives. Peruvians enthusiastically follow World Cup competitions, especially when their national team is participating. Some boys play basketball and tennis. Among girls and women, gymnastics and volleyball are favorites. The national women’s volleyball team is competitive on the world stage, and many of its games are broadcast on television. In Lima, tennis is gaining popularity in wealthier neighborhoods that can support public and private tennis courts. Skateboarding is increasingly popular among young people in the capital. Peru has a long coastline, and in coastal areas, water-related recreation is popular. This includes surfing, swimming, and other beach fun. Those visiting or living in the mountains may enjoy hiking. Dancing is probably the second most popular form of recreation in Peru (after soccer.) Most schools have dance teams whose members compete in traditional and modern styles. People also enjoy dancing during their free time. During weekends, clubs and dance halls are filled with individuals of all ages, dancing to a variety of music. Families enjoy picnics, and movies, plays, and concerts provide entertainment. Sunday is a favorite day for outings, and families enjoy going to zoos and water parks. Pool halls are found in most neighborhoods, and board games are popular. Watching television and surfing the internet are common recreational activities. Most people vacation during July and December, when students are on vacation from school. By law, working adults get a month of vacation time. Many people stay home, where they watch television and entertain friends. Urban inhabitants may travel on vacation to rural areas and rural inhabitants to urban ones. Wealthier families rent beach houses during the summer, and the wealthiest travel overseas.

Music is an important part of life for almost all Peruvians. Traditional songs are often about Peru, Peruvian culture, people's feelings, or animals. Three instruments used to play traditional Andean music are the charango, a small guitar of sorts; the antara, an assortment of vertically placed flutes tied together; and the quena, which is similar to a recorder. Two types of music and dance from the mountains are baile de las tijeras (dance of the scissors) and huayno. Most cities have their own dances. The zamacueca is an athletic dance that is performed in Lima by those of African descent to the rhythm of a traditional drum, the cajón.



A Peruvian man playing the antara


Holidays:

Peru's national holidays include New Year's Day, Easter (Thursday–Sunday), Countryman's Day (June 24), St. Peter and St. Paul's Day (June 29), Independence Day (July 28), National Day (July 29 ), St. Rose of Lima Day (August 30), Navy Day (October 8), All Saints' Day (November 1), Immaculate Conception (December 8), and Christmas. Many local holidays honor patron saints or celebrate the harvest, as well as provide recreational opportunities. For Easter, people get two days off of school or work. Some choose to vacation during this time, but most choose to celebrate the holiday at home with their families, who generally share a meal together. Peruvians eagerly await Independence Day, which also marks the beginning of winter holidays for schoolchildren. Depending on the school, the winter holiday may last between one and four weeks. On July 28, students across the country perform in school galas, taking part in traditional song and dance numbers they have practiced throughout the year. The holiday is also celebrated with fireworks and bands at the local plaza de armas (town plaza). Businesses may close for these celebrations. Christmas is the most popular holiday in Peru. Houses in many neighborhoods are adorned with lights and decorations featuring Santa Claus, reindeer, and elves. Families gather on Christmas Eve for a late dinner—sometimes as late as midnight—and then exchange presents. Kids may shoot off fireworks after opening their gifts. Christmas Day may be celebrated with a trip to the beach among those who live near the coast.

Health: 

Medical care is fairly adequate in Peru's major cities, but it is less developed in other areas. Quality care is available only through expensive private clinics. Hospitals, especially those outside of Lima, are often short on medicine, food, and other supplies and equipment. Many Peruvians are superstitious about health care and are reluctant to use medical facilities. They prefer using home remedies made of herbs and roots before going to a doctor. Many people also rely on the treatments of a curandero/a (native healer). Care in small towns is often unreliable or altogether unavailable. Diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever, cholera, Chagas’ disease, and malaria are active in Peru. Water is not always safe to drink. Much of the population suffers from malnutrition, and women and children are particularly affected. 


Education:

Peruvians take education very seriously. Public education is free and compulsory between ages seven and sixteen. However, many schools lack basic materials, and facilities are inadequate. Though Peru has increased efforts to extend primary schooling into remote areas, educational resources in rural areas are still severely lacking. Families with financial means send their children to private schools, which are generally Catholic. In Lima, a number of private international schools provide education in English, Italian, German, Chinese, and French. More than 75 percent of eligible children are enrolled in secondary schools. Enrollment in both primary and secondary schools is increasing. More young people are staying in school than did in the past. The literacy rate is higher among teenagers than adults. Math, language, literature, and history make up the core subjects in Peruvian schools. Students typically do a couple of hours of homework each evening. Peru has more than 30 universities. Major public universities include the Scientific University of the South, the Technological University of Peru, and the University of San Marcos in Lima, one of the oldest in South America. These and other public institutions offer virtually free education in a variety of professional fields. Tuition at private universities, such as Pontific Catholic University and the University of Lima, is charged on a scale that corresponds with students’ income levels. In theory, this system allows people at all levels of society to attend, but in reality the majority of students at these schools come from the middle and upper classes. Some scholarships are available. 


Students in Peru often wear uniforms


Books To Read:

Peru by Lisa Owings
The Changing Face of Peru by Don Harrison



Bible Verse: 

"Taita Diosca cai pachapi causajcunata yallitaj c'uyashpami, Paipaj shujlla Churita curca. Pipish Paita crijca ama chingarichun, ashtahuanpish huiñai causaita charichunmi Paita curca."  Juan 3: 16 (Quechua)


From Compassion's Website: 

"Compassion's work in Peru began in 1985. Currently, more than 48,700 children participate in more than 220 child development centers. Compassion partners with churches and denominations to help them provide Peruvian children with the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all God has created them to be."

There are plenty of children in Peru who need sponsors! Here are just a few: 




Nestor is 4 years old. His birthday is January 20. He likes playing with cars and hide and seek. To read more about Nestor, click here



Quesli is 5 years old. Her birthday is July 5. She likes playing house, art, and playing with dolls. To read more about Quesli, click here



Wilmer is 12 years old. His birthday is October 3. He likes soccer, art, and running. To read more about Wilmer, click here



Stephany is 10 years old. Her birthday is October 20. She likes art and playing with dolls. To read more about Stephany, click here.




All information came from CultureGrams. It's an excellent resource if you have access to it! 






















Monster

Monster Jones passed away yesterday at the ripe old age of 3 years and almost 2 months.

Monster was born in the city of Jeffersontown on tax day, April 15, 2010, just in time to be a birthday present for her adoptive mommy. She and her sister Quincy joined the Jones household on May 15. Monster, named for Lady Gaga and not her interesting appearance as many may have believed, was adventurous from the start. Her parents have virtually no good pictures of her as a baby because she never sat still. While her sister Quincy was content to sit and be cuddled, Monster was always out exploring, climbing on bookcases, windowsills, and her daddy's shoulder. She was definitely a daddy's girl. She used to love to "wrestle" with Brandon (his hand, anyway), pretend fighting it and running around in glee. Monster was well-loved by her younger sisters Cupcake and Glitter, who often used her as a pillow.

Monster loved life, and life was good to her. She lived much longer than most rats, and even though these last six months she had problems with tumors and other random health issues, she never let them bring her down. She always acted happy to see visitors, got along well with her new neighbor Gimli, and would always, always stop to give you a kiss. Her family will miss her terribly.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Kindness, Week Twenty Three

Here are this week's acts of kindness!

June 4- Prayed for a patron. On this day, a girl about my age, maybe a little younger, came into the library. I asked her if she needed help, and she very nervously asked if we were hiring. Really, she seemed super friendly but very anxious about speaking, like she stumbled over her words when she first spoke, and I swear her chin was quivering like she was going to cry. I told her that no, we weren't right now, but all library jobs are posted on the city's website. I also told her that it takes a long time to get into the library jobs, because hey, it's government. I said something funny to try to make her laugh, and told her good luck in her search. After she left, when I took my break, I prayed for her. The fact that she seemed so nervous really struck me, so I asked God to help her with whatever's going on, and to help her find a job soon. I hope that my joke-y attitude and advice about the job search made her feel a little better.

June 5- Graded papers. On the 4th, during Bible study, my friend Leah shared with us how stressed she was because she had so much to do for the end of the school year, including finishing grading some final exams before Thursday morning. I offered to help her out- I love grading! I have been grading papers and tests since 4th grade, when my teacher would let me help out with grading. So that night, Leah emailed me a few classes worth of essays, and that's how I spent my Wednesday. She met me at the library that night and worked on her grading there, and I brought her the rubrics I had filled out with the students grades on them. I know she appreciated the help, and I had a lot of fun!

June 6- Ordered a CD. My husband is not really supportive of frivolous purchases, unless they are something on his Amazon wishlist. He usually just gets presents two times a year, for his birthday and Christmas. The only things he buys for himself any other time are Star Wars books, and usually they go on the wish list, too. I found some of the CDs he recently said he wanted for a much lower price on my beloved Half.com, and I ordered one for him. I have a fun time finding good prices and online shopping, he gets something he wanted, everybody wins. Plus, the CDs he wanted were worship CDs, and I'm happy with that!

June 7- Volunteered my time. Another person I know who is just absolutely swamped with work right now is my friend Jess. It's summer reading time at the library, and she has much more to do than usual. I thought she seemed a little grumpy when we worked together on Friday, and she pretty much just stayed on her side of the desk, working away. I have asked her several times lately if there's anything I can do to ease her burden, and she always says no. This afternoon, she was cutting out like 80 lion-shaped paper masks. I pretty much demanded that she let me help her, and I cut out lions until my shoulders hurt too much to do it anymore. Basically I think I saved her about 20 minutes (even though it was about an hour's work for me), but hey, every little bit counts, right?

June 8- Pledged a donation. My friend Briana is pursuing an international adoption, and she has been doing some fundraisers for it lately. I have been pouring all my extra cash into another friend's adoption fundraisers, since she is about to bring her little boy home, but I did promise Briana I would help her out eventually! Briana announced that she would be having a yard sale in August to raise funds for their adoption. I have some stuff I can give her, both from myself and also some stuff from our Bible study group that I can't really find other homes for. So I sent her a message and told her I would be happy to give her some stuff to sell! I'm praying she has a really successful sale when the time comes.

June 9- Made friendship cards. We had some heavy discussion in this past week's Bible study meeting, and I wanted to write notes to my study-mates who were there that night to tell them that I really value their friendship. So on this day, I settled down with a pack of notecards and did just that. I will hand them out on Tuesday.

June 10- Gave a dollar. I had another one of those opportunities to take a dollar donation onto my bill today- you know how I love that! I got my driver's license renewed today, and the clerk asked me if I wanted to give a dollar to "the organ people." I said yes, as I am inclined to do. I registered to be an organ donor in an earlier act of kindness a few months ago, but this was a little different, as the donations will be kept here locally. And I'm happy to say that almost everybody else in the clerk's office that day chose to donate a dollar with their transactions, too!