Monday, October 15, 2012

Upside, Downside

(Subtext - There:)
There's always water. Always. All the time.

(Free water from the heavens.)

There's toilet paper AND tissues.

(You learn not to be so OCD.)

There are no fish in the supermarket that haven't
 been descaled, skinned, filleted and apportioned.

(You get to have the Whole fish. All of it.)

There are seasons where
no bloodsucking insect is to be found.

(You learn not to be such a wuss.)

Electrical wires are squirreled away
safely inside the walls.

(Electrical wires are easy to work on.)

There's always food in the cupboard. And snacks.
             And a gazillion options in the store.

(You learn planning. And self-control.)

There isn't a line that starts forming at the hospital
at 4am, hopefuls for an appointment that day.

(A doctor's appointment costs $4 - $16 without insurance.
The medicine is usually even cheaper.)

There are seatbelt laws here.
And noise ordinances.
And small business licenses.
And drivers stay on their side of the roads.
And people lock their doors even when they're home.

(Make all the noise you want.
Sell whatever you want from your door.
Play "real-life" video game Indy-500!
Don't need to lock your door hardly ever.)

Children don't know how to use a
machete by the time they're four.
Nor do they take them to school for "work day."
Nor know how to cook for their family
by the time they're nine.
Five-year-olds are not "in charge" of their
one-year-old siblings,
And six-year-olds don't walk the streets
for six to eight hours a day selling fruit. Or nuts. Or bread.

(Children know how to be responsible.
And not complain.
And work hard.)

Walking is recreational, not transportational.

(People are thinner and for the most part healthier.)

Everything. Here. Is. Scheduled.

(People are more flexible and tolerant.)

Requests for loans/aid are not a daily occurrence.

(You learn wisdom. And generosity.)

Crowing roosters, barking dogs, rowling cats
don't wake me up at night...
            Yet sleep is more elusive.

(I sleep like a rock after a good day's work.)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cross-Cultural Love For All

If you ever want to bring a bit of "that home" back to "this home," here are some good tips that will help both you and others experience that "foreign land" feeling:

1. Whenever you drive up behind someone, just give your horn a friendly honk to let them know you're there and may be going to pass.

2.  Kiss people on the cheek whenever you meet them, see them, or bid them farewell.

3.  Throw your trash on the floor - no matter where you are. Church. People's homes. Riding the bus.

4.  When the light turns yellow, go right through and honk your horn in a friendly manner to let people know you're there.

5.  Throw your used toilet paper in the trash can. This brings cultural awareness like nothing else.

6. Use your shirt, or a child's shirt to clean their runny nose. If the shirt doesn't work (too tight? not soft enough?) use your fingers (pinch hard and then give your hand a good shake after) to get any extra snot off.

7.  Stand extra close to people.

8.  Laugh at inappropriate moments in conversation - humor almost never translates, so you don't even have to explain yourself.

9.  Got a river/ lake/ stream near your home? Just take your soap and shampoo right down there, along with your tub of dirty laundry, your dirty dishes and anything else you want to get clean.

10. Bring a radio to your neighbor's lawn and play any foreign music as loud as you can at 4:30am. This is a great way to get your morning started.

11. Got one? I'd love to hear it?

(Pictured: The cultural experience of having your moto license plate made right before your eyes. Cost: $6.25)

Silent Answers

I was praying today and asking God a question that hasn't seemed to have any answers for me for the past seven months... and He directed my eye to a small book of German poetry I have on the shelf, and this is the poem I got.

Aber der Mann
schweige erschütterter. Er, der
pfadlos die Nacht im Gebirg
siener Gefühle geirrt hat:

-Ranier Maria Rilke
from "Man muß sterben, weil man sie kennt"
Der ausgewählten Gedichte anderer Teil

I love that:

1. God knows me
2. God speaks German
3. Even in aching confusion, God can make me laugh - mostly because of #1 and #2.

I dunno if that's ever happened to you - those moments where you hear God say "Yes, I'm still here and Yes, I see you." So, even if you don't understand the context of the poem, the answer or anything else in this post, do understand that I am so very grateful to know a God who lives, knows - and loves. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

All Things

Crisp evenings and foggy mornings,
Early birdsong and late night town lights.

The opressive heat fades and evening breezes bring refreshment.
The night fades and early rays bring new mercies.

The wild wind turns into sweet rainfall.
The torrential rain dies down into a stillness full of the smell of clean roads.

Heartache fades into hope.
Pain turns into healing that brings healing to
others with the same hurt.
Every storm of life fades into peace
if you let it rest in God's hands.

I do love that all things have the promise

of one day




Friday, July 6, 2012

Rhetorical Questions

A few out of a gazillion things I don't understand:

Why the Very Expensive Peruvian dog looks so much like the Peruvian Street Mutt.

Why the majority of citizens are discontent with the politicians that they elect.

Why I was born in the US and not, say, the Congo.

Why American hamburgers have no ham in them, and why Peruvian hamburgers are made mostly of fried potatoes.

Why my blog says I have 13 followers, and sometimes it says 18, but only 13 appear.
I haven't deleted anyone, I swear.

Why you can't get healthcare in Peru without a govt. issued ID,
you can't get an ID without a birth certificate,
you can't get a birth certificate unless your mom had healthcare and you were born in the hospital... and for that she needs an ID.

Why mayonnaise tastes so much better in Peru than in the US.

Why a "balanced" meal here consists of rice, yucca, potato, plantain and some fish.

Why I am so darn easily distracted.

Why so many people I don't know want to sell me viagra online.

Why the politicians vote themselves exempt from regulations they pass on to us...
Oh wait, I think I know the answer to that one.

Feel free to add your unfathomables in the comments.

Rats, Poison and (un)Common Sense

Rony's grandfather, a sweet older man who has lived his life hard,
eking out a living among rain, mosquitos, fertile soil and devastating floods,
has a problem:

His liver is failing from his continual drinking.

He has railing pains that wrack him and turn him into a knot of agony.

He goes dry, takes his medication, gets a bit better...

and starts in on the bottle again.

Repeat cycle.

And he knows that one day it could quite simply be the death of him.

Have you ever heard a story like this?

A month ago I discovered that I had a rat in my house.
My house isn't that large, or spacious and there is DEFINITELY not
enough room in it for both me and a rat
who chews holes in my oil bottle,
chews holes in my bread,
chews holes in my nifty new handbag,
and poops all over my tidy home.

So I did what anyone else with a bit of sense and cents would do.

I bought poison.

And mixed it with a rat's favorite foods:
roast chicken the first night.
That next morning I found the bowl disturbed, some chicken and rice pulled out
and the majority left behind.
However, my bread bag that was hung on a tight rope across my ceiling
 - accessible only by the acrobatic best -
was quite compromised.

So, thinking he liked bread better, I bought some fresh lovely bread,
cut it in half and smeared the middle with strawberry jam -
and poison.

That night I slept fitfully, hearing the rat knocking around
and half-guitily knowing him to be in the throes of death.
The next morning I awoke to the relief of finding the bread gone.
All of it.
But no little rat carcass to be found.

I did my morning ritual of a trek down the hill to the pit pot,
and coming back up my stairs, saw a bloody wreck in the corner.
Squeamishly, I moved shoes and peered under the bookcase...

and there in the floor was a round,
completely whole
circle of messy red

The stinker had hauled the bread to the corner, eaten the whole top of it,
flipped it over, and eaten the other side too.
Leaving the poison completely untouched.
I was so incredibly frustrated - and simultaneously impressed.

Somehow, my little rat knew what poison was... and as tempting as the food was,
he knew to stay away from it.

Now back to Rony's grandfather...

Why is it that we may not be as smart as some rats?

And before we judge, I just need to go a short ways to
think of the times in my life that I
something was bad for me, but went ahead and did it anyway.


Thursday, July 5, 2012


And I sit here on the edge of darkness and light
and I linger and fret
for I know the Tangle is deep and dangerous
and I wonder if I should go in after you
or stay on the fringe and wait.

If I go in, the chances of my finding you
are slim
- the last time I saw you, you were running
pell-mell, away from me -
(for which I am confusedly and unequivocally sorry)

But I am waiting poorly, with anxious heart
for I know the dark is deep
and dangerous.

Oh, why do you linger there?
...and can you perceive the dark
from the light?

begs my heart,
do not tarry -
or if you do see the light,
stretch out a hand,
that Someone may grasp it
until you can feel the Sun on your face,
and see the Way easy to walk it on your own.

This was written for a friend, but on further and better reflection, I see 
myself (oh beam of judgement in my own eye!)
and how often and how well I run 
from the One who is Light, who is waiting...

I run because I don't believe.
I don't believe that He will be there, that He is waiting,
or that He is good - towards me - that He will answer, and
that He still has good and unparalleled plans and purposes for me.

The thief does his job well, whispering lies of mistrust, of unfaithfulness, of my own inadequacy.
Of inferiority and superiority and easier ways out 
of the thick of longing for Life and Reality in which I find myself 
caught in those moments when it falls silent all around...

So I start to run.
I run to distraction and I run to pleasure. 
I run to forgetfulness and I run to self-pity.
Perhaps... just maybe... the time has come to run back to His arms.
With all the strength that can be mustered.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bad Medicine

“There's nothing wrong with you.”
The doctors said as they did test after test.
Or at least that the story I heard
as his body wasted away.
Rail thin and wracked with pain

But there was another story
whispered in English so no one could
understand, of one test
that did come back postive.
And he just didn't want to face the results.

The first story I heard from his own lips,
and the lips of his mother. A sad story
about incompetent doctors
who saw obvious symptoms but drew no conclusions.
The second from his brother-in-law.

I met him on a hospital bed on his last night
and we read passages from Romans
and prayed to the Doctor.
And he found a peace that he had never known,
...and my friend, his brother-in-law said 
the change was remarkable.

Cambodia, Nazi Germany, the A-bomb
The Congo, Rwanda, Joseph Kony,
Stalin, North Korea, Saddam and Bin Laden...
And day by day one hears of the symptoms:
petty tyrants, corruption, greed, apathy,
oppression, slavery, injustice, theft, lies,
infidelity, abuse, deceit and murder...

Are the doctors incompetent?

They have healed the wound of my people lightly,
saying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace.”
Jeremiah 8:11

...or is it that the world knows, but doesn't want
to face the truth of it's desperate state?

“...who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
Romans 1:18-20

I sure feel like I don't know much these days.

But I do know that yesterday
on a dark morning a
good man died, leaving a wife and
two young children.

I don't know 
who closed their eyes 
but looking 
the other way 
never healed anyone.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Little Higher

The street under construction, but the vendors around the corner
on the banks of the river were wetting feet and produce,
So they moved back onto the newly cemented road

And the waters rose a little higher.

First the house on the end of the street, building an extra platform
So the water couldn't touch them as they slept

But the waters rose, a little higher.

House by house it advanced, store by store
Street by street, curb by curb, conquering one structure at a time
Forcing relocation, then relocation again
Until even the main street was impassable
Homes unlivable moved to rented rooms, then to abandoned buildings

And still the waters rose, a little higher.

The bridge shut down to all but foot traffic
And smaller, narrower plank bridges were set up in place of sidewalks,
A slim course for the stream of people to pass
Attenuating balance above waters filled with
Fish and trash and splashing mer-children
Who went home at night with itchy eyes and irritated skin
From the sluggish waters that couldn't sweep away the filth
Fast enough, to sleep on damp boards above musty solutions,

Until at last
it started to recede
in the same way it came
one decimeter at a time
leaving a miry footprint
of sludge
and sand
and plastic bags.

10 meters down now and 

Friday, May 11, 2012


Rising rivers and
vengeful rain,
beating sun and
crying puppies.
Wasp stings and
hasty words that cannot be
retracted and
weights of silence.

Receding waters and
warming sun,
cut grass by the helping hand of a friend
and one more pup, still alive.


My world is full of
scattered thoughts and
incomplete sentences.
4am and 4am and 4am again.
One comes and
another goes
but I feel little moved by either.
Rest and rest and rest
people say.
But how can you rest
when there's so much need,
When you are working for the King...?
not for earning, not for works, but for love...
yet so tired.

Was this how Martha felt?

Truth and
grace and
strength and
are all lost to
and unnamed fears.

But there is One
who came
with perfect love
to cast out all fear...
if only I would
take His hand and
His yoke
and learn.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Sometimes, it's easier to never say "hello" than it is
to have to say "goodbye."
And I am tired.
Tired of guarding my heart
            - against any possible disappointment, once again.
Tired of weighing consequences,
                         - and I know my scales are weighted.
Tired of turning away from people I LOVE
                 because it is just hard to know they will be far away soon.

And I am grateful.
Grateful to a God of second (and third and fourth and umpteenth) chances...
Who understands my numbness...
and offers Himself and His amazing

     open -armed and
     open -hearted and
     willing to hurt and
      willing to be rejected and
        willing to lose
          without conditions...

             ...agape love

as a solution.

I John 4:18 - 19
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Words and Gratitude

There's a scarcity of words these days, but I am grateful for:

Hugs around the knees from a random toddler in the middle of the road. 

Victor, 8 yrs old, with his "sidra" sitting next to me here at the internet, asking about "tu tierra."

Squatting by Estela washing clothes, catching up with neighborhood happenings.

"Madea Goes to Jail" with C and K late at night in my tree house.

Real coffee. And handkerchief filters.

Torrential rain. And a full tank to bathe/wash with.

Ezekiel. And Words from God. 

Hard silences and learning to listen.

Uncontainable laughter at the ri-di-cu-lous pictures that a mac can take.

Mexican food in Peru. 

Hearing dear voices and laughter on the other end of the line.

Late night conversations about grace in the dark with KB

KB's afternoon training program - jogging through Nauta streets and around Sapi Sapi.

Lunch at C's with fried fish and four niños.

Music... and songs that get you where you're at.

The missing. We only miss what we value.

Hope. I hear it does not disappoint. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Faces. (with great joy)

(This is probably my favorite book of all time, apart from the Bible)

Hebrews 4 talks about entering God's rest 
(believing, trusting, resting in the truth of His goodness and sufficiency)
but I confess that these last few weeks have been lived writhing on the edge of anxiousness, of fear, of unanswered questions and doubt.

Oddly, right after the exhortation to rest comes this:

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." 
The truth always starts in our hearts.

And even in my sleep last night, God was dealing with my heart... and I woke this morning with clearer vision than I went to bed with last night.

In this book, C.S Lewis addresses the questions of love, of truth, of trust, of the "gods" with his retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. He speaks from the perspective of Psyche's older sister, who is angered and disenchanted with the gods by the way they have dealt with her and her younger sister. In my small opinion, C.S. Lewis is genius.

So, here are some of my favorite quotes from her (the older sister)...

"I say the gods deal very unrightly with us. For they will neither (which would be best of all) go away and leave us to live our own short days by ourselves, nor will they show themselves openly and tell us what they would have us do. For that too would be endurable. But to hint and hover, to draw near us in dreams and oracles, or in a waking vision that vanishes as soon as seen, to be dead silent when we question them and then glide back and whisper (words we cannot understand) in our ears when we most wish to be free of them, and to show to one what they hide from another; what is all this but cat-and-mouse play, blindman's buff, and mere jugglery? Why must holy places be dark places?"

Why must holy places be dark places? Indeed. 

Places of confusion, doubt, hurt, and frustration.

Job found them to be so - senseless heartbreak and God is silent. 
As did Moses, carrying a nation capricious and rebellious. 
As did David, anointed king, but fleeing for his life and living with the enemy. 
As did Esther in a foreign land with her own life and people on the line. 
As did Jesus who knew, but still wished for some other way. 

David says in the Psalms:

To you, O LORD, I call;
my rock, be not deaf to me,
lest, if you be silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the pit. 

Psalm 28:1

When God is silent, I despair... but then again, how often do I shun Him, when I am afraid of what He might say? 

The story doesn't stop there - for which I am also grateful. Her eyes are opened, and the older sister sees much more clearly:

Lightly men talk of saying what they mean... When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the centre of your soul for years... you'll not talk about joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”

So much of what we think we mean, we do not understand.

     Oh, God, open our eyes... and thank you for your patience to lead us to understanding... Help us to see better, and to see you better... and truly.

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."
I Corinthians 13:12

My longing for the new year is to see more clearly, and to be real... whatever that may mean.

"Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."
Jude 24-25