An Eventful Night

We had quite a day (Saturday). Kyle, Larissa, and Shaye came over for our team Christmas celebration. It is always enjoyable to have some time to hang-out together and not think about Spanish. Greg prepared all of the food for the day. 🙂 He served a big tray of olives, cheeses, and crackers for our appetizer (so yummy). We were able to visit and talk while the three girls took their naps. After naptime we exchanged presents, and then we waited for dinner time. Larissa and I sat outside and enjoyed the girls out on the patio. Despite their many squabbles with each other, they can be really cute together at times. They started riding the tricycle together. After I took a picture I remembered back to taking a similar picture nearly a year ago. See how they have grown?

Greg prepared the McKinzie traditional shrimp gumbo for dinner. We had our first gathering with both Jose Luis (who was recently baptized) and Emilio (who is part of the study at the hotel). After a time of communion and worship we discussed a lot of things regarding the future of the church here and dreams that we have. It was a wonderful start.

We said the closing prayer, and in the midst of our goodbyes to each other we all heard a violent knock on our door. Mr. Pinto came running down our patio hallway frantically asking for Greg and Kyle. I thought for sure that our combi had been broken into outside. It turned out that Luzmilla (a good friend and neighbor to the Smiths) had found our home and rushed over to tell them that someone was trying to break into their home. The guys left immediately, and Larissa and I held the McKinzie fort with the girls. I know that once Kyle and Larissa have their internet up and running again they will post much more details–it really is an amazing story. I will tell you that they caught the robbers IN the house WITH the stuff. We are so thankful that the police got there in time (which is very rare here in Arequipa). Stay tuned for a good story on the Smith blog.

Here are a couple of pictures from the evening:

What can happen in 10 months. Haven’t they grown!


Our time together over gumbo


An Eventful Night

A Peruvian McKinzie Christmas 2009


Wednesday night–We celebrated with our Bible Study Group with a festive meal. The girls received presents.

Thursday morning–Ana helped me bake candied pecans (for Greg) and Giant Ginger Cookies (we took a plate to the Pintos)

Christmas Eve Night–Judith and Alfredo invited us to their family Christmas. What an honor. The dinner didn’t start until 10:30 (they traditionally eat at midnight here) but the food was delicious–fresh avocado, apple sauce, a bean salad, and smoked turkey. Judith and Alfredo gifted the girls with dolls; Maggie received her very first stuffed teddy bear from them. It was very special to be part of their family Christmas. When seeing the love and closeness of her family members and their gift exchange it made me really miss home.

We arrived home at 10 minutes until midnight. Both of the girls were asleep and stayed asleep through the ridiculously loud noises of fireworks (traditionally everyone shoots off fireworks at midnight on Christmas Eve). Greg and I went outside to watch the display with the Pintos. We learned that they were waiting for us to eat their Christmas dinner. Even though we were absolutely stuffed, we ate dinner #2 with the Pintos. They were so kind to invite us into their home for that special time. They had the biggest nativity I have ever seen.

We got back down to our home at 1 am and started getting the girls’ Christmas together. Ana got 2 small soccer goals that Greg had to assemble. We ended up going to bed at 2:30.

Christmas Day–Ana and Maggie got up around 6:30 with me. I prepared our traditional Christmas morning cinnamon rolls. Ana went to wake Greg up and the girls had their Christmas. Ana got the soccer goals and a new art cart and Maggie got an exersaucer and a toy basket. We had a lot of fun with them.

The day was very low key and enjoyable. I prepared our Christmas brunch for dinner (eggs, bacon, and garlic/cheese grits casserole). Greg made his annual Christmas Shrimp Gumbo. We are going to eat it tomorrow with Kyle and Larissa for our team Christmas celebration.

I think that sums it up. 🙂

A Peruvian McKinzie Christmas 2009

I Love Zig Zag

So we went on our anniversary date last night. Since I already posted about our anniversary, I wasn’t planning on a major post but I had to share something. I have a new favorite restaurant! I need to begin by telling Dori (a fellow missionary friend here) that I am sorry. I should have listened to you a long time ago. She has been singing the praises of Zig Zag for a very long time and telling us what wonderful food they have. She was right… times 10. 🙂

Something Greg and I love to share is good cuisine. I also like to share this with my big brother (this post is for you too, Pat). We compared Zig Zag to Emile’s in Tullahoma. It is definitely influenced by the French (the owners also run the crepe restaurant if you have been there with us). They have all kinds of grilled entrees and delicious sides. I loved the sauces. I am just going to share our menu for the night. Allow your tastebuds to water, and enjoy the photos.

We started off with the complimentary olive/cheese/dried beef platter–extra yummo. We requested another.

We ordered our entrees which came with the house salad and a side.

Greg ordered a beef steak (medium of course) which was excellent with a baked potato on the side. His sauces were a garlic sauce and a delicious sour cream blended with herbs (we can’t buy sour cream here).

I ordered a tuna steak (so good, Dad!) with a side of mashed potatoes. My sauces were garlic and a delicious honey dip that I devoured with my fish.

The salad had lettuce, dried tomatoes, walnuts, goat cheese, croutons, and a dressing that tasted like walnut. It was so good.

I should mention that the bread was excellent and it was served with an herb, garlic butter spread.

We didn’t get to do dessert this time because we had to go pick up the girls. The portions were perfect, and we were very content afterwards. If you plan on visiting us here from now on, plan to go to Zig Zag as one of your restaurant choices here.


I Love Zig Zag

The Verdict

Just to remind those of you at home how Peru is NOT like the states:

1. We leave the house at 4:45 for our 5:00 appointment. We arrive on time to the doctor’s office.

2. We are informed that he doesn’t practice at the main office on Mondays. Apparently you are supposed to automatically know this when you call for the first time. We get directions to his other office.

3. We have the appointment. He tells us we need a more recent Xray. He gives us directions to the nearest Xray clinic.

4. We have Maggie Xrayed (they don’t protect her ovaries at this clinic either). We receive the results after waiting for 15 minutes. Not bad.

5. We return to the doctor. He looks over the Xray and explains that Maggie’s dysplasia has not corrected itself and has worsened a little. He tells us we need to purchase the harness and gives us the directions to the store that sells harnesses.

6. We travel to get the harness. The store is supposed to be open, but the owner is gone. Greg calls a number on the window and she says she will be there in 5 minutes (she was attending mass).

7. She shows up about 10 minutes later, and gives us the harness and really long socks.

8. We taxi it back over to the doctor’s office and he has us come back for the final time.

9. He puts the harness on Maggie and shows us where to buckle the belts. He explains that she must wear it at all times (except for bathing) and return in 2 months for a check-up. She cannot wear pants with the harness (that is what the long socks are for). I make a joke that we are starting early with soccer socks. 🙂

10. We arrive home with our harnessed infant (who usually goes to bed at 7) and our champion 2 year old who goes to bed at 8:30. It is 8:30. I put MK to bed, we eat dinner, AG almost falls asleep on the couch.

*I told my mom that the reason many missionary families are so close is because they spend a lot of time together in waiting rooms.

Mission accomplished. We have sealed the deal. The harness isn’t as binding as I thought. Maggie can still sit in the corner of the couch in our favorite position. I can change her diaper (although it is a little bit awkward) without taking the harness off. I think she will be able to sit in the baby sling still.

I am thankful for Maggie’s health and the smile that she gives us from her contentment with life. Thank you for praying for our second daughter. Her hip will heal over the course of the next few months and we will be so thankful. Now for a picture:

Presenting Maggie “Gump” and “Lieutenant Da-add”


The Verdict

Tortilla Soup and Panetón

This evening the Pinto Family came down for their weekly Sunday night Bible study. I always feed them something (usually different types of sandwiches), but tonight I tried something a little different. I made a huge batch of our Peruvian Tortilla Soup (see my recipe on the recipe tab to see all the many changes I had to make) this weekend. I decided to serve soup tonight. You know how it goes–hot soup, crunch tortilla chips on top, add cheese, and mix it all together. We love this recipe and it ends up being a very low-budget meal. Remember when I bombed on that pasta dish that was way too spicey for them? Well, our soup has Greg’s salsa in it and some batches are spicier than others–this recipe was on the spicier side (in my opinion).

They LOVED it. I think I am to the point when I know when they are just being nice or I know they don’t like it (they don’t request for seconds). They kept telling us how “rico” it was, and Seor Pinto gave me the highest cooking compliment I have ever received here. Are you ready for this? He said, “To me, this is better than Adobo.” We love Adobo (the traditional Sunday morning dish here). And a dish with ground beef versus a dish with tender-drop-off-the-bone porkchops is hardly a comparison in my book. I guess the taste was so different for them, and it was a taste that they really liked. So… to all of my fellow missionary friends, if you are looking for an easy recipe that is cheap and feeds alot of people, try my tortilla soup recipe sometime. It was a hit with the Pintos at least.

After eating soup, we decided to serve the traditional dessert of Christmas here: panetn. They love this stuff. It is everywhere right now–I’m talking cases upon cases of the stuff in every store. We in the states know it as… fruit cake. Blahhhhh. Sorry, I don’t like it. I have avoided it ever since we moved here, but someone gave this to us as a gift and we decided to serve it tonight. I tried my first piece. I am okay if I live the rest of my life and never eat another piece. 🙂 But I just wanted to document that we had our first one tonight. Again, the Pintos enjoyed it. It looked like a big giant muffin; Mrs. Pinto showed me the proper way to cut it.


Tortilla Soup and Panetón

MK—5 months


Greg and I celebrated 5 years, we are 5 days from Christmas, and Maggie is 5 months old today! Thanks to so many of you that have commented, called, and emailed regarding Maggie’s hip dysplasia. We go to the doctor to hear what her treatment should be tomorrow evening. Whatever the outcome, Maggie is a healthy baby.

I am loving round 2 of having a baby and going through all of the stages again. Here is the 5 month report:

1. Maggie can almost support herself sitting up for longer periods. She loves to position herself in yoga positions and play with her feet.

2. She is such a content little baby. Crying does happen, but for the most part, her “cry” is more of an agitated “talk.”

3. She spends a lot of time in the baby sling. She comes to the market with me, the grocery store, out to hang clothes, to her sister’s activities… If I have her in the sling, she gives me no problem. She sleeps in it when she can.

4. Since being sick with that cold, naps have not been going well. We are finally at 2 nights in a row for only waking once.

5. She will not take a pacifier and hasn’t been partial to any digits yet. I like this in some ways. The bad part is that I end up being her pacifier when she needs the soothing. We need to work on that.

6. She has the social laugh down with me. I can fake laugh and she will continue to laugh right back. It is so much fun. Oh, and she has inherited her mother’s ticklish genes for sure.

7. We still swaddle her.

8. She has really started to enjoy reaching and grabbing for things. Hair may be her favorite item. Her sister still doesn’t understand that if she puts her hair in hand’s reach, it will be pulled.

9. She loves her big sister. I love to see how Maggie lights up when Ana comes over to talk to her or play with her.

10. I don’t have her measurements, but she is definitely wearing her 6-9 month clothing right now. She isn’t the fattest baby in the world, but she has her rolls to show off if she wants.

11. She has done well with trying rice cereal. We are practicing every now and then for now.

12. She is great for our ministry. People will take time to talk to us just because of Maggie sometimes, I think. They are always delighted to hear that she is “Arequipea.”

13. She craves attention (I don’t know what side of the family she gets this from). She will squawk at us and when we stop to look over at her she just smiles the biggest grin. It is like she is thinking, “Oh good. Now that I have your attention…”

14. I am pretty sure she will have teeth before Ana did. I have never seen so much drool coming from a 5 month old (Ana was very late going through this process).

15. Just like after Ana, I cannot imagine our lives here without her.

MK—5 months

Five Years

December 18 is our anniversary. Last night Greg said to me, “Well Meg, I am sorry that our anniversary was so uneventful.” My thought, “This was the most eventful anniversary I have ever had–it just wasn’t centered around our celebration.” But coming from this woman’s point of view, that was okay with me. I know we will do something special in the near future, but this past week was filled with the things that we have been planning and dreaming about doing here in Peru for longer than the five years we have been married.

I fell in love with Greg on a semester abroad to Chile. It was after we returned the following semester that he asked me out on our first date. Because of that semester together in Chile, we totally skipped the whole “getting to know you” part of a dating realtionship. So at that first date Greg asked me point blank,”Megan, do you think you could be a missionary wife?” I was a little taken back by that question, but I thought my answer was good at the time, “I don’t know.” That worked for him. We proceeded to date, and you see where we are now.

Guess what. I CAN be a missionary wife. This week we witnessed our first baptism and celebrated with joy that a community here will have water for the first time this Christmas. Yesterday, our anniversary, I baked scones for a friend that came to visit, baked cupcakes for the kids at the library, and hosted a kids event at the library where we decorated Christmas frames for the parents. Call me a fuddy-dud, but I was so tired last night I went to bed at 8:45. But that is the good kind of tired. Today, we are helping with two chocolatadas (where hot chocolate is passed out to the children of a community for Christmas) at two of our library locations. I don’t think the date night will work out for tonight either. 🙂

Like I say, we will be celebrating and taking some “us” time in the near future, but I couldn’t be any happier to be where we are in these five years. I am honored to try to live out the mission of God in Peru with the love of my life–a man that has dreamed of this since his high school days. Greg, we have been blessed these five years beyond measure. Through multiple moves, fundraising, masters degrees, culture shock, and two beautiful little girls, we find ourselves in this crazy missionary life in Peru. I don’t think I could have ever fathomed what this would look like five years ago. I am excited to see what five more years will look like! I love you.


P.S. Happy anniversary to “our people” in Tullahoma, Mark and Diane. And also to our fellow missionary friends in Lima, Peru, Justin and Allison Thompson. We were all married on the same day, same year.

Five Years

Like is a Verb

I’ve heard that love is a verb, not a feeling. It’s something we do, a choice we make. That’s an important thing to understand if you plan to love your enemy, or even just your neighbor. This jives well with the other proverb I’ve heard. I don’t have to like you, I just have to love you. I guess that liking in that scenario is the feeling and love is the doing. The point is, we must choose to act in love even in the absence of positive feelings toward others.

I wonder, though, if the real force of Christian teaching isn’t undermined by the idea of loving without liking. Looking at myself, suspicion arises when the enormous feeling of relief follows the realization. I can still despise you? Loath you? All I have to do is take the moral high road and treat you nice? Whew, that was a close one. Now, I’ll admit, treating an enemy with love is no small thing. But somehow it’s not as hard if I don’t have to stop feeling disgust, scorn, resentment or animosity.

Maybe that is the sense of Jesus’ comparison of murder with anger, insult, and contempt. Maybe it’s not so easy to compartmentalize emotion and action. Maybe like is a verb too.

Like is a Verb

Jardín Christmas 2009

Wednesday of next week is Ana’s last day of school before summer vacation is here. This morning, Larissa and I met up (with Maggie in tow) to attend the annual Christmas production of the girls’ preschool. I will say it again, I LOVE the preschool the girls attend. Ana has had a great year, and while we waited for the perfomance Larissa and I reflected on how much the girls have learned and changed in one year. I have loved the 2-3 year old period. We were not supposed to enter the school until 9 am, but (this is something I love about Peru) they allowed us to go in first–I had an infant and Larissa is pregnant. We got front row, center seats. It was awesome (there really are a lot of parents that attend this shindig). The girls did great. Ana was a shepherd. Shaye was the star of the show. No really–she came out dancing solo as a star and then called all the other stars onto the stage (“Vengan!”). The guys missed out because they were finishing up with the Naranjal work–I guess that’s important. 😉 Santa made a surprise visit at the end of the show and gifted each of the kids with a ball. It was an enjoyable event for this momma.

I tried to take a ton of pictures for the grandparents that can’t attend. Here you go. Oh, and the last picture is one that I took of the girls with Mama Manuela when we returned. Since Ana was home way earlier than usual she just talked Manuela’s ear off and wanted her to play with her new ball. And even though Maggie hadn’t had a full nap the entire morning (sweet child) she wanted in on the Manuela action too. Can you tell by the smile?


Jardín Christmas 2009