Living Here

“Water is life. Save water, save life.”

Tomorrow is “Save the Water” Day.  I bring Maggie home from school and roll my eyes at the comunicado (the word here for “memo”) that says I need to buy half of a poster board and create a slogan for a mock riot parade about taking care of the water.  (Yes, they teach them young here.  You never know when a good reason to riot will arise.)  Frustration with the culture.

“What water?!?” I think to myself.  Ever since the major flooding they have turned our water off for the whole day or part of the day.  Yesterday was actually the first full day of water, but they turned our electricity off 3 different times.  We can't win.  “Save the Water we WISH we had!” is the slogan I want to use.  I'll refrain.  The water was off again when we woke up this morning… but we had lights.  Frustration with the culture.

I help Mags with homework, and I notice that her teacher has written me a note about completing homework better.  My three-year-old has homework everyday.  Instead of something easy like coloring, they always want her to use some specially colored tissue paper to roll up in little balls and glue to the paper.  Do I have colored tissue paper laying around my house?  The answer is no.  Do I have time to go to the store while keeping 3 kids in the house?  No again.  I write a note in my elementary Spanish explaining that I spent more than 800 soles on school stuff this year, and if I am supposed to have a separate list in my house she should have provided it.  I have no idea how that will come across… coming from an elementary Spanish speaker.  Frustration with the culture.

I help Maggie with her homework, fix her a plate for lunch, and excuse myself from the house to walk up to the bodega (a small convenience store) to ask about the poster board.  It only costs 50 centimos for a whole sheet, and the owner (my neighbor and friend) explains a word on the memo that I didn't understand.  So thankful for knowing the “hood” and having neighbors to help me in a culture I sometimes don't understand…

I return home and make the poster for Maggie to carry the next day.  We go over to “the other side” (a room we rent from our close neighbors, Anita and Nadia, where the printer is kept).  While I am printing off the pages I hear Maggie performing her songs from school (all in Spanish) and Anita and Nadia celebrating and applauding her show with “Bravo.”  So thankful for Peruvians that love and encourage my kids…

I come out and ask if Maggie is being a bother.  They say she is fine so I return to the printer to finish.  By the time I am done and come out, Maggie has found her place at their table eating a pancito and waiting for her tecito (bread and hot tea).  I roll my eyes at her as they laugh.  It's obvious that “tu casa es su casa” (your house is her house), I say to Anita.  She giggles.  So thankful for dear friends and trusted neighbors…

I return to the side of the house where Greg and Cohen are to finish the poster for water day.  “Ahhhh!” I suddenly exclaim.  It is 2:35, and I have forgotten about watching the time to pick up Ana.  “Oh, wait.  I am fine.  I just heard the bell ring.”  Greg laughs at me.  So thankful for a school so close to our home that I can hear the bell inside my living room…

I go and pick Ana up from school.  She says she has had a good day.  I check on Maggie on my way into the house.  She is still chatting away with her “amigas” over tea and bread.  Ana changes her clothes and reads a letter addressed to her out-loud (she has been practicing her English reading).  It is from her Great-Granddad, and she is thrilled.  So thankful for family from afar that my kids treasure and that take the time to send a letter in the mail for a 6-year-old's birthday…

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Ana changes her clothes and disappears.  Her sandwich is waiting for her.  Where is she?  I go out the front door and look into Anita and Nadia's patio area.  There she is with Maggie.  So thankful.

When the day is done, and I reflect on our life here, I can choose to dwell on the frustrations or the things that make me thankful.  Today's “thankful” list far outweighs my “frustrations” list.  Sometimes that isn't the case, but I choose my attitude.  I confess that I choose to not have the attitude of Christ many days or in many situations, but I do know that I love our life here.  And for that, I am so thankful.

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Living Here