Furlough Funnies 2014

Greg to Ana before leaving, “Ana, what are you most excited to do in the United States?” Ana responds, “I really can’t wait to see whether or not Aunt Kristin says I do.” Greg, “What is the second thing?” Ana, “Well, I can’t wait to go to church. I just love going to Bible class.” 🙂 Such a missionary kid answer from a kid that does Bible class with kids all younger than her.

Ana referring to the restaurant we pulled into, “Oh man. I LOVE Chicken-Fillet.”

Cohen being scared of the automatic toilet in the airport.

My mom purchased several different dresses for Ana to try on for the wedding. Ana to me, “Momma, did she buy this or rent it?” (Peru is a rental culture)

waiting for Pop as he looked through cows. We kept getting whiffs of farmland (aka manure) Maggie to me, “Momma, why does it smell like Peruvian cheese right here?” Ha!


Furlough Funnies 2014

Idiot’s Guide to the INTJ

I found out that there is help out there for those close to me. http://intjcentral.com/the-compleat-idiots-guide-to-the-intj

Below is just the overview. Sections 3 and 4 are also very practical. =)

INTJ Overview

Since numerous detailed INTJ type descriptions are already available on the web, we’ll just hit the high points here:

We’re smart.
We are visionaries, strategic (and compulsive) planners, big-picture thinkers, complex problem solvers, adept decision makers, conceptualists, theorists, and pattern recognizers – in short, we are “masterminds” [insert evil mastermind laugh here].

We don’t do feelings.
We use critical thinking, reason, and logic. We have a tough time with people who make decisions based on emotions, and we can often come across as blunt and cold because we ignore the feelings of others. But on the plus side, we take criticism well since we have no feelings to hurt.

We live inside our heads.
We frequently zone out. We get lost in thought and spend much of our time inside our heads. If our immediate reality becomes boring, we will retreat into our minds, and you might have to shout our names repeatedly to get our attention so we will come out again. And no, sorry, but you can’t come into our heads with us. You wouldn’t last five minutes there. You’d be driven insane by the nonstop cacophony of overlapping voices madly free-associating from one idea to the next.

We are self-confident.
No type is more self-confident than the INTJ. We have a very keen awareness of our own knowledge and abilities, and – more importantly – of the limits of our knowledge and abilities. Consequently we can come across as arrogant sometimes. This is your problem to deal with, not ours, since it is a problem of erroneous perception (yours).

We are aloof.
Because we are somewhat detached from reality, because we are introverted (we find interacting with people to be tiring and tiresome), because we are very private, and because we are impassive, we tend to come across as rather reserved and aloof. Okay, we actually are reserved and aloof.

Idiot’s Guide to the INTJ

I Will Remember

I have learned a lot in the last six years. Most if my lessons are basics I should have already learned, but it took being sent to Peru for me to get it. Being a slow learner, I’m writing down a few of the most important to me and committing not to forget them just because we are no longer here.

I Will Remember

Last––international trip with kids (for awhile)

I finally feel like we are back in action in our AQP lives. Taking an international trip always gets me out of sink. But we made it home safely, and we are prepared and still preparing for this permanent international move just a few short months away.

This was our last international trip with kids for the year because my parents will be joining us for Christmas and then taking the three kids back home with them. Greg and I will hang out in AQP a bit longer to wrap up selling our things and being with the church. I wanted to journal a few things that went on with the travels (it can’t ever be an easy trip for us).

The Day We Were Leaving

It was Tuesday. I had been packed for 2 weeks. It was my library day. The kids were in school, and Greg was at home finishing up some things. Our flight was the last one to leave AQP (around 9:20 that night). Life was good and calm.

10:00 am: I receive a call from Greg on my cell phone at school. It was weird that he was calling me, because he knows not to interrupt my classes. I was actually observing my teammate teach the lesson so I could step out and answer the phone. What he had to share with me caused a “Megan McKinzie burst out in tears” episode. Greg discovered while trying to check us in on-line that BOTH of Maggie’s passports were out-of-date. She turned five back in July, and we KNOW they are only good for five years. This mistake was completely on us. He told me I needed to come home immediately. I know the school staff thought someone had died, but I knew what this news meant. Maggie could not travel with us. I prayed she could travel at all.


all morning and afternoon: Thankfully, Manuela was cooking lunch and would be home with the kids. We pulled Maggie out of class. A short little funny is that she asked me why I was pulling her out early. I told her it was an emergency. When we entered our house she looked at me confused. She asked why the house wasn’t on fire, because I had said it was an emergency. (Ha!)

We rushed over to the notary’s office that we always use. It was closed (of course). You see, when a parent leaves the country with their children here in Peru, they must have a notarized letter of permission from the other parent saying they can take the trip. We knew Greg would be staying back with Maggie and I would be traveling alone with Ana and Cohen. This is where living in Peru for 6 years and having Peruvian family comes in handy. Greg called one of our closest friends, Alfredo, and he has a friend that works in a notary office in a different area of town. He arranged for us to have an emergency meeting with the guy at 3 that afternoon. Whew.

After picking Mags up from school we took a taxi over to the immigrations office. Here, we stood in line waiting to hear if it would be possible to get her Peruvian passport renewed. Things take FOREVER here, but miraculously, they issue new passports in one day. After lots of copying (and a trip back home because we didn’t have one of the required documents) and a trip to the bank (because all payments are done through the national bank), Maggie had her new picture taken, and we were to return at 2 pm to pick up her new passport. (Note to expats in Peru: you MUST have their DNI to renew. They won’t take their birth certificate. Cohen doesn’t have his DNI yet, but we had gotten Maggie’s. If we had not shown her DNI, the process would have taken two weeks!).

Greg had spoken with the US embassy earlier. What stinks about embassy stuff is that it has to be taken care of in Lima. That is why I knew that for sure, Maggie could not be traveling with us that evening. Also, Wednesday happened to be a holiday (like every other day here), and the embassy said they would see him for an emergency appointment for Thursday morning. Bummer, but they told him that they were certain they could issue Mags an emergency passport, and he could go ahead and purchase their tickets. (Yes, as in purchase two whole new tickets to the states. This is why you keep an emergency fund as missionaries.)

We had to get special pictures taken for Maggie’s US passport. We went to a photo place to have them printed, and they told us to wait 15-20 minutes to pick them up. We walked down to a food court to wait and bought Maggie an ice cream. Now, I need to just state right now that I am not good at not freaking out in situations like this. Peru life has certainly caused me to be more flexible but nobody wants to tell their extremely excited five-year-old that she won’t be traveling to the states with her momma and siblings. Well, Maggie blew me away. As she sat across from Greg and me licking that ice cream cone, she exclaimed, “This is the best day ever! I get ice cream, and I am the only one with momma and daddy!” (middle child syndrome much??) I just looked over at Greg and smiled. I needed that.

We picked up her pictures, dropped her off at the house, and Manuela graciously agreed to stay late with the kids while we went to finish off all the pick-ups and notary business.

We went over to immigrations and picked up the Peruvian passport… easy-peasy. We then took a taxi (I think we spent around $50 in taxi rides that day which is a lot for Peruvian standards!) over to the notary office. After about an hour, we had our letters to travel with our Peruvian babies (the law is for Peruvians only). Whew. Done.

It was a blessing for all of us to travel to Lima together. Our dear friends in Lima, the Thompsons, were able to keep Greg and Maggie. We said our goodbyes after I checked in with the two kids and parted ways.

Ana and Cohen were fantastic. No whining. They helped with the carry-ons. Our last stop before the American flight that would take us to the home of the brave was customs. Here, I always have to show Cohen’s Peruvian passport for leaving, and I have to show the notarized letter of permission. All was good, until the woman checking it all asked me to show my letter to another gentleman and to show my visa (and Ana’s) because we just recently obtained our resident visas. He asked me for my letter to travel with Ana. I explained that she was a US born resident, and only Peruvians needed the letter. He made a call for his supervisor to come over. The supervisor explained that because we have resident status, by law Ana has to have a letter of permission to leave the country as well. My heart sunk, and in my best “Megan McKinzie burst into tears” fashion, I pleaded and begged them to let us through. By the grace of those kind men, they allowed us to pass (they are sticklers when it comes to this law. I think it helped that I did have the letter for Cohen). Thank God!

We arrived to our gate, and we boarded 10 minutes from arriving. Whew.

my two little travel buddies

We arrived to Dallas on-time (always a blessing), and we went down to claim our luggage. We waited and waited. I was missing one bag. I finally decided to ask the baggage claim people. They told me to see the baggage people in Nashville and to go ahead and get to my flight. Time was close.

We headed off (with our 6 suitcases and carry-ons). We made it through customs quickly, and we found the train that would take us to our terminal. We were about 20 minutes from boarding time. Perfect time to get there, use the restroom, and board… or so I thought.

The train started, and after arriving at the next stop, it took about 10 minutes for the doors to close again. The next stop was the same except that it wouldn’t start at all. The train was having technical difficulties. All I could think was, “Are you kidding me?!?”

We completely pulled a home alone airport run through 1.5 terminals. Cohen has never run that much in his life. At one point, I had my backpack on my front, Cohen on my back, holding my big bag, and Ana running with the roller carry-on. We were one gate away (and I could hear the “Last call for Flight “whatever it was”) and one of those handicapped golf cart things came rolling up. I told the guy we were about to miss our flight and he let us jump on. We made it! We were exhausted and sweaty, but we made it! Praise the Lord. You know it’s bad when the flight attendant asks if she can serve you some water when just sitting down on the plane.

From there, it was smooth sailing into Nashville where Dad picked us up, and all was well. (24 hours past the time of all the drama that occurred)

What a trip.

***Oh yeah. American Airlines was fantastic in delivering my missing bag the same day directly to my parents’ home.

***Also, Maggie had a blast with the Thompson kids in Lima and getting alone-time with her Daddy. All went well for her US passport and they arrived Friday morning in time for the first day of wedding activities.

The trip home

Our return trip was not that eventful. Besides the customs in Lima asking us about the Daggett suitcase and pulling out a pizza oven (!!!)… Greg had back soot all over his hands. Ha! Everything went well. We are home. We are safe. Maggie has the most expensive passports we have ever seen (hehehe), and we are blessed to be completing our final leg in AQP.

These kids are fantastic. They are such great international travelers.




Last––international trip with kids (for awhile)

For Our Supporters

keep-calm-and-be-grateful-220We’re back from the wedding and the conference, and it’s time now to focus on our transition. The first thing I want to do is be grateful.

It’s a daunting task to try to mention everyone that has held up our arms along the way, from before we even had supporting churches to last week’s coffee escapade. I will probably fail to mention someone important, who will have to forgive the oversight. But I’m counting on the fact that the people I’m about to thank do not even want the spotlight. They have not served as members of Team Arequipa for recognition. In fact, there are some I will intentionally leave out, because I’m sure they want to keep their generosity between them and God.

To all, mentioned and unmentioned, we couldn’t have gone or stayed, survived or served, without you. We give thanks to God, but we recognize that you have been his hands, his provision, his sustaining words. We give thanks to God for you.

Among Many

For Tim and Janice Kirksey. When I first began to dream about foreign missions as a junior in high school, Tim told me that if I was serious about studying missions and going to the mission field, he and Janice would help make that a reality. And they did. Once we began raising funds, Tim and Janice continued to be cheerleaders, hosting our team in their home as we tried to spread the word about our plans to members of Shiloh Road church. The team was eventually privileged to be supported in part by Shiloh, and Tim volunteered to be on the newly formed support team. He and Janice have persistently loved and supported our family on furloughs and been critical supporters of CUDA.

For Tyson and Sarah Kirksey. Much as they might wish I would keep it quiet, I have to mention that eight years ago, as a young couple just starting their careers, they gave a gift that helped us afford to do fundraising (yes, it costs to drive around the country looking for supporting churches!) and, in my view, was foundational for the launch of CUDA. We’ve been good friends a long time, but sometimes people’s generosity can shock you.

For the Shultz and Fidone families. There are many at Shiloh who have been kind to us on furlough, but you went the extra mile, loving on our kids and making us feel like it really mattered we were visiting. You were refreshing for exhausted missionaries.

For the Yorks, especially Ruth, who looked after Megan in a special way.

For the whole Cedar Lane support team. You have been stellar. I won’t list everything, because it would go on a while, but we have been so thankful for everything. Much of your help to us must have seemed minor, even trivial, but it mattered so much. We could count on you, and we needed that. It was a joy to visit Tullahoma and spend time with you; it didn’t feel like more work. And that was an invaluable gift.

For Greg Muse and John Petty, who took care of our eyes and our teeth pro bono.

For Ray Eaves, who took care of the business side of support with diligence and love.

For the Hovaters, who came to Cedar Lane after we were in the field but became some of our biggest supporters anyway. It’s amazing when the preacher helps the church stay excited about what’s going on in another church in another country.

For David Mitchell. We have cherished your care and encouragement. It has been a special blessing to have a shepherd at Cedar Lane watch over us.

For David Smith, Kyle’s dad. David was many things to our team that I won’t mention here. Among them, he was easily our biggest fan. I miss his responses to my newsletter articles, his hug when we visited Shiloh, and all the virtues that made him a great elder to our mission team. I miss him, but I still get to be thankful for him.

For Bryan Tarpley, who did so much free web consulting for us. In addition to being closer than a brother.

For our family and close friends, especially those who visited us in Peru or made the extra effort to connect on furlough. We leaned your support, and you didn’t let us down.

For the CUDA board: Monty Lynn, Clara Carroll, Ileene Huffard, David Fann, and Chris Adams. They have sacrificed in a variety of ways to help us make CUDA legitimate, and they have graciously affirmed our efforts, including our failures.

For everyone who visited the field to support us instead of using us as a hostel.

For everyone who actually read the newsletter, even when they weren’t that into it.

For everyone who prayed for us.

For everyone at Shiloh and Cedar Lane who gave their money so that we could be here and take care of our families. For everyone who hosted us and cooked for us, who asked questions and spoke encouraging words. For all the members of Team Arequipa.

The Lima Team

Nuestras compatriotas. You helped us with a boatload of tramites, let us crash your houses at need, set an example in ministry, and made our yearly retreat a time of laugher and renewal. Our thanks has never seemed adequate, but you never asked for more. ¡Gracias por todo!

For Tim, Denise, and the Henderson Household

Our surrogate family in Tyler. The home we invade on furlough. For late nights of TV marathons and unending conversations and too much good food and all the comfort of a place that is home away from home. Tim is my spiritual father, and he has been our lifeline to Shiloh. He still takes care of me, knows what to ask and when, lets me be me and helps me be better than me. That is more than enough.

For Our People

From the Cedar Lane support team, Mark and Diane Adams were assigned to be our “support couple,” with the special responsibility of really keeping up with us. Soon they were just “our people.” We were already friends before we left for Peru, but our friendship has grown and deepened in the last six years. We’ve always had someone to talk to, vent to, whine to, and they have commiserated like champs. They have taken care of so many things for us Stateside, despite their busy lives. (And here I don’t want to give Mark too much credit, because Diane is a getting-things-done machine.)  I don’t think most missionaries have the privilege of such friendship among supporters, and I am so grateful.

For Bill and Holly Richardson

It has been such a privilege and a blessing to have you walk with us as missionary wannabes, as disillusioned fundraisers, as culture-shocked novices, and as struggling servants. Despite the weaknesses perhaps more evident to you than anyone else, despite the fact that had you been in our place it would have been different and better, you always helped us remember that it was enough to serve Jesus faithfully. As others throughout Latin America know, your support made a critical difference. We’re humbled by you and so deeply grateful for your friendship in the Lord.

For Our Parents

Sometimes missionaries go to the field without the support of their parents, which must be incredibly difficult. While ours naturally didn’t want to miss the grandkids growing up, mom, Steve, and Margaret blessed our decision and have supported us all the way. Our service is their legacy, and we are deeply thankful for the faithfulness we inherited.

For all of you, we are grateful.

For Our Supporters

Time is Ticking

This week has certainly been a whirlwind. Last Saturday, we hosted the last team meeting to be held in our home. Last Sunday we hosted one of our last house church meetings to be at our home. Jeremy and Katie Daggett arrived on Wednesday morning (YAY!!!), and they are our last house guests before my parents arrive for the final move. Saturday evening, I hosted the last women’s meeting to be held in my home. Do you hear that word? Last, last, last.

First of all, we are thrilled that Team Arequipa 2.0 is almost all here (the last family is flying to Peru AS I TYPE THIS). This is something we have been waiting for a long time to see, and it is so surreal to finally be happening. We were absolutely stoked to host the Daggetts when they came in this past week. They are supported by the same sending church as our team which makes the connection pretty special.

our posters for greeting the Daggetts into the guest room (aka Cohen’s room)
our posters for greeting the Daggetts into the guest room (aka Cohen’s room)

Yesterday, Sunday afternoon, I went to town on packing. You see, we are about to take our last “trip” to the states. My little brother gets married on Saturday, and we are blessed to be able to go back and take part in the celebration. But the return flight to Peru will be the last for a long while. Each family member gets to take 2 suitcases on this trip so I have gone to town on trying to get our family’s cherished belongings packed up. This trip will be no exception. We will go to the states with 10 full cases, and we will return to Peru with just about nothing in them (except for maybe some Thanksgiving ingredients). 😉

I know I am not alone in this, but a house doesn’t feel like a home until the pictures are put on the walls. Well, since yesterday, I took some major steps to making this house feel less homey.

our posters for greeting the Daggetts into the guest room (aka Cohen’s room)

But I have also come to learn, that “homey” for me is associated with memories. And boy have we made some memories in this place. I love this decoration that we made at a celebration Sunday a couple of years ago. Those little hands have grown since then.


And even though the walls make our home seem so strange because they are now bare, the kitchen is still the heart of our home. I haven’t cleaned out in there, and it is where hospitality happens. Many meals have been prepared for friends and strangers in that kitchen over the years. It will be a weird feeling when I have to pack the kitchen up.


I feel like we are definitely heading into a new chapter. I can remember taking pictures of our family of three to be framed for our new Peruvian home when we moved here six years ago. Now they are stacked in a pile, and I am waiting to see if there is room to pack all of them to return to our next home in the US.


The bags are almost all packed. Greg has separated all of his library into 50 pound groupings. It is hard to believe that we will be traveling over a continent with our life in suitcases. But the memories have certainly been made, and time keeps ticking. I will be a big ole bag of emotions when we come back as I deal with the final leg of our lives here, but I am so very thankful to have had this chapter in Peru as part of our journey. We are overwhelmingly blessed.


This is the first Christmas present that our sweet teammates gave us in our time here in AQP. It is a sillar (volcanic rock) clock. It still hangs on the wall, but it will be making that final trip with us when we leave in January. I don’t know where we will be living this time next year, but I am certain that this clock will be hanging on the wall, and time will keep ticking…


Time is Ticking

Sibling days in AQP


The last week of September, I paid for a family photo session. I am so happy with the images the Eternity Fotos produced for our family. These are memories that I will forever cherish–my kids in their final months of this chapter of our lives. She caught many images of the three of them together. They fight as much as they love on each other, but for this photo shoot, I was thankful to see the side of love in them.






Sibling days in AQP

Culture Shock

cul·ture shock
  1. the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.
    I have been thinking about culture shock a lot recently. As missionaries moving to a foreign culture, it is something that you count on experiencing. The scary thing about it is that you don’t know how it will play out in your particular circumstances and for how long. Culture shock makes you grumpy and sometimes causes you to act in a way that you wouldn’t normally act–like reacting strongly to little things that don’t really matter. Culture shock can slowly build over time and cause you to reach an explosion point. Attitudes stink, emotions are heightened, ugly words are spoken, feelings are hurt… culture shock is not fun.
    I have been thinking a lot about it lately because of our new teammates’ arrivals. I think back to how everything was so new and exciting when we arrived but how slowly culture shock crept in among us. It is interesting to sit back and observe my new teammates as they arrive with the same excitement, but how many of them are experiencing the frustrations of not fully understanding the culture here. Culture learning is a significant part of adjustment to a new home in a foreign country. Our team is doing a 3 month long intensive culture study of various elements in the culture. Sometimes understanding where people are coming from helps to give more patience in those times of “I hate it here, because I just don’t get it!”
    Just today, I walked into the city center to locate two items: bubble wrap and cardboard tubes (for storing some of our posters and paintings for travel). I asked FIVE different Peruvians where I could locate these items, and they all sent me to the wrong area to buy them. Sixth one was the charm for me today. I have been here six years, and I still experience major frustrations with things like this. I remember Bill Richardson, our team mentor, telling us to prioritize a list of things that need to get done in the day. He told us that if we accomplished one of those things, it was a good day. Sometimes it takes a significant part of the morning to locate bubble wrap and tubes. 🙂
    On the flip side, I am thinking a lot about reentry to our host culture. Though many things drive me crazy here, many things in this foreign culture have become our norm for living. In just a few months, we will again experience what they call “reverse culture shock.” I am curious and scared how that will play out in our lives. But I know that I will have to be just as aware of it as when we made our move to Peru.
    If you are a Christian and you read this, please pray for our new teammates as they go through culture shock. Pray for patience toward each other and those that they live near. Pray for them to learn to understand more fully the worldview of Peruvians.
    Also, I ask for your prayers on our behalf. It will be a huge adjustment to go back to things in our home culture. For our children, Peru is their norm. Living in the U.S. will be very different in what they are used to here. Punctuality is different, school routines are different, social cues can be different. Sometimes, when you constantly feel the differences, it makes you super cranky. I expect those days to come, and I can only depend on the Spirit to help me change my attitude when it happens.
Culture Shock