It looks different every week. We meet with the other groups in a bigger location once a month. I usually take pictures at that gathering, but this morning I thought I would capture some moments from a typical house church morning here in the casa. God has blessed us with a home in our years here to be able to host a larger group. We have started a rotation with other homes just recently, but Greg and I spent the majority of our house church mornings the last three years hosting the group in ASA.
We love these people. We eat breakfast together (each person brings something to contribute: bread, eggs, avocado, or juice). We sing and share communion. We share Bible stories with the kids and sing songs that they enjoy. The adults have a time of study and reflection while the kids are dismissed to another room (my girls’ bedroom). The kids continue to play while the adults talk (in our playroom or out on the patio). Like I said, I just wanted to capture a few of those moments this morning…
Sarah reading the Bible story to the kids while we are still with the adults.
Sandra’s little munchkin, Harold
coloring in the girls’ room
We keep them quiet and busy for as long as we can so the adults can have a time of quiet and study, but then they are released to the playroom… 🙂
There are many parts to our ministry here: church planting, discipleship, CUDA. A big part of the ministry that Team Arequipa 1.0 dreamed about before reaching the field was an internship program. We have all been influenced by short-term missions. We were all greatly enriched by the opportunities that our universities offered to study abroad or travel to other countries in the summer. We wanted to offer that opportunity to others through our work here. September 1 is Team Arequipa’s six year anniversary. We have hosted six groups of interns in our time here. It is exciting to see Team Arequipa 2.0 come in with the same desire to build on the internship program. There will be many more Arequipa interns in years to come.
The family of God is big, and one of the neatest parts of working as a foreign missionary is that you connect to so many Christians from various parts of the world. We have been greatly blessed by the summer interns and 2-year apprentices that have joined our work throughout the year. We learned new things every single summer. Since we just finished hosting our last group of interns in our time here, I thought it would be appropriate to post pictures of all the groups of interns and apprentices that have come through. This doesn’t count the groups that Bill Richardson brought through (3 different times). Connections are wonderful, and many of these guys are still in contact with us. It is our prayer that God impacts their lives through their experience here in AQP, and they carry his mission to wherever they go from here. All of our interns, apprentices and visitors are part of very special memories and times here in Arequipa for us.
Our first intern was Aaron in June/July 2009. Larissa’s sister, Briana, and our friend Kristen came to learn Spanish that summer.
Our first apprentice, Rachel Steele, arrived in February of 2010. She stayed two years.
Internship June/July of 2010: Whitney, Bob, and David
Internship June/July 2011: April, Hope, Stephanie, and Manet
Internship June/July 2012: (the biggest group ever) Ann, Katie, Emily, Rebecca, Jordan, Taylor, and Sean
Internship June/July 2013: Parker, Kayla, Lisette, and Gerina AND Aaron returned with his wife, Arielle, for a summer
August-December 2013: Catherine came to live with us for a fall semester to learn Spanish in preparation for her future job.
Apprentices October 2013-2015: Andrew and Bethany Grey
Internship June/July 2014: Kayla, Christy, Lexi, Fiama, and Mat
We love each and every one of you. Thank you for enriching our journey while here in Peru!
We had about three weeks of really cloudy days in January. We also had some pretty good rain showers (it doesn’t take much to flood this city). Yesterday, I went up on the roof to take some clothes down. It was right around sunset. You can always tell that a front is coming when all of the mountains are covered in clouds in the late afternoon. Surprisingly, it was completely clear. This is what a clear afternoon/evening looks like during rainy season. The weather has been absolutely delightful lately…
Today is August 15, the anniversary of Arequipa. Arequipa has some delicious food, and one of our favorite plates (and one they are known for) is Rocoto Relleno and Pastel de Papas. Today was my first time to prepare this plate by myself.
The rocoto is a hot pepper that looks a whole lot like a bell pepper. Bell peppers are actually used for small kids since they have no spice (but not the McKinzie children). 🙂 The rocoto is gutted, stuffed with a flavorful meat mixture, topped with cheese, and baked to glorious perfection in the oven.
Pastel de papas can be compared to a potato casserole or scalloped potatoes. The distinct flavor, though, is the cheese that you buy from the market to use in it. Many restaurants serve pastel de papas with the traditional Rocoto Relleno.
12 medium to large rocotos
3/4 k thinly cut steak meat
3 generous Tbs of Aji Colorado molido, or a mixture of spices (garlic, oregano, and cumin)
2 boiled eggs, chopped
1/4 c of peanuts, chopped finely
1/4 c of dark raisins
4 large onions, diced finely
fresh parsley, diced finely
cheese (queso serano)
evaporated milk (1.5 large cans)
1. Ask a Peruvian expert cook. Manuela is my go-to-profesora. She taught me the best way to gut the rocotos and soak them to get some of the spice out. The day before cooking, you clean out the seeds and veins, remove the tops (so that you can place them back on top to bake), and place them in a bowl of water with the juice and skins of 5 limes and 2 tbs of red vinegar. You allow them to soak all night. ***Greg loves spicy food. I did not soak his rocotos at all. I gutted his two rocotos right before stuffing for baking.***
2. The next morning, rinse the rocotos, refill the bowl with water, add 1/4 c of sugar to the water, and place the rocotos back in the bowl to soak throughout the morning.
3. Preparing the meat mixture:
Dice and cut all of the ingredients…
heat the Aji Colorado until bubbly, add 2 Tbs of oil and stir until it is all the same color.
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…
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.
This month, I turned 31 years old. It was my 5th birthday to celebrate in Arequipa. I decided this year that I wanted a “night out” with some girlfriends on my big day. I wanted to share a picture from that night, and tell you why each of these relationships are special to me during this time.
Nadia is my neighbor, and if you have kept up with our story here you know that Nadia was baptized last year. She is such a dear friend to me. We both share the same profession. She has volunteered with me in the library program at times, and I love having a Peruvian friend to talk to about cultural differences in the school system. Also, we started our friendship right at a time when I needed someone just like her. She came requesting English classes (I desperately needed those conversations in my native tongue). Our English class turned into a Bible study. Nadia was the first person with whom I shared the story of Jesus. I will never forget that. During furlough, I found a Willow Tree Angel holding a book. I bought it for Nadia and gave it to her for her birthday in November. I told her that she would always remember me when she saw that little figurine on her table. For my birthday, she gave me a little figurine that she bought in the market here. You can bet that wherever I am living in 50 years that little figurine will be in a place that I can see.
Sitting next to Nadia is Areli. What a beautiful personality that girl has! She is Etelvina's daughter. (Etelvina is a dear sister in the church who we absolutely love to pieces.) The thing I love about my relationship to Areli is that we are kindred spirits in laughter. If you know me, you know that I love to laugh. Sometimes, when crossing cultures, it is hard to feel like you understand jokes or are able to be funny around those from a culture different than yours. That is not the case with this amiga. I find such joy in hearing her laughter, and it is contagious. We don't need to sit together in a meeting where no noise is allowed. Ha! Areli and I have been studying the book of Mark together. She is such a good person, and she is earnestly seeking something deeper for her life. It is my prayer that she decides to follow Christ whole-heartedly in the near future. God has blessed me with a friend to laugh with, and I am so blessed by her friendship.
That gringa you might not recognize is named Katie Daggett. Katie and her husband, Jeremy, are part of the team moving to Arequipa in 2014. They decided to come to Arequipa and take 2 months of language classes to better prepare themselves for the field. What is really special about the two of them is that they are where Greg and I were 7 years ago. Jeremy is studying at Harding School of Theology in Memphis, and the two of them are about to work with the same Hispanic church where Greg and I worked during our time in Memphis. It has been such a blessing to get to know them better, to share dreams about the future work here in Arequipa, and to answer the many questions they have about moving here. For me, Katie symbolizes the things to come in Arequipa. I am excited that my family's remaining time will overlap some with her family, but I am even more excited to see what God will do through them and the rest of their team in the years to come. Pray for Team Arequipa 2.0. We are so excited about them joining the work here.
Next to Katie is Emilia. Oh how I love Emilia. She has been a Christian for many years, and she recently moved to Arequipa from Lima. Her joy and fervor for the Lord are contagious, and she has such a passion to work in children's ministry. Larissa and I know that Emilia was a God-send to our church in the realm of working with the children. It is wonderful to see a Peruvian that is mature in faith. She has blood family in the city, but she thrives on spending as much time with her brothers and sisters in Christ as she can. She knows a little bit of English, and we get such a kick out of her practicing and asking questions. She is so much fun to be around. My children love “Bible class with Emilia,” and I thank God for a Christian sister that is equipped to help teach them when the church is together.
You should recognize that other gringa. I told Larissa the other day that it will be so hard to know life without her family in our lives (as in the same city) when the day of our departure comes. We shared our time in Memphis with the Smiths to prepare for our mission work. We shared in the joy of having our first children in Memphis (there is only a 3 month difference between Ana and Shaye). We moved together to live for 6 months in Tyler and 6 months in Arequipa. We have not known this work without the Smiths. We love them dearly, and we have been through so much together in our time here. Larissa knows a part of me that no one else can understand. We have lived, grieved, rejoiced, waited, misunderstood, been confused, and celebrated as missionary wives in Arequipa, Peru. There just aren't too many people that I share that with. I love her dearly, and it will sadden me greatly when the day comes that we separate. But I am so grateful for her service to the kingdom in this city. I am grateful for how she strives to be a good wife and mother. And I am grateful for her friendship as a friend, but much more so as a sister in Christ.
It was a very special group of people that night. It is hard to imagine that I only have one more birthday left to celebrate in Arequipa. But God has certainly given me a reason to celebrate life here.