Waterfall Fun

Collin and Kristin came into town this weekend for Mother’s Day. On Saturday, we decided to take a family hike to Machine Gun Falls.

beautiful wild Rhododendron growing along the pathway leading back to the falls.
beautiful wild Rhododendron growing along the pathway leading back to the falls.
made it to the creek bed... almost to the falls.
made it to the creek bed… almost to the falls.

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so much fun
so much fun

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Waterfall Fun

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

Papa a la Huancaína–starring Etelvina

On my reentry bucket list in these last months is to learn some recipes that my family loves. I have learned many recipes in my time here, mostly from Manuela. But today, Etelvina made a special trip to our home to show me her ways in Ocopa (a creamy spicy, yellow sauce). Ocopa is used in a dish called “Papa a la Huancaína.” You can read the origin of the plate at this link. Arequipa has its own twist on the dish. It is typically served as a starter, but when using big potatoes (which is what I used today), it is very filling. When I say that my family loves this dish, ALL of us ask for more sauce. At the end of the meal, the kids are always drinking up their extra ocopa like they would the milk from a bowl of cereal.

Etelvina brought all the ingredients for the ocopa (the sauce), and I had to provide the rest. The rest includes boiled potatoes, boiled eggs, lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes, and purple olives. I bought all of my ingredients in the bodega one block from my home for under 2 dollars. Man, I love Peruvian bodegas. 🙂

So… I give you the step by step directions for making Ocopa and then how to assemble a plate of Papa a la Huancaína.



  • 5 ají verde (and yes, I know they aren’t green)
  • 2 dientes (teeth) of ajo (garlic)
  • salt
  • oil
  • saltine crackers and animal crackers
  • 1 large onion
  • Huacatay
  • peanuts
  • water

(This recipe is enough for 10 large potatoes)


1. Lavar aji verde. Clean the peppers very well.


2. Sacar semilla de aji. Remove all the seeds and “guts” from the peppers. This removes the spicy.


3. If cooking for people that like spicy food, leave the peppers alone. If cooking for children, rub the halves together very well under water to remove the spicy. Cut away any excess “guts.” Frotándole.


4. Freírlos. Cut the ajís and place them into a hot skillet coated with oil. Add the garlic and huatacay. Fry them until their are golden. Freír hasta se doren (doraditos).


5. While frying, remove shells from peanuts. You only need a half-handful of peanuts.


6. Remove Aji mixture into a bowl. Add peanuts (maní) and crackers (saltine and animal).



7. Cortar cebolla. Cut up the onion and fry in the same pan as the peppers. Allow to get black specks and soften.


8. Poner todo en la liquadora. Put everything in a blender.


9. Add water until all the ingredients are covered. Also add about 1 tsp of salt.


Blend away! The color will go from this…


to this…


Somebody is hungry and happy about Vina’s cookin’…


10. Taste test. If you want it thicker, add more crackers. Add more salt or garlic based on your taste preference.



And now, prepare the Papa a la Huancaína: place a large lettuce leave to the side of a plate. Put the potato down. Pour the ocopa over the potato. Lay the egg halves and olives in front of the potato, and lay a tomato slice on top of potato. Wah-lah!


Finally, enjoy with some Peruvians that you have come to LOVE. We love you so much, Etelvina and Arelí!!!!!!!! We will cherish afternoons like this!



Papa a la Huancaína–starring Etelvina

Whirlwind 2014

It’s that time of year again, when the whirlwind is about to arrive and tomorrow turns into 4 months later.

Greg’s travels

First of all, Greg has been gone all this week.

right before taking off to the airport
right before taking off to the airport

He went to the Pepperdine Bible Lectureship in Malibu, CA, and then he skipped over to Pasadena to Fuller Seminary for a campus tour and NT Wright conference on his new book Paul and the Faithfulness of God.  Greg is hoping to start his doctorate in the fall of 2015.  We hope to know toward the latter part of this year where he is accepted.  We sure have been missing him, but we have survived.  He is enjoying his visit and hanging out with Dad.  Two of my most favorite men in the world hanging out in CA together… presh.

Mother’s Day program

Greg will arrive late Sunday evening, and the kids will have one week of school before their fall break.  I am looking forward to their Mother’s Day performance.  All three of them are learning different dances, and I have already paid the money for the costumes.  That will be on Friday.  It cracks me up that I have paid money for a craft and a costume for all THREE kids.  They will only go to school for the time of their program (a short day).  What an honor!  Expensive and losing my time they are in school.  I know that sounds selfish, but it is kind of ironic considering who they are celebrating, right? 😉

Thompson fun and Mission Teams Retreat

We are looking forward to the Thompson family coming to visit from Lima the next week.  They are coming in a couple of days early before our annual Peru retreat with the Lima and Cusco teams.  We are hosting this year in AQP, and it is always so much fun to see everyone, catch-up, and share stories from the field.  Our retreat will be Wednesday through Saturday out at El Lago.  It is the first retreat where we will not have a child to lie down for a nap… yes!

Pat and Caleb–woohoo!

The following week it will be back to school, but we are looking forward to my older brother, Pat, and his son, Caleb, flying in to AQP to spend a week with us.  It is always so much fun to have family come to visit.  Also, David Fann, one of our CUDA board members, is flying in for a quick visit to check out the new medical program.


The day after Pat and Caleb depart, the real whirlwind arrives… interns.  Greg and I have chatted with each of the five girls coming in this summer.  I am very excited to meet them all in person.  It is looking like it will be a great summer internship with them.  It is sad that it will be our last internship to host in our time here.

Mid-year break

The internship will swallow 2 months, and then it will be the mid-year break to celebrate the Peru National Independence Day and Arequipa Day in August.

The whole “moving back to the USA thing” gets real

Then we will find ourselves in September with only four months left in this chapter of our AQP life.  Crazy.  The whirlwind is almost here.  I want to savor every single moment.

Whirlwind 2014

Add ’em all together…

and what do you get?

baking three pumpkin pies for the cafe + baking one pecan pie for the cafe + baking one pumpkin and one pecan for our celebration + green rice (a McKinzie family fave) + asparagus roll-ups (a Bills family fave) + sweet potato casserole (an everybody fave) + my teammates’ food contributions =


I hope to have more pictures for Post #2 later today.  We always miss celebrating at home with blood family, but we are blessed and excited to celebrate with Team Arequipa today.


Add ’em all together…

Happy Birthday, Granny!

one of the most beautiful and funniest spirits I have ever known


We celebrate 81 years of your life today!  It is a day like today that I wish I lived close to you.  I spent the first 18 years of my life a 10 minute car ride away, and that is the reason that I am so close to you.  I hope Granddad got you a box of Krispy Kreme Donuts today.  I know you would probably just as well see your birthday candles on some donuts.

You have been very sick this past year, and you bounced back.  I actually made an emergency trip home because they thought you weren't going to make it.  But you know what you told me?  You said, “Megan, I can't wait to see your family this fall when you come back.”  And you meant it.  The picture above with my girls is my proof.  And I love and cherish that my girls have memories of being silly with you.

You are currently recovering from 3 different hip replacement surgeries.  You are one of the bravest, strongest, most vibrant women I have ever known.  You are my hero, and I wish that you weren't spending this birthday in the bed unable to walk, unable to see clearly, and in constant pain from the arthritis that has slowly taken over your body.

Many have told me that I get my humor from you.  I wish that I could see your smile and hear you laugh.  You have brought me such joy throughout my entire life.  I am honored to share the same birth month with you.

So today, I will try and call Granddad's phone while he sits with you.  If you are having a good day, you will talk to me.  But many of your days are not good days, and you just don't feel up to talking.  That is okay, but I pray that your birthday is full of joy today.  You are loved by so many, and you have been a blessing to so many.

I love you, Lou Ellen.  I wish I could eat a Krispy Kreme with you today.

All my love,

Margaret Ellen (or as you would call me, “Meggy”)

Happy Birthday, Granny!

Christmas thoughts 2012

I am convinced that many Christians have taken Christ out of Christmas in our U.S. culture.  It has been a blessing to live in Peru and spend almost every single Christmas for the past 4 years here.

1.  Peru is a Catholic culture.  I DO NOT agree with worshipping Mary and the saints, but I love the fact that during the holiday season the focus is Jesus’ birth scene.  There are more nativity scenes than Christmas trees and Santas.

2.  Getting mountains of gifts is not cultural here.  One reason is that the people don’t have the money to spend on tons of gifts.  But their tradition is that the parents buy their children one gift and give it to them at midnight Christmas Eve.  The children might receive gifts from aunts, uncles, or grandparents, but it still isn’t a mountain of gifts.

3.  The Christmas “treat” is fruitcake and hot chocolate.  How many Christmas treats exist in the states?  Even though I am not a fan of the fruitcake, I love the simplicity.

4.  The majority of Peruvians decorate the week leading up to Christmas, and they don’t take their decorations down until January 7 (symbolizing the time of the wise men visiting).  I love this.

Jen Hatmaker wrote an excellent post.  You can read it HERE.  I firmly believe that my generation of Christians is fighting a culture war against Christmas.  I am relieved to hear friends and my siblings share with me that they are making changes.  I want my life to be more simplistic.  How do I teach that to my kids?

Greg and I seem to make more and more changes every year.  I am so glad we are moving in that direction.  Here are some changes that I didn’t grow up with…

1.  This year, our kids are receiving one “big” gift.  We are also stuffing stockings with little things.  We explain the tradition of Santa.  Our kids don’t believe in the white-bearded Santa.  We also stress to our kids that others do believe so they shouldn’t talk about it.  Our kids don’t make a “wish list.”  I grew up looking forward to Christmas because I would make a list of all the things “I wanted.”  I don’t want my kids falling into that.

2.  Every year we do a special Christmas project as a family.  2 years we prepared food baskets for a poor community and had a friend deliver them anonymously.  Last year, we fed a group of homeless men on Christmas Eve.  We try to do something that our kids can participate in.  It is getting better and better as they get older.

3.  On my side of the family, the siblings draw names.  Last year and this year, we have changed to choosing a charity, and giving $50 in honor of that gift we usually bought.  Also, the cousins are drawing names, and giving a book or small gift card.  Simple.

4.  Each year I want to emphasize the Advent season more and more.  I am learning, because I did not grow up with this tradition.  I want our kids to know the details of Christ’s coming forward and backward.  What better way than with storytelling from the Bible?  Again, it helps that they are getting older.  I want the emphasis to be Christ.

These are just a few things we are doing differently.  I still decorate, but I am considering taking Santa out of the decor.  Many Christians struggle enough with their view of God.  How many people view God as an old man looking down from heaven wagging his finger at them?  This isn’t a healthy view at all.  But isn’t that what we have turned Santa into?  I remember when Ana was three.  She was crying that December.  When we asked her what was wrong, she explained that she didn’t want a scary stranger coming into her house at night (referring to Santa).  We explained exactly who “Santa” was that evening to her.  “Elf on the Shelf” has become such a fad.  That fad didn’t sit well with me the very first time I heard about it.  I want my kids to be good because we strive to be like Jesus, not because they want a spy to report back to Santa who is making a list about their behavior.  I realize there is fun in all of it, but I am seriously considering what exactly I am teaching my children through it all.

It certainly isn’t what I was raised on, but I want to build on the things that I was taught and add to it.  My prayer is that my children can do the same.  I am ready for Christ to be back in Christmas.

Christmas thoughts 2012