Janie's Journal

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Jumping on beds and splashing water

Hello everyone! Sorry that I have not been better at updating my blog regularly. Not only is this computer not the most reliable, but my days seem to be so full sometimes that either they are gone before I know it or I am just too tired to type!! I know I was a lot better in the beginning and I have gotten more and more sporadic with my entries as my time goes along. It is amazing to think that I have been here for 3 1/2 months. In fact, this is my last week here at Hogar de Esperanza. I will be leaving the albergue Monday morning and will be back in the US Tuesday morning. It is unbelievable how the time has flown here!
This last week I have experienced a lot of "last time" activities. Last Friday Emily and i hosted our final pajama party with the girls. I took a lot of pictures, but the computer is not allowing me to upload any of the photos so i will just have to explain it to you! :) There were 8 girls that had not gotten to have a slumber party yet and we had been planning on having two separate parties- but like I was saying before, time goes by really fast here, and before we knew it, I had one week left and zero free evenings. So we had the slumber party with Rocio, Nikita, Carolina, Vanessa, Nancy, Fiorella, Brigitte, and our newest little girl, Blanca Nygely. It was definitely an exciting and LOUD night. We used the biggest guest room here to hold the party in. In one room there are 5 twin sized beds all lined up in a row. So of course, the first things the girls did once they got into the room was run to the beds and start jumping. It made me smile to see them- their hair flying and holding hands with each other. They were laughing and their eyes were sparkling. They didn't seem to mind that every once in awhile one of them would fall off- they just would climb back up, shove someone over, and continue jumping. The only thing that could get them to stop was to see me come into the room loaded down with snacks. Candy, chips and ahi, juice, cookies, and of course- peanut butter! I thought when we bought all of the stuff, that we would have some left over- it seemed like a lot at the time. But, don't worry, you will be glad to hear that the girls here have a very healthy appetite and that the food was gong in approximately 2.4 seconds. :) It was really funny because the sauce that we got to dip the chips in was really spicy but the girls really like it. So they would be screaming and fanning their mouth and saying “pica, pica” (which means spicy) but yet the next second they would be sticking even more in!! No wonder people here can eat spicy things- they build up an immunity to it when they are young! :) After they had taken care of the food we decided to play hide and seek- never have I heard more shrieks and screams! All of the girls except for 1 were under ten and most were around 7- so hiding from another person happens to be one of the all time funniest and most nerve wracking things to them! At one point I decided to hide in a closet- but 5 of the other girls and Emily wanted to hide there too- so there we were squished into one not so very big closet- the little ones were giggling, we were all sweating and one forgot that when you hide you also can't talk. Little 4 year old Brigitte found us within one minute and i can't say I was too disappointed! :) To round out the evening we played twister, practiced being models (I did have to teach them the proper model walk, thank you very much), and watched Elf in Spanish. It was a very fun, yet exhausting night!!
On Saturday Emily and I took 5 of the girls to a place called Lagunas- it has a swimming pool, swings, ice cream and other activities. The 5 girls we took were the ones that I had for crafts the whole time I was here- I actually had 6 but one of the girls had a little cold so she didn't get to go. I wanted to do something special with them and spend a little time with them outside of the orphanage. I had a pretty nasty cold all weekend so I didn't swim or play much but it was wonderful to watch them. I forgot my camera so I will have to always remember what it was like in my mind. For some of the girls, this was only their second time in a pool- for the others it was their 3rd or 4th time, but either way, it was definitely a treat! I will never forget watching the girls- Kristy was laughing and slapping the water so that it would splash up all around her, Maria was holding on to Emily (who, thankfully, was able to swim and play with them) and pretending like she couldn't swim even though it was probably only 4 feet deep, Rocio was showing us how she could do flips in the water, Yumelit had her ankles hooked over the side of the pool and was relaxing on her back, and Yuli, after taking 20 minutes to work up the courage to get into the water, was having me count to 3 and then putting her face in the water for a second or two. I loved the feeling of one of them calling my name so they could show me something they could do or just to wave at me. At one point I sat at the side of the pool with just my feet in, and I had the privilege of receiving 5 very wet hugs! Also, Kristy was worried that i would get too cold sitting there so she had to get out of the pool and get her towel and wrap it around my shoulders- how cute is that! Sitting there I was reminded again of how amazing these kids are. Two of the girls had swimsuits that someone had donated but the rest of them swam in shorts and t-shirts. It was a shallow pool that wasn't very big and didn't have the normal slides or diving boards, but you would have thought I had brought them to a huge water park! They were so thankful and said that they had soooo much fun- it always reminds me that it is not things or surroundings that makes a heart joyful- it is the love of God and the love of those around you that makes the difference.
Another exciting outing i got to be a part of happened today- I got to take kids on my last birthday outing. Two kids are going to have birthdays in December- Piero, who will be 7 on Sunday, and Jesus, who is normally called Chito (because there are two kids named Jesus), who will be 3 on Christmas Eve. Piero has been asking since September if I would still be here to take him out for his birthday so this has been a very long awaited day. Chito is too little to really know what was going on, but he is a very happy, giggly little boy so he was excited just because he was awake! Emily was already in Trujillo so she met us at the restaurant. That left me with bringing the two boys into town by myself. We took the micro in and it was a very full micro. Luckily I got a seat and got both boys on my lap- I think within 5 minutes both had fallen asleep. Chito was by the window and Piero was spread out all over me and Chito. Chito fell asleep with his head resting on the window and Piero fell asleep with his head resting on Chito's- it might have been the cutest thing I have ever seen in my life. When we got to our stop I half dragged them off the bus and we had walked about a block before I think they actually woke up. I was worried that they would be grumpy for the rest of our time together (because Chito can get a wee bit cranky if he doesn't get a good nap), but I shouldn't have worried because as soon as they saw the play center at the restaurant they both perked up. Chito said that it was his play center and Piero didn't say anything- he was too busy climbing into it. :) Actually, I got to go a little bit into the play center myself because Chito needed help getting up some of the platforms. But after that, my job was taken over by Piero who felt it was his responsibility to help Chito through everything. - I am very grateful for that because it is built for kids under 10 years old and I really didn't want to write a story in my blog about getting stuck in a plastic tube 10 feet off the ground! :) One of the cutest things that happened between the two of them was when they were trying to get into the ball room- you know the room that has all the multi-colored balls and you get to jump and play in them? Anyway- Chito wanted to go in, but the entrance was a little high and Piero wanted to go in but he waned Chito to go first. So Chito would try,decide he couldn't, and start cracking up,then Piero would try to demonstrate how to get in, which would make Chito crack up even more- Chito has the cutest laugh because his whole face is involved and it all scrunches up together and it is one of those laughs that is addictive and you can't help laughing with him. So Emily and I were cracking up with Chito- the only one that was serious was Piero and I don't think he appreciated all of making light of the “entering the ball room” lesson! But they did finally get in and had a good time hitting each other with balls. After a yummy dinner of chicken and french fries we went into the center of Trujillo to get ice cream and go to a movie. It was Chito's first ice cream cone and I got to teach him how to eat it. He was so excited before I handed it to him that he was squealing and jumping up and down and clapping his hands! I think he thought it was too much work just for ice cream though, and I ended up holding the cone and just telling him when to lick, but it was fun for me! We went to the movie theater after that, which of course mesmerized them- it was the first time for both of them- they were amazed at how big the screen was and at one point Piero wanted to go up and touch the screen- of course it was in the middle of the movie, so we didn't let him, but as soon it was over he went up and took a closer look at it! :) We stopped by a playground for more slides and swings before getting a taxi to take us back to the albergue- Remember how the outting started with both of them sleeping on the micro? Well, that is how it ended- they fell asleep 5 minutes after we got in the taxi and Chito didn't wake up when we got back- I carried him in and I think he didn't wake up for dinner or anything! It was a wonderful day and I always love hearing kids laugh and seeing them smile!
I know that I talked a lot about activities that may not be too exciting for some people but it is not the activities that I will remember. It is the million smiles I have seen over small things like splashing water or jumping on a bed, the sound of children's laughter over nothing more than enjoying life, it is kids falling asleep in my arms and knowing that they trust me, the feeling of tiny arms hugging me and little mouths kissing me on the cheek, but most of all it is the joy that i feel when I see them happy and content. That is the greatest gift and one that I am so grateful I have gotten to enjoy.
As I go through these last few days at Hogar de Esperanza, a big part of me will be sad that my time is coming to a close here- leaving these kids after falling in love with all of them will be a very hard thing for me to do, but I am blessed knowing that I will forever hold them in my heart and that I was able to show them love and acceptance for a few months.
I hope to write another blog before I leave, but I am definitely not promising anything!
I love you all!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

November birthdays!

On friday night we celebrated the kids with November birthdays. Aracely turned 6 at the beginning of the month, Yumelit turned 12 on the 21st and on the 20th Brayan turned 5 years old. These monthly outings are made possible by my family and friends and also by Nelsonville Baptist Church! Thank you!! The kids had a wonderful time. . .
First we went to the beach to run from the waves and play on the playground-
from the left- Aracely, Yumelit, Brayan, and Emily.
Brayan and Aracely swam with the dolphins. . . well, sort of!

After the beach we got ice cream and cotton candy and walked around the center of Trujillo. The kids thought that cotton candy was amazing but couldn't really understand how it worked. After we walked around we went to the movie theater. I love taking the kids to the movie theater because most of them have never been before. They always think that the seats are broken because they flip up and this time they discovered something else new- the hand dryer in the bath room! They freaked out when I turned it on but after they wanted to wash their hands again just so they could use the hand-dryer! :)

After the movie we went to Roky's for dinner- it is a restaurant with a play center and really good food! There happened to be a face painter there so of course all of them needed to do that! :) We have Yumelit the fairy, Aracely the butterfly and Brayan who is now only known as Batman!
It was a wonderful night and I don't think any of us wanted it to end- it is wonderful to watch the kids experience new things and for them to be made to feel special- I love the fact that right now, I get to be the one to do it!! That is such a blessing!


So while I was in Piura, Peru, visiting Yulissa's family, I was introduced to this little girl. Her name is Gaby and for the last 2 years she has been fighting Leukemia. She needs advanced treatment and has been waiting for a year and a half to get it. The doctors say that she HAS to go to Lima for a month in December to get intensive care. The problem is her family is very, very poor and unable to pay for treatment. Thanks to the Lord, her and her mom's passage has been payed for to Lima and back but I was told that she is going to need months of more treatment. She needs someone to help sponsor her so she has a chance to heal. She is 8 years old and has sparkling eyes and loves to play with her friends. She is very friendly and not very self concious about not having hair. If you would like to help Gaby, please email me at janiehelm@yahoo.com
Thank you. . .

My travels

The main attractions in Peru are Cusco and Mantu Pichu- I have not seen either of those but I feel like i know Peru better then your average visitor. i have visited 3 different cities and gotten to see Peru from a Peruvian's perspective. I love being at the Albergue and being with the kids but it is also nice to get away and enjoy different sites and sounds. :)

The first city I visited was Chepen. It is a small town about 2 hours northeast of Trujillo. It is built into a mountain/big hill so all the streets are really steep. The streets are really narrow and only one car can go through at a time. That's not really a problem in Chepen because most everyone either walks or takes a Motor-taxi (or Tuk-Tuk) It is like a motorcycle with 3 wheels and a back seat for passengers. I visited Chepen with Nancy, one of the worker's wifes, her 2 little girls, and Emily. In this picture, from the left is me, Nancy, and her friend. We are in the Plaza de Armis of Chepen. Notice how we are almost the same heighth? don't look at our feet! :)

The second city I visited was Cajamarca. It is breathtaking there!! It is surrounded by mountains and is really cute. The looking at a map, Cajamarca is only an hour or so more than Chepen. So it should take about 3 hours to get there, right? In actuality, because Peru didn't cut down any hills or trees or anything to build their roads, the bus goes up and down mountains, along clifts, down in valleys and all around to get to Cajamarca. It ends up being a little over 6 hours for the journey. But to me, it is worth it! The weather is a little chilly and you can see mountains all around- my idea of a perfect combination! It rained the whole weekend we were there but I didn't mind- it was the first time in 3 months that I had seen rain! (for those that don't know, Trujillo has rain once upon a never). I went to Cajamarca with Emily and we spent the weekend hanging out with her boyfriend, Augusto.
This picture was taken up on a hill overlooking Cajamarca- when you are down below it feels like a small town- but as you can see it is pretty big.
While in Cajamarca we got to visit a place called Porcorn. (yes I know that sounds and looks like popcorn- that's what i always call it :) ) It is a Christian community started by Burt Elliott, a missionary here for 50 years. It is literally in the middle of nowhere but is a self contained town. They have shops, churches, houses, crops, restaurants, everything you can think of. It is truly amazing because they work together and help each other in every way imaginable.
This picture was taken on the way in to Porcorn- all along the way there were these signs with different bible verses. It was a beautiful place!

The last part of the country I visited was the Piura area. Yulissa, one of the Madres, invited me to go home with her to visit her family and see where she grew up. Piura is the city, but her family lived north of Piura in the country. It was a beautiful area and the people were amazing! I got to see Cantelope, Mangos, Psalm Trees, beautiful rivers, ride horses, learn to drive a motor-taxi, learn to take showers with no running water, practice sleeping under a mosquito net, try different food, and generally have an amazing time. It was in the more tropical part of Peru so that means it was really hot and the sun was really intense. But it also means it was GORGEOUS!
This picture was taken at a river we played in one afternoon. Those are goats stopping by to get a drink of water.
This is Yuli and her family outside of their house. (Yulissa is on the far left) They are a wonderful family and even though they don't have a lot of money they definitley are rich in spirit and love.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Hello Everyone!
The last couple of weeks have been really good- the kids have been amazing and I am loving spending time with them. My biggest struggle now, besides missing my family and friends, is with the language. While I am always understood and I can usually understand other people- it is difficult sometimes. I know that I have the worst grammar ever and I probably sound like a 4 year old, but the people here say that my Spanish has improved. (I'm not to sure of it, but they say it's true!) Last Saturday my Spanish was really put to the test. Every other Saturday Liz (the Social Worker), Emily and I have a meeting with the parents. Every Saturday the parents of the kids that live here have the opportunity to come spend time with their kids. Most of the parents usually don't come, but there are usually about 7-10 here. The other Saturdays Mirian, Liz's assistant, holds meetings with the parents dealing with parenting skills and basic life skills. But the Saturdays that we have the meetings they are like a mini-Church service. We sing songs and Liz gives a short lesson. Usually my job is to pray-in Spanish- I write it down ahead of time and just read it so normally it is pretty easy for me. However, last Saturday Liz asked if I would share my testimony-in Spanish!! For those of you that are unfamiliar- a testimony is how you came to know Christ and also what Christ has done in your life since then. Anyway- it was definitely a challenge for me. I wrote it out in English beforehand and with the help of a translating program on the internet and Liz's revisions, I translated it into Spanish. I wasn't nervous at all until it was time for me to stand up in front of everyone!! I messed up quite a few of the words and I don't know if they understood a word I said, but I DID IT! Please pray that something I said to them would be understood and give them hope! That experience prepared me for an experience I had on Monday- For this whole week Emily is volunteering with an organization called "Joni and Friends". It is a ministry from the United States that visits underdeveloped countries all over the world to hand out wheelchairs, walkers and canes to people in need. It is a wonderful program and has literally changed the lives of thousands of people. On Monday I went with Emily for half a day as her guest just to check it out and see if I could help. I thought maybe I would hang out with some kids or open doors- but no, because 16 volunteers had come from the US to help, they asked if I could help translate!!! AHH!! Scary! Anyway- I did that as well! I translated for a family getting a new wheelchair for their son- and they actually understood me- crazy! So even if I have the worst grammar of anyone else around, at least the point is getting across! :)
Other than those things, life around here has been basically routine (if life at an orphanage can be!) One of the activities that has been the most consistent since I got here is Crafts- Manualidates in Spanish. I do crafts twice a week with two different groups. We make necklaces, bracelets and ankle bracelets with beads in one group and the other group does really pretty embroidery work. Before, Emily and I would make up all the jewelry before and then take it apart and put it into a bag for the girls. They didn't know how to put colors together and would mess all the beads up. Well, starting last week they now get to make their own jewelry- they get the colors approved by me and then they have at it. It is wonderful because they have so much pride now in what they are making- About every 2 minutes one of them says- Mirar Tia, te gusta?? Look aunt, do you like? They also want to show it to all the other workers, the other kids, and probably the dog, too! :) Plus, it is a lot less work for Emily and I because we don't spend every evening working on Manualidates!!! I love the time with the girls because I have gotten to know them so much better and really see them for the wonderful girls they are. I would like to introduce you to 4 of them so you can know what I experience every day!

This is Carolay- she is 11 years old and is a very intelligent girl. She likes to giggle and loves the movie 'little women'. I have that movie here and it can be dubbed over to Spanish. She had read the book this year and was so excited to get to watch the movie. The whole time she was making sure she knew what was going on and that she had all the characters straight. She is probably my hardest worker in crafts and she is very good at putting colors together. She wants to be a grown up half the time but still loves jumping on the bed! :)
This is Rocio- she is 12 years old and has a very sweet spirit. I call her Mamita- because she is like a little mother. She makes sure the other girls in her casita are doing what they should and she loves looking after the little ones in the Albergue. Especially Jose David- he is our youngest and whenever she sees him she runs over and steals him! She is very short for her age and she is very self-conscious about it. What she lacks in height she makes up for in spirit- she is always ready for a hug and always wants to practice her English. She only knows a few phrases but uses them all the time. She always tells me "the baby is sleeping" and "very good". It doesn't matter if the baby is sitting right there wide awake, she just likes speaking in English! She has some problems with dexterity and because of that it takes her longer than the others to finish her work- but she is very diligent and never complains.
This is Yuli- She is 13 and the oldest child at the orphanage. But you would never know it from being with her- she acts more like a 6 or 7 year old. When I first got here, I had quite a few problems with her because she would one minute say she loved me and the next say I was ugly. She would either be wanting to hug me and stay with me or she would not look at me and say mean things to me. Then the worst thing was one day she walked up to me and choked me- not a just kidding choke but a very hard, strong, both hands around my neck choke. It hurt a lot and made me cough for awhile, but I am pretty sure my feelings were hurt worse- I loved her so much and it crushed me to think that she didn't like me. I had to talk with her madre about it and Yuli got in trouble and apologized and since then she has been wonderful. But I found out that the reason she choked me is because her mother choked her when she was a little girl. Kids really do learn things from their parents and they remember everything! Now, Yuli is obedient, loving, and wants to make me happy. She has a very sensitive, shy side and a very outgoing, wild and crazy side. She loves to hug and tell people they are beautiful. She is unsure of herself much of the time but because she has such a loud personality, the other kids copy her in a lot of her actions. I can't say enough about Yuli- I think because I know what she has gone through (unbelievable, horrible abuse) and I know the sweetness that she is capable of, I admire her. She has seen pictures of my friends and family and when she prays she prays for all of them- so just know that there is a little girl down here with a big heart that loves you even though she has never met you.
This is Maria- she is a very kind girl. We had a slumber party a few weeks ago and Maria was one of the girls that came- she spent the whole time sharing all of the snacks with the other girls and making sure the other girls and Emily and I were happy and having a good time. She is 11, but loves sitting on laps and being held. Whenever all the kids are getting disruptive and crazy and I say no more- Maria is the first one to say- okay-. She likes to be silly and looooovvveeess to laugh- she has giggle fits when she laughs for no apparent reason! She would like to make necklaces as presents for everyone she has ever met, just because she thinks they might like them! She has a darling smile and likes to help others- she is always the first one to volunteer when I need a hand.

All in all, I would say I am pretty blessed to know these girls and get to spend time with them- somedays I don't want to do crafts because I am tired, but every time I end up smiling and I am so happy to do it.
Okay- I love you all!


This is Lazaro- He has lived at the Albergue for a few years and is approximately 8 years old. He was abandoned and so they don't really know how old he is- their best guess is that he was born in 1998. Lazaro doesn't speak and needs assistance with walking. He uses a wheel chair much of the time to get from one spot to another more quickly. He can walk and really likes it but he falls easily. He had been progressing but now has digressed a little bit. Emily is volunteering with the organization 'Joni and friends' this week- it is an organization that supplies walkers, wheelchairs and canes to people living in underdeveloped countries. So today we took lazaro in and he got a walker! This will be wonderful because he will be able to walk more with less of a risk of falling. He gets therapy every week but the doctors say if he was able to have more he would improve quite a bit. He is available for adoption. He is very cute and loves to be kissed and loves to eat! He has the greatest smile- I like to get down to eye level with him and make really loud kissy sounds at him- sometimes he starts cracking up with a huge smile on his face!!! Which of course makes me laugh- so there we are just smiling and laughing at each other!!! Nothing warms the heart like making a child laugh!
In the top picture he is with David Miller, who founded and runs the orphanage-and who has a huge, generous heart. In the bottom picture he is with Karolina and Emily.

Visit to another orphanage. . .

On Sunday, Emily and I, along with Mirian- who works at Hogar de Esperanza- went to visit another orphanage named "Aldea Infitil: Victor Raul haya de la Torre" where Mirian's friend works. We met most of the kids and of course fell in love with all of them. This orphanage is different because almost all of the kids have been abandoned so almost all of them need homes. The kids were all very sweet but all of the kids and workers didn't seem to have the joy and exuberence that our kids and workers have. I realized that it is because it is not a Christian orphanage- It was amazing the difference between this orphanage and Hogar. Anyway, so on Monday I got an email from Tim Brooks- he is the father of the 3 girls that were adopted in September. This is the message he sent to everyone he knows, including me: "While we were in Trujillo, Peru completing the adoption resolution, one of the social workers really wanted to show me something on her computer screen. She had a picture of the brother and sister attached in this e-mail. She told me that they had been in the system for a long time, and really needed parents. They asked me to see if I could find a family for them, I told them I'd try, but didn't really have any one in mind. So, I'm asking you all. If you know of anyone, perhaps an older couple, or even yourselves that have room in their homes and hearts for either of these siblings groups could you let me know, and I'll pass it on?" Lo and behold- they were the exact same kids I had been with the day before!!!! I was amazed! Like I said- they are very sweet kids- these two pictures are the pictures he sent me in the email. The top one is of Ana and Walter, who are 12 and 14 - and the bottome is of the sisters Ingrid, who is 12 years old and Carmela, who is 14 years old. I told Tim that I would post their pictures on my blog just in case anyone that reads it either is their forever family or knows someone that would like to be! :)
Below is a picture of Emily with Carmela on Sunday- crazy that the next day I got an email about the exact same girl!!
This is a picture of one of the casistas at the other orphanage- aren't they cute?(I must say, i am still partial to our kids though!)
This is Maryelena- she stayed with us the whole time we were there- the social workers said her parents had abandoned her- I think she is adorable!!!!

Monday, November 06, 2006

A disclaimer. . .

I was reading over my last post and thinking about it and wanted to make one little side note. When I was talking about the food here and saying that it made me gag, it is not because the cooks are bad. They are actually wonderful and make wonderful food. It is because I am a picky eater and don't like beans, fish, most meat or lots of cooked vegetables- which is pretty much what we have for every meal. I didn't want anyone to think that the cooks weren't good- they are very, very sweet and have made me fresh squeezed orange juice and strawberry juice on a number of occasions. :)
Okay, that's all!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Halloween and top ten "only in Peru" moments!

Hello everyone!!
It has been pretty calm around here the past couple of weeks- the kids went back to school after a week of vacation and let me tell you- it is very quiet around here once again! :) All of the kids are over the sickness that swept through- so that is a huge answer to prayers! Other than that I have just been living life here- pulling lice out of all the girls hair (don't ask, it isn't pretty!), doing crafts with the girls, and just generally loving the kids!
For halloween Emily and I were invited to a party in the Tesoro's Casista- It is one of the casistas for boys and the only casista I had not spent time in. So I am so glad that I got to get to know all of them better. We played Jenga, Sorry!, Jr. Scrabble (for a about a minute when we discovered that none of us (adults included) could spell) and Uno. We also ate pizza and laughed- alot.

This is a picture of us playing the game, Sorry!. The kids all thought it was great because you can send other players back to start and you get to yell Lo Siento!! (sorry in Spanish) From the left is Jesus, Kevin Arnold, Hugo (he works here and is married to Sarita, a madre), Josue and Emily

This is Kevin Arnold showing you how you can use the game box as a hat- He is an adorable boy and loves to hug people! He just arrived her in July.

And this is us playing Jenga (I don't know how to spell it). Everyone thought it was funny to watch me during this game because I would get so stressed out and nervous that I was going to make it fall!! That is Jesus in front, and then Sarita and Hugo, Josue, and Kevin.

I love spending time with the kids and seeing them laugh and have fun. We seriously have the cutest kids down here!! (well aside from my nephew, of course!)

I have now been down here 9 1/2 weeks and there are so many things that are different, interesting, or just plain funny! :) When Emily or I see something that is particulary funny or unusual we will just look at each other and say "only in Peru, Only in Peru". We have compiled a top ten list of our only Peru moments. These things probably do happen in other countries but for Emily and I they are now synonymous with our time in Peru. OKay, here it is, our top ten list, in no particular order (drum roll please). .........

10. Here they have many modes of transportation- one of the funniest is called a collectivo. It is an older model chevvy sedan that is used sort of like a taxi. In downtown Trujillo they have a street where all the collectivo's wait for passengers. Each car is going to a different suburb of Trujillo. Normally, they wait until there are 4 people in the back seat and at least 3 in the front before departing. You can also flag one down on the street outside the orphanage and get in. My first time riding in a collectivo, I was with Nancy, a wife of one of the workers here, and her two little girls. We were going into Trujillo for something and she didn't want to wait for a Micro so she flagged down this car. I was standing there thinking- does she know these people? What is she doing? When the car stopped I started to say- well there is not enough room for both of us plus your children, so lets just wait for a micro- but Nancy just said no, no, just get in. What was I thinking! Of course a backseat that already has 3 adults and a huge kite that someone had could fit 2 more adults and 2 children. Nancy sat on the very edge of the seat, everyone else pretty much sat on each other, and I was sideways next to the door. (don't worry I made sure the door was locked). Both Nancy and I had a child on our lap and there were 3 more people in the front and maybe a couple more kids. I remember sitting there thinking- "is this happening?" and trying really hard not to bust up laughing- of course, technically I couldn't laugh because that would require some movement, and that was not an option!! Definitley only in Peru a car that seats 5 can easily hold 8 adults and 3 children. :)

9. Only in Peru can the words- it is a part of a cow - strike fear into my heart. One day for lunch the cooks made, what else-rice, but with something that Emily and I had never seen before. It was black and kind of looked like a mushroom. Emily asked Filomena, the cook, what it was and she smiled and said "dulce" which means sweet. So Emily thought- something sweet, I can do that! When we sat at the table I took one wiff of it and tried to fight back a gag- it smelled foul! Emily asked one of the other workers what it was and she just smiled. Emily said "is it a vegetable?" and the other woman shook her head. Emily asked "is it meat?" and the other woman said "it is a part of a cow". By then I was having trouble holding back my gags and Emily couldn't look at me without laughing. I looked at emily and said "Umm, I need to use the telephone" and ran upstairs to my safe room with my plate. Meanwhile, downstairs, after Emily had eaten a few bites, she finally found out what it was- a cow's stomach. The lining of a cow's stomach. So now when I don't like the food and I see no escape, I just look at Emily and say "I need to use the telephone."

8. Only in Peru can you have chicken soup for breakfast. Emily and I went with one of the Madre's, Rocio, to visit her family's house a few weeks ago. The next morning before returning to the Albergue, we went by her family's booth in a nearby market for breakfast. It was probably 8:30 in the morning and they asked what we wanted to eat- we were both thinking tea or coffee and maybe some bread. But our options turned out to be chicken soup, cebeche, rice and chicken or pasta with chicken. Emily went with the cebeche (which is raw fish marinated in lime and lemon juice- yes, I know she is crazy, but it is a favorite dish around here), Rocio had the chicken soup and I thought- I'll play it safe and get the pasta. You can't go wrong with pasta, right? Ummm, wrong. I took one bite and my mouth was on fire! Apparently the sauce had a lot of Aji in it- which is the spiciest stuff you can get. As soon as I took the bite my eyes started running and my lips swelled up. Turns out that I can't handle the aji.

7. Only in peru do you get sick from drinking cold water. (or say they say) Since being here Emily and I have both had a few bugs- we have had the sniffles, the sneezes and coughs. We are both fine now, but when we were sneezing, we were told soooo many times by everyone here that it is because we drink cold water. They said since we like our drinks cold, that infects the throat and makes you sick. This is a nation-wide belief. We were told by nurses, mothers, social workers and kids that we should never drink cold drinks. Furthermore, if you are sick you should not take showers- having water around your face or throat makes you much sicker. Also, when you are having trouble with your stomach or having bathroom issues, you should only drink warm water and occasionally tea- no juice, no soda, and especially no cold drinks!!

6. Only in Peru do I rate the food by how many gags I have. For example, yesterday was only a 1/2 gag day- so it was a really good meal, but there have been meals with as many as 7 gags- that might have been the stomach day. :)

5. I know I have talked about taking the micro before- but just for a recap- they are these buses that each have different routes and go around picking up people. You just have stick your hand out and wave and the bus stops (or sometimes pauses) and you get on. One day Emily and I were in downtown Trujillo and were wanting to go back the Albergue. It was around lunch time and the micros were a little bit overcrowded. When we got on all the seats were taken but there was plenty of standing room- at first. The micro kept letting more and more people on. They never refused a person even though we were standing so close. Emily was farther back on the bus and she eventually got a seat but I was at the very front. I had positioned myself so that I was in a corner by the window- but I was surrounded by people- I had nothing valuable so don't worry about pick-pocketing- but lets just say that there is no such thing as personal space here. I was completely against the window and had 3 people pressed against me from 3 sides. I didn't know them but after that ride i felt like we should be friends or something. Only in peru would they have no capacity number and transport people like animals.

4. Only in Peru would you spend a friday night picking lice out of little girls hair. At the orphanage, there is a little problem with lice- okay so it is a huge problem and all of the girls have it. It is so hard to get rid of because there are 20 girls and if one of them has it, they all do. The teachers at the school decided that they were going to crack down on it so they said- you have 2 days to get rid of all the lice or the kids can't come to school anymore. So Emily and I have now spent hours upon hours sitting with heads in our lap picking out lice. I would be okay with never seeing one again in my life! The girls would all be picking out of each other's head and there would be 3 or 4 of them all at different levels in a train looking through hair. We haven't gotten rid of the problem because the madre's don't feel it is necessary to wash the brushes and sheets after you pick it out of the hair- but i pray that someday before I leave we will be living lice free!

3. Only in Peru would a girl with green eyes and a girl with blonde hair cause a commotion. So I have dark, dark hair and green eyes- not very unusual or exciting, but here in Peru I am amazing to other people. Because everyone here has dark hair with dark eyes. I have been told about a million times that my eyes are pretty by people on the street, waitresses, every worker at the albergue and even the nurse when i was in the hospital. Emily has long blonde hair and is tall- both of which are very unusual here- people stop her on the street, yell "hello" at her all the time and generally are amazed. So the two of us together cause quite a scene- we have gotten really good at ignoring stares and whispers. Don't worry, it is not dangerous and the people just like to stare but it kind of makes you feel like a rock star! :)

2. Only in Peru is a twin size bed more then big enough for 2 adults. I have spent the night in the casistas a number of times now with the kids and the madres. It is always fun until we get to the part when it is time to go to sleep. The first time I was so confused because the madre said that two of the older kids could sleep in the room with us. They just pulled in one extra twin size mattress- I was thinking ' you just have a twin size bed, and so now there are only enough spaces for two people' - but no, the two girls layed down on one bed and she told me that we would sharing her bed. You can't move without waking up the other person and you have to both sleep sideways or hang off the bed. When Emily and i went to Rocio's house to spend the night a few weeks ago it was the same story- Emily and I shared one twin size bed, Rocio and her sister shared another and then 1 person slept on a couch cushion on the floor! Sometimes you can fit two adults and a child onto one bed. Needless to say, I always prepare myself before going to one of these sleepovers and come to terms with the fact that there won't be much sleeping going on. When we have slumber parties with the girls they always think that they should be allowed to sleep with us- For the slumber parties,Emily and I share a full size bed, so to them, we could fit all 4 kids plus us with no problem!!

1. Only in Peru would you get hugged by 40 kids everyday and get to see God at work in everyone's life around you. It really is amazing here to watch God work in the kids and the workers lives. I know that my heart is changing and I am maturing and growing. It is such an honor to be part of this ministry and to live my life with them. I love walking into the cafeteria and hearing 40 little voices say "Tia Janie! Tia Janie!". Those are the times I am reminded why I am here. I miss my family and friends like crazy and would love to have a hamburger and french fries, but when I see the kids smile and they come running to give me a hug, it is all worth it!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Birthdays, Bumper cars, and Bonitas Dias

Hello Everyone!!
Sorry that I haven't posted in awhile- the internet was not working for a few days and even when it is, sometimes it's sketchy! :) Last week was a really fun week- we got to to do a lot of things with the kids and it is always good to see them smiling. Because my family and friends donated money for my trip and I had more than I could ever use, I have been looking for things that are needed or things that are really wanted :). My friends and family have bought shoes for 22 of the kids, supplied lots of materials for craft time, purchased a baby walker for little Jose David (who by the way- took his first steps over the weekend!!!!), made it possible for internet to be installed in the offices downstairs, bought lanterns for the casistas for when there is no electricity, and now, they have made first ever birthday outings possible!!! Emily and I decided that all of the kids deserved at least one evening out with just a few other kids for their birthdays. We want them to experience exciting things and for them to feel special. So on Wednesday we took the 5 kids who had birthdays in September out to see a movie and to dinner. I posted pictures and more information below about that outing, but when I was posting the other pictures, I ran out of time so they I didn't talk a lot about what we did. So I will just have to tell you about the other outing now! On Thursday we took the kids that have birthdays in October out for their birthdays. There are 4 of them and they are all just the cutest! We took Khirsty (13 in 5 days), Estephany (8), Dani (5), and Brayan (5 on monday!) out for the evening. First we went to the beach- one of the other madres was taking her casista to the beach and a place called Playland Park for a treat so we decided to catch a ride with them. It was so funny at the beach because the kids wanted to get their feet wet- so they would walk down to the water line and wait for the wave to come in, but as soon as the wave started crashing, they would run away!. You should have seen them all waiting and waiting and then screeching and running the opposite direction. I could not stop laughing and it looked like so much fun so i of course had to get in on the action! But the first wave I tried to run from (notice I say tried) was a bigger wave and went up past my knees! The kids got soaked to their waists but they were all laughing and giggling so much, I don't think they minded! After we left the beach we all went to Playland Park- it is like an amusement park/fair. It had rides that you see at a fair but it was permanent. There we drove bumper cars (much screaming and more laughing involved), rode the carousel, and a few other rides. Khirsty rode one of the rides that was only for older kids/adults with Julissa, and said afterwards that she didn't know if her heart could do it again!! After Playland park, Julissa and her casista went back to the Albergue and Emily and I with the kids went to Roky's. It is a restaurant that has a big play area and really good french fries, so we were all happy. On our way back to the Albergue, Khirsty kept saying 'bonita dia' which means beautiful day. . . she said that she didn't want the day to end and wanted to stay out until 3 o'clock or 5 o'clock in the morning! I was just so happy to see all of the kids happy and joyful. They laughed and smiled so much and everytime we did something new- they would look at me or Emily as if to say “Really? I get to do this??”. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings we did something fun and different with the kids- each night I would go bed content and happy knowing that I helped to make a child happy. It was the best!
Right now, quite a few of the kids are sick- once one child gets something, it passes around to all the kids in no time. Several of them have a cough, soar throat, and a fever. Please pray for them!!
Thank you again to everyone that reads this blog, prays for me and the Albergue, and especially to those that leave comments! (you know I love them!) :)
I love you all!!!

Slumber party 2!

Emily and I hosted our second slumber party on Friday for Maria, Caroline and Yuli- First the girls jumped on the bed (above) and then all fell down together (below!) :) Maria and Caroline are jumping above, and all three are crumpled on the bed below!
Then we ate some peanut butter- because what is a Peruvian party without peanut butter??!!! From the left- Yuli, Caroline, Maria and Emily
Then we played Twister, which, by the way, Emily beat everyone but me at. It could have something to do with me pushing her over during our match, but who's to know??
And of course, no slumber party would be complete without being models!!!

October birthdays!

On Thursday we took October birthday kids out for the evening- it was so much fun!!! First we went to the beach and played at a small playground by the beach. . .

and then ran from waves . . . :)

Next we went to Roky's for dinner - it has a big play center for kids- this is Brayan.

It was a wonderful night!!! From the left- Dani, Janie, Khirsty, Emily, Brayan, and Estephanie

September Birthday's celebration!

Last Wednesday night Emily and I took all of the kids that had a birthday in September out for the evening. We wanted to make them feel special and do something that they would really enjoy. We decided to take them to see a movie- we found out that none of the 5 kids we brought had ever been to a movie before. It was so wonderful sharing this first with them. They had never seen chairs that fold up like the ones in the movie theater so it took them awhile to figure it out. They thought the chairs were broken at first and I had to show them how to sit in them. :) This picture is before the movie started in the foyer eating some ice cream! (because what is a birthday celebration without ice cream??) From the left- Ana, Kevin Arnold, Junior, Fiorella, and Maria.
After the movie we went to a restaurant called Roky's for dinner, they have a huge play center for kids. This is Junior relaxing. :)

All five of the kids wanted to play in the ball room where they wrestled and jumped and generally had a great time. Emily and I had a good time watching them as well because they were soooooo happy!It was a night that i will never forget and I hope the kids remember it forever as well! :)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Family and Ice cream

Hello Everyone!
I have been here for 7 weeks today- can you believe it? Somedays it seems like I just arrived and other days I feel like I have been here for months and months. I really love it here- I love the other workers- they are so incredibly sweet, generous and caring. Friends are really important here so the people here would bend over backwards and drop everything to help a friend. On Friday night Emily and I got to spend time with one of the co-workers in her house in Trujillo. Rocio is a madre here and is very sweet and fun. I had stayed at her house one other night but this time the differences and the lifestyle here really impacted me. She and her family share a small house. It is actually a small house with 3 rooms and then another tiny shack behind the house. Half of the people sleep in the tiny shack and the rest sleep in one room in the house. They share twin sized beds- at least two people per bed, sometimes with a child sharing it as well. They don't really have running water inside the house. I think for only an hour or so a day they have the ability to run the shower. The shower and the toilet are in little stalls in the hall- they don't have doors and you have to use a bucket of water to “flush”the toilet. The ceiling is part thatched roof but mostly just tin. The tin is held on by rocks. The family runs a little booth at a local market. The market is open 6 days a week from 4 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon. They make food and sell it at the market so they have to get up really early everyday to get the food ready. Their kitchen is outside and consists of a small stove and a sink. They don't have a car, or cable, or a working refrigerator. But they are an amazing family. Anything they have, they will offer to you. They all work together to make sure everyone is taken care of. There are 6 or 7 adults that live in the house and 3 or 4 children and they all work hard but love harder. While I was laying there in the middle of the night, unable to sleep because of roosters crowing (umm, aren't they just supposed to that in the morning???), dogs barking and Rocio talking in her sleep, I kept thinking- these people have really figured out what is important. So often at home I start thinking- “It would be nice to have a new car- mine is only 7 years old, but it would be fun to get a new one” or “I want my own apartment with my own bedroom, kitchen, everything!” or some other thing that I think is really important. But being with Rocio and her family I realized that to them, none of those things even cross their minds, because it is out of the realm of possibilities in their minds. The things that they concentrate on are helping their families, being with their friends, and honoring God. It made me become introspective and really examine the things I concentrate on and spend my time thinking about. I realized that if i stripped everything away and was just left with the people in my life I would still be more than okay. I am so incredibly blessed- my family is amazing- always supporting and ready to help me with anything i would ever need. They love me for me and if we lived here in a tiny house without running water, we would still be happy and loving. You don't need a nice house or cars or anything to have a complete life. Your life is complete with the people you love and that are important to you. My friends and family are wonderful and I am so thankful for them. God has blessed me more than I deserve.
This morning I was thinking how blessed I am to be here. Everyday I fall in love with the kids a little more. They are amazing and have perseavered through some of the most horrible, ugly situations. Knowing that most of them have been abused makes me sick to my stomach. I can't think about someone hurting one of these kids without crying. Today we are taking 3 of the kids to see a movie and out to dinner. They are the kids that had a birthday in September- I am sooo excited about it and cannot wait for 3:00 to come! :) It is so wonderful to get to see the kids experience things that they never have before. I don't know, but I think that they have all been to see a movie before- but they can probably count on one hand the number of times they have been. The other day, Julissa (the madre) and I had to run some errands in Trujillo so we brought Yen, the 2 year old with us. His eyes were huge the entire time we were walking around. His little eyes darted from one thing to another and he kept pointing out things. Julissa wanted to buy something in a market that was really crowded and crazy so Yen and I waited at a nearby park. I decided we both needed a treat so I bought us ice cream cones. Yen had never had an ice cream cone before- He kept trying to take bites out of it and couldn't really figure out how it worked. I got to teach him how to lick it!! :) It was adorable because every taste he would look at me and say “rico”- which means yummy. He did this with every single bite- he was very serious and didn't even crack a smile. :) It was adorable!
Right now I am kind of frustrated with some of the kids- they have this week off of school and so are constantly around- which means that they constantly want to be with me and know what i am doing. So as I am typing this I have one girl hanging over my shoulder and another staring at me. Two girls also have popped out from under the table! :) Crazy chicas! But even when they are being crazy and I have to get a little upset with them, I love them and am so glad I am here!!!!!
Thank you again for all of your support and prayers.
Love you all!


This is Karolina- I have talked about her before and the trouble I had with her when I first arrived, but i wanted to share with you her story. She is 7 or 8 years old and full of energy. She likes to be a comidian and can get VERY hyper. She also loves to play with the little children here. I call her a mamita(little mother). Yesterday we took the little ones outside to play and she stayed with us the whole time playing with them. She was abandoned several years ago by her birth parents. She has been living here for about 3 years. At the beginning of this year she was adopted by a woman in Trujillo. But, 3 months later the woman left her at the orphanage.
So she has now been abandoned twice. The woman said that she didn't want Karolina anymore because she was disobediant. But Karolina told the workers here that the woman abused her and was very unkind. Karolina struggles alot with trust and her temper. I would too if i had a past like hers. On Sunday Emily and I got to spend some time with her and she was soo sweet. With a little love and attention, Karolina was a different girl. She wanted to hug us both and wanted to make sure that we both knew she loved us equally. :)
Karolina is in desperate need of a forever family. It will take her awhile to be healed of past wounds and disappointments. Please pray for her heart to be healed and for her forever parents to find her. Behind all of the pain, she has a sweet spirit.

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