Friday, December 27, 2013

So This is Christmas...

Christmas down South has been... an experience. In just a few words, I would describe it as:

1). Loud
2). Hot
3). Turkey

I realize Turkey isn't an adjective, but this is why I say turkey.

Our family cooked two of the biggest turkeys I've ever seen and one pig for Christmas. (I'll spare you the picture of the pig...).

On Christmas Eve, it was like any other day. Everyone worked a half day, people were shopping, and it was hot. I went with a friend to the mall to buy bread and fruitcake in the afternoon, and everyone was wearing shorts/tank tops while fifteen different Christmas songs were blaring at the same time. Speaking of fruitcake, I have never had so much fruitcake in my life. We've had some about every other day since the beginning of the month. They sure do love it. With hot chocolate. Even though it's 80 degrees.

I went to Catholic mass with my family and then we watched movies while waiting for the turkeys and pig to arrive. At midnight, we all hugged and then waited for the gifts. Then about 12:30, Santa Claus and his super helpful reindeer came down and gave out all the gifts. The adults did a Secret Santa.

There was lots of screaming, lots of loud music, and lots of laughing. A good time was had by all, and then we finally ate at about 1:30am. We ate turkey, pig, stuffing (of the turkey innards), bread, and fruitcake. Slightly different from the various platters in the States, but still delicious!

Then, we stayed up until 3:30 talking. On Christmas Day, it also felt like a normal day. Nobody really did anything and we had turkey leftovers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Yum.

Since there was nothing going on, I decided to go to the beach with a friend. We went without a map, without direction, and we arrived to a beautiful beach called Puerto Morí about 45 minutes from Trujillo. It was an awesome day for the beach and we had a blast. Especially when we couldn't get back to the main street so we hopped in someone's truck bed.

This was by far the strangest Christmas I've ever had, and it was hard to be away from my family, but it has made me appreciate the traditions and the fellowship we have. I am just thankful for technology that we were able to Skype!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Losing My Religion

Before you jump to conclusions, I haven't lost my religion, but I sure have learned a lot about it these last few weeks.

People in Perú and the States often ask me what the difference is between church here and there. I've always struggled with that question as there are many churches with different traditions, practices, and interpretations of the Word of God. I have finally come to the conclusion! Are you ready for it?

Aside from the fact that in Perú it is not divided Catholics and Protestants but rather Catholics and Christians, they have a much more urgent outlook about their Christianity. Evangelical Christianity in Perú is relatively new, and almost everyone I have met has an incredible story about how the Lord saved them from a life of alcohol, drugs, etc. These people are on fire.

Here's where the difference comes into play. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, because I would love to hear your opinion. In America, we are such an individualistic people that we see what the Lord has done in our life and how He has saved us, and that is sufficient. We are saved. Now we have the rest of our life to just kinda study the bible and have some good fellowship until we die and go to Heaven. We go about things so casually. From talking to the Peruvian believers I know, you would think the second coming was tomorrow! Daily evangelizing through our actions and words is a given. The church doesn't necessarily demand everyone to go out and evangelize, but it should be clear to anybody you come into contact with that you lead a life that is set apart from the rest.

In the States, we try to put our worldly preferences on God.
"Well, I don't like how that church plays music, so I want to go to another church."
"That pastor kinda rubs me the wrong way. His sermons are too long and I get bored."
The fact of the matter is, the Word of God is the Word of God, and any biblical teaching is good as long as it truly is biblical. I realize it is a little different here because at my church they don't listen to worldly music (not even Phil Wickham!), they don't dance, many women wear long skirts, etc. Their Christianity is simple. You follow Jesus or you don't. You dedicate your life to the Lord or you don't. The gray area doesn't exist. American Christians (as a huge generalization) are lukewarm. How many times have we gone out to party on a Saturday night and then rolled into church on Sunday like it was no big deal? How many times have we spoken badly about a brother or sister until they walk in the door and then suddenly they become one of our closest friends?

The Lord wants our hearts fully and He wants us to delight in Him without partaking of the things of this world. 1 John 2:15 says
"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them."
I haven't written this blog to call anyone out or even so say that I have all the answers now and am sure I won't fall into temptation. However, I have written it to help us realize that doing the bare minimum by confessing Jesus is the son of God and believing in our hearts that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9) is sufficient enough to get us into Heaven but that not changing our lives to reflect these views isn't holy and pleasing to God. Don't you want the One who gave you everything to be pleased and proud of you? We do that with our superiors here on the Earth, so why not for the One who created it all?

So where does it all start? I don't pretend to have all the answers. I know I don't because out of my pure laziness, I haven't studied the Bible like I should have in all the years I have been going to church. I've been able to slide by without it. But let me tell you friends, that's where the answers are. Take a look at 2 Timothy 3:9
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

There you have it, friends. Read the Word to fortify and edificar yourself, spread the Good News, and quit wasting time. The time is now!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Machu Picchu On My Mind

The time has finally come and passed!  My brother and I had an idea of a trip for months to Machu Picchu (one of the seven wonders of the world, people!), and he and I finally got to take that trip two weeks ago.

I was starting to get a little homesick, so his trip down here was perfect timing. Once again, thank you, Lord! We had a few days in Trujillo before taking off where we spent time with my family and exploring the city. His Spanish was actually quite impressive, and everyone loved him (of course).

After dinner with my families!

We had such a fun trip visiting Cusco and the outlying ruins on the first day after spending the night in the airport. Unfortunately the altitude affected us a lot. It was about 3300 meters above sea level. Thank goodness for coca tea!

View of Cusco from Sacsayhuaman ruins.

The second day, we headed out with only my backpack to visit The Sacred Valley and ruins along the way. This was our first real view of the mountains, and it was beautiful. Unfortunately, the height was affecting poor ole Robby, but we made it through the day and took the hour and a half train to Aguas Calientes (the city below Machu Picchu) in the evening.

First view of the Sacred Valley.

View of the Sacred Valley from the Pisaq ruins.

Ruins in Ollantaytambo. Awesome!

Finally, on Thanksgiving Day, we got to Machu Picchu! What a thing to be thankful for, am I right!? I never imagined that I would spend any Thanksgiving out of the country and much less on Machu Picchu! The ruins themselves truly weren't as interesting as the ruins in Ollantaytambo, but the view truly was breathtaking.

First look at Machu Picchu!

Machu Picchu from above on Huayna Picchu.

This trip wouldn't have happened without my big brother taking an adventurous leap and coming down here, so I'm very thankful for him! We were quite the pair maneuvering the country side, bartering with all the annoying vendors, and eating lots of weird food (from guinea pig to al paca)

Happy Thanksgiving!!

This is yet another bucket list item to be crossed off!

Thanks for an awesome vacation, Roberto!