Saludos de Arequipa Peru!
This past week has been one of the most emotional and profound weeks I have experienced so far. I have never felt such peace sustaining me as I have in these past few days. It is also an indescribible feeling to know that I am exactly where I am suppose to be and to feel at home with people I just met and a country I haven't even been in for more than four days!
I joined my new family in L.A. on the 31st of January and we began our Peruvian adventure together. We went through four days of training and orientation; both cross-culturally and specifically with Extreme Nazarene. I had the opportunity to spend some time with some dear friends of mine, Joel Tooley and Rachel Kuhn. Both of them had a huge impact on my journey in following God's call to missions in my life. During our time in L.A., I learned so much about myself and the way that God had been preparing me all along for this journey. It was encouraging to talk with my new teammates about their stories and how God had called them to also be a light in the darkness. Eventhough we come from various walks of life, we have all bonded and united with our desire and passion for the people of Peru.
We left L.A. on Friday the 5th at 1a.m. and arrived in Arequipa, Peru 16 hours later! It was an exhausting day, but we made it through without any problems. I had my first leadership opportunity using my Spanish thrusted upon me in the airport in Lima. Since I was the only one who was able to speak well enough, I was asked to represent the entire group and get them checked in to our flight. It was overwhelming at first, but I was thankful I was able to use my Spanish to help my new family. I was also able to witness for the first time in Spanish on our flight from Lima to Arequipa which was really exciting and encouraging! We were greeted by several of the Extreme staff who had been working and helping us in getting to this part of our journey. It was such a beautiful sight to be welcomed by so many, it really felt like I was coming home. That night we went home with our Peruvian families and settled in to our new homes. I am rooming with my instant friend Cailyn who is also from Ohio and will be going to Cusco with me. We have a wonderful host family who enjoys spending time chatting with us and are interested in our beliefs and our mission!
On Saturday, I woke up to the sounds of the city and felt as though I was in a different world! We took a short tour of the bus system and then were treated to lunch by the director of Extreme. He then challenged us to go to a market and try jugo de rana (frog juice)! I had seen a video of this before and was sure that I would never do something so disgusting in my life, but I stepped up to the challenge, as did the rest of my team, and drank liquid frog! I am now offically able to eat or do anything "extreme". I have a video to prove that I actually did it so you will all have to check it out!
We also had our first church service on Sunday which went really well and I understood a great part of it. All of our team is split among the 4 churches that are here in the city so that we can all be equally involved. The message happened to be about loving your neighbor as yourself which is obivously something that I need to grasp since it continues to come up! We started classes yesterday and they are going really well. We live 4 minutes from the school which is wonderful! Most of the material is just review for me and not challenging at all, but I am hoping that it will pick up soon. We also had a day of prayer and fasting followed by a time of lunch with the entire Extreme staff which is something we will continue every tuesday.
Sorry that these post have been so long! Thank you all for reading them and sharing in this experience with me and for your comments! I love to hear from you all! I promise to write more often so that my post are more like short novels! I hope you all are doing well!!!