Below you will find News and Commentary by the Linfeet......read and enjoy


 


Queen Kathi

Kathi is back! We were very excited to welcome her back, along with Kristi and Matthew, her two youngest children. Later they will reunite with the rest of their family, but in the meantime, they have come back with joy and goodies from the US-of-A. The girls are very happy to have the presence of the very tall and very blonde family and so are we! Now we have some more time to do blogs!


 

 

Jessica is here

Jessica Ewing came to POPPYS House late August (a few weeks ago), as a student missionary through Southern Adventist University. We are so excited to have her here. She is going to learn a lot of Spanish in her time here, especially since there are few volunteers.  (anyone interested?). It is so wonderful to have her here.

Jessica is a hard worker and has been learning the ropes here at POPPYS. We look forward to our last six weeks here with her.

 

 

LOCA TARA

We recently received an awesome package from a short-term volunteer that came a few months ago. She was known as "Loca Tara" because she is...loca. The girls were excited to get handmade t-shirts that had a random piece of fabric shaped as Peru with a button sewn at the part that marks Iquitos. They proudly wear their new shirts almost every day. Thanks Tara!

A wonderful family that invited us over for lunch today. Flor was in Aaron´s second loan group and has had great success in creating a business with the loan. Her husband supports her with her business ideas and is very loving to her and their children. We will miss them greatly.
Flor´s daughter and their kittens...the future rat hunters.


A beautiful sunset a few nights ago. Pictures never do justice.

 

 

Our newest girl, Meri, asked to have her baby dedicated...the same day she got baptized!

The changing rooms to prepare for baptism.

Above and below are the beautiful shots of when we were at the baptism.




Nelcy
Lots of people came to the afternoon event.

Before and after shots.

Our little Union Church had a potluck. It was really fun! Potlucks are not common down here, so it was exciting. It went so well we are having another one next week!

Gabi (sporting her new glasses) with Mili at the church potluck.

Sarai´s 6th birthday party. We made our own cake. Turned out nice!

As a monthly routine, we kill cockroaches in our storage rooms in the kitchen. We put on the face masks so we don´t die. Above, Meri, Jessica and I are smiling. Below, we have our killer game faces on!

Above and below are pictures when Aaron had to hold Marcos because he was throwing a fit. Here are both reactions.

A typical Aaron and Marcos shot. Marcos does anything and everything that Aaron does. He even dresses like him when possible.


Kelly´s Missing Tooth


June 8 did not start out as planned. It was our anniversary and Kelly woke up at 5 am frantically saying her tooth had disappeared in the night. I responded like a good ‘ole loving husband would at such an hour, “Kelly. Please just go back to bed.” Now is a good time for a side note. Kelly frequently talks in her sleep.

Kelly continued the conversation with, “Seriously, Aaron. I am not joking. My front tooth is missing.” Sadly, I cannot say that I was convinced –it still was really early and I had just been awakened. Finally she turned on the light and I was able to see the whole thing pan out –a slight chuckle was heard. Kelly then proceeded to tell me that when she was in 3rd grade, she chipped her tooth and had to have a filling. Fortunately, that filling lasted 17 years; unfortunately it decided to come out on our anniversary…

Kelly went into the bathroom to look in the mirror and figure out what to do, but she left me with the following instructions, “Aaron. Find my tooth!” My initial reaction was like, “Riiiigggghht.” I said a quick little prayer and without much ado, I was able to locate the rest of her tooth.

The rest of the day was spent running to the dentist and trying to figure out what to do next. Kelly was a great sport about it, but it sure was hard not to laugh when she opened her mouth. We were fortunate to hear about a dental group coming down from Denver, CO. the next week. Kelly was able to get a filling done, and it turned out beautiful. One could never tell the difference with her front tooth. Thank you God for working the problem out for us!



 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Stitches

The room next to ours is lacking a few things. It has taken some time, but the room is becoming more and more livable. This last week we have been putting in a ceiling –the final piece. During the process, one of the ceiling support boards decided to fall down from its anchor and come to rest on my head. Thus, I now have two, awesome, stitches.

The ER doc who gave me the stitches came in saying, “Nice. Give me five minutes max and you will be out of here.” I should have known. It turned out to be a rough process. After being anesthetized (so as to not “feel anything”), he was so determined to tie the stitches so tightly, yanking my head around, that it felt like he was trying to tie together two ships, with rope, during a storm. This all happened after vigorously cleaning my wound, or in a process as Kelly describes, “Scrubbing burnt, charred food from the bottom of a pan using steel wool.” And, surprisingly enough, it took roughly 5 minutes. But hey, I can’t complain, apparently the other hospitals in town don’t normally use anesthesia.


The picture below was taken after the ER trip and the blood shown are the streaks that dried up from dripping down from the edges of the wound. It just looked scary.


Kindergarten’s day out

On Earth Day the Kindergarten classes paraded down the streets of Santo Tomas singing songs and learning about nature. Here is a photo of them walking by our front gate.


 

What day was Cinco de Mayo?

Cinco de Mayo! What a cool day! Why? First of all, some battle happened in Mexico and it is hugely celebrated in the US. And...it´s my birthday!!! It was an awesome day (still is!) which started with a surprise presentation of a bunch of moustached girls singing me a Mexican song (might be the anthem) led by Princess. They crowned me with a sombrero and my own personal moustache. So cool!Above is our ¨revolutionary¨pose. Below, I´m Pancho Villa shooting my guns. Viva Mexico!

Andrew Corson...The Man with the Money

 

Thanks to a program set up by Andrew (a WWU student missionary), we have a micro-loans program here in Santo Tomas. This program was established last September, and has slowly grown with both members and the area that it covers. The idea is simple, find a need with people who want to start or further a business, give them education, support and then money to fund it.


 

We have been primarily focusing on women, and there are certain requirements that need to be met. If they make every meeting and payment on time, we will give them 5% of their interest back as an incentive in the end. This works to their advantage as well as ours –they also become eligible to be apart of the next group.

 

Micro-loans can be challenging. The more involved you get with a society, the more you want to help. With people, finding want is not the challenge, it is finding need. We have faced challenges from the culture, finding the appropriate rules, inadequate funding, shortage of time and people, and creating a system that is far different than anyone around here has ever known. One thing is certain, micro-loans work. They help people. We create a safe environment for borrowers who have access to low interest loans (from our research, most loans have interest rates of upwards of 20% and require substantial collateral), education (learning about appropriate purchases and health) and friendship.

 

Here we are after going to town in order to look for a bank. These women have never had a bank account, nor have they ever thought about having one. We went to a few banks, but quickly found out that was a bad idea. We decided to start our own bank. I will explain more later.

Here is one of our ladies, Meredith, selling food with her daughter outside her house. She sells food outside her house starting at 5 am, and sells all day until about 10 pm at night.

Here is another one of the ladies, Teresa. She runs a small little bodega (store). She also makes butterflies to sell to a painter, who then in turn sells them to tourists.

 

Run Baby Run

 In honor of the Santo Tomas schools 49th anniversary, last week was filled with games, fun activities, competitions and ultimately no school for multiple days. One of the days had a fun run for the whole school –it was funny to see how many people wanted to beat the tall, white guy. I went running with the girls and was able to snap some shots.


Here we all are at 7 am. Just about everyone was excited.

Here we are amidst the masses. The entire school ran. There was a little bit of mayhem, but it was a lot of fun.

Here is Jessica, very front with a arm around her, in the middle of the race. It was time for a break.

Here I am with Milagros during the race. My beard actually made me faster... at least that is what I told all the little kids.

The Power is Stolen
CJ and Andrew Head for the US

 

After devoting 8 months of service to the People of Peru Project, Andrew and CJ (volunteers from Walla Walla University) took off the first of June to head home. They have put in an incredible amount of time at POPPYS House, and the girls have formed deep relationships with them both (when we saw them off at the airport there was somewhat of a somber mood, the girls were very sad to see them go). CJ has been helping out with Angel and random projects at the office. Andrew was here helping spearheading Micro-Finance and was later pulled into a myriad of roles. We were very sad to see them go, but we are overjoyed with what they provided this last year. We wish them the best of luck as they do a quick tour around Peru before heading back home, and then to back to school.


 




Who Works at POPPYS house?
  • Lisa & Casey (Big Momma & Papa/Directors)
  • Here since January of 2008, these two have been feverishly working to improve and run the POPPYS House program. They are both irreplaceable. When not here, Casey is a teacher and Lisa is a nurse back in the States.

  • Aaron & Kelly (Prince and Princess/Assistant Directors)
  • We have been here since September of 2008. We have also been feverishly working to learn the program out here at POPPYS House. Back home, Kelly is a high school Math and Spanish teacher, and Aaron has a degree in Business/Finance.

  • Susana (Education Superintendent/Teacher)

  • Susana is a recent addition since her graduation from the university as an elementary education teacher.  She has done nothing but improve our program. She accompanies the girls to school everyday, conversing with the teachers, checking on homework, projects and tutoring etc… She has a huge heart, a desire to teach, and love for everyone.

  • Juanito (McGuiver/Groundskeeper)

  • A father of 12 kids, this hard working individual can make anything. He is the most resourceful person we have ever met. He is an incredible example to the girls of a kind, patient, hardworking and God-fearing man.

  • Mother Teresa (Super-Mom/Nanny)

  • This amazing woman helps with all of the kiddies. She reads to them, sings with/to them, plays with them, etc… She is an incredible example of love and kindness while parenting –something our girls are learning.
  • Aurelia (Kitchen Queen)

  • A fun, playful lady who is a quick friend and an amazing cook. She never seems to run out of meal ideas, and knows how to cook everything. She makes being in the kitchen a blast.


  • Lisa and Casey embarked on a 9+ week trip to Texas. Casey is trying to have a much needed surgery, and Lisa is working in order to maintain her nursing license. Keep them in your prayers.
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  • A few weeks ago a guy stopped by and asked me if I wanted to purchase a Kaman (a crocodile). Fortunately, he happened to bring it by –playing with it was not near as fun as I would have hopped. It was only a baby (a little over a foot in length), so he said it had plenty of time to grow (somewhere around the 5-6 foot range). I asked him if it made a good pet for children and he just stared at me – that apparently was not funny.
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  • The water is now receding with force. We were scared for some time because it would recede, and then a heavy rain would come, and then it would rise back up once again. We have removed all of the sandbags –they were laden with ants trying to escape the water…that was awesome –so we can now walk normally once again. We took away the kids playground however, so they are bummed. With the water receding, we have had a few sewer backups. A giant one happened the other day due to a huge frog that was stuck in the pipe. A few other ones have come from sticks.
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  • The other day, a kid stopped by asking me if we would like to purchase a sloth. Apparently it was eating peacefully in a tree, his dad saw it, shook the tree wildly, it fell down, and now it is up for a mandatory adoption.
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  • We recently came under the possession of an Achune. She looks like a tiny, little, cute, teddy bear/ant eater. This little animal is awesome in the sense that we can let in roam around our property and it will be content, but it is no angel. It digs ditches, climbs trees, has a unique scream and bites people when touched. The nice thing is that it likes to play by itself.
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  • I finally cut my hair. It started out with just our girls and my wife telling me how ugly and unbearable it was daily, but now that the whole community is saying it, so it is time to cut it off. It went well, except for the fact that the hair cutting shears broke half-way through the experience. What was supposed to be a 15 minute process gradually developed into an hour and a half safety/rescue mission. Thanks to Kelly, it is now bearable. However, this spurred the interest for a new haircut for Marcos…
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  • Marcos had his head shaved. He now looks like a Latin American Buddha. His mother attempted to give him a hair cut, but it turned out…um...well…a little ugly. So, she asked Kelly to shave his head to save him and give him a little dignity. Now, no-one can stop from chuckling when they see him.


This last weekend, one of our girls, Veronica, hand a band competition at one of the Plazas down town. Like any proud parent, we showed up with the family, and when it as her turn, we hooted and hollered. There were many weird looks from other people in the audience for two reasons, one, no-one else was there supporting our school (we live in a small town), and two, there was a monstrous white man (I prefer tall, dark and handsome) with a loud voice hooting and hollering (yours truly).

Our band, which was significantly under instrumented (we had recorders instead of a brass or winds section), managed to pull out a first place victory. It was a fun performance to watch, and even more exciting to see the under-dressed, under-budgeted, band from way outside the city, pull out a first place victory. Every school seemed to play the same songs; the difference came from the formations. We opted for a simple, quality, everyone-knew-it, formation, which was executed to perfection. Here is a photo of the Santo Tomas band. Veronica is in the front row wearing glasses.


Construction Starts Again

For about a week now, construction has been underway on the second floor of our second building. Some funds were donated to complete the two administrator’s rooms. Building down here is slow, period, but the building is starting to develop. It will be exciting to move into our new room and all of its improvements –windows looking out over the backside of our property, a security wall dividing the shower and bathroom (that’s right, security), and a sink actually in the bathroom. The foreman said two weeks more, but we will see –we know what Peruvian time is.
We have official Police Woman

Kelly and I were able to attend the official honoring of the school police this last week. As all of the students were standing in order, the parents went out and placed the insignias on their kids. We are fortunate to have two of our girls apart of this honor (Police are chosen based on attitudes, involvement, grades, etc…). Their job entails standing at the doors before school making sure every student has their insignia, proper clothes, hair in presentable order, and a few other minor things. Sadly though, they cannot write any tickets… They do however get to wear some pretty cool hats. Our two girls are Veronica and Jessica –both of which are incredible picks. There are a few other girls who are worthy, so hopefully they will be apart of this honor next year.



A City Wide Protest

This last week, the city of Iquitos decided to throw a protest for education and oil. After city-wide planning and encouragement, the entire city of Iquitos shut down for 24 hours (The fact that we live 25 minutes outside of town was beautiful. No-one celebrated anything, just carried on with their lives). People threw trash, glass, bricks, logs, and sticks in order to hinder, and stop, the traffic. Roads were blocked off, public transportation was non-existent, and every one was out in the street (literally) playing volleyball and soccer.

Due to there being no transportation, I took our cook back to her house on the other side of town. We were advised to stay off the main roads (bad idea), so we took back roads (horrible idea). Every other road was blocked off, and when you tried to pass through the barricade, people became enraged –I am fortunate in the fact that I am big, white, and male so there were no confrontations, only words exchanged. Everyone was out playing, and frustrated that you (or rather me and the other traffic) were trying to carry on with our lives. In over an hour of transportation, I saw 4 cops. Everything was incredible un-normal, but at the same time, normal for everyone else.

The next day, after the paro (strike in Spanish), everyone was back out in the streets, but this time cleaning everything up. It was an interesting strike in the fact that a strike, at least how I know it (parading around with signs, standing in front of the administration building, clashing with police –I think that the police actually stayed home from work and were participating), was no where to be found. Their idea of a strike was to just stay at home playing and throwing trash in the street. I don’t know how they judge strikes –as in how successful they are –but it was successful in the fact that it scared a bunch of gringos (there was a nursing group here from Washington that was adamant about not leaving the office). The strike did also increase business for the mechanics and tire repair shops –flat tires were rampant.

Sadly, I was unable to take any photos –maybe next time – but there was glass, burning trash, yard/random debris, everywhere you went. It reminded me of a scene out of the movie, “Black Hawk Down.” We learn something new every day down here…

Fishing from the Front Door

Well, the water is still rising. Everyone keeps saying that the water will recede this week, but we have heard that for three weeks straight. Today, after talking to someone, we found out that way back in 2000, the water was about 5 feet higher than it is currently. That mark was also reached back in 1993. Right now we have tons of sandbags, tons of water, and no sign of either of them going away. However, both will continue to multiply.

With the high water, the fish have been easier to access. We literally can fish from our front door. We can also fish from one of the doors to our dining hall. Here is a photo of some of the girls fishing. This area was once only a drain off for washing clothes (about 4 feet deeper than normal).

Here is a photo of the sand bagging crew. We realized that the few sand bags that we had, were not sufficient, so we decided to fill more. These girls were troopers and helped us fill 50 more.

Here we are celebrating. We enjoyed some ice cream afterwards, all of them enjoying themselves –Kevin thoroughly enjoyed himself as you can see (he had decided to give himself war paint about 20 minutes earlier…).

Eggxciting Times for a Birthday

This last Tuesday, we celebrated a quarter of a century birthday for Kelly. Tradition, as we have stated in the past, involves smashing eggs on the birthday persons head. Here is a wonderful shot of Kelly, just after a recent egging.

Keyla, the girl in the photo, made sure to get Kelly 4 times, just to make sure she felt special. Needless to say, the tradition involves numerous eggs. Every girl decided they wanted to get in on the action. I, Aaron, gave them access to the eggs, so there are no other photos because I was busy hiding from my wife…


Side note--Kelly's family sent a package that included birthday gear (Kelly's Peruvian pose for a picture) and a new companion for the monkey. Here is a picture of Herkie grooming him.

Easter Peruvian Style.....well?


We have been blessed to have additional hands out at POPPYS House these last 5 weeks. Sandi, from Idaho, has been down investing a tremendous amount of time and energy in our girls –especially their kids. Tina, also from Idaho, has been helping out tremendously these past 3 weeks.

These ladies have helped us stain the playhouse, do art projects with the children, read with them, and more. Sandi especially has put in an incredible amount of time with the kids. She helped us develop a schedule, allowing the kids to get the rest they need, while making time (special) to spend with their mothers in a one-on-one format. She helped the mom’s with a love first attitude, while still encouraging them along the way. Their help has been especially wonderful.

These ladies decided to throw together an American Easter. The girls went on an Easter Egg Hunt (or rather plastic bag filled with goodies adventure), decorated Easter Eggs, and devoured candy. It is safe to say that they love this American tradition.

We will greatly miss these ladies as they are now in Cuzco, but they have left a beautiful imprint in our kids’ lives. We are so grateful for the help that comes down. God has, and continues, to bless us. People that care, that show love, that show friendship, help breakdown the barriers that our girls have developed. The time that Sandi and Tina invested, and the love that they showed, have brought about an incredible and beautiful change in our girls’ lives. For that we are forever thankful.


POPPYS House is now Beech Front Property

This is NOT where we wanted a Swimming Pool!


All this water creeped in last weekend and we didn't have a single drop of rain. It has rained since this picture was taken. We currently have even more water and have placed sandbags all around the edge of the sidewalk. Our place is reminiscent of a war movie. But if you think about it, we have a beach (water and sand...bags). We even have fish swimming in front of our door. We caught one the other day.

The most recent favorite pastime--fishing.
We have more photos which will be posted on a later date shedding more light on our current situation. We happened to land ourselves in a year with the most water since the later 1990's... woohoo!

Marcos Snorkels for His Food!

Marcos falls asleep in his high chair every lunch and supper...every time.  It just so happened that this time, his plate had a bunch of food on it.  I guess it could be like a pillow.

Fear Factor Peruvian Style


I do not know quite how to explain this, except that Lisa wanted to try it. She did not eat it; however, this picture is crazy. This bug was found in a tree on our property by one of our girls, and quickly became the main attraction. It was enormous. It had 6 legs up front, and nothing on the whole backside. It was a squishy, slow, and an ugly bug. Thought you might enjoy the photo.


With much thanks to the dozens of volunteers and local craftsmen, the playhouse is now completed. We have a beautiful thatched roof, making this jungle gym look a little more authentic, and natural. The girls, and kids, love this structure.

Last minute, we decided to add an additional partial floor (now 3 floors), allowing the girls to go even higher. They love hanging out up there. Our plans include having a hammock on one floor, and we are in the midst of treating most of the wood, but other than those two items, this thing in now completed (and within budget –how many projects can say that…).

We made a slide out of polished wood and covered it to keep from burning any body parts on a hot day. This playhouse is fun, unique, and fully functional. Thanks to all the people in Michigan, as well as the numerous volunteer groups that have assisted in the creation of this fortress. We at POPPYS House are grateful.


And, now we just added 3 hammocks. Woohoo! It is the place to relax.


Random Pictures


Marcos falls asleep in his high chair every lunch and supper...every time.  It just so happened that this time, his plate had a bunch of food on it.  I guess it could be like a pillow.

Big ugly bug.  Never seen it before and hope to never see it again.  It was a 6 a.m. surprise.  I think the dogs tried to eat it and got it very wounded...temporarily.  It was moving its head around.  Veronica wanted to hold it.  I wanted to erase it from my memory, personally.  This picture does not do justice to its terrifying size.  It was 10 times bigger than it looks.

Our beloved guacamayos (you might refer to them as mccaws?...something like that).  Since the passing of the man who took care of them next door, they have joined us on our side of the fence.  They were just taken away today...for good.  I actually will miss them, even though their squacks were unnecessarily loud, they would occasionally attack us, they ruined every coconut tree they hung out in and took out some of the roofing on the public bathrooms.  They were beautiful birds.  

Aunt Who?

 

Ants are taking apart pieces of soap.  Ants take apart everything down here.  They are very helpful cleaners, if you want to be optimistic.  Leave anything out with the slightest hint of flavor or aroma (even wet shoes outside to dry) and it will be in a similar condition as this soap within minutes.
Big ugly bug.  Never seen it before and hope to never see it again.  It was a 6 a.m. surprise.  I think the dogs tried to eat it and got it very wounded...temporarily.  It was moving its head around.  Veronica wanted to hold it.  I wanted to erase it from my memory, personally.  This picture does not do justice to its terrifying size.  It was 10 times bigger than it looks.

Our beloved guacamayos (you might refer to them as mccaws?...something like that).  Since the passing of the man who took care of them next door, they have joined us on our side of the fence.  They were just taken away today...for good.  I actually will miss them, even though their squacks were unnecessarily loud, they would occasionally attack us, they ruined every coconut tree they hung out in and took out some of the roofing on the public bathrooms.  They were beautiful birds.  

Fighting with charcoal

Here is a photo, and blog, that we could not pass up. We still have no idea what happened, or how he got access to the charcoal, but Marcos found a way. We took this photo as he was enroute to find his mother. He knew something went wrong. He knew that he was dirty, but had no idea what to do from there. Hooray for kids!


Kevin Starts School

It took some time, but we were blessed to find a school in town that could address, and teach, Kevin’s needs. This is just the program that he has needed. His learning curve has been a little slow due to some unfortunate circumstances in his past, but his desire to go to school is still rampant. School is simple.  Through its simplicity though, it makes it easier for him to learn. It allows him not only to grow mentally, but also in his growth of being able to be apart from his mother (something we never thought was possible). Although his mornings start early –he leaves Santo Tomas with his mother at 6 a.m. –he is still excited and eager to head to school every morning. He is able to eat a small breakfast every morning at school, and his mother packs him a lunch. Here he is in his nice uniform and backpack. He is completely ready to head to school. This picture says it all.


Ice Cream comes to POPPYS House

Our second business is now underway. Through the profit that we made with the ice selling business, and a little help from Andrew Corson (down representing Walla Walla University doing micro-loans) through a loan, we were able to get a contract with an ice cream company. We now have our own, little machine and plenty of ice cream. Being only the second ice cream vendor in town –the other one being on the far side –we have an ample supply of business. We have already made enough to pay off the loan from Andrew.

Our idea is to have the girls run this endeavor by themselves, but we are a ways from reaching that goal. Right now, Olga, our oldest girl, has been devoting a little time throughout the day to sit and sell both ice and ice-cream. Business hours are not consistent, and with that our sales have also been inconsistent. This is a learning process. One in which the girls can actively take part and see (hopefully) that their investment is paying off (It is also a beautiful convenience for me and my ice-cream addiction. It has been fun, and costly, rationalizing how the more I purchase ice-cream, the more it helps the girls…). 

Medical and Dental Work Mixed with some Soccer and Shenandoah Valley Academy

A youthful group of about 55, representing Shenandoah Valley Academy (Virginia), came to offer a helping hand with the People of Peru Project. We were fortunate to be apart of some of their side projects out at POPPYS House.

First, they brought a plethora of medicine, allowing them to treat many people –here they are working in Santo Tomas. People were lining (actually crowding, there are no such things as lines) to visit with the nurses and doctor.

 Secondly, a dentist was able to treat some of our girls. He was even able to take care of Angel’s front tooth issue –now allowing him to grow some new teeth. Here is a photo of him working on Ana Victoria –from the look of this photo; she was not scared at all. 

Thirdly, our girls, upon hearing that this group had some good, female, soccer players, challenged them to a game. It was comical to watch as two cultures and styles clashed upon the field, but in the end, the gringas (girls of Shenandoah) pulled away with a win. Our girls (Lisa and Kelly played as well) LOVED the interaction and opportunity to play. We even had a few of local people (kids really) that showed up for support and commenting. 

Caring for your Teeth Herkie Style
Hygiene is very important, whether you’re a human or a monkey. Recently, Herkie has taken great interest in oral hygiene and Aaron and I feel very proud. We weren’t sure how we would handle the subject before, but there was no need to worry. Herkie was more than willing to initiate the process.
Look! Herkie has a toothbrush! And you’d never guess where he got it. I sure didn’t. That is, until I left him in the room alone for 30 seconds and returned to find him chewing the life out of my very own toothbrush. All he had to do was ask. Enjoy Herks!
Look! Herkie is flossing! Nothing beats flossing together as a family, except for bunch of other cool things that would beat it. Oh Herkie, get your own piece of floss! Ok, fine, I’ll share…again! We’re so proud of your new habits! At this rate, you’ll never have any cavities or root canals!

Here Herkie is trying to shave, but sadly, do to the danger of the razor, he has digressed into eating the shaving cream instead. Aaron needs to shave in secret, or else he will steal ALL of his shaving cream - seriously.

Soccer in the Stadium

Soccer in Iquitos is a BIG deal. Before kids can take their first steps, or even utter their first words, they are somehow learning to play soccer. We decided to take 16 of the local guys from Santo Tomas to play soccer in the stadium (we found out that you can rent the entire stadium for one hour, for $30). A lot of the guys have grown up watching professional soccer in the stadium, but never dreamed of actually playing there themselves.

They were so excited on the way to the stadium. We borrowed the organizations truck, and crammed everyone (17 people –Peruvian style) in it. They were singing the whole way there. It was amazing to see their faces, see them play, and hear their enthusiasm. It was a little weird playing on a field that didn’t have random mud pits and craters, but we quickly became accustomed (the field was actually made of turf and beautiful). The guys had an amazing time, and look forward to when we can do this again. Now everyone wants to go!


The Children's Story...and the Angel

When you hear parents talk about, “Oh, my four year old gets into everything,” you really don’t understand until you have a four year old of your own. With that being said, Angel is an amazing kid. He has the uncanny ability to get into EVERYTHING –he is 4 years old. When it comes to discipline, his biggest problem is that he is cute. When it comes to church, he loves going to children’s story, but whenever he goes, he tends to play with the vase, pull on the microphone cord, walk around the stage where the elders are sitting, etc…. I decided to sit with him this last week, and it turned into somewhat of a comical spectacle. Apparently sitting with your kid during children’s story is slightly different than in the States (I should have gotten the hint when I saw no other adults upfront). As I made my way to the stage, everyone snickered. As the story progressed, the lady telling the story would not stop giving me funny looks. Despite everything, Angel was able to sit and enjoy the story without leaving his seat. I did not exactly fit in upfront (both in size and presence) but learned that the children story is really for children.
Here is a photo of me trying to fit into the crowd…

 
Name: Herkimer Mbuku Linfoot

Age: Debateable, but about 6 months

Hobbies: Chewing on everything in sight

Favorite Food: Everything in sight (especially rubber erasers)

Quote: ¨Danger is my middle name¨

 

Summer School Celebration

  
Our girls have faithfully been attending summer school for the last three months. Most of the kids around here play soccer, swim, or sit around during break, with education the last thing on their mind. Our girls have been studiously learning new material, and relearning old stuff.
 
As an end of the year treat, we decided to take them to the pool. This is an Olympic sized pool, with few people (translation: one giant pool to have fun in). We were able to rent some water toys, purchase some ice cream (my personal favorite), and have some fun. The kids love getting their photo’s taken, so here are some shots.

This little dude has no fear, and no ability to swim. Not the best combination when it comes to swimming. He was a blast though, and would eagerly jump into the water. We had to keep a close eye on him.

 

 Food For the Hungery
 

One of the girls told me that there was a gentleman at our gate who wanted to sell spaghetti. We occasionally get some people (who hear that gringo’s live here) wanting to sell things. I greeted him, and fully expected to politely tell him, “Thank you, but no thanks.” He stopped me mid-sentence and told me that he was trying to give away 335 lbs. worth of spaghetti, and more than 200 rolls of toilet paper. This gentleman, who actually goes to church with us, had been trying to give this stuff away, and no one would accept. We gladly accepted.

After loading up all three of our workers with toilet paper and an abundance of spaghetti, we were still left with a mountain. Saturday afternoon, with the help of Juan, C.J., Susana, and all the girls, we distributed more than 200 lbs. of spaghetti (to get an idea, one package equals about one pound). It was an amazing experience. 

More than 30 families were able to receive food. It was enriching for our girls to be able to take part in sharing, but more importantly, giving a blessing of another meal.

 

Pen Pals

As a part of English class, we thought it would be fun to incorporate some sort of pen-pal type assignment with our girls with somewhere in the States. After talking with the Spanish teacher at Portland Adventist Academy, we were able to get this endeavor started. The Spanish Level II class has been corresponding with our girls now for the last month or so. Both groups have been meticulously decorating their letters, and writing in both Spanish and English. This has been an incredible learning opportunity for our girls, while making English a little more fun. Our girls are beginning to pick up on some phrases, and now with their correspondences, they are beginning to learn questions and answers. It sounds simple, but it is HUGE for our girls. Thank you PAA, we look forward to more letters.

 

Girls meet the internet

An internet café recently opened in Santo Tomas. As a part of business class, we decided to take the girls over, and find out some information on the web. This turned into more of a “How to” session. The girls were able to discover how much information is available at the mere click of a mouse. We looked up Peruvian history, United States history, maps, the value of currency, and how some countries are doing in this current “Financial Crisis.” It was incredible to see their eyes wide open, and their minds spinning. Right now, all of the girls want their own, personal, email address, but I think that we will wait and teach them a little more about how the computer and the internet work.

We have two computers here at POPPYS House (without internet, of course), and after playing around with them for a little bit the other day, they now both work. They are not very fast, but they get the job done. One of the computers even has Encarta 2007 (in Spanish). This program is astonishing. There is a plethora of information at the click of a mouse. With school starting now, it is hard to devote time each day to learning about the computers, but this is definitely something that we are going to set in motion for our girls. As long as we have the resources, computer literacy needs to be taught.

 

Farewell to Maria

Maria has been helping us for the last month, providing art activities for the girls. Although she came down with very little Spanish history (she had two months of classes), by the time she left, she was able to get by perfectly all by herself. The girls have embarked on learning new forms of art, identifying famous pieces, and learning art, even when organized, can be fun. The girls have done a variety of activities, including, portraits, face-painting, shading, and a most recently, celebrating a Chinese New Year. This last week, we made boats out of bamboo, and had the girls decorate them. We then proceeded to the river, and let them go with candles inside. Sadly, there was a slight breeze, so the candles did not last, but it turned into a fun swim. With the breeze, the boats actually sank, so the girls had to go swim and get them. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and refreshing as well (it is always hot here). We are going to miss Maria, but look forward to her coming back again, next year, with her family.

We Get a Girls Soccer Team

As Casey and Aaron have been eagerly playing in their soccer games, the girls of POPPYS House have also been playing. Every Sunday, the girls, including Lisa and Kelly, have gone to a near by pueblo (small town), and challenged them to a game. With everyone, we have just enough players –although it has been interesting these last few weeks with the girls having chicken pox. We have been fortunate, and always had enough –even if we had to call up people last minute.

We were able to outfit our team with some jerseys, making them look quite professional. We have some very talented players, but tend to be undersized, and a little under skilled. The teams they have been playing have been comprised mostly of middle aged women who talk a lot of “smack,” push a lot, and have been playing together for quite some time. These women are ferocious, intense, and are only your friends before the game, and a few days after. The games have been fairly close, although no wins have been tallied. Our girls are doing a wonderful job at playing hard, working on teamwork, recognizing each others skill, and having fun. It is great to see the girls playing together, and being led by two fearless gringos (Lisa and Kelly). This is a great bonding experience, one that everyone looks forward to. (We will post some photos soon).

Herkie Update




Bora Bora Tribe and Monkey Island

A couple weeks ago, Papa Paul and the organization took a group out for a day in the jungle. Lucky for us, this group included all the girls! We hopped on the organization’s boat and headed down the Amazon to visit a Bora Bora tribe and Monkey Island. It was a nice cool day.

The Boras did some tribal dances for us in the native (which now means "tourist") attire. As you can see, the native attire doesn't require much...and this group covers a lot more than other Bora groups. It was an experience. After the dancing, it was time to barter for goods. We brought random items to trade for their hand made goods--for us and for the girls. It was fun "purchasing" stuff without any cash. Gum can get a lot of bracelets. :)

After the Boras, we continued down river to Monkey Island, one of the coolest places ever. A monkey was waiting for us at the dock when we arrived and then it dug around our stuff in the boat. That was a little unsettling, so we carried our stuff with us. The choro monkeys (or as I call them, the "Curious George" monkeys) were all over us, wanting food. The people who run the island have fruit available to give to the monkeys. We met Herkie's distant cousin, who ate an uvilla on my shoulder (pictured below). He's not as cute as our monkey, but he's in the same basic family. Some monkeys, like the choros, were much more direct in their approach to getting food. For example, out of nowhere, one would jump from a limb to your shoulder, which was quite shocking at first. They also would grab backpacks. Then there were more shy monkeys, like the tamarins or the one that looked like a Dr. Seuss character, that would take a piece of fruit if you offered and then run off to eat it.
It was a wonderful day, being able to take advantage of the incredible things to do in the deeper jungle that most of the girls have never gotten to experience. And it was our first trip, as well. The girls had a lot of fun, even though some were a little scared of the monkeys. Here are a few pictures of the day.


A Visit from a Neighbor

This last Sunday, as we were coming home from our soccer games (both the girls and guys played), a monster met us at the sala (dinning room). This was some sort of Iguana/Lizard that had become a little lost. This is the biggest one we have seen out here. We tried to get him to leave nicely, but that resulted only in some crazy, snake-like, hissing. We then moved on to the broom. That seemed to work, but still he didn’t want to leave. Elvira, one of the former girls out here at POPPYS House, got up more courage than Casey or myself, and grabbed him by the tail (hence the photo below) and threw him into the river. He landed, and then swam away. The water level is high, giving us a nice river that runs, almost literally, up to our dining room. We will wait and see what else comes to visit…


Kevin and Sandra Arrive

Kevin and Sandra have been with us for about one week now. They are here for a three month stay, with Kevin helping out with the girls and their cases and Sandra helping out on the medical side. Kevin is putting together a much needed files system for and on the girls, both in creating new files (he has his masters in Social Work) and organizing old files from the government. Sandra, and nurse practitioner, has already started offering medical treatment and screenings for locals. We appreciate the work that they are doing and enjoy their company.

Here is a photo of them after helping out with a face-painting class out here with us.


Sharing is Caring: A Chicken Pox Story

Previously, we mentioned that Keyla had chicken pox. The poor girl got taken out bad by the disease, but she is finally on the tail end of her journey. We had been concerned about the spreading of the disease since, at this point, we have no reasonable way to quarantine any of the girls. However, in my naively non-medical eyes, I saw the disease taking its leave.

Well, that chicken pox sure is a little trooper. Like the little engine that could, it kept going and never giving up or losing hope. And now, after a 20 day incubation period, the disease is popping up everywhere like a screwed up game of whack-a-mole. Within the past four days, five more of our kids have gotten the pox—one of which had had the vaccine already. Not only that, there are a few more potential candidates who have yet to get poxed. I, too, am a potentially potentila candidate, since I have not had it, but had a vaccine. My only hope is that the US vaccines are way better than those down here. I would hate to be left out and all, but a selfish streak in me desires to never be touched by the disease.

There are so many lessons we can learn from chicken pox.

  1. Never give up. Everyone may be against you and trying to do everything in their power to stop you from being yourself. Don't let them bring you down.
  2. Share. With so much to offer, it would be unjust to not spread the love to those around you. Thank you for sharing, you dirty disease.
  3. In whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability. This disease could have been a few spots here and there, but no--that would be mediocrity. Poxy has put it's best effort in, covering all areas of the body with as many of it's little blisters as possible.

Thank you, chicken pox, for teaching us so many valuable life lessons.

Math Class.....A Frustration or Two!

Math is a subject that most of the girls struggle with. In school, the younger girls are still working on the basic operations still, but the older ones are in more advanced math while still struggling with the basic operations. We have math class four times a week (twice with older and twice with younger) and have been drilling them on the basic operations. The girls have enjoyed class because they can understand what’s going on, for the most part, and are getting the chance to improve areas that they aren’t working on in school anymore but severely affect their understanding in class. Soon we will be going over the concept of fractions, decimals, and percents, but currently, they have no clue what those are or how to use them.

Needless to say, the education system down here is not like that of the States. The rural public school out here in Santo Tomas that the girls attend is so poor that even the brightest and most eager learners will most surely fail—or barely pass—the first year of higher education. The local school is not exactly a prep school for college. It has minimal education and the graduates from that school either join the military or end up selling fish or bananas like everyone else.
We want so much more for our girls but we’re battling a serious education deficit. 


 Colegio Amazonas, has an incredible education, but is one of the top schools on this side of Peru (top in both academic success and price). The price to send our girls there would be great, since we’d be sending about a dozen, and they would all, or most all, fail because of being so far behind their academic standards. On top of that, the commute would be difficult, especially with such a quantity. On a good day, it would take about an hour taking motorcars and buses, and it may be impossible on some of the stormy days when our road gets wiped out.

It’s a sad reality. Someday we hope to get a school going out here in the rural so as to provide a better education, and hopefully inexpensive, for our girls and many children in these communities. It’s an impossible dream, but any plan God desires happens, be it possible or not.

Health Class

Lisa has been teaching Health class about once a week. The girls have been learning about personal hygiene –something that goes unnoticed and often forgotten down here. Teaching personal hygiene is very important, especially when you live with everyone in your class. Linda, who is down here with her husband doing evangelistic meetings, is also a nurse back home in Montana. She has been coming once a week and doing lessons on health as well, including drinking water, brushing your teeth, and eating and cooking with healthy foods. Her presentations are via computer and Power Point, and the girls have been very receptive. The presentations are in Spanish, making it much easier for following along. Linda has also asked who would be willing to give some of these presentations to other local people –we will see how it develops.

ART CLASS

Maria, a one month volunteer from Colorado, originally from Russia, (Kelly gives a huge Woop, Woop), has been teaching art class to the girls. The girls have had a fun time expressing themselves and learning a little bit about art history. They have made human portraits, copies of famous paintings, and even one of the Taj Majhal. Expressing your thoughts through painting is relaxing, creative, and healing. The girls will be sad to see Maria leave in a month, but her time here is being well spent.

Here are some examples of their artwork. We are really proud. If we had a fridge, we would put them on it, but, our website will have to work for now.


This is Lisa´s picture of Quistacocha, a local zoo and beach, and it was good enough to be placed upon the wall of awesomeness...






Starting a Business School with the Girls

Andrew (down here representing WWU and their micro-finance program) and I have been running a Personal Finance class for the girls, twice a week, for the last few weeks. Money is something that most people around here don’t have, and if they do happen to have, they do not know how to spend it. It has been fun going over topics like, “Spending vs. Saving,” “Is Money Good or Evil,” or “How can we start a business,” “What does the bible say about money,” and more.

 

Just recently we have been trying to start something that the girls could help manage, and run. Right now, we are underway in an ice business. We have an extra fridge, with freezer, free purified water, and access to cheap bags. The girls have been selling and managing the whole thing –they need some help, but that is where we come in. Down here, everyone goes to business, business doesn’t come to them. So, we began an ice-at-your-door program. We deliver the ice. Our freezer only holds a limited supply of ice, so right now we are just about at our max each day.

 

This small program has allowed the girls to see what demand is, supply, expenses, profits, and even if something is successful or not. Our goal is to start one or two more small businesses for the girls, but we are waiting. This is a chance for all of us to learn. It is exciting to see the girls actually getting into this though. They don’t really like the lectures, but they do enjoy the interactive, field-work days. Our ice business is even making a profit now…


Fresh Bread

Before Casey’s mom, Terry, left to go back home, she decided to make some fresh bread. It was the best tasting bread we have tasted. We always purchase our bread from in town, which tastes good, but it is impossible to beat the taste of fresh bread out of the oven. Fortunately for us, Terry was able to teach our cook, Aurelea, how to make fresh bread; we are forever grateful. Even though we live in the middle of the jungle, we are still able to enjoy fresh bread and butter.



Soccer Starts

We kicked off soccer season this last Sunday with a hard-faught loss;3 to 2. Our sharp looking jersey´s are compliments of the organization -however there was a misspelling with POPPY'S HAUSE. That error is not biggie, the jersey´s still look good. Our team is made up of players who live right around us. There are approximately 9 teams in Santo Tomas, and each street has there own team. Casey and I play soccer all the time down here, but we still have a long way to go. These guys play soccer all the time. As soon as they are able to breath they are kicking a ball around. I have a lot to learn, but it is fun, and the guys we play with are at least familiar. If our team does well, and wins our city league, then we could go on to play at the stadium. Granted, we should probably get a win first, but still, the possibilities...
This is a beautiful picture of my biggest fan. Good thing, everyone else just laughs at me. When a gringo makes a mistake, the WHOLE town knows and laughs about it. After the game, I was still wearing my jersey, all the way home people kept asking me, ¨Why didn't you win,¨ and, ¨why didn't you score a goal?¨ I told them that Jesus wanted the other team to win.
Here we are with our game faces on. We are the gringo assassins. But we really just get assassinated on the field a lot. You can see the clouds moving in behind us. About 5 minutes after this photo, the heavens let loose. It was fun, at times, to play in the rain. The sad part was that they put away the good ball (which isn´t saying much) and brought out the solid rubber, flat one, to weather the storm -as if playing with the other ball wasn't´t bad enough.

Here we are doing our pre-game stretches. Casey is old (not really, but says he is), so he needs to stretch. I was just there for morale support.

Kayla gets Chicken Pox

 

We still don’t truly know who gave them to Kayla, but she has chicken pox. Fortunately for us, and most of the kids here, they have been vaccinated; however there is still a chance that someone might get it. If any of you have ever had chicken pox, they are not fun –they don’t feel or look good. Kayla has been dealing with it the best she can (trying to rest a lot), and all the while still trying to be a mother. It is sad to see her like this, but hopefully this means now that she will not get it ever again.

 

Bad Road made Better




This last week, our road was physically impossible to drive on. We have been having a significant amount of rain, and with it, we were shut off from the city. Fortunately for us, the city only let this go on for two days before sending out a crew to try and open it up. They brought out 3 huge machines, a ton of dirt, and plowed our road. We were grateful to have our road opened up, but they brought in too much sand, and now it has not rained in 4 days. So, it went from being impassable from all the mud, to now being incredibly sandy –almost one extreme to the next.
 
They were actually able to fix our road all the way down to where the plaza is in Santo Tomas. We were grateful until we walked outside our gate and realized that our driveway was obliterated. So now, not only were our motorcycles stranded, but so was the bus that they decided to park in our land (we use this for hauling the girls to church and other functions in and around town). It was a 3 foot drop! Thanks to some help from the office guys, we were able to make-shift it for the time being, and more work will follow this week. Looks like some of the machines worked to our disadvantage as well.



Giant, Man-eating Beetle

 

 

Princesa's New Haircut

Let me preface this by saying, the Armadillo look is in. One of the girls went out on a mission to relieve Princesa of all her matted hair. Sadly, at least for Princesa and the dog fashion industry, it transitioned into an experiment. Here is how is all ended.

Our apologies, but a dog was actually harmed in this activity.................. emotionally.




Guitar  Lessons

Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, the girls have options of taking electives. Our plan is to have swimming, voice, music, and guitar lessons, however, only the guitar one is up and running at this time. Paul, the president of the organization, has been coming out and teaching 5 to 6 girls the basics of guitar. Fortunately, some of the groups over the years have left guitars down here, so we have 3 to work with. We are just beginning with the lessons –weeding out the girls really. Some of the girls don’t want to continue sadly. The ones that we do have, shown in the picture below, are doing great. Aaron gets to assist as well, and enjoys it immensely.
Music is such an incredible gift, and we are excited to be able to share this with the girls and give them a little something extra as well. Rosany has been the one that is rising above the other students. She is pictured in the first photo with a guitar. She has been practicing and retaining the most. Because of her desire, and effort, she has been loaned a guitar by the organization. Paul has said that any girl that learns the basics of guitar, and can play along with him semi-proficiently, he will purchase a guitar for them. Rosany has been the only one to truly take on this offer. She has devoted time to practicing, and has caught on fairly rapidly. At this pace, looks like she will be the first to take a guitar from Paul.