Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Feliz Navidad 2007

Dear Friends and Family,

We are in the middle celebrating our first Christmas here in Lima. The first day of summer this past weekend ushered in much warmer weather, and virtually no cloud cover. That mean the pool, though still chilly, is very inviting. Our two oldest daughters are visiting from Houston. Here is a picture of all of us by poolside on Christmas Day.

I wish I could convey a sense of what it feels like to live here. We get to see the face of poverty, last night on Christmas Eve, more than most times. But, we have seen it first hand far more than we did in the US. Not that poverty didn't exist. But somehow, seeing what we tend to call poor folks in Houston, wearing designer tennis shoes can't match up to seeing a very young woman pulling a toddler, and wearing an infant on her back, moving from car to car asking for money.

It has also been difficult to turn a blind eye to those who beg at the street corners. Those who know our family know that we seldom passed up the chance to help those in need when we lived in the USA. But here, it is for our safety. Most who beg are sincerely in need. But there are those who are waiting for the unwary to open their window so a quick grab for a purse, or worse, can happen.

On a more uplifting note, we were able to celebrate Christmas Eve Mass with our new English Mass community. Every major event has plenty of fireworks to usher in the day. Christmas Eve was very noisy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

TGI Friday's ~ Peruvian Style

One Friday evening we were in the need for some "American" food. So we piled into our car, and Tom drove us to one of several American style restaurants now in Lima. We chose TGI Fridays. Very similar to ones we have been in back in Houston. Some differences, though, naturally since we were in Peru.

Here are some shots of us in the restaurant. The servers were all wearing crazy hats. Our waitress had a top hat. Another had a bull on his head. There were some pirates, cowboys, safari hats, ski caps and clown hats. You name it, and likely, it was there! The servers were all very young, enthusiastic, and of all ethnic origins. It is funny to see a tall, svelte black woman and hear her speaking fluent Spanish. We have learned that Peruvians come in all shapes, sizes and ethnic origins.

Our server was more typically Peruvian. Her smile was infectious, and helped make up for our lack of skill in speaking Spanish. The time honored practice of pointing to the menu holds true here, too. Unfortunately, or rather, allowing for some adventure, ordering the options was a different matter. Meghan ordered onion rings with her burger. Besides the fact that her burger was HUGE, it included not just fried onion rings, but raw onion rings, too. Mary ordered a burger, and said 'medio,' when asked how she wanted it cooked. (We didn't know how to say well done.) Mary passed on eating her burger as 'medio' was more closely related to rare, and instead concentated on her delicious papas fritas. Peter ordered ribs, and a huge plate appeared! He was in seventh heaven, as he munched away, though you wouldn't know it by his picture. Tom and I enjoyed glasses of excellent wine, along with our meals. We had enough to take home for lunch the following day.

It took about 45 minutes, after completing our meal, to catch our server and get our bill. Then it took another 20 minutes to get it paid! That is where we see a huge difference between Lima and Houston. Their goal is service, but not speed. Where, usually, in Houston the goal is to get another party to the table asap.

Another adventure into traffic, a few close calls, as usual, and we made it back home, safe and sound!

Night time visitor

As it happens, last Thursday evening we were watching a movie in our family room, and a visitor dropped down into our interior garden. Fortunately, both sliding glass doors were closed.

At first we didn't believe Peter's report, that a rat had dropped from the roof! After all, it seemed highly unlikely, at least so we thought. But, sure enough, he called us over to the door, and there, trying to hide at the base of the small tree was a brown rat.

He was about half the size of our smallest cat, Dolly. We put both Dolly and Ziggy, our huge male cat, into the garden, hoping that they would scare it back out. Dolly was extremely interested, once she saw the rat. Ziggy just wanted to go back inside to resume the last of his 23 hour nap.

We gave Dolly about thirty minutes, but then quickly grabbed both cats, closed, and locked the sliding glass doors. Meghan's room opens into the garden, and she reported hearing the rat attempting to find a way out. Dolly spent her evening with her head between the vertical blinds, watching it.

Early the next morning, the rat was still around, but had managed to climb a vine onto a shelf. Dolly zoomed outside as soon as one of the doors at the back of the house was opened. She climbed the guava tree, leapt onto the cabana, and disappeared. The rat had moved back down into the garden, and climbed the little tree. There he sat, perched, and perfectly still.

Tom went off to work, and his Spanish lessons, and I puttered around, keeping an eye out for Dolly. The kids woke up, and saw mister rat still sitting in the tree.

When our housekeeper, Martha, arrived, I quickly ushered her back to show it to her. She exclaimed, and indicated that as soon as our chauffeur, Manuel, arrived she would have him get rid of it.

Manuel succeeded, and I didn't ask about the remains. As a nice sidelight to our unwanted visitor, Martha arranged with our gardener to have it made beautiful, again.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Mi Buena Amiga

After posting to my Little Way list on Yahoo Groups, a dear friend came to my rescue. She read about not having access to my blog and graciously opened this new one. Just a quick thank you, and virtual hug to mi amiga, Robin!

Your Sister in the Trinity,


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Finding a Little Sanctity Amid a LOT of Dust!!!

Dear Sisters,

We are settling in after our move across the equator. Last Saturday we were pleasantly surprised by getting internet connected in our home about 4 weeks before we thought it would happen. That helps counterbalance waiting over a week for a new clothes dryer to get installed. Life has been an adventure. That is our code word now when we begin to feel a bit of stress surrounding this move into a new culture, new continent, new hemisphere.

Much that I simply had grown used to in Houston isn't available here. But, overall, I think this move is good, and will continue to be for our family. Lima is large, noisy, fast and slow paced, depending on what you want or need to do. My Spanish is coming along out of necessity, as our household help speaks less English than I do Spanish. Fortunately, the universal smile and learning to pantomime helps!

I had hoped to begin a blog in order to chronicle our adventures here. I still intend to do so, but the problem is I signed up for one and my user name, as well as password are securely locked away in our desktop computer in Houston! Once that gets resolved, I will pass on a link.

I hope you are all actively seeking the hidden sanctity within your vocation. A friend sent a beautiful story that related building cathedrals to mothers. It came at just the right moment for me, about 4 days after our move. My husband looked at me, and asked why I was crying. I was so choked up, I couldn't respond ... however, I did manage to let him know they were good tears. So much that we do is hidden, and rightly so. Remember that first and foremost, you are a beautiful child of God. Our loving Father wants our best, and blesses us with challenges that stretch and mold us into souls more able to accomplish His will.

More later ... and may your eve of All Saints be abundantly blessed!

Your Sister in the Trinity,

(from Little Way e-mail of 10/31/07)