Saturday, November 30, 2013

In the Valley

My bff Katie Kat and I have a little joke about the so called "valley" deemed torturous by past student missionaries. You see the valley is the "place"/ "level" you reach when your mission experience no longer seems encouraging and positive but more normal, discouraging, and rough. The valley is where you hit rock bottom and have a hard time continuing to serve God.

It's funny because about a month after arriving in Peru Katie and I both were all "We reached the valley... wahhhh. We miss home. la la la" Then 2 months into it were like "ok we lied, we reached the real valley now (boo hoo)". And finally now after three months plus we laughingly say "We've hit the valley!!!" But now we say "Were definitely in the valley but we haven't hit rock bottom yet thus we will keep going" =)

We've gotten to the beautiful point where we laugh more about our struggles and joke about them instead of whining quite so much. For example, this week we have leeches in our showers (LEECHES), a rat got into my suitcase, we lack clean water, we have huge beetles, a large turkey claw thrown into my stomach, we were covered in big mud puddles, and 2 missionaries were threatened to be put into prison for doing good!! 

It's funny because although Holiday season is a little hard being here. I really miss my old friends and family more than I used too. I am also being captivated by Peru and the people here. I do love it here. I love the work I do! I love teaching swimming lessons; I love the dirty kids that cling to me and beg me to play with them or teach them English. I love teaching at the school and talking to the students. They do the cutest things like hide pimples with stickers or stick chocolate cookies in their white shirt pockets and try to pretend that I can't see them stealing little nbintes =) Oh my they are cute. I love learning Spanish slowly but surely. I even don't mind helping in the clinic, giving shots, or prescribing medicine. I know that I will never forget this place and that it is changing my life forever.

I've been here 100 days and I know that I won't come back to the states the same way I left. My heart is really being broke for the kids and the people here especially for the orphans and the kids that have no families. I am really seeing a different perspective of life.



Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving

Psalm 95: 2-3
Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the King above all Gods.

1 Timothy 4:4-5
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,  because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer

Wow today is a Thanksgiving like no other and I'm just so thankful for it- exactly the way it is. Sure, if I could have my family with me here- well that would just make this unbearably joyful- but even the way it is- it's crazy chaos with max and the kittens devouring our turkey, and crazy joy with the babies and three year old to kiss and hug. At 5 o clock our feast will start complete with mashed potatos, caramelized sweet potatos, turkey stuffing, and a nice apple pie. Plus we have each other, a unique but amazing family that I love and will miss so very much.

Today I'm wearing my little skirt I made out of fabric I got at a fabric store here. It's flowery and bright. I'm also hanging out a lot with Artemias who has had a good day licking my peanut butter forks and going swimming. (His favorite food is peanut butter and every time I share it with him I let him lick the fork. He just loves it and devours it like no other =)

I haven't seen any rats today- yay thank you God- since yesterday one went into my suitcase. I haven't seen any leeches either since yesterday Katy Kat and I cleaned the showers and restrooms (Leeches= for real gross) This morning though the boys delivered a special Thanksgiving surprise raw turkey claw right to my room and later to my bathroom while I was trying to change for swimming. What a shocker ;)

Tomorrow on Black Friday as people call it in the states, I will be getting to go Christmas shopping for the orphans for the first time! We have collected at least $1000 and just today we obtained the list with all of the orphan girls and boys.

Happy Thanksgiving. To all my family and friends back home I think about you all the time and love you more than I express. I am so thankful to God for your support and love =)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holiday time

Wow I can't believe that Thanksgiving is in 3 days and my family has just made the long haul to frigid Illinois to spend the holidays with family! It doesn't exactly feel like thanksgiving here especially with the sun beating down on us. Yet I have a lot to be thankful for! Yesterday six of us girls visited the orphanage for our sister ship mentor ship program and finger painted with the girls. I am so excited that we are able to go to the orphanage every week now and really be a part of the girls' lives! We have also raised around $1100 for the kids at the orphanage' Christmas presents and this Friday we will begin the Christmas shopping. I have amazing friends here who are like family to me! I love each and every one of them. I also get to talk to my family back home at least twice a week! I am also very thankful for my health. We are exposed to a lot here but God is so good to us!  So ya sure I miss things like family, turkey, and a clean shower- but as my dad says I've already had 18 years of American thanksgivings with them. I might as well enjoy the one I have here.          So much has been happening here lately I hardly know what to say. We're babysitting the 3 kids who are so sweet yet a ton of work! The little boy started to call me mommy which was really sweet but slightly worrisome so I am teaching him to call me "Tia" or aunt. I feed, bathe, and put him to bed every night but all of the sm's are really pitching in to take care of the kids. Some watch the babies; we all take turns. It's a really beautiful thing how Megan and Nelly initiated the entire thing and started helping this poor desperately sick mom. And now we have the children and are doing our best to love them as Christ would. I don't think the mother knows Jesus so we can pray that because of our help she experiences his love. It's looking like she'll have about a week more in the hospital so that means a week more with our adopted kids.          Monday was so much fun helping at the orphanage and our second week with our orphan sisters. My sister's name is Gabriella. She is a lesbian girl so I am doing my best to relate and show her Jesus. We finger painted with all of the girls and we are really starting to bond with them. Next week we are planning to have a spa day with the girls and help them fix their hair, paint their nails, and teach them about good hygiene. The girls are really loving us and they hug and hug on us not wanting us to go.

The Nut House- Thanksgiving Style

What happens when you put 15 co-ed college students, 2 one year old twins, and one 3 year old energetic boy in one house? Welcome to the nut house similar to cheaper by the dozen's family adventures minus the parents ;) Sometimes their is drama, sometimes huge masses of cooking, lots of messes, and extra extra loud noise- but always tons of joy and action. It's only 3 days away from Thanksgiving here and tomorrow we are starting the festivities with gift giving and cookies for all the kids around Pucallpa. Then Wednesday at the school where we teach we're having a big cook off competitions  with lots and lots of food. For thanksgiving day our whole sm family will come together and the k38 farm workers will get a day off and we'll swim and cook a missionary feast.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Busy and happy

Wow has it really been 3 months? Can Thanksgiving really be next Thursday?? There's this totally crazy feeling in my head that I've lived here so long but yet time is starting to go by so fast! I'm excited that lately work at AMOR has been uber exciting and fun. I'm also dumbfounded with how fast November is going.

There's so many projects going on right now. Here are some updates on everything that has been happening around here.

Teaching
 I've been teaching every Tuesday and Wednesday which is a really enjoyable experience. We wake up super early at 5:45 am and then Bernice and I take a motorcar alone to school. The kids are crazy and so hilarious. We are meeting two of them this Sunday at an ice cream shop just to talk. Teaching is also helping me learn Spanish a lot! I'm finally noticing some big improvements in my level of speaking and I have hope that if I keep practicing I will be conversational by April.

Swimming
We have about 45 kids attending swimming classes right now- lots of new kids. Our old kids have leveled up and the swimming teachers are much more proficient this time around because they know exactly how to teach. It's really exciting watching the kids make progress.

Health Seminars
We are planning a 6 day health seminar that we want to share with the community of Pucallpa as well as with neighboring cities. We will be teaching the public about good hygiene, teeth brushing, basic first aid, emergency medication, nutrition, and mental health. We have divided up into different areas and are working on making slideshows and notes for each. I'm working on creating a presentation on cuts and deep wounds as well as CPR and how to treat choking victims.

Pathfinders
We have switched a few things up but we are still running strong. This Saturday we will be taking all the Pathfinders to the hospital to visit different patients. This Sunday we are learning how to make tents. Soon in about 3 weeks we will be having another Pathfinder campout out at our own K38.

Clinic
The clinic has been running pretty smoothly lately. We all understand our different duties. Lately we even been getting the opportunity to practice minor surgeries which is pretty cool. I've watched a few tumor removals which is interesting. We have also started studying different medical topics. We just finished studying Dengue fever (scary!) and we're currently studying Type 2 Diabetes.

Christmas Orphanage Project
$1000 and 200 beanie babies raised which is so great! I'm overjoyed and so excited! I'm hoping we can raise a little bit more in the next couple weeks and soon we will start Christmas shopping for all the orphans! I honestly  am stunned about how God has been working and how a dream has truly become a reality thanks to all your help!

As you can see, a lot has happening. God has been blessing us! I want to thank you all for your prayers and support!

Homesick

It's only about a week til thanksgiving and it's been just over 100 days here in Peru. It's getting to the point in our journey where many of us student missionaries are really starting to miss our family and friends.

Don't get me wrong- we missed them from the beginning (or at least I did). In fact hardly a night goes by when before going to bed I don't look through my phone at all the pictures of my family and best friends and wonder how they're doing. Thinking about them and getting to see them again is what puts me to sleep at night.

It's hard to describe how much I miss them and how much I miss home in contrast to the joy of being here in Peru. When people ask you "How are you doing?" I don't want to be like "homesick and counting the days" yet sometimes it just seems so long. The thing I would hate the most is a cliche response like "I told you it was a long time, You can come home if you want too, or it's all part of the journey."

I have a really strong relationship with my immediate family. We are one of those families that sometimes seems like an American dream. We camp together, eat together, play together, swim together, travel to different states together, and kiss each other goodnight. Even though I haven't completely lived with my parents for 4 years because of boarding academy and college, I still miss them more than I can describe. In both academy and college I would call my mom two to three times a day and tell her everything that is going on with my life. Now I can't do that and it's hard.

Often I wonder about my friends and family back home. Do they really miss me? Is it even different now that I'm not there? Sometimes living in America seems only like a dream. It's not everyday reality to me anymore. I'm accustomed to living here. Yet as much as I love some of the projects I'm involved in here and absolutely adore my Peruvian family of 17 best friends- it doesn't take away the longing of home.

Sometimes when I feel homesick all I want to do is complain, whine, or mope but I'm learning that complaining won't do anything or change the situation. None of my friends want to hear how much I miss home- we all do miss it, but it's ok. We are learning that we are here only for a year which is so short compared to eternity and the other possible 85 years or so in America (however long an average lifespan is). We are learning that through our weaknesses and homesickness God is here with us. I'm also learning to pray for other student missionaries in different places around the world who might not have a missionary family of friends like I do here. I can't even imagine what it would be like without my best friends. To conclude, I just want to encourage you to pray for all the missionaries who are serving. During thanksgiving thank God that you can be close to your family and your friends!

Just now the Lord gave me this verse of comfort and assurance. Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is with you; He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Teacher Brooke

Yet again I'm a teacher =) (Following the footsteps of my superhero mom and dad!)  I taught in Korea this summer for 2 weeks and I really enjoyed it. Now I get the opportunity to teach English twice a week at an Adventist school here in Peru.  I've taught for 3 days so far- long days starting with a 6:30 am motocart ride from our clinic and ending at about 5:30. I'm really excited for the opportunity to teach a little bit here in Peru. Not only is it tremendously helping me with my Spanish, it's something new and exciting to switch things up for a little bit.

The kids here are so funny, sweet, and cute. They just love having Americans help them with their classes. Many of the girls are continuously coming up to me and calling me pretty or asking me if my blue eyes are real. Then after I tell them that yes they are real, they move on to the touch and feely stage of my hair. They think my hair is pretty even though it is mostly in a bun at school. Little do they know my hair is only long dreads. I told them one day I would show them my hair all the way down.

My friend and I assist the English teacher at the Adventist school and teach lessons for her different classes. We help with six classes in total some younger kids about 4th grader age and some for young teens around grade 8 or 9.  The generosity of the English teacher we work with as well as the other teachers of the school is astounding. They are so kind to us! Every day after school ends at 1:30 the English teacher has us over to her house for a Peruvian- home- cooked lunch. Even when her two children were sick with chickenpox and fever she still cooked us a huge homemade meal. She is just so warm and welcoming to us always providing for any of our needs.

Who would have thought being a teacher could be so exhausting? By the end of the day I am so tired and simply want to have a little alone time with myself and God. This week we've been quite busy with the continuation of evening evangelism seminars. My friend and I were commenting on how much energy it really takes to be Christ like. All throughout the day whenever we see kids we are constantly bombarded with hugs, kisses, questions, and noise- sometimes I just want to go in my room, shut the window (where kids peak in often to see where we sleep) and turn on earphones. But then I remember why I'm here. I 'm here because of Jesus and He lives in me- not my selfish self. So when I'm exhausted He gives me the strength I need to smile and talk and act excited to play with kids and more kids.. and more kids =)




Saturday, November 9, 2013

11/13/14

This past week was busy and exciting in more ways than one. I went to the school for the first time where I will be teaching English to kids at the Adventist school in Pucallpa. I had 3 swimming parties for my swim kids classes and 26 kids passed into the next Red Cross swimming level. I also talked to the orphanage about a new brother sister orphanage project we are starting where we will be mentoring students who have special needs. Tomorrow us missionaries will sing our traditional "Na na na na hey hey hey goodbye" fairwell song as we chase 3 of our student missionaries Raph, Ian, and Michael away and say goodbye. They are flying back to the good old United States.

Tonight is Acrofest back in Texas and it makes me just a little bit homesick to think that I could be there participating with Southern and seeing my cousin and many of my best friends. Sometimes I definitely do miss my friends and family back home alot! There are times when I just don't have the energy to continue or to smile or laugh with kids. That's when God really speaks me to my heart and gives me His strength to continue. I really do love mission work and despite all the struggles here (including my latest WORMS!!! gross I know) I feel like I was made for this!

So I will now be teaching English 2 days a week at the Adventist school at Pucallpa and I am really excited. Throughout the day I will teach a few classes with the older students around ages 15-17 and then after lunch at the local Peruvian teacher's house I will teach younger students an enrichment English program. I am teaching with my friend Bernice and I am really looking forward to learning alot of Spanish as you definitely have to know a little to teach the lessons well. We will leave the clinic at 6:30 am and return about 5:30 pm so some days will definitely be long!

Just yesterday I got to assist/ mostly watch my first minor surgery. I definitely learned that I have no desire to be a surgeon as I walked Dr. Matthews slice into a tumor and pull out a huge glob of bloody tissue. It was fascinating none the less and I was grateful for the opportunity to learn.

We have evangelism clinics going on this week at nights so that is quite exciting as well as exhausting. There is actually a pretty good turnout- probably 30 adults and 40 children- which is really amazing!

It's crazy to think that I've been here 2 months and 3 weeks. Sometimes it seems like I have been here an eternity. I definitely miss all of my friends and family from back home and I can't say enough how much I appreciate all your support, packages, and all the sweet cards. Thank you also for helping me raise money for the orphanage kids' Christmas project! I believe right now we have around $800 and I just can't wait to start Christmas shopping with the other SM's and then later get to live with the orphanage kids for 20 days!

Dios de bendiga - God bless =) With love, Brooklyn

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Jungle Adventure

Sometimes the best thing in the world is to be alone and to truly breathe in God and nature without any distractions. This past weekend I got to spend some time on an abandoned medical boat and I was really restored by the calm and the stillness and getting to spend some true quiet time with God.

Quietness is something I have learned to treasure because here at AMOR I hardly have five minutes to myself or to be alone. I have been here for 2 months and 3 weeks now! Totally crazy! But those 3 months and 3 weeks have been exciting and noisy so this time on the boat was especially appreciated.

Here is what I journaled about on the boat [ So here I am today in a place that seems like Paradise. I am on a boat. Yes that is right I am sitting on top of a medical outreach boat at Peru Projects looking out into the jungly Ucayali River, passing riverboats, huge trees, and wild aninmals. I praise God for brining me here to this boat right now because this quietness is exactly what I needed. It is pathfinder weekend and there is a ton of excited kids everywhere and lots and lots of noise.

I think I am in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I am surrounded by lush overgrown trees filled with monkeys and crazy birds. I hear the jumping of Little pyrhana fish in the wáter below me and I look far off to see pink fins of river dolphins in the distance. I hear the gentle roaring of the long boats that transport goods down through the Ucayali. yes this is truly Paradise!

I love Peru Projects because it is definitely the Amazon jungle like you truly imagine it. There is only one part of the jungle that truly bothers me. Can you guess what it is- snakes! I had a special Little snake adventure after our treasure hunt.

Saturday night we had a really fun treasure hunt for all of the Pathfinder children in the dark. Yes in the dark because in Peru things get a Little bit crazy. During the scavenger hunt all of us leaders had to hide in different áreas around the Project. I chose to hide in the boat and climbed to the very very top. I just layed down and watched the stars singing out to God. It was quite a long wait before alleek 40 of my Pathfinder group found me.

After the hunt, I walked with my Pathfinder girls back to the room only to find a huge snake perched right above our door! It was terrifying! We all yelled and ran under the snake to get to our room as fast as we could. Then we called for the doctor to come rescue us. The doctor came running ad after playing a dangerous game of piñata with the 5 foot 3 inch in diameter snake it finally crashed to the floor dead.

One more crazy part of our Pathfinder jungle camping adventure was swimming in the Ucayali! yup thats right we swam in the river with pyrhannas. Then we climbed the boat and jumped off the top it was like 30 feet! It was so much fun and so crazy!

The weekend was definitely a true jungle adventure!

Friday, November 1, 2013

2 Corinthians 4:16

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly, we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corintios 4:16-18
Por tanto, no nos desanimamos. Al contario, aunque por fuera nos vamos desgastado, por dentro nos vamos renovando dia tras dia. Pues los sufrimientos Gloria eternal que vale muchisimo mas que todo sufrimiento. Asi que no nos fijamos en lo visible sino en lo invisible, ya que lo que se ve es pasajero, mientras que lo que no se ve es eterno.

I would like to share an uplifting story with you about true faith and perseverance in Christ. It is one of my favorite stories in the book of Acts 16: 22-34.

Paul and Silas got thrown into prison for doing something good, expelling an evil demon that predicted the future in a slave girl. They were shackled down and put into the worst room of the prison. Yet instead of being discouraged, Paul and Silas began to sing and pray. They sang and prayed in exuberance at the top of their lungs to God, so that every prisoner heard their singing and prayers. At midnight an earthquake came upon the prison and the doors swung open and every prisoner's bindings were freed. The jailer rushed in terrified and after being comforted by Paul accepted Jesus Christ and converted His entire family.

I feel like if I were thrown into prison for doing something good, instead of sing songs and pray, I might question God. I might grumble to Him "Why are we here when we were only trying to do good for Your name?" "How can we tell others about you when we're stuck in a prison?" Yet Paul and Silas knew that God was working in ways they couldn't see. They trusted Him unconditionally so much so that they praised Him.

I long for faith like Paul's so badly. I want to see my life as only something temporary and solely profitable for the glory of God. I want to have faith in Christ that even when things I see don't make  sense, I can trust in the unseen plans of God.