Saturday, May 19, 2007

Andean Knitting Adventures: Poncho #1

I know that I've been writing an insane amount of blog entries but it's just because I have so much to write about!

Welcome to Chapter 1 of Carrie's Andean Knitting Adventures

Poncho #1
I just finished my 3rd knitting project: a poncho! This being my 3rd knitting venture, I wanted to try something simple again that was not a scarf. A poncho seemed like the perfect option. I didn't have circular needles to do one complete peice so I found a pattern that used two different peices that would be put together. I found some fun brown yarn on Lana Lane (that's not really what the street is called but there are several yarn stores like Palacio de Lanas (Yarn Palace) there). My pattern was a little fancier with eyelet holes so I had to pay more attention to what I was doing. Sometimes I would stop in the middle of what I was doing and say..."wait did I just do a yarn over or a double knit??"

In the end my peices looked way shorter than I thought they should be. My faithful Spanish profesor and avid knitter explained that I knitted them too tightly. Whoops! I have so much to learn. In knitting there is something called gauge that I'm not sure that I get yet. Making tassels took a long time but was fun. The sewing together was a little stressful. I did a backstitch like the pattern said but found that it left too much of a bulge. So I took out the yarn I used to sew it together and tried again with something else that I made up. Probably an experienced knitter would gasp at how I sewed it together but thankfully the yarn itself is inconsistent in makeup so it hides any bad stitch up job.

Thus my poncho was finished on Wednesday night. I proudly wore my creation to work the next day only to discover that my poncho likes to leave a part of itself behind when you wear it! Hee hee... I guess if I knew more about yarns, I would have figured that out beforehand. Ah well, I still like it and it sure is cozy and warm...almost like wearing a blanket. I think I'm gonna appreciate it a whole bunch in the next couple of frigid months!

Friday, May 18, 2007

¡Feliz Dia Mami!

Mother's Day is a big deal here!

It's so big in fact that our school decided to do a special "Mother's Day Program" last Friday. This program had each class preparing weeks ahead for a special number. The four yr. olds did a "dance" to a song that we all got to know sooooo well. I did actually get put in charge of coming up with something but I did help with the 5 yr old class. They sang "Mothers, We Love You" (to the tune of "Yes, Jesus Loves Me"). I got to help teach them and to sing the verse. The night before our performance, Miss Wendy decided to add another element to the number by making 13 present costumes complete with head and arm holes.

Besides the numbers by the classes, there was a special introduction, a talk by a dad and a song by the teachers (we sang a hymn in 4 prt harmony English). At the end of the program the students gave their moms special presents that they had made and then we passed out cake to everyone! Phew, there was a lot of preparation that went into the program but thankfully it went pretty well. The day of the program was craziness trying to get the kids ready and the program actually started a half-hour late because of the tardiness of many parents!

Whew! I'm glad it's over.. thankfully we only have 3 big programs throughout the year! Our next program is in July for Peruvian Independence day and the last is in December for Christmas. pheww.....

Enjoy the pictures!
The 5 yr old production (I'm singing in the background)
Carlos Daniel, you make a great present
First Grade waits in the "wings" for their turn.
Second Grade presented a song and drama about the 99 sheep and the one that ran away.
The second grade kids also shared sweet words for each of their moms.
This is my buddy Reynaldo (4 yr old class) who somehow had to sit through all the numbers. Pobrecito!
The third grad class presented a sock hop dance to Petra's song "Friends" (in Spanish).
The two boys in the 3rd grade had their own special roles in the dance!
The 1-3 grades also sang a song in Spanish and English for their moms.

Adventures in High Altitude Cooking: High Tea Scones

Last Friday night all the missionary ladies and daughters were invited to Regina's house for a Mother/Daughter Tea. I don't have a mother or daughter here but since I am a daughter, I was included in the event. I wanted to bring something tea-like so I decided to bring cucumber sandwiches and scones.

The cucumber sandwiches were no trouble because cream cheese is currently available at the grocery store close by. White "north american" style sliced bread was also available (despite the popularity for fresh bread instead of the prepackaged kind). So, I created a lovely tray of cucumber sandwiches and decorated it with grapes.

Now for the SCONES!
Here are the steps to Scone Making in Peru:

1. Find scone recipes and translate them to Spanish...all the while learning new words for "flatten", "triangular peices" and "cookie sheet".

2. Leave recipes for your faithful housekeeper.

3. Come home to find your poor housekeeper (who never even heard of scones) having some difficulties.

4. Help out your housekeeper and end up with scones that actually look like scones (instead of burnt cookies).

5. Enjoy the scones during the tea (and the "scone cookies" for the rest of the week).

The Cream:
The second step to the tea time snacks was to create a fake Devonshire or clotted cream. I used cream cheese instead of the rare cheese (from the cream cheese family) that I'm sure is only available in the United Kingdom. I mixed the cream cheese with cream, sugar and vanilla. The result was delicious but unfortunately I forgot the cream at home for the tea. Ah well, I enjoyed eating it all week with the left-over scones and scone cookies. We even made another batch of it this week to eat with fruit salad!!! YUM!! I also took some scones and cream to my hard-working and faithful housekeeper who had to put up with this gringa's strange recipe!!!

Our tea was lovely! There were about 18 moms and kids and we had lots of yummy finger foods and deserts. Afterwards we had a little program with dances by Destiny, Hannah & Orianna, a poem, a reading of a letter and a piano duet. It was a very sweet evening and a wonderful way to spend my first TEA in PERU!!!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Sheltering One

I recently was studying the book of Ruth. It's such a lovely story of redemption and I always enjoy reading the story of how God took a widow who was a foreigner without hope (or children) and made her a part of the Messianic lineage. This time however I was struck by the godly character of Boaz!! What a hunk!

I guess I should explain that since I was a teenager, my friends and I have referred to great godly "guys" as trees. It really comes from Psalm 1 where the righteous man is described as a tree. A slightly immature "guy" might be a sapling but the really godly ones are OAKS!!

Boaz can definitely be classified as an oak. The Bible calls him a "man of standing"....someone who was rich and influencial and yet closely connected to his workers and his land. It's beautiful to see how Ruth finds herself under Boaz's "shade." This is how Boaz shows Ruth kindness:

Boaz provided work and food in abundance for Ruth and her mother-in-law. He had the workers pull out extra grain for her. He invited her to eat with him and provided water and more than enough food. He became Ruth and Naomi's source of food and provision and he was generous!!

Boaz made sure that his workers treated Ruth with respect, he gave her a place among his servant girls and by inviting her to stay in his fields, he kept her from any harm that she might have suffered from men wanting to take advantage of a foreigner in dire straits.

Boaz spoke life to Ruth and he respected her. He told her how much he admired her for leaving her land/people and coming to Israel with her mother-in-law. He did not treat her like a "filthy foreigner" but he saw her character and respected her. He even said at one point that his fellow townsmen know that she is a woman of noble character.

As I studied this story, I realized that there is someone who is better than a billion Boaz's!! It's Christ! He is the ultimate tree in whom I find perfect SHELTER!!! In Christ, I have:

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." 2 Peter 1:3

"You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance." Psalm 32:7

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine." Isaiah 43:1

Wow! He is the ultimate Sheltering One and in his shade we find complete peace and blessing! Yay!

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1

Cusco: Quaint and Exciting

I know that my title sounds like some sort of tourist advertisement but this blog entry is honestly going to seem like it was paid for by the touris industry of Cusco. It all has to do with the delightful Saturday that I spent discovering the aforementioned town.

It all started out as a trip to the post office to try to reclaim another package. Yes, it was one of the dread #3 type of packages and the woman at the post office the day before had told me that I could come the next day at 9:00 to pick it up. She must have been confused because I discovered that the office was only open Mon-Fri (something I was pretty sure about but was hoping was wrong). The next thing to do was to find a notary for the letter that my housekeeper was going to take on Monday. I wasn't really sure where one was so I wandered up and down the cobblestone streets. I didn't not feel hurried or stressed and it was an excellent opportunity to explore a fascinating downtown. I happily discovered a couple artist supply stores but no notary. I found myself in Plaza Regocije and since it was such a beautiful sunny day and the fountain was splashing and happily calling me to come and stay for a bit, I took out my knitting and sat down to enjoy my favorite plaza. Besides a few people trying to sell me things and the men who were waiting for shoes to shine, I was pretty much left in peace. It was then and there that I decided that I had yet another reason to like Cusco: Pleasant plazas with happily dancing fountains...ahhhh....

Well, in case you are wondering, I found a notary and got home on the right combi (the last time I was downtown by myself, I got on the _wrong_ bus going somewhere I totally didn't want to go: UP!). Today, even though Marga had to wait for 3 hours, she was able to get my package out. I think the problem is mainly the people in the package area.... hummm...

My Saturday afternoon was spent planning for the next school week but on Saturday night I got to experience another face of Cusco: Cusco nightlife. Don't worry, I wasn't hanging out a discoteca! One of the teachers at my school, Luz invited me to come hang out with some of her friends from church. Since they usually hang out after youth group, I was invited to go to that first. It's a big church and the youth service was very exciting with great music and message. There were lots of jumping youths and since no one there knew that I was really too old for jumping around, I joined in!

After the service (it took a while to get out of there since several of the people were leaders), we headed downtown to La Nomade which is a quaint coffeehouse type of place. It had couch type chairs, low tables and games. There was live music that was a mix of jazz, blues and traditional Peruvian. Several of the band members were Christians and knew the people I came with. The music was very fun and besides the silly dancing that we were doing, we also got to dance with some of the band members. It was a small place and even though we were probably the only people not drinking, I think that we were the ones having the most fun. Those crazy Christians, they don't need alcohol to have fun! I taught them how to play Uno but one guy (who knew some English) kept saying: "One!" instead. It was great to actually have the chance to go out on the town! I was glad to get to know some other people and experience more of this quaint and exciting city.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Package Ordeal

I got my first package here in Peru!! Yay! You would think that getting a package here would be a thrilling and exciting event. It is exciting but as I found out, it can also be quite an ordeal.

There are three types of packages that you can get here:

1. Small envelope packages that fit in the PO box
2. Bigger packages that are less than 1 kilo (2.2 pounds)
3. Packages that are over 2.2 pounds

The first is simple: you just get it out of your box. The second requires you to take a slip of paper to a window where they give you the package. The third is the tricky one. You also get a slip of paper in your box but you have to go to a different section of the post office that is only open certain hours.

My first package was over 8 pounds and thus found it's way into the third category! I never realized what a pain it would be to actually get the package. First of all, the certain hours happened to be during the week and during school hours. So, I tried to send my housekeeper with my ID and a letter giving her permission to pick up the package. She came back from the post office without the package because my letter had to be notarized! By this time it was Thursday afternoon and I had no time to find a notary before Friday. So, my package waited for me...

Thankfully, we had off on Monday so I thought I might be able to get my package out in the morning. I was told by others that the package room was open at 8:30am which was perfect because we had a missionary meeting at 9:00am with our administrator who was in town.. Unfortunately, when I got to the post office at 8:30, I discovered that the hours had changed from 9:00-12:30!!! Augh!!! So, since I was there I decided to wait... Unfortunately the room didn't open at 9am either! A woman came and got our papers and lined them up and we were told to wait for some "señor" who was coming. So, I waited impatiently and talked to my roommate on my cell about whether it was worth it to wait or just leave the center for our team meeting. I asked the woman if it would be less than 15 minutes. She said: "yes, yes the señor is coming!" Okay, so I impatiently waited over 15 minutes. In the end I knew that I couldn't wait any longer and that I needed to get my paper back and somehow try to send Marga again with a notarized letter. But when I went to ask the woman for my paper she said that I was next!! PHEW!!! So, I got my package. I had to pay a little for it being there since the 20th (I really don't think that they put my paper in our PO box that quick but it was only about one dollar and I was just soooooo glad to finally get my package).

Are you dying of curiosity to know what was in my 8 pound box?? Was it worth the ordeal?? YES! After all that trauma, my package was a very exciting box full of yarn, needles and knitting things. It came from PA from Suzanne who taught me how to knit. I foresee many exciting knitting projects in the future! The missionaries were laughing at me because of the contents of my package. We had been going through our personality profiles and most everyone is (in Myers Brigg) an SJ (sensing/judging). There are only two of us who are different and I'm totally different with my INFP profile. We were joking about my package fitting my personality. I guess they don't think that yarn is a normal package material. hee hee...

Here are pics of the famed package. Maybe I should check into DHL. I'm looking forward with excitment and trepidation to whenever my next package comes..... aughhhhhh.....