Saturday, April 12, 2008

An Eggcellent PASCUA

Easter is not a big thing in Peru.

There are no great Easter Sunday celebrations. No children enjoying Easter egg hunts. No giant chocolate bunnies for sale. No Easter bonnets and Sunday best. There are no plastic eggs and Easter grass and definitely no Peeps.


It's the week leading up to Easter that is more celebrated here. It's called Holy Week (Semana Santa). There's a special meal that is served on Friday but not even the Evangelical churches do much on Easter Sunday. We had two days off school but nothing much was planned for Sunday.

You might think that all this would be a recipe for a pretty miserable celebration of Easter but you are forgetting one thing!! That missionaries can create their own celebrations. Thus begins the tale of my Easter celebrating.

It started with "E" week at school. Conveniently, Miss Carrie could celebrate "Eggs" and "Easter" with her kids!! So, we dyed Easter eggs at school (despite the fact that I couldn't find food dye anywhere when it normally is available). Ella (my North American student) was the envy of her fellow students with her brightly colored eggs. You see, she was the only one who brought white eggs! I didn't even think about asking my kids to bring white eggs. They are available here but not as common as brown eggs and brown eggs are what most people use. I also did the "resurrection eggs" with my kids. I talked too much in Spanish during that but I think it's better for them to understand the Easter story more than hearing English.

Josué and the boys' eggs!

Ella and Ester color while waiting for their eggs to dye.

"Eeeeeehhhhhh!!! EASTER!!"

Another egg dyeing event happened with my friend Luz on Friday. It was her first time dyeing eggs and I think she really enjoyed herself but she had a question: "What do you do with the eggs afterwards?" My answer suddenly felt very silly: "well, you eat them, of course!" We also made Calzones which was very fun and funny because you know the word for underwear in Spanish is spelt just the same way. So, we had fun trying to think of a different way to say the word.

Dyeing eggs with Luz and Bethany (I didn't use my camera - I'm really not trying to be vain).

Luz laughs about making "calzones."

Friday afternoon there was a Seder meal at the Shultz's house and just about all the people on our team participated. It was very fun because every person even the kids had their parts to read during the whole meal. One of the best moments was washing each others' hands. The littlest people at the table (Abby and Ella) had to be helped but it really was a special time. It's amazing how the Seder meal is filled with so much meaning. Unfortunately, I think too many of our "evangelical" traditions are not filled with enough meaning! Anyway, after drinking about 8 glasses of grape juice, dipping matza in vinegar, eating radish, apple salad and eggs we ended the time with a spontaneous romp around the table to some Jewishy sounding praise song.

Ella finds all the hidden leaven bread hidden in the Shultz's house during the Seder meal.

Ron and Regina read about the significance of the lamb bone.

As part of the Seder, everyone dips their egg in vinegar before eating.

On Sunday I taught the youngest class for Sunday school. We had a celebration party for Jesus and I handed out twisty balloons in the shapes of crosses. It was so much fun to be able to celebrate with the kids! After church the missionaries got together for a yummy meal at the Kreiders' house. Dulce Refugio brought deviled eggs, carrot jello salad (some of the kids who looked at it in disdain at first did end up liking it!), strawberry pie and peanut butter eggs. Oh, I forgot, making peanut butter eggs was another part of the whole Easter celebration. Mmmmm.... they sure were yummy!

After our delicious meal we had an egg hunt in the Kreiders' backyard. I had fun helping to hide the eggs... my favorite spot was in the rubber gloves hanging on the line. hee hee... So the kids: ages 2.5 - 16 had their egg hunt and eventually found all the candy filled eggs. They even shared with us poor candy-less adults. We played an egg cracking contest with each other and sang some Easter songs. It really was a wonderful afternoon and maybe more fun than my normal quiet Easter afternoons with my small family back home.

Singing Easter "carols" together.

Bethany and Jen try to see whose egg will crack in our egg cracking contest.

So, despite living in a country that doesn't really celebrate Easter, we ended up having a fantastic Easter after all. It was filled with fun and meaningful traditions and even some of our Peruvian friends got to join in with our festivities.



Grand Adventures in the Great Outdoors

One Saturday in March, the gals of Dulce Refugio went out for a paseo. "What is a paseo?" you say? Well, my dear friend it is an outing most often in the country or somewhere where there is a patch of green grass. You could possibly have a paseo in somebody's backyard if you wanted. The main point is to get out in the great outdoors and enjoy some fresh air.

This particular paseo was a trip out to Lucre with some of the youth from the Huacarpay Mennonite Church. The plan was to go fishing and cook out in the open countryside. Well, it started with several delays. First we had to find some other sort of meat option (in case there were no trout), then we had to track down some choclo (corn) and then when we were already on our way, someone had to go find some matches. Oops! Well, we walked for about 45 minutes from the small pueblo of Lucre out into the beautiful countryside. It wasn't too long of a trip but felt longer for the pots, pans, meat, fruit and choclo that we were lugging along with us!!

The trip ended by crossing the river twice. We had to take off our shoes and hang on desperately to each other as we crossed with the water rushing around us!! woohoo!! On the way we saw some people washing their sheep in the river. Poor sheep! Scrub-a-dub baa baaa!! We found a patch of grass were we put our stuff down. While the boys went fishing we set up our "stove" out of rocks and collected firewood to start cooking chicken and choclo. There was also a trip to find some capuli trees. Capuli is a type of small cherry like fruit. It's kind of bitter but our paseo buddies were very excited about picking and eating them.

Crossing the stream!

Rosa picks some capuli.

Bethany and Juana clean the chicken before cooking.

Wilma starts a fire with leaves and sticks.

It was a very good thing we brought chicken because in the end there was no trout. The chicken, choclo and cheese was very yummy and I don't think anyone went hungry! We ended up leaving very quickly because the sky started to look very stormy. We went back to Lucre on a fun skinny path above the river (trying to avoid any more crossing). Along the way the sky cleared up and we stopped by some capuli trees (which were once again the attention of the group). Most of the people climbed the trees to pick the fruit. We played "sticks" there under the capuli trees. I say "sticks" because we had no spoons to play "spoons" with!! Then the sky started to look dark and stormy again so we headed back to Lucre.

Eating our yummy

Trying to pet the clean sheep.

It was a wonderful end to a wonderful day out in the Great Outdoors!!

WAIT (a poem)

This is a poem that my mom sent me recently. She got it from a lady who is an inmate in the prison where my mom works with a prison ministry. I think you would have to know a lot about waiting if you were in a prison. Even though I'm not in a prison, this poem still spoke to me.

by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .
And the Master so gently said, "Wait."

"Wait? you say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.
"My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign,
Or even a 'no' to which I can resign.
"You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply."
Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting for what?"
He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .
and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.
"I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.
"You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.
"You'd never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.
"The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.
"You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I'm doing in you.
"So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still . . . Wait."

© 1980 Russell Kelfer. All rights reserved