Monday, July 30, 2012

Improving Upon the Silence

"Before you speak, ask yourself: Is it kind, is it true, is it necessary, does it improve upon the silence?" 

I can hear everything around me, but I can't understand it all.  I understand every fourth word.  Try reading every fourth page of a book.  That is how much I understand what is going on around me.

Ever met a person from a different country and they didn't speak good English and it frustrated you?  Or you assumed they were less smart because they didn't speak good English?  I am that person.  I sound dumb when I speak in Spanish.  It doesn't matter how eloquently I say something, it is not understood.  So I just don't talk.

So next time you bump into someone that doesn't speak good English, think of me, please and be nice to and patient with them.

You Americans, turn on the television to the Telemundo station.  Now leave it on all day.  That is my world.  Or better yet, find a Spanish speaking station on the radio and put ear phones in and every times you go to a public place and talk to someone, put in the headphones and try to get your answer.  That is my world right now.

My new most commonly used term is "como se dice...?" Which means, "how do you say....?"  Davis and Bryan have also mastered this phrase. 

I have to pay attention to different things.  Facial expressions, context, body language, images on road signs, etc.  I have to trust maps and the taxi drivers.  And I have to hope and pray that the bus that has my street name on it actually stops there. I have to assume that where the person pointed is where I need to go.  I have to trust my instincts. 

But I'm afraid.   I'm afraid of my instincts.  I am afraid of messing up when I speak.   I want to be good at everything I do all the time.  And language is different.  You can't learn a language overnight.  You can't be good at it quickly.  You can't learn a language in 3 weeks.  You can't crash study the night before.  You have to work for it, practice it, try and try and try and mess up and fail and succeed and keep trying and keep working and nobody cares if you fail or succeed but you.  Just like freakin' life.

Bryan and Davis are different.  They aren't afraid of messing up.  They aren't afraid of looking dumb.  I wish I had this in me like them.  This challenge cuts to the very core of my being and what I "think" is important:  Always have something to say.  Always be the best.  Always know what is going on.  Always be smart.  Always win.  Always be the go-to person.  

Nope.  Not now.  Not here.  Spanish wins.  And I lose until I learn, not beat, Spanish.

This is the hardest part.  This.  Spanish.  This is what stops me from progressing quickly, but it is also what keeps me going.  This is just another challenge.  I knew this was coming and I am eager to learn.  I just hired a private tutor.  He will teach me for two hours a day, three days a week for three months and maybe more if I can afford it.  We shall see.

So I am and I will and I can.  This is possible.  I'm not special!  Millions of people, with way less support and resources have learned new languages in new countries.

In the meantime, I am learning to listen more closely to people and the world.  To listen more closely to the sounds of the city and of nature and to take in sights and nuances like I never have before.  And this is a beautiful and new feeling that I can only assumes comes with being an adult.  I guess it's time!  I'm not in control.  Listening is beautiful.  Through this understanding, I am reminded of the goodness that can exist without me trying to make it happen.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Things: Part I

This is the first of a 3-part series:
1.  Things I Miss
2.  Things that are better (so far) than in the USA
3.  Things that are different, or that I have yet to understand

Let's see how these evolve over the next year.

I miss....

Little Rock water
Or more accurately, the ability to just drink water out of the faucet.

My car
I just want to get in my car and drive somewhere.  No taxis, no bus, no Spanish.  Just me, my car and my radio.

My family and friends visiting for no reason

Dr Peppers from Sonic

My phone ringing
I know this sounds weird.  And maybe I don't miss it necessarily, but the sound is noticeably absent.

Southern accents

Just good ole Rotel and Velveeta

Dear God, please let Downton Abbey be available online for free when season 3 comes out.  And Nature.  And Nova.  And Frontline.  And American Masters.  And the dust bowl documentary coming out this fall by Ken Burns.  And so many more.  Amen.

2711 Byrd Road
I can't say much about this or I'll start crying.  If you know what this is, you know why and you might cry too.

Laying out at the pool in the sun
It's winter here.

Going out to eat and knowing what to expect 
It hardly ever rains in Lima.

Calling one of my girlfriends at work and meeting in the lobby just to take a mental break
You know who you are and you know why. 
Going with my boss to get ice cream in the middle of the day.

Chick-Fil-A breakfast biscuits
But damn them and their bigotry! 

The sights and sound of baseball being played
At our house in Little Rock we can hear the 'clink' of the bats and cheers from the crowd.  I miss watching the D-Train run the bases like nobody's business and the camaraderie of 12 other sets of parents whose sons I love dearly. 

The Mammoth Orange
Sonic Dr Peppers and the Mammoth Orange's Dr Peppers are both perfect.  But a milkshake from the Mammoth Orange cannot be beat.  There is none greater and I've looked all over the country.  I order them "extra thick and extra chocolaty"  and tell the server that "just when you think it is too thick, make it thicker."

Mom, Dad, Megan and Forest
Some of this stuff is totally material and silly.  But some of it is -burst into tears for no reason when I think about it- not material and not silly.

I suspect that this list will change quite a bit over the next year.  And some of this stuff may be put into a list one day called "What I miss about Lima" - I look forward to the evolution.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"...Speaking words of wisdom, Letter B..."

One of the key decision points of moving away from Arkansas was making sure that we could sustain an adequate level of formal education for Davis.  I was willing to make a few trade-offs though.  Would he fall behind in some areas?  Maybe.  Would he miss his friends?  Probably.  Would most of this be balanced out by the fact that he will return from Peru bilingual, with new friends in a different country and hopefully a whole new perspective on life?  Yes, definitely.

Of all of the logistics and planning it took to make this move, coordinating schools has been one of the hardest parts.  When we came here back in March on a "scouting" trip, we visited four schools and had a plethora of other options if we wanted to see more.  All of the schools we planned to visit were private; and we were continually advised that this was the best option for us.  I accepted that.  The school was one of the drivers of where we chose to live.  It was important to find the school first and then try to make the house we rented close to the school.  (In my home in Little Rock, our house was about 200 yards from his school so we are used to convenience in this part of our lives.)

There is one international school in Lima, which maintains the United States' school calendar and all the lessons are in English.   Seems like a natural choice for some, but this is not what I wanted.  Most of the children that attend this school are the children of ex-pats, white, mid to upper class, and not Peruvian.  *Not that there is anything wrong with all of those things, because Davis fits most of that same profile.*  But I wanted Davis to experience school in Lima in Spanish so he would learn the language faster.  And I wanted him to attend school with Peruvian children.

In March, we were given a long list of other schools (including the international one) from the relocation company and they are probably all fantastic.  But they are all really expensive and cater to the ex-pat crowd.  So our relocation consultant, a Lima native, recommended a school that she had heard about in San Isidro.  They agreed to meet us without an appointment and we met with the school director.  She gave us a tour and we got to see the kids playing at recess.  Of the four schools we visited, this one just felt right.   And they were willing to admit Davis.

So, I am proud to say that my son is the newest student at the Berkeley School.  "Letter B" is for Berkeley.  We visited the school three times last week.  The first was just a check-in to introduce D and double check that we had all the administrative components lined up.  The second was a psychological evaluation of Bryan and me (which I posted about earlier.)  The third was for Davis' evaluation where they asked him lots of questions too.  They asked about how he was disciplined at home, what he thought of Bryan, how he felt about a new school and lots of other stuff about his life in general.

They invited him to join them for a whole day of school.  So last Thursday he was a Berkeley student all day long.  And then....they invited him back on Friday.  And then....drumroll please....he loved it!!  They made him feel great.  His teacher also happens to be the English instructor for the whole school.  (Almost all schools in South America, and the world for that matter, begin teaching the children English early on.)  He had such a fun time.  The official Davis report goes like this:  "At recess while I was playing soccer with the boys, all the girls were chanting 'Davis, Davis, Davis' like they were my cheerleaders.  And all the boys were fighting over who would be my friend.'

Oh good grief.

But that makes me feel good.  When I asked the staff there why they asked my family so many questions in the interviews, I loved their response:  They want to know Davis and his parents so that they can support him better.  They want to know our family and always have open communication so that we are all engaged in his education.


The Peruvian school calendar is March through December and summer break starts with Christmas.  So Davis will start in the middle of the school year on August 6th and then start a new school year in March.  To celebrate, we bought his new uniforms and went to Burger King for dinner.  (Sidenote:  I thought some good ole American food would be awesome. Turns out, fast food here gives you the same sick feeling you get when you eat it in the USA.)  Then we came home and I made him model his new attire...

 I don't think this little man is going to have any trouble in a new school.
  Some shots from our photo shoot....

What a looker!  Looking at these pictures makes me teary.  This is my baby boy.  The pride and joy of my life.  Like me, he is venturing into a whole new world - fraught with challenges, opportunities, adventure and change.  And for some reason, I think he is going to do better than any of us.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Good Day Sunshine

Today me and my boys went on a little bike ride.  You may recall that my hubs bought me a new bike here in lovely Lima.  Today we tested our skills and took in some sights, sounds and smells of the city.  The sun was shining (rare for the City of Gray) and the "winter" weather felt great.
SMILE!  D took this shot.

D got a new camera from one of his new Clifton uncles so we took it with us and tried to capture a few Kodak moments.  We left the house and weaved our way through the six blocks or so to get to the ocean where a bike path spans several miles of coast along the edge of the city.  We stopped at a small panateria for some breakfast (D had a big, puffed up piece of bread with zero nutritional value and I had a ham & cheese empañada.  I have discovered that I really love a good empañada.  The "ham" at this location turned out to be hot dog pieces.  But whatever.)  We filled our bellies and headed out.

One stop along the way was the BMX track.  Bryan represented the family's Peruvian patriotism.

The ocean view behind us is pretty much what we saw the entire time.  It is beautiful! 
Behind Davis, on that pier off the beach, is the restaurant La Rosa Nautica.  Which is where Bryan asked me to marry him.

We ventured out of San Isidro (the district where we live) and into Miraflores and then into Barranco.  All in all, we rode about 7 miles.  A perfect Saturday morning ride.
We liked this street sign.

Lima isn't notoriously a bike-friendly city.  But they got this right.  It was a really good day.  
We will definitely be doing this again.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Saving Grace

Well, other than Davis and Bryan.

Music.  I had to jot this thought down because it impacted me on the way to work today.  Instead of a bus, I ended up taking a taxi this morning because a driver stopped and it only cost 4 soles (less than $2).  

I climbed in and the driver began channel surfing on the radio.  You know how in the USA some of the Latino stations seem to be like 88.3 or 88.7 or something really low in the radio dial?  I think the North American music is like that here, waaaay down there.  And it doesn’t stop there when you hit “seek”, you have to find it.  I believe the station was on 88.9.  The song that was playing was “House of the Rising Sun” as performed by the Animals.  That white boy could sing.  This song reminds me of my Dad.  I distinctly remember it being turned up on the radio every time it came on.  SO, I’m sitting in a taxi in the middle of the busy bustling city of Lima and listening to this song and it is like a lullaby amidst the madness and my perpetual state of confusion.  And for reasons only God will ever know, I started to cry. 


Really???  Right now?   Me?  Because of “House of the Rising Sun”?  Really? 

It wasn’t like a snotty, convulsive cry, just a few tears trickling down.  I know I have a tendency to be moved by music, but come on.  Breathe.  No problem, I can handle this.  I can regain my composure.  I’m tough.  Get it together, Chica.  Then the radio commercials came on in Spanish and I was whipped back into reality. 

Whew.  Glad that’s over. 

Now I’m about 10 minutes from work, thinking about work like I should be, thinking about how I don’t need to be looking all crazy when I get to the office and then…another song came on.  George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”.  You know it?  The one where you can hear John Lennon with the back ground singers singing “Hall- leh- loo- yah” and “Krishna Krishna”.  Well, apparently God or someone thought that I needed a good cry today no matter what and if “House of the Rising Sun” didn’t do it, then by god a mantra by a couple of Beatles would.  Well played, Universe.  Well played. 

Whatever composure I regained after the first tears was totally lost and the waterworks came on.  This time with snot and lots of tears and the ugly face and everything.  I have no doubt the taxi driver thought I was INSANE.  But I couldn’t stop it.  

So, I had a decision to make.  I could either let this emotion overwhelm me and make me sad or I could make it work for me.  Why be sad?  That doesn’t do anything.  Music is meant to be good for the soul.  That was George Harrison’s intent when he wrote that beautiful ballad.  And I am freaking lucky as hell that of all things, my kind of music is available here on the radio.  So I turned that frown upside down and just started singing along.  Oh my lord…my sweet lord…. I really want to know you…..Really want to go with you....Really want to show you lord…..That it won’t take long, my lord. 

I guess it hit me.  I’m here.  I’m really here and I have to do this.  I have to show the world and myself and my son that life is possible anywhere.  Happiness and struggles are universal.  But I’m not in control.  And that’s okay too.  Just be.  Just listen and feel and learn and grow and let the universe take me to wherever it intends.  I just need to keep my mind and soul open.


I am lucky and grateful.  I’m lucky to be here.  I’m lucky and grateful to have an organization that is supporting me through this.  I’m lucky and grateful that I have a smart and kind supervisor here who is patient and willing to help me learn.  I’m lucky and grateful that I have a husband and son who are here with me, helping me, loving me and having fun with me. 

And then, I shit you not, the next song on the radio was Carly Simon’s “You’re so Vain”.

Touché, Universe.  Touché.  

If you live under a rock and don't know any of these songs, here are some pretty amazing versions of each:

Taken near our home by my husband, Bryan.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

First day of work at Heifer Peru

Primero dias!

They are taking it easy on me with the Spanish rule, but I know that their sympathy and patience is probably temporary - as it should be.  My supervisor speaks very good English so she is helping me when I don't understand.  But I will learn!  I am learning!  Look out!

I made it to work successfully on Monday and then I made it home successfully too.  Both are significant.  Getting to and from places is a big deal to me.  Now, Day 2 of work and after having arrived two days in a row, on time, without getting lost?  I feel like a pro.  I have to walk about 12 minutes between the bus stop and my house and work and I enjoy it.

Work is good.  The people are fantastic and the culture in this office is very groovy, but focused on Heifer's mission.  All activities are directed towards the projects and the people Heifer strives to serve.  This is refreshing.

When I arrived at work on Monday, I was greeted by these. Thank you Heifer Peru! 

Then, when I arrived at home on Monday night, I was greeted by this.  Thank you husband!

How cool is this bike?!?!

Now, we can all ride around as a family.  And eventually I want to ride to work.  Someone told me that I should name my bike.  Their suggestion was "Queen Bee"....which is somewhat fitting considering my personality.  I welcome other suggestions.
So now my days will be filled with the tireless pursuit of ending hunger and poverty and caring for the earth, one Heifer Peru project at a time.  Attempting this at this level is very different from where I used to sit in the organization.  And I realize just how much I have to learn.  I look forward to some new perspective.

On another note, Davis was interviewed yesterday at the school he will be attending.  They asked him lots of questions without Bryan or me present.  And they welcomed him back!  So, later this week he will attend a full day of school there as an "orientation" experience.  All day!  Stay tuned for how THAT goes.  I'm sure he will rock and roll, like he always does.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Four goals, one day.

Bryan, Davis and I woke up on Thursday with four goals in mind:
1.  Figure out the safest, quickest bus route from my house to the office so I can know my commute;
2.  Visit the Heifer office just because and say "Hey" to my new bosses and coworkers;
3.  Buy a washer and dryer; and
4.  Meet with Davis' school again so that they could do a psychological evaluation of me and Bryan.

(I'll let you recover from the laughter and assumptions that #4 may cause many of you before I go on....)

Figure out the safest, quickest bus route from my house to the office so I can know my commute
Instead of taking a taxi or hiring a driver to transport me to and from work every day, I am considering using the bus system.  Some think this is the most reasonable solution, others think it is a little dangerous.  I am going to test the waters and just see. And I wanted to do it with Bryan first. 

Advice previously received:  take the biggest, cleanest looking bus that has the name of the street you want on it and make sure that the driver is wearing a uniform.  The buses here have a driver and assistant (my words) and the assistant hangs out of the door telling people where the bus will be stopping.  Note to self after observing the range of buses in the city:  don't take the VW van with 22 people busting out of every corner of it and the driver and assistant look sleepy and disheveled. 

We took off walking and made our way to one of the main streets and found what I think is a good, solid bus.  Big?  Check.  Clean?  Check.  Name of the correct street?  Check.  Driver and assistant in uniforms?  Check.

Our first Peruvian bus ride!
Long bus ride short, we made it.  And it felt fine and safe and efficient.  My total commute to work, including the time it takes to walk to the bus stop and walk 4 extra blocks to the office will take about 30 minutes.  And it costs 1 sole.  That is the equivalent of $0.38 in USD.

First goal complete.

Visit the Heifer office just because and say "Hey" to my new bosses and coworkers

This was fun!   I arrived at the office and was greeted by the wonderful, lovely, always helpful Julia.  She is awesome.  She knows everything and everybody and is the go-to person for all things Peru/Heifer/Lima/Life.

The office is currently having a new garage installed and was under some construction.  Lots of the staff were out.  But the Country Director (Alfredo) and the Technical Office Coordinator (Mariela) were both there.  Mariela will be my new boss and Alfredo is her boss.  So perfect!  It was great seeing them again!  When I visited Peru in March I was able to spend time with Alfredo and I had spent my last week in the USA in a training with Mariela.  I can't wait to begin work with them.

Mariela and me

They did drop a nice little bomb on me (though I was kind of expecting it).  For the first three months, Spanish is the only language allowed.  Except for two hours each day when I am allowed to speak English for the purposes of helping them improve their English skills.  Alfredo, you are a clever, clever man.


I saw my new desk and workspace, met a few more coworkers, and chatted for a while.  They got to meet Davis for the first time and gave us some directions and options for where to shop for the washer and dryer.  Mariela gave us a map that had four different stores to visit. AND, they had the Heifer driver, Carlos, take us to where we needed to go.  Thank you Heifer!

Looking at maps to find the washer and dryer.

I start work there on Monday.  I am so excited, nervous, eager, scared and hopeful.  I think Heifer and I have high expectations of each other and I am looking forward to what all this brings for both of us.  There is no doubt that the Heifer Peru office is a well oiled machine.  The staff is creative, passionate, smart and committed to fulfilling Heifer's bold mission of ending hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.  Here is a link to the Heifer Peru website.  I will  be lucky and consider this year a success if I can add even just a  nugget of goodness to them.  I have much to learn from them.

Second goal:  Major success.  

Buy a washer and dryer
I'm pretty smart, right?  WRONG.  I don't speak Spanish very well.  So in Peru, I'm not smart.  Everyone is smarter than me.  Everyone has a hand up.  I am dependent on the kindness of strangers and the translate app on my iphone.  Shopping for something like a washer and dryer - that requires the help of a salesperson to discuss and negotiate models, price, home delivery, features, package deals - all in Spanish, is hard.  Not to mention that we had an 8-year old boy in tow who just wants to play and talk and move constantly.
Let's just say that this was a growing/learning experience for me and Bryan.  Two people who think they're pretty smart.  And two people who pride themselves on being able to do this kind of stuff well. 

We took a break for lunch and ate at a Peruvian chain called Norky's where we dined on some pollo a la brassa.  Delicious.  Every bite.  That made everything better.

At Norky's

On our last stop at a place called Tottus (Tottus is a huge department store that feels like a Wal-Mart) and we found what we needed for a decent delivery fee and price and praise the lord that is over. 

They delivered it the next day and voila!  We can finally wash the week's worth of laundry that is piled up in our bathrooms.  Davis has been wearing dirty clothes for two days now.  The hoses that came with the washer were crap so Bryan bought some replacements and as I type I can hear the first load of laundry washing.  I never thought I would like doing laundry.  This will fade soon, I'm sure.

YAY!!! This is one corner of our laundry room.  It's oddly laid out so we can't have the washer and dryer side by side and switching the laundry is a little awkward.  Oh well.
Third goal is over and I hope I never have to shop for a washer and dryer in a foreign land ever again.

Goal #4
Meet with Davis' school again so that they could do a psychological evaluation of me and Bryan.
We had an appointment at 3:00 to meet with the school counselor and was told not to bring Davis with us.  This presented us with our first real dilemma:  Finding a sitter for Davis.  In the USA I have an army of amazing people to help (you know who you are) if I ever need to be somewhere that I can't take D.  (When I went to Asia for Heifer in 2011 I was gone for 3 weeks and they all stepped up and helped and I didn't worry about him one bit.) They all love him like he is their own, and he is.  I can't remember ever paying for childcare outside of weekly daycare.  This will be a challenge over the next year.  Julia, who I mentioned above from Heifer, gave us a reference of a woman to watch Davis while we did this.  She is a translator for the Heifer office and tutors Peruvian children.  She speaks English and was great.   

When we arrived at the school, the counselor had arranged for a translator to help do the interview.  The translator's name was Ms. Sylvia and she just so happens to be the teacher that Davis will have when he starts school.  What great luck!  Some of the teachers don't speak any English.

It took about an hour and they asked us a lot of questions.  How long did I nurse?  Any problems with my pregnancy or delivery?  What are the three best things about Davis?  What do I think he needs to work on?  How often does he see his Dad?  How did Davis take the divorce?  Has he had any problems in school before?  How long did you two date before you got married?  Does he sleep alone?  Plus a bunch more.

This threw me for a loop.  A good one though.  I don't really talk about this kind of stuff a lot.  And it made me feel good about the school's interest in my son.  They want to know these things because they want to serve him better.  They will also interview D by himself next week.

It also made me realize that I am proud of Davis and Bryan and the way we've done things from the beginning.  *pats self on the back*

If you're interested in looking, here is the Facebook page for his school:  Berkeley School

SO! Missions accomplished!  Another good day and lots of lessons learned under our belts.  With each to-do I tackle, I gain a little more confidence in my ability to actually live here.

Moving on....

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Our First Week...In pictures!

A few shots from the first seven days in Lima....
On July 5th we made our first outing as a family.  The Pacific Ocean is about 6 blocks from our house so we just walked.  This was Davis' first time to see the ocean.  
As we approached, he covered his eyes and then we had the big reveal.

....keep em covered....keep em covered....

Davis' first thoughts upon seeing the ocean, "I can't believe I am seeing this, I hope I get to see it again.  What a wonderful site!"

I will remember this day and this moment for the rest of my life.   

Davis requested bananas.  So he and Bryan geared up and my boys ventured into the streets of Lima to retrieve some bananas. 

On Friday (Day 2) we went to the Mercado de Surquillo to retrieve some produce and household goods.  Our home was partially furnished but still needed some random hangers and a garbage can for the bathroom and a  colander and some other odds and ends.   "Mercado" means "market". 

I made friends at this booth.  I bought grapes, a pineapple, bananas, and apples.  The vendors were a nice couple who helped me with my Spanish and gave Davis an orange.  They also had their prices listed and used a scale to weigh the food so I didn't get the gringo/tourist price. 
We also purchased two Peruvian flags at the market.   July 28 is Independence Day for Peru.  So we get to party soon.  Apparently it is mandatory for all Peruvians to display a flag.  On our way home while in the back of the taxi, Davis made sure that we were in compliance. 

Another shot from the back of the taxi.  Viva el Peru!

On Saturday (Day 3, but I'm going to stop counting days now) we went to a park called "Parque de Reducto" where we visited another market for produce.  But THIS market is special.  The vendors are from outside the city, and some of them are connected to the work Heifer does.  All natural, all organic produce.  Every Saturday this will be my stop.

I believe our primary purchases from this market were beets and apple cider vinegar.  If you know my husband, you know that these are significant and critical to our livelihood.   

Sitting at a red light on our way home from the back of the taxi.  There are cool paintings all over the city.

Davis and Bryan ventured out on this sunny day - which is rare for Lima. (It is winter here and most days are cloudy, gray and between 65 and 75 degrees).  There is a BMX track right alongside the ocean plus a skateboard park.  Davis tackled the dirt track with no fear.  

Street vendors are everywhere.  They sell everything from flowers to blender parts to clothes to name it.  My husband, in a random act of chivalry and goodness, bought me some flowers from this kind, toothless man. 

It's been a good week.  I've learned some more Spanish, made it halfway through INTERPOL bureaucracy, visited Davis' school, went grocery shopping, met lots of new people, almost gotten lost, eaten at some local restaurants (the food is amazing here) and tested my own culinary skills with new ingredients and different kinds of everything.

The best part, however, has been the amount of time that I have spent with my boys.  It's just us and I love it.  We are becoming a family.  Every experience ignites a whole new set of senses and perspective.  We are each others company and entertainment and source of happiness and I even like the frustration and challenges all that brings.  I am soaking up every minute.  I know its the "honeymoon phase" for a new life in a new country, but I'll take it while I can. 

I'm loving it here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

For Starters....

Okay, this is my first attempt at my first blog and I have no idea what I'm doing so for those who read this, bear with me until I find my groove.  I anticipate that this will be like a journal more than anything so that I can document my life for the year ahead of me.

If you're just tuning in to me and this journey so far, here is some background on what I'm doing here and why....

I have worked for Heifer International, an organization whose mission is to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth, for almost five years.  Heifer is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas but has offices in over 30 countries all over the world.  One of those offices is in Lima, Peru.  And this is where I will be working for the next year.

Essentially, I'm a guinea pig.  Heifer's CEO, Pierre Ferrari was seeking to create a development program for Heifer emerging leaders and willing staff.  But, Heifer had never relocated anyone before and they've never had a sustained development program.  So I raised my hand (well, actually I sent an email to him) and said "I'll do it."  

So here I am.  I now live in Lima, Peru for the next year working for Heifer Peru.

The last six months of my life have been crazy to say the least.  I had to make some serious decisions about my life before I could make this move: 
For starters, I am the mother of an awesome 8-year old little boy (don't tell him I said 'little') named Davis.  And when I say that he is awesome, I mean amazingly awesome and probably the greatest kid alive.  Let the permanent electronic internet record state that that little man is the pride and joy of my life.  
For seconders, I am a new wife!  All of the above adjectives related to Davis (except for 'little') also apply to my new and wonderful husband and best friend, Bryan.  
More on both of my boys later.
For thirders, I am starting a new job!  For Heifer to send me to Peru, they had to replace me in my previous position.  My job at Heifer was "Manager of Operations and Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer" and while that may sound fancy, it is.  To move to Lima and be part of this pilot, I had to give that position up.  The COO, Steve Denne, was my boss and was a fantastic supervisor, person, and friend.  Having a good boss is a big deal.  Letting that go wasn't easy.
For fourthers, THEY DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH IN PERU.  They speak Spanish.  And I don't speak very good Spanish.  Bigger deal.  More on that later too....

So when I say that I had to make serious decisions with all of the above factors included, I did:
  • I had to withdraw Davis from the very good public school he was attending and find him a good school in Lima.
  • We had to forgo a summer of baseball for Davis (gasp!) and hope that he could learn to like futbol (soccer).
  • I had to give up the lease on my fantastic little home on Brentwood in the Heights area of Little Rock where I'd lived for 5 years.  
  • I had to give up my job.
  • I had to get married.  Yes, I had to decide to do this.  BUT, that was the easiest decision!  Bryan and I were floating along swimmingly with every intention of marriage one day.... but let's just say that this opportunity expedited the process.  (And Peruvian law doesn't acknowledge unmarried couples.) This is probably one of the best decisions I've ever made.
  • And because of my decision to get married, I had to decide that I was ready to merge the lives of Bryan and Davis and create a new, "blended" family. 
I know that people all over the world make bigger, tougher decisions every day with a greater impact on everything so I'm not trying to belabor this.  But these were a big deal to me.  It wasn't easy.  I left friends and family who are my support network; who I will miss greatly and who will miss me and Davis too.  It's a year.  To some, it's a whole year!  To others, it's just a  year!  

To me, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to change mine and my family's perspective on the world.  To learn a new language.  To meet new people.  To share.  To grow.  To build a new family.  To bond.  To love.  To be.

So here goes nothin'. 

Let the journey begin.