Week #1... ¡the adventure begins!

¡Hola from Lima, Peru to all my friends and family around the world!

It has been a rather interesting past 5 days and we are only just beginning. I´ll try to give a pictue of what its like and what I´ve been up to without taking too much space so here we go...

The adventure began with meeting my team on the airplane. Our attempts to meet in the terminal failed and so I sat nervously on the plane eyeing everyone who boarded, wondering if they were one of my mystery teammates, trying to make eye contact without being too awkward until suddenly i hear over the intercom system, "could Monica Ghali please turn on her call light?" and thats when i knew we would finally be united. We had a heartfelt meeting in the right aisle of the plane as other passengers looked on with curiousity. The rest of the ride was comfortable and rather uneventful. I had the opportunity to talk with Aaron and get to know him a bit since the seat next to me was not occupied.

Upon arrival a smiling group of Americans and one Peruvian gave us a wonderful welcome-- there were hugs and cheek kisses all around and then we were off to settle into our new homes. The guys left with Craig, one of the guys on staff with Word Made Flesh, and Jenifer, our servant team leader took us to meet our hostess, Carmen. The three of us girls settled into a small room with three drawers and a closet to share and let me tell you how thankful i was for my sister´s organized packing advice:). All in all, living with Carmen has been a great experience, she only speaks Spanish but she speaks slowly and she is extremely patient with us and I feel like she has already taught us a lot. Her son comes up to chat almost everyday and is also helping al ot as we try to begin grasping the language.

The week has been a wonderful whirlwind of bus routes, orientation, language, sandwichs de pollo, pastel colors, cool weather, and new faces. We have been taught a lot about how to get around and take care of our basic needs. We´ve learned where to go and where to never go alone. We have discovered that in winter there is not a drink in the country that is served cold-- not pop,not juice not milk-- nothing:). We´ve begun to find out that our spanish dictionaries are not always going to tell us the right word and well, we are all going to be very comfortable with being laughed at by the time this is all over. We have also learned that the story of the streets is a long complicated and very real story that will take more than just a day or two to truly understand.

We took a tour of the city and saw the divide between the wealthy and the poor in a real and harsh way. Parks that used to be a refuge for the children of the street have been renovated and fenced in and now a security guard stands at the gate and lets people in based on his perception of who they are. We walked in easily but our friend, a street kid, stopped walking with us outside the gate waved and took off in the other direction. THe parks look like paradise, a place where you would vacation, and just outside on the other side is the reality that there are kids with no place to lay their head at night for more reasons than we could ever imagine.

I should clarify, when I say "street kid" I am talking kids that are 17- 23 years old who all have children of their own. Our leader told us that, although they are that old many of them have emotional and psychological problems that leave them at the level of much younger children. These are our kids that come to the Casa Job drop in center three times a week. Let me tell you it was quite a privilege to be there with them. The welcomed us warmly in their lives so far and show incredible patience as we try to communicate and understand them. The language barrier is so real right now and after we had all the conversation that we could I found myself reaching for the girls´ babies to give them a break and its is partly for them but mostly for me because the baby does not require words, only warm arms, and its just one more way to communicate to the girls. And as I hold their babies I see them become 17 year olds again banging on a drum or coloring a picture. Really words fail.

There is so much more to say but I know I am only one week in. I am so excited to be here and at the same time I already miss the familiarity of my home and the voices of the ones I love. I flip through my pictures often and show them off to my team, still there is apeace I feel being here and looking into the next four months. I am humbled daily by all I have yet to learn. I guess you could say I´m 98% excited 2% scared or maybe its 2% excited and 98% scared-- you can´t tell and thats what makes it so exhilarating (wink).

Wow, thats a lot of blogging for one day so for now this is me saying I love you my friends and family-- chao, until next time...