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Countertop Review

This time last year I was packing up our house to prepare for our down-to-the-studs renovation in our kitchen, family room, and master bath as well as the addition of a screened porch. The family room wasn't originally part of the plan, but that's a post for another time. The kitchen was where I really had to plan and scheme, and, yes even fret, to stay in our footprint and budget and to get the function and look I wanted. I love a challenge like this, though, so despite some occasional frustration with my client (aka me! ), I enjoyed the process. A key "want" of mine was honed marble countertops. There are dozens--maybe hundreds--of blog posts, articles, and showroom sites that compare various types of countertop materials and their pros and cons. I read most of them and took notes from a lot of them in the months leading up to our start date. One of the most helpful things was visiting a sweet friend's kitchen, where I was able to ask questions about cleaning, a

Getting There is Half the Fun

After a good night’s sleep in Charlotte at the home of dear friends, the Mister and I left early in the morning for Peru via Miami, where we waited in the American Airlines Lounge while the lights flickered and the television meteorologists looked serious as they warned of severe thunderstorms in the area.  Despite the foul weather our flight was not delayed, and we arrived in Lima on time, just before midnight.  IMG_3095
All together we would be traveling from Lima with 32 others.  About a third of the group were with us on the flight from Miami while the rest would arrive via Atlanta or Houston.  The Lima airport is absolute chaos from about 10 pm until 1 am because of the all the North American flights arriving. IMG_3094 Happily by 12:30, everyone was accounted for and no one was detained in customs.  This is a real fear for us because everyone carries large quantities of over-the-counter medicines as well as antibiotics, hygiene items, and school supplies that could easily be confiscated by greedy customs agents.
From the airport, we loaded our luggage onto a bus for an hour bus ride to a small hotel in the El Barranco neighborhood of Lima.  Our hotel is extremely modest, in part to prepare us for our living conditions for the next few days.
IMG_3096IMG_3097Above is our view from our room, which although rather ugly is relatively safe.  El Barranco is considered the artsy, Bohemian neighborhood in Lima.
After sleeping a few hours, it was time to load our Cruz del Sur bus for a seven-hour ride north to our final destination, Chimbote.  Loading the luggage took awhile because everyone brings so much with the intention of leaving it behind for the people we serve.  IMG_3101If you are wondering about the Hula Hoops, those were bought in Lima to take to the children of Chimbote.IMG_3105The ride along the Pan American Highway is absolutely stunning and terrifying.  Guardrails are extremely rare, and the shoulders are quite narrow.IMG_3111 We arrived at the mission late in the afternoon to warm temperatures and overcast skies.  The average rainfall in Chimbote is one inch every 40 years.  The city, which is just under a half million people, is located in the San Luis desert in the province of Ancash.IMG_3112 Many Peruvian parishioners as well as the curious were waiting for the “gringos” to arrive at the mission.  For those of us who have been before, it is a bit of a surreal rock star moment to get off the bus to people chanting your name.
IMG_3120 After we unpacked, our host for the week, Father Jack Davis (in a black polo near the center of the photo above) took all of us on a walking  tour of the neighborhood.  IMG_3122IMG_3124The Peruvian children are quick to make friends with us, in part because they are curious and in part because they know our pockets are filled with candy and gum.  IMG_3126One of our first stops is always Calvin’s Farm, which is a sort of a rehabilitation center for men with addictions.  Here they raise and sell goats, cows, chickens, turkeys, guinea pigs or cuy, and fish. IMG_3128 The local steel mill donates wooden pallets, which the men make into straight-backed chairs and single beds.  These are then sold to the mission, which gives them to the poor.IMG_3130 A variety of fruits and vegetables, including bananas and mangos, are also grown on Calvin’s Farm. 
After a bit more briefing on Chimbote, we return to the mission where we have a light supper and a meeting to discuss the week’s projects.  We are finally dismissed at ten.IMG_3163
I’m always doubtful that I will be able to sleep.  Chimbote is an extremely noisy place—dogs are barking; young men are playing soccer in the street and on the nearby field; and taxis, who blow their horns, which sound like car alarms, at every intersection, are constantly sounding.  In addition to the noise, I’m always a little unnerved by the wide open windows, which have no screens.  Still, the women head to our quarters, where 14 of us share one shower and toilet, and half an hour later, all the reading lights are out and we are sound asleep.


  1. I am excited to read more! And glad you are doing well.

  2. Our church goes to Chimbote on mission trips regularly and we have missionaries that we support. J2's boyfriend went a couple of years ago.

  3. Looks like quite the adventure!

    I like to call this sort of thing...perspective.

  4. OH DEAR FRIEND.....God Bless YOU....You are in my prayers. What a WONDERFUL thing you are doing. I look forward to hearing more. xoxo

  5. Love reading this and how you and your husband are LIVING your faith! Can't wait to read more, sweet friend!

  6. This is awesome - your group is in my prayers! Can't wait to hear more as well. Also thank you for your sweet comment on my post the other day - it was very encouraging! Thank you :)

  7. Keeping you and your group in my prayers .. wonderful work you are doing!

  8. Wonderful. Even for those of us who are not one bit religious. Virtue and kindness transcend categories.

  9. Wonderful pictures! God bless you, The Mister and friends for what you're doing. My prayers are with you.

  10. I bet you feel wonderful after a trip like that. The only time I have ever volunteered was with the UN to help with the Cuban refugees in Guantanamo Bay in 1994. The best and worst experience of my life but one I will remember forever. When you look at the children's face and how happy they are to see you is all that matters. Good for you!

  11. This is wonderful! You did such a great job journaling! I feel like I am there - again.I really missed the trip, but want to make plans for next year. Thanks for the blog!


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