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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

No, not just for some

As I mentioned a day or so ago, I could write at least 100 more posts on Peru, but this will be my last for a while.   If you are interested in more about this amazing country, then please click to read past posts about shopping and eating in Peru.
A good bit of our time this year was spent re-building humble houses in the slums of Chimbote, but we did some other things as well.IMG_3258 The “powder room” of the second house we built.  Note the shard of mirror and the comb.
In addition to construction, each of the four teams spent time at the indigent care hospital, La Caletta, which is in downtown Chimbote.    IMG_3293 Although almost all Peruvians have state-provided health insurance, it typically pays only for the first necessary medical procedure, with no follow-up care or prescription drugs.  Hospital patients must provide their own supplies and meals, as well.  It is not uncommon for a patient to have surgery and then to be told that pain medicine is not covered.IMG_3295 Here, the Mister pauses to pray for a premature infant in the hospital nursery.  Although he was required to put on a hospital gown (one I had just taken off), he did not have to wash his hands, wear gloves, or a mask.IMG_3303 Our group was able to pay the bills of 17 patients as well as to pay for medicine, diapers, and formula for several newborns.  Most remarkably, we were able to cover the cost of two transfers to larger hospitals for critically injured patients.  The multiplication of our resources was nothing short of miraculous. 
One of the Mister’s and my favorite parts of our trips was our outing to the beach with the women of Hogar de la Paz (Place of Peace).  Hogar de la Paz was founded in the early 1980s by Mother Teresa as a home to provide care for physically disabled as well as mentally challenged women.  For most of these women, this trip to the beach is their only outing each year.
IMG_3331 Milagras, who is unable to walk, has learned a good bit of English.  She was one of the first ones to enjoy the cold Pacific waters.IMG_3333 For the women who are unable to enjoy the ocean, we set up kiddie pools and used five-gallon buckets to fill them with sea water.  Anna and Teresa clearly enjoyed the attention of Ryan and Roger.IMG_3336
Melody loved her time in the water at Vesique Beach.
IMG_3341 After time in the sun and water, the sisters dry and dress the women, and then we serve them lunch.  Although they are well cared for by the nuns, the meal at the beach is a treat for them.  They have chicken and rice, French fries, and soda.  Most of the ladies are nonverbal, but squeals of joy echo through the dining area when the soft drinks begin to be served.IMG_3346Olga is the Mister’s favorite resident of Hogar de la Paz.  In this photo, she is clutching pictures that he brought of the two of them from last year.  She was absolutely delighted to see him this year.  It is incredibly humbling to know that these ladies remember us from year to year.IMG_3367I’m not sure why the Mister and I are both tilting are heads at the exact same angle, but the sweet young lady in front of us is Gisella.  When I arrived this year and went up to her in hopes that she remembered me, she immediately began speaking Spanish to me, but I couldn’t really understand what she was saying.  The one word she kept saying over and over sounded like muh-sah-hay.  Thankfully, an interpreter came over and explained that Gisella remembered that I had rubbed her shoulders last year and that she would like another massage.  What an honor to be remembered and to have the opportunity to rub her shoulders and bring some comfort to her.IMG_3377Above is the Madre of Hogar de la Paz.  More than 60 women live at the home, with three sisters and a staff of about five additional women.  Fifty women made the trip to the beach with us, and I am already looking forward to our next visit. 
Following our outing to the beach, we did a little shopping for our next big event, a carnival for children.
IMG_3322 I’m not exactly sure these super heroes are licensed, but they still have a certain appeal.  Based on his expression, it appears that Superman has engaged his x-ray vision.IMG_3320This vendor is selling the delicious roasted corn, cancha, along with roasted lima beans and tortilla chips.IMG_3318Another vendor has an amazing array of cakes and tortes.  Peruvian desserts are typically rich but seldom sweet to our North American palates.  The flavors of nuts or fruits are much stronger and less masked by the sugary sweetness common here.
The carnival was open to all children, and we planned for around 200.  IMG_3385 Nail painting and face painting were popular with the girls, both young and old.  Many of the mothers also took advantage of the free manicure.IMG_3386 Los Glutones, or the Gluttons, aka a watermelon eating contest, proved to be a huge hit.  Three at a time, the children dug into slices of watermelon.  What a treat to have a game that is nutritious.IMG_3389 Piero lines up his shot for the bottle knock down.IMG_3390 Adaptability was the name of the game in the potato spoon relay.IMG_3391 IMG_3393 Hot potato water balloon as well as the water balloon toss made a splash in the hot desert sun.IMG_3397 Hula hooping, or “hula hula”  was a lot of fun, too.IMG_3399 In this game, competitors had to peel half a banana and eat it, then peel and eat a half an orange, and then drink a cup of Inca Kola.  Again, an activity with food is bound to be a winner.  IMG_3403And, of course, every children’s carnival must have a three-legged race!IMG_3400Before I close this post on our time in Peru, I want to say thank you for the kind comments, emails, and even phone calls.   When we made our first trip in 2008, I was terrified at the thought of spending a day with special needs women.  I had no training and no real sense of calling.  The idea of visiting the indigent hospital and praying for poor sick people I didn’t know filled me with dread.  And I was so anxious about going to the prison that I almost faked illness, so that I wouldn’t have to go. 
God, in his great mercy and grace, allowed me to get over myself.  Please don’t think that I am good or noble in any way.  I’m not.  What I have learned from these trips is that I am a special needs woman; a woman who suffers from heartsickness; a woman imprisoned by her own selfishness and, at times, self-righteousness.  To be allowed to serve anyone, anywhere in the name of Christ, is my greatest privilege.  And, although, I tend to forget this, that includes my own family.  Right here. DSC01303 DSC01231 DSC01237  “If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
   with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
   and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
   and your night will become like the noonday.  Isaiah 58:9-11
DSC01298Cemetery of the Poor, Chimbote, Peru


  1. Thank you and yours for selflessly giving to these people, and bringing joy and dignity to their lives. You are an inspiration. Reggie

  2. What a beautiful person you are! What wonderful work you have done.

  3. Your pictures tell an amazing story. I am in awe of what you and your husband have done. The goodness of your heart seems to know no bounds. I am very impressed. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story with us.

  4. Now that last part makes you think. "God, in his great mercy and grace, allowed me to get over myself. Please don’t think that I am good or noble in any way. I’m not. What I have learned from these trips is that I am a special needs woman; a woman who suffers from heartsickness; a woman imprisoned by her own selfishness and, at times, self-righteousness. To be allowed to serve anyone, anywhere in the name of Christ, is my greatest privilege. And, although, I tend to forget this, that includes my own family. Right here."

    What a great wrap-up to how you feel about these trips.

    Thank you!

  5. You and the Mister are incredibly giving persons. I was so touched by your photos and the story behind each one. What a special heart you have to give so much of yourself to others. I've been busy this week and haven't be able to read your past posts but when I have more time this weekend I'm sitting down with a cup of tea and traveling back to Peru with you. Bless you both. You have made a difference. xoxo

  6. I'm fighting tears right now as I write this...thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. One of the best parts about blogging is getting to meet other folks who believe in and serve the same great God that I do and seeing it in action is absolutely amazing and faith-affirming! You truly just blessed me immensely today! :-)

  7. These photos are just breath taking ~ you and your husband have the biggest hearts! Thank you for the glimps into your amazing journey.


  8. I hate that I am only reading this ow. My week has been swamped and I just started catching up last night. But I saved yours for today, when I had more time to really read and look at each picture.

    I wish I could just take off and do what you and the Mister have the opportunity to do every year. However, I feel that I am where I need to be right now: with my husband and family. It kind of makes me a little sad, but I know it is right!


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