10 November 2011

Bad haircuts, earthquakes, and Pure Joy

Our route back to Peru from Argentina involved going through Brazil. Consequently it was a looong day of travel and flying across the entire continent to get home. We arrived back in Lima in the middle of the late night crush at the airport. (About 10pm-midnight is the busiest time at the airport where most of the US flights and many others arrive.) That meant that the line for immigration was ridiculously long and it took us even longer to make it from plane to apartment than usual. Normally I would have been able to sleep in, and have a nice long day to recuperate, do laundry, etc. However, months ago I had signed up for a women's retreat at the urging of several other ladies who had attended retreats by this group in the past. This was long before the B.A. trip was planned and we had no way of knowing we'd be getting back from an exhausting trip the night before the retreat. So instead, I set an alarm, dumped clothes in the washer, cleaned up, ran errands and repacked in time to head to the retreat in the afternoon. Thankfully it was just across town so a short taxi drive was all that was required. 

The retreat was hosted by Pure Joy International, and it was a really enjoyable and uplifting time. Although I was exhausted coming into it, I was very glad I made the effort to be there. They are an organization that ministers to missionaries by hosting retreats for women on the field. Missionaries can attend at no cost to themselves and enjoy several days of spiritual refreshment and fellowship with others. (Check out their website for more information about their ministry and how you can support it or be involved if you are so inclined.)

The team of women who came to run our retreat were wonderful. Many were from Arkansas and I had a great time talking with them about my family, the Razorbacks, and times spent in The Natural State. The speakers all had awesome testimonies of God's faithfulness in their lives that they shared, and it was neat to meet all the attendees from other organizations and groups that live and work in Peru. The team also spoiled us. We had welcome bags, gifts, American candy always on the table, and goodies at every turn. It happened to fall at the 6 month mark of leaving the states, so I was able to celebrate by enjoying some Reese's, Dove chocolate, Rolos, tootsie rolls, Cheese-its, etc. Such luxury!

One afternoon during free time I went with a few ladies to go to a salon. One had curly hair and knew a place that had always cut hers very well. It was a spur of the moment decision based on not having a hair cut in 6 months and having been too paranoid to go try any random place. I figured, it was better to go ahead and try it now and that way, at least if I didn't like it, there was plenty of time for it to grow out and do something else. I was having flashbacks to 2005 when I braved a French hair salon, saying "Pas trop court, s'il vous plait!" (Not too short, please!) because I had been warned about the French tendency for short cuts. That time it turned out okay, if different, but when I went back in 2007-2008 I just let my hair grow. So once again I found myself explaining in a foreign language that I didn't want it too short, just a couple long layers. I discovered quickly that my definition of a long layer and a Peruvian's definition of a long layer are completely different things. Oh well! You can't put it back. So I sat watching her chop away at my hair, leaving a thin bottom layer oddly long, and the top layer truncated so short that it will no longer go back in a clip. Oh well, as we say in France, c'est la vie! The cut led to lots of discussion among the American women who had been living in Peru for decades. Apparently, despite all that time and fluency in the language and culture, they still get bizarre haircuts almost every time they go to the salon. There's just a different concept about how to cut hair and what looks good. Not to mention that the Peruvians aren't as used to dealing with gringa hair. But all told, it wasn't a disaster cut. I haven't tried to straighten it yet, but curly it doesn't look hideous. And I did discover in Venezuela last week that it's fairly convenient as a wash-and-go cut. 
(But I still miss you, Francie! Have you considered a mission trip to Peru?) 

The next afternoon during free time we had excitement of a different sort. I was sitting with my laptop on the 2nd floor of the hotel attempting to work, when I started getting dizzy. I figured I was just overtired or under-caffinated until I realized that I wasn't lightheaded, the building was swaying. A few seconds later the earthquake was over. Some ladies went downstairs... I moved my chair out from under a large air conditioning unit and went back to work. Or at least tried to. The news networks in the states apparently had word of the quake before even some of the people in Peru (of the women in the retreat, only about half even felt it, depending on where they were at the time). That led to a lot of assuring people we were fine and in a very convoluted way ended up with me in a broom closet (to get away from construction noise) on the phone with a CNN producer who wanted my "on the ground" perspective about the temblor. They decided not to use my interview. Apparently "nothing happened" wasn't sensational enough for the headlines. She kept asking about injuries, death, and destruction in Lima; I told her I spilt my coffee. She didn't find that as traumatizing as I did. 
To be fair it was a fairly strong quake, a 6.9 located down near Ica, the site of a very damaging earthquake in 2007. There were some damage and injuries there this time too, I believe. But after living in the RING OF FIRE ("Turn on the Ring of Fire!" Sorry, every time I say it I think of Bloat from Finding Nemo) for 6 months, the slight shakes like we experienced are becoming a normal occurance. 
This area in red along the Pacific is the Ring of Fire we are talking about. 

This is not the Ring of Fire we are talking about. (But it is a good movie.)

This one wasn't nearly as strong as the one we felt in Costa Rica. Hopefully, though, we won't have to deal with any stronger ones while we are here. 

The rest of the retreat was lovely. Good food, fellowship, and teaching, although I feel like I still haven't had time to process it all because they crammed so much in. I'll share a couple videos and highlights in later posts (if I can remember). 

Since it was a "retreat" I didn't bring Mark, my constant camera companion for work. I decided I would resist the temptation to make myself the unofficial photographer for the event, and just sit back and enjoy. Instead I brought the pocket camera, so enjoy the few images below. 

Many thanks to the Pure Joy Int'l. folks who did so much work to bless us with this special time!

Room at the nice hotel where the retreat was held. 
Personalized water bottles with drink mixes.
They put treats on the table every session. Much chocolate was consumed! Those Reese's and candy corn are like gold!
What was she most excited about? Crisco sticks! Hahah. Life in a foreign country makes you appreciate little things!
What was in my favorites baggie. Yay!
Ladies opening their "favorites" bags.  Lots of excitement. 
Game day! Lovely ladies. SEC sticks together.

Check out more pictures of the retreat from Pure Joy's slide show here.

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