There are many things about being a missionary in Peru that I wasn't prepared for. I think that is a good thing. It just means I am growing and adapting. This is good.
And I really do love my job. Really. But there are things I don't love about my job, in addition to the things I do love.
So this post is dedicated to the things I love, and don't love, that you may not ever have thought about, the things I wasn't prepared for...
This post has been several months in the making, but I am going to go ahead and publish this incomplete list.
Things I love about my job:
1. I love my people. Each one of them has something special to offer. And their hospitality is incredible.
2. I love the excitement they have about learning the Bible. The majority are adults who have almost never in their lives opened a Bible. They don´t know the books or even the testaments. They don´t even know the stories. It is all pretty much new to them. And they get so excited! They truly enjoy learning it. For how many of us is reading the Bible often a chore? But they make me realize that it is a privilege. And when they hear about God´s love for them, they get excited. And the unfortunate fact of the matter is that I often forget that this really is the best news ever. But they make me remember. I love that.
3. This one could truly fall into either category; but the glass is half-full on this one. Missionary life, in my experience, causes a change in personal hygeine standards. During my first nine months in Peru, when hot water was not a guarantee, let´s just say I learned how long I could go without washing my hair. And this is actually a good thing! Most days...
4. This one could probably go in either category as well, but the good definitely outweighs the bad. On a regular basis, we will be walking through town, and will have an entourage of several kids. They just follow us around. They see us, they want to know what we are doing, and they want to do everything possible to accompany us. Sometimes, they ask us for money. And sometimes they won´t stop following us, which is pretty awkward when we knock on someone´s door with ten kids...
5. A health benefit of living at 11,000 feet abouve sea level: I will never suffer from asthma again. There is a cure...
6. We are so lucky to always have cheap, fresh produce available to us.
7. A combination of high altitude, very organic and usually healthy food, and a ton of walking makes it really easy to lose weight here.
Things I don't love about my job:
1. I do not love the constant staring I receive as a white girl. Everyone stares. And it is not like I´m all that. But I´m different. Different skin tone. Different hair color. Different eye color. Different accent. I´m different, and for some reason, that gives everyone else the right to stare at me. Which can be somewhat uncomfortable. It is probably a confidence builder though; now it would be ridiculous to assume that just because someone is staring at me means I must have something on my face or stuck in my teeth.
2. On a daily basis, I see people urinating in public. Men, women, children. In the road. In plain site. It doesn't really matter. When you gotta go, you gotta go.
3. I am now a pro at the squatty potty. That could be a good thing, but the lack of accessible bathrooms with toilet seats or even toilets in general is not something I love.
4. When you are white in Peru, it is naturally assumed that you are a tourist. The idea that I could live in Cusco, not in a hotel, is appalling. When we tell a taxi driver where our house is, they just assume that we are headed to the hotel five blocks away, even when we are very clear about where we want to go. People also automatically speak English to me, even though it is not arrogant to say that my Spanish is much better than their English. But I am white, so I must be a dumb tourist who can´t speak Spanish, right? And, when you are white, you must be a dumb tourist who will pay way to much for all products and services, right? Yes, they overcharge tourists. Almost always. You have to fight for fairness.
(My apologies for the above tirade. Obviously that is an annoyance that has been building up for a while. After all, it is tourist season.)
5. There is no movie theater in Cusco. I repeat: A movie theater does not exist in Cusco. I don´t love this fact at all. However, there is a very alive and well bootleg business in Cusco. I cannot say that I ever use this service, but a movie that is just out in the States is usually available (albeit oftentimes as a terrible recording) within a few weeks here in Peru.
6. For some reason, being white means that it is okay to ask me abruptly and incessantly for something that you want. A little girl yesterday walked up behind me and grabbed my wrist, specifically my bracelet. After she scared me half to death (made worse by the fact I was listening to music in my own world), she told me my bracelet was cute, and if I would give it to her? Then would I give her my earrings? Maybe I didn't understand her...would I give her them? How about my backpack?
The important thing here is that I am in love...with my job. There are plenty of annoyances, but the good always outweighs the bad.