The Georges in Peru

Can we meet twice a week?

01 Jun 2016

I've written about Santiago before.  We've been meeting for bible study for a couple of years now.  We only met once this year before Amy started deteriorating, when we put our meetings on hold.  I called him this morning to see when he'd like to meet.  "Today!  At 1 pm!" Okay.  It was good to see him and see how he was doing and after our study in Matthew 1 (I let him pick the material) we were picking when we were going to meet again and he asked, "Can we meet twice a week?"  It's fun having people who are hungry to study God's Word!  I'm tempted to say, "No," so that he'll continue to look forward to our times together more, but I suspect our schedules won't let us meet twice each week anyway.  It could be hard to explain to God someday why I told someone that wanted to study the Bible more what my reason was for not doing it!


Four Teenagers!!

30 May 2016

As of today, I am the very proud father of four teenagers!  Actually, we found the ages 11 and 12 much more difficult than the teen years, which have generally been a breeze.  Happy Birthday, Paul!!

Community Service Trip

27 May 2016

Our kids attend a school that requires community service hours to graduate.  No, it isn't an alternative school for those kicked out of regular schools!  This last week, Ben and 50 other students took a 14-hour bus ride to Umachulco to work in a highland community.  One of the first things Ben told me was that he was really thankful for the knife uncle Erik gave him for Christmas a year ago, because it worked well for sheering an alpaca!

Not to be outdone, I went with a trio of Peruvian mothers to the other end of Arequipa to see a spina bifida patient.  He is a jovial young man but is paralyzed from the belly button on down.  These moms have kind of formed a club to help take care of this patient, which is kind of inspiring to me.  I met them through another missionary who has a women's bible study that they attend.

I realize how Selfish I am

23 May 2016

During Amy's memorial service in Omaha, her dear friend, Caroline, shared memories of Amy.  She said that after Amy had been married a year, Caroline asked her what she had learned about herself and Amy said, "I realize how selfish I am."  If you knew Amy well, you would not come up with 'selfish' if asked to pick 10 adjectives to describe her.  I had to follow up with Caroline and ask if she could explain what Amy meant by that.  I hoped that Caroline would say something like that after being married to such a selfless guy like myself, Amy realized how selfish she was, but not surprisingly, she had a more plausible explanation:  "As I recall, she meant that the day to day of being married revealed how many choices she had been making (in life so far, before marriage) to do as she pleased, to satisfy her preference, in ways which she never realized until someone else’s needs and desires became part of her life on a daily basis.  Would she let go of her preference, or insist on her way in details of life? Would she discipline her heart, or allow herself to indulge in (unseen) irritation over choices you might make in dealing with the day to day which were different than her habit? Submission reveals selfishness instantly and thoroughly.  I think it revealed more than she expected, and was a greater battle than she had prepared for.  It was also clear she was determined to face that challenge and overcome it, by God’s power and her surrender.  I remember thinking if she was struggling with selfishness in marriage, then I was terrified!"

That made perfect sense to me as now I can be 'selfish' again.  I can decide what we are having for lunch without asking, and can buy anything I want without concern whether or not Amy would agree it was a good use of our finances, or leave my deodorant on the counter.  I can see why people who marry at older ages have difficulty with adjusting to living with someone else.  I used to think that was kind of a silly excuse, but I had always had a roommate.  Amy must have listened to herself about being selfish because she was anything but.  She was incredibly easy to live with.

Take time to Grieve

21 May 2016

I've been advised by senior missionaries to not get started with ministry too quickly, but to take time to grieve.  This morning was a quick foray into ministry as we helped some other missionaries move and I saw patients at the La Merced church during their medical campaign.  It was invigorating to see some patients and to work with friends with whom I've colabored for the last 5 years.  

So, how are we all doing?  I'm very sad (don't worry medical people (or others), I'm not suicidal in the least!) and miss Amy.  I resumed swimming this week and it has been good to see old swimming friends at the pool again.  I feel uncomfortable telling the ones that haven't heard about Amy that she's gone because they are so shocked.   The kids are doing better than I expected and their friends have been rallying around them.  Last night Mia went to a quinceañera (a fancy birthday party for a girl turning 15 that is often as elaborate as a wedding, except there isn't a groom) for a friend of a friend.  Paul and I stayed home and ran chess club and around 16 kids came.

Dad, I need laundry done now!

20 May 2016

In our division of labors, Amy did the laundry 95% of the time.  But last night Ben had to resort to me.  At 6 pm he realized that he needed clothes for his week-long school trip to a remote Andean village to do a 'community service project'.  Luckily, we live in a desert where it is so dry the dew point is below freezing and you really can hang clothes at night on our rooftop clotheslines and they will be dry by morning.  In this case, they needed to be dry by 4:30 am, which is when Ben had to be at school with all of his stuff.  We don't even own a drier, so I was happy when I woke up and sure enough, they were dry.  Even blue jeans.  Our kids attend a school attended by, let's say, 'well-resourced kids.'  Many of our kids' classmates live in fancy homes and their parents drive fancy cars.  Ironically, Ben, having spent 8 years of his life in Abancay, will have had more experience that most of his classmates being in remote, 'poorly-resourced' Andean villages!  He was so excited about his trip he said that he wasn't sure if he had slept at all last night.  Hopefully, he got some sleep on the 7- to 10-hour bus ride today.

Oh, yes.  I almost forgot.  I had to go to a notary to sign an 'authorization to travel' but this time, since it was within the country, it was simple and quick.

Back in Arequipa

17 May 2016

We are back in our home in Arequipa after an uneventful trip.  No one even asked me if I had the proper paperwork to travel with my children!  The memorial service went well.  I hesitate to say it was 'great' as I can't find 'great' or 'super' in my adjective box at the moment.  I decided that I don't like inflight movies much any more.  Either they are romantic or someone dies, difficult subjects to watch at the moment.  The Muppets Most Wanted didn't have either (Kermit and Miss Piggy didn't make me sigh) so it was the easiest to endure.  So, tomorrow, Life 2.0 begins.  I'll be busy getting the kids off to school, laundry and Ben's paperwork with immigrations which I need to get fast-tracked somehow, so I'll be distracted by things that need to be done.  The kids go to school 15 minutes later than last quarter because of the cold.  Yup.  Gets down into the 40's some nights.  

You need an authorization to leave the country!

11 May 2016

Peru goes to great effort to reduce child trafficking.  One of the rules they've instituted is that minor children not accompanied by both parents cannot leave the country without a notarized authorization from the parent that isn't traveling with them.  This is probably good to keep an angry spouse from taking the kids to some other country without telling the other parent.  What does one do if he is the only parent after the other one dies?  Our mission secretary told me that I would need to take the death certificate with me to the airport.  Check.  Death certificate.  Got it the morning after Amy died.  When we arrived in Lima on Monday to get my residency card the mission secretary revised her advice and told me that the death certificate isn't enough.  One has to go to a notary and have them give me an authorization to travel.  "Why isn't a death certificate enough?"  "They are too many fake death certificates out there," was the reply.  "But isn't it just as easy to get a fake authorization from a notary?"  is the next obvious question that no one can answer adequately.  Okay.  No problem.  We went to the notary, where they requested birth certificates for the kids.  "Here you go!" I said preparedly.  "These are several years old.  You need new ones." was the reply.  How would a new birth certificate show that Amy and I are the true parents better than an older one that I had?  That's the way it is.  We went to another notary.   After looking over my papers they concluded "Your death certificate is from a different region.  We can't verify its authenticy."  Panic started to swell as I wondered what I would do if no notary would give me my authorization.  Thankfully, the third notary seemed to know what she was doing and was reasonable in trusting my children's birth certificates, national identity cards and passports and wrote up the authorization.  Whew!  So we were able to fly to the US this morning and are here in Omaha making preparations for Saturday's memorial service at Christ Community Church at 11 am.  After the 2nd notary, we were going to go to downtown Lima to the birth certificate office (RENIEC) to have them verify Amy's death certificate, but providentially (I truly believe God had his hand in this) all four taxis we stopped and asked for a ride said they wouldn't take us.  That closed door led us to the third notary who gave us the authorization.

Happy Sunday School Teacher Day!

09 May 2016

Despite being our first Mother's Day and Amy and my 23rd anniversary, yesterday wasn't a bad day.  If anything I felt that we could relax a bit, even though we needed to pack up for our trip back to the USA.  We decided to go to church last night, risking experiencing emotional Mother's Day tributes.  The pastor had all the mothers go up front and be recognized and they were each given a present.  Even more time was spent thanking Sarah for helping teach Sunday School kids for the last 3 months while she's been here.  The kids absolutely adore her and she will miss them even more than they'll miss her I suspect.

Good job, Sarah!  You make me very proud!


"I've never seen it done like that before"

07 May 2016

I thought it was a pretty normal funeral.  Actually, everything went splendidly.  But it was quite different from a normal Peruvian funeral, so it took a lot of patient explaining that we were doing things the way we did.  In Peru, when someone dies, usually the body is left in the house and put on display ensconced in curtains and shiny pillars.  People come and visit, usually whispering quietly.  We had the undertaker take Amy's body to the funeral home shortly after she died on Thursday night and Friday we had an open house and I estimate 75 people came and visited in a house that was far from quiet.  All of the kids had friends come and visit, and they entertained themselves around the house while the adults visited.  The other SIM missionaries took shifts keeping the kitchen hopping and the dining room full of inviting sandwiches and goodies.  We chased everyone out at 5:30 pm and went out for pizza at Papa John's and went to bed exhausted.

This morning we finished printing out the funeral programs and delivered the flowers to the Family Focus Center.  We all dressed in black and went over to the center at 10 am.  The funeral home brought Amy in a glass-enclosed casket at 10:30, about 30 minutes later than planned.  I wasn't getting nervous yet.  But at 11 am, the funeral starting time, only about 40 people were there.

 Now I was starting to get concerned.  Was a funeral for and by foreigners too strange and scary to attend?  What are we going to do with food for 300 people?  But suddenly, lots of people started showing up and we started about 20 minutes late.  By noon almost all of the 250 chairs were filled, and all were filled by the end of the service with a comfortable number standing in the back.  It was such a nice service, with a song by the other missionaries, stories shared by many, and a succinct message by the pastor on salvation. The facilities were super, with great music and sound and it wasn't too hot despite the sun beating down on the roof.

After dinner, the undertaker returned (it seemed odd to me that they didn't stay for the funeral.  They just left the casket at 10:30 and came back at 2:30) to get Amy's body and we followed them to the crematorium.  On the way there, we got stuck in a traffic jam of Holsteins.  You can see the crematorium chapel in the distance.

Once we arrived, we had to fill out a bunch of forms and give them copies of our passports and the death certificate.  They took Amy's fingerprints and toe prints (Interpol has her fingerprints, but who could possibly verify her toe prints?!) before she was cremated.

The kids each had tons of friends at the funeral and many came over to the house afterwards as well which was great.  Thanks for all of your prayers and well wishes.  Sorry that I can't respond to each of them personally.



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