I’m late in saying it, but Happy New Year! I hope your holiday season was filled with much laughter and quality time with loved ones. We celebrated Christmas with a mixture of Peruvian and North American traditions. On Christmas Eve, we attended church and then went to the Simpson’s (our support family) house for games, a gift exchange, and of course—food! In keeping with Peruvian tradition, at midnight we celebrated by greeting one another with hugs, set off some fireworks, and drank hot chocolate. Yes, that’s right- we drank hot chocolate in 90 degree weather! After our celebration at the Simpson’s we went to the Plaza de Armas in Iquitos and walked around taking photos and observing the mass of people celebrating the holidays. On Christmas day we had a semi-traditional North American lunch complete with stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. It was a very special time together, though we all missed our families and friends back home. New Years we celebrated again at the Simpson’s with a time of worship and prayer and yes, more fireworks!
Honestly, I’ve hesitated writing lately, because I have been dealing with some major culture shock. My love affair with Peru stopped somewhere in the second week here in Iquitos. Don’t get me wrong, Iquitos is beautiful and the idea that I live in the Amazon Jungle is something I’ll always treasure. But, there are days when all I want to do is go home, days when I question why I’m here at all, days when I just want to eat some spicy ahi poke and hang out with my friends at the beach.
Last week was particularly difficult and I spent a lot of time crying and praying that I would know what to do to get through it. It was in those dark moments that 1, I was reminded of what wonderful friends and family I have in the states and 2, I realized what amazing friends I have made here on my team. There is no doubt in my mind that I am blessed beyond what any one person deserves AND that life looks a lot different when we choose to be grateful. Thank you, my loved ones, for all the prayer and encouragement. I could not do this without you. Really.