Monday, May 25, 2015

Everyone needs a laugh!

Hello Friends and Family!  It has been a while since my last blog because we had done a couple newsletters in a row.  But I had this idea for my blog for sometime now, so I hope you get a laugh. For the last month or so, I have really needed some laughs.  I watched the clips from the links below over and over and laughed each time.  I hope you do too!

Some of you may not know how close of a relationship Don and Ryan have always had.  They were friends before Don and I started dating and worked together up until the point Ryan moved to Peru. Don was Ryan's "right-hand man" while working in construction.  He was Ryan's spokesperson on the job and would talk to all the State inspectors or whoever else needed to be talked to.  They have always had that kind of relationship, and I think that is why Don translating for Ryan works so well. They are very in-tune with one another.  It is fun to watch them together on Thursday nights and Sunday mornings.   We wish you would all be able to visit us in Peru, but until that point I want to give you a glimpse of what it's like.  Click on the link below to see....


You probably figured out who Don was and who Ryan was!  The best part is that if you watched closely you could see Russell Brand's character at one point repeating silently what Adam Sandler is saying.  Don does the same thing!

Here in Peru, there is a big problem with counterfeiting. They have problems with dollars being counterfeit and their own soles being counterfeit.  We have gotten some bad 5 sole coins before as change.  It is so embarrassing when we go to try to use them!!!  We have had some of our Peruvian friends show us how to tell if a coin is counterfeit, but I still can't tell.  Now click on the link below.....


Don't worry, I haven't been arrested yet....and I hope I never am :)  But trying to communicate is still pretty hard for me.  I have a much greater respect for my husband who can speak 2 languages.  I am also so thankful Don is here to help me communicate.  My kids even help me in the communication department!  Thankfully I am understanding much of what is said to me, but I have a hard time answering back in sentences.  I can manage one word answers!  The other day in our local bodega (a bodega is like a small mom and pop convenience store) I asked for a package of candy.  The lady who I have known for 2 years now, looks at me and asks me if I can speak Spanish.  I told her that I can speak a little (I answered her in Spanish)!  Then she looks at Hannah and asks her if I can speak Spanish yet.  Hannah tells her that I can speak some.  The lady looks right at Hannah, right in front of me, and tells her, "I can't understand a word your mother says in Spanish.  I understand you, (meaning Hannah) but I can't understand your mom."  Now remember, I am understanding all of this!!!!!!  I didn't know whether I should laugh or cry.

The last two months have probably been the hardest for me since we moved to Peru.  I am not sure why these last two months have been so difficult.  But what I do know is that the Lord will use this time to teach me, to mold me, to refine me, and to grow me.  I must just remember to have JOY in the midst of my circumstances.

I hope you got a laugh at the clips above!  Laughter feels good!  Looking forward to seeing all of you in June and July!  -Stacey

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Well family and friends here is our November update.  Our days have been full and busy this past month while we await for our family to return to Peru.  Only 9 more days and they will be back here in Banos!  We have missed them dearly; the people of our church and community have also missed Pastor Ryan, Nicole, Annyka, Joaquin, Eva, and Arianna. So this is what we have been up to while our pastor has been away.....

We gave the church building a face lift!!!  We painted the main room and the children's room.   My mom, Jan, and I sewed curtains for the rooms and picked up a couple little fake plants to decorate the book shelf.  As I have mentioned before, doing things here in Peru is sometimes difficult.  We don't have things as easily accessible as we are used to.  But Mom and I got creative and we made our curtains from shower curtains and tablecloths we found at our supermercado! Our friend Christian, from Lima, who stayed with us for a little over a month, painted a wonderful scene in our children's room.  It was exciting after it was all finished and the people started arriving on Sunday.  We heard many "ooo's"  and  "ahh's".
Table cloth curtain!

Entry way!

Children's room!

Main room!
 Another thing we have learned living here in Peru is that we must be flexible.  Things often do not go as planned, even if you did all your homework and prepared.  I don't know why this seems to happen here more often than when we were back at home; but we are getting used to it also.  The orphanage we visit regularly was finally granted money to fix their buildings from the government.  While they have had so much construction going on, when we arrive on Fridays we never know what building we will be in or what the condition of the room will be like.  But God is good, and it has worked out each time and we have been able to continue our teachings, games, crafts, and snacks.  We've been able to do this even with no power, in a small room with 1 table for 20 kids, and so on.  I am very excited to share with you that we have started having Peruvian people from our church start joining us at our orphanage ministry.  We have always invited our congregation to join us but until recently no one had joined us.  This is a huge blessing for us as well for the children of the orphanage.
Craft time

Getting ready for story time!

Our makeshift room for the day- the kitchen!

So as we learn to roll with the punches, I have learned that it is possible to have a house full of 20+ guests over for Thanksgiving and not have 1 drop of water coming from our faucets.  We have had a bit of a water crisis in our town.  They had been turning the water off every day in the morning.  To make matters worse we had a problem with our holding tank that we were unaware of before this water crisis.  Our tank's back flow protector was broken.  So during the night when the water was turned on our tank would fill up, but once the water was turned off all our water would flow back to the sewer.  So when we would get up in the morning we had water for about an hour.  Our dirty dishes sat on the counter for some time and toilets could not flush Thanksgiving day, but God blessed our time with all of our Peruvian friends.  They were very excited to eat our Thanksgiving traditions and hear the story of the first Thanksgiving and why we celebrate every year.
Getting ready to eat!

This is our turkey!

We had our pick!

Thanksgiving this year, possibly more than other years, caused me to really reflect on all we have to be thankful for.  I don't know if I was more reflective because of where we live, or how we live here sometimes, but I do know I have so very much to be thankful for.  I feel blessed beyond words by our Heavenly Father.  I see Him do things here in Peru that amaze me.  Maybe in the States I was just too busy to notice, or had too much distraction from worldly possessions, or too consumed with meaningless activities to notice the everyday blessings and miracles from Jesus.

I'd like to take this time to thank each of our friends and dear family who support us with prayers and financially. I pray that you had a blessed Thanksgiving and as we come into this Christmas season may you feel our Savior's love in all the tiny everyday miracles of life.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

When things don't make sense!

     Have you ever had a hard time making sense of things?  Living in a new country, I scratch my head many times as I try to make sense of things.  I'm sure this happens to anyone moving to a new country.  But here are a few things I have a hard time making sense of:

I don't understand why the local police will stop your car if your headlight is out, but it is perfectly acceptable and normal to have an 8 passenger van loaded with 17 people.  Coming home from one of our outreaches we had 17 people packed into this van with our puppet stage roped to the top.  We passed many police who looked at us and did nothing!  Yet on our way from Trujilo our van got stopped for an out headlight and they kept us on the side of a road for an hour while they checked all the paperwork :(

I also don't understand why you CAN'T sit on the steps or sidewalk in front of the mall while waiting for friends.  The security guard actually asked my Dad, Don, and Caleb to stand up and not sit.  They think it is tacky and not appropriate. You also can't sit on the grass at the park in the middle of town?? Yet....on the street in front of the mall it wouldn't be surprising to see a man peeing right out in the open!!!!  You will see men peeing on the busiest streets with people the bridges in broad daylight...or in the middle of an open field. (Not against the wall or behind a plant...RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD!)
Sorry!  No picture of a man peeing ;)

At the mall we were stopped from walking across the parking lot to get to the street.  You must walk on the sidewalks that form a perimeter around the mall.  The guards actually stopped us for our safety?!?!  Yet inside the mall, where there are guards present, they allowed a child to ride up the railing of the escalator. Umm...I think that is a safety issue too!!!!!

A lot of people drive motorcycles here in Peru.  It is not surprising to see an entire family on one motorcycle, even little kids.  There is a law in Peru where the driver must wear a helmet, but nobody else on the motorcycle needs to????????

It also makes no sense that the houses here have roof drains that shoot straight off the roof....not down the side and then out....STRAIGHT OFF THE TOP!  It is also okay to throw your trash out windows or just throw it on the ground when walking.  We finally got the nerve up to ask one of our Peruvian friends why that is okay; he said it is okay because someone will pick it up.  We told him how much you would be fined if you did that in the United States, and he just smiled and said, "No, not here in Peru!"

I realize there are times in life when I won't understand my surroundings.  Things might never make perfect sense to me.  This is the same as in my Christian walk.  Things will not always make sense.  Maybe I won't understand why God has asked me to do something or move somewhere new.  Maybe I won't understand my circumstances....but I must trust in the Lord.  Just as Abraham trusted God when he was asked to sacrifice Isaac; I must trust in the plans of the Lord.  It might not always be easy, I might have an inner struggle, but I can trust that God's plans are perfect.  He sees the big picture when I only see a frame.   Last summer I didn't fully understand what God was doing in our lives.  Now almost 10 months later, I thank God that he called us to Peru.  Everyday I see the little miracles he is doing in our lives and in our community.  Thank you God for your perfect plans!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Why I might stick out!

     So, last time I blogged, I wrote about how I knew I wasn't in California anymore.  Now as time is passing (and I am not in quite as much culture shock), I am taking more notice of the people around me.  More specifically, I'm taking notice of  how the people around me are reacting to my family and me!  We obviously stick out.  Every time I leave the house I am reminded that I will be watched.  This isn't such a bad thing, it makes me remember to behave :)  I must remember that I am representing Jesus and being watched by people who aren't really sure about me.
     But let me give you some examples of what I mean....

     I was in the grocery store the other day and asking for some empanadas at the front counter.  I tried to ask in my best Spanish, with the correct verbs, and was pretty proud of myself.  But I then noticed the line of customers behind me giggling and repeating parts of what I said.  I looked at Nicole because I had an idea of what was happening.  She confirmed that they were laughing at me.  I thought I said it perfectly... but this reminded me of how many times I had snickered at someone's accent back in the States.  (In fact, I used to make a lot of fun of Don's accent in the beginning of our marriage :(

     Another thing I have done, and not thought twice about, was picking out fruit in the market.  I was trying to pick out nectarines and was gently squeezing them to make sure they weren't to mushy. I don't like mushy fruit.  Don was suddenly at my side and whispered for me to STOP!  I asked him, "Stop what?"  He told me to stop squeezing the fruit because the ladies behind the counter were watching me.  I slowly looked over my shoulder, and their faces looked something like this....
     My next story is about the grocery store too.  I don't know what it is about me and grocery stores, but I always seem to do something stupid at a store.  I know we are not to go shopping when hungry, but I'm always hungry when I walk into the grocery store.  Now I know we have all done this in the States and never think twice about up something we are going to buy and take a nibble.  Well, after living here for 7 months, I noticed nobody, I mean nobody, does this in Peru.  I decided I better stop doing this before I get kicked out of the store, or worse :)
     Then there are the stares we get when we walk home from the grocery store.  Don carries all the bags for me.  Sometimes maybe even 10 bags!  He invented these metal hooks he had the iron guy make, and will line up all the bags on them and walk home.  So why does this get us so many looks?  It is because the women in Peru carry everything.  I have watched a husband and wife walk side by side and she will have the baby on her back (not just babies, but toddlers too) and will be carrying 2 FULL five gallon buckets while the husband is empty handed.  These women are so, so very strong here!  They amaze me!  I am not sure why they look at us it because they can't figure out why I can't carry anything or why my husband would carry everything. 
     And, yes, we stick out because of the clothes we wear, the color of our skin, when we walk down the street with our dogs on a leash...
So my point to all of this is that God is teaching me to be very aware of the words that come out of my mouth, the way I present myself, the way I treat others and my family,  because I am always being watched.  I should have always been concerned of these things, but I have never been so aware of being watched before.  I am guessing that God is drawing my attention to this because it is an area of my life I need to work on.  I'm thankful that God is working on me.  It's humbling to remember that although God is using me here in Peru, there is still so much for me to learn.




Saturday, January 4, 2014

Why I know I'm not in California anymore :)

     Just as Dorothy knew she wasn't in Kansas, I now know that I am not in California anymore.  There are many things that have given it away.  Some subtle, and some not so subtle.  Some that make me giggle, and others that I have to be careful not to stop a stare at.  I have tried to take pictures of as many as I could.  However, there have been times that I haven't been quick enough to snap the picture, so I will try to just explain those things.
     The first things I noticed was on my first full day in Peru.  I was in Lima and needed to use the restroom.  We were at a big mall.  All  the family were taking care of business at the cell phone store, so I thought I could take myself to the bathroom.  I opened the door to the first stall and noticed something wrong....can you see what is wrong?

Stall after stall, the same toilet paper, they weren't just out of toilet paper... there weren't even toilet paper dispensers.  I started to walk out wondering what to do, and then I noticed that by the row of about 10 sinks (which only had 1 soap dispenser) was ONE toilet role dispenser!  I'm still not sure how a person is to know how much toilet paper one is to take in with them, but I was told I should be thankful that there was even toilet paper at all.  Most public bathrooms you must supply your own toilet paper.  This would explain why on all the street candy carts in Lima you also see roles of TP being sold :)

The next thing I noticed while in Lima is that any single lane road can be made into a multi-lane highway!! I have never been so scared in a car in my life.   It is also legal here to make a left hand turn from the right hand lane.  Do not step off a sidewalk either.  They do not stop for pedestrians!

Hadn't seen one of these in a long time either...a phone booth!

When we got to Baños our family showed us around our new home.  I was excited to see our bedrooms and our bathroom.  (A bathroom I will always be sure is well stocked with TP.)  This is what I found...

Yes, a urinal in my bathroom....right next to my sink!  That was about the grossest thing I could imagine. So I have fixed the problem...

Many visitors now leave my bathroom chuckling.

Fast food in Baños is a little different than what I was used to.  Instead of Hot Dog on a Stick, we have Anti-cucho on a Stick.  (Anti-cucho is fried cow hearts.)  And no, I have not tried it, but the kids and Don love it.

You can also go to the Mercado for a quick could get something like this...
(look closely in the first picture for the pig's head)

As I walk around Banos I never know what I'll see. Maybe I'll see a sheep in the back of a taxi (I didn't have my camera when I saw that), or instead of dogs in the back of the truck I'll see a cow.  As I passed by a neighbor's house I saw a donkey in the front yard eating a plant.  In another neighbor's yard I saw the biggest pig I have ever seen in my life!
I had fun the other day exploring our backyard where there are 3000 turkeys being raised for Christmas.  Our landlords also have cows, sheep, guinea pigs, and bunnies.  The little girls were taking me on a tour and I asked them what their bunnies names are.  Of course this was all in my very broken Spanish.  They looked at me as if I was crazy.  I wasn't sure if it was my bad Spanish and they didn't understand me, but the girls then giggled and said something to Don.  Don then told me that the bunnies names were Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.  I guess they don't name their least not the ones they use as food.  I didn't bother asking them the names of the guinea pigs because I know those are food too.

As different as Peru is from California, I'm excited to get up each morning and see what this country has in store for me.  Dorothy may have clicked her heels and said, "There's no place like home."  But I won't be clicking my heels because Peru IS now my home. I love this place, the people, and thankful for what God is doing in my life!

(On our way to church on a rainy evening. 
Yes, this is the only type of raingear we could find...don't laugh :)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

We made it to Banos del Inca!

     After 9 months of planning, we finally made it to Peru! Saying goodbye to our friends and family in Santa Cruz and Tuolumne County was probably one of the hardest parts of all of this.  However, we know it is not "good-bye" forever; it is just "see you later". When we arrived to Lima, we were expecting to be met by Mesod, a friend who would help us with all our paperwork. We were overjoyed when all of the Petriks surprised us at the airport at 1am!!!
     We had many unexpected bumps in the road from Sacramento to Lima. Everything seemed to be going smoothly until we arrived in Houston, Texas for our layover.  We were on the plane ready to taxi to the runway and here comes a couple of United employees all dressed in tarmac gear coming right towards us. There was a problem with our dogs paperwork (nothing we did incorrectly) but rather a problem originating in Sacramento with the way they input our information.  They gave us the sad news that the dogs would not be able to fly with us and have to be boarded at the airport until the next day. They couldn't even assure us that the dogs would be able to make it on the flight the next day.  It was very upsetting. We were confused and frustrated because we had done so much work to assure everything would go smoothly. We even went to Sacramento 3 days before our flight to do the dogs paperwork as they had requested. With tears in our eyes our plane began to taxi to the runway. We said a prayer and asked God to intervene and feverishly sent off some emails to ask for prayer. Suddenly, we stopped and the captain said there was going to be a short delay before take-off due to an operational problem. Next thing we knew they said we were going to have to return to the hangar. Our hopes suddenly rising, could this delay be from God for us!!! We got back into the airport and our plane ended up being delayed for another hour and a half as they fixed an air conditioning unit.  Needless to say, this was enough time for the United Pet Safe people to fix the problem and have our dogs loaded onto our plane.  We cried a little and were amazed how God cares about every part of our lives, even our pets. He reaffirmed to us through this that He would be there with us every step of this journey. 
     While in Lima, God showed us His sovereignty in all situations. The process to have the dogs released to us was not easy. It took over 6 hours, but this nice employee at the cargo facility took favor on us and stayed with us all 6 hours and walked us through every confusing step. We knew this was also a provision from God. Then when it was time to leave and go to Banos del Inca the air traffic controllers went on strike in Lima.  They were cancelling flights left and right. But God was ready for us to start our life in Banos and our flight was one of the flights that made it out that day!!!! (Thank you Grandma and Papa for surprising us with plane tickets, so we didn't have to take the 14 hour bus ride!)
     As we are getting settled here in our new home we have no doubt that this is where God wants our family.  If there was any doubts before we left the United States, God reconfirmed to us over and over the last 2 weeks that we are following the path that He has set before us.  Thank you all for keeping us in your prayers. We will keep you all updated with the happenings here in Banos!
Love- The Brower family
 Don was considering the cuy (guinea pig) for lunch, but then decided there wasn't enough meat LOL!
 Our 1st prop plane ride!! This was the plane we took from Lima to Cajamarca.
                                                        Our first family dinner in Peru!
Caleb, Hannah, Eva, and our new neighbor, Melina. They got to watch the cows in the field be milked.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Goodbye house in Felton

This past Saturday we moved out of our home.  We had so much fun in our little cabin in the redwoods, even if winters were down-right scary!! We said goodbye and gave hugs to our little neighbor friends, Nixie and Arlen. We will miss seeing Arlen at our door everyday asking if Caleb can come out and play.  But we know God has great things ahead for us in Peru.  We are getting more excited as the time is rapidly approaching- 6 weeks to go! We are so thankful to our friends who have opened their homes to us during our last few weeks here in the States.  God is continually strengthening our faith and showing us His great love and provision for us as we seek Him and answer His call.