Cuy!

We have another first in the books!

36376196_10160505078695111_9029299515768700928_n

The next few days mark “Month 11” for us in Peru! We have brought some of our highs and lows to you as we have transitioned into a new culture. The last post was about some of the hardships of culture shock that we have been experiencing. Sometimes we have times of frustration when it comes to not being able to find some of our favorite foods, like honey roasted cashews or pumpkin spice. However, there are other times when living in another country when the sense of adventure and excitement really kick in!

One of the unique things about the cuisine in Cusco, Peru is the special occasion meal! Usually eaten on holidays, birthdays, and monumental events by the local peruvians, cuy (pronounced: coo-ee) is the same animal that many North Americans keep as pets – guinea pig!

36352955_10157643825746110_311471758450360320_n

Yesterday was a Peruvian holiday, and we feel so thankful to have made friends that are excellent cooks! When one of our friends found out that Mitchel and I have been in Peru for almost a year and haven’t tried this delicacy yet, she decided to cook it for us!

Here it is with one of our favorite dishes – Rocoto Relleno (a stuffed pepper that has been fried). We don’t know if we can really describe the taste of cuy, but the texture was similar to dark meat chicken.

We feel so grateful to have special friends that care about us and are willing to share their culture with us!

In Love,
Mitchel and Rachel Routh

Unexpected Gifts and Culture Shock

Culture shock.

  1. a state of bewilderment and distress experienced by an individual who is suddenly exposed to a new, strange, or foreign social and cultural environment.    – Dictionary.com

I found a website that accurately describes exactly how culture shock feels and what it looks like to a new missionary at http://www.pettengillmissionaries.org/missions-and-the-shocking-reality-of-culture-shock/. I don’t feel like I can say this any better to help others understand this complex feeling, so I quote…

Many missionaries think they have culture shock licked before they ever leave their home. We try to intellectualize culture shock. We think, “Ok, I get it. There is going to be poverty, new food, new language and new customs. Great. Let’s move on.” The reality is culture shock is exhausting. You don’t realize how much your senses are bombarded by new sounds, sights, tastes and experiences. It wears a person down to continually process the external stimulus.

Then add in experiences like not being able to communicate, or understand anything, moral dilemmas and always getting lost. There is nothing more humbling than to be pulled from your home culture, where you are relatively smart and can communicate, and being plopped into a situation where you sound like an uneducated three-year-old and nothing makes sense.

-Mike in “Missions and the Shocking Reality of Culture Shock”

Every missionary goes through it. It is the point of your journey where you have been in your new country for 6 months or more (for us it is 10), and you enter the frustration period of transition. Everyone has different reactions at different times when presented with the same circumstance. Mine has been the frustration of being here and learning Spanish, but not being able to communicate emotionally yet. When I feel like I am making a connection only for them to open up to me with words I haven’t learned yet.

There are days I just want to avoid Spanish speakers because I don’t want that disappointment of reaching for a connection with someone only to be blocked by this formidable Spanish barrier. But I go anyway.

I go to coffee. We have dinner. Haha as you can see, we center around food.. but I keep chugging along because I know that culture shock will subside soon enough. I just need to wait it out, keep being involved, and learn as much Spanish as I can. And I pray. And pray that God is here with me. And that he sees my frustration and please oh please give me the gift of tongues. In Spanish preferably.

But then He gives me a greater gift. He sends friends who are amazing and patient and are looking for a connection just like I am. Sure, I may not speak all the words correctly, but having new friends come to our home while we prepare homemade Alfredo sauce is such a gift. Friends that have stories just like we do. Friends that are willing to share and teach and don’t mind if I don’t know the word to use for “climbing trees.” Or a “piece” of cake. Because they want to know ME . All I have to do is open the door that God has put in front of me. The door that show that culture shock stinks some times, but these friends will be here for me as I enter through.

Tonight they were from Venezuela. But I know that my gifts that God is sending are telling me to not take the easy way out. Because the hard way is the most rewarding way.

Galatians 6:9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

In Love,
Rachel Routh

P.S. Culture shock may stink, but we will get through it! And we definitely appreciate all prayers.

El Sol Escuela de Español

While we were in Lima, Peru, we worked hard to have a base for our Spanish language skills before our upcoming move to Cusco, Peru. We enrolled in an immersion school called: El Sol Escuela de Español. We really enjoyed it and love the way the program has been set up.

IMG_20170809_171233_01

We arrived every morning at 9 a.m. and began grammar class. The purpose of this class was to teach us new vocabulary as well as the “rules” of the language. After two hours of vigorously taking notes, we had a twenty minute break to get some much needed coffee.

Then our second class began. This was the conversation class where we put into practice everything we had been working on that morning.  Some classes focused on answering questions and having a predetermined conversation, while other classes wove games into learning!

With El Sol’s curriculum, we had one teacher for grammar and another teacher for conversation. After two weeks, the teachers rotated, and we got to know two completely new teachers. Sometimes this was a great thing because we got to experience different teaching styles and if a specific style was hard to learn from, we just stuck it out for two weeks, and then we would get a new teacher. However, it was also a little hard to have the instability. We finally got used to our teachers and their styles and began to enjoy it, then we lost them and needed to become accustomed to a new teacher.

After four hours everyday of new Spanish concepts and language learning, we liked to eat lunch and take a walk on the cliffs of Lima to decompress and let our brains relax! Occasionally, we got to go back to school later that afternoon and participate in some exciting activities.

One of the best things about El Sol were the “culture classes” that they provided! You may have seen a lot of our fun pictures over the past months… these classes were where those came from. Everything said was in Spanish, so we not only got to practice listening and responding, but we also got to dive into the Peruvian culture from the perspective of native Peruvians!

Some Wednesdays they offered cooking classes taught by a local chef! We learned how to make some delicious Peruvian dishes including Ceviche, Receta de Choros a la Chalaca, and Rocoto Relleno Cuzqueño!

21330949_10156683430481110_1892676255_o

Ceviche is a seafood dish popular in the coastal regions of Latin America and the Caribbean. In regard to its origin, various explanations are given. According to some historic sources from Peru, ceviche would have originated among the Moche, a coastal civilization that began to flourish in the area of current-day northern Peru nearly 2000 years ago. The dish is typically made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with ají or chili peppers. Additional seasonings, such as chopped onions, salt, and cilantro, may also be added. Ceviche is usually accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavors, such as sweet potato, lettuce, corn, avocado or plantain. As the dish is not cooked with heat, it must be prepared fresh to minimize the risk of food poisoning. – Wikipedia (I know it is a shady source, but everything above is true 🙂 )

21330578_10156683426186110_978642558_o

Choritos are mussels, and “a la chalaca” means “Callao-style“. It’s simple: steamed mussels, covered with a vegetable medley, (very spicy with the kick of rocoto). – Receta de Choros a la Chalaca Recipe (This website has a very similar recipe to what we made, if you are interested 🙂 )

Rocoto Relleno is literally a stuffed pepper. It is one of the most famous dishes from Peru and there are at least two versions of it. The first more popular is the Rocoto Relleno de Arequipa which has cheese and is baked. We learned how to make Rocoto Relleno Cuzqueño that doesn’t have cheese and is lightly fried on all sides at the end. This recipe is in Spanish, but it is worth the trouble to translate it. Mitchel and I think it may be our favorite dish we learned to make!!   Rocoto Relleno Cuzqueno

Most weeks, we also had the opportunity to visit a museum in Lima. The first was Museo Larco that had a broad collection of artifacts that told the history of Lima from about 250 a.d. and onward.

Later, we visited the Lima Art Museum that had a traveling exhibit about the Nazca people (the same people that are associated with the famous Peru Nazca Lines). We learned about their lives, worship habits, hierarchy, and funerary rituals.

There is an ancient temple built around 500 AD almost a 20 minute walk from where our apartment was!

 

We were able to take a tour of the Historic Center of Lima and learn the history of the city as it is now – the Spanish conquistadors and Peru’s declaration of Independence.

We have also taken a tour of Barranco – the artists’ district of Lima.

Finally, we learned that singing and dancing are a huge part of South American culture. We were excited that El Sol offers Salsa classes taught by a professional dancer once a week!

IMG_20170825_182615

We spent two months total in Lima with our goal to get a solid base for the language and the culture before moving to Cusco. We are so glad that the Spanish School we chose gave us the opportunity to really explore life here in Peru.

Month One of Total Immersion

Hello all!

 The past couple of weeks have been full of complete and total immersion in every way one can possibly imagine. It has been an experience so unlike any other that it seems difficult to articulate exactly what is happening, but we’ll do our best to put into words all that has happened and that we are feeling since we arrived in Lima.

IMG_20170819_124534

Our typical weekdays in Lima consist of going to Spanish school starting at 9 AM. We have a two hour session of grammar class in which we learn the structure and vocabulary of the Spanish language. Thus far we’ve learned basic vocabulary (days of the week, counting, colors, most oft used verbs and adjectives, directions, greetings,etc.), conjugating in the present tense, reflexive verbs (where one receives the action that is done), all the use cases of tener (to have), irregular verbs (conjugated differently), differences in ser/estar (to be), and most recently how to use the past tense on the aforementioned. When I sit and examine all that we have covered in about 2 and half weeks of immersion school, it is the equivalent of almost all Mitchel had been taught in two semesters of high school.

21297853_10156683421316110_1718802047_o One of the big differences between now and high school, though, is our ability to actually use the language. After grammar class and following a brief break, we have two more hours of conversation/speaking class. Here we utilize all the ideas we have learned thus far and put them into practice. The first week or so these classes involved much of us slipping back to English to try and develop the backbone of what we were trying to convey. In recent days, these classes have become almost exclusively in Spanish. While difficult, we have found that we are able to keep up and understand all of what the teachers are presenting.

 The real world is an entirely different animal. In class, the other students and teachers recognize that we are learning and will usually speak slowly and annunciate clearly for us. In the streets, at restaurants, church, at stores, and in the general public people often speak at what sounds like a ridiculous speed (though even this is starting to show signs of beginning to slow down to our ears). Thankfully, most Peruanos are receptive to us asking them to repeat what they said more slowly.

 IMG_20170819_141539

Even more though, existing in a culture where you can hardly express yourself to others is really, really difficult. We won’t lie to you, there have been moments of extreme frustration, but please don’t take it as any form of regret in our minds. Just imagine spending days where the only one who can really converse with you is your spouse and you realize that you need some basic household items so you go to the supermarket. You figure out where you think one is through the wonderful invention of Google Maps, but you soon realize this is no trip to Wal Mart.

 

Everything is quasi organized into groups that you are used to but, as you walk down every isle you have more and more questions that  don’t seem to have to immediate answer. They call that thing a fruit? Seriously I just want a regular potato, why are there 15 different bins of them? They call this a limon? (it looks like a lime)? Is this bleach or laundry detergent? Do Peruvians wear deodorant, all I see is Axe body spray? Also how do they bathe, there are no loofas or wash clothes in existence? Is the product that looks like it has nearly the exact same logo as the name brand I recognize just as good? Why does every toilet paper seem to have perfume added to it? So apparently milk comes in a box or a bag now? And with honey added to it? The list goes on and on, but by the end of it we were both so overcome by feeling like we didn’t know anything that we felt like we had just failed at life. We’ve repeated the store experience many times now, and it has gotten better. The first time though was overwhelming.

In fact, when we look at our progress of how far we have come in a little under 3 weeks, it is almost baffling. Tasks that seemed pipe dreams 10 days ago now seem completely attainable. Ordering food to our tastes, asking employees if they have certain items, taking the city bus, getting a taxi, holding a prolonged conversation with someone that is willing to be patient with us (and hopefully knows the faintest amount of English), and getting the paperwork filed with Interpol to become residents are all things that we can now do with relative ease.

People have also taken notice of our presence. Our neighbors at our apartment stopped us the other day and we were able to have a quick conversation with them about who we are, where we are from, and what we are doing. We’ve made friends with a Limeña woman from school. She has shown us around many parts and museums of Lima, and in the course of our talks with her she has seemed receptive to coming to church with us on a Sunday. According to her, most people she knows are “Christian”, but very few actually go to church. When we described to her how the church in Lima had immediately taken us in, helped us get initially set up, and how we have been to a few different members houses for meals already, she seemed genuinely intrigued. She said it sounded almost like a family. We assured her that is exactly what it is.

Not all forms of attention are welcome though. After a while the constant being honked at by taxis, asking if I want money exchanged, having random trinkets presented to me to peruse to buy, and stares of people wondering how I got there can grow old. There is no hiding in this culture. We are taller, whiter, and in general more well cared for health wise than the vast majority of the population. This does hold advantages, but in the midst of decompressing after a particularly difficult Spanish lesson, it can make one greatly desire to kick the pigeon walking around you who doesn’t understand personal space (not that we’ve done such a thing… really!).

 IMG_20170812_144616All in all, these first few weeks have been an absolute roller coaster (funnily enough that word translated in Spanish is “Russian Mountain”). One minute we’re ecstatic that we’re able to speak without looking like too much of a buffoon, an hour later we questioning humanity because the place that grows coffee beans drinks instant coffee by and large, the next hour we are falling in love of the history of the culture at a local museum, and by the end of the day Mitchel is depressed because he ordered what he had hoped was going to be some sort of delicious empanda and they gave him some cornbread thing. Add in a minor sinus infection that bit Mitchel and the first round of an intestinal bug that got Rachel (we think it was just something she ate) and life has certainly been full.

 We appreciate all the prayers we know you have lifted up for us. We are grateful for the opportunity you have given us, and please know that we are doing our very best to learn the language and culture that we have transplanted into. It may be difficult at times, but we would still never trade this chance to spread God’s word for anything else we could be doing. We also want to thank those who have been sending us emails! They are so encouraging to us and we love to hear about what is happening in your lives! Please try and take a look at our website from time to time and keep up with us on Facebook. Our more “daily” updates can usually be found there. We plan on compiling a news letter and developing the first of our video series to be sent out soon.

IMG_20170819_122345_01

We hope you are well and that the work of spreading the news about our Lord and Savior in the States is proving fruitful.

 ……………………………………………………………….

A last minute update : We have noticed that Sundays are often the hardest days of the week for us. During the weekdays, we go to school for four hours a day and then get off and walk around Lima. However, by the end of the day, we know everything that happened, and we understood the majority of everything that was said to us. When we go to Church on Sundays in our new language, it often gets overwhelming, and we leave not understanding the words that were said (but we still love getting to worship our God with the people in Lima. Even if our languages aren’t the same yet, the intent of our gathering and partaking the Lord’s Supper are universal). However, we have made great strides in the month that we have been here!!! Today was the first day that we left church feeling refreshed rather than overwhelmed! We also understood about 30% of Bible class and about 40% of the sermon today (it certainly helps when the preacher is animated with hand gestures, annunciates clearly, and speaks pretty slowly. It is also nice to have grown up in the Church and a have a feeling on how he is tying different readings together)!!! Thank you so much for your prayers, interceding on our behalf for language acquisition and cultural assimilation! We honestly believe we are picking up our new language rather quickly, and we give all the credit to God!!

21363201_10156687796591110_704892212_o

Thank you so much for the opportunity!

Love,

Mitchel and Rachel Routh

 

 

Recipes and Dinner Events

We are so thankful to be supported by all of our friends and family –  financially, emotionally, and spiritually! So to honor you and to show you how excited we are to be able to fulfill our dreams of becoming missionaries, we hosted three different events: at Brighton Church of Christ in Brighton, Michigan, at Laurel Church of Christ in Knoxville, Tennessee, and at Winchester Church of Christ in Winchester, Tennessee.

These events were to show you a little about why we fell in love with the people that live in Peru and how we felt that God was pushing us toward his Church there. We began our events with a meal of more traditional Peruvian food that you can find if you come to visit on a campaign! Rotisserie chicken with aji verde (green spicy sauce), Papa a la Huancaína (potatoes and a cheesy spicy sauce), green salads, chicken empanadas, salchipapas (hotdogs and French fries mixed together), fruit and tres leches for dessert. Additionally, we brought back Chicha Morada (which we affectionately call purple corn Kool-Aid) and Inca Kola (some people think it tastes like bubblegum soda) from Peru.

After we finished eating, Mitchel shared the story about our first visit to Peru and how we felt that there was nothing better that we could be doing on Earth than to work for the Church in a place where there are extremely few Christians. Then we played a really awesome game that Rachel put together to teach a little about Peruvian culture and geography! When we were finished, we took many questions! If there is anything that you would still like to know, feel free to leave a comment, and we will answer you! The question you may have, might be someone else’s who doesn’t feel comfortable asking!!

Finally, we wanted to share some recipes from our Dinners with you! A lot of people seemed to really like the chicken empanadas, the two different sauces, and tres leches!!

 

Recipe for Chicken Empanadas

  • 1 box refrigerated pie crusts
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 4.5 oz can diced green chilis
  • 1/2 cup Tomatoes with green chili, drained I used Rotel
  • 1/4 cup diced green onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

  3. In a large bowl, combine chicken, cream cheese, shredded cheese, green chilies, tomatoes with green chilies, green onions, salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.

  4. Unroll one pie crust on a lightly floured surface.

  5. Using a 3-inch biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out rounds. Re-roll dough as needed.

  6. Repeat using both pie crusts in package.

  7. Lightly brush the outer edge of each round with water.

  8. Place one heaping teaspoon of chicken mixture in the center of each round.

  9. Fold dough over the filling and press edges together with a fork to seal.

  10. Repeat with remaining rounds and mixture.

  11. Place the empanadas on baking sheet and light brush the tops with beaten egg.

  12. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

     

Note: We used rotisserie chicken because it is already seasoned and delicious! We also used the top of a mason jar to cut out circles in the pie crust to make the perfect sample size. This recipe should make about 24 miniature empanadas.

 

Recipe for Aji Verde (the green sauce)

dsc_0240.jpg

Rotisserie Chicken and Aji Verde Sauce

 

  • 2 fresh jalapeños, including seeds and ribs, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon aji Amarillo paste
  • 1 cup freshly picked cilantro leaves and small stems
  • 2 tablespoons grated cotija cheese or Parmesan cheese
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine jalapeños, aji amarillo, cilantro, cotjia, garlic, oil, vinegar, and lime juice in a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth paste forms. Add mayonnaise and blend until homogenous. Transfer to a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with grilled chicken. Unused sauce can be stored in a covered container for up to 1 week.

Note: Aji amarillo paste is a hot yellow pepper paste from peru. It can be found in Latin specialty stores or ordered online. If unavailable, it can be omitted.
– We also doctored the sauce since we served it to a large group of people: we seeded one of the jalapeños, and added more cheese, garlic, and mayonnaise to cut the heat.

 

Recipe for Huancaina Sauce (the yellow cheese sauce)

DSC_0241

Papa a la Huancaína

  • 2 tablespoons aji Amarillo paste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 saltine crackers
  • 8 oz queso fresco (farmer cheese)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • Salt to taste

In a blender, add the aji amarillo paste, oil and evaporated milk, crackers, farmer cheese and salt. Process until creamy.

Note: We used Mexican Cheese since we couldn’t find queso fresco at Walmart and added more saltine crackers to thicken it up a little.
– Traditionally this is served on boiled potatoes, but since we were serving to a large group, we put it on mashed potatoes. Enjoy however you want!

Recipe for Pastel de Tres Leches (Tres Leches Cake)

For the cake:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 eggs separated
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

For the milk mixture:

  • 1 ounces can evaporated milk 12
  • 1 ounces can sweetened condensed milk 14
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

For the topping

  • 2 cups cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Generously grease two 8×8 non-stick square pans or one 9×13 pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl, pour in egg whites and beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks are formed.
  5. In another mixing bowl, pour in egg yolks and beat on medium-high speed until creamy and pale yellow, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  6. Add egg yolks to egg whites, stirring gently so as to not deflate.
  7. Add flour mixture to the egg mixture folding in gently so as to not deflate.
  8. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and cook for 22-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
  9. While the cake is in the oven, mix together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, half-and-half, and vanilla.
  10. Remove the cake from the oven and turn out the two pans onto separate trays with a rim. Cut off edges if desired.
  11. Using a fork, generously poke holes all over in the top of the cakes.
  12. Pour the three-milk mixture onto the HOT cakes, half on each cake, letting it soak in as you are pouring. Make sure to pour around the edges.
  13. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or until serve time.

To Serve:

  1. Beat the fresh whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla until very thick and spreadable.
  2. Spread the whipped cream onto the cake(s)and then sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve cold.

Note: We noticed in Peru that they pour coffee on their Tres Leches! If you haven’t tried it that way and are a coffee lover, we really suggest that you do!