Being home.


It takes time to process.

I’ve been back in the UK for a week shy of two months now & I’m still processing. But that’s a good thing. I’ve kept myself busy this summer, with camps + holidays + seeing family and friends, all of which have been beautiful, but now it’s time to write again. To get what all this thinking has brought to light down on the page.

Please humour me, below is a lot of self-reflection.


Coming home was surprisingly easy. Things that seemed odd to begin with – putting loo roll down the toilet, driving on the left side of the road, no rice, hot showers – soon became normal again. I wasn’t sure how I felt about how quickly I readjusted to English life. I had braced myself for a big culture shock, but I never really felt one. I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed for some reason. My experiences seemed to fade in my memory so fast; within days Peru felt like a lifetime ago. I felt like a fraud. My experiences should have changed me! I should be reeling at the shock of returning to England! I should be missing my team and the kids and our Peruvian family to the point of pain! Why was I not really feeling anything?! It’s taken me most of this summer to work it all through and be at peace with the fact that nothing was how I thought it should have been, but just how it was, and that actually, that’s okay.

Rewind: 1st February 2015. I was excited (overwhelmingly so), a little nervous and ready to go. Ready for my Peruvian adventure that would change my life and make me into the super-faithful-super-holy-God-lover I thought I should be. (Note another should.) I said that I was going into Peru with “no expectations” and that’s true in the sense that I didn’t know exactly what to expect. But I definitely did have expectations. I had grand expectations.

Before you go on a missions or volunteering placement you have all these expectations of feeding starving children, sharing the gospel with people and them being saved on the spot, mind-blowing miraculous events and coming home as this super-Christian. Okay, maybe that’s a little exaggerated and probably not everyone has those expectations, but this was pretty much my unconscious idea of what I’d be doing, especially the coming home as this super-Christian bit. I was off on an adventure to make a difference + change the world!


When I was much younger, I read these brilliant little books called the 10 Girls Who… series. There were 10 Girls Who Made A Difference, 10 Girls Who Changed the World and other ones that I now can’t remember. They were short stories about the lives of women throughout history who had done something amazing with their lives and truly lived out the christian faith. Women like Mary Slessor, Corrie ten Boom, Elizabeth Fry. Now, I loved those books. And I still think they’re great, and such good stories for young girls to be reading and being inspired by.

But perhaps the one issue I have with the books (and this is probably simply because of my own weakness of reading about something/someone inspiring and then trying to copy exactly what they did into my own life), is that I ended up with this view that mission was this thing people did in a far away, unknown country. You had to go to Africa or to China or somewhere far away to be a missionary. Plus, missionaries were super strong in their faith (or if they weren’t to begin with, they soon were) and because of that God loved them more. So, not unsurprisingly I suppose, I wanted to be a missionary too.

(Since I was about 9 years old I’ve wanted to go on a missions trip. That’s 10 years of thoughts on mission. I don’t know what I was saying before I went when I said I had no expectations!)

However, through all those years growing up since first reading the 10 Girls stories, I didn’t really mature in my thinking about mission. It was living in Peru, ‘on mission’ as I thought it was supposed to be for six months, that has begun to reveal to me what true mission is.

It’s all about the mission of God. To extend His hands of grace, crazy love and radical forgiveness to the world. To love and to serve every. single. person. And those people are in the house you’re sat in now. They’re living next door to you. They’re the lady you walk past on the high street selling the Big Issue. They’re the check out assistant at Sainsburys. They’re your work colleagues, your doctor, the person who makes your latte in Costa.

I realised; you don’t have to go to Peru to be a missionary.

God works through our normal, everyday lives. He works through us being consistent and just keeping on showing up when we’ve said we will. The Kingdom of God is all about relationships and community, showing His love for people by simply listening to and accepting people for who they are. There’s no charity trip, gap year or training required, our mission field is wherever we are right now.

This hit me in the face when I acknowledged how useless we felt in many situations working with Warmis, particularly in the weekly women’s groups. We had no experience of Andean village life, limited Spanish, no knitting or poncho making skills (somehow our presence was still appreciated!), so the Warmis staff were just so much more qualified in running those groups, simply by being Peruvian. We have the understanding of our own culture built into us simply by growing up and living in it. Why then do we so often look at mission only as something people go and do in other cultures? We’re all qualified and commissioned by Jesus as missionaries to our own neighbourhoods.

Of course, none of this means that missionaries to foreign lands aren’t needed or called there, I absolutely think that they are and they do incredible things for the Kingdom of God across the world. But when they are there, God still uses their everyday, mundane things to pour out His love into people’s lives. The getting-up-going-to-work, daily routine of their lives we don’t hear about so much when stories are told back home.

We are called to living our lives boldly, with intent. To being God’s hands and feet, wherever you find yourself living.

So, my conclusion? God did change me through my time in Peru. It wasn’t a loud, obvious-at-first-glance change, but a much quieter, more humbling one than I was expecting. A change that has me inspired and expectant for my life at home, not pining away for my Peruvian life (though I do miss it). A way that I now see is infinitely better than the way I thought it should be. God’s way.

Adiós Cajamarca

We have one more day left here in beautiful Cajamarca. Our impending departure still hasn’t sunk in, and I have to remind myself multiple times a day that “oh, this is our last visit to this school or village” or “oh, this might be my last pollo a la brasa or trip in the back of the pick-up truck.” I guess it will only truely, finally compute with my brain when I’m sat at my kitchen table back in the UK, minus 6 best friends. And even then maybe not.

It’s going to take me a long time to process all I have seen, experienced and learnt since 1st February. I’m not going to be able to just arrive home to the UK, and be fine and back to ‘normal’ (i.e. pre-Peru life, so my ‘normal’ no longer). Culture-shock will be real. Not being the only white people you ever see will be strange. Being able to understand what everyone says and have others understand me speaking English will be overwhelming. Sitting in a car without a person sat on me will be downright weird. Not eating rice at every meal will be odd. Being without the six girls who have become my family and some of my closest friends and encouragers will be painful.

In preparation for some of this we’ve been doing our own ‘in-country de-brief’ together over the past few weeks, so that has at least started the re-entry process, but I’m seeing plenty of writing, praying and thinking ahead of me this summer. And I’m absolutely okay with all of the above – I’m not the same girl who got on that plane in February, and I don’t want to shrink back into the safe, comfortable shell that she used to live in when I go home.

At the same time as not wanting to return to the UK, I’m also ready to go home. I always knew that this was a 6 month trip, and that the end would come (I just didn’t quite realise how quickly the months would disappear). This season of challenge and change is drawing to a close, and it’s time for new challenges, new opportunities and new places. I’m ready to step into my life as a university student, to enjoy studying again (man, has this Gap Year break from the sausage-machine of the education system refreshed my view of studying and academic learning! I’m actually looking forward to it!). I am very keen to return to Peru and to Cajamarca in the future, but right now I know that there are things for me to be doing and people for me to be loving and serving back in England – it seems that that is where I am called to be for at least the next 3 years. So it’s goodbye for now Cajamarca, and only God knows what the future holds.

A few things we’ve been up to in our last few weeks (+ photos of those things):

Gringa girl-band at the annual Warmis recital for children from 18 local churches
Gringa girl-band at the annual Warmis recital for children from 18 local churches
At the recital: Casa de Madera kids belting out 'Todopoderoso'
At the recital: Casa de Madera kids belting out ‘Todopoderoso’
School trip to Granja Porcon (the zoo), with 2 schools we teach English in - such a fun and successful day out!
School trip to Granja Porcon (the zoo), with 2 schools we teach English in – such a fun and successful day out!
Beautiful spectacled bear at Granja Porcon
Beautiful spectacled bear at Granja Porcon
Parachute games after lunch at Granja Porcon
Parachute games after lunch at Granja Porcon
A morning spent watching and learning from these dear women how they process and produce sheep wool into wool, dye it, and then weave it into beautiful traditional Cajamarcan material
A morning spent watching and learning from these dear women (and man) how they process and produce sheep wool into wool, dye it, and then weave it into beautiful traditional Cajamarcan material
Weaving the material
Weaving the material
Joel and I in front of the incredible mural that Susanna and Julia painted in Casa de Madera.
Joel and I in front of the incredible mural that Susanna and Julia painted in Casa de Madera.
The before (top) and after (bottom) of our trip! Crazy how un-different we look! (and yes, we purposely wore the same clothes and stood in the same positions...)
The before (top) and after (bottom) of our trip! Crazy how un-different we look! (and yes, we purposely wore the same clothes and stood in the same positions…)

And now, on to the Amazon rainforest for a week’s holiday meeting monkeys, caiman and (hopefully) pink river dolphins, before we leave our beloved Peru…

Potatoes, puddings + painting

How it can be less than a month before we leave Peru is beyond me, but here we are…4 weeks yesterday until I have my feet on British soil once more. Nuts. Loco. Bonkers. And time to get used to the reality of our impending departure, I think. Yet also try to relish and savour every last Peruvian moment we have left. A tricky balance, I’m finding.

Now, time to catch up on what on earth we’ve been doing these past weeks…

Our weekends have been full with trips to various places in the countryside of the region of Cajamarca. The first weekend since I last wrote (minus Father’s Day), we went to Cumbayo, a town about 2 hours away by bus. The church there was celebrating the end of the 12 week discipleship course for children that is distributed with the Samaritan’s Purse shoeboxes, and churches are asked to facilitate once a week after their ‘show’ when the shoeboxes are given out. We had a fun day leading their ‘graduation’ with a group of people from another church from Cajamarca; leading worship for the kids (ie. singing ‘We Want to See Jesus Lifted High’ 10+ times – they loved it!), watching the drama and songs the graduates had prepared, listening to the teaching from their pastor, and enjoying good guinea pig, rice and potatoes together (we’ve grown used to the standard countryside meal now – guinea pig’s not too bad, but not our favourite meat!).

We spent the following weekend in one of the villages we teach and work in with Warmis, a lovely community called Sulluscocha. The mother of one of our pupils at the school warmly welcomed us into her home – a very simple mud-brick, concrete and wood house, with no glass in the windows or doors in the doorways, just pieces of material. We slept on the floor with just blankets, falling asleep and waking up to the sound of the chickens downstairs below us. We helped a different family to ready the field for and then plant potatoes, pulling out old roots and clumps of grass behind the bulls ploughing the ground, and then lugging heavy sacks full of seed potatoes over our shoulders to drop one or two into the furrows every foot or so. The work was physically tiring and made me see why so many men and women here are left hunched when they get older, but I really enjoyed the simplicity and rhythm of the work, and getting my hands dirty seeing how manual farming actually happens. Not the mechanised, computer-controlled farming that is largely taking over the West. We also helped to prepare and sow a much smaller patch of land with carrots, beetroot and horseradish seeds for a family who live just up the hill from the house we stayed in. We were helping a guy called Juan all weekend, who works for Warmis in the agricultural side of their work – we haven’t been able to help much with agricultural work while we’ve been here because it’s rained so much, and hasn’t been harvest/planting season, but also due to the fact that this is the first year of the three year cycles that Warmis works in communities for, so these are still early days.

In all my musings on simplicity and living life as an ‘ordinary radical‘ lately, I couldn’t help but be struck by the people we met and stayed with in Sulluscocha.  These are the people who live simply. These are the people who give so generously when they themselves have so little. I’ve heard it said so many times that those who have the least give the most, and we most definitely experienced that in Sulluscocha. From the blankets we were piled with from their own beds so that we could sleep more comfortably and keep warm in the cold mountain nights, to the huge bowls of food we were given for lunch on our potato-planting day; these people are generous. I was challenged that weekend on how interwoven living simply and being generous is, and within that too how key humility is.

So I searched out what the Bible says about generosity. I’ve grown up in a family and church that place great value and importance on the act of giving, and I know that being generous is a big part of our calling as followers of Jesus, but in my reading I realised why that is: God is inherently generous. The most generous Being ever to live. At no cost to us, but to save us from our selfishness, greed and pride, He gave his one and only precious beloved Son, a part of himself, to die an excruciating and terrible death. Is there anything more generous? Any gift more sacrificial or beautiful? I don’t think so.


Since that weekend in Sulluscocha, we’ve been back to our more normal weekend routine of women’s and childrens groups in each of the 4 communities Warmis is currently working in – Valleverde, Sulluscocha, Aylambo, and the community who live around Casa de Madera in the city. I help a lovely lady called Rosmery with the youngest children in the Aylambo children’s group, something I love doing on a Sunday afternoon – colouring, painting, singing kids worship songs + dancing around, puppet shows, bible stories and memory verses – it’s a lot of fun, and amazing to see how much the kids have grown, in number and in confidence, in the few months since the group started.

In the weekdays between our various weekend activities, we’ve been busy teaching English 5 times a week. Each of us are now efficient lesson planners, and have grown to really enjoy teaching the often chaotic and quite tricky classes that we have. I think the kids have grown to respect us, and we have learnt the best methods to keep them engaged and occupied – for my classes, a worksheet works wonders as an incentive/bargaining method to get them to do their work!! For the second half of our time here we have been holding an English class in Portal de Belen (the church we live above), for two hours every Tuesday afternoon, simply advertising it on posters on the street outside. The first week we had about 4 people, but now we have 4 separate groups, with children and adults and a variety of standards, and a total of about 25 people! It’s so cool how a little idea we had and asked to put into practice, has turned into something where we can practically help a bunch of people with something that is so easy for us to give and so greatly appreciated by Peruvians.

Last Wednesday we went to Sulluscocha again for more potato planting – we’ve got quicker/better, not quite to Peruvian speed and potato-dropping-perfection, but the gringas made a good dent in the sacks of potato that needed planting! We’ve also been giving Casa de Madera a new lick of paint (covering ourselves with a shower of paint in the process), and rehearsing a lot (honestly, 4 times a week…) for the Warmis music recital which is on Saturday afternoon. Every year, Warmis organises a recital and invites local churches to prepare something with their children to present – this year there are 13 churches involved, and there is a huge amount of preparation going on for it.

Saturday just gone, we put on a ‘Festival de Postres’ (Festival of Puddings), a cake sale, basically. We baked cookies, apple cakes, and chocolate rice crispie cakes, and then Ana-Maria made 5 huge ornately decorated cakes, all of which went down a storm, raising us enough money to take our English classes from 2 schools to the zoo on Sunday.


The next 2 and half weeks are jam-packed with all sorts of things; the music recital, the trip to the zoo, last English lessons, the 5th anniversary celebrations of Casa de Madera, Rebs’ birthday, and trying to find a way to properly say thank you and goodbye to our family and friends here. These past 6 months are going to take a long time to process. I’m so incredibly excited to get home and see my loved ones, but really don’t want to leave my loved ones who are here…I end up feeling all muddled up, as one minute I can’t wait to get home, but then the next I really can wait. One thing we’re all very excited for though, is our week long trip to the Amazon for a holiday before we fly home…monkeys, snakes, caiman, dolphins, sleeping in hammocks at canopy level…it will be an amazing end to an incredible, life-altering 6 months.

At the church in Cumbayo, for the discipleship course graduation
At the church in Cumbayo, for the discipleship course graduation
Making animal crafts with mine + Julia’s class in Sulluscocha
Farming in Sulluscocha
Farming in Sulluscocha
The beautiful Laguna Sulluscocha
The beautiful Laguna Sulluscocha
A typical Sulluscocha scene
A typical Sulluscocha scene
Rachel planting carrots under the watchful eye of the lady who owned the field
Rachel planting carrots under the watchful eye of the lady who owned the field
Miguel's Birthday!
Miguel’s Birthday!
Running Sunday school at Portal de Belen
Running Sunday school at Portal de Belen
My class at Huaryapongo - learning adjectives
My class at Huaryapongo – learning adjectives
Painting photo frames for Father's Day, at the Aylambo kids group
Painting photo frames for Father’s Day, at the Aylambo kids group
Cake Sale!
Cake Sale!
English lessons at Portal de Belen
English lessons at Portal de Belen
At the Corpus Christi fair (with Miriam)
At the Corpus Christi fair (with Miriam)
Potato planting in Sulluscocha with Miguel
Potato planting in Sulluscocha with Miguel

Papá not papa // A Letter to my Father

My, my it’s been a long time since I last wrote anything here…we’ve been so busy over here! A post on what we’ve been doing is coming right up  at some point this week…promise.

But first, today. Fathers Day! The day to send some father-appreciation to my wonderful dad. As I can’t give a card/hug in person today (but thank you Lord for the blessing that is Skype!), a blog-post-letter will have to do.


Thank you for being you, for always being honest and true to who you are, and for teaching me by example to be the same. Thank you for being one of the most hardworking people I know, for always wanting to do the best work you can, whatever you put your hand to. Thank you for accepting the challenge of the changes the past few years have brought, and for taking them with courage and faith; it’s been a privilege and inspiration to watch as you’ve stepped out in faith and grown into a brilliant teacher. I am one proud daughter & I wish you had been my teacher at school.

Thank you for being so humble – even though you are one of the most intelligent people I have ever met, you are also one of the most humble, never pushing yourself forward or exalting yourself and your own achievements. Thank you for your wisdom, for understanding me and how one can be “peopled-out”. Thank you for truly listening to me, and for loving me just as I am. Thank you for instilling in me, by example and by teaching me, the love of music and the appreciation of the peace and joy that it brings. Thank you for your humour, for putting an ‘f’ in front of random words, for ‘I love this house’ and for making me appreciate a good wordplay. Thank you for teaching me to have an appreciation and love for the outdoors, for all those hikes and walks, birds, flowers and rock formations you’ve pointed out and for your infectious love of the natural world.

Thank you for your faithfulness to God and your love of Him, His people and His world – I’m sure that my desire to come to Peru and serve has a lot to do with your love for this beautiful country and that rubbing off on me a little. Thank you for every prayer you have prayed for J and I, the words you have spoken over us since we were born and the deep love and care that you have for us. I am so grateful for your constant love and support, advice, guidance and general good-father-ness. Thank you for loving Mum the way you do and for together giving such a beautiful example of marriage and partnership.

You’re the best, Dad & I love you and miss you so very much. Can’t wait to hug you in exactly one month!

Happy Father’s Day!

Love, Zee Bee ❤️

Here am I with your Father's Day present...a pen-pot boot that I made haha!  I'm afraid this won't be coming home to the UK to you, there's not room in my suitcase...
And here is your Father’s Day present…a pen-pot boot that I made from foam, polystyrene and a tin can! I’m afraid this won’t be coming home to the UK to you, there’s not room in my suitcase…sorry 

***note about the title: an easy (but hilarious) mistake to make in Spanish is to not say the accent on the end of Papá (father), but to say papa (potato) instead! Just a little wordplay for my wordplay-loving Father 😉

On simplicity + minimalism


It’s been one of those weeks where God seems to be saying something. In what I’ve read in the Bible, what others have said, in articles and books I’ve read, in the experiences I’ve had. He’s been challenging me on contentment, my materialistic mindset and love of stuff, at every turn.

Live simply. A minimal life.

There is a movement of people who have chosen to live minimal lifestyles, which from my reading seems to often be because that way of living with less stuff, less baggage, makes them happier. This fact I do not doubt. However, in reading about how these minimalists have simplified their lives, I was convicted that the why of their minimalism was not the same reason that I, as a follower of Jesus, should simplify my life.

Jesus teaches that you cannot serve two masters, as your devotion to one will be greater than to the other (Luke 16:13). Therefore, serving both God and money is not possible. If you say you are serving ‘both’, then money and therefore stuff is coming before God. That’s God, the King of the universe who is the One to whom all this belongs anyway. Jesus also teaches that we should sell all our possessions and give to the poor (Matt. 19:21). Easy to write, huh? He teaches that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions (Luke 12:14). When he sends the disciples out to preach the kingdom of God, he tells them to “take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.” (Luke 9:3) In case, like I often do, you didn’t completely register that: take nothing. Own nothing but the clothes on your back. God provides, so why would you need anything else?

That is crazy trust. Crazy faith.

Jesus taught and lived out an example of such simplicity because He knew that for those who don’t have or give up great riches on the earth, there are far greater riches waiting in heaven. Jesus didn’t teach us to be minimal and live simply because it would make our earthly lives happier or more enjoyable. He knew that the last will be first and first will be last in His Father’s upside-down kingdom (Matt. 20:16). That’s why.

God had my attention on this anyway, but then the weekend happened.

On Saturday afternoon, we were driven to a tiny little hamlet on the edge of a mountain plateau about 40minutes from Cajamarca. When we arrived it was tipping it with rain and half-dark, but the welcome was warm as we were given huge bowls of rice, potatoes and meat (which we did our best to eat even though we’d already had dinner at home!). As we sat there with our bowls, I looked around us. This was simple living. Mud brick houses, tin roofs, communal tables and benches for eating together, open fires for cooking, surrounded by fields growing grain, corn and potatoes, along with with chickens, pigs and cows. They may not have had much but they had enough. They had all they needed.

We didn’t really know why we were visiting this community (but not knowing what’s going on is normal now so that didn’t bother us really!), so after dinner we followed Mamina’s directions and went down to the church. A service began at half eight, and we realised over the next few hours that it was a celebration of the 38th anniversary of the church, so people and pastors from 9 other churches has come to celebrate and praise God with them. There were multiple sermons from multiple pastors, times of passionate worship and prayer, too many ‘Gloria Dios‘s and ‘hallelujah‘s to count, and of course, time for the gringas to sing and give a short message on the Armour of God. It was fun…until 11pm, 12am, 1am all passed and we were pretty much asleep on each other. I asked Abel at just after 1am when the service finished. He grinned and said “a las seis”. Yep, 6am. I thought he was joking. He made a signal to Mamina who had been leading a lot of the service and she excused herself to come with us to go to bed, leaving the service still going strong. The pastor took us to the room that he and his wife share, and lay two mattresses and blankets on the floor for us, while Mamina, Shori and Abel took the bed and floor between them. The six of us lay on the mattresses like sardines (after a trip to the pit-toilet), and fell asleep to the sound of the church worshipping and praying through the night.

In the morning we woke to the community at work, preparing food together; hacking up a whole pig, peeling bucket-loads of potatoes, boiling rice, shelling beans ready for lunch, before we all went down to the river for 5 baptisms. Truly such a privilege to be able to be a part of. We also gave out shoeboxes to the kids while sat on the hillside, and then ate more rice, meat and potatoes for lunch before we returned to Cajamarca.

We weren’t even gone for 24 hours. But that was long enough to show me true simplicity; living with so little, but having a grateful and thankful heart and praising God for His provision and goodness, because you have enough.

So. What now?

By living in Peru I have seen how I need so much less than I have. I could only bring 23kg of luggage with me, but that has been enough. Plenty in fact, so there is going to be a serious clear out when I get home to the UK. But is that enough? I want to hold my things lightly and tread lightly on this earth, with the faith that God will provide, so is getting rid of my unwanted kiddy craft kits and old jeans enough? Is decluttering what we’re called to do?


We’re called to radical simplicity.

A way of living that seems stupid and risky and downright weird to the world.

We had a disappointment this week, as a team, that God spoke to me through. He said,  “imagine if you were as outraged at the injustice of the poverty and suffering that millions of my children live through each day, as you are with this small change of plans?” Got me right in the chest with that, and put my complaining in perspective. Writing this down, I think I’m now seeing how these two challenges from God relate.

The way we live is a reflection of our faith. What am I reflecting if I live in ease, luxury and wealth while there are people, God’s own beautiful children, living in poverty, destitution and lacking in the basic things they need? If I want to truly live by faith, love people as I am called to love and follow Jesus wholeheartedly, then the way I endlessly consume, lust after material things, and view the importance of my own comfort need to change. This makes me squirm. It makes my stomach churn, and the voice in my head says, “No! Too hard! The way things are now is fine!” But when did Jesus ever say following Him would be easy? Or comfortable? Or not requiring of sacrifice?

My head is spinning with all this today. Spinning on the hows and the whys of the heart surgery being done over these few months. The lessons God teaches us when we step out of the boat and do things that scare us are life-altering.

“A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough.” /// 1 Timothy 6:6-8

Church on Saturday night
Church on Saturday night
Baptisms in the river...well, stream
Baptisms in the river…well, stream

¡Feliz día mamá!


Today is Mother’s Day in Peru, a day which is incredibly important and very celebrated. All week we’ve been going to Mother’s Day celebrations, shows and services at the various schools, women’s and kids groups, and churches we are involved with. It’s been a really fun week, and then today everyone had the day off (there wasn’t even church) and we had a lunch-feast out in the countryside with the whole extended family.

I am a long way from my mamá today, and though British Mother’s Day was a good few months ago now, I wanted to send some Madre-appreciation-day lovin’ her way.

I have the greatest mum. Ever patient, encouraging, loving, self-sacrificing, inspiring, humble and gracious. My parents raised my brother and I, as well as countless others who lived with us for a year or two of their childhoods, with the best upbringing I could have ever asked for…and I am so grateful for their constant love and the prayers they have covered us with.

Mum inspires me with her creativity and the beautiful things she makes with her hands, be it her writing (which I’ve always strived to make mine like), her cooking (which I miss so much), or her artwork (calligraphy, printing, painting, collage, sewing…what she brings from her head to the page/cloth is amazing). Mum inspires me with her love for people and her heart for helping them where they are, whoever they are. Mum inspires me with her love for God, His church and His people, and her servant-hearted, hard-working pursuit of His heart and for His kingdom to come on earth.

More and more people are saying that they see my mum in me, which to be honest I have not taken to be the greatest compliment in the past. But if this time away has taught me anything (which it has, so much!), it has concreted my understanding of just how blessed I am to have such incredible parents, and how to be told that I am “like my mum” is a beautiful compliment, and one I should cherish and be grateful for.

I love you Mum, and I miss you a whole lot.

…and Happy Birthday for next Sunday. I’m so very glad you were born ❤️

(And I love you too Dad, just you wait for your Padre-appreciation-day letter in June 😜)

A little catch up

The Inca Trail. Mountains. Rivers. Glaciers. Cloud forests. Rainforests. Machu Picchu.

How do I even begin?!

We had the most incredible 10 days away, in Cusco and hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It felt a bit wrong to be going on holiday when we’d only just properly got into our rhythm of teaching English in schools, but we’d had it booked since before we left the UK so there wasn’t a choice! I’ll let the photos do the talking, as I don’t think I can do it justice without just babbling on…those 4 days in the mountains most definitely rank very near the top in my favourite days of my life!

The official start of the trail
The official start of the trail
Top of Dead Woman's Pass - the highest point of the trail
Top of Dead Woman’s Pass – the highest point of the trail
I fell in love with the mountains
I fell in love with the mountains
View of the glacier Veronica from our first campsite
View of the glacier Veronica from our first campsite
Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

It’s crazy how quickly you get into a holiday mindset, so it took me a day or so to get back into the ‘everyone speaks Spanish’ and lesson planning/teaching mindset again. But now we’ve been back for nearly 2 weeks we’re back in the swing of things. Now we’ve taught the basic English we started with in our classes (like numbers, colours, classroom commands, parts of the body), we’re starting to have to think a bit harder as to what to progress on to next, and how to teach the different age groups effectively. For example, Julia and I teach a class of 3-5 year olds in one village school who don’t really all know their colours and numbers in Spanish, so trying to get them to recognise them in English is going to take time. We’re going to try to take it more as a nursery/pre-school class, with crafts, games, songs etc as this is probably a more appropriate way to teach them. It’s been a learning curve for us, as none of us have ever taught English before, or had any teacher training really, so we’re giving it our best shot and praying that the kids learn! What it has made me realise is that though I so often would complain about it, the education we receive in the UK has given us skills, ways of thinking creatively and confidence in our ideas that mean we can teach classes of 20 Peruvian kids English without any formal training. That thought makes me very grateful for the education I have received and will continue to receive when I go to Uni in September.

On that note, here is an update Tearfund gave this week on the work that Warmis are doing (and we are involved with), at the moment in Aylambo, a village just outside the city…

We’ve also been able to start doing new things that we asked to do, like teaching English once a week to anyone who wants to learn – they just put posters up on the street outside and then last Tuesday was our first session and we had 5 kids come along, one of whom was the most advanced we’ve seen here yet (he’d been going to language school for 6 years!!) and others who have never learnt English in their lives. It’s great though, to have the opportunity to almost personally tutor these kids so they can really learn the pronunciation and word sounds properly – very hard to do in the often boisterous and noisy classes we teach in the schools. (With Spanish being a phonetic language we get some interesting pronunciations of English words…)

Cajamarca does feel like my second home now, and it makes my head spin a bit to think that we’re now over halfway through our time here, and have been here for more than 3 months! Our friends and colleagues here are now family, and their kindness continues to bless us everyday. Since we got home from Cusco, we’ve been part of the celebration of Ana Maria’s birthday (one of the founders of Warmis), been to Cumbemayo to see the incredible Inca rock-carvings and aqueduct there, and had a tour of the local ice cream factory with them (Helados Hollanda – an incredible enterprise run by one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met – Pim – who is Dutch and set up his company 15 years ago which buys local and fair trade and employs single mothers and deaf-mute people who would otherwise not have any employment prospects at all. He and his ‘up for any challenge/nothing is impossible’ attitude really inspired me on our tour of the factory, and as the cherry on the cake, the ice cream is to die for).

Hope you are all well and enjoying spring in the northern hemisphere! We’re hoping for the end of the rainy season here ASAP, as the torrential afternoon rains mean we often get very wet!

Love H x

P.S. I’m taking a little break from social media and too much internet use this month, so apologies if it takes me a while to respond if you send me a message or something! I was taking the very good wifi access we have here for granted, and not focusing on the people in front of me who we’re here to serve so I’m having a self-imposed month off (with the exceptions of email, skype, writing blogs and anything needed for the work we’re involved with here). 

(Extra)ordinary // some Thursday thoughts


It’s easy to fall into the “Gap Yah” mentality (which I think I was in a little before I came to Peru). The feeling that every day should be filled with adventure, excitement and crazy experiences. My camera should be full of photos of incredible scenery, exotic foods and fun with new people. My tan should be coming on nicely, my journal full of memories and I should be always happy and living the dream with my lack of responsibilities for these few months.


Not so.

I love life here. But it’s not all fun, smiles and monumental experiences. In fact it’s becoming pretty normal. Stay somewhere long enough and the extraordinary becomes ordinary, I guess.

My very wise and wonderful dad wrote in a letter to me, which I first read on the plane out of the UK and is now stuck on the wall beside my bed, that “there will be highs and lows and probably a lot of mundane stuff”…and boy, was he right. Our weeks consist of lesson planning, worksheet making, youth group planning, reading books, listening to music (and singing, obvs), music practice, taking team members to the clinic (!), eating lots of rice, having meetings with Warmis and attending women’s/kids workshops, teaching English lessons and running said youth group, many taxi journeys, watching films and sleeping. Sure, it’s not the life I was living in Redhill, but it’s my everyday, normal life now.

Mother Theresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Another of my favourite Mother T sayings has a similar theme: “Be faithful in the small things, because it is in them that your strength lies.” That’s what I’m learning. Life isn’t all adventure and memory making. It’s the day to day that matters and is what we spend most of our life in. Persevere. Plod on. God is in the mundane and the ordinary. Jesus lived on earth for 33 years. Not every moment of that was filled with miracles, teaching and healing people. If the Son of God had to eat, travel, sleep, plan and do the stuff of everyday life, it’s pretty certain that we do to.

I’m reading a brilliant book at the moment called “Follow Me to Freedom” by Shane Claiborne and John Perkins (thanks Em!), where they talk about being an ordinary radical. I love that. I’m an ordinary girl living my (most of the time) pretty ordinary life, but that can be radical and world-changing because I follow an incredible, radical, transformative God.

He is building His Kingdom through our faithful plodding, one day, one person at a time. What an amazing God we follow.

(P.S. We’ve been here 2 whole months…WHAAAT?!?)

You are that you may.

Another song has been playing on my mind this weekend, making me think – most definitely not a bad thing.

“Your praise will ever be on my lips.”

Will it though?

It’s a statement I long to live out – that His praise; glorifying, edifying praise would always be on my lips.

But how easy it is to complain. To let the praise of my Lord leave my lips, to moan, to not be content in my circumstances, to lose wonder at the awesomeness and greatness of God. How easy it is to let the extraordinary in my life become ordinary. To let the fact that I wake up each morning in the Andes mountains surrounded by vibrant, God-chasing, inspiring people, get to join in with what God is doing here, and play a little part in loving and serving His beloved children, become ordinary

May His praise never leave my lips.

Complaint and discontent – selfishness, really. The easy way out. Thanksgiving, praise, honour – they require a sacrifice of self, the hard way…but God’s way.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) 

Chosen to give praise. It is my choice, our choice, to choose Him back each day and give Him the adoration, honour and worship that He so deserves. Not that God needs our praise, it’s not some huge ego-trip. God is complete in Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But oh, how He deserves our praise. For His impossible grace, His enduring love, His goodness and mercy.

God has no limit and no end, so therefore our worship should also know no bounds.

This past weekend has been busy! On Friday we taught our first English lessons at the newly-built primary school in Aylambo. So much fun!! There are 2 classes, with 4-8 in the younger class and 8-12 in the older, none of them knowing any English at all. We split ourselves between the classes, and taught them how to say Hello, Goodbye, How are you, My name is… and the alphabet. 2 hours passed very quickly with them and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they learn over the next 4 months. Friday afternoon was spent sorting, counting and packing Samaritan’s Purse shoeboxes ready for the many shows taking place over the weekend. We are becoming pros at fitting the maximum number of shoeboxes into a box, with Rebs being the grand-master of packing. Then, in the evening we played football with Patrick, Juan Diego, José and Salo – England vs Peru, I’m sure you can guess who won?! I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much during a game of football. We drew quite a crowd of England supporters who booed every time one of the Peruvians tackled or got the ball off us (which was very often!), and kept trying to talk English to whoever was in goal with a yelled “Ello” every so often. Final score wasn’t too bad in the end, Peru 7: England 5 🇬🇧⚽️

On Saturday, Julia, Susanna and I went with a group of Warmis people and 2 of the young guys from Casa de Madera to a village in the countryside about an hour away (no idea what it was called!). We took with us shoeboxes, and Mamina led the show for the children there. The church was outside in a courtyard surrounded by houses and was complete with hanging laundry and the biggest pig I have ever seen. There were about 60 kids in total, who seemed to enjoy our rendition on “We wanna see Jesus lifted high” in English and in Spanish, and loved the game we played to find 100 “lost” paper sheep hidden around the courtyard. Mamina then used the parable of the lost sheep to explain to the children the gospel and about 15 of them gave their lives to Jesus – such a privilege to witness. The giving out of boxes is always a bit chaotic as often there are often children at the shows who weren’t signed up to receive one, and you can end up with 3 kids without a box. But somehow there are always enough, some more boxes are found (though they might be the wrong age group) and all the kids are happy. I love watching them open the boxes. The excitement and the happiness is so infectious and their gratitude to us, even though we haven’t really given them the boxes, is so touching.

On Sunday, we went to another show, this time in a church much closer to home in Baños del Inca, just down the road from Cajamarca. They had a piano at this church that I could play, so our singing didn’t have to be a capella as usual, and 3 of the Sunday school teachers did a beautiful traditional dance in their traditional dress. We had so many photos taken of us at this church, every time you thought you were done mother person would ask for a photo with them or with their child. So much fun again though, we’ve been to so many of these shows now but I don’t think I’ll ever be bored of them.

Sunday afternoon was spent at Casa de Madera for their Samaritan’s Purse show. There were about 170 kids there from all around that area, as well as their parents and families, so the church was full! We prepared 2 dances to worship songs, and led worship at the start, as well as being roped into every game they played (the most hilarious involving being dressed up with random clothes from around the room and clothes pegs and then having to model the outfits on the catwalk!). The kids loved it and so did we. Sadly we only got to do one of our dances as time ran out, but I’m sure we’ll be called upon at more shows for “una coreografía” when we can whip out “Te doy Gloria”!!

Pretty fabulous few days, if you ask me.

Here are a few photos from the past weekend…

First English lesson in Aylambo
First English lesson in Aylambo
Playing games in the Samaritans Purse show on Saturday
Playing games in the Samaritans Purse show on Saturday
Before opening their boxes (on Saturday)
Before opening their boxes (on Saturday)
Some kids get some strange items in their boxes...
Some kids get some strange items in their boxes…
The whole family
The whole family
Casa de Madera
Casa de Madera
With Miriam and the dancers in traditional dress
With Miriam and the dancers in traditional dress
The show on Sunday morning, with Sam the airplane who "brings the boxes"
The show on Sunday morning, with Sam the airplane who “brings the boxes”
Lunch in the country...guinea pig, quinoa and potatoes
Lunch in the country…guinea pig, quinoa and potatoes
The kids don't always know what the things in their boxes are...this was a Christmas stocking!
The kids don’t always know what the things in their boxes are…this was a Christmas stocking!



“In the process, in the waiting, you’re making melodies over me. And your presence is a promise, for I am a pilgrim on a journey.”

…the first line of Shepherd, a song that struck me during our team worship night yesterday. This whole Peruvian adventure is a journey, a process and involves plenty of waiting. But He is near, He is always present, closer than our own breathing and is singing His love over us. “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Every day has new lessons to teach, to grow in me. It’s oh-so-humbling. To be at the point where you ask for new courage and strength every morning, really needing God’s presence. But at the same time it’s oh-so-freeing. Trusting Him. Full stop. It frees me from anxiety and worry, frees me from hopelessness, fear and failure. I put my trust in the One who is outside time itself, who created the entirety of the universe, yet who intimately knows every atom of my being.

Patience, humility, grace, compassion, faith, love. He’s teaching and I’m slowly learning. Trying to swallow my “but it’s hard”s and my “do I have to?“s, and offer each day back up to the day-creator, saying “You know best, so I trust you.

When I have no clue what that day will hold, “I trust.” When I feel like I will never be able to speak Spanish, “I trust.” When I am tired and would just like to go to bed but we have a 2 hour youth group to run, “I trust.” When I wonder whether we are being more of a hindrance than a blessing, “I trust.” When I’m afraid or nervous or anxious, “I trust.”

And then I’m reminded, it’s not about me and my feelings. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.(Luke 9:23) I learn another facet of this lesson every day. It’s not about me. It’s. not. about. me. I am just a vessel, a channel of His grace, love and mercy, and it’s all about Him. He gives us all we need for a life in His service, and that is enough. In choosing to trust full stop, I say “you are sufficient, Father and this is all for your glory.” May that be my daily, humble posture of worship.

It’s not just spiritual lessons I’m learning, there’s also so much to learn about Cajamarcan life as well… I am learning that any start/leaving time given tends to mean at the very least half an hour later; “amen” is the answer to anything you agree with in church; the handball rule doesn’t seem to exist in football; you can expect 2 carbs at any meal (usually rice & potatoes); to see a woman walk down the street knitting at full pelt is not unusual; to build a whole new house in one day that covers our kitchen window is not a problem; to have random street dogs wander around church while the service is happening is normal (a kick from someone tends to send them out); and to have to get out of your taxi up a mountain because you’re too heavy for the poor engine and then see it roll back down the track into a ditch – well, no one bats an eyelid.

God is good. Life is good. Hope you are all well too!

✌️+ ❤️