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Welcome to SwansonPonATime! We are a young missionary couple in Peru, and this is our space to share our journey with you! ...Enjoy! 

One Year in Peru - Lessons Learned

One Year in Peru - Lessons Learned

Wow it’s crazy to believe that just a year ago we sold all of our stuff, fit everything else into suitcases, said goodbye to friends and family, and boarded a plane to the greatest adventure of our lives. We have been living in Peru now for a year!! OMG!!  When we decided on when we would move out to Peru we chose to leave January 2nd because we wanted to start the year in a new country, what we didn’t consider was how overwhelmed and grateful we are at this one year mark. It’s pretty cool and significant that our one year anniversary is the start of another new year. To me New Year’s is a great marker to remember how your previous year went and to set new goals for the upcoming year. And needless to say, 2018 was a year to remember, it was probably the most challenging year of our marriage for sure (we celebrated our first year of marriage this year haha), and probably the hardest year I (Devyn) have ever faced. 2018 in Peru came with some really low lows, hard questions, plenty of doubt, trusting when I didn’t even believe, and holding on when all I wanted to do was let go. When we look back at 2018 the word that comes to our mind is FAITHFULNESS, God’s faithfulness!!! He has been with us this whole time, leading us even when we didn’t hear Him, comforting us when we felt alone, and sustaining us when we didn’t know if we could keep going. Our God is so faithful!!


In December, we attempted to do Blogmas (hopefully we do a better job next year) and asked what people would like to hear from us. One person suggested we write about how our thoughts and hearts have changed since moving to Peru, and we thought that would be a perfect post for celebrating our one year here! Here is what we have learned living in Peru, hope you enjoy!!


1.   I used to think the states was the world, until I moved. -Devyn

I’m coming in hot with my first point! Hahah. It’s crazy how when you have only lived in one country (especially the United States) it seems like the only place in the world. Don’t get me wrong with this I love my country, I think it’s a great place to live, but it’s a small place compared to the rest of the world. I didn’t realize until moving to Peru, how little I knew about the world. We are really fortunate to be in a town of Peru with many different countries represented. We have Germans, Australians, Ecuadorians, English, Dutch, and us Americans, and I honestly knew basically nothing about any of their countries, like if you would have heard the questions I asked to the first German guys that were in my language class, you’d laugh, they laughed at me. Hahaha. I am so grateful to be able to come to Peru and not only get to know the Peruvian culture but also so many other cultures as well. I am also grateful to be from a country that is such a melting pot of immigrants, and be able to appreciate where people come from a lot more now.

2.   Your dream job still takes work. -Julian

 My whole life I have sort of been looking forward to and preparing for the moment I got to serve those in extremely impoverished and underserved areas. And I finally have gotten to achieve just that by moving to and serving in the mountains of Peru. I really thought that once I got the dream job, that the “dream” would just carry me the rest of the way. But I couldn’t have been more wrong on this one given that I have to daily pour myself out for people in desperate conditions who need my help. And it takes work, a lot of hard work. I would be lying if I didn’t say that many days I am on the edge of burnout, or just get home exhausted. The upside is that this has forced me to rely on God for His strength and repent daily for my lack of patience and love for the person that God puts in front of me. Life here in Peru has been quite the God-adventure for me. Isn’t everything better when life is an adventure??!!


3.   Realized that not speaking a language doesn’t make you less intelligent. -Devyn

This one is hard for me to say because it really puts my sin and flaw out there for everyone. But I am a sinner and my righteousness is found in God and not in how others view me. Okay, honest when I was in The States and I’d meet people that did not speak English, I would associate that with them not being as intelligent as me and less than me because we didn’t understand each other. I love how God has humbled me by bringing me to another country and struggling HARD to learn Spanish and also has brought people that haven’t really wanted to talk to me due to my lack of language. I’ve also been given so much more grace than I gave people in when they didn’t speak my language back in the States. I have learned that people are people, and we are all equal regardless of what language we speak.


4.   The goal is not to become one of them, but to love and be loved by them. -Julian

I was talking to a fellow missionary and how I felt that I did a poor job of “assimilating” into the Quechuan culture. I felt that blending into the culture was a goal, for example I envisioned one day serving in the Amazon with my kids running around wearing loin cloths. Hahaha, don’t tell Devyn. However, as I spoke with this missionary who became fluent in Spanish AND the Quechua Native language, he had me understand that I was never going to fully be able to integrate into their rich ancient culture. He helped me understand that it’s ok to be different, but that the goal is to love them and be loved by them. #grouphug


5.   Stuff doesn’t really matter. -Devyn

Okay don’t get me wrong, y’all know I love to decorate, and it is a passion of mine in creating a beautiful and comfortable environment for people. But in moving to Peru and not being able to just shop wherever and having so much access to stuff at my fingertips (Thank the Lord for Amazon), I have realized what is necessary and what is just extra stuff. It’s been really cool to embrace minimalism. Its been so awesome to me to be able to complete a vision of how I wanted our house to look for holiday’s and such with a bit of creativity and local ingredients (Thanksgiving DIY).


6.   Isolation is actually a gift! -Devyn

This is a great follow up to my last point, with having no car and limited places to go/shop like I would in The States, I have not been able to distract myself like I would back home when things were hard. Which I sometime HATE because when you can’t distract yourself you actually have to DEAL with yourself and that takes a lot more time and effort. But though at first, I hate it, and I wish I could just get in the car and drive to TJ MAXX or even a cool coffee shop in the city, or at least my mom’s house, God has met me in those lonely, dark moment’s. In the isolation God comforts me and deals with my mess in a way that is better than distraction because He is actually changing me. So, I have learned in this year that isolation is actually a gift, a gift wrapped in ugly Christmas paper that would probably be the last one picked in a game of White Elephant, but one of the best gifts you’ll ever receive when sharing it with Jesus.


7.   The grass isn’t greener it’s just different. -Julian

I love Peru, life here is smaller and simpler with less comparison, less distractions, and less traffic. I bike 10 minutes to work, can go on a 15-minute jog to a beautiful mountain lookout point, and all my friends are walking distance from my house. But on the flip-side, we have gone weeks without electricity, days without running water, have a leaky roof if the thunderstorm hits our house at the right angle, and we are throwing rocks at stray dogs everywhere that are nipping at our heels. Do I love it here? Yes. Do I wish there was a boba teahouse in town? Yes. Does my backyard look like a picture from a national park? Yes. Do I wish I didn’t have to put the used TP in the trash can? Yes. What I have learned is that wherever we go, and in every season, we need to thank God for where He has us and the beauty of the present, because the grass isn’t greener, it’s just different (maybe like chartreuse or forest green).


8.   Missionary life is a lot more normal than you may think. -Devyn

I know there are people who think living as a “missionary” means we go around with our angel wings sprinkling holy water all over the town. FALSE! We are still just as human as anyone else. Filled with doubt, worry, and all kinds of normal struggles. Also, just to clear that up we don’t spend 15 hours a day in a prayer circle or anything like that. Hahaha. Although we live in a town with about 15+ other missionary families, and talking about Jesus is a normal part of our lives, it’s no different than living anywhere in the world. No matter where you live if you believe in Jesus, we are all in the same boat trying to love people the way God loves us.


9.   I have learned that I don’t really know how to truly love people. -Julian

Jesus once said, Love others how I have loved you. And I thought I did, until I came here and was overwhelmed by the endless need of the people I served. I felt that Jesus was telling me to take care and love the 5,000 when I couldn’t even love more than a handful a day. Then I realized that I don’t even love my wife with unconditional love (she would say that I try really hard :) ). Since realizing that my love is nothing like Jesus’, each day has become a new chance to try to lean on God for his strength and love, to try to depend on Him for everything and myself for nothing, to repent for wanting to constantly be independent from Him and do it my own way out of my own strength, and finally to pray that He would change my heart because I simply cannot. Jesus led an unhurried life, full of love for each person he met along the way. And I am a lot farther off from that than I originally thought. Thank God for His patience and love for us as we struggle with our own selfishness. Through His son Jesus we are able to keep trying over and over again to love others, living completely free and unashamed in the process as His children!!!


10.    My purpose is being a child of God. -Devyn

I have talked about this before (check out post) but this is something so significant that I have learned this year: that I am loved with a love that is never changing, unfailing, and is something I can’t work for. If you remember, before I was given the opportunity to teach art, for the first 6 months of being here in Peru, I had no job, no title, and felt like I was making no contribution to the mission, I felt like I was just existing. But, God was working on me. In that time, I had to learn that without a title or a specific role, I am enough, God’s view of me doesn’t change and that was so freeing! I have to remember daily that God already chose me as I am and that no matter what or what I don’t do, I am loved, worthy, and a child of God and that is the best title in the world! Even though this is something I have learned, don’t get me wrong, this is something that I have to consciously choose everyday (sometimes a few times a day): that in God’s eyes I am simply enough and He loves me just as I am.



We really want to thank you all for being a part of this journey with us! From everyone who has given to our ministry financially, we know how much of a sacrifice that is and we truly appreciate your belief and support in us. To everyone who has prayed for us, your prayers have covered us in really dark and ugly times and we know they are a huge reason we have made it so far. And to everyone who has visited us this year, we truly appreciate you coming and being a part of our lives. And of course, all of the peanut butter and other wonderful goodies you bring with you, they have been a saving grace in making us feel at home. Haha. We are so grateful to have families and friends who believe in us, who have been there via Facetime and in person to listen, encourage, and pray for us. We want you all to know that y’all are our tribe and we are so blessed and lucky to have you in our corner, we love y’all!!


Much Love in this New Year!!

Julian and Devyn

And you know this wouldn’t be our blog if we didn’t give y’all a bunch of pics from this year.. ENJOY!!

Culture Whiplash

Culture Whiplash

Full House for the Holidays

Full House for the Holidays