Before coming here, I was very uncomfortable with something that was suggested to us by some other Peruvian missionaries. It was the whole idea of what they call here an "empleada." Basically, many of the rich have a full-time hired maid that cooks, cleans, tends to the children, you get the idea. We heard that it was expected of those with any sort of money to hire an empleada. The people in Peru "expect" for those with money (if you are Gringo you are expected to have money) to help their economy by hiring an empleada. Would this make any of you uncomfortable? I have always enjoyed maintaining my home, and I have an idea of people with maids as rich and snobby. That is not at all what I want people here to see in me because of this decision.
Well, many times I realize that I need to put my American mindset aside and open my eyes to the culture within which I am trying to minister. We decided as a family that we would hire an empleada. Here are our reasons:
- It does help the economy. It gives someone a job that wouldn't have one otherwise.
- It allows me (as a homemaker) to have more free time to minister with my husband and to concentrate on language and culture learning (instead of all of the many tasks of keeping a home tidy in a very dusty country).
- It provides an opportunity for me to learn from a Peruvian woman (cooking, how they clean here, washing clothes, shopping and bartering in the markets, etc).
The only hard thing is that we were advised by our language instructors that it is VERY difficult to find an empleada that you can totally trust. There are many cases where an empleada is hired, one day she works, the next day she steals a lot of things, and the family never hears from her again. This scared me. How could we find someone to trust?
Well, meet Manuela. I have only known her two weeks, and she has my trust. We are so blessed that our language school recommended her to us. She worked 5 years for another foreign family that recently moved, and her daughter is employed at the language school. She has been a single mom for most of her adult life raising 2 children on her own. She works 6 days a week (only two of those are with us), has 4 grandchildren, and is an excellent worker and friend. I say "friend" because that is what I look forward to the most in this relationship. Yes, she washes our clothes (hand washing that is) and cleans our home, but the advice she has given me, the patience she has used in trying to understand my Spanish, the tricks she has already taught me about the culture here are what you get from a friendship. I feel so blessed that we found her.
So far she has taught me to make fresh juice from one of my favorite fruits: maracuya (passion fruit). And recently she made one of the most famous dishes that Arequipa has to offer: rocoto relleno. Just to give you an idea, this is a dish that most people request for their birthday. I will be posting the recipe on our family site soon. Manuela works for us on Mondays and Thursdays and for the Smiths on Tuesday and Friday. Please pray for our relationship to Manuela and the possibilities that this new contact holds.