Thursday, March 3, 2011



One of the secrets of our survival thus far in Peru has to do with a girl named Yuli. Yuli is our empleada, but more importantly she is already our friend and part of the family. She helps out around the house with cleaning and cooking. I know that I am opening ourselves up to criticism about our lifestyle here by sharing that we have a "maid," but I hope that anyone critical of our decision would consider first that there are many facets to living in a developing country that don't make sense in our Western culture.

At first I was very adamant that we would have minimal help in our house. It did seem to me, at first, that having help wasn't necessary. I took care of our home by myself in the States and I could do it here. While that is true, what we quickly realized is that if I took care of our home by myself that is pretty much all I would be doing here. I could absolutely stay home everyday and clean the house (homes here get very dirty, very quickly) and cook for all 6 of us. But at the top of our list of goals for our life in Peru is that I am able to be involved with Krochet Kids. I will still be home everyday in time to pick up the kids from school (and Tyler will come along with me for most of what I do), so I will never be an equal partner with Blake in ministry. I do, though, want to be as active as possible with the ladies in our program. This means we need help.

Because Yuli needs full-time employment she comes 5 days a week. Our house isn't big enough to warrant that much help, but we didn't want her to be partially unemployed. She also stays one night a week so Blake and I can go on dates which is a huge gift. She is so great with our kids- especially Tyler whom she affectionately calls, "Loca." Riley loves her and follows her around all day. We eat lunch with her everyday and hang out with her when there isn't much to do around the house. Of course there is still a huge language barrier, but I have learned most of my Spanish from her.

Because of Yuli I have been able to run most of my errands without the kids. It is overwhelming enough to try to get school supplies for the first time in a foreign country and I can't imagine trying to do it with 4 kids in tow. Especially since I didn't know exactly where the stores were and had to walk around trying to find them. Yuli has also taken a load off my shoulders by cooking a big meal for our family everyday she is here. She makes us delicious Peruvian dishes which are almost always a variation of rice and meat. Most of the dishes that I made in the States cannot be made here because of lack of ingredients (no cream of chicken soup in Peru), so I have no clue what we would we eating if not for Yuli. Thankfully I can now learn from her how to cook in Peru. Honestly, we are so overwhelmed with acclimating to a new culture that trying to learn a whole new way to feed my family might have sent me over the edge.

Yuli was also a hero when Tyler split her head open. She held Tyler while I got our things together for the ER, cleaned up all of the blood left on the floor, and, most importantly, she stayed with the big kids while we were at the hospital. She gave them lunch and helped calm them down. I have already come to rely on her a lot.

Obviously, we are so thankful for Yuli. For me, she means that after almost a decade of being a stay-at-home mom that I will get to work with and walk alongside people in the outside world again. I absolutely valued my time at home with our kids, but it is now time for a change. Honestly, I need to be part of a bigger story. I need to be in relationships with adults. I have a passion for empowering women in poverty and there is only so much I can do with that while at home with 4 kids or cleaning a house. I am not a good stay-at-home mom anymore and it is taking a toll on my relationship with my kids.

Since Yuli is so young we do hope that she will not be an empleada her whole life. We would love to walk alongside of her, as well as the ladies in our program, and see if there are dreams she has for her future that we can help facilitate. At the same time, we are foreigners in this country and do not want to push our definition of success on Yuli. No matter what path Yuli's life takes, I am excited to see what her future holds. She has a beautiful heart and will be a blessing to whomever she encounters.


Candace McClintick said...

I think this is great!

buford said...

Very smart idea. You have to remember why you are there.

Courtney said...

i think it's wonderful that you have help! and it's so "normal" for so many cultures! no judgement here!

AND it seems like you are forming such a special relationship with her!

Anonymous said...

I think this is lovely. I am Brazilian and grew up around 'empregadas' and they were always part of the family and I remember them with lots of love :)

ps: My name is Nina. I am only anonymous because the comments section was going loopy

Anonymous said...

This is awesome. When we were in Ethiopia we wondered why all the adoption and other ministry staff had live-in help (some had 2-3). To be frank, we judged them. But then we realized that this was actually a part of their ministry. They were employing and housing folks that would otherwise have no job or place to live. They opened their homes and lives to these helpers and loved them in a way that was counter cultural and a missionary vision in and of itself.