I asked Riley to reflect and write about this past year. So, here is Riley...
Peru is crazy. Although there are mini-markets all over the streets and noises all around, I find it better than I thought. I mean, I have friends, a nice school, nice home, and all, but when we left our house in California I kept whispering, "Turn this car around. I want to go back."
On my first day of school, I was just a little bit late, so I knocked on the door and the teacher let me in. I looked around and sat down at the only empty desk. When I walked in I saw everyone looking at me. The only thing that scared me was that I had no friends and the only one who spoke English was the teacher. I didn't know what to do, so during recess I sat on a bench. On the next day of school, the teacher told me that a student in the class was going to help me get to know other people. I got to know her and she became a good friend. I did have a hard time with one girl who was very mean to me. She even poured juice in my seat one day and I got all wet. I prayed about it all and she became a good friend later.
Now that my first school year in Peru is over, I feel a lot better. I am proud of accomplishing one year of school. I have more friends than when I started school. I feel more comfortable there. I still miss my old school though.
I have only been able to visit one side of my family, but I will see the other side tomorrow! It has been hard to be away even though I have been away from them most of my life. In Peru, I feel a lot more far away. If I could change anything right now I would live closer to my family. I was really sad on Christmas morning that everyone was having fun with my only cousin and we were in Peru. It helped that we went to the pool with our friend Eric. We had a blast! There were some slides that were awesome! I went down all of them by myself and with my sister. I will start swim and soccer class tomorrow which I think is awesome! It has been a year since I did any activities and since activities were a big part of my life in the States it has been hard. Now that I am getting to swim and play soccer I am really excited! Since my school wouldn't let me play soccer because I am a girl, I am really excited to play with other girls who love soccer.
The hardest thing about this past year was when the soccer coach at school kept calling me white girl and I could tell he didn't like having me in the class (I took soccer as an elective once a week). That made me really mad and I didn't want him to look at me from the outside. Just because I'm a girl doesn't mean that I can't play soccer. Next year my brother will get to be on the school soccer team, but I am not allowed to because I am a girl. That makes me jealous and mad. It was also frustrating to fail so many quizzes in school because I didn't know Spanish. I had to work really, really hard in school this year. Except in English class! Haha! It's also hard living in a city. I want to run around in the street with my neighbors, but I can't do that here. We are blocked behind tall walls.
Now I notice that something big has happened in my life. One of my good friends, Maria Fernanda, didn't know Jesus and God. So I decided to bring my devotional book to school and read it to her. When I finished I asked her if she understood and she said a little. So I told my parents what was going on and asked if we had any Bibles in Spanish for her. My parents said they had one at Krochet Kids and they would bring it the next day. I gave the Bible to Maria Fernanda and she asked me if she could keep it. I told her yes and she got so excited. Every free time that day, she was reading it page after page. Anyway, after doing that I had the best feeling ever! Now that feeling gives me confidence to tell even more people about God and Jesus. Doing that shows me why God sent us to Peru. Because if I had never come to Peru, I would never have been able to tell my friend about Jesus.
There were many funny parts of this past year! Running around and trying to find furniture, trying to speak Spanish, and trying to just live here were all funny. I remember when I could barely speak Spanish and was always using google translate. My favorite parts of this year were Christmas and telling my friend about Jesus. I feel like we are a lot closer as a family now because we have all had to get each other's backs this year. I couldn't have done this by myself.
My goals for 2012 are to know perfect Spanish, tell more people about God, not stress as much about school, stop fighting with my brothers so much, and go to God more with my problems.