Yesterday I got home from Peru.
It feels super weird to write that….it actually happened. I was there and now am home. I’m so grateful to have been able to go on this trip, I learned a lot and saw a lot, prayed a lot and laughed and cried and talked and played and listened. I am thankful and my heart is full.
I’m trying to find words to put down so that I can share this with you, but there’s so much and proving to be more difficult than I had anticipated, so bear with me as I section it out.I don’t want to forget things, so some of these posts might be novels… consider yourself warned..
After over 14 hours of travel, we arrived in Cusco, Peru. The elevation there is over 11,000 feet, so when we got off the plane some of us felt like we had stepped off of a boat, the ground felt shaky. There were also lots of very chapped lips and headaches and nosebleeds over the first week or so as our bodies adjusted.
There was culture shock! Spanish was being spoken everywhere, the weather would change from thunderstorms to sunshine rapidly, there were very few trees (this PNWesterner was a bit taken aback by that), household habits were different… but it was all interesting and good.
We met our host and his family, the missionary and his family, learned about drinking coca tea for elevation sickness, and a while after went to the church for service. This was the church we would be working at for the time we were here, so it was fun to see, and I was surprised by the friendliness and joy of everyone there. In my journal it says that I had wished I studied Spanish more, and I had that thought quite often through the entire time.
Later we had the devotional and meeting for the night, talking about being purposeful and intentional. James 1 says to count it all joy WHEN we have various trials, not if. So when these trials come, let us be purposeful to rejoice. Let us have purposeful prayer. Let us examine these purposeful trials. Because honestly, God already knows what’s going to happen and has a plan. In every aspect.
There’s no need to fret about it, just listen to Him and see what He’s trying to teach you.
Afterwards we explored Cusco a bit, there are soooo many stairs, legs for days. We saw a beautiful cathedral, so much intricate artwork, but it’s so empty and hopeless at the same time.
The next morning was spent working at the church, cleaning and organizing, and we got quite a bit done, which felt great.
Afterwards we got into a bus and drove to where our first VBS location is in a village called Tambomachay (TAM-boe-ma-chai), just to see the work being done there and to meet any kids who were around. We prayed over the area, awkwardly hung around for a few minutes, made friends with a tethered lamb and dogs (that we apparently aren’t supposed to pet because of germs and such) then the kids started coming. We exchanged names in stumbling Spanish and they played hand clapping games, which some of us joined in on, which then led to us showing them Quack-Dilly-O-So, which then led to us all playing Duck Duck Goose, which here was called Pato Pato Oveja (Duck Duck Sheep). Not sure how we got sheep, but whatever works… When they got tired of that some of the girls were trying to talk to me, saying what sounded like “chapas”, and eventually we figured out that meant tunnel tag, so we played that for a good long time. Funny how much you can communicate even with a language barrier. I showed them how to make birdcalls with your hands, tried to talk a little with my meager spanish vocab, and they giggled at it quite a bit.
We were with this group of kids for 4 days, and they were the ones that were hardest for me to leave. They were so hungry for hugs, touch, love, to be listened to. We had tickle parties and snuggle piles and big hugs and they’d all pile into my lap or hold onto my back or arms so I could swing them around, they’d tap on my face and make funny noises and braid my hair and sit on my feet and hold my hand and show me things they found. So much laughter and love for and with them. Later in the week we’d do crafts and sing and dance with them, I learned quite a few more words through asking them (“que es…?”) and they’d laugh when I mispronounced it, and tell me the right pronunciation. I showed them how to blow kisses and they showed me hand clapping games.
It hit me how big God’s love is with them.
He loves me at home in Washington, and everyone there. Then I travel down thousands of miles to Peru, and still He loves me and everyone else there as well. And all the people that are in the surrounding countries, continents, the entire world.
He loves each one of us infinitely and perfectly, and there are so many people… That is so much love. It blew my mind. And with that thought, we are to love people as well. And how are we to love them? The goal is to love through His love, in agape. And what does that look like? That’s going to be a future post here…
The largest thing that frustrated me was that I didn’t know Spanish (which was my fault) , so I couldn’t directly talk with them. We had translators, and they were a HUGE blessing and I was so grateful for them, but when you talk with a kid it’s best if you can talk directly to them, having a middle man changes things. There were tears at the final goodbye, and maybe someday I’ll come back and have learned the language and will be able to talk with them.
The takeaways that I had by day two of the trip were:
-God’s love is huge, I had felt a part of it, and I wanted to share it.
-prayer is so so powerful and so underutilized.
-I take so much for granted. Pretty much everything. It makes one grateful.
-I am not to show partiality in anything I do or to anyone I interact with. This came from a devotional led by a teammate, and sparked a lot of thought. Anything I do I should be doing as to the Lord, whether the job is large or small, gets noticed and recognition or not, whether the person is rich or poor, friendly or intimidating. I am not the one who is supposed to judge. That’s God’s job. I’m just a hand.
Thus ends part 1 of the Peru adventure, more to come later.