Along with the VBS’s, we worked on the church of the missionaries we were staying with and that our church supports. We cleaned, painted, swept, mopped, captured a baby tarantula (that we named Andrew. We weren’t allowed to bring him home. Wonder why…), built shelves and desks, reorganized the rooms and helped sort things, tried Peruvian snacks (fresh passionfruit is tasty and nicknamed “snotfruit” down there), did some maintenance work, and built some new bathrooms and did housework for some of the church members.
We prayed in this church, with our team and with the locals. Listening to passionate prayer in a language I don’t speak was a pretty incredible experience. You can feel the gratitude and longing even without understanding the words being said.
We worshiped in this church, learning familiar songs in an unfamiliar language, or singing while we worked.
We played with children in this church, whether during VBS, during church services, to keep the littles entertained while others worked on construction.
We laughed and ate meals and prayed and wept with each other in this church, and I am grateful to have gotten to be a part of it.
It’s funny, as we’d make plans, and then they’d completely change, and everyone would roll with it. You don’t find that in many teams, such flexibility, but we all kept it to some level, and I’m proud of them for it.
Along with the Tambo VBS, we had one in a sport court a few minutes walk from the church. We’d arrive and play music, and slowly children would trickle in, exchanging “buenas dias” with us. We’d do all the regular VBS activities, and play “Chapas” (tag), and some people would play soccer, and some would head over to the swings. They called us Tia or Tio, auntie or uncle, I was Tia Gracia.Still one of my favorites out of everything I’ve ever been called.
One of the kids in particular stuck out to me, Renzo. He was one of the giggliest, most talkative little children I’d ever met. He was one of the reasons I was most sad to not know the language. He look up at me, all aglow, and throw out some long thought, wait for me to nod in acknowledgement of hearing him, smile, and then either keep talking or turn back to listening to the VBS teacher. He would be shy for about 5 seconds at the beginning of each day, and then after that he’d be all about hugs and songs and games and talking. I miss him.
Along with all of our work and ministry things, we did get some exploring time in. We went and walked around Cusco a few times, and that’s a lovely city. Lots of cathedrals, and they are beautiful and hopeless. It’s neat, because the town and country where we were is very brown or tan, but people wear colorful clothing and have colorful textiles and paint and patterns, its a beautiful balance. We drank Peruvian coffee (it’s great, not too sweet)
We also did get to see Machu Picchu on our last day or so of being there! We hiked all around there, up to the Sun Gate (which some of us ran back down) and the Inca Bridge, saw many llamas, beautiful stonework, the Andes are mystic and inspiring.
Takeaways by then?
-The main one recorded in my journal at this time was the thought sparked by our leader’s teaching, that we are not to be quiet or stagnant in our growth or walk as a Christian. We are to share our faith, to spread the light, to be a river and not a reservoir. We have to either pick to live for God, or the world. You can’t be living fully for both, and lukewarm/mixed is not acceptable. Go full out or go home, it is a choice. One to be intentional about.
It’s been something I’ve been pondering lately. I knew when I started this trip that it would either be a one-time-good-experience-thing, or it would lead to more. So far I’m feeling that it may be the latter. But not sure yet. Lots to pray about.
-also, where our focus is to be. We are to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things. This verse helps me when I get too wrapped up in my limited perspective. Sure, I feel gross and dirty and my clothes do not match or look aesthetic and I’m worrying about that, but am I showing Christ’s love to others? Which one is going to last longer? Do the kids I’m playing with care? Do they see love through me? Am I really supposed to be worrying about what my peers think of me? It’s kinda a trivial thing, and not saying that looks aren’t important, but as an example sometimes I get too wrapped up in the little things, verses having an eternal perspective.