Waking up today felt a little different, because it was. I am now alone in the men’s bunk here in Peru. We were able to get a quick FaceTime in with Chuck on our way to visit two women who used to live at Pats Place and live in the mountains in Peru. Alas, the journey must continue without Chuck ...
By the way for anyone keeping score at home, the jackhammer is still going on behind me and my ankle is about 90% and has been since Tuesday. I’m doing voice to text and I’m actually surprised you don’t hear “dddddDDdddddDdddDDDdd” in the background.
When we got to the house in the mountains, the first place we went was to visit a beautiful woman named Laura. She was welcoming but a little apprehensive and we learned that after a big fire that she has been discouraged. These women are supported really well when they’re at Pat’s Place; however, when they get out on their own, they tend to have distractions that can sometimes lead them away from going to church and their faith.
After we left Laura’s house and on our way to the next spot, we ran into two of Laura’s kids; Alison and Jonathan. Laura (director of Pat’s Place who was with us) spoke with Jonathan and I could tell it was an emotional embrace. Earlier we learned that Jonathan was spending a lot of time just playing on the Internet. However, Laura reminded Jonathan that while he was at Pats Place was diligent worker, a man after God’s own heart, and needs to help his mom around the house and step up. Little Alison was shy at first but quickly warmed to the group and even met us over at the next women’s house.
At the next house, we chatted with the family for a while. The woman mentioned she wasn’t going to church, so before her boys and daughter left to go to school we gathered the family and prayed for them. Alison added specific prayers for each person and while it may not have seemed like the kids gave it much attention, it is something they will remember. Finally, Allison, Taylor and Dana all prayed specifically for the mother while Laura and I kept little Alison occupied.
Before we left and climbed down a the rocky, slick and dusty set of stairs built into the side of the mountain (as expected, nothing built here would pass any “codes” in the US) we went to go visit Laura one last time. This time we spent almost 30 to 45 minutes with her family, took a tour of their spacious and nice house considering the area, played with bubbles with the kids and ultimately prayed for the family to draw closer to God. The mother said Little Alison prays every night! Also, that little 6 year old girl is OCD ... in a good way and she took the gifts we brought to her room and lined them up on her dresser perfectly. Little Alison is adorable and a light in that desolate rock where thousands of families live.
We headed back to the van everybody made it safely (a minor miracle considering the dangerous climb up and down to those houses ... keep in mind these kids have that climb down and up every day to go to school - That being said, we watched little Alison do it at full speed, with seemingly no regard for how unsafe the terrain is and we were in complete awe. I guess when you don’t know any better it feels normal). We made and polished off our lunch (peanut butter sandwiches) and got back to the house around 3:15 PM.
Tonight was another very special night. We visited one of the interpreters who helped us earlier in the week (Keila) at her house. The Huara family made us a delicious, fall off the bone, chicken dinner and afterwards we had a church service on their second floor with a number of people from the community. Not only was the food amazing but they celebrated Chuck and Alison’s anniversary with the best ever homemade Tres Leches cake. Which if you have not had, is a delicacy here and very delicious.
The church service was around 25 people and had a number of kids did a little song for us to start the evening. Keila’s father, who is also the pastor, led an intimate worship. Dana shared her testimony and Alison delivered an anointing sermon on renewing our old wineskins so the Holy Spirit could fill us anew with wine of the Holy Spirit. Even the interpreter was emotional as she translated the message. Alison has a powerful gift from God and her sermons are inspiring - I can see why everyone she comes in contact with down here wants her to return to their church services as soon as possible!
To end the service we laid hands on people and prayed for healings and a renewed spirit in their hearts. Stephanie actually took the guitar and played worship music while the rest of us were ministering and praying to those who came forward.
The night was very intimate as most of it including spending time with Keila’s family. It was really fun to see another authentic Peruvian house and how they use it for a church service.
While we are all tired, it is somewhat sad that tonight is our last night of serving, visiting with the people of Peru and attending church here. I knew it would go by quickly, but somehow I can’t believe the end is essentially here. Tomorrow we will be going into this main part of Lima, seeing the ocean, doing some shopping, visiting the Presidential Palace and generally being touristy for the day. It just feels kind of weird to think about shifting back into being a tourist and eventually going back to America and our “normal” lives.
While I’ve been here it’s been a refreshing week to get away from the noise of America and settle into the fabric of Peru. Seeing the people here and how happy they can be with so little gives me energy to go back home and live my life with a renewed spirit and love for God. The thing that stands out the most to me, is that everywhere we go (including the homes of those in Peru) the children run at full speed to complete strangers, for hugs, to be held, for words of encouragement and just generally for the attention that they so desperately need. I don’t know how to describe it other than it must be what God feels like when we run to him for an embrace we know we won’t get elsewhere.
It’s amazing that even the poor of Peru seem so much happier with significantly less then the poor in America. They are so generous with what they do have and grateful for every single thing, moment, hug and investment in time we have poured into them this week. I know without a shadow of a doubt, that many lives were saved this week, many people were healed, marriages restored and new faith brought to life.
I feel like I should end here, but there’s something about sitting on this bed in the men’s dorm that just feels like I’m at home. It’s almost as if I expect to wake up tomorrow eat a delicious breakfast made by Laura and continue the mission, but I know we won’t. The mission for me needs to continue when I go back to America and spend time with my friends, invest more deeply into service at my church and really live a life that glorifies the Lord. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that with God anything is possible. I’m excited for the next phase of my life, as I move through the rest of my personal fast and venture into what feels like a new skin, a new spirit, a new beginning and a life that will be forever changed by my experiences this week. I would love to someday come back to Peru and it would be a blessing to do it with this ministry. God willing, maybe even next year.