The travel to Peru, my first time out of the Western world, was safe and sound. Thank you everyone for the prayer, encouragement, love, and communication during this big transition. The long ride over flew by (ha) due to naps and books and anxiousness. I’ve been in Lima for a week in a half and here’s what I’ve been up to….
Saturday, 12/12: The first greeting I received upon arrival was a warm, slightly sticky gust of Peruvian air which hugged me as I stepped into the hallway that led me off the plane. Then, with a dazed smile on my face, I was greeted by my host family, Peter and Anne – an incredible missionary couple who have served in Peru for the past 3 years and before that served in Pakistan for 14 years. My eyes and mind simultaneously processed that I was in Lima, Peru during the taxi ride home and at the apartment as my body easily settled to sleep.
Sunday, 12/13: It didn’t take long for me to experience Peruvian culture to it’s fullest and finest. In the morning, we went to the bus stop and right away it was unlike anything I’d ever seen. The busses pull into a bus stop quickly, while shouting what main roads the bus travels to, and you have about 5 seconds to literally hop on and hope it’s the right one. The busses are constant and there’s always at least 2 or 3 of them either pulling in or pulling away from a stop. What a loud, lively, confusing, exciting experience. At Peter and Anne’s church, I was welcomed with a smile, hug, and side kiss by everyone (and I mean everyone). Of course, Peter and Anne explained how Peruvians greet one another ahead of time so I wasn’t accidentally toooooo friendly by aiming for the wrong side. I struggled a bit understanding the sermon and by that I mean no entendi nada, but day by day I’m learning the language of this country and it’s not as much of a barrier as I thought it would be. The young woman of the church know bits of English (some better than others) and I clicked with them well which has definitely been a highlight.
Monday, 12/14: In the evening, I went along with Peter and Anne to the English Bible study they lead as part of their missionary work in Peru. Observing the students eagerly dig into the Word and have discussions about it while practicing a language that is not their own was a heart-stirring experience. This moment also sparked excitement for my time in Peru in general because of the future similar, powerful experiences I’m sure to have during my involvement over the next 3 months.
Tuesday, 12/15: While in Lima, I’ll receive a few Spanish lessons to guide my language learning experience and leave me with a plan & material on how to continue my study of it after the 3 lessons. This day I had my first lesson and although it was a lot to take in, it helped much.
Wednesday,12/16: My host family kindly took me to Central Lima to see some sights and those sights sure were stunning. We scurried through the catacombs of San Francisco cathedral, took photos (well, that was mainly just me) at Plaza Mayor (main square area), and ate delicious, traditional Peruvian food for lunch.
Thursday, 12/17: My new amiga from church, Maricarmen, invited me to help her at a kids Bible club this day and I gladly accepted the invite. The building for this ministry sits high on a hill in the extremely poor area of Lima called Caja de Agua. Our journey began on a bus, transitioned to a mototaxi, and ended with a climb up lots of dusty, mud formed stairs. Aghast, I tried to grasp the reality of what I witnessed. Before I could think too much about it, Maricarmen introduced me to some of the hyper children and my attention was on them. I met TJ, the missionary from America who runs the ministry and what an astounding one it is. Take a look at the website, specifically the ‘About’ tab – http://www.hofcm.org. The few hours I spent there were truly life changing. Hearing the piping laughter of a few of the girls as they took turns sitting on my back with their arms wrapped around my neck during piggyback rides filled me with indescribable joy. Watching them take in the Bible message and activities tugged at my heart. Letting them curiously poke at my nose ring led to lots of giggles. Please pray for God to break into the community of Caja de Agua and touch the lives of those people. Pray that He works through Heart of Christ ministry to bring those children to His kingdom. Pray for provision and growth for the ministry. As there is no church in Caja de Agua, pray for a church to be planted in that community. Also, if you’re able to, please consider donating to the non-profit ministry and/or sponsoring a child in Caja de Agua through their website. (http://www.hofcm.org)
Friday, 12/18: I joined Peter and Anne to another English class they run. As this is a different class, I saw some familiar faces and some new. Again, an amazing experience to see how my host family serves this area of the world and see Peruvians learn English lessons while I learned life lessons.
Saturday, 12/19: At the ministry in Caja de Agua, a group of the young adults from church put on a fun day for the kids this day. There were sing-a-long/dance-a-long songs, relay games, a puppet show etc. I was the unofficial video/photographer as my friends lead the event so they could watch and laugh at themselves afterwards. In the evening, the church hosted a women’s night event. It was a lovely night of teaching/prayer, fellowship, and food. The girls I’ve bonded with at church who know English quite well are kind enough to translate for me when I need it which has been extremely helpful during the times I’m with them.
Monday, 12/21: Another sightseeing day! Peter and I started the day at the touristy, wealthier area of Lima called Miraflores. After briskly walking away from the expensive price tags in the shopping area, we visited a park (Parque de Amor) and then used the beach as our sidewalk to the next district of Barranco. Wikipedia says Barranco “is considered to be the city’s most romantic and bohemian district, being the home and working place of many of Peru’s leading artists, musicians, designers and photographers.” Aka this is the hip, artsy part of town so I absolutely adored it. I’m amazed by 1) how huge Lima is and 2) how much the districts of Lima differ.
Tuesday, 12/22: The park we went to this evening filled me with Christmas cheer since it was decked out with lights, featured THE real, live Santa that I obviously took a photo with, and played Christmas tunes through the speakers. All this was impressive, but the aspect of it that this park is really known for is the beautiful fountains scattered throughout the huge park. (http://howtoperu.com/2012/07/01/magic-water-circuit-lima/)
I’m adjusting into this extremely new and different place better than I expected. Having two and a half weeks in Lima to just take it all in is just what I needed to transition into it, so I’m very thankful for this time. I’ve been able to process, work on my Spanish, read, Skype friends that I hadn’t connected with since before my gap year started, explore, relax, meet new people/make new friends, experience life-changing moments, and learn. I’m learning about myself, people, mission, the world, language, culture – all through which I learn about & experience God, purpose, and growth. I am loving the colorful, loud, warm, lively, laid-back, dirty, diverse place Lima, Peru is; trying to digest and cherish all the newness, sights/sounds/tastes, experiences etc.
¡Feliz Navidad! I hope you have a holly jolly, merry, happy, wonderful Christmas Time. Let us, of course, enjoy time with family, friends, food, giving gifts, and everything else that goes with this time of year, but not forget what this special holiday represents. Happy Christmas, but also Happy Birthday Jesus. Let us not take the Christ out of Christmas or out of any day of the year. How powerful and unfathomable that the Word became flesh, that truth leaves me mind blown. Thank you, Jesus. Christians and non-Christians alike, I encourage you to read the book of Matthew or Luke this Christmas season and really reflect on it. If you haven’t read one of the gospels before, you may be surprised at what you discover. Allow the power of the gospel (literally meaning “good news,” but mostly recognized as the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus) impact you this time of year and every day of your life.
Luke 2: 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Christmas in Peru will be a different, unusual, and memorable one for sure! I’m looking forward to it. On December 30th, I’ll fly to Trujillo where my main involvement/work/responsibilities/placements will begin. I’ll write to you all again after a bit of time in Trujillo!