Peru: On Humility, Generosity, and the Things That Change Us

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Hi, friends. :)

So we wrapped up our official time in Lima last night, and everyone is off to the airport (or already gone) except me and Ginger. We’ll leave for Cusco later this afternoon for a few days before heading back to the States. (But not before we go for a snack run because…well, because snacks. See two posts ago.) 😀

It’s a strange sort of quiet this morning as I look around a room that‘s been filled with laughter, love, jokes, and memories…all of those things spanning just seven days that somehow felt like much more. God truly blessed us with a wonderful team, and I love each of these friends so much.

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I got up before 5 a.m. to see most of the team off and also because, selfishly, I wanted one more hug and memory with each of them. And then I climbed back into my bunk bed and tried to go back to sleep, but my mind started wandering and processing all we’ve experienced.

As much as I should sleep because, honestly, there hasn’t been a lot of it lately, I guess I want one more blogging memory, too. 😉

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So the coffee is brewed, I’m drinking out of the mug I’ve been using all week…and I’m hoping that maybe my words this morning might begin to give our time here some justice. Begin, at least.

Lima is an interesting city…it has so many things that other large (read: HUGE) cities do: more restaurants than I could ever visit, the crazy driving that somehow makes sense but doesn’t really at all (ask me about our last taxi ride here sometime), and so many people.

So many people. 

They are what make this place what it is…a beautiful, heartbreaking, amazing city and country with maybe the kindest people I’ve ever met in my life. (And also some of the best food. I promise I didn’t come for the food.) 😉

And all of what we did here centered around people. Whether we were visiting their churches, feeding them (but more often, they fed us), teaching, going to their homes to hear their stories and pray with them, playing with the kids at the park…the people are what make Lima what it is. They are kind, generous, and open…I totally jumped on board with the whole greeting with a kiss thing, I guess because it just shows how accepting they are of others. I love how warm and welcoming they were, from the first moments we entered their churches, homes, lives.

It was instant friendship, and that will stay with me forever.

One of our first mornings here, we split into two groups and had the opportunity to visit the homes of several members of the church in Los Olivos. At the first home, we talked with a new mama while her baby napped. I was amazed, as she shared her story, at how much we have in common, and my heart went out to her as she talked about the struggles I have, too…with life and her past, with parenting, with feeling like she’s enough. The things that are universal with every mama’s heart.

A few mornings later, God set it up so I could be in a home with another mama of three, including a nine year-old girl and a three year-old boy. Again, hearing her stories and pain and joy and faith, sometimes all in the same sentence, reminded me that we’re really not so different from each other. We struggle, but we also have hope because of Jesus.

The last few days have been spent in a different part of Lima, where the challenges seemed a little more tangible. It’s pretty hard to forget walking into someone’s house with the first door being to a bedroom…and then realizing that it’s the whole house. There were beds, the tiniest kitchen area, clothes, a tv, everything this family possessed…all in a space smaller than our family room back home. Plastic stools were lined up, and they stood so we could sit.

We were given their very best. 

It was humbling and it was also life-changing. I thought about the place I come from and how I don’t ever have to think about my next meal or what I’ll do if I need or want something. And yet, the poverty here is real, and it stabs a person in the heart so deeply that it hurts…maybe so we can enter into their pain just a little.

And so we don’t forget.

And beyond those struggles, we heard a father of three talk about a difficult health challenge he’s facing, and we saw his brokenness in worrying about his children. I think there were tears in all of our eyes as we listened, and then he stood there and proclaimed that, despite all of this, his Heavenly Father would take care of them because He’s the best Father, and I can’t get this man’s face or words (even if they were in Spanish) out of my head.

If anyone in the world is justified in losing hope, it would be him…but he knows and believes with all his heart that Jesus is our true hope. 

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And I suppose I could keep writing this morning…I could tell you more stories and talk about the amazing place called Castillo Fuerte (Mighty Fortress) and about the life-changing work being done there and about how the place is so full of love that it makes a person never want to leave. One of the teachers there asked me, when will you return? 

And I told her…I want to. So much. And I meant it with all my heart. This church and school, a tiny space I’d never be able to find without a map, is doing life-changing Jesus work and families are being transformed. I hope and pray I’ll have the chance to go back (and hopefully before another twenty years pass) so I can hug these people again and see the rewards of their faithfulness.

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It’s been a good week. 

It’s been a hard week. 

It’s been a week where the love, grace, and mercy of our Father has been so present. 

There’s so much more to share, and I hope that will happen soon.

For now, it’s time to figure out how to cram everything into my suitcase and still leave room for a few souvenirs for my people. (Including snacks.) 😀

Thank you, all…for your prayers, for your support, for being part of this journey. I’m blessed.

And may I live that way, knowing how blessed I am so I can be as generous as the people I’ve met this week. 

God is good. So. Good.

And I’m so thankful. 

 

Sig

Comments

  1. Hi Mel,
    Great post. Thank you for sharing and serving at work here in The Lutheran Mission of Peru and Castillo Fuerte. We are very happy and grateful for your visit and that despite the distance we have brothers all over the world who care and pray for us.

    Many hugs for your children and your husband from us.

    God bless your church and your family. Give our regards to all of them.

    In Christ,

    Osmel

    • Osmel, it was so wonderful to meet you and Yolanda and the people at Castillo Fuerte. It was a blessing to see your ministry there, and I look forward to praying for you all and hopefully returning for a visit someday. Thank you for welcoming us into your lives and letting us be a part of what God is doing there. :)

      We made it home yesterday, and I’ve already told my husband how much I want to bring him back to Peru with me to see all the amazing things God is doing.

      You are in our prayers every day! Hugs to all of you as well. I’m so thankful for the time we had in Peru and for the wonderful people we had the privilege to meet. Say hi to everyone!

      Blessings,
      Mel

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