Thursday, July 26, 2007

Last Days & Some Reflections

I really can't believe that I sit here with just two days left in Peru. We leave on Saturday night for the states. The past 8 weeks have gone by much faster than I had anticipated. The expectations I held before coming here have been surpassed by the experiences I've had. I had no idea that this summer would have gone the direction it went. God has a way of really turning things upside down when you least expect it. It's so funny how I always learn the most whenever I'm the most vulnerable. It seems that this applies to more than just a summer missions experience.

I suppose I'll make the most of the next couple days by a) eating food I can't get in the states, b) savoring the last moments with some of the teens here, and c) reflecting on this amazing summer. I will try my best to give a re-cap on the events of this summer without being a bore with endless words. (I think there's something about that in Proverbs...) Anyway, I'll break it down week by week. Here we go...

Week One: (technically a half week) I left the United States for only the second time in my life for Santiago, Chile where I spent the week seeing this new place. It was freezing cold! I stayed with Kelley Grant and his family with the team that works there. They showed me around the city and got me excited about having such a wonderful introduction to Latin America with such good friends. Went to church and met lots of new people.

Week Two: Went to a retreat that didn't actually occur because of some issues in Buenos Aires with the group of Aggies. However, this gave me some excellent time to spend with Kelley and Julie hearing about their time as missionaries (extremely valuable wisdom to be heard). Spent the days teaching English at many of the local schools and making contacts with the teens for activities that were planned for the evenings. Spent the evenings playing games and doing activities with the youth group and others that came as a result of our time at the schools.

Week Three: Got sick with the virus and stayed in bed for 4 days. Rode the train to Concepcion to survey the city for the possibility of living there in the future. It's really an amazing city that's full of potential for things such as starting a coffee shop, beginning an orphanage, planting a church, etc. Spent some more time with some of the young people from the church before leaving for Lima. Santiago offered some amazing lessons about longterm teamwork on the field. They are a perfect product of what a team can do when they are made to work together. It was such a great experience to spend so much time working with them and learn from what they are doing there.

Week Four: Arrived in Lima at 3am and went to church on the last Sunday that it was meeting in its actual building. I've never been around such a welcoming church that was so eager to make us a part of their family. There were somewhere around 100 people there to celebrate their last time together as one body before branching into 3 cell groups throughout Lima. We spent our first week in Lima going to a few small group meetings during the evenings and spending time with the teens and university aged students. It was great to get to know them as we entered this new place.

Week Five: Again spent the week going to several of the small group bible studies that meet around town. Made plans for the remainder of our time in Lima to go to the orphanage, the jungle (which didn't happen) and to Cusco. Midway through the week we met Mario and stayed with him as we worked with the orphanage (the "community") outside of Lima. Our time at the community was indescribable! Our lives were changed simply by spending a few days with these lovely people.

Week 6: We spent this week again with some of the students such as Miguel, Mikael, Gladys, Alan, Jackie, Karina, etc. They are some of the core group of young people that are involved in the church. We got to go downtown one night with a group of them as they showed us around their home city. They took us to Chinatown, a really neat park on the river, and even to the restaurant that Alan works at to watch a soccer game. We had originally planned to go to the jungle this week to work with several churches in various villages, but we were forced to cancel it because of an unfortunate conflict with the government and the professors.

Week 7: This was one of the most amazing weeks I've ever had in my life. We went to Cusco to see the Inca capital, Machu Picchu, and the ruins that surround the area. It's difficult to describe how amazing it is, but pictures and a few words will have to do. We stayed with some members of the church there and were blessed to experience the hospitality they extended to us. It's so wonderful to see the arms and legs of the body of Christ around the world!

Week 8: Well this is now. We've been back for a few days and have said our good byes to the missionary who went on a trip to a town a few hours from Lima. We've got a few last days to spend reflecting and a few last meals with Alan and some of the other teens. It's been such a blessing to develop relationships with the church here. They are a great group of people who have a flare for following the word of God. Peace.


Jen said...

Sounds like an amazing trip, and you've done a great job of keeping this journal about it! I can't wait to hear more about it in person, and hang out with my cuz!