This last week has been all about relationship for me. God has been showing me the importance of loving Him and others well. This week my team and I have pressed into God’s love, and used that to do some crazy things in Ayacucho. The day that impacted me the most was when I set out with three other members of my team and headed into the town square. When we arrived we all prayed that God would show us what we were supposed to do, and one of the girls, Hannah, prayed that the light in our eyes would bring people to us. Seconds after we finished praying an elderly gentleman approached us and stuck up a conversation. We talked about life, family, love, and God for about 45 minutes, and after we finished the man said that he had come over to us because Hannah’s eyes looked exactly like his mothers.
As week number two is already wrapping up, I am just amazed by this opportunity we have here to grow in relationship with each other and build relationship with both our hosts and the people of Ayacucho. This week our host Samuel, has been extremely busy with school (I seriously don’t think this guy ever stops). For instance he has had 12 exams in 6 days. Due to that fact, he didn’t exactly have the time to take us to do ministry with the people of Ayacucho. However, we decided to bless him by painting his house for him. We have been painting everything white. Yep, painting the blue walls, white… the yellow wall, white… the brick on the outside, white… and the white walls, white. Although, on Thursday we got the opportunity to paint some letters on the outside of Samuel’s apartment a bright yellow. But hey, who doesn’t like painting? Oh right, one of our team members doesn’t… everyone else here does so I’d say it’s been a pretty fun week.
Our first week here in Ayacucho, Peru is now complete and ready to be stored in the “did I just get to experience that?!” compartment of my mind (There’s a lot compiling up in there but somehow it never seems to run out of room for more). While the first few days consisted of 9 heavy and consecutive legs of travel, God proved himself faithful, blessing us with a luxury overnight bus ride to restore us 9 weary travelers. We were greeted in the bus terminal by the most adorable Peruvian kids trying to sneak pictures of us from the second floor; apparently we are quite a spectacle here. They finally worked up the nerve to come talk to us and bought little key chains for the guys, most likely out of their very own pocket money. Just a few hours into our outreach and we were already humbled to be a part of God’s great plan for this country. Later in the week, miles away from that bus station, the same kids recognized us in a market and ran over to us with beaming smiles and we were able to share in their happiness through the little Spanish we know.
Our society promotes self protection to the point of losing who we are. “Look out for number one!” “Make sure you don’t open yourself up enough to be hurt by others” “Bury your emotions, hide your insecurities, show your better self!” Why is it that this idea is so widely accepted as what we need to do? We have this uncanny ability to pretend like everything is okay, or distancing ourselves from other believers to be sure that we won’t get called out on our facade. Whens the last time someone asked how you were, and you responded with a truthful or deliberate statement, rather than the traditional and habitual “I’m doing well, and you?” We’re told to just BE okay. We’re told to move along complacently as life takes its toll on our sanity. How many christians across the world are struggling with boredom, depression, anxiety or addiction, and choose to cope by shutting out everyone around them and putting on a fake outer shell to hold everything together.
“Hello, my friend! How are you!” a young Sudanese man walked confidently up to our outreach leader, Chris, and offered him a handshake. A group of 7 of our team members had been left behind at the refugee camp, known as the Jungle, to do a prayer walk before our ride came to pick us up. We didn’t feel we should go into the camp, but instead, felt the Holy Spirit prompting us to stop at a street corner, just outside the camp’s entrance. I had noticed several refugee men coming and hanging out alongside the road outside the Jungle. Many of them would sit, head down, and I wondered what they were thinking. I felt God leading us to this spot to pray peace and God’s presence to anyone who came to sit on the cement block that was at the corner. (more…)