August 11, 2006

Christie's First Trip to Peru summary

Oh, my goodness! There's just no way to describe how wonderful the trip was. It was just beyond perfect from the moment we left Greenville. Okay, I did have a giant toothache that started about the time the plane took off from Atlanta, and lasted until I had a root canal a couple of days ago, so I had to eat pureed soups and milkshakes for a good portion of the trip, but who can complain about soups made from this super-fresh blended vegetable mix and milkshakes made from the thickest, creamiest ice cream ever?!

The things we saw, from the Amazon River to the jungle villages to the Andes Mountains to the Pacific Ocean's rocky shoreline were just plain incredible, and that was nothing compared to the people.

They were all so open and friendly, and we got to be with some of them in their houses. Most people there had very little compared to "normal" people in the US, but they offered us what they had, many of the women taking off handmade jewelry or their purses or whatever personal possessions they had on them at the time, to give to us. I really hated that part, since it didn't feel right to take it, but our guide explained that we'd dishonor them to refuse.

We got to hold newborn babies (they wanted us to touch and pray blessings on the babies and children, so the mothers were shoving kids our way the whole time--really great, since I don't really have any tiny babies of my own anymore!!!!) They were really open to God moving, too. One of our taxi drivers got saved on the way to dinner the second night we were there, we saw people healed, and we got to encourage and get teaching and musical materials to the church workers. Our small monetary offerings went a LONG way there, and we were able to give a nice new guitar to a church that had NO musical instruments, pay for a new roof for a church that had nothing but a grass roof beforehand (and were happy with that), and give clothes, shoes, and school supplies to pastors and their families.

It was the equivalent of July 4th while we were there, and they were celebrating their independence. That meant a week-long vacation for many of them, including most of the school kids. Their way of celebrating was with a parade in each community, fireworks, music--not a lot different from us, except that the children all get in their navy and white school uniforms and march military-style in the parades. We saw many different groups practicing for the big event. This was the year they elected a new president, too, so he was sworn in on "The Day"-July 28. This all took place in the capital, Lima. We flew into Lima July 27--it was already very crowded then. We drove up the coast to Paramonga that same day and didn't return to Lima until the 29th, when things had settled down a bit. Pretty neat to be that close to a major world event, though! We walked past the President's house and drove past all the big government buildings.

We met some street kids who basically worked from very young ages trying to shine shoes or sell things to tourists, and after getting to know them and what they needed, several from our team left them their tennis shoes and/or some clothes. That was one of my favorite parts. A kid I gave a t-shirt to came out to run alongside our taxi to the airport AT FIVE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING, just so he could let me see him in the shirt. It was just awesome, all the way through.

In a town on the coast (Paramonga), I met a very sweet 18 y/o girl who asked me to be her godmother. Her mother is the pastor of the church there, and they've sent me lots of emails to remind me and the mission team that the people of Peru are praying for us here. Can't beat that. We also got to attend a beautiful young lady's 22nd birthday party in her home, where her friends sat to the side and ate on the stairs or the floor so we "missionaries" could sit at the table and enjoy a meal they'd been preparing all day (I never got used to the "place of honor" they all insisted on putting us in...they really had the spirits of hospitality and servanthood!) After the meal, her mother brought out an unreal, super-moist cake, and each of her friends and family members took a minute to tell what she meant to them and to bless her coming year and her future. Very nice to be included on such a special day.

I told Ken I think I could live in Peru in a heartbeat. They do a lot in the churches with young kids, since there's a big need for that. Most youth seemed to work in the music or children's ministry. A few of the more "mainstream" churches had what we'd call a youth group, but there was a lot of opportunity for that age group to get caught up in the trouble that's on every corner. Since youth is my heart, I really wanted to go do something about that. They're in the process of building a youth camp facility in the city of Piura.

Anyway, the main point of it all for me was the fact that I worried beforehand about how my oversensitive emotions would handle seeing all the poverty and the children in bad circumstances, but it didn't take long to realize that most people there have it together better than we do. They don't have much but they don't need much. They are content with shelter (which didn't seem adequate most times but didn't matter to them, I guess), food (really, really good food), and family. Not that whole, "gotta work 5,000 hours and buy my kid $300 tennis shoes," sort of mentality, but more like, "we don't have tv or Playstation, so let's all get together with our neighbors and have a meal and a game of soccer in the street." I just loved it. I could go on and on for days and still not tell you everything.... Anyway, I love to tell about it, so thanks for asking!!!! :)

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