July 13, 2008
Piura Youth Camp
It was very, very difficult to leave Piura. We had a wonderful youth camp, and I really love the people of this town. We had over 100 youth attend the weekend camp. The way they worship unhindered and surrender in the altar is so inspiring.
I know we call America ¨the land of the free,¨ but there is a freedom here that we don´t often experience, and when we do, it´s in small doses. Here, the Spirit moves and they respond immediately. In fact, I think the Spirit moves because they are ALREADY responding to the fact that God is in their lives. They have joy and don´t mind expressing it. I can´t tell you how many times I answered questions to the effect of ¨Why do Americans seem kinda sad?¨
I am envious of the attitude the youth have. If there is anything like peer pressure, it´s definitely working in the opposite direction in the youth of Piura. It´s not the norm to see a kid being non-participatory, or even timid, with worship.
Something I really liked was that at the camp, the guys sat on one side of the auditorium and the girls on the other. I don´t know if this was announced beforehand as the way it would go, or if that´s just the way they do it here, but it really helped with the distractions teenagers usually face during a service. There were times that the two sides (girls/guys) all flooded the altar areas for worship. Even then, they were appropriate and separated and focused on praise. Very refreshing.
A few of us were able to sleep at the campground, against dear Brother Vera´s protests that it was too primitive for us Americans. I ate wonderful food cooked over a fire, took a ¨shower¨ in a bucket, and loved every minute of it. They still pampered us way more than was necessary, but the time we were able to spend with the young people was priceless.
I played my first game of soccer, and despite the fact that one of the best players there (Edgar) was guarding me, I scored a goal. It was quite an occasion and all celebrated with me. The guys were kind to let me in on their boys-only game (thanks, Adin!), and they were, as always, perfect gentlemen. I came away with no bruises or scrapes even though I kicked several people and knocked a couple down, accidentally, of course.
Because we were sleeping there, we had a staff fiesta each night after the service, once the kids were in bed. It was a good time to talk about how camp was going and just life in general. We gringas brought in some snacks and drinks and everyone sat around chatting, playing games, singing, doing stunts, and getting to know each other. I learned a lot about them and now have a thousand more reasons why I love Peruvians.
We attended a service tonight and some of the camp staff showed up, and my chicas brought me an absolutely gorgeous bouquet of long-stem pink roses. These girls know how to make it hard to leave, for sure. I hope I´ll be returning to Piura soon.