In just a few hours, we'll be leaving New Life Children's Home for the Lima Airport. All of us have mixed emotions, including me. We're torn between leaving behind the new friends God has brought into our lives and returning to our normal routine. For me (like most of us), life will never be normal again.
I dedicated the week before our departure to the Lord. I wanted it to be set aside, in order to make my heart ready for what He would do here. When I asked Him what He wanted from me, He said Preparing, Expecting, Relinquishing, and Understanding. The acronym PERU.
I can honestly say I wasn't prepared for what I saw here. What could have prepared me to see more than 600,000 shanties in an area consisting of less than 2 square miles? How could I be prepared for children who are beside themselves with joy to receive a sticker and one piece of candy? How could we ever have prepared to become brothers & sisters in the air with Peruvian paratroopers, and then become brothers & sisters in Christ with many of those same men? Fortunately for us, God had prepared the works and we only had to be obedient to walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).
Likewise, I wasn’t expecting to meet people like Jamie, who cleaned our quarters every day. This young mother has survived circumstances that make me cringe. She's a brand new Christian, but Jesus shines through her brilliantly. Then there's Lucy, who I adore. Although she has a 13-year old at home, she worked to serve us 3 meals a day, always with a smile on her face. As I said my goodbyes to her, she told me that I am in her heart, and asked if I could put her in my pocket and take her on the plane. Believe me, if I could have gotten her through customs, she’d be coming to TSBC with me! There was no way to really expect what would happen here. I came here praying and expecting that God would be glorified (Philippians 1:20) and I know that He has been. The salvations we’ve seen and the people we’ve ministered to in His Name are just a small part of the greater work He has accomplished here. I am blessed to be a part of this team and of our church family.
When I came here, I didn't think I'd relinquish part of my heart. Yet it’s gone... scattered among the teenage girls at the Santa Rosa School where we sang and danced the macarena, the kids everywhere who begged us to take photos of them, the ladies who work hard every day in soup kitchen shacks to provide for their neighbors, and the workers at New Life Children's Home. It’s also with my TSBC team, relationships built and strengthened by furthering the Kingdom together.
During our time here, we could not rely on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Coming to a country where we don't speak the language and don't know our way around, we've needed God at every turn. He has been faithful. He has opened doors for us to go into schools, onto a military base, and in plazas where we’ve handed out thousands of Bibles and tracts. Only a mighty God could accomplish such great things!
And so our time has come to a close. Tears are flowing and emotions are high as we seek to somehow integrate this experience into our lives at home. The Lord has a greater purpose that will transcend these 9 days. Not only for us, but for the entire TSBC family. We could not have made this journey without you. Even though we are saddened to leave Peru, we are grateful to be returning to you that we all "may call on the name of the Lord and serve Him shoulder to shoulder." (Zephaniah 3:9).
The same holds true for you, my bloggy & "real-life" friends. Thanks for your prayers and your encouragement.