|

Processing Peru

So I’ve officially been back in the USA for about two weeks now, and I’ve finally had a good amount of time to process this past month serving in Peru. I decided to write this blog (sorry it’s more like an essay, y’all) to share all of the things I’ve learned and how God has been continuing to work in my heart. Because I know He’s not finished; this is only the beginning.

 

What would seem like one of the biggest challenges going on this trip, actually turned into one of the most freeing blessings. We were all able to be so much more disconnected from technology than we’d planned. There was definitely no wifi in the jungle. But Nauta (the small port city we visited once a week on our off days) was supposed to have wifi. After scouring what seemed like the entire city, talking to another group of missionaries, and offering to pay people to use their wifi, we came to the conclusion that any wifi they did have didn’t connect to the internet anyway, so there was no point. Eventually, we all just paid the $10 a day for TravelPass for those few days, so we could call our families and let them know that we were still alive. However, that was pretty much the extent of it. I only ever used my phone at the farm for taking pictures, my Bible app, and listening to music before bed. Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve been without social media for an extended period of time (I gave it up for lent this past year), but it was the first time I have been truly disconnected. I didn’t even have the option of checking Facebook or googling worship song lyrics in Spanish. This allowed me to be so present and so focused on where I was. God taught me the importance of living in the moment, not letting fear or distractions hold me back.

 

This is because time is precious. There isn’t a second we are on this earth that is without purpose. Even though we only had a relatively short period of time in each community we visited, we were able to make an impact. We went all in. Love has no language barrier, so we made sure the people we met felt it—whether we were buying an Inca Kola from a shop, playing with kids, or going house to house listening to people’s stories and praying for them. To be honest, it sometimes took me a little bit to jump right into children’s ministry. It was a little uncomfortable for me to not be able to communicate with the kids beyond very basic Spanish. I’m so used to being able to talk to kids that I spend time with. But eventually, I just had to get over the fear of making a mistake or not being good enough and push myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve learned not to waste any time getting in my own head. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is the attitude of my heart in each situation.

 

And the best response is to be ready and willing for whatever the Lord has in store for me. I think the biggest barrier to having an open heart is coming with my own set of expectations. People often say to come with expectation that God is going to move, and that is so, so true. But the problem comes when I have my own idea of how God is going to move. There were several times in Peru where our expectations were totally and completely defied in the best way possible. We thought it would take a lot of time to get through to the kids in the second community since the kids in the first were so shy, but they were the exact opposite of what we were expecting. We thought we were going to continue our older girls’ Bible study on our last day in the third community, but instead we got to talk to all the kids about Jesus and see many of them accept Him into their hearts. We thought we would only be bathing in the Amazon River (which is actually quite disgusting) for a month, but God provided bucket showers AND real showers when the water tank filled up with rainwater. In every aspect of the trip, our expectations were exceeded in ways we could have never predicted.

 

Another thing I didn’t expect was that I actually found myself missing home. It wasn’t in the sense of wanting to be there, but it was just the familiarity aspect of it. I really didn’t think I was homesick at all. Everyone was talking the first week about how things weren’t going how they planned, the bugs were awful, and that they wished they could go home. And I was so confused because I was having an amazing time, but days later I burst into tears while I was calling my family for the first time post-jungle. Literally, I was sobbing so hard that my dad was genuinely concerned that something was seriously wrong when he answered his phone. Looking back, I think I was just so happy I was able to finally talk to my family after that whole wifi fiasco and after my mom hadn’t answered the first four times I tried to call her. At that point I still wasn’t “homesick,” but it was nice to finally be able to hear a familiar voice and share about everything we were doing in Peru. Thankfully, through those first few weeks, my team was growing a lot closer together, and we eventually became like a family while we were there. The more I got used to life in Peru, the less I wanted to go home at the end of the month.

 

I just love the culture and how people with so little can be so joyful and love so big. I have come to appreciate each and every blessing in my own life so much more. You don’t realize the blessing of having two loving parents until you see more broken families than you can count. You don’t realize the blessing of having been able to just be a kid until you see kids who are forced to grow up fast. You don’t realize the blessing of having a full closet of clothes back home until you see kids wear the same outfit three days in a row. You don’t realize the blessing of being able to drink clean water until you see people who drink the dirty river water. And you don’t realize the blessing of being able to flush toilet paper until you have to throw it in the trash for a month straight. Through these people, God has helped me to become so much more grateful for everything in my life. This has totally shifted my perspective to be able to focus on the things in life that are truly important. 

 

Because the truth is that physical things are temporary, but people are what matter. One of the things God has been teaching me is that I can let relatively small things get to me. And even though people are still going to do me wrong, it’s not my job to get upset and try to get them to change their behavior. I’ve been learning to take a step back and pray for my enemies, to be the bigger person even when it’s difficult and inconvenient. In Peru, what tested me the most was Nacho. He was a dog we took back to the farm from Nauta after he had been following us around all day. I know you’re thinking, what could be so bad about a dog? We already had two amazing dogs at the farm so we didn’t foresee any issues, but Nacho was crazy, sickly, and had definitely been someone’s indoor dog in Nauta. He would crawl under our beds and refuse to leave our room. We had to have the guys come and try to pull, carry, and push him out, but this dog was so stubborn it felt like it took hours. I could elaborate some more, but the bottom line is that Nacho got under my skin. While it was by no means easy to deal with Nacho, I realized that I shouldn’t have let it bother me, because looking at the big picture, it’s not a big deal.

 

I’m hoping to be able to transfer this mindset to my everyday life, whether I’m dealing with a rude customer at work or when someone I thought was my friend talks about me behind my back. I can’t control most of what happens to me, but I can control how I decide to react. And I want to react by showing love and forgiveness, even when it’s not easy. Because I can’t forget that the people I deal with were created and so loved by God, and if God can forgive all of us for all our mistakes, I can forgive them too. Jesus didn’t pay the ultimate price for the perfect; He died for the broken. So it’s important that I don’t define others or myself by those things anymore. Our identity is found in Christ. My team discussed the importance of declaring these truths over our own lives, and it is so true. That’s the best way to combat the lies of the devil. God has made each of us worthy; we just need to accept that.

 

As you can see, I learned a lot when I was in Peru. I couldn’t even write everything here, just because so much happened and this is already an essay. But God is moving so much in my life. He just keeps revealing new ways for me to grow and change for the better, and I couldn’t be more excited. Stay tuned for everything He has planned for me next!

 

More Articles in This Topic

Rest

Love and Patience

Messy Plans

Rest