Feels like forever since I’ve written on here! And here I swore I would not be the person that has a blog and never writes on it. I will try to remedy that in the future. However, the last two weeks we had no internet access whatsoever, so I guess I had a good excuse. 🙂 It’s just catching up now that’s going to be hard. Women of the Harvest had a competition a month or so ago where they asked people to send in pictures with red in them, from their host countries. Of course, we weren’t in Peru yet, but I found myself wondering where I would find red like that here? I loved the pictures that were submitted and there’s just something about pictures like that that make you pause and think.
While in Iquitos, I found my red photo. But, I didn’t take a picture. Let me see if I can paint it for you with words…
The last week we were there, the 5 of us women taught Vacation Bible Schools. The second one we taught was in an extremely poor barrio that was kind off the main drag in Iquitos. The road basically ended once you entered the barrio and then we had to exit our moto-taxis and walk for about five blocks to get to the community building the VBS was being held in. The road was horribly muddy, especially the second day after it had rained for three solid hours. It smelled like garbage. Trash littered the mud so you just didn’t ever really think about what you were walking through and you washed your sandals thoroughly when you got home. Dogs ran even more wild than usual. Kids were hanging off buildings and playing in the streets. I, being white, got more cat-calls then I care to remember in that five-block walk. The buildings were one on top of the other, no windows, no real floors, and aluminum for walls. The community center was just one large room with a cement floor and, believe it or not, a bathroom with a flushing toilet, a giant barrel with water, and a drain on the floor. Most of the children had never been around a white girl before, so myself and my director’s wife, who is European, were anomolies they were scared to look at or speak to.
But, then we started the music. And got the kids involved in games. We taught them verses they said at the top of their lungs and we laughed with them as they watched the puppets tell the story of John the Baptist. We were reminded that these were the people Jesus would have spent time with. These were the children Jesus would’ve held on His lap. This was the barrio Jesus would’ve slept in. These are the muddy, stinky, dirty streets that Jesus would’ve walked. This was ministry.
And as I walked out of the barrio that first day, drenched in sweat, trying not to inhale the scent of garbage to deeply, trying to avoid losing my sandals in the thick mud, avoiding eye contact with strange men, and hoping the dogs wouldn’t chase us out… I saw it. The glimpse of RED. The most beautiful bush was growing out of the side of a giant pile of mud, right outside of a small, poor house. In the middle of trash and poverty and mud, there was beauty. Beautiful red flowers growing on a surprisingly vibrant green bush. HOPE. Across the street the children we’d just taught were playing in the mud. HOPE. God always places beauty in the midst of pain and poverty, even if it’s the smile of a child or just a bush growing out of the mud. Such a contrast. I’ll never forget it.
Iquitos was a good experience, but it was tough in a lot of different areas. We’ve hit cultural issues we weren’t planning on worrying about for awhile. I’ve been horribly homesick and discouraged quite frequently. There were definitely days in Iquitos I wondered why we were in Peru and just wanted to go home to the States. But, then stuff like that would happen. The bush. The children. The beauty of this country. The utter poverty of the people. The openness to the Gospel Peru has right now. The excitement of our team to reach the lost. The knowledge that we must be doing something right considering the opposition from Satan these days in so many forms. The little girl that followed me around on Sunday in another poor barrio just because I gave her some attention and love for half an hour of her day.
Yeah. I may not understand the language, the culture, or even my JOB some days, but… if I can bring hope to just one child while I’m here, it’ll all be worth it in the end.