It's been 3 months since our Peru2016 group returned from yet another Learning Opportunity.
On June 12th we held a reflection service at Calvin. Cornwall and Barrhaven held theirs earlier.
I thought it would be nice for you to read the reflections that were shared by those in the service to get an idea of how some on our team were impacted.
I always love hearing these stories.
I hope you enjoy them, and from them you get a sense of what this team experienced.
But first, just some pictures of our pot luck lunch afterward the service with the team.
After the lunch we sat down and reflected more on how were have been doing since we returned.
That is a constant journey as we unpack the gift we have been given in any Learning Opportunity.
Pot lucks are always great!!
Lucy. Always hamming it up...or is that chili in her bowl..hmmmm
Nice to see the team chatting it up.
So serious. : )
Groupies : )
So, now sit back and read along with me as to how Annette, Lucy, Ryan, Zoe, and Peter were impacted by their L.O. I have included their photo's as they appeared on the slides during the service.
I am very glad to be here this morning, with the opportunity to tell you about how the trip to Peru has impacted me. But I wasn’t very glad to be going to Peru. I didn’t want to go. My son Daniel was going and so either Wilma or I had to go. Wilma had been twice before with our other kids, so I guess it was my turn. But I didn’t expect to like it, and I certainly didn’t expect to be impacted by it. I often travel to places like Peru and so I didn’t expect to be impacted by anything I saw. And, as I said, Wilma and the kids have gone before, and I followed their trips closely through Ron’s blog, so I thought I knew what to expect.
Ron often says things like “the trip will impact you in ways you can’t predict” and “you will learn something about yourself every day”. And frankly, I thought that sounded so trite and a little silly. Sure, maybe for the young people, but not for me. I am 50 years old. I am self-aware. I am not going to learn anything. Well, it turns out I can be a bit of an idiot. So now I have to acknowledge – Ron was right (WHAT...DID I HEAR CORRECTLY!!!! : ) ) and the trip impacted me tremendously.
There were many different events and memories and people that had an impact. Four important ones for me are summarized in this slide.
First, the photo of Pepe, who, along with his wife Erin, runs Living Missions Peru. Pepe and Erin are our contacts and coordinators in Peru and we rely on them for so many things. On our second night in Peru Pepe gave a one hour talk to us, describing the ministry philosophy of Living Missions Peru, and how they work and why they work that way. And it was a fantastic talk. Hopefully you can all hear for yourself someday. He talked of the mistakes that they made early on in their ministry and how they have now fixed their early mistakes by focusing on relationships. Everything is relationship based. It was so reassuring to hear all this from Pepe. It was good to know that we were in the hands of such excellent, thoughtful partners.
Second, there is a photo of Pastor Sergio. He is a special and beautiful man. He works tirelessly for the Lord and has led the growth of Pachacutec from a shoebox in the dessert to a thriving community. It was awesome to see him at work in his community, and it was a privilege to receive words of blessing from him.
Third, there is a photo of two of our Cornwall brothers, George and Andrew. George and Andrew are not that different from me. We are Canadians of around the same age, we have families, jobs. But somehow George and Andrew were, unlike me, untroubled by inhibitions. The inhibitions that I have that stopped me from standing in front of the crowd and dancing like clowns. They would do anything for the children – dancing, laughing, goofing around and the kids loved them for it. They inspired me. Well, not so much inspiration that I got up and danced, but … made me think that maybe I could and maybe I will. George and Andrew are good men and it was a blessing to see them in action.
In the fourth photo I am working with some of the young people blowing up balloons. I spent a lot of this trip with the young people. And they were wonderful. Who knew? I knew my kids were great, but I didn’t know other kids were great! They were exuberant and funny and generous with the children and kind to me. I appreciated their companionship and I loved seeing them in action with the Peruvian children. They were excellent.
So I thought of these four – Pepe, Sergio, George and Andrew, and the youth – a lot in the weeks after returning. What they have in common, and the reason that I was drawn by them, eventually came to me. It is Joy. Pepe and Erin and Pastor Sergio work joyfully to build the kingdom. Andrew and George played joyfully. The youth were full of joy in everything they did. It moved me. And it made me decide I want in. I want to share in that joy, I want to be full of that joy, and I want to share the joy of the Lord.
For the first 50 years of my life, I think I have been generally happy, or at least not unhappy. But now I am searching for joy, which is something different. I am not sure all that it means and what it implies in life, but I am working on it, and I pray that the Lord helps me every day to be joyful.
Yes, I have been impacted greatly.
I conclude now with a verse from Philippians that I think will guide me for the next few years. In my professional life, and just by natural inclination, I tend to focus on things that go wrong and things that are wrong. I am working on changing that.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.
I’ve been on this trip three times. I started back in grade seven when I was just a baby and now I’m sixteen and all grown up and stuff and I went on this year’s trip which will probably be my last trip to Peru, at least for a while. I think that I’ve been incredibly blessed in the times these trips fell for me because I got to experience them throughout what some people would call my formative years. I like to think that I have grown up alongside Peru, or more specifically alongside Gamaliel church.
Each time I returned, older and wiser, I saw the church having become older and wiser too. I was able to see Pastor Sergio expand his ministries and come up with new dreams each time I came back. I saw the Christian School grow in a number of ways both in student population, and in its ability to minister to its students. I got to see youth in the church who I’d made friends with over the years go from being girls I’d befriended as a twelve year old when we bonded over Justin Bieber to being girls who were leaders in the church and were going to school for nursing, administrative work or studying to be translators.
Being able to come back and see measurable progress in the church has been a huge blessing but it has also been a blessing to see measurable progress in who I am as a person and how the way that this trip impacts me has changed as I grew older.
One of the parts from this year’s trip that had the most impact on me was during home visits. I was with Dianne and George K- we were like a mini episode of the Brady Bunch and we were on our second house of the day. We were greeted by the mom-Rosa, her sixteen year old daughter Miluska and her eight year old son Alejandro. We chatted for a little while and the conversation was good, if not a little stilted. Rosa was five months pregnant and told us that the pregnancy was not a planned one and that this had been a difficulty for their family. At this point we offered to pray for them and asked if there was anything else we could pray for. Throughout the visit it had seemed like there was something this family had been holding back and it was at this moment that it all came spilling out of Rosa, the mom.
She was speaking rapidly and tears were streaming down her face. Eventually she paused and our translator Israel turned to us and explained what she had said. He told us that Miluska, the daughter, who was my age, was pregnant as well. She was one month along and it was also unplanned. This was the point where our hearts broke. We had just finished discussing Miluska’s dreams to become an architect and now the idea of her even finishing secondary schooling seemed unlikely. It was sad, frustrating and discouraging. We continued the visit, with Israel speaking to the family and them sharing more of their story and ending in a group prayer. When we left we invited them to the women’s group that afternoon, an invitation we would later see that they would not accept.
As we left the house I began to process what had happened during that visit and continued to process it as we left Peru and came back to Canada. I felt deeply conflicted and was questioning a lot of things. What was going to happen to the family? How could we have helped them more? Why did God place us in that house that day to hear this story if there was nothing we could do to help? What more could we have done? I battled with these feelings for a while but eventually they drifted to the back of my mind and were left alone.
It was a few weeks ago when I was shown a video at a retreat that they came flooding back. The video was an animation of psychologist Brene Brown’s explanation of sympathy vs empathy which I will attempt to paraphrase for you. It’s like someone has fallen into a deep hole. And they’re looking up at you saying: I’m stuck, It’s dark, I’m overwhelmed and I can’t get out. Empathy is hearing these cries and jumping down into that hole after them. It’s taking their hand, looking in their eyes and saying don’t worry, I’m down here too. Sympathy is peering down from above and going “WOW. It is dark down there. Do you want a sandwich?” Empathy fuels connection, sympathy drives disconnection. When I saw this video I immediately thought back to Miluska and her family and how I’d reacted to their situation.
My first thought had been “How can I solve their problems.” With money or however else but I felt like the reason we had been put in that house was to help that family and we had failed them. But when I saw this video I realized that that was the sympathetic response. The best thing we did during that visit was listen to them. And cry with them. That moment when we shared their pain and took part of their burden for ourselves was, I now believe, the most important part of the visit, and that was the empathetic response.
Additionally we got to pray for them and continue to pray for them. I don’t know if Brene Brown is a Christian but I bet if she was she would include prayer in her description of an empathetic response. Maybe she would equate it to handing the troubled person a flashlight and saying: here, take this, it can make things a whole lot brighter and it might help you find your way out.
So that’s what's been on my mind as I look back on Peru 2016. It’s been a blessing, a gift and a really cool opportunity and I’m pumped that I’ve been able to be apart of it for these four years.
1 John 3:1
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"
Returning to Ottawa after March break the schedule of day to day life settles in immediately. The trip to Peru is so packed full with experiences that it does take a long time to understand what the impact has been.
3 weeks ago it was a joy to go to Cornwall and hear some of those reflections on Peru. For those of us from Calvin now it is our chance to share.
In 1 John 3 the word lavish is one that stands out for me.
One dictionary definition of lavish says:
Lavish comes from the Old French lavache meaning "deluge, torrent" referring to rain. When you see it, think of a shower of good things coming down on you ..as ...
Ron talked about unpacking a gift. In the 3 people groups there was a deluge, a torrent of love expressed in different relationships new and old.
For myself I was showered with these good things in the following ways.
- My immediate family.
- My extended church family in Cornwall and Barrhaven.
- My new family in the women of Pachacutec.
1. My immediate family:
This past March break was one of the few times our home has had more men than women. Hannah was still away at school and the rest of the girls, Tobie, Lucy, Samantha and Ella and I all traveled with Ron and the team to Peru.
During our traveling times as well as our down times at the hostel I overheard lots of laughter and fun discussions between Tobie and Lucy as well as other youth who ran around, teased each other, made secret handshakes and created general pandemonium within the group.
Both Samantha and Ella were in my small group. In the evenings during the video blogs we answered questions regarding how we saw God at work during the day, and what we learned about ourselves as well as highs and lows. What a blessing to me as a mom to hear my daughters openly and honestly share about such personal matters.
2. My extended church family:
Both Cornwall CRC and Barrhaven CRC were represented on our trip. There are many moments with both groups of memorable connections. Jackie I loved our chat outside the church. You allowed me to talk about healing prayer in a very gracious manner. Mirjam it has been a pleasure to see you interact and bless the youth so much in your relationships with so many of them.
Andrew. For at least 2 of the flights back from Peru Andrew and I happened to have seats beside one another. Andrew you spoke of the day of the Market Place Evangelism. You had shared your testimony in the main street. On the plane I was able to hear more of that story.
This prompted me to share parts of my own testimony. Looking back to those flights I think it was at those times that I was most keenly aware of the Lord’s presence or aware that someone was praying for me.
These were moments of sharing but it was more than that. It was like someone else was there. Someone, the Holy Spirit, was stirring up conversation in each of us. This was great for friendship. But more than that there was encouragement in my faith making it come alive reminding me of all that I believe and in whom I believe.
From the Barrhaven church Andrea came as the groups nurse. Andrea and I got to know each other on many bus rides from Lima to Pachacutec. As we talked about the women’s group and the direction that might take conversation spiraled off into 100 directions. Talking with Andrea was like opening a treasure box. I discovered so many idea’s and clear thinking and knowledge that went well beyond nursing. This demonstrated itself in the womens group. In spite of a lack of co-ordinating efforts prior to the trip Andrea took it upon herself to plan and prepare crafts for the women's group just in case we needed them. They were brilliant. Those bus rides were very enriching.
3. Finally the third group I need to talk about our the women of Pachacutec.
Vanessa, Isabel, Araceli, Sarah, Corina, Edith, Rosario, Evelyn, Nelida, Matilda, Yesenaia, Melissa, Judith, Gloria, Maria, Beatriz, Julissa, Nieves, Marjhorie, Franchesca, Gregoria, and Dalia.
As an icebreaker Mila, one of the translators, suggested we say our name and our favourite dessert.
4 favorites of the Peruvian women present were:
Arroz con Leche
One definition reads, Laychay Asahdah is Peru’s response to Crème Brule.
Crema Volteada literally translates as upside down cream. It looks like custard in a yummy syrup.
Arroz Con Leche is the Spanish Version of rice pudding.
Torta Heloda is a 3 layer cake of strawberry gelatin on top, whipped topping or ice cream in the middle and sponge cake on the bottom.
On the second day of the womens group we divided ourselves up into two groups.
I read 1 John 3:1. See what great love the Father has lavished on us. We talked about that word lavish.
What women does not like to be lavished upon. What better place to share this verse.
Right on the spot one women asked me for my testimony. It felt like I flubbed through it. However, that opened the door to ask her and another women for a testimony. The 2 stories returned to us were filled with trial and grace and God’s act of calling to these women throughout their lives.
After it was time to go Joycegina and I stayed to pray and talk with the first lady who asked for my testimony. She had some stuggles in her current home life that she wanted prayer for. Mila prayed, we prayed, it was time to go, we felt torn.
Walking out of that session back on to the bus left me reeling. It was hard to get on the bus. What a privilege to share in Gods’ grace and goodness. He just showed up and started to minister to each of us in that womens group that afternoon.
My gift unpacked is a reminder of who I am.
I am child of God. That’s who I am. Lavished on with the love of my dad in heaven.
Thanks Ron for encouraging me to unwrap this gift.
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
This was my first trip to Peru.
My experience in Peru wasn’t like most. I found it difficult. Am not good in heat, being away from home, talking to people I don’t know, going outside of my daily routines is hard for me and the heat.
But besides the things I found difficult there was much I learned also.
• I expected to see more poverty like you see on TV with people wearing rags and no houses and was surprised by what they were able to accomplish even though they didn’t have a lot materials available to them
• I learned that intelligence and the urge to learn is not designated by where you grow up or the resources you have to learn from. Example – a girl
• The people there seemed to help each other a lot
• I learned that they have over 3,000 varieties of potatoes and I only tried about 4
• I learned that no matter where you are or what your financial situation is, your faith in God can be very strong and great and the hope it can give you in your situation
Ways I have changed from this experience are:
• To keep a positive outlook and to trust that things will get better
• It gave me the confirmation of what I was taught and the confidence to be ready to say Yes to do my Profession of Faith a month ago
• That I can and don’t need to be afraid to having attention drawn to me whether that is in a drama or in front of your church telling them about your experiences.
Leah's story was unavailable at the time of printing
On march break we went to Peru, along with a team from Immanuel CRC and Calvin CRC. We went and did many different kinds of work within Pachacutec. In the morning we split off into groups and we: Did construction at Gamaliel Church, We visited a special needs school, did home visits and we helped out at an orphanage. In the afternoon we did VBS while there was also a women’s Bible study.
At the All Ontario Youth Convention of 2015 the theme was "Imago Dei" meaning that we are made in the image of God. While we were in Peru I was reminded that not just Canada was made in the image of God, but the whole world and everything in it. The other thing that was said there was that the truest thing about you is that you are beloved by God. I was also reminded that this isn’t just for me but for each and every one in the world.
The citizens of Pachacutec may not have a lot but they are always so full of joy! When we were doing VBS with the kids, they were always so happy!
This little girl that I am holding, her name is Kinjari. During VBS I took care of her so that her mom could go to the women’s bible study. She was an example to me of how everyone is made in the image of God. She is such a beautiful little girl.