For some of us that have been before, when we walked through that customs gate into the airport, it was like we were home. Peru, we've missed you so much! For some of us that had never been to Peru before, it was a whole new world that God had graciously opened our eyes to.
Although I have been to Peru three times before, I had never been on this trip with GFC partnering with Compassion International. While some things were familiar, others were not. One thing thing that was evident right off the bat was the close-knit bonds and familial relationships that have been formed and nurtured between GFCers and our Peruvian brothers and sisters. God is evident in those relationships.
The first morning, well rested and well fed, we hit the ground running. Our first stop was PE-125 (the church and child center), where Pastor Daniel greeted us, welcomed us, prayed and shared his story. He spoke on pride and selfishness and being humble. Neil Owen shared a great quote, "When we get to the end of our words, that's where the tears are." Little did we know how true that would come to be over the next few days. Afterwards we split into two groups to go tear down and build two houses. That was quite an experience! I'd never done anything like that before. It was nice to be able to help two families in such a way. I know the first time that I came to Peru I was moved by the housing conditions, so to be able to be a small part of God's bigger plan in that was, well, just amazing.
Later some of us got to go on our home visits. I was one of those lucky people. Never in a million years did I think that I would get so emotional when I saw my sponsored child Brayan come down the stairs at PE-125 for the first time. I just got so overwhelmed with emotion. I didn't want Brayan to think I was sad to meet him, in fact it was just the opposite; I was over-the-moon ecstatic with joy to meet him. In one word, that day was amazing.
In the evenings our focus was on ministry, specifically women's, men's and worship. It was a tremendous blessing to be a part of the women's ministry led by Sherry Marion. We focused on encouraging, engaging and empowering the women. The first night, we encouraged the women by sharing emergency go-to verses in the Bible. The second night we engaged the women by doing skits that portrayed current issues and struggles. They bridged the gap across the language barrier and brought us closer together as sisters in Christ, and then we engaged further in group discussion. The third night we empowered the women by sharing our own stories, in hopes that they too would be empowered to share their stories with others.
We visited one of their church extensions, and brought some craft supplies for them for which they were immensely grateful. We had a very moving and powerful experience there. They opened up their homes to us, they praised and worshiped the Lord with us, they prepared a snack for us, and they gave us gifts. But they gave us all so much more than that. They showed us a very powerful video about missions work, which got to all of us in a big way. The pastor played 'Give Me Your Eyes' by Brandon Heath, which he and I had talked about previously. It was a very moving experience.
We headed out to the Child Survival Program, or the CSP as Compassion likes to refer to it. The CSP helps infants 0 - 3 years of age as well as their mothers. It was a very clean facility which looked relatively new and modern. I believe we all were impressed with the curriculum. I was distracted during our visit by a 3 month follow-up session that was going on while we were there, but distracted in a good way. It was between a mom and her son and the assessor.
We split up into two teams, by declaring whether Inca Cola or Coca-Cola was your favorite, and went on a home visit. It was a very moving and humbling experience. It was a roof that had been placed over four surrounding structures. One small room, the size of a closet, that enclosed bunk beds and everything the family owned, and that's where the entire family sleeps. The animals got into the groceries while we were there. Sadly, they need to eat too, but that was the family's food for an entire day. The stove was in an open air hallway that led to the outside; every eye had something cooking on it.
After we got back from the CSP & home visits some of our ladies helped to prepare lunch while the rest of us served the children. Then that afternoon it was time to say goodbye to our new friends, and all too soon, I might add. The children had prepared a special presentation for us. We had praise & worship, and they prayed for us. We were given gifts. The children were dismissed and final goodbyes were said. That was really hard. We packed up our belongings and sadly got on the bus. Lots of tears were shed as we rode back to the hotel that night.
The next day was our fun day at the zoo with our sponsored children. I'm not sure who was more excited, us or them? Brayan, my sponsored child, said lions were his favorite, so we headed off to go see the lions, but because he'd never been to the zoo before he wanted to stop and see everything, which was just so very precious and moving to me. That day at the zoo was truly a gift from God, a day I am sure none of us will ever forget.
It seemed like all we'd done for the past few days was say goodbye. We got on the bus and headed to the airport. One last round of goodbyes. Needless to say it was a very emotional evening. We got on the plane and headed home. Some were ready to go and some not, like me for example. I could have stayed. I am sure that there are others of us on the team that share my sentiment. Having been to Peru four times now I've left several pieces of my heart there; I guess I'll just have to keep going back to get them.
'Give Me Your Eyes' by Brandon Heath
Looked down from a broken sky
Traced out by the city lights
My world from a mile high
Best seat in the housetonight
Touched down on the cold black top
Hold on for the sudden stop
Breath in the familiar shock
Of confusion and chaos
All those people going somewhere,
Why have I never cared?
Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see
Step out on a busy street
See a girl and our eyes meet
Does her best to smile at me
To hide what's underneath
There's a man just to her right
Black suit and a bright red tie
Too ashamed to tell his wife
He's out of work
He's buying time
All those people going somewhere
Why have I never cared?
I've Been there a million times
A couple of million eyes
Just moving past me by
I swear I never thought that I was wrong
Well I want a second glance
So give me a second chance
To see the way you see the people all along
Give me your eyes!
Lord give me your eyes!
Everything, I keep missing
Give me your arms!
For the broken hearted!
Give me your arms,
Lord, give me your eyes.
Posted on Thu, June 20, 2013
by Karla Bailey filed under