Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sing it from the Rooftops

I'm going to go ahead and use the excuse that life is busy here to explain the cesura that took place in my blogging the past few weeks...

God spots every day I get here with precious gifts, but yesterday afternoon I received one too rich to keep from sharing the wealth. It was enough to remind me of my blogging commitment and revive my desire to follow through!

I have the privilege of teaching music at the girls' home once a week, and this week our class happened to fall on the same day that the sun came out (an infrequent occasion in our part of town). So we dusted off the chairs from the backyard and carried them up to the little patio on the roof. We danced around in circles for all the neighborhood to see, clapping and marching, the girls bursting into laughter at my attempts to "feel the latin rhythm". Once we finally all felt said rhythm, we collapsed into our chairs smiling, pretty content with our dancing and newly acquired musical skill.

A little later I took out copies of the words for a song called "Perdonados" (which means forgiven) and one of the girls read the words aloud for us. The chorus goes like this:

"Perdonados de todo mal, justificados, nos diste de tu paz; perdonados, no hay mas condenacion; Jesucristo nos diste salvacion" ... and in ingles "Forgiven of all wrongs, justified, you gave us your peace; forgiven, there is no more condemnation; Jesus Christ, you gave us salvation"

I asked them what they thought, and then just tried to flesh out what all those big words mean, giving them examples of sin and pardon, like my frustration with the tempermental computers in the office and how Jesus pardons all my ugly and impatient thoughts. And it is just crazy to really feel like you are the first person telling and explaining to someone the really really good news that Jesus offers them eternal life and love without condition. A's face lit up and her eyes were fixed on me as though aware that the words offered to her were words of light and life.

Here comes the most linda parte: We started singing Blessed Be Your Name and I heard such a beautiful sound-- the sound of the girls singing from the rooftops about Jesus and His love as if their hearts were given voice! I could have played that guitar for hours more just to hear the freshness of zeal behind that melody. When we finished class and I walked back down the street to our apartment, I went away humming and smiling. Our God is Good, and we got to sing and shout it from the rooftops.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Love these people.

Sunday was a beautiful, grey cloudy day-- the overcast sky was no match for smiling, laughing children in sunday school or warm embraces from friends long missed, a few ricas saltenas with friends or discipleship with a spiritual mother figure who resembles anne lammott and betty crocker at the same time, or the time to sit on the couch with friends at the end of the day and laugh out of tired delirium and genuine enjoyment of each others' company. Love these people.

They're teaching me to take the lowest seat at the banquet table, the one next to Jesus- servant of all. They remind me to laugh at myself when I fall and scrape my knees, to stop staring at myself in the mirror and turn my eyes to Jesus, to trust in Him to answer my questions in due time and not lean on my own understanding.

We're studying The Purpose Driven Life in Bible study at Kike and Marta's house and this last week I was so encouraged by the way they are really taking lessons to heart; then and there we all shared one way in which we wanted to apply what we talked about to our daily lives within the next few days. So good.

Today was Gloria's birthday- so fun! We're off to go get a movie to watch while we digest the enormous amounts of exquisite food we consumed today! Thank you Marta for your RICISSIMO arroz con pollo y papas a la huancaina!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Operation "Day Off"

Yesterday was the first day Susan, Gloria (as we like to call her, Glo), and I had a day off together.
Operation Day-Off began like this: I was at the girls' home, Susan went to our apartment, and we were going to meet at some kind of show (brigadeer?) at Romina's school. Well, I arrived at her school a bit late and it was empty... so I walked back to our apartment to find Susan. O wait, also I don't have keys to the apartment yet. So Susan wasn't there... walked to the office. Not there... Back to the apartment to wait until she came home, because surely she would be coming home soon. After a little while, Kike, Romina's dad, came at me pedaling on his bicycle, waving his cell phone in the air. He had Susan on the phone for me and my sweet Peruvian dad rode from the office to our apartment so I could talk to her! Anyway, Susan and Glo had been waiting for me at the Pizza Hut out in La Molina this whole time. So after about an hour of what I'm gonna call exercise, I found them!

Totally worth the pre-game adventure, because we got to eat at the Saltenaria! Saltenas are little empanadas I fell in love with in Bolivia last year. Really fell in love. 2 were sufficient for Glo, but unashamed I downed 3 of them.. Bien contenta :)

Adventure number 2: San Borja, Susan's new favorite park. Verdant and clean, beautiful stone walls and steps built up on hills with tiny streams trickling down them. Then we stumbled onto a little colony of huge ducks that had invaded the park.

Adventure #3: Go to an AWESOME tea shop in San Borja and sit upstairs in the little bookstore loft on the oriental rug for hours. The Indian music in the background, little glass coffee table held up by statues of Hindu gods blended well with the C.S. Lewis quote about tea painted on the wall... in English.
We mulled over questions like What makes a Peruvian tick? and Why do they work so hard at some things and despairingly give up on others? over tea and coffee. More new questions than answers. Wonderful day.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Twas the Night Before Friday

Twas the night before friday and all through the house
Not a worry was stirring, the two girls on the couch
One fell asleep to familiar songs
While the other plucked strings, at last nothing was wrong.
Soon they would dream of the following morn,
When a lost girl they'd finally get to adorn
With her very own bed and a basket of things,
With new clothes and the warmth that a loving home brings.
They tossed and they turned, but not out of fright;
No, they couldn't sleep still for excitement all night.
For the King, He would surely arrive to escort
His once forgotten daughter with an angelic cohort.
And when she stepped foot in their humble abode
They'd catch sight of the edge of the King's royal robe.
Would the brilliance of His cloak send them away blind?
Though it steal away sight, they could not help not mind
For the King comes tomorrow, and His beloved guest,
May we bow at His feet and give her our best.

Monday, June 1, 2009

There and Back Again

I assumed that the newness of traveling overseas had been drained after spending first semester in Peru and backpacking in Bolivia. But I was dead wrong. Imagine my surprise when the first sight of Costa Rica's verdant mountains snatched some breath out of me. I looked to my right and left, then behind me- everyone was smiling! A little gem of a moment with humanity.

I get one hour here in San Jose- and I am trying to "aprovechar" every minute! (I can't even waste a glance on my computer screen for too long so excuse any spelling errors). The sky reads, from left to right, "chance of thunderstorm, billowy cloudy, remnant of light white streaks on azure, blue." All this above a bottom layer of lime green grass and rainforest trees, dotted with terra cotta roofs, and stamped with giant lush mountains hugging the little city around all its edges.

Meanwhile, buses of people from everywhere (and I mean everywhere- Dallas, TX included) shuttle in and out in front of my little pane of window. Currently there are approximately 50 men, women, and curious children packed at the door and trying not to stare at the American girl awkwardly sitting on the floor. It's okay, chances are we won't see each other again and the discomfort will subside for both parties with a small dose of time.

I forgot the beauty of Latin America; I didn't forget the little details like the olive trees or bougainvillas or the bulky yet rigid look of the mountains- I forgot the experience of its beauty. It feels new all over again. Do you think we can fall in love again with God's same creation every morning? Because I think He does.

Time to board; yes! That means that the fresh-looking air is minutes from my lungs' touch. Hasta luego.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Spinning around in Shanty town.

You never know what you’re gonna find
when you take a trip to the other side
but you can be sure that you’ll be surprised
by what you see and how you change your mind.

And if you open your heart to the people you meet,
you won’t expect what or how much they’ll teach
you, so get ready to treasure all your moments
as they come to you.

I got to spend Wednesday playing with the kids of women in Nacario who have formed a group with Lupe, Robin and Wilber. We sat on the dirt floors in Erica’s house, playing with clothespins and jacks. We ran around for hours. They taught me their games, like gallinita (marco polo on land, with a blindfold). And we played chase. And we laughed. The two oldest girls, Estrella and Joci, captured my heart. I spun them around in circles and they taught me their dances and we danced them and laughed together— so much so that between laughing and running I was constantly out of breath. Estrella was a little girl but she watched out for all the littler ones. When something went wrong, the maturity of a girl much older shone in her eyes. At the end of the day, as we were leaving, I said, “Do you know that you are a special chica?” She asked me why. I told her that God loves her, and that since God is the King, and she is His daughter, she is a princess. Her shy and hopeful smile when I said that melted my heart and made me so thankful for the opportunity to be there and share that small but profound truth with her.

Friday night, we had a “fogota,” a bonfire, in Nacario with the women and all the kids from the churches and from Wednesday afternoon. We sat under stars in the dirt around a fire made with the same kind of straw as their homes. After we sang and played, and prayed, we ate as a community. And it was one of the sweetest nights of my life. Though those moments will never again enter my life but through the path of memory, I hope I will again cross paths with those hearts.

San Clemente: First Impressions

We took a three hour bus ride along the ocean shore and then half an hour inland to the outskirts of Pisco. Along the way, we saw town after town made up of nothing but a few brick buildings and shacks. San clemente is no different. Now I realize why they call them “shanty towns”—it’s not like a normal city with a central area, some normal residence areas, and then the “bad” side of town. Every side of town here is poor. Every side of town consist of shack, after shack, after shack, dusty thatched roofs, dirt “roads” separating blocks, smoke billowing up from crockpots over open fires. On top of that, because of the earthquake that broke up the town over a year ago, piles of rubble line the roads, the adobe bricks constant reminders of the walls and roofs they once had. On the two paved streets, cement buildings still standing are painted bright colors, and from our roof they pocadot the place, adding pinks, greens, blues and yellows to the brown town. From here I can also see grass about half a mile away on a cotton farm. There are a few trees and of course the colorful clothes hanging outside, relieving your eyes from all the dirt and straw.

The first afternoon we were here, Armando walked me around. He came here for 3 weeks with his team from his church in A-town. So we strolled down the hill from the mission house into the central area where street vendors and make shift stores are. Some things that stick out in my memory—the smell of animal feces and stray dogs, flies swarming around a whole broiled chicken at a “restaurant” (a tent made of tarps and stakes), honking three wheeled “motos,” a dog ravaging through garbage and gulping down something’s intestines, little old, wrinkled, leathery women with sombrero hats and skirts that puffed out from their waistlines to their knees over pants, schoolgirls giggling at the Americans on the street, old men shouting in gruff voices, and colorful fruit stands all around. The grown ups—this is their life, all they have ever known and probably will know of the world. The kids have never even been to Lima.

While we were visiting a church that first night, I shook the thickest, strongest, roughest hand I may ever shake. The friendly giant must work in the mines. His grip left such an overwhelming impression on me of the reality of how hard people work here, their whole lives, to provide less than what is necessary for their families.

I guess this all sounds like I am pitying them, as though I think I am better off because I go home to clean streets, maintained buildings, recycling bins and trashcans, and sturdy roofs. But bare with me, these are only my first impressions.