We have made it midway through our Peruvian adventure and continue to marvel at the beauty of the country and its people. On Tuesday, we continued to work on replacing the walls of the church in Santo Tomas. After all the walls were up, we set to sanding the entire church to prepare the wood to be painted. The children of the village kept us entertained on our breaks with coloring, blowing bubbles, or throwing the frisbee. They also attempted to take us on a tour of the village, but after walking for 15 minutes without a house in sight in the midst of the jungle, we gringos decided to turn back. The latrine located behind the church was also completed, concrete floor and all. It was another hot day in the sun, but a refreshing day of working side by side with our Peruvian brothers and sisters. That evening, we toured a market called, ¨"Anaconda Market" and went out to dinner at a nearby restaurant. William mistakenly ordered cow udder, and I can safely report that it did indeed taste like what I imagined cow udder would taste like. Overall though, a wonderful Peruvian meal. We closed out the day with a memorable time of devotion focused on our favorite hymns and the beauty of music. Our Peruvian friends gather at the Presbyterian Church next door 4 times a week to sing and clap and praise God. They were shocked to hear we only worship once a week….
Today, Wednesday, was an emotional day for some of us. We arrived at Santo Tomas early in the morning ready to paint the entire church, inside and out. We grabbed our paintbrushes and got to work and it ended up taking all day. At the end of the day, I gathered everyone outside to take a group picture. Everyone was tired, but they humored me. After the picture, the pastor of the church, Alturro, had us stay where we were; he wanted to pray with us. We stood where we were and bowed our heads. Pastor Alturro then showered us with the most beautiful words that transcended any language barrier. By the end of the prayer, the pastor was in tears, we were in tears, and the Holy Spirit broke through the heat, the sweat, the dust and picked us up in love. Pastor Alturro embraced us in a hug as he said, "Te Amo", or "I love you", to each person. He intimated to us that he never gets tired of having groups come and help around the village. Though some of us have a hard time hammering a nail into a board, he loves us. Though we may complain about the heat and have a hard time embracing the way they live, he loves us. Though we may not have fully finished the painting job or did it very quickly, he loves us. The kind of hospitality and Christ like love we have experienced here has blown us away. We may have helped build a church and a latrine, but what did we really do in Peru? We accepted love and gave it back. This is the good stuff of mission, loving the people you´re with and loving the people you meet. We have so much to learn from people like Alturro and his love with travel back with us.
This evening we´´ll be trying Peruvian style pizza. We´ll see how it meaures up to Candela´s….
Till next time, grace and peace to you!