A year ago today I was wandering around the streets of El Agustino in Lima, Peru.
I had just gotten back from two weeks in the mountains with this family:
And visiting families up in remote mountain villages:
And I was all of a sudden in a far different place than I expected:
You see, when I thought of Lima Peru, this is what I imagined:
But little did I know, Lima is separated into different districts, and the district I would be living and serving in was the poorest of them all. To be honest with you, I was scared. I was mad. I was nervous. I was scared that something would happen to the pale Gringa in the city. I was mad that I wouldn’t be in the nicer part of town… where I could wear the “cute” clothes I had packed (after weeks of t-shirts and sweaters in the mountains) and where I felt safer. I was nervous of what the residents of El Agustino would think of me.
My first day in El Agustino was the worst. I slept in, had a measly breakfast of bread, peanut butter, and some instant coffee. I packed my bag with a notebook (because I was constantly journaling!), camera, water bottle, put money in my pocket, and walked downstairs. I tested my keys in the doors to make sure I wouldn’t be locked out. A friend’s niece was coming to pick me up and show me around town. It was only a little awkward. She was 16, showing a 20-year old Gringa “around town.” That consisted of walking me to the Johannes Gutenberg school I would be helping in, an internet shack (literally), and she helped me experience my first bus ride. There’s a whole post on riding the bus in Lima… trust me. Already been drafted 😉
After all that, we went back to my friend’s house. Her mother was preparing lunch- some kind of fried fish, rice, and lentils. I was so hungry that I ate it up. Peruvians are SO hospitable so she filled my plate up again… I could barely manage to eat half of it before I felt sick… I was dehydrated, still a little scared and nervous. And to top all of that, once we had been introduced and talked a little about Peru in Spanish, there wasn’t much else to say! Following lunch, I sat on their couch and watched tv and movies. For hours. I was bored out of my mind. When my friend finally got home from work (around 7!) she walked me to get dinner and then back to my place.
We had only just met (but she had been an interpreter on my mom’s mission trip to Peru, and she had interpreted for my dad & brother in the Amazon the previous summer!!! Talk about a God-thing!) and when she asked, “how was your day?” I almost broke down in tears. Truth be told, my day had been horrible. I would much rather have spent it hiking up a mountain, struggling to cope with the severe change in elevation, and visiting a little village.
But here was so different… I couldn’t wander the streets alone. I couldn’t walk up to an internet cafe and pay $0.30 for an hour on the computer. I couldn’t cook. I couldn’t explore. I told her it had been a rough day and I was still adjusting. She stayed with me for a little bit, then finally left me with my thoughts. I read my Bible while I ate, and I remember praying that my time in El Agustino would fly by. I even drew a little calendar in the back of my journal counting down the days until I was headed to the airport before the sun rose. I seriously even considered calling my parents and getting a flight home ASAP! I pulled out a note sent from home and cried. I read another note and cried. When I saw that the next note was from my dad, I knew I wouldn’t be able to read it without sobbing. But I did anyways. He had written me almost a note a day, with the date on them so I would know when to read it. My notes are all saved away under my bed in my “Peru box” but that particular note said something like this:
“My daughter… today is your first day in Lima. I wonder what adventures you’ve had today. You are probably missing the mountains and the fresh fried trout, but know that God has you in Lima for a reason. Speak your Spanish. Get out of your comfort zone. Make friends. And be safe. Drink some cafe con leche for me. If you need anything, ask Clara for help. I love you. And Lima will love you. -Padre”
He had written a Bible verse out but I can’t remember it now. But I do remember that although I cried, after finishing the note and wiping my grungy face off, I realized he was right. God had put me in contact with Clara in Lima, who worked out all the details for me to come and help with Compassion and Johannes Gutenberg and she found a place for me to stay. God had brought me to El Agustino and had a plan for me while there. I needn’t worry or be nervous or scared. I simply needed to trust Him.
Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
While I spent the next weeks in El Agustino, I dove into studying the book of 2 Corinthians. And I found so much encouragement and inspiration.
2 Corinthians 1: 3-7 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”
Although my time in Lima was in the most unexpected of places, El Agustino, the Lord worked in so many ways in my life and the lives of the people I met. Here are just a few of my absolute favorite people who impacted me.
The moral of this entire post (besides my initial remorse about moving to the hectic city from the peaceful mountains) is when you are put in a situation, don’t immediately run away and try to escape it… you are there for a reason. Don’t worry about it; give it to the Lord. And then make the most of the situation. You won’t regret it.
(((Make sure to check out yeterday’s post!)))