It was amazing.
I didn't want to come back.
I actually volunteered to join the construction crew so that I could stay there, helping to build my house until I could move there for real.
But alas, we are back to school. And it is two months 'til we move to Cusco and start our churches.
Until then, I will hold on the the stories from this week...
Lucre is the name of a small town outside of Cusco. We know this city because, six months after the major flooding in Cusco, people in this city are still living in tents, living with nothing.
Monday, we went to Lucre to do an impact day. We brought clothes, kits (which consist of toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, razors, feminine hygiene products, etc.), balloons and other stuff to have a kids festival.
As soon as I stepped off the bus, a woman began asking me for help. She said, "Please help us. My husband and I are living in a tent. We have nothing. We need your help..." She took me by the hand and led me off to see her "house." The Municipalidad has given her and her husband a little bit of land and a tent. She took me in to her tent, literally something you would use for maybe four people to go camping in. There was a mattress on the floor. A few pots. It was clean, but there was hardly anything inside. She continued asking me for help. She and her husband both began to cry as they told me how they had been living this way for six months. How they lost everything because of the floods.
The people began forming a line as we prepared the clothes and kits. They waited patiently. Do you know how rare that is? People who wait patiently in a line for more than an hour, without complaining or line-jumping. That never happens!
So we 40/40s started to sing to them. We sang songs like "Eres Todopoderoso" and "Here I Am to Worship." And they waited patiently an heard to hope we have in the Almighty God.
And so we gave them clothes and really simple things like soap. And they were extremely grateful.
"Heal my heart and make it clean. Open up my eyes to the things unseen. Show me how to love like you have loved me. Break my heart for what breaks yours. Everything I am for your kingdom's cause, as I walk from earth into eternity."
Carcel means jail in Spanish. On Wednesday, we went to a women's prison right down the road from our house in Cusco. Different teams have gone to this prison before, and each woman gave her life to Christ during Love Extreme. This was my first time there, and we decided to give a devotional to the women to follow up with them. We also gave massages, painted fingernails, and did worship with the women. Ester and I gave the devotional. I did all of it in English because there are several women who are from South Africa and other countries who speak English. I also told parts of the devotional in Spanish. We shared about the metaphor of marriage in the Bible, which I have shared many times on this blog. We also took communion together, recommitting our lives to Christ. The girls of Cusco are going to continue discipling the women here.
A "jardin" is a preschool in Peru, and during the week we visited several. Kids are a great way to begin, because 1) they are the future of the church and 2) you can connect with parents through their kids. So we saw MANY kids come to know Jesus Christ, and many of the preschools would like for us to come back.
We went to visit an orphanage fairly close to our house our last day in Cusco. It is difficult to define the word "orphan" in our context here, because many children living in orphanages have parents. But many of the children are abandoned, or they give their children away voluntarily, or they simply neglect them to the point of severe malnutrition and disease. There were more than 40 children living in this home, with a couple that they call mom and dad. This couple also has nine children of their own.
I love being around kids. I also feel that God is calling me to adopt someday. This place has so much love. But the stories also break my heart. Like the little girl I played with and held, Patricia. She is almost three but is the size of a one-year-old. When she came home with the family, she just had a big belly and sticks for arms and legs. All of the children are too small for their age, because of malnutrition and poor pre-natal health, and generational problems, and a million things.
One of the saddest stories is of Marcos. He is ten-years-old. He can't walk on his own. His family would just leave him to sit alone all day. He has both physical and mental disabilities, possibly because of vaccines or meningitis, combined with malnutrition as well. So his tibia is the size of that of a two-year old. Ester, my partner, a physical therapist, spent most of her time doing exercises with him to help him to walk.
Each one or the children has a story. And each one is precious in the eyes of God. And a family like this shows a beautiful picture of the family of God. We are adopted heirs, brought into the family of God by the blood of Jesus Christ.