When I consider the time we spent in Peru - one thing that I keep coming back to is the way we were received. The people at Camino de Vida were absolutely incredible! Obviously they were happy to have a group of people come to help finish a very big project but it went so far past that!
|Israel and the crew on the bus|
I should start with Israel Chavez. Our trip would not have been the same if not for this guy! He was our constant companion, our translator and our friend. He sacrificed his time (vacation time) and time with his wife and four kids to be with us. He made sure to show us some of the coolest places in Lima, made sure to introduce us to some of the best food in Peru, came early several mornings to walk us 20 minutes to the best coffee shop in Lima, helped us pick out chocolate at the grocery store, rescued us at the check out when the cashier was speaking muy rapido en Espanol, and did an incredible impression of our Catacomb tour guide. He is an incredible story teller and we so enjoyed hearing about his time in the US in high school and about the first time he ever saw his wife. Also, he is like a legit praise and worship rock star! My daughters and I agree, meeting Israel was a highlight of our trip and it wouldn't have been the same without his investment in our lives and our trip.
|Look at those smiles!|
Then there were the ladies and gentlemen in the kitchen!! I want to remember their sweet faces forever. They cooked and cleaned and chopped literally all day (they started before we arrived each day and were always working when we left preparing for the next day) to serve us some of the best food I have ever eaten! I actually think I gained weight while I was there!!! And they were genuinely happy to do it.
|Dominique, Haley and Stephany|
Then there were these two, Stephany and Dominique! They were so very gracious, constantly checking on us, going floor to floor offering water and checking to see if we needed anything. They were eager to try to talk with us and build relationships despite the language barrier! They truly have a heart of serving and hospitality and it blessed us!! And look at those beautiful smiles!!
|Jon Carlos and Braxton|
|The beautiful Veronica Chiang|
And I can't forget to mention Jon Carlos and Veronica. Jon Carlos will be running the house in La Victoria and he has such a heart for this community. He was so grateful to have us there and was so sweet to us. Veronica was amazing! She went out with us on outreaches to help us with our Spanish (which improved while were were there but is still VERY lacking!) She is genuinely kind, extremely patient, funny and loving and we are blessed to know her!
These are just a few of the people who blessed us while they were there but honestly, there was an overall spirit of hospitality! We felt so welcome and loved! I think that is part of the reason it was so hard to say goodbye! I didn't expect to fall in love with the people of Peru - but I did!
The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:9 (amplified version)
Practice hospitality to one another (those of the household of faith). [Be hospitable, be a lover of strangers, with brotherly affection for the unknown guests, the foreigners, the poor, and all others who come your way who are of Christ’s body.] And [in each instance] do it ungrudgingly (cordially and graciously, without complaining but as representing Him).
This is exactly the way they received us - they are representatives of Christ and I pray that every person who steps foot in the La Victoria house senses this love and grace. That they feel welcome in that place and in the family of God!
Back at home, it is our job to make sure we make others feel this way in our homes and in our church. It is more than saying hello as a visitor comes through the door. It is a genuine smile, a conversation, meeting needs and loving them! It is slowing down a bit to actually listen when someone talks. It is considering others in our plans, taking into consideration how we would want to be treated. I need to grow in this - I will use my sweet friends in Peru as my example!!
Muchas gracias, mi nueva familia! Te amo!