Monday, November 23, 2015

Peru Recollections: Take Me Back

"Take me back!"
"Hey guys, let's go back to Peru"
"Do you remember in Peru when-"
"And then _______ (insert person) did __________ (insert action most likely dumb)"
"Macchu Picchu was amazing!"
"Peru, take me back"
I would hear this often. In fact, many times I'd be the person saying those words. There was a lot to remember from that tropical paradise, yet one memory always stands out to me.
Pastor Troy calls me over one morning after a delicious breakfast. The guy seems very serious. Though experiencing a little fear that I was in trouble, I knew it wasn't likely since I did a lot of supervising for him during The trip.
"Do you remember a specific time when you met Jesus?" he inquired of me.
I gave PT (Pastor Troy) a yes, along with a silent sigh of relief.
"Great! You can share that for VBS (Vacation Bible School) tomorrow!" the soon-to-be-father responded enthusiastically.

Too soon to sigh for relief. It's not that I didn't want to do it, I'm actually quite comfortable up front, and I love to talk of my Savior. It's just that if you know me and what I write, a lot of it isn't ever really lighthearted or kiddy, especially at this time (to see what I wrote at that time, look through my January to March 2015 posts). I mean it's appropriate, it's just kids would probably get bored because it's supposed to be deep.
The little pink community center and our bumpy bus

Photobombing Kenyo (I mean paying attention)
You see,the first night of VBS went extremely well. The kids paid attention, maybe were a bit sheepish, but as the week went on, the kids started to open up their shell. We were struggling to get them to pay attention, and they became so loud they could barely hear our efforts. Then it came to the point where we were struggling to pay attention ourselves. The worst part was that my testimony was to be shared the last night, resulting in the kids going out of control. The language barrier didn't help at all, and neither did the games, as it just encouraged their hyper-active kid behaviors. And yes, Mrs. Z was probably the only one who tried to keep the peace. 

The next day was the night where I would share for VBS. PT and I were talking to one of the translators, whose name was Kenyo, and told him how the next day was planned to play out.
I asked him, "Are you going to be my translator tomorrow?"
The young Peruvian informed us that he  wasn't going to be there the following night, as he needed to leave to somewhere else the next day.

As we were leaving to VBS the next day, I was surprised to bump into Kenyo again. He tells me that he is my translator today. So I think nothing of it and eventually we get to the community center, where we held the VBS meetings. People are trying to give me tips, and some asked me if I was nervous, etc. Some people actually helped though, and Bruce and Karen were willing to video tape it for me.
Eventually, it was my time to get up and start talking. But as I opened my mouth to speak, I felt... strange, almost like a trance.

So I finish with prayer, and the kids disperse trying to play a game with our students. Emphasis on trying. Kenyo was still translating and the kids aren't listening. I noticed that Kenyo was crying. I thought he sobbed because the kids were too much (I mean I cried when I went door-to-door, there were a few really rude people), and I couldn't help but empathize for Kenyo. I mean, the whole time I was upfront talking, I was thinking, Man these kids. If only they'd listen. Perhaps Kenyo felt the same.
"Peru, take me back"
I got home, plopped on my bed and thought I wonder how that testimony went. I open my IPad to the Google drive app, and tap the file entitled "VBSsermon.mp4".
I observe myself opening and reading from my Bible to the kids in Iquitos
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it." (Matt13:44-46)
I'm watching myself act it out, using my body to illustrate the words. I hear myself stress that God gave up everything in the world for them, that everything He had was the value that He put on those kids in Peru.
"Wait hold up Jesus, You can't mean me" I start pleading in front of the children.
I'm messed up. I'm gross. I hurt people. I'm not worth that. Jesus you can't mean me."
I took note that I repeated some of these phrases, because Kenyo had stopped translating. This time, I realized that he was already choking on his tears. I told those in that community center, over all the noise by those kids, that Jesus was saying to us, "You are worth everything to Me"... and the beautiful thing is Jesus knows just how messed up I am"
No he wasn't crying because of the rowdy kids, I thought to myself. The young Peruvian almost missed the opportunity. The opportunity of clearly hearing Jesus saying "I love you. And I'll never stop."

Last night of VBS
I remember the first time I found out how much Jesus valued me. My eyes watered in the same way my translator's eyes had. There is much worth remembering from our exotic two week excursion away from our academics. Throughout any part of you life, I hope you keep those precious memories with you, when you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was present with you.