(with the youth at ‘santo domingo’ with visitors from the YAV program!)
time flies like an arrow. and fruit flies like a banana.
another volunteer here, emma, shared a quote with our group by zora neale hurston. “there are years that ask questions and years that answer.” for me, it’s been both.
my mother, father, and six other members from first presbyterian church of howard county, the church i grew up in, visited Peru in late april. that was a great week. i got to see my dad and mommy and they got to see their baby boy. i was encouraged by people who’ve seen me grow up, acted as mentors, and have supported and loved me throughout my time here (and many, many years prior). together as a group we learned about the social, political and environmental contexts here in Peru. that served as an excellent backdrop for me entering into my last months of service. we learned about how susceptible peru is to climate change due to it’s many microclimates. we learned about the faults of free trade and the repercussions it’s having on communities here. and we saw firsthand the dangers that sexism, racism, machismo, corruption and poverty are having on the communities i partner with and how they’re all connected. but we also saw solutions to those problems and ways to combat them both in Peru and in the US… like, for example, checking out this link! http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/joininghands/tppfacts/
it was profoundly powerful to see the communities i’ve partnered with for the last 11 months get to meet my parents, pastor, and church members and for them to experience my life here. my parents meeting, hugging and sharing a meal with my host-mom/family was indescribable and joy-filled. and tear-filled haha. and a huge thanks and shout out to those who donated gifts and resources for the ‘compassion’ community center. the kids loved it and it’s been cool to see how the teachers are using those resources daily. it’s brought excitement and energy to the center.
optimism, i’ve learned, is a responsibility. to be an optimist requires action. to do unto others as yourself, genuinely, and in all areas of your life is difficult. no doubt in that. not only in our daily interactions but with those outside of our direct contexts; to love them, the other, by being responsible consumers or active in our governments and politics takes energy and perseverance.
i think the most dangerous thing in this world is fear. there are many who believe that placing bread on the tables of others, or enabling them to put the bread there themselves, means less bread on their own tables. and that is just not true. and if you believe it is, well, i’d be happy to lovingly challenge you on that.
a recent wsj/nbc poll reported that increasingly more people attribute poverty to external forces than simply people not doing enough to help themselves. and whatever your views are on this, my point is not to change them, but instead to show that more and more, people are interested in better understanding their neighbor. and that’s encouraging- that people are seeking to grasp other sides. that’s the first step to change i think. comprehension.
healthy comprehension starts with love. it starts with admitting ignorance. it starts with asking a question.
fact- we all have planks in our eyes. i do. i will continue to. but i’m leaving Peru healthily empowered. i say empowered because i’ve been able to adjust to a new culture, a new language, a new reality. but ‘healthily’ because i haven’t done it solo and i recognize limitations.
to follow the ‘golden rule’ in this world is rare. and yet, it is so, so, so very necessary.
truth is truth. we cannot change truth. but we in so many ways fear being proven wrong or having to correct ourselves. but don’t be! haha. that’s life. life is a process. be one who doesn’t try to be correct all the time, but get it correct. be as eager to learn as to teach. to listen and hear as to speak. to understand as to be understood. for there is power in all those things. i’ve experienced this whether it’s been an intense visit with a hermana in the church who suffered severe burns on her face and hands from a kitchen accident and after visiting feeling so encouraged by her faith! her spirit! her love! or from having an incredibly fun and different-kind-of-intense conversation with a 9-year old hermanito about who would win in a fight, ‘ben 10’ (in spanish it’s ‘ben diez’) or superman. and obviously it’s superman, we all know that, but i respected his opinion and listened to his rebuttals. haha.
there is power in love, of course. but there’s more power in admitting we don’t always know the best ways to express our love. and there’s the most power in not being timid to discover, ask, search out and act on just how to do that and what that looks like in different contexts. because in the most traditional place i’ve ever lived in i’ve become more progressive. in the most machismo filled culture i’ve ever been in i’ve become a feminist. in the most dangerously religious place i’ve ever experienced i’ve become more faithful. and in all that, i realize how wonderfully faulted i am. and as a result, have never felt better about myself.
haha. so that’s how i’m returning. more educated than ever and even more ignorant. and that’s good. it’s humbling. and it helps start a conversation.
this journey is not just an experience. it’s not something to look back on and reference time to time. Peru is a relationship now, it’s a friendship to me. it will continue to walk beside me and lovingly challenge me for the rest of my life. it’s not 11 months and adios; instead it’s “continue to see you day after day after day.”
thanks again, a thousand times, for the support, messages, prayers, skypes, positive vibes, visits, and your love. many of you have loved me as yourself. thank you for that. continue do that fearlessly. love without fear. love. without. fear.
and see you soon!!