Both the long-lasting goodbyes and the long-endured hellos bring me to tears.
A year ago, I wrote about how the tears I was crying about being done with college meant I had some really sweet things to be thankful about. I would say the same about the tears that are going to be happening in the next seventeen days as I’m saying “see ya later” to the people I’ve grown to love here in Peru and as I’m saying “wowee, I’m glad I have you” to the people that are loving me back home.
It’s a really weird thing, to have so much love invested in one place and then to also have so much love invested in a different place that’s 3500 miles away. It’s such a tear in your heart – so many things from both home and Peru are pulling at me, and it nearly feels wrong to leave.
A month ago I met a group of young American tourists and one of them asked me “You live here? On purpose?” and I took offense to that question. Yes, I live here. On purpose. He was right, Peru is not the United States. It’s definitely not efficient, nor is it high class, nor super clean, nor necessarily super safe. But there are people here to love. People that are here to love me. There are friends that make you cry when they say “Don’t leave,” or “I already asked my mom – you can stay for free in our extra bedroom.” There are people that invite you to lunch three weeks in a row because they’re thankful for the work you’re doing here. Friends that hang out with you three times a week even though they have a billion other things to be doing. Friends that drive you all over town or take you on confusing Peruvian errands or stay up or out late to just have some more fun. Or even the people you don’t really know – those that work at the coffee shop that wave when we walk by, or the old man you buy eggs from that has such kind words, or the guy you high five when you’re running around the park, or the girl at the restaurant across the street that kisses you every time you come in.
The ‘extreme’ Peru gets me too. The women that only speak Peru’s indigenous language, but show you how they make beautiful table runners and bags. The little babes in the mountains with the bright rosy cheeks and big wool sweaters. The men that lead the herds of sheep across those mountainsides or the women who’s heads you see poking up amidst the never-ending fields. The teeny tiny grandmas that wear the big hats and big skirts not even to show their heritage, but just because that is what their wardrobe is.
It’s these people that are tugging at my heart, that the Lord has used to change how I view living elsewhere, and that are probably going to keep a part of my heart. It’s these people that are the reason that I’m here, and that I’ve stayed for so long. The Lord has used dozens of people in the last ten months to say “They are why I’ve sent you here. Go learn how I love.” He’s teaching me to give my heart out, and to let other people give me theirs. He’s showing me how He loves people, and how He specifically loves each of these people that He’s brought into my life in Peru. God has taught me more of His sovereignty in being able to make these friends because their various lives are testament to how He knows and loves every person so thoroughly.
Yes, kid, I live here on purpose. This life is about so much more than the luxuries I have or the amenities I have access to. It is about love. Loving God, and loving people. And these Peruvians are teaching me more than I could have asked about what that can really look like.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.