It’s been so many years since we started our mission with thoughts of what we thought God wanted us to teach. Little was spent reflecting on what he wanted us to learn. Here are some random, not all too profound, yet important things I have come to know.
1. Sometimes (often) what I want is not what I need…
I am an extreme extrovert, yet my culture has always been that I cherish privacy and personal space a great deal. Peruvians, extroverted or not, typically want to be in groups and around/or around large groups of people. When I would have a bad day while living in the States, and ask people to leave me alone, those people would give me some space and “respect my wishes,” which was what I needed. At least that is always how I’d always seen it. I’m having a bad day in Peru and I ask for space, I don’t’ get any. In fact, I get less space. If someone is distressed, Peruvians will persistently push to find out what’s wrong and will not leave your side until the problem is solved (unless you are rude about it). I used to see this as a lack of respect for my wish for privacy, but that’s not the case. A large portion of this culture will love you relentlessly whether you want it or not, or think you need it or not. There are times where it could really get under my skin, but I have learned to appreciate having someone around where I would previously isolate myself.
2. Sometimes work is just for food and shelter…
In Cusco, there exists a certain population who seem to have a lot of time for themselves and their families. They come from “the country” and see as foolishness the pursuit of materialism and “hustle and bustle” in order to maintain a certain lifestyle. I love these people, and I envy them. This subculture of Peruvians lives off of subsistence farming, and live a very humble lifestyle. They are by no means poor – they just work to live. I’d say many of them have very few ambitions to achieve some great lifestyle, outside of what really matters. I have sat and talked with them, and found that they are meek, humble and hard working.
3. Sometimes I could simply walk to the grocery store…
Living in the U.S., I found it embarrassing to walk to the grocery store. Ever since I had the ability, I always took my car. In Cusco there is rarely a place to park, yet there are always an abundance of good sidewalks. The Cusco lifestyle is designed around walking. Four years ago this was frustrating, but now walking a few miles to pick up milk seems normal. I’ve even learned to enjoy walking, and hope I never forget. If the Lord wills it, someday I will adapt to the U.S. culture and own a car again, but I would love to have the time and energy to walk… just because I can.
4. Always, Mission work is redonkulously hard… (Redonkulous is more than ridiculous).
Since I was thirteen years old, I have enjoyed hard work. I have always worked physically (hauling boxes in shipping and receiving, dishwasher, pizza cook, hauled hay, cut trees, and as a soldier in the middle east worked 15 hour days with no days off for over a year) and I loved it. But, mission work is a whole different type of work. Mission work is humbling, strenuous, and exhausting in a way that I don’t particularly enjoy. It’s draining mentally and emotionally. It’s tiresome simply because I’m speaking another language and I can’t communicate as clearly or precisely as I’d like. It is humbling in that there is not necessarily a visible finished product at the end of the day, or month sometimes. I watch my wife missing her family daily and want to share experiences with them and I cannot move mountains to make it happen. At the end of the day I’m more of a pack mule than academic thinker type, but God is working through me, and it’s grueling in a way I’ve never known. But, I love it. I do not want to do anything else. It is a privilege to give my life over to God and surrender my choices, dreams, and freedoms over to Him and know that there is no other life for me. I am spoiled to be able to do this work, and wish for everyone that someday they too could experience how liberating and rewarding it is.
So, thank you for making this a possibility for me. God bless you!