On and Off the Streets of Lima

Its hard to believe that tomorrow evening marks three weeks in Lima and that the next part of this journey will begin as I head off to Arequipa to learn a bit more about the Spanish language.  The days have been full.  Here's a bit of the shadow and the sunshine...

Going out to the streets has been a tough experience these last few weeks.  A few times I came home so heavy with the pain and the darkness that I found it difficult to will myself up the stairs to Sarah's apartment.  There is a war going on in the streets, a war where children are caught in the cross-fire.  As we walk from the church where we meet to pray, through the plaza and past the construction on Grau to eventually turn onto Iquitos I can feel the suffering in the air as the voices of upwards of 100 kids fall on my ears.  I never remembered there being so many, or even that they were so young.  The first couple of times I could hardly bear being there.  I felt pulled in a million directions and completely helpless.  As I struggled to pray through the nights since, I have been able to have conversations here and there that remind me of God's presence even in the darkest places and even though the heaviness still lingers.  Please pray for the hearts of these little ones, many of them have no where to turn.

Pray for *C who told me, just before running to play soccer, that his favorite story is the one of Jesus dying on the cross and raising again even though he's not sure why he likes it or why it happened.

Pray for *J, at the young age of 10 he has become hardened and angry by the things he has experienced in his year on the streets, he holds us all at a distance.

Pray for *O who lost his mother a month ago and now finds himself alone on the streets of Lima.

But the shadow does prove the sunshine...

I had the privilege of some amazing encounters over the past couple of days that have encouraged my heart and reminded me of the depth of God's goodness.  Here are two of them:

The first was a visit with Sarah and Isa to a friend we'll call *Chris.  We went to celebrate his birthday.  He's at home now.  He's attempted this a couple times but this time it seems to be for real.  His village (for lack of a better word) has gathered around him.  His family has welcomed him.  His grandmother's face fills with joy at the sound of his voice and his smile is genuine and bright.  The son who was away has come home into open arms.  Even though I had only heard of Chris up until this point I don't know that I've experienced anything quite so beautiful in some time.

The second is one that makes me smile from ear to ear every time I think of it.  As I sat next to Sarah in church on Sunday thinking and praying and struggling to understand the spanish blaring through the speakers I felt Sarah tug on my shoulder and point behind her.  Standing there was a dear friend from my time in Lima a year ago.  She smiled brightly and led her beautiful three year old boy into the pew next to us.  You might think this trivial but the thing is, the last time I saw my friend she was living on the streets and what I had heard was that she was back at home which was about 1 and a half hours away by bus from the church, yet she was there, of her own choice & deciding.  After the service we had lunch together and she came back with us to the flat where we talked for hours.  If you knew my friend before you would have been smiling at the fact that she didn't stop talking for about a half hour straight knowing that she used to have a very hard time sharing about her life.  She told us of how she finally cut the ties of an abusive relationship and is loving her job working with an organization that helps educate young children about the dangers of street life.  It was an amazing afternoon because I could see the radiance of Christ in her and a beautiful calm in her son that hadn't been there before. 

Pray for her and for Chris and the others that have gone home.  It can be a hard and lonely road at times.  Let's be sure to fight for them from wherever we are.

gots to go celebrate a friends birthday and then enjoy my last night in Lima (and maybe catch up on some LOST :).

love, love, love to all the people. Con carino. 

*names have been changed to protect the privacy of the youth