Tag Archives: Peru

my eyes have seen.

Wow.  

I didn’t know that it would hit me this hard. As soon as Piero extended his 6-year-old arms toward me, my vision blurred. I could no longer see clearly, or think clearly for that matter, and I no longer wanted to leave. What really struck my heart was that he wouldn’t let go, he didn’t want to let go. It wasn’t me trying my hardest to hold on to him. It wasn’t me prolonging class an extra five minutes to get more time with them. It wasn’t me demanding hugs at the end of every class. It was him; rather, it was all of them. They didn’t want to let go, and I didn’t want to let them.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt such love in one hug.

Size certainly does not determine the quality or the quantity of love that’s possible to show in one embrace. At that moment, I felt completely vulnerable. Vulnerable because I thought I could no longer help these children. Vulnerable because there’s every possibility in the world that I will never see these children again; I don’t even know their last names. Vulnerability overtook me because in that instant, God told me why I had come to this country and how I can make myself better. Humility swept every other emotion away. 

God showed me that despite my doubts, hesitations and qualms, I had actually made a difference. I pray with all of my heart that these kids will remember me – not necessarily remember that I taught them how to greet someone in English and that conejo means rabbit, they’ll probably forget that in two months – but that they remember me because I poured the contents of my heart into caring for them and lovingly teaching them to the best of my ability.

I will certainly never forget their miniature hands raising their messily decorated tongue depressors (palitos), – a tool I used for when they wanted to be called on: no palito, no opportunity to speak – their miniature wingspan pressing open to give the biggest, most loving hug I’ve felt, their undeniable thirst for knowledge, their ability to learn English so quickly; even better, their desire to learn English that was unparalleled with any of my other classes.

They looked at me with their wide, almost-black puppy eyes as more than just an American girl, more than a volunteer, more than someone who will be out of their lives in four weeks, more than just their teacher. That look cannot be described, cannot be duplicated, cannot be forgotten.

This might just sum it up, though:

Ruth, one of my second-grade students, wrote this on my goodbye note:

 

Para: Mis Carli

Yo te quiero mucho mis Carli

Usted es como mi mama

Nunca voy a dejar de pensar de usted

Soy: Ruth

 

For Miss Carlita

I like you a lot, Miss Carlita

You are like my mom

I will never stop thinking about you

From Ruth

 

This, from a six-year-old.

I praise God for this opportunity, I praise Him that He worked so mightily in me to affect these kids’ lives. They certainly changed mine.

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Do everything in love. 

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Fishers of Men

Matthew 4: 18-22 

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

And he said unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

And they immediately left their nets, and followed him.

And going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

 

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plan.

Planning is a funny word. Especially when that planning is referring to four weeks of lesson plans for a Peruvian public school consisting of students I hadn’t met yet. Not only did I not know these students, but I had no idea how well they knew English. I was the second English-teacher volunteer, so I figured these kids would definitely know their numbers, colors and animal at this point and just needed a little refresher course on greetings before moving on to the next subject in the curriculum.

I definitely overestimated.

Not only was I teaching, a skill slightly out of my comfort zone, but I was teaching completely in Spanish — and to kids who have not been taught properly since Day 1. Many aspects of the Peruvian education system intrigued me.

The students don’t really know how to learn. And yes, learning is a skill. Generally speaking, their whole lives, they have been fed information, told to copy it down word-for-word in their notebooks and then move on to the next subject. Repeat. These kids spend more time making sure their notes look pretty — using every color pen they have, alternating letters with different colors and drawing perfectly straight lines with their rulers at unnecessary times. This proved the highest hurdle — explaining to them that there was an English way to say “¿Como te llamas?” Instead, they would memorize the phrases without having any understanding of what English sounds were coming out of their mouths.

This stigma manifested itself more with the older grades — 3rd through 6th. My first- and second-graders were wonderful. Their fresh, uninhibited brains soaked up my method of teaching and most of them knew their greetings — and knew what they meant — by the end of my four weeks.

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 Photos by Anna Trego
Do everything in love.
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Explorer.

Sensory overload is the best way to describe the first couple days in a foreign country. I wanted to see everything, buy everything and take pictures of EVERYTHING — the cute dog on the street, the dozens of stray cats and dogs lounging in the park, the fresh-flower stand, the weird fountain, the Kentucky Fried Chicken that was basically a gourmet restaurant in Peru, the countless Peruvians staring blatantly at the group of Gringos, and on and on.
I can’t say that I had set any certain expectations of Lima, though. I arrived by night, by rickety bus, by way of uphill, rocky, fall-off-the-cliff-if-you-veer-two-inches-to-the-right roadways. I couldn’t wait for any kind of bed by the time we arrived at the Dragonfly Hostel in Lima. So when I awoke the next morning, which really was the same day as when I had gone to sleep, I was ready to explore. A group of volunteers walked down to the ocean. The small waves rolling in were peppered with surfers of all ages. Peruvian beach bums couldn’t help but stare at us and try to use whatever English they knew to get our attention.
In a place like that, it’s hard not to be extremely touristy, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being that way. I didn’t talk much the first couple days, not because I was shy or intimidated, but I was simply in awe. I would remember that feeling of hesitation I had right before stepping on the plane in Arizona, and I’d think to myself…
There wasn’t a need for even slight hesitation. I’m where I’m supposed to be, and God’s path of righteousness is right here.
Do everything in love.
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He answers.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Matthew 7:7-8

God worked out my flight situation perfectly, that’s all there is to it. I had planned to be leaving a week earlier to explore, but when that fell through, I quickly had to change plans and experience the full day of travel, layovers included, alone. Don’t get me wrong, I can handle flying alone, I’m a big girl, but having prepared to have a travel buddy then suddenly not – that’s what pulled at my heart a little. With that aside, I said a couple prayers and knew each situation would be perfectly handled!

And it was.

On my flight, leaving the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport – a rather small, homey airport which vends out cheaper airlines, airlines not many have heard of – at 12:50 in the morning on a Sunday was a fellow ASU Sun Devil.

An answer to prayer.

We had all of the same connecting flights, so we spent our seven-hour layover together, too. We took a cab from the Ft. Lauderdale Airport – you’d think international airports would be a little bigger – to a nice little diner serving all the folks just back from church. My new travel buddy, Emily, and I instantly hit it off, and I knew we would be friends even after we survived this trip.

An answer to prayer.

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After enjoying an Eggs Benedict breakfast bursting with flavor, our luggage in tow, we wandered to the nearby outdoor shopping center to find a – yes, you guessed it – Starbucks! This beautiful coffee shop also served as a shelter from the torrential downpour we didn’t quite avoid on our walk to Starbs. That was a sight to see, since I hardly have the opportunity to see the beautiful sight of rain.

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A lost cell phone (not mine), a delayed flight and a couple uncomfortable airport naps later, and I was aboard my Lima, Peru bound flight. Emily and I were initially sitting far away from each other, but a man basically offered to switch, so we were reunited – and in the emergency exit row with leg-room galore.

An answer to prayer.

The flight to Peru consisted of watching Project X and trying to hide the screen from the man sitting next to us, snoozing a little and just talking. At that point in the trip, it was just hard to sleep, knowing we would wake up in South America, and our adventure, our continued adventure rather, would begin as soon as we stepped off that plane.

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Do everything in love.

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Parallel.

There’s a sense of relaxation and peace here in this country that is difficult to find in Arizona. Or maybe in anyone’s home state in the U.S. There’s a deeper appreciation for life and for savoring each lasting moment. There’s a beautiful freedom encompassing this city that infects everyone with bright eyes and wide smiles.

This house has already become a home. My belongings neatly splayed across the room – shoes in a neat row at the foot of my bed, formal shirts hung up in the closet above drawers full of outfits I will surely stick out in. My phones, yes both of them, tucked into my bedside table with an analog clock resting a top – the click, click of the second-hand syncing itself with my heart beat as I lie gazing out the window at the eclectic neighboring houses.

Do everything in love.

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Let’s do this.

A moment of hesitation enveloped me as I stepped onto the rickety, un-oiled metal staircase leading up to my plane.

I’m flying to a third-world country, and I have to walk outside to get to my antiquated plane. 

Hesitation aside, I embraced it. After all, I was flying to a third-world country to volunteer my time to teach children English. I figured they would have a foundation of the English language by now, since most countries do teach it, at least a little bit, to all grade levels.

I was flying to a third-world country to help and bless underprivileged kids who don’t have running water, a safe home or even shoes.

Needless to say, my heart was racing, and I was excited. Now, I just had to get through my 24 hours of traveling. Five hours to Ft. Lauderdale with a 1-hour stop in Dallas, a seven-hour layover, six hours to Lima, overnight stay in hostel, nine-hour bus ride to Trujillo, my worksite. Here I come! After all, I was about to be in Peru, and there was no way I was going to let ANY adventure or new/weird/awesome/extraordinary/disgusting/fantastic adventure pass me by.

Do everything in love.

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Peru in 24 hours.

I thank my God so tremendously for his countless opportunities He has so freely given me in my life. These opportunities have brought me great blessings. They’ve been open doors when I needed something. They’ve been closed doors when something was no longer available. 

In this case, His latest opportunity is a five-week volunteer program to Peru to teach English to children there. These kids are underprivileged and cannot fathom the extent of education and benefits that American students receive. I pray I can bless their lives through teaching, through positivity and through God’s word. 

I ask for prayers and positive thoughts as I beging my journey. There will be so much more to come. I hope you’re ready. 

 

These verses have emerged as my theme for this trip: 

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:13-14

 I will keep driving. I will keep pressing. I will keep teaching. I will keep blessing. 

 

Do everything in love. 

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