Archive for November, 2010
Journey to Sagrada: Our Journey to Share Home — Sunday: Post 2
Morning sure came early going to bed last “night” at 3:15 on this side of midnight. Breakfast was great – a buffet at our hotel set up by our trip planning team. We climbed on board our buses (three were three necessary for team and our gear) and took off for “The Community.” I had no idea that it was a 90 minute journey north of Lima to get to Sagrada Familia.
Two immediate reactions swept over me on our ride out to “The Community” compound.
First, I was not prepared for the coastal landscape north of Lima. It looked likewe were on the surface of the moon — no exaggeration, I promise, it was barren, windswept, brown, with no vegetation, because there is very little rainfall. It felt like we we were taking a bus to another planet, not just going to place a world away from our normal lives.
Second, the shanty towns rose up out of the dust as we neared “The Community.” The poverty was everywhere and the smell of tough living hung in the air with the powdered dust, the palpable reminder that we were really going to a place where the grace of Jesus’ actual physical presence was desperately needed.
Entering the compound through a big metal bar gate and pulling past the clinic open to both the neighbors and “The Community” were additional reminders that we were where we were needed. If there was any doubt, as soon as we stepped off the busses, hundreds of children, of all ages, from every direction of the compound, poured out to meet us and greet us. Each child kissed each of us to personally welcome us to their family and their home.
Throughout the throng were squeals of delight as children found people that they had met and learned to love on the previous trips. There were many teary eyes among our team as they hugged and loved on children they knew, remembered, sponsored, and held dear in their prayers. All of us newbies had heard about the greeting, but nothing could have really prepared us for this. Words cannot describe this scene. I would have to share raw emotion with you for you to begin to understand. (Please take a minute to watch the embedded video below to get a better glimpse of this.)
In fact, as a newbie to Sagrada Familia, I couldn’t really understand the emotion those returning felt, although I understand it far better, now. Little did I know then that the faces, the needs, the stories, and the love of these children would permanently permeate my heart just as surely as the dust and the smells of their world would permeate my clothes.
This trip was an orientation, get acquainted and re-acquainted visit. It was also an opportunity for Miguel to tell the story of how all of this started. So after our greeting from the children, we all crowded into the “chapel” to sing, clap, hold hands, and hear the simple, but profoundly moving, story of how all this came to be. I will save that full story for a later time, but suffice it to say, out of the heartbreaking death of Miguel’s 9 month old son, God showed Miguel the hundreds of children who had no one — no one to love them or feed them or get them medical care or see that they were educated or had a place to sleep or protected from sexual predators or even bury them when they died.
Miguel’s simple, yet powerful, testimony left us all speechless, even the youngest children. There was a surreal hush in a room packed with 900 people, most of them kids. This hush accented the otherworldly feel of the moment as the sun filtered in through the ever-present dust in the room. This was a sacred moment, a sacred family. This is Sagrada Familia!
After meeting the children, looking around the community, and visiting the new nursery, we all headed back to the buses to get prepared for the next day. For Donna and me, the day was overwhelming. Dealing with the emotional uncertainty of being foster grandparents to kids we are never sure we are seeing for the last time, and still carrying the deep emotion of saying good bye to Chinese students in Thailand I was not sure I would ever see again, we were moved beyond tears.
Picking up a little girl in the nursery that Sunday afternoon was my highlight of the day. She sat alone at a table finishing her lunch, stone-faced and stiff, afraid and emotionless, but then after I loved on her for a little while getting to experience the joy of her smiles and hugs pushed me over the edge of emotional control. This was a taste of heaven in place seemingly so far from where heaven seems to touch. I knew that this is why God had called us to come to this special place. And this was just the beginning … This is Sagrada Familia.
Our Father in heaven … may your Kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven … through my meager efforts, in this place, at this time,in the lives of these children, I pray with all of my heart. In Jesus name I pray, both now, and until the day you bring me home. Amen.
For more information, videos, pictures, and especially on how you can help, please see “The Community’s” website!
Journey to Sagrada: Our Journey to Share Home — Sunday: Post 1
For the next week or so, I want to ask you to join me on a journey, a sacred journey, a journey to share home with those who desperately needed it and have found it at La Comunidad de Los Niños Sagrada Familia.
This is a blog of our trip taken back in July, but the postings will reflect the actual day of the week the events happened. This focus of my blog for the next several days has several very specific purposes: I want you to know about an incredible effort to give an amazing home to over 800 orphaned children in Peru. I want to invite you to be a part of this journey in a special way. I want you to be encouraged and reminded that you can make a difference: this journey is a reminder of how everyday people who love Jesus and love children can make an incredible difference.
This leg our journey began for us in a sweet way …
Donna and I had gone to Austin to speak at the Westover Hills Church where we had served for 22 years. I spoke on Wednesday night and shared about experiencing Immanuel from the teaching of Matthew. I used the experiences of my trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand, as examples of these four powerful principles. On Thursday, we had our Heartlight.org board meeting and on Friday, we had a lovely luncheon with June and Ira Hill to discuss African Christian College and the possibilities there. But our real reason for the trip to Austin was the journey to Sagrada!
On Saturday, we left for the Austin airport and joined a large group from Westover Hills to go to Lima, Peru. The trip was organized magnificently every step of the way thanks to Malena Rampy, Cyndy Miller, and Scott Zapalac.
Each of us had a bag resource materials to use in our classes at “The Community” (shorthand for La Comunidad de Los Niños Sagrada Familia) to check along with our own personal bag. We each paid for the extra bag, which was carefully labeled and packed with a little weight to spare to make sure there were no problems.
This packing plan was no small organizational miracle since the 80 or so of us going were going to be teaching over 800 children six hours a day for five days and we had to bring all the materials in that we would use. In addition, materials were brought to help do teacher training for the teachers at the K-High School accredited schools in “The Community” — again, all materials used had to be brought with us and all were left as resource materials.
The first leg of the flight was from Austin to Houston. At the two airports, we had wonderful moments of reunion with folks we had known for years. We also began hearing stories of previous trips and how deeply impacted those who had gone on them had been. “The children get into your heart and never leave you,” one person said to me. Having been on similar trips, I knew this would be so, but I really had no idea how deeply the events of the next week would impact me.
We all knew the day would be quite long and that we had much to do before we slept to be ready for the Sunday trip to “The Community,” but we were excited to get our trip started! Reunion was sweet, fellowship rich, and time on the plane whizzed by with conversations and anticipation of what was to come.
We arrived at the Lima airport about 10:30 and began collecting our bags and going through customs. We arrived at our hotel about midnight, then did some sorting of the bags of supplies. For most folks, everything went off without a hitch and we were thrilled that nearly every bag made it without any problems. However, some of us had rooms with no running water — there had been a problem outside the hotel and water was cut off to certain parts of it.
By the time we got to our room and turned off our light, it was 3:15 in morning. We had left our hotel in Austin about 7:00 that morning and we would be leaving the hotel for the community at 9:00 the next morning. Like so many mission trips, we began tired, but thankful — thankful to have arrived safely, thankful to be with “forever friends” we hadn’t seen in awhile, and thankful for the opportunity to do some great work for the Kingdom of God.
Very seldom in life do you get to experience something you know is in the sweet spot of the will of God. But this week would remind us again and again that this is where the Holy Spirit had led us. Little did we know what God had in store for us in the lives of “our kids” in Casa Tia Susanna!
If you want to get a sneak peak of what we are talking about, I invite you to go to http://www.peru-orphans.com and see for yourself!