The team’s last day serving in Peru proved to be quite the celebration.
We gathered around the breakfast table at the hotel for our last morning together as a team, and we promptly played an elaborate practical joke on Birthday Girl Shelli. As she opened her eyes after praying for our food, she really wasn’t expecting everyone at the table to be wearing the terrifying masks she hates so much from two years ago. She screamed and fell out of her chair. We’re such good friends.
Gifts came next, and when it came time for Daniel (shelli’s boyfriend) to give his gift he said that what Shelli loved most was words…and he proceeded to give the sweetest and most thoughtful speech about Shelli. As she teared up, he got up from his seat and went over to hers, got down on one knee and proposed….with the ring cleverly hidden under an iPod nano. Obviously she said yes and celebrations ensued.
We headed out to MissionTEC to hang out with the kids there and also to provide medical care for the children in their program. I headed out into the village with Daniel and Shelli as they went to visit Daniel’s sponsor child Clever (yup! That’s his name!). Clever and his sister Gina live is a very, very difficult environment. Their mother hasn’t been around for years, their father is unfortunately struggling with alcohol, and the walls of their house reach neither their thatched roof nor their muddy floor. Daniel and Shelli were greeted cautiously at first, but after Daniel explained by saying “Clever, I know this seems weird with us coming here. But I want you to know that this is simply the first time we are meeting, not the only time. I want to be your friend. All the time. I want to write you every month. I promise to keep your photo where I can see it every day so I can pray for you every day. Clever, I love you and Jesus loves you and that is something that is never going to change.” everything changed. Clever understood that this wasn’t a photo op with the Great White Hope from the mighty USA. This was a brother and sister who were there to introduce themselves and they were just asking if he would let them be a part of his life. Through MissionTECs homework club Gina and Clever receive meals, showers, and most importantly school tutoring and spiritual guidance. By starting to see themselves as unique, special people who are individually loved by the Creator of the universe they are developing the foundation to dream big AND work towards those dreams.
Then it was off to their airport at sunset. No tearful goodbyes, no dramatic moments. Just a team of seven people at the end of this little journey. The love was literally palpable, and as Jenn and I were driving back into the jungle from the airport a little voice in me said “I get the feeling this isn’t the last time we’ll be doing this……”
I’ll be doing a wrap up soon….please read that one. The rest of the team is safely back in Lima(Pam) and the states (Jono Christi shelli Daniel) as Jenn and I finish up our work/debrief here on the river at MissionTEC. Love to you all. Thanks so much for your prayers and support.