Friday, February 23, 2007

Life's Lessons

We have come to understand and learn some of life's great wonders. This has been a wonderful trip. We came to be immersed in a culture we knew little about. We came to learn the language, gain experience, and to make a difference in the life of a child. It has been almost two months and the experience has been overwhelming and life changing. I would like to share some of the great lessons we have learned while staying in Peru. People go on mission trips to serve and make a difference; however, it is not until you reflect on the experience when you realize you where the mission. You go to make a difference, and indeed you do, but you come home a different person because of the people you meet. It baffles me that there are so many people in the world, and what a big impact one person can have on another. I can't say that just one person in particular has touched my life, but the many people we see and talk to everyday have, in their unique way, made a difference in my life. A little more than one month left, and we are sure there will be many great experiences and lessons to come. As for now, we wish to share some lessons and experiences we have had here at the Albergue.

Life lesson numero uno:
If we lost everything we owned, but still had our family and friends, we would still be happy because we have what really matters.

Numero dos:
Babies really are not that scary!

It is easy to desire more than what we have and think the grass is greener on the other side, but I have realized that I am a very rich person. Even though we are jobless and homeless at the moment, we are rich. In the States I am considered low class and a poor college student, but I am able to attend college. I am considered poor, but I can feed my tummy when I am hungry. I am considered poor, but I have a place to call home. I am considered poor, but I have clothes to keep me warm. I am considered poor, but I have a place to live with electricity and water. I am considered poor, but I can drink the water that comes out of my faucet. I am not middle class. I am not upper class. I can't afford a ticket in first class. But I am rich beyond imagination, because I am richly blessed. I am blessed with family, friends, health (even though some say I am "All tore up"...sorry inside joke!), and all necessities I need to live life comfortably. I am rich and so are you!

Kids are more than just noisy, smelly, dirty creatures! Okay, this may sound horrible to those who do not know me, but I had no idea what was to come. I did not like kids much, but after attending World Mandate (WM) in Waco, Texas (a missions conference), I became passionate about women and children around the world. When I went to WM something was stirred in me as I learned about how parts of the world treats women and children. I learned that it was not against the law to rape women in parts of Africa. That if a woman is rapped then she must have deserved it. I learned about little girls being forced to have part of their female parts removed by using sharp rocks as tools, so they would stay out of trouble with boys. Children being sold into sex slavery, forced by parents. Indeed I also heard about wonderful miracles and powerful stories. A positive story is that the first female president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (I admire this woman in many ways, Google her!), has made rape illegal and highly punishable, she is 69 years old and loved by her people. She is focusing on education and human rights for woman and children. I do not mean to sadden you with any stories, but things like this do happen. We may hear about these things and wonder why doesn't God do something, but He did, He made you. We can make a difference wherever we are. That is what I have learned while being here. I am making a difference in the life of a child, I love them, and they have shown us an abundance of love since we have been here.

Living with less is not bad or not fulfilling, just different than we are taught to believe.

Peruvian food is not Mexican food... I had no idea I would miss cheese, beans, chips, tortillas, burritos, tacos, enchiladas, salsa, mouth watering green chili from Campus Cafe, oh man... I need to stop!

We are all part of a bigger plan. God has a unique, individual purpose and plan for us all. We may not know what exactly what that plan is, but not knowing is part of life's great adventure. He created us for something great.

I now know what it is like to be the minority. Although, I don't know if I should feel cool or awkward while walking along the beach little kids point and yell, "Mira, gringa!" (which means, "Look, white girl!).

When Piero and the boys came to visit when I was sick, they gave me a card, a hug, and prayed for me in hopes I would get better and be able to play soon. I am not sure what impact this had on me, but I was greatly moved beyond what my words can express.

Whatever you do, do it with all your heart. We learned this while watching the kids play at the beach. They crashed into everyone because they were so intently focused on play.

If you have little give little, if you have much, give much. While working up at Alto Salivary with the water project, a woman made tortilla-like bread and passed it out to people in our crew. We were there to bring her water, a necessity of life, she had very little, but she still was compelled to give what she had.

People need us to look at them through God's eyes rather than our own. Everyone has a story, their past, that shapes who they become for good or bad. Some of these children have sad stories. Knowing the children's pasts helps us realize why they act a certain way, and makes us have compassion. It is easy to have compassion for young children yet we judge older adults. These children will become adults and their past will not change. God loves us unconditionally, like a loving father to his child. I desire to not judge someone, but rather listen to their stories and possibly make a difference in their life, if only for a moment. In general, we want people to behave and believe a certain way, and then they can belong, but God accepts us long before we choose to accept Him. He looks at us through a different pair of eyes. Through unconditional love, kindness, and compassion.

And yes, you can fit 56 people in a bus that seats 27! On our way back from the beach there was the Boston group (about 16 people), 29 children, and 11 other adults. Everyone had one or two kids on their lap! Unfortunately, one had a little accident... not on me!


Kim and Brian said...

Kristen, all I can say is your life lessons are beautiful and so simple. It's amazing how something that we should ultimately know is lost on us as we grow and are influenced by our culture. You are amazing, you and Adam both. There is not much more I can say except...beautiful, inspiring and incredible.

Love you,


Anonymous said...

Adam and Kristen,
I am so proud to call you "my kids". I love seeing the world through your eyes. Not many "kids" your age have such a mature grasp on reality. You may be "tore up", you are both the most "together" people I know, or hope to know. I'm so glad you found each other, (although I know neither of you think it was as accident). You two remind me of the line from Jerry McGuire when Tom Cruise tells Renee Zellweger, "You complete me". Keep the stories, and lessons coming...we love them!
Take care, my little peas (in a pod!)
Love you, Mom

Kendra Porrello said...

Adam and Kristen,
How truly wonderful. It is so fun and inspiring to read your stories. Thank you so much for sharing. We are excited to have you here in Colorado Springs but until then, keep up the amazing work and faith. God bless you both, the children and the family at Alburgue.