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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chinatown

Today Carlos and I went on a treasure hunt of our own in preparation for the busqueda del tesoro that we're putting on for our Young Life kids this Saturday. Skipping breakfast in order to get a head start, we spent the morning searching Lima's Chinatown for just the right prize to award Saturday's winners. We had hoped to find a place that would do some custom printing on water bottles so that we could give away Young Life prizes, but had no such luck. Everywhere we went either couldn't do it in time or was too expensive.

Chinatown was very interesting though. This part of downtown Lima is almost entirely small shops that specialize in one thing or another--plastic products, printing, ripping off Disney, and so on. It used to be that the population in this area was primarily Chinese, though from what I saw today they have become fairly well assimilated. The streets are closed to motor traffic, except for the occasional motorcycle, and are filled with pedestrians from sidewalk to sidewalk.

It's a fairly loud part of town, with that many people. But as we came out of one of the stores, there was a strange silence. Then a man started shouting. I couldn't make out what he was saying through his slurred speech, but it was something about your mother. He stumbled as he walked. And he kept yelling. People were silent, and stared. I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me uncomfortable. But more than anything I felt sorrow. Here was this many that clearly needed help of some sort, and no one to give it to him. I don't know if he was mentally ill or if there was a spiritual oppression, or if he was just drunk, but no one did anything to help him. And I felt paralyzed, too. There was nothing I could do. And so I did all I could do, and prayed that God would give him a family member or a friend that could intervene and provide for his needs. This is one of those things that will stick with me for a while.

After he stumbled on, we continued our search, but as I said, we didn't find anything that would work. We finished our morning by walking through the main plaza and taking a few pictures, and then returned to our apartment. We grabbed a quick lunch and then prepared to head to Santa Rosa to ask for parents' permission to take their kids on the treasure hunt.

In Santa Rosa, we found our kids playing soccer, as usual. This time I had brought a guitar that I borrowed from a Young Life leader in San Martin de Porres. Kids gathered around right away and we enjoyed ourselves singing in the park in the middle of the apartment buildings. As Carlos and the other leaders left with kids to find their parents, I stayed back with the group and began teaching a little bit of guitar. We started with the G chord today. Maybe soon we'll move on to D.

Tonight I came back to the apartment early and called home. It was good to see and talk with my family. It's good to be in a completely other hemisphere and still be so close to home.

For now, I'm waiting up until Carlos gets home. Then I'm off to bed. Tomorrow we're taking a day to travel and to have some fun. I'm not exactly sure where we're going, but I've been told that it's near the beach and that we're sandboarding and riding the dune buggies. It sounds like loads of fun. Mostly, I'm looking forward to taking a day off and resting.

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