This has been one of the longest and shortest weeks of my time here in Lima. Full of wedding planning, distractions, trips to Santa Rosa, and a day at the beach, I'm really not sure what I can compare it to.
Last Monday, after returning from Cuzco, I spent the morning teaching English at El Refugio. But, being so exhausted, I forgot to bring the key to the closet where Doris keeps all of her English supplies, and since it was Doris's day off, I didn't have access to any books in English or to the white boards the kids love so much.
So, with Lukas, my youngest student, I talked about colors, something we had already gone over. But this time, we made a treasure hunt out of it by going into the backyard and searching for things that were green, his favorite color. When he found something, he would tell me what it was in Spanish, and I would tell him in English.
That plan didn't work so well with the twins. They weren't so much into playing games as they were into fighting with each other. Our lesson was pretty short, and I ended up having to send them back upstairs to their German lesson, which is much less fun, not because it's German, but because there are less games.
Julio, though, was a sweetheart. He was disappointed that we didn't have any English books to read, but he agreed to read to me from one of his favorite books in Spanish. He crawled up on my lap and read "Oliver and Company," the print edition of the Disney remake of the Dickens classic.
Rahel and Angel were even more understanding. Being the oldest, and having spent a lot of time with them, I knew they could understand much more than the other kids. I offered to read to them from the only English book I had with me, my Bible. I let them pick their favorite story so they would have a general idea of what was going on since biblical language isn't the easiest to follow. They chose the story of Joseph and his brightly colored coat.
We talked about how we treat our brothers and sisters. We talked about dreams. We talked about ways that God speaks to us, that sometimes he uses dreams, or friends, or the bible. We talked about the languages God knows, both English and Spanish, and every other language, and that he speaks to each of us in a language that we understand.
Then that afternoon I went shopping with Christian and Samuel for things they needed for the wedding on Friday. Lots of party stuff, boxes of water, sodas. Bug spray. But nothing can be that easy in Peru. Once we had crossed everything off our list except the six boxes of water we needed, the power went out at the market, and none of the large stores would let anyone in. No one could do any business. After wandering around a while, we found a small stand that had four boxes and could get two more. So we waited there for a while until they brought two more boxes from one of the nearby grocery stores, and then headed home.
Tuesday, I spent the day in Magdalena with Samuel, Janet, Erin, and Pepe. Erin and Pepe belong to a sort of country club in the city that has tennis courts, rec fields, and a swimming pool, and they invited us to spend the day with them relaxing. Samuel and I played the tennis match of the year, Peru v. USA. Peru emerged victorious. The truth is, it wasn't even close. Samuel is pretty good. But it was good to get out and do something fun, something different.
We then spent the afternoon by the pool, swimming a little, napping a lot. I was still pretty tired from the long weekend and from the tennis match. I woke up after a couple hours, and we headed to the shade to play Manzanas con Manzanas. It was a good Spanish vocabulary lesson, and a lot of fun, taking me back to the high school youth group days of my junior year.
After that, we headed back to San Martin for Christian's grandma's birthday. The party started around 3:00, and in typical Peruvian fashion we showed up right on time at 6:30. The band was already playing, food being served. The apartment had grown hot and Christen and Christian were moving fans around trying to get more air in. Luckily, the party was just downstairs, so we could escape to the third floor, to the breeze, and to the quiet.
The next couple days I spent a lot of time here in the apartment, resting, recovering, recuperating. I've spent a lot of time thinking about my time here in Peru, a lot of time thinking about coming home. A lot of time reading. Watching Netflix. Listening to music. Looking for perspective.
Friday came, and I was up early to head to El Refugio to help with Casa de Misercordia as they got ready to head to the wedding. I hadn't slept much at all the night before, and passed out on the couch once I got there. Luckily they had more help than they had expected, and didn't need me too much. I sat with Miriam and Davico as Magaly got her weekly bath. Then Daniel came and I helped him move a table and some sodas to the town hall where the wedding was to be held. After that, we returned to pick up Christen, who came down the stairs in her wedding dress, ready to go.
The second time we arrived at the town hall, the room where we were having the wedding had filled up. It was full of Christian and Christen's friends from Young Life, Frontline, El Refugio, and other ministries they are involved in. Christian's family was there, as well as several friends from San Martin.
Soon, a city official came out of an office at the back of the room and announced that the wedding would begin. She stood at the table in the center of the room with Christian, and Christen walked in with Luis, her acting father in Peru. He gave the bride away, and left her standing at the table with Christian. The clerk explained the significance of the marriage contract and allowed Christen and Christian each to share what it meant to them, that they were glad to have been able to share their religious ceremony with their family in the States and that it meant a lot to be able to share their civil ceremony with their Peruvian family. They then signed the contract, and the clerk presented them as man and wife.
Christen had warned me that it would seem weird, having a ceremony for signing a piece of paper, essentially like our marriage licenses back home. But it made a lot of sense. That's the way they do things here, and if they are going to live here and be a part of this culture, they needed to do things they way they ought to be done in this culture, which includes being married in this culture, in this context, in this community. After the document was signed, we served soda and cookies and took pictures with the bride and groom holding their marriage document.
After the wedding, I was wiped. Christen ended up finding a ride back to San Martin for me, and I stayed there the rest of the day, not able to go out to the reception. We're still looking into ways to get me more sleep, but that may not happen too soon.
Yesterday, after resting all afternoon and evening on Friday, I went with Young Life Lima to spend the day at the beach. We left around mid morning for an hour and a half drive up the coast to a huge beach where we spent the remainder of the morning playing games in the sand. Lots of mud, lots of sand. Lots of water and laughter. My favorite game was the Human Sandcastle. The guys ran to the water, jumped in, and ran back to be covered in sand by the girls. They then arranged themselves in a giant human sandcastle, with bonus points for a fountain. Incredible.
After lunch, we let the kids entertain themselves for a little while, and I went for a walk down the beach. It was good to get away into some quiet for a little while. When I came back, I joined a soccer game, which later became a volleyball game, and then sat on the edge of the water watching kids build sandcastles. Simple joys.
After all this, we gathered everyone together and had club. I wouldn't recommend trying to pull off club on a hot day in the sun on the beach, with the surf crashing in the background and the distraction of digging in the sand at everyone's fingertips, but they made it work. We sang several club songs, played a couple of games, and Edson shared a message. After this we gave kids time to change and loaded the busses. All in all, a good day.
Today, I've been recovering. Though I covered myself with sunscreen that claimed 100SPF, I burned pretty badly yesterday. I've been in and out of the shower, spreading aloe over my shoulders, trying not to touch anything. Lots of Ibuprofen. And rest.
With only three days left here, I'm beginning to say my goodbyes, starting to pack, getting ready for the move home. Lots of preparation, which is where this whole thing started. Tomorrow I'll go to El Refugio to see the kids one last time. Tuesday, I'll start cleaning the apartment and try to make it over to Santa Rosa to say goodbye. Wednesday is Christen's birthday, and my last day to pack and clean the apartment. That night I board the plane home, and land in San Francisco around 11:30 on Thursday morning. And then life goes on.