The last couple of days have been good, though they've had their ups and downs. It's been difficult to sit down and write, with all the coming and going, but finally, here's an update.
Monday, I woke up with a terrible stomach ache. I'm still not sure what caused it. It may have been undercooked chicken or possibly the fresh vegetables in a salad I had eaten the day before. Either way, I woke up suddenly and ran to the bathroom. Luckily it was nothing like the ceviche I had a few weeks ago. After a few hours--rather than days--I was feeling better, but exhausted. I spent the rest of the day resting in the apartment and recovering.
Tuesday, Carlos, Diana, Michael, Edson, and I went to La Punta in Callao. We took a tour at La Fuerta Felipe, the site of the final battle for Peruvian independence, May 2, 1866. Incidentally, it was also the site of the battle that finally expelled Spain from all of South America. It was interesting to see the parallels between their national pride and ours. I can compare it in many ways to Williamsburg, Virginia, where Revolutionary life is reenacted everyday. It could also be compared to the passion with which we reenact the Civil War. The soldiers at La Punta still wear the traditional uniform of independence, while the rest of the military now wears typical camouflage fatigues. Interestingly, their fort was originally built by the Spaniards, and in the shape of a pentagon. During the battle, forces from Chile, Ecuador, and Argentina rallied with Peru and drove Spain from their stronghold.
Today, the fort is used as a museum, commemorating the battle for independence and several other key battles in Peruvian history. The tour led us past tanks of several different eras, statues of war heroes, and a statue commemorating the unnamed soldier. At the far side of the pentagon-shaped fort, closest to the Pacific Ocean, was La Puerta de Perdon, the Gate of Forgiveness. I could imagine the Spanish soldiers marching through the gate after surrendering. It's an interesting concept, forgiveness, especially in war. Perhaps it is one that we need to practice.
That night, Carlos and I waited up for Christen and Christian to get home. They landed around 1:00 am and arrived at the apartment shortly after 2:00. We helped them carry their luggage, full of donations from the US, up the three flights of stairs to their home. We sat with them as they shared stories from the Young Life All Staff Conference in Florida and from their week with Christen's uncle and aunt in New Jersey, finally going to bed around 4:00. It's good to have them home.
Yesterday, Wednesday, we all slept in as much as we could, though most of us were awakened by the rooster next door around 8:00. We took it easy that morning, resting, reading, napping. Eventually, we went to the market and bought groceries for the week, and prepared lunch together.
That afternoon I had been invited to play Ultimate Frisbee with one of Christen's American friends, Erin. Samuel was also planning on going, so I met him half way to Erin's house, and from Erin's house we left for the US Embassy, apparently the only place you can play real, non-Peruvian Ultimate Frisbee in Lima.
The Embassy might be the strangest building I have ever seen. Nothing about it says "America" or "Peru." It is several stories tall, decorated with large tiles on all sides, very few windows. What windows there are are very small. Either way, we didn't go inside. We took a side entrance and met the other Frisbee players on the field out back.
It was really good to get out, to play, to run. To be with Americans. To speak English. The Embassy is an interesting place and mix of cultures, both American and otherwise. The mixture of Spanish and English was entertaining to say the least. It made it fairly easy to tell who really lived in Peru, who lived in Peruvian communities, and who worked primarily with Americans.
More than anything it was fun to meet other Americans, hear their stories, learn what brought them to Peru. There were Andy and Emily, who had both separately come to Peru simply to live abroad and ended up working together. Emily had heard of both Young Life and Athletes in Action at her church in Cleveland. There was Jonathan from Pueblo, Colorado, who worked with Partners in Health, fighting drug-resistant Tuberculosis in and around Lima. There was Josh, the human smile and former Marine who had been in Sudan during the Referendum. People's stories were incredible.
Then there was Fred, the Peruvian national, who had big dreams for Ultimate in Peru. He wanted to run Frisbee camps that taught healthy conflict resolution and peacemaking. He was the first true die-hard Frisbee player I have ever met. And he lived up to all of the stereotypes. He was a very intense player, very laid-back individual. All about the soul of the person and the heart of the game.
In the end, I think what I appreciated most was the simplicity of playing a game, of running, throwing, diving. Friendly competition. A piece of home. Inside the Embassy there was a certain sort of peace, a familiarity. A certain amount of silence, which I've found to be rare in Lima. More than anything, I think what I appreciated most was the gathering of people with the shared experience of living away from home. Everyone had a reason they are here. Everyone had a story to tell.
Today, Carlos and I are taking the morning slow. We're preparing for our first Young Life club tomorrow in Santa Rosa. This club is taking off fast, and we're anticipating about thirty kids at our first meeting. We're working on putting together Young Life necklaces that Christen brought back from the conference for the girls. This afternoon we'll head out to do some contact work, and then see where we go from there.
Tonight, please join us in praying for our first club in Santa Rosa. We are really looking forward to tomorrow. Pray Ephesians 6:19-20 over us, that we would fearlessly make known the gospel of Christ whenever we open our mouths.