Yesterday was a good day. Christen and I spent all morning baking lemon squares so she would be ready to be a good Peruvian host on her birthday, today. It's important to offer guests something to eat, and so I squeezed about a million limes, because there are no lemons here, and we baked a full three batches.
About midmorning we heard the vacuum cleaner start downstairs. Carlos had started cleaning the apartment. I went down to see what he was doing, and told him not to worry about it, that I'd be sure to clean it today after I packed. But he kept on cleaning.
That afternoon Christen asked me to go to Magdalena with her and run some errands, pick up a copy of their marriage license, check out a pool she might join, and wait for an hour while she got a massage to help deal with the pain she's still feeling from the accident. I wasn't too sure I wanted to go. I really wanted to get over to Santa Rosa to say goodbye to all the kids from club. But she said we could stop at Starbucks and debrief my time here a little. And rest in the air conditioning. So I agreed. I really needed the debrief time. And the air conditioning.
So we got the marriage license after a number of hassles. February 28 is April 15 in Peru. The town hall was full of people trying to pay their taxes last minute. Luckily we didn't have to wait in the DMV-style line, but it still took some figuring out.
After that we took a cab to the swim club. It looked nice enough. The smell of chlorine greeted us as we walked in. The pool appeared clean, and the bathrooms were spotless. Plus, they had a gym. And apparently their swim instructors are also physical therapists, which will help as Christen continues to recover. It looked like that would work out for her and Christian.
From there we walked. And walked. And walked a little more. We looked at all the old houses in Magdalena, stopped and looked at the ruins in the middle of town, and discussed the challenges and lessons I've encountered here as we walked.
Eventually we came to Starbucks. But Christen was late to her appointment, and so she left me there and continued walking the three more blocks to the health spa. I got a drink, and sat down in a comfy chair. It was about then that I realized Christen still had my book that I had brought along to read. So I pulled out my iPod and listened to about an hour's worth of Mumford & Sons, reflecting on my time in Peru, preparing myself for the trip home.
I then went and met Christen, and we caught a cab back to San Martin. It was about dinner time, and Christian was supposed to be at home preparing our evening meal. When we arrived we headed straight to the third floor. But when we got there, Christian was just starting to cook, and Christen already had guests over for her birthday. A little panicked, and out of eggs because of our baking that morning, he asked me to go down to my refrigerator and bring him one so he could finish dinner.
Carlos had left sometime that afternoon, and took the keys with him, and still wasn't home. So, I climbed in through the window. Halfway through the window, the lights came on. And all the kids from Santa Rosa shouted, "Sorpresa!"
Christen and all her friends from upstairs came down, bringing the lemon squares. The kids served soda, cookies, watermelon, and took pictures. Later, the San Martin kids came up as well. When the apartment was absolutely full, we all sat down, and sang club songs.
The leaders took time to express their thanks, which must also be extended to those who helped in supporting this trip. The kids presented me with a card they had made and all signed. Nayeli was especially excited to give it to me, because she had fooled one of her friends into thinking it was my birthday, and so the last page was full of happy birthday wishes.
At the end of the night, I said goodbye to Emilio, Reynato, Nayeli, Jesus, Samuel, Janet, Molina, Edson, Erin, Marcelo, Pedro, Chapado, and my countless other friends that had filled my house and my time here in Peru.
This morning, as I look out through the window, autumn has definitely come to Lima. The air is cool, the sun a little softer. It's the feeling of camp ending, of school starting. The sound of school busses in the morning. The smell of grapes drying on the ground. But tonight I head back to spring.
As I clean the apartment this morning, as I wash sheets and stuff my clothes in my bag, as I continue to reflect on my time here, I'm full of excitement. Excitement to be heading home, to be with family, to see my Young Life kids in Fowler tomorrow night, to visit friends, to be looking ahead, planning a trip to Mongolia, moving into the future.
I'm full of sadness, leaving these kids, this life, these friends behind, even though I always knew it was always temporary, wondering when I'll be able to come back.
I'm full of pain and loneliness from the challenges faced during this time, from the first hour all the way through, from death to pain to isolation.
I'm full of joy and gladness because of the grace that God has given, because of the lives he's impacting in this city, because of the friendship and the family of Young Life here in Lima.
And I'm full of gratitude. All that I have seen, all that I have learned, all that I have experienced has only been possible because of the generosity and the faith of others. Thank you for this opportunity, for this window into the world.
I look forward to continuing to share the lessons learned in Lima as I come home.