A beautiful rainbow seen from the shelter a few weeks ago
He holds the weight
Of the world
In his eyes.
The gleam of life,
The dark of
Pain – his birthright –
And twelve year
Strength in his
The world, bright –
And misleading –
Lies before him.
And there remains
The promise of
His soul crafted,
Born of the
Within the womb.
His hands with
His life from
(a poem I wrote in reflection of one of the babies at the shelter, 8 months old, and his mother, 12 years old)
In just 7 days, I will be on a plane traveling to the USA. It feels surreal and a bit strange to be going back home – and it feels like these 9 months were hardly any time at all. But in these 9 months, I look back and rejoice in how God has worked through me and in me. A few sweet memories and small victories, specifically at the shelter, include:
- Being present for the births of 4 babies to young adolescents. With one in particular we started in the shelter at the same time, and I witnessed her journey of pregnancy until the birth of her baby girl just last week. Praise the Lord for answering prayers for a safe and healthy birth!
- Leading educative workshops for 20+ girls, reinforcing what they learn in school, and teaching 1 how to read!!! Also administering bi-semester evaluations and seeing major growth in their learning.
- Sharing and baking 10 recipes with the adolescents (& only 1 was inedible!)
- Playing countless volleyball games (fun fact: volleyball happens to be just as popular a sport as soccer in Peru)
- Improvement in my dancing skills 🙂
- Joining the social worker on home visits in rural and extremely poor areas of the jungle and countryside
- Being the “madrina” to two girls for their graduations!
- Achieving a growing fluency in Spanish!
- Learning the power of valuing – of paying attention – to the one, right in front of me. Although I played no part in reducing the rate of sexual violence in this country nor altered any part of the broken and oppressive systems towards women and girls, I sought to love the one girl in front of me, to learn and listen to her needs and dreams, to understand her, to know her, to teach her, and to love her.
- Having the opportunity to”lift up the arms” of the full-time staff who pour themselves into this difficult work every day. My high school mentor prayed this specifically, that I could be an Aaron to their Moses – and I see how God has answered that prayer.
Perhaps the biggest victory has been seeing my own growth through my relationships with the girls. They have expanded my ability to love, to have patience, to persevere, to work hard, to see the value of interdependence. To not be self-conscious when I dance. To love my blue eyes. To laugh. They have taught me more about being human. They are kids and teenage girls – yes, with stories full of more brokenness than most of us can imagine – but with good days and bad days, mood swings, and a passionate love for all things Korean. I love them dearly and truly feel part of my heart is staying with them.
As I prepare to depart, I think about the ordinary things that I will miss about living and working here. I will miss the loud Cumbia music (distinct to Peru) outside our house blasting in the nearby store. I will miss holding and playing with babies and toddlers every day. I will miss being called ‘Mamita’ by 30+ girls. I will miss the satisfaction in explaining subtraction and seeing the light-bulb go on! I will miss ‘abrazos de oso’ (bear hugs) and secret handshakes. I will miss the animals, the interesting and delicious fruit, the constant streaming of telenovelas or game shows. I will miss post-dinner conversations with my wise and joyful host mom. I will miss the moto-taxis, and constant activity in the house. I will miss the overwhelming hospitality. I will miss the delight in seeing something familiar from my home culture (i.e. nutella). I will miss feeling needed beyond my capacity and wishing there were three more of me to be able to be present to every girl’s needs. I will miss knowing and recognizing the Latin American music on the radio. I will miss the never ending adventures in baking and praying my recipe comes out half-decent. I will miss witnessing how these girls – the least of these – touch those they interact with just by being who they are.
Even though goodbyes are hard, they are also beautiful knowing how God has very much been faithful and present with me during my time in Peru – in providing the best and most gracious host family, work that didn’t feel like work at all, countless opportunities to practice showing His love, and His grace showing up in hard moments. Thank you for all your faithful prayers, words of encouragement, and thoughts in this season. It is by the grace of God through your generosity that I was able to serve in Peru and become part of the work He is already doing here. All glory be to God who surrounds the oppressed with His perfect, steadfast love.
As I prepare to leave and enter into the next threshold, I appreciate prayers for safe travels, provision for a job, and a smooth process of re-entry. Thank you and love to you all!
See you in the USA,
**please continue praying for and following Casa Del Buen Trato. Their facebook page, which contains updates as well as a link to donate, is: https://www.facebook.com/CasaBuenTratoHovde/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
**Check out below for some photos of recent adventures
Visiting the hometown of my host mom, 6 hours away in the rural countryside, & visiting Tantamayo, which contains beautiful Incan ruins
A fun & relaxing weekend in Tingo Maria, a nearby jungle town. My friend & I swam in a waterfall, took a spontaneous river boat ride, walked through a national park, & drank out of coconuts!
Celebrating the birthday of my host dad (L); a visit to Kotosh, Huanuco’s own archeological site, with Mali, my host mom, & Johanna (a German volunteer who’s been here for the past 6 weeks) (R)