Hospitality in Piura is always a big deal. When missionaries arrive at the airport they are greeted with love, smiles, hugs, signs & balloons that say Welcome – bienvenido!
Then missionaries are greeted once again with great jubilation when they arrive at Parroquia Santisimo Sacramento. The joy, the hugs and the signs are overwhelming from both the staff and families being supported by the Family to Family Program. I remember my first time 11 years ago. For the new missionary it can stretch you, put way outside your comfort zone, as well as overwhelm you.
People you do not know coming up to you with hugs, kisses, and in Spanish at a rate of speed only Spock can understand. Yet, for the returning missionary the moment is highly anticipated! Something they look forward too.
The staff at Santismo Sacramental & Fr. Joe understand the importance of hospitality and do it incredibly well. Sadly that’s not alway true for our parishes back home. If we want our parishes to be welcoming & vibrant places of worship then we must be hospitable. Hospitality is an important aspect of Evangelization.
This year I missed this wonderful part of the arrival as I was missing one piece of luggage. I had to stay back with one of the staff members and fill out some forms. All my travel companions had all their luggage. In fact everyone on that plane had luggage, but me and one other man from Piura and he was very angry.
I was confused. We all got on the same plane. When flying from Cusco to Lima we had to deplane and then re-board the same plane (who knows why). So how is it possible I asked the staff member waiting with me at the airport. She smiled and said in a high pitched voice, “Lisa, it’s Peru!” Like, I should know this already.,
Oh, that’s right. Things down here do not run like they do in the states. Note to self.
I was wisely advised to have no expectations coming down to Piura. In order to spiritually prepare I practiced various ways of fasting and self denial because being here for two months I will need to adjust to many inconveniences.
For example, I do not have my own vehicle down, therefore when I want to go to a particular place I’m at the mercy of another staff member. There is no Duncan Doughnuts along the way. I have a single room with a shower, but if I want a hot shower then I have to go down the hall. I could go on. In reality nothing is convenient, and for the poorest of poor it’s even more difficult.
So in February I started fasting a lot. I did a Daniel Fast first during lent (https://ultimatedanielfast.com/ultimate-daniel-fast-about-the-daniel-fast/). Then every Friday I fast from dinner. During the months of April, May, and June I did a 60 hour fast from food. However, the hardest part of my fasting past consisted of the little things. If I went to the grocery store I didn’t take the first parking stop. I parked far away and walked. At work I would park further out in the parking lot when others parked close. If I was going to dinner, a movie, or making plans with friends I let them pick the restaurant, movie, the time to meet and any other details. I didn’t not negotiate, I let them have their way. At work I would take to task no one wanted etc. I did my best to take the last place as often as I could. I do not say that with great ease, as it’s pretty hard to do all the time and I’m sure I failed at times.
So here’s the thing. The luggage was really no big deal. In fact, I was at peace about it. I was mentally prepared to live with what was in my carry on from Machu Picchu. If it didn’t show up, well I’d have to get some socks, underwear and do laundry lot more often. That’s life, no diffident for many who live in Piura.
This was not the first time my luggage went missing and probably not the last. What was radically different this time was my response and interior disposition about it all. I was at Peace. I do believe it’s the fasting that made the difference. There was really no emotion at all about it; no worry, anxiety, sadness, or anger other than I need to to laundry ASAP.
God always provides. I first lost luggage in Piura seven or six years ago when I was on mission here and it was a total inconvenience. I was filled with frustration. This time I wasn’t fazed.
Now, it’s taken me a few days to post mostly because I’ve had a terrible cold and that is a different story. Another inconvenience for someone who hasn’t had a cold in over three years. I’m rarely ever sick. I was the classmate who had perfect attendance for years, I may still have the pins to prove it. So you get the idea. To be sick for me is so very rare and I’m not always the best patient.
So I’ve been fatigued, traveling with toilet paper for all my sneezing and nose blowing. Last night I had a fever and woke up twice soaking wet and had to change my clothes.
I have everything imaginable immune support product and over the counter drug in my Pharmica Cabinet stocked here; from Tylenol, Advil, probiotics, all kinds of vitamins, Airborne, Energence, and antibiotic if I get a stomach bug. So I’m prepared for two months and yet, the nurse and staff tell me it must run its course. Take Tylenol and rest. Well that’s the same thing I’d do at home, only I’m not at home so it’s little more complicated. It’s an inconvenience. I am not in my own bed.
I already know things must run the course, but I really do wish I was up to par especially since my friends all leave in a few days. Often what’s on my mind is a Siesta or the end of the day so I can sleep.
This is the first time I’ve been sick on the trip in six trips and I’m writing about a cold! But even the homes we visited the families could tell in between my sneezing, coughing and nose blowing that I was enfermos – sick.
I have all kinds of stuff to help fight the cold off and build my immunity and it still feels like an inconvenience to me. To the people of Piura, that’s luxury.
Back home in the states we have a worldview that luxuries are expensive, flashy, or brand name?
But in Piura every thing is a luxury. In the most impoverished areas a shower, cough drops, and shoes are luxurious, even the toilet paper I’m using to blow my nose is a luxury to most. Something to think about.