Coming back in some ways is more like returning home because home is where you heart is at that moment. The dwelling place for love is you, it’s not a physical space. It doesn’t require a house or zip code.
Surprisingly, I had no fear traveling alone here because when you don’t know you just ask for help and direction. Besides, God has removed the rest of my travel fears for which I am grateful. I’ve found most people do desire to help you. Additionally, I’ve been told I have legendary prudence, so I’m fairly cautious in most things I do. I’m not sure how true that is, but if so I think it helps.
But, getting here was another story. My travel was really rough due to bad weather in Dallas; lighting, thunderstorms and tornado warnings. Therefore, every flight was delayed and I was literally running to my next flight to make two connections. Even though I made it to each gate just in time. I ended up being further delayed by the airline due to refueling or some other issue that was not shared with us. In the end I was delayed again and again and not in control.
In Lima, I literally ran from off the plane to immigration, to pick up my luggage, to checking in my luggage, to security and down to the gate as they were calling for us. So I’m in line waiting and there again I look up and see “DELAYED” on the monitor.
I’m now dripping in sweat because it’s hot, and I’m already having a hot flash. I’m so hot I start fanning myself to cool down because I feel as though I’m about to pass out. When I stop to look around and start laughing out loud. I’m completely aware I’m the outcast, the stranger, and freak who’s hot with a fan in hand (Thanks Renee). The Peruvians are all cold and wearing winter coats. Ya, it’s winter here if you’d call it that. To this midwestern woman this is not cold, but pleasant! Once again, I’m certain I looked strange and I’m slowly learning to get comfortable with all that because in many ways I’m not like most people anyway, nor I am I the average Catholic in the pew.
So when I arrived in Piura I was not my joyful self. I was crabby, tied, hot, sweaty and had a terrible headache. All I wanted was to rest and to lay down. In advanced I requested to have one parish staff member I know to come pick me up at the airport and of course given Peruvian hospitality that did not happen because instead they sent a small Calvary just for me. I’ll be honest the staff was more happy to see me, than I them initially. I did my best to smile and pay them all gratitude with a hugs of love. Yet, I was exhausted.
Because of the horrendous travel it took me more time to get adjusted than I expected. I needed to establish a routine of discipline; prayer and exercise before work and play because with out the first two I’m a hot mess. So I’ve been working on that first, because three months is a long time with no established discipline.
Yet, the very first thing I wanted to do once I got settled was walk to my bridge of here and there and sit in the middle once again. I’m not sure what I love about that spot, but I do love just sitting there as the breath of God is on my face. It’s a place to sit and be, not move or do. A place of simplicity and not complexity. A place of wonder, curiosity and not fear. A place of the unexpected and not certainly. A comfortable, yet uncomfortable new place to strangely sit, but it’s all good. In fact, I often think of pitching a tent right in the middle only God always say you can’t stay here.
I’ve wondered a lot on why me God? Why send someone like me to a foreign land for so long when I’m not well traveled. In fact, I’m pretty clueless when it comes to airport travel. I know no Spanish, I’m trying, but it ain’t easy to me. I’m certainly not the smartest, wealthiest, or have any particular talent or skill etc. to bring or share. Of course I have God given gifts and charisms to use for the building of the kingdom, but why “me”.
I wanted to know so I asked. I was surprised what I heard back.
“Lisa, it’s because you don’t know. You have to be dependent. You have to be dependent on all those around you for everything here. Which means you will learn to be dependent on Me.”
It’s a matter of trust. Do I trust God with everything?
And so, I am dependent on so many here for interpretation, travel, and understanding the culture etc. So many missionaries come and want it their way. The schedule, the plan, the time, the everything because in the states we are over scheduled, controlled robots often in slavery to something or someone other than God.
I watch missionaries desire for things to work as they do in the States, only we are not in the States we are in Peru. Coming here is a lesson in control. The control of letting go and being submissive in a new way. A lesson of vulnerability and who is the most vulnerable person we know, but Jesus on the cross.
Last year, I spent a lot of time watching the resistance of that being played out and learned so much. Yet, for me so much is new and everything feels bigger mostly because I’m not the same person I was last year. Not only did that trip change me in incredible ways, my faith journey this past year has been pretty amazing. Interestingly it takes nine months from conception to birth. It’s been that long since I left and returned back to Peru. I actually feel like I was reborn or re-birthed.
So I must be like a little baby and become like a small child.
Jesus says in Matthew 18:2-4 “He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And said, Truly, I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Children have an pure innocence of healthy curiosity and desire to learn, to grow, to hunger for more of life. That’s what God desires for us all. His desires is that we desire more of Him. The spiritual life is really an unlearning of what you know and a falling upward toward heaven as your body is literally ageing, dying and getting closer to death.
Now back home some folks treat me like I’m a spiritual giant, but I’m here to say I’m baby in the spiritual life. I only know what I’ve experienced and trust me although it may seem like a lot, it ain’t much. Even though, I’ve studied spiritual theology and read the lives of the saints, I feel as though I’ve only just entered the spiritual life.
It’s a treasure chest of jewels, gems, and diamonds. There are paradox’s abound and plentiful! None of it is as you think it should be. It’s the lowest, the last place, the small child who begins to live kingdom life here on earth. You must become a small child and dependent solely on God if you’re gonna slay giants.
At least four other giants, were all killed in the Bible besides Goliath, and they were all killed by men who followed David. If you want to kill giants, follow a giant killer.” -Bill Johnson, from the Book “There is More” by Randy Clark
Is it hard? Oh, ya it’s hard to let go of doing, pride, and self independence. That’s what the secular world teaches us, but that’s not what applies in the kingdom. The equations are different because the stakes are higher. It’s about souls, and nothing else. Your soul, my soul, and all the souls we serve. The only true requirement is a four letter word – LOVE.
Are we compelled by love or something else. Here’s a few other things that compel us; the need to be known or be noticed, to brag what we’ve done or given, to be in control and have it our way, to lead and not follow.
What Jesus teaches is radical. You can say he’s a liar, a lunatic, or a Lord. You actually get to decide. Choose wisely as your life depends on it. Your soul depends on it. So who are you following? Who do you say Jesus is? Is He Lord in all areas of your life; including relationships, career, vocation, finances, health, ego etc. in your life? The list is endless.
To follow means “to go or come after (a person or thing proceeding ahead). In the Greek it means pursue, come after, tag, tail after.
I’ve come to learn following requires anew depth of humility. You have to say, “I don’t know the way.” Yet, Jesus makes the way.
You have to say, “I don’t know how to do that”, Yet, God says I will show you.
You have to have discipline and be obedient to God’s voice. Even when it makes no sense to you in doing certain things He wants you to do or go places He wants you to go. Yet, you still “Go” anyway.
Yesterday morning was my first day of work. I was compelled to join a young, third generation, Iowa farmer named Reed helping out with the farmers co-op here. I have no idea where we’re going or why I’m asking to join him. Then I find self standing in the midst of corn stalks and remember being a small child.
I grew up on a dead end street and then there were 25 yards of woods. Past the woods were acres and acres of a corn field. Standing out in the corn I remembered the awe and wonder of running through the stalks. Healthy, corn stalk leaves are sharp as knives. I have scars on my hands to prove it, yet it never stoped us from going and running through the stalks not knowing where we’d end up.
So there I am standing in the corn stalks and taken back to being a little girl. I never cared where or how the day was going to go. So why do I so desperately need to know the other side of that door of life now? When I was a kid the field was weeded, this field in Peru however was full of weeds in-between the stalks. I realized God will do any necessary weeding to make the way. What I have to do is go and follow.
So one has to become a small child to be taught the most basic of lessons in the kingdom. You humble yourself and get in the back of the bus and last in line. You take a small walk of sacrifice down the hall & stairs through a community of people with toiletries in tow if you want a hot shower. Because asking to change rooms would mean you’re seeking to be served other than being here to serve.
Small sacrifices can teach us so much, specifically humility and what it means to serve. It’s only in our weakness that we are strong in Him and if we are not faithful in the small things, how do we expect to be faithful in the the larger things in life?
So you ask for help often even if you look stupid, you ask. Your feelings are not hurt when you are laughed at because you pronounce everything wrong and not able to roll your “R’s” in the midst of every little Spanish lesson.
Because if you desire to slay Goliath than you must learn to first be a lowly, little Sheppard just like David. Goliath was a giant by today’s standards, yet David was prepared for the task. Be a person like David who sings sweetly, fights like a warrior, has a heart for God, and is contrite. It is then you can be a giant killer and do the things God is calling you to do.
Where is God asking you to take a lower place? It’s important because He’s probably preparing you for what’s to come. We all have our giants to kill and slay along the way in the spiritual life.
P.S. To my prayer warriors please for my new friend Reed. That he has the eyes to see and the heart to know when the Lord sends him a holy mate to be his wife.