Monday was a pretty amazing day. In the morning I was in the clinic praying with patients. They would see the nurse first and me afterward if they chose to do so. That, in and of itself was wonderful. God absolutely showed up, but I had no idea the day could get better. Oh but it did!
In the afternoon, I didn’t feel called to go back to the clinic. I felt the nudge to follow one particular staff member. No matter where she was going, I was following her and I had no idea why. I’m slowly learning to be obedient to these promptings and not second guess. I wasn’t sure why I was following her, but I was about to find out.
It turned out she was taking some teenagers to little chapel out in a village to give away clothes. As we were loading up the van with several large bags of clothes and boxes of shoes, missionaries, and staff it looked like there was not going to be enough room for everyone. I told her “that’s ok, I won’t go, I’ll go back to the clinic”. Yet, she insisted and said, “no, we will make room”. So she made room for me and I got in the van.
This chapel was a little bit of a drive from the parish. Once again I ended up witnessing my conversion story with the man I’m sitting next to who’s on the trip with his daughter. Interestingly, he tells me he’s been struggling at his parish back home. His parish is lacking life and vibrancy, like so many parishes across the US. This seems to be a constant theme I continue to hear here in Piura from American missionaries. No less than one hour before a woman told me the same thing. She said, “I’m not very engaged in the mass back home”. I listen mostly to their stories and share when appropriate, but I’m always thinking there’s so much more. I am cautious, however in sharing the “more” based on where they are in current relationship with Jesus; a place of initial trust, spiritual curiosity, spiritual openness, spiritual seeking, and intentional discipleship (Based on Book “Forming Intentional Disciples” by Sherry Weddell).
So we arrived at the chapel and it was full of women praying the rosary. We waited for them to finish up before we set up. As everyone started setting up I went outside and before I know it there were 10-15 kids around me. So I instructed them to all to line up and I would pray over each one.
I started to pray and before I knew it I had kids literally hanging off me. On my arms and next to me. I literally had no space to move. So like Jesus I drew in the sand, not words (John 8:1-11), but a circle. They all understand what I meant and honored it. The gospel never tells us what Jesus wrote. I’d like to believe that’s because the words change, as we change in our faith journey and life in Christ.
I prayed over many children. Then one little girl stepped forward. Instantly, I noticed she had a very different disposition than the rest. It’s difficult to explain, other than I sensed and knew there was something different about this little one. She had a great sadness to her presence. I asked her name several times, but she wouldn’t say. Then the other children yelled out her name. I asked her how old she was, but again she wouldn’t say. I started to wonder if she couldn’t speak, but then I was told that’s not the case. She’s just very shy.
So I began to pray with this little girl, who was probably between 4-5 years old. I prayed for a long time with this little one, much longer than any of the other children. I continued to ask God why there was so much sadness, but nothing comes to me. When I’m done, she just stands there and looks into my eyes and doesn’t stop. So I decide to sit down in front of her. She never once looked away, nor did I. This goes on for several minutes, so I stay with it and in the moment. It’s like she’s looking into my soul and trying to discern the situation and safety of me. I understand that all too well.
I tell her three times Jesus loves her as I touched my hand to her heart. She continued to stare at me not flinching or moving. She just stood and stared with no facial expressions. She didn’t move, it was if she was a stone statue. Her eyes spoke of great sadness to my heart.
I then unexpectedly told her, “I, Lisa love you” in Spanish and touched my hand to her heart. I’m surprised this even came out my mouth, but it did and it was in Spanish too. My primary love language is not words of affirmation (The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman), therefore saying “I love you does not come naturally to me. I usually express love in other ways like an act of service or spending quality time with someone. Yet, theses words just popped out of my mouth. It was a surprise to even me.
So there I am sitting in the sand and this little one is standing in front of me and we are having a stare down of sorts. I’ve never experienced anything like it. As soon as I said “I, Lisa love you” and touched her, she leaped forward and threw her arms around my neck. It was as if a tornado or hurricane or something was coming our way and she was holding on for dear life. She held me very tightly and wouldn’t let go. It reminded how a little girl would reach for her daddy and not let go. Much how I leaped for Jesus myself so many years ago.
I held her just as tight as she was holding me and I did not let go. In that moment it was as if time stopped and maybe it did because there is no time and space with God. Yet, I’m certain that moment lasted a good five minutes of her holding on to me with her arms wrapped tightly around my neck, and me embracing her back.
My heart was overwhelmed for this child and a few tears rolled down my cheek that no one saw. I wanted to give her so much, but I did not understand all what was going on other than she desperately needed love and safety. It was this need that spoke deeply to me, as I know it all to well in my own soul the need for love and safety.
Some say the eyes are the window to one’s soul. I absolutely believe she saw something she could trust to make such a leap. Something told her there would be a net and she’d be caught and not fall or rejected by me. I hope it was the love and joy of the Lord, as that’s the best and only gift I had to give in that moment.
“Joy is a net of love in which you can catch souls.” – St. Teresa of Calcutta
All around us was a circle of 15-20 children. By this time everyone was in my drawn circle in the sand and observing this moment of love. Watching, observing, wondering what would happen next. That tiny moment was huge, so much bigger than that little girl and me. Yet, it was as if we were the only two in the sand.
I did not know this little one’s story other than she desperately needed love and needed to feel safe even if just for five minutes. She was not the only reason God sent me to that village, but she was certainly a very important and significant one. What happened I’m certain had an impact on many who saw it.
We all have a deep desire to love and be loved. To be seen and known at the depths of our soul. To be vulnerable and weak and loved through it all. Somehow in that moment God used me in a way that she understood. I saw her and she felt safe enough to be open to receive back the love and security I could offer her. In fact, I could sense the hunger of her need in her leap toward me.
In those moments of elapsed time, God was certainly present for both of us and I do believe I needed that hug as much as her that afternoon. She didn’t let go nor did I. That moment is exactly how God the Father loves each and every one of us. He never lets go, it’s us who do that and get preoccupied with the things and the busyness of the world.
On the way back I find myself in the back of the van with three very curious teenagers. They too are hungry for more and inquire about what they saw and heard me doing in the sand. I talked to them about having a relationship with the Holy Spirit and it was if they’ve never heard this before which concerned me given their Catholic education. I end up telling them about charisms and that they all have them to share in the building of the kingdom.
They asked if I would pray over them. So later that night I honored their request. I told them all how much God loves them, died for each of them, no sin is unforgivable, and God has a plan for each one of them and desires to use them in a mighty way. I sensed their hunger and thirst for more. I too know that hunger and told them “God will meet them, He’s here and He will come.” Our faith is not a experience or feeling, yet some times the Lord comes in a way that draws us closer to grow in relationship with Him. I asked the Lord to baptize them in the Holy Spirit. Each one of these teenagers rested in the presence of the Holy Spirit and when they were ready to move all they could do was smile, laugh, and speak of renewed joy.
Living a life in the Spirit is not an option, but an absolute necessity for one to be fruitful and live in abundance. A Spirit filled supernatural life is not abnormal, but absolutely normal as a Christian. Just look at the lives of the early apostles and lives of the saints, they all lived Spirit filled lives.
St. Bonaventure says that the Holy Spirit comes to a person who is inviting him, desiring him, and praying for him. -Sign of Contradiction by Fr. Dave Pivonka
The way we live out our faith matters. Our witness matters. Our witness is a prophetic action. We never know who’s watching or listening and who will be impacted by our witness.
Let your witness speak of the love and joy of Christ to those around you and share your story. It may change someone’s life and propel them into a new place in their faith journey and in their relationship with Christ, ultimately leading them further down the path of holiness into the life of sanctity and eternal life with Jesus and the communion of saints.
To my prayer warriors please pray for Ella, Sam, Ellie, Taylor, and Sara that they continue on in this journey of faith and invitation that’s been started for them here in Peru. Their courage, bravery, and hunger was humbling and inspiring to me. I praise God for allowing me to serve them so they can become giant slayers in the kingdom.
To learn more about the Holy Spirit I suggest the following resources.
1) I highly recommend the series “The Wild Goose Is Loose.” Series (It’s a Free on-line video series of 13 short segments on the Holy Spirit) https://thewildgooseisloose.com
- “More of the Holy Spirit, How to Keep the Fire Burning in Our Hearts” by Sr. Ann Shields
- “Breath of God, Living a Life Led by the Holy Spirit” by Fr. Dave Pivonka
- “Sober Intoxication of the Spirit” by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa
There are many more books, but these are just of the few books I’ve read that I’ve liked on living a Spirit filled life.