Hannah and I were in one of the Peruvian markets, and were looking at some sweet little ornaments, when Hannah said to me, "Mom, we need to get something Peruvian for our tree! I agreed, and we bought four adorable little Peruvian angels (two girls, two boys), complete with chullos (the Peruvian hats that are popular even in the States now). I started thinking about how the children have taken Peru into their hearts and have started to grow a place in their hearts that will always belong to Peru. The rest of their lives will not be the same for having lived here, having seen both the beauty and extreme poverty of this place. They will always love Lomo Saltado (awesome Peruvian-style beef stir fry) and remember the many churches we visit that meet in tents with gravel floors, and they will never see their own culture through the same eyes again. I don't have to explain to them that there are people who don't have enough to eat or kids who live in just one little room with the rest of their family. They have met them, and some of them go to our church!
I recently had a conversation with a wonderful German missionary who grew up in Africa. She shared with me about how the African people sang in every event, happy or sad, and how they danced and expressed whatever they were feeling. She also spoke with pride and affection of the old hymns from Germany, and how wonderful they were, but remembered being surprised on return to Germany how differently the Germans responded to music and emotion. I saw in her eyes that she was not completely one or the other-- how she loved both cultures from her heart, longing for a place where both were loved, understood, and appreciated.
Hebrews 11 tells us of the fathers of faith and how they knew they were strangers and aliens on this earth. Their hope in eternity made their lives different. They made different choices, took huge steps of faith, and obeyed God against all logic because they had their eyes fixed on another country that they have yet to inherit. Living between two cultures makes one feel like something of a stranger in both. You love both, see the strengths and weaknesses of both, and know that you don't fully fit in either! Our prayer is that this helps us to live like our ancestors of the Hall of Faith-- that we keep our eyes on the heavenly citizenship that awaits us in heaven. For those of you who support us in prayer and offerings, we can't tell you how grateful we are to have your confidence and your heart as we sojourn here in Peru!