Friday, November 30, 2012

Transformation in a young girl's life

I'm editing blog posts that somehow never got published. Here is a video that I (Bill) took three years ago of a girl (whom we'll call "Laurie") in one of our Latin America ChildCare (LACC)  schools in Lima. Here, Laurie is in the computer lab that LACC helped to purchase for the school. Laurie's story is an excellent example of the Gospel in action. She was kicked out of all the other schools in the area. Her parents put her in our LACC school as a last ditch effort. When she entered the school, she was more than a handful – kicking and biting the students and teachers. She would throw temper tantrums, forcing the teachers to hold her down. The director told me that the teachers would hold her down and pray over her until she settled down. The teachers began a concerted effort to pray for her outside of class and in their meetings. After time, her attitude began to change. Now, she is a model student. After she changed, her mother came to the church. She gave her life to the Lord and is attending regularly. The father also attends, though I don't know if he is a believer--yet. The family loves the school and the church. This story is a testimony to the power of the school and the church working together to change the destiny of a whole family!

Hannah dances the Marinera

This from Bill: 

I've been going through our blog and found some articles that we never posted. I'm not sure why this one never got published, since I'm the one who wrote it and I love the subject; that is, the beautiful dance "the Marinera," and pictures of one of my favorite people in the world--my daughter Hannah!

One of the beautiful cultural traditions of Peru is the Marinera--where a couple dance to marching band music, waving a handkerchief. The dance is a little flirty and involves hiding a fake kiss. These pictures are a few years old and are of Hannah and her friends doing the "girls only" part of the dance. Hannah goes to a Christian school, so there's not even the hint of a fake kiss on this stage. As the parents of a lovely teen-ager, we're fine with that decision.

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Here's a post that Lena wrote some time back, for Resurrection Sunday:

Jesus' death and resurrection was all about reconciliation.  That is a fancy word for making-up.  We were in a place where we could never, ever pay for what we had done, and Jesus paid the bill.

Have you ever felt that way in a relationship here on earth?  Sometimes we get so far away from each other.  It starts with an offense.  Maybe the offense grows as the "offender"  continues to hurt our feelings, or maybe it just grows inside of us as we mull it over and let it take root in our hearts.  For whatever reason, a gorge begins to grow into a chasm that is bigger than we can imagine ever jumping over.  We have done something, or have had something done to us that will never seem right.

I have heard so many awesome ways people are trying to make Resurrection Sunday (some of us are trying by changing what we call it!!) more meaningful.  They all are awesome!  I love feeding the homeless, doing outreaches--being creative with how we love.  I would like to add another idea: take the steps to be reconciled to someone.  If you don't know how to begin, start with crying out to God!  He may start doing some things in the other person's heart that will surprise you as a fruit of your prayers.  Be humble and take your part in the offense without insisting they do the same.  Do it because He loves you and forgave you EVERYTHING.  You might change someone's life by putting on Christ-like selflessness, and you will certainly be better.

Maybe it will be a gesture of love--God will help you see your way through.  I am learning that words aren't always the most important way of communicating.  No matter how it is expressed, it will bring life.  Even if the gesture is not openly received, it can be freely given, and God sees it all.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Day of the Dead in Peru

This from Bill:

November 1st is the day when Peru celebrates “the Day of the Dead.” I never gave a great deal of thought to the Day of the Dead in the states. In the past, I often went to cemeteries to pray--because they are peaceful and beautifully landscaped. As such, the idea of going to a cemetery for a picnic lunch, remembering your past loved one(s), seemed morbid, but not that far out of the possibility range. But, in Peru, the idea takes on a much different meaning than merely remembering your past loved ones—it is a partial reenactment of their ancient pagan ceremonies. Prior to the Spanish conquest of Peru, the Incas worshipped their ancestors by setting the mummies in a prominent place and then having lunch with them. Clairvoyants were employed to receive messages from the dead. The people would set out food and pour out beer in the mummy's presence, so that the mummy could enjoy them and, in return, pass on blessings to the living.  The beer was (and continues to be) a big part of the celebration. I envision the clairvoyant’s conversation going something like this:

"Your great grandfather is here and he thanks you for the ham sandwiches and the corn-nuts, but he will not give you his blessing."

"Why will he not bestow on us the blessing?"

"Because you're stingy with the beer and you’re only serving him the cheap stuff!"

The Incas were not stingy with the dead. When the Spanish conquered Peru, one third of the country’s food was being offered to the dead, which resulted in starvation among the tribes the Incas had conquered. In the pagan ceremonies where they partied with their ancestors, the Incas poured out so much beer (for the dead), that it ran out of fountains and through channels that lined the streets of Cusco. Because of the influence of Catholicism, most Peruvians do not offer meals to the dead directly, anymore; but they do continue the practice of eating and drinking in the presence of the deceased. And the beer continues to flow—though nowadays, it does not flow through the streets; rather, it flows through the family members who use this day as an excuse to get drunk and attach some kind of generally religious notion to it. 

The pictures below are from an NBC news photoblog, detailing the practices of some of the families in Lima. The photos are beautiful and serve as reminders of the need for the Gospel in this stark and barren land.