Yesterday, on our flight to Peru, I sat next to a woman who I didn’t know. If you asked me before our journey about what I was most excited for, you probably heard me enthuse about practicing my Spanish with Peruvian people. On the flight to Miami I sat next to two Spanish speakers and I was determined to make conversation. When one of them sneezed I said bless you, but in ENGLISH. UGH! I missed my chance. Luckily, we had another flight to Lima and I sat next to two Spanish speakers again. The woman next to me didn’t seem to understand English, so I was quiet in the beginning. A few hours into the flight, I had to use the restroom very badly and I didn’t want to go to the lavatory as that would disturb my seatmates. I practiced saying I need to use the restroom in my head in Spanish a few times until I finally said to the woman next to me “Senora, Necessito usar al bano” (Ma’am I need to use the restroom). I then quickly slid out of my seat and to the restroom as she mumbled something that I didn’t understand. When I returned, she spoke again and I could only understand a few words. I heard “rapido” and “linda” (quickly and pretty/small) and then I realized that she was saying I moved very quickly to the restroom because I was so skinny. She was probably confused as how I was able to afford a trip to Peru as in most South American cultures, being fat is a sign of wealth and being skinny is a sign of poverty. I’m not sure if she meant it as a compliment, but that’s how I took it and said “Gracias”.
After a bit of small talk later, I told her that I was going to Peru with my church to do Mission Work (“Trabajo de Cristo”). I gave her a rundown of our itinerary and told her that we were going to help the children (“Ayadamos los ninos”) which we technically are since we are building a multi-purpose room. Then she said something that I didn’t understand. She repeated it three times so I knew that it was important. Then she broke down, and I got it. Yo se rezare, yo se rezare, yo se rezare—I will pray for you.
A woman that I just met, that I could barely communicate with, said that she would pray for me, for us as we help others is Peru. Wow. I was a little surprised by this. I appreciated her support and promise to pray, but I never expected a stranger to be so inviting and kind. The next day, another flight, and a bus ride later, we were in Urcos. The Peruvians again surprised me by their warm- welcomes. The Peruvian Christians at the church where we had worship and supper constantly referred to us as brothers and sisters in Christ and praised us for pledging to work with them. They were so appreciative of us; it was almost as if they thought God sent us to save them. Then I wondered if they welcomed all American groups with such wide-arms. Our translators, Sara and Rusty, continued to tell us that people in Peru love their culture, love their towns, and want to share their culture. I didn’t completely believe them until today. I don’t think that I have ever spoken to so many strangers in Spanish before. It was so exciting! And a little stressful. At dinner, Tess Kelly was talking to the band that played for us during worship. She seemed so relaxed and was able to communicate effectively. Well, for the most part she was spitting out random facts, such as the United States has 50 states, but regardless the Peruvians were very entertained.
I am excited to meet new people tomorrow and adjust to the hole-in-the-ground toilets at the work site.
Blessings and Buenas Noches!
Wow, Christianity DOES spread worldwide. I know that that is super cliché, but I started to understand the un-explicit, non-verbal bonds that people hold through religions; religion surpasses any language barrier. And even though I didn’t understand most of the worship service at the Urcos Church, I knew that they praise God in the same way we do