This is a guest blog post from Pastor Jason.
Greetings from Peru! What a whirlwind couple of days. Sorry it has taken so long to get this first blog put out, but hopefully you’ve stayed in touch through posts and tweets from the team.
It is truly hard to believe that it hasn’t even been a full 48 hours since we left our homes in Colorado. So much has happened since then that I’m not sure where to start. So, I guess I’ll start from the beginning.
On Monday morning we began quite the journey. Arriving at the airport around 8:00am you could sense an excitement in this team. Five of us were on the cusp of returning to Peru, while 15 were stepping into the unknown. Full of energy we checked in to our international flight via Houston and headed to the gate.
It was here that we met up with our Compassion lead, Parker Crumbaker. Sitting around the gate area we chatted about everything from questions about Peru, to sports and entertainment. Again, you could sense the excitement in the team and maybe a little fear of the unknown.
Finally, at 11:15am we were off on a very long days journey to Lima, Peru. I’ll spare you the details but I will tell you that it was near midnight when we finally arrived at our hotel in Lima. For some this felt a bit like a homecoming as we stayed at the same hotel as our last trip two years ago, but for most of the team this was all brand new. New sites to see, new smells to smell and new languages to hear. What an awesome time!
After a few short hours of sleep we were back in the Lima airport on our way to Piura where we would meet up with Pastor Paul and his lovely bride Betty. From there we traveled two hours by bus and arrived in Talara for a late lunch and a little downtime before the excitement.
Finally the time had come for us to board the bus and head to the small village of Negritos, Peru where the Compassion Child Development Center and Negritos Iglesia Del Nazareno are located. It’s hard to put into words what it feels like when you drive up to this small church building. Packed inside were 150+ people and still others were standing outside cheering as we drove up.
Upon arrival we made our way into the church building but not before stopping to shake hands, hug, kiss and become acquainted with our new family. These people were so completely full of love and acceptance. The joy on their faces was contagious and immediately we sensed the Spirit of God on these people. I can only imagine that this will be what it’s like when we go home to our eternal home. A greeting so full of love and excitement!
For the next two or so hours we had the opportunity to see some of the children present dances and songs for us and we spent time sharing in worship with these wonderful people as they shouted their praise with a gusto that is all but lost in our country. Believe me, I could spend the next 30 minutes writing about just that, but I’ll spare you. Just know that we could certainly learn a thing or two about what it is to praise our God from these people. We also had time to introduce ourselves and listen to a short message from Pastor Paul about faith.
Finally after more time spent in worship and prayer it was time for the service to end. Honestly, even as hot as it was in that building and as tired as I know I was, I’m sure our team was ready for it to keep going. There is something electric that happens when the Holy Spirit descends upon a place and that was happening in that building tonight.
Now for the moment of the night and my chance to get a little personal… As the night was drawing to a close I was able to turn around and see Naomi. Naomi is the precious six-year old girl who Stacey and I sponsor. When our eyes met for the first time in two years I immediately saw a little girls face literally light up. Now I have no idea what my face looked like at the time but based on the sore muscles in my cheek I can imagine that I was grinning from ear to ear. Anyway, we climbed around, over and through chairs and came together for an embrace that I wish I could bottle up and re-live over and over again.
Over thousands of miles traveled and through language barriers, Naomi and I were able to share a moment that I can only hope and pray that each of you has the opportunity to experience. There is nothing that can even begin to describe to you what that moment feels like unless you’re a parent and then it resembles something like the embrace of your own child, but this is just different. After our embrace we shared some moments talking, I loved on her mom and even had the opportunity to talk with my own mom’s sponsor child and family.
What a whirlwind two days! From the nervous excitement on Monday morning to a child’s embrace on Tuesday night my heart is so completely filled with joy. I want to say thank you to all of you who supported financially for us to be here and I want to say thanks to all of you who continue to pray for us. Know that those of us who are here have an opportunity to experience God’s love in a way that is so new and different to us, but it’s only because of you back home. Thanks so much for keeping up with us. This is only the beginning! Stay tuned as many of us share through social media our experiences. I pray that these writings will be a small blessing as you see how we are being blessed in Peru. Love you and miss you all.
Pastor Jason Staudinger