The country of Peru is beautiful both in the people and landscapes that adorn the horizon. The Peruvian people have a faith to move mountains; despite their clear lacking of most material goods, they had an inspiring hope and trust in Divine Providence. On two occasions, I was literally swept toward the alter in a crowd of Peruvians reaching toward God in prayer. I hope that I will have such devotion in prayer and such an unfailing trust in God’s presence in my life. The landscapes of Peru were also nothing short of heavenly. At Machu Picchu, we literally sat for hours and stared at the mountains in silence, captivated by their beauty. Up in the harshest conditions of the Andes, the mountains pierced the sky with a combined gentleness and power but still provided a home for the people and alpacas alike. God did some good work there.
The other defining characteristic of this trip was the community that we had among the seven missionaries- five American university students and our two “Moms” – one Peruvian AMI and one Brasilian Fraterna. I think it can be best described in three moments:
“Lord, please deliver us from silly devotions and sour-faced saints.” ~ St. Theresa of Avila
1. While Lu took Lauren to the hospital, the rest of us were waiting at the casita. Lucia was finally telling us her life story, as she approached the end saying, “and then I made my promise of discernment,” I realized I was about to vomit (I had been battling a stomach bug). Immediately Maddie started to fix my hair, Connie handed me an assortment of barf bags for my choice, and Lucia, after seeing that I was well cared-for, started yelling “is this your response to my promise of discernment?!” Everyone stood with me and started laughing as I threw up. Vomiting really can’t be a more pleasant experience. When I was done, everyone agreed to sit with me on the frigid tile until I was ready to move again. That’s family.
2. When we were at the cultural dance restaurant in Cuzco, a Brazilian guy introduced himself to Jessie, Lucia, and I. He asked where we were from, and we responded “I’m from Texas… I’m from Pennsylvania… I’m from Arequipa… and we have one other from Brazil.” Shocked, the guy asked how we all knew each other, and we responded “We’re all Catholic.” It truly is the Universal Church.
3. On the Sunday we lived in Ayaviri, we celebrated the sabbath by hiking with Ricardo up to Tenijani, a beautiful rock formation. We hiked up the trails and toward a cross the people had built on the top of the rock. We decided to take a picture there, and as were assembling, someone said “Let’s all get closer to the cross.” I want that to be the mindset with every group I join. After all, the true purpose of friendship is to “mutually perfect one another and draw closer to God.”
In the end, the goal is to be saints. I think this trip gave me opportunities to take baby steps in that direction.
Post written by Laura B. from Texas. Laura was a participant in Creatio’s Mission Trip to Peru in January, 2015.