Once again, I just wanted to thank all of you who have supported me financially, spiritually, and/or emotionally during my trip to Peru. I’m even more thankful now that I have lived through the experience and I have seen what God has done. I posted pictures on Facebook but that was just a glimpse of the depth of what I experienced. I would love for you, my family, friends, and supporters, to know what God has done and what I’ve learned! You were part of this ministry and your generosity & support changed lives, including my own.
The biggest overarching lesson I learned on this trip was more of a personal one:
1. God’s plan is rarely straightforward.
As some of you know, I recently decided to change my major from Social Work to Nursing. Through the decision making process, I have been struggling with a lot of doubt and questioning. Why would God send me for one year of YWAM in Australia, one year at a private college in Boston, one and half years at a public college in Lancaster, and then to nursing school? If I would have started nursing school three years ago, I could be graduating right now. I’ve been disappointed in myself because I felt like I was so behind in life. However, I realized my disappointment was because of this absurd expectation of a perfect five-year plan. College. Successful job. More successful job. Although this plan is not inherently bad, it puts yourself, your future, and God in a pretty small box. Life is so much more… and God is so much more creative and detailed than the “American Dream.”
I got this picture of a straight path that was short, but pretty empty. Around it was a winding path full of life. I was on the winding path, but since I thought I was supposed to be on the straight path, I was unhappy. In my unhappiness I missed all the goodness of being where I was. In Peru it finally dawned on me that God often moves in roundabout ways… not to trick us or spoil our plans, but to show us the richness of life in Him.
Right after I had this revelation, I was told that we had a few opportunities to go to clinics and hospitals… I felt like this was such confirmation of my future in the medical field. We went to a state run hospital (which doesn’t get much funding) to pray for people on the neurology floor. Many of the patients were paralyzed and although it was hard to see so many extremely difficult situations I felt like I belonged in that setting… and even though I was on the verge of tears I knew God’s joy was in that place. We got to share God’s hope in what seemed like hopeless situations, and pray for people with so much pain. It was hard but I loved every moment because I know that I am healed to heal others. << One of my life mottos.
“But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” Matthew 7:14
2. God is pursuing EVERYONE.
We met this old Quechuan woman (an American Indian population in Peru) who lived alone in the mountains. (She honestly looked like grandmother willow from Pocahontas.) She only spoke Quechua so our contact translated what she said into Spanish, and Hannah then translated it into English. She told us that she used to have extremely bad arthritis in her hands to the point of being unable to open them. One night she had a dream that a man in all white (who we believe was Jesus) touched her hands and healed them. In the morning when she woke up she was able to open her hands for the first time in ages. It’s easy to be skeptical about stories like this… I know I often am, but I truly believe God pursued this woman and healed her. Our encounter with her was just confirmation that God wanted her to know how much He loves her and is pursuing her heart.
PC: Hannah Lenz
3. God can do A LOT when you’re open and willing.
I’m so thankful I got to serve with a team of AMAZING (seriously incredible) people. My four other team members are some of the most positive, and willing souls I have ever known. God opened up so many opportunities for us; a women’s prison, clinics, hospitals, homes of alcoholics, homes of abused women, one of the poorest schools in Cusco, and even random people on the street.
One evening in Cusco’s main plaza, we asked God if there was anyone He wanted us to pray for. One of the team members felt like we were supposed to pray for someone with lower back pain. From then on, a majority of the people we encountered had lower back pain and we got to pray for them! Just think of all the people we could have missed if our eyes and ears weren’t open or willing.
There are so many things I learned and experienced during these past three weeks that I can’t put into words. However, I can say that it was the most amazing trip of my life, and Peru is my new favorite country. One day I hope to go back… maybe even as nurse! Who knows what God has planned, but I’m so thankful that He allowed me to go off the beaten path for a few weeks.
Thank you all again!
Written for www.lesleyandricks.wordpress.com