I returned about a week ago from spending Christmas with most of my family in Peru. I didn’t realize until I was there how much I had missed them. Our time together was a treasure – especially spending it with my sister and brother, my dad and step-mom, and my uncle and aunt and cousins – I truly love them all so much, and they are just a joy to be around. We rented a beach home in the north of Peru and spent almost a week laughing, playing games, getting tossed by waves, surfing, talking until late in the night, and treasuring each others company. It was such a gift.
Our last night there I sat out alone by the campfire on the beach, listening to the music of the waves. My feet were buried in the cool white sand while I watched the waxing moon and countless stars above cause the whitewater of the crashing waves to almost glow. I felt renewed and alive. I didn’t want to leave.
I remember coming home from a camping trip in the mountains when I was younger and listening to my uncle. He said, “Whenever I come up here, I feel so alive. It’s hard to leave. It’s so beautiful, and I imagine the joy that God has in his creation. And when we leave here, we drive back down into the city – the pollution, the dirtiness, the crowds, the noise, the ugliness. I long for the calm of the mountains. But then I realize that there are millions of individuals living in the city – millions of people, each put together by our Creator with great love and care. He treasures them above all the mountains and lakes and rivers and oceans…” I have never forgotten it.
And so, I leave the waves, the pounding surf, the sun setting orange and pink over the ocean. I say good-bye to the beauty of God’s creation, and embrace the precious treasures of the street kids and the poor and broken of Rio de Janeiro and Manguinhos. It’s hard coming back – but for now, I’m back.
And, for your viewing pleasure, a few snapshots of some of the people and places that made my time in Peru so great…