Everything is silver. The sky, the thin fog, the mountains. If I were outside of this bus, I’m sure my skin would even chime in and glow a white-blue. All around the mountains are laden with tall grass. It’s grass that if you brush up against the wrong way it will give you a stern prick in the calf, as if to say, watch where you’re going, can’t you see I’m a plant sitting here doing planty-things? During this time of the year it becomes so dry it starts to look like straw. When it’s dry like this it reflects light and tonight, the poky grass is blazing white, and it looks like the mountains have been lightly brushed with a layer of snow. It’s pretty, and it makes me feel good that I’m here.
I’m in the front-ish section of a bus/van/human-death-trap. The seats are possibly homemade and are covered with cheap fabric tucked in at the corners willy-nilly. Who knows who, or even what has traveled on these seats, we just passed a bus similar to the one we occupy with live sheep tied to it’s roof, there’s no doubting anything that you can pack in these babies. The best policy is to not touch anything with a bare hand. This particular bus may have been tailored to my very size, because my knees are pressed against the metal up-rise that separates the human-cargo area from the driver and the two passengers along-side him. On top of the up-rise rests part of our movie equipment, and I start to get worried as I feel hot air blowing on my knees. I then realize that the up-rise is where the motor is located. I have to check to feel if the metal is getting too hot against the equipment and find that it will survive, so I snuggle down into it and welcome the warmth.
I look across the man to my left, who’s head is flopping around dangerously… and curiously so, at that, for that head being attached to a man that I think is still alive. Passed said man the window yields a spectacular view of the Altiplano, that means high plains. That’s where we are. We’re on our way back from Ilave going to Puno but I’m in the sky, riding this feeling. I take in the spectacle of the thin fog, otherwise invisible if the moon wasn’t present, and through that the shimmering lake, that is the Lake Titicaca. My head swims with all the imagery and the memories of these past two days.
I have my headphones pushed tightly into my ears so I don’t have to hear the chola singing on the radio. Rather, I’m listening to Jadon Lavik. I’m listening to hymns. God’s awesome power, His awesome plan, His awesomeness is awing me. I’m thinking about yesterday.
I was in a much nicer bus than this one, but I was doing something similar to what I’m doing now… thinking. I was thinking about how Nelson went home and how that is another person gone. That made me think about a few days before that when Sixto and I heard Queen singing, another one bites the dust HUH! And I was also thinking about ways that I’ve grown and the future to come. Then, rather out of nowhere, I began to feel strange. It was a feeling I had never felt before. My head began to feel light and my thoughts began to spread out thinly. At the moment I was eating a piece of bread and I started to wonder if someone had drugged me. But, the thing that got me was, I was on the edge of panicking. I started to pray. I asked God why He was making me feel this way. But, then I realized this was nothing from God, this was the enemy. Throughout this whole week, Satan has been trying to set up stumbling stones before our feet and I knew this was another. I sent the other’s in the team a text message to get some prayer going. When we got to Ilave, I told Sixto about my near One Flew Off The Cuckoo’s Nest episode and we prayed.
Later that day we went to the marketplace. We had an appointment with an older lady who sells fruit. At the time I didn’t remember her name, but we asked again. Her name is Serafina. Serafina has a kind and sweet heart, as sweet as the fruit that she sells in her small booth. She has two platforms that are designed like steps so there are three different levels. She sits between them and tends to her customers. I’m pretty sure that she has dentures as well. We walked up to her stand and began to chat. Sixto then told her I had something I wanted to talk to her about. So, I pulled out of my backpack a lesson book that we normally go through with new contacts. The first three lessons are sin, salvation and repentence… I like to do them all in one, because that just makes sense to me. Serafina doesn’t know how to read. I gave her the book, but she put it aside and listened, even after I had asked her if she could read. While I sat on a short stool talking with her many customers and even other store owners came to see what the gringuito was doing talking to Serafina. I had a chance to show off the Aymara that I knew (that’s the local native indian language), which thrilled them all that a white boy could speak their language. Through this one lesson with Serafina we got three other people’s names to visit and talk more with about the Bible and Serafina gave her life to Christ.
At the restaurant we frequent on Wednesdays in Ilave we also had the opportunity to talk to the lady that mans the counter. We found out her name is Yovana. I’m so thankful for the partner I have, because he can and will talk to just about anybody about anything. I think he would make a good politician, actually. But, he a while ago had mentioned to Yovana who we are and what we’re doing here. Yesterday, we asked her to come to our church in Ilave. She said yes, and was enthusiastic about it.
Even later that day, I had gone to Richard’s house to do a study with his family. When I got there I found out that Manuel, his father, wasn’t home yet. I went in anyway. I got to meet with his mother and a relative of theirs that I never had an opportunity to really talk to. I think she is a cousin of theirs. She was elated that I was there and was checking the window periodically to see if her husband was arriving. He eventually did get there, and that’s when I found out they were very interested in getting plugged into some kind of church somewhere, but didn’t know where to go.
I’m looking at the moon and I’m thinking how amazing God is. Chris Tomlin is playing now, and his words are right in sync with my thoughts. Lord, you are the creator of everything! You are so amazing. And it makes me think even more about what He is doing here in Peru!
Today is Thursday. Today is the day we go to Juli. There is a family that lives in Juli who amazes me everytime we go out there. Today, Fredi, the man of the house, invited family to come to his house to meet us. Sixto and I were not aware of this. We walked into where we normally do our Bible study with the Viscarra family to find that Fredi had taken out one of the beds, mopped the floor, and placed stackable chairs in the room. He had opened his home for the Lord’s work. When people started arriving we welcomed them into the small study area. We greeted 8 new people into Fredi’s home and had 11 in total present. One of them was a 21 year old young man who two weeks ago had a serious accident. He and his friends had gotten drunk and stupidly had gotten into a car. The car rolled 3 times. Yhon, is his name. He had split his head open in the accident. His life has been changed dramatically. The left side of his face is paralyzed and he may of had some brain damage. When Sixto had finished giving his message and asked who wanted to give their lives to the Lord, Yhon raised his hand without waiting more than a moment after the proposal. All 8 people who came gave their lives to the Lord.
We are coming around the bend to the city. Puno. The city lights reflect off the lake as long lines running down deep into the ground. It’s a pretty image to think about. Right now, God’s joy is like rays of light shining deep down into my heart. I don’t know if all the contacts we made these past few days are long-lasting. I don’t know if all 8 people we met tonight in Juli are sincere in their decision for Christ. But, what I do know is that Satan tried to pull us down hard, and he lost.
The bus wobbles as the driver’s probably woken from a quick bout of sleepiness. I clutch a little tighter to the picture frame that’s pressed against my chest. It’s an image of Christ. He is hunched forward being whipped. His skin is split open and there are cliche-drawn blood drops dripping from his body. Around it are other little figurines. It’s called El Señor de Huanca (The Lord of Huanca). It’s an idol. It comes from the Catholic Church. Fredi gave it to us off his wall so that we could get rid of it for him. He doesn’t want idols in his home. It’s a reminder to me of the promising change that we are seeing in our contacts. It’s a reminder to me that God is bigger.