I'll start with the ride from the airport in Iquitos to the boat we took to Puerto Alegria. As tears streamed down my face I was quickly reminded of all I saw the year I traveled the world. The tears were a result of how much I have forgotten. Lesson 1: Remember the places God has taken you and things He has shown you. It is so easy to forget in the busyness of life. God gave me the privilege of a pilgrimage 2 years ago. He showed me many people, places and things. There is a whole world out there much different then the bubble of America we live in. I have been so caught up in wanting the American Dream these past 2 years, that I forgot the world outside the walls of America. It is so much bigger than us and in reality I have so much more than 99% of the world. I am ridiculously blessed and yet so often I am discontent because my life doesn't look like I thought it would at age 32. Lord forgive me just kept repeating in my head. I was humbled.
We hopped on this sweet boat pictured here. It was like a giant wooden canoe with a roof and a nice motor. We moved down the river about an hour and arrived at the place we would call home for the next week, Puerto Alegria. We were welcomed by 47 smiles excited for us to be a part of their world for the next week. And that is exactly what we did. Language was a barrier, but you don't need words to preach the gospel. You just need love. We played soccer, took lots of pictures, laid in the hammocks, made crafts, built some things, laughed a lot and swam in the river. Lesson 2: Become Like a Child. Sunday morning I was journaling and as I watched the little ones run around and laugh without a worry in the world, I felt Jesus saying, "Become like a child Liz." Children have a unique innocence about them, they are curious and long to know people. They have no worries and are full of laughter and love. They trust easily and have little fear. I believe all these characteristics lead to freedom. When we become like a child and live like a child, we will experience freedom. (On a side note, I read "Heaven Is For Real" this day on the boat to and from church - if you have not read it, check it out - well worth your time and a great picture of faith like a child.)
Lesson 3: The Importance of Community. We had a great team that meshed together incredibly for these 9 days. We represented 4 different states and all different ages, but we quickly became one and it was as if we had known each other for years. We worked together to love these boys and show them Christ. We shared, worshipped and prayed together. It was a sweet time of fellowship. I have been blessed with community in all locations since college, but I have struggled to find it this past year and a half in NJ. I have met some phenomenal believers, I attend a great Church and friendships are growing, but I haven't made those friendships a priority. This trip reminded me that you have to be intentional to find community and it is so important. We were created to do life together, not alone. I believe we will make an impact far great together, than if we try to do it alone.
This blog is getting long and I apologize, but there is one final thing I would like to conclude with. It is the thing I feel like God has been screaming to me through a megaphone for the last year. It isn't anything earth shattering or new, in fact it is something all of us need to hear over and over again from Him. Lesson 4: TRUST ME, I LOVE YOU. For me it took leaving my comfort zone, seeing God's hand on 47 young men in the Peruvian Jungle who have been pulled out of dark circumstances and given a second chance. Their smiles and joy alone reminds you that there is something so much bigger than you and all your junk. It doesn't discredit our struggles or issues, but it reminds me that the manuscript for our lives is written. God has our best interests in mind and He is working out a plan for each of our lives. His love is far deeper than we will ever comprehend. I'm thankful that He took me on this journey and His pursuit of me is so relentless that He will do whatever it takes to reach my heart. He used my little buddy Lexon, pictured below to remind me daily in Peru that He loves me and has a specific plan and purpose for my life. I pray He used me to show him and the other boys that as well. I'm believing God has a great plan for his life, my life and all of our lives. It starts with trust and belief, that is where you find true rest for your soul.
Thanks for your support, prayers and being a part of my story. Much love. Peace.
More pictures can be viewed on my facebook at:
Puerto Alegria or Puerto Alegria Dos