I could probably say that I knew God had something in store for me in Peru before I even got here. What that would look like I had no idea but was anxious to find out. Since being here though, God has taught me things about Himself and myself and challenged me in several ways.
One of the first things that has continued to have a large impact on me physically and spiritually is the environment here. No one can fully prepare you and or explain just what it's like to live at 11,500 feet in the air (that over two miles high just for a different perspective). God has created these people with an incredible physical strength to withstand their surroundings. For as long as I can remember, I have had some respiratory issues, being active keeps my lungs stronger for sure but we are so spoiled in the US, having plenty of oxygen all the time that you don't have to think about breathing or how much your breath affects your body. It is definitely easier to breath now than it was my first couple of days here but as soon as I felt myself acclimating to the thin air, I woke with asthma in the night and the next couple of days developed a bit of a head cold/sore throat. This is not to complain but rather make my point in what God has been drawing out of me and developing in me.
Some of you know that I have a bit of an independent spirit... my pastor recently described it as a fierce independence. Independence is not something God calls us to as His followers. He calls us to follow Him, to put our faith and trust in Him, to allow Him to be our Provider and Savior, and to be Lord of our lives. This is not possible with a "fierce independence." We are to be a part of the larger Christian community, codependent on each other and on our God. Part of this dependence requires an intimacy with God that I think is not so frequently found in people's walks with God as it should be. I was challenged and convicted of all this before I left Peru and God has only used this time to more fully develop this dependence and intimacy with Him. I have prayed His breath and His strength and life to fill me. I realized very quickly that adjusting to the physical strain of the altitude would require me to depend on Him to be provide the air I need but also that because there is a significant language barrier between me and the people I come in contact with (at least for now) that my breath and my life must exude Christ without words.
The other day, I was walking around Centro (downtown/historic Cusco) with Emily (a volunteer at the school). We started talking about missions and she was asking how I came to live in PA and then to end up in Peru right now. I was reflecting a bit on what God has done in my heart in regards to what it means to give your life to Him and how often we try to take back control of our own lives. I have said "never" in regards to many things that I decided I didn't want to do. Learning Spanish was one of those things I said I would never do primarily because it was the language everyone else was learning and I was not going to conform to that trend especially in the EMU community so I learned a bit of any other language I could get my hands on, German, French, Arabic, and Hebrew. And here I am in Peru, surrounded by Spanish and the only English I find is when I'm with other missionaries or reading my English Bible. If I come to serve here, learning Spanish fluently will be essential. I didn't outwardly refuse to spend time in Central or South America but inwardly I for some reason was never attracted to these regions and somewhat avoided them. This year alone, I have been both to Haiti and here. So much for staying out of these parts of the world. Each time I have discussed an assignment with EMM, my only stipulation was that I needed to be some place warm and sunny because of how emotionally the climate affects me and the fact that I'm always freezing... Cusco isn't warm unless the sun is shining and then it's almost blinding because we're so much closer to it than in PA. The clouds roll in over the mountains at least once a day sometimes raining and sometimes not. It feels like Vermont in mid to late spring most of the time. All of this to say, God has taken some of my idols out of my life and replaced it with an open heart. There are still some things that I'm wrestling with as it relates to an assignment here but we'll see what happens in the next week.