Sunday, January 17, 2016

Peru Update 6 - Pre-Christmas Preparations

Merry Christmas!

In a few hours I will be traveling north to the coastal village of San Pedro to spend Christmas with the host family from my 2012 internship. After the chaos of the past few weeks, I´m looking forward to relaxing on the beach.

Amidst the fracas of administering tests, grading exams, calculating averages, archiving records, and inventorying class supplies, I set aside a day to tour Saint Cristobal´s Cross, an iconic monument overlooking the city of Lima. Aside from the breathtaking panorama, I obtained a better grasp of the city´s outlay as well as an entertaining history lesson from our tour guide.

 After a spine-tingling descent in our rickety bus, I walked around the plaza with a friend, taking in the Christmas lights, crèche scenes, and watching church members observe mass in the cathedral. 

Notwithstanding the roiling masses of shoppers, decorations, and Christmas propaganda, it didn't feel like Christmas until I arrived in Trujillo, the city where I spent my summer in 2012. Only after attending the Christmas cantata in my old church (complete with hot chocolate and fruitcake), filling goody bags for the children's ministry in a neighboring village, and going Christmas caroling with friends (see photo above), did it finally feel like Christmas!

Since Christmas caroling is primarily a Western tradition, people were surprised when we knocked on their door and told them we wanted to share a Christmas serenade (for free!) It was interesting to see their reactions ranging from joyful surprise to cynical suspicion. Some didn´t answer the door, or closed it in our faces. Others received us with joy, sending us away with small gifts like marshmallows or notepads. Still others invited us into their home, walking a block to the store to buy us all juice. It struck me that Christ is received in the same way. Some ignore His persistent knocking, others close the door in His face saying, ¨I´m busy. Go away.¨ Others receive His free gift of salvation with unexpected delight, inviting Him into their hearts and giving freely of themselves.

Amidst the hustle and bustle that comes with the season, don´t forget to carve out time to meditate on this:

¨The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearance of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed.¨ --Titus 2:11-14 

May Christ´s peace dwell in your hearts this Christmas.