Oasis

Several days ago we bumped down a rutted dirt road towards one of the poorest areas of Lima. Dust, dirt, garbage, shanty’s…mangy dogs were everywhere. The neighborhood was called ‘Oasis’…and that seemed almost a cruel reminder of what it was not.

The van jolted to a stop several times at piles of garbage and rocks so high it was impassable, and a sudden detour was needed. (These kinds of things aren’t cause for frustration around here….just need a little friendly yelling out the window and some creativity, and you’ll find another way;o)

20161215_181304_000Pastor Walter, a new contact to the Christmas dinner ministry, led us to a look out over the water front…and the same dusty roads and shantys lined the grey ocean lapping at the shore far below. No umbrellas, no sandcastles, or picnickers at this beach. He told us about a little boy who had suffered brain injury from a car accident on the road below us and survived for only two years. So much sadness.

He shared about a church down the road, about the people who came into this neighborhood and others,  because they care about the children. And as we talked more I discovered that he knew a Peruvian lady I had met through my Joni and Friends trip in 2012…and was teaching in ‘Beyond Suffering’ in Spanish, the course I’ve been taking this fall.  As we walked and the dirt worked its way into my shoes…I had a feeling this was not a chance encounter.

‘God, give me eyes to see what you want me to see ‘ …this has been my prayer. 

He shared how he has a son with special needs himself, and because of his son, his eyes were opened to see the need and his heart was moved to care. As he took us out onto the balcony of one of the churches, purposely placed on the hill, he explained that it was called ‘Mirador (Lookout) de Cristo’ because, he said, God is looking out over the neighborhood. He sees the hopelessness. The many children with out a future…girls who become mothers while they are still children.20161215_174259
And in Pastor Walter’s voice I heard the compassion of God’s heart for these children, the same compassion that brought Jesus to this earth, to be ‘ God with us’.   The compassion that has made him willing to drive here, and hike up a dusty road to share the view with us, the urgency in his heart to call others to care. To share the fact that the 700 children they will reach out to this Christmas is not enough. There are so many more who need Hope.

“Through the Tender Mercy (the compassionate, steadfast Love) of our God, the Dayspring from on High has visited us…’

Yesterday we left the dirt roads of Lima and drove 350 kim south of Lima on the highway, passing mile after mile of sandy hills, shacks perched on the hills or nestled in valleys, hardly a tree in sight. (This was my impression when I wasn’t too busy holding my breath as cars and trucks passed a hairs breadth from each other at break neck speed. This trip made Lima roads seem tame and relaxing. Oof. )

Coming over a bend we viewed our destinaton , Huacachina.  A small natural desert lake measuring about 200-metres in diameter had bubbled up from the dry earth. Someone had discovered it years ago, and now a picturesque village flourished here. Lush green trees, palm fronds, brilliant bouganvilla. Feathery lavender blossoms and the bright orange  of the ‘Flamboyant’ trees stood out against the blue sky.

THIS was an oasis.

20161220_113231.jpg

Hotels with airy verandas…restaurants with candles and inviting tables. Walkways around the water and boats to enjoy it up close. But all around surrounded by sandy hills, rising up into the sky, scorching under the South American sun.

Just like the green grass at the special needs school…my eyes were in shock taking in all the beauty. I sat on a rocky ledge  by the water and rested my eyes on the calm lake.

20161220_114256_001‘You lead me beside still waters… you restore my soul’

And  I think back to walking that dusty road through ‘Oasis’… and
hearing the heart of Compassion of a man who so desperately wants to bring beauty into that dry, dusty, place….and share the water of Life with those who are thirsty.

A year ago I wrote these words in my journal…

‘I will make rivers flow on barren heights,and springs with in the Valleys…’

This year 2016, this past week,  I have experienced those ‘springs’ of joy. Those ‘rivers’ of love in unexpected places.  Despite the dry places, the deserts…or maybe because of them.  And I want to trust with all my heart that these rivers can flow through the neighbourhood of Oasis….that there are ‘springs’ of Hope waiting to burst forth.

Even if all I see right now are the barren heights.

“When there is no hope in sight, sometimes it’s good to know that our sight is limited”

Andy Gullahorn

 

Advertisements

‘Belen’

peru

‘Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel, shall come to thee oh Israel.’

Trucks engines roar outside the Efata complex here in Lima, birds are chirping, and the strains of these notes on the piano are all fighting for attention as I sit here in the ‘dormitorio’ and type.

Just minutes ago I was sitting in the same spot holding little Belen, a 3 week old, beautiful little girl. She was found on a doorstep this December, wrapped in a blanket surrounded thoughtfully with some baby supplies. The police named her ‘Belen’ spanish for “Bethlehem.  She was brought here to the Children’s Home as a transition to a Home more suited for infant care, since they knew there were willing hearts to care for her here.  What a privilege to spend the morning with her.

I looked down at her perfect little hands, dark soft hair, and wondered what life would hold for her.

‘The helpless commits himself to you, You are a Helper to the Fatherless.’ Psalm 10:14 I had read a few mornings ago in Psalms.

20161222_130727

 

She is so tiny…so helpless. So beautiful and precious. ‘Lord be a Father to her.

And I thought of her mom….and what she is facing right now. What overwhelming situations led her to leave her baby girl, thoughtfully placed so someone would find her. What sort of hole is in her heart right now?

‘He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.’  Psalm 147:3 ‘Lord, be the Healer for this mother’s heart. The Provider for her needs.’

Belen finished her bottle and needed a change. Her tiny lungs let me know she wasn’t happy with the process, but soon she calmed, consoled by having her needs met. Moments later as I finished putting on a fresh clean outfit, Lisa arrived to say they were here to pick her up to process her information. ‘And when will they bring her back?’ I asked.

‘They won’t’ she said. She’ll go into the system to get processed to another home. ‘Belen, we’re going to miss you!’

And just like that, little Belen was carried out of the doors of the Efata children’s home.20161222_101834

And my heart is sad that my time with her was so short.

Today, families will gather in warmth, and light to celebrate with gifts, and food and laughter. What does Christmas look like for little Belen? What does it look like for her mom?

‘O Come, O come, Emmanuel…’ we hear the longing in the words.

And He has come. In the form of a helpless baby like little Belen. Who needed someone to meet His every need.  And through His coming, He chose to walk this earth, to feel our humanity, to feel the pain of our good byes, and to weep with those He loved. He came to meet us in our need…as our Healer, our Comforter,  our Redeemer, our Restorer, our Saviour.

‘Dios con Nosotros’  ‘God with us’

And He calls us to go and be present, He gives us the privilege to be His hands, and share His heart.

‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ Deuteronmy 5:11