This is Deacon Cindy Hamilton's last update from Peru, because she and her husband Brad will be joining us back in Denver soon. Praise God for everything he has done through her in Peru, and pray that they will both return safely to the States.
Romans 10:13-15 ‘…for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Twelve months ago when I first arrived in Cajamarca and was having all of the classic culture shock symptoms, I knew it would be like this. I knew I would be sad when the time came to leave. Brad just called and he has been given his final workday in Peru. Though I knew it was coming, I expected more notice than eight weeks. Now, suddenly, the life that is very much the same day after day here seems so precious, and as though there is not enough time to do all of the last things; but that is ridiculous. I will grieve leaving Peru; it is so different from my life in the States. I will miss the unique things of life in Banos del Inca and Cajamarca. But, mostly I will grieve leaving Maria, our employee, my friend and tutor.
When I first arrived here and was having the first of many cups of Matte de Coca tea with Maria, she revealed that she was not very interested in God things. I resolved to pray for her and give it time. A week later another woman asked if I would lead her in a Bible Study. I was delighted, said yes, and we set a day and an hour. The day and the hour came but the woman did not show. Maria was aware of all of this. Just three weeks later Maria told me she had mentioned to her friend Marleny that she had observed that I prayed and read my Bible daily. This prompted Marleny to ask if I would lead her in Bible Study. I suspect Marleny had also heard the story of the woman who did not show.
I told Maria I would be delighted to lead Marleny in a study of the Bible if Maria would join us also. That was the beginning of lots of wonderful afternoons in the Word with the two of them. It started slow: I noticed the first afternoon that Marleny seemed uncomfortable sitting at my dining room table. I asked her if everything was all right. I struggled then, and sometimes still do, to understand her Spanish, so often Maria has to interpret for me. (Maria understands that Gringas hear slowly.) What was explained to me was that Marleny wanted to make sure that I was really OK with her being in my house, the part of the house where guests are received. She could not quite grasp that I was serving her coffee and cake. Though Peru is not India, it still has a strong sense of class conscience. This gave me the perfect opportunity to share the great love of Jesus. Who knew that serving cake and coffee was the modern day foot washing?
It did not take her long to realize that she was indeed a welcomed guest in my home. Until writing this I had forgotten how she had brought a copy of her identity papers to give me that first day; a security expectation here and one so foreign to me. I thanked her kindly and handed it back to her.
Maria and Marleny have both engaged in the study of the Bible so completely that it has been a blessing to me. They ask thoughtful questions and frequently display joy at having been set free by a truth we have explored together in God’s word. After we had studied together for a few months I took each one of them aside separately. I told them that I believed that they had chosen to follow Jesus and wondered if I was correct. Each of them said yes they had indeed decided to follow Jesus. Marleny was quick to add that her life was changing but that it was slow, a pace I assured her that was true for all of us who choose to follow Christ. I explained to them the idea of praying the sinner’s prayer. I had written out a version in Spanish and let them read it. Then I asked if they were ready to pray such a prayer. They both were and then prayed, inviting Jesus into their lives, thanking him for his great sacrifice for them. I had a good cry with each of them. Maria said how beautiful the prayer was, meaning having the whole truth of salvation summed up in a prayer and praying it. They both loved the idea of recording the date in the back of their Bibles.
Over the last few months Maria has begun attending the church we attend in Banos, she also attends English classes there on Wednesday nights. Marleny does too, though not as regularly. Maria has participated with me in various evangelistic outings and we regularly end up with the Bible open exploring an idea when we have tea in the mornings. One morning over tea I was telling Maria something about how much Brad works and that I had very little to do. She broke in with the sweetest thought: ‘Senora,’ she said, ‘your work is to teach me the Bible.’
That sums up my time in Peru. God has been good to me here. I had some very interesting things to attend to. But, the sweetest of all was to have beautiful feet.