Upon leaving Portland airport, I felt a wave of nausea and a sea of excitement engulf me. After 15 years of waiting, I was finally a real live missionary. Albeit, I do not know the language yet, but that doesn’t mean I am not a witness through my actions—through the smiles, hugs, kisses, and laughs as I try to communicate with others.
When I arrived in San Francisco, I had to check in again since it was an international flight and I was going to be on TACA air—not the familiar Horizon. The man at the counter was South American with an incredibly thick accent. He informed me that in was quite possible that Peru could 1)not let me enter 2)send me back home because I did not have a return flight. Something about immigration laws I guess. I asked him if he had any suggestions and he said “Just be prepared to purchase a flight when you get there.” Gee thanks mister. You’re a big help. NOT! But, this whole thing is God’s mess anyway, so I finished the check-in process and went through security. While grabbing a bite to eat and a delicious juice, I ran into Tyson Smith—my cluster support ‘dad’. I was overjoyed. We went back to his lovely wife Tracie and darling son Kai, and I traveled the rest of the way with them.
The flights were relatively uneventful. From that flight on, I fell asleep before we’d even begin taxiing the runway : ) When we were waiting in the San Salvador Airport, the song “ Jesus, be my vision. Be my center. Be my life….” was playing over the intercom. What a reassuring, comforting message. He is the reason why I am here.
We eventually arrived in Lima where we went through customs. I got my 3 month visa—enough time to apply for and receive residency—and got the green button to proceed without security going through my bags. Praise The Lord!! From there, we hopped our last plane after many, many hours of traveling, and arrived in a rainy, 53 degree, Arequipa. If I had been blindfolded and wearing ear plugs, I would have thought it was Eugene.
Daniel Duran and Sarah and Ryan Foster picked us up and took us to our host families. I immediately began unpacking. I needed to claim my space in an attempt to make it feel like home. My beautiful quilt from Prayers and Squares is an important piece in my room. Not only is it keeping me warm at night (one wall of my room is ENTIRELY windows), its bight colors and cheerful pattern make my room feel comfortable and inviting. I love it! As I unpacked my 2 bags (coming in at a total of 44, and 46 lbs respectively) I became acutely aware of how much ‘stuff’ I had. Why did I think I needed all these clothes? And shoes? Jiminy Cricket!! I know I come from the USA, but….Anyway, I just felt greedy, rich, and spoiled as I placed my things on my two sets of shelves. I didn’t unpack all of my things because I don’t have room for them. And honestly I don’t need them right now. I know that I’ll wear it all eventually with the changing weather (Arequipa is quite a bit cooler than Pucallpa and Puerto Maldonado).
Anyway, that is my story of getting here and my initial night of setting up shop. My host mom brought me a cup of tea and a crepe with some sort of syrup and a fried banana while I was unpacking. It was delicious. I went to bed around 10 and woke up around 6 am. Then I began living here.