Jesus meets us anywhere — of this I am certain. In Peru I have encountered him in a variety of surprising settings, which keeps making me smile because I think Jesus likes to see different places. I do too. I’ve met him at a cacao plantation, at Machu Picchu, and most recently on a concrete floor attached to the kitchen.
A strike is in full force here. It’s been this way for a week, but I’m assuming by the time I post this it will have been longer. We have stayed inside the house to keep safe. This experience has taught me things I never would have realized. I am not nervous about our safety. I am surprisingly confident. I believe God will keep us protected and safe.
On Sunday we couldn’t go to church because of the riot, so instead we decided to have some worship on our own. There are eight of us, but we invited the housekeeper and groundskeeper who are married and live here with us, along with their three kids. When we entered the room on Sunday morning, instead of the thirteen of us I thought would be present, there were twenty-five people. I started to laugh. Word had spread and there we were, our own tiny congregation.
We didn’t have to go to church — the church was already there. People who love Jesus were gathering together, and the church was right there with us, unfolding on a concrete floor in the jungle.
Tat and I played some worship songs. Spanish and English voices mixed, all singing the same song but with different words, and I looked at my white skin and their smooth caramel-brown. Our worlds crashed together like the clang of a symbol and the sound could not have been more beautiful to me.
Segundo, the groundskeeper, read Matthew 5 and 6 in Spanish, and then Tat’s father, Scott, read it in English:
Here is the bottom line: do not worry about your life. Don’t worry about what you will eat or what you will drink. Do not worry about how you will clothe your body. (Matthew 6:25)
We have more food than most of the people in Peru, I know, but even our food supply is running out with this strike happening in the city. The markets are shut down, and the roads are closed with blockades. I thought about the people sitting in front of me. I wondered if they had enough food.
Scott continued reading.
So do not consume yourself with questions: What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? Outsiders make themselves frantic over such questions; they don’t realize that your Heavenly Father knows exactly what you need. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and then all of these things will be given to you too. So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today. (Matthew 6:31-34)
I’m not sure how we’re getting to the airport on Sunday, what with the blockades taking up the roads. We will most likely have to walk. The strike is causing me to ask so many questions, and yet, as I sat there cradling my ukulele, looking at the other twenty-four people around me, I kept hearing: do not worry about tomorrow.
And then I remembered it’s the start of Advent. The King is coming, and he is not afraid.
Our voices rang out one last time, my fingers strumming the strings. Our Jesus is coming. Sitting on the concrete floor surrounded by jungle, I smiled. What a way to begin ushering him in.