missioned in Ayacucho, Peru

“Something crazy is going to happen now,” Charlie thought.
But he wasn’t frightened.
He wasn’t even nervous. He was just terrifically excited.”

This sweet and warm feeling from Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is the way I have been feeling lately about my life in Ayacucho.

At my friend Alfredo’s invitation, at a high school on the outskirts of Ayacucho, I had a week-long workshop for participants to express themselves through pictures. Since receiving the request, I was concerned about what I would do, and how I could become more familiar with these friends. I gathered the art equipment and I boarded the bus. At this workshop, students choose several pictures from the ones they prepared on two sheets of A4 paper, and then made up a story in order to express themselves.

The children were initially hesitant because of the unfamiliar topics and unfamiliar faces but then they picked up the crayons, sketch books, pencil crayons, and other art tools and began to draw pictures seriously. We passed 3 or 4 days in this way and then these new little friends began to say “Hola, Eri” when we passed in the hallway. Their use of colors and expressions became more and more colorful. This experience was as refreshing and exciting for me as the blue sky.

In this way, the miracle of getting to meet these young people in Ayacucho in various situations and opportunities, I came to feel these experiences are not a sudden occurrence of improbable events, but rather events which can arise through a daily gathering of effort, prayer, and hopes.

After I arrived in Peru, and after language study, I came here. When I found these projects to work on with the youth, and also when I started a small center, there were times when my confidence was shaken by the negative comments I heard, such as “It’s not going to work,”, “You don’t understand Peru”,”You don’t’ understand young people here or “You don’t understand the culture.” During those times, I remember Willy Wonka’s words as he decided to grant his wonderful chocolate factory to young Charlie.

“A grown-up won’t listen to me; he won’t learn.
He will try to do things his own way and not mine.
So I have to have a child. I want a good sensible loving child, one to whom I can tell all my most precious sweet-making secrets while I am still alive.”

Before Willy Wonka granted his chocolate factory to Charlie, he came to understand Charlie’s heart through a series of tests. Through these scenes, I also gained courage and belief in myself, I listened to my inner voice, not without fear, but able to overcome this fear because I came to know there was something more valuable. I felt that this valuable thing is “hope”.

No matter what people might say, whenever I see young people bring their friends to the center, when they call me and say “Eri, where are you?”, when they come to eat and laugh and pray together, whenever I meet these young people who accept me and believe in me, I meet a feeling of a bird flapping, swirling, and flying within my heart. Being able to follow Christ’s teachings and ways of living, I meet the fact that His way is the right way through my own personal experiences.

The ways of Christ…living faithfully, sharing your heart, sharing time together, eating together, crying and laughing…in the scripture, the ways that You showed through your life…those ways of living. Although it takes time, living faithfully, doing my best, like making chocolate, I am constantly learning through the time I spend together here with the youth.

Here in Ayacucho, in Peru, and in other countries also…living faithfully, making chocolate for people to enjoy in a chocolate factory that appears, adding the taste to the chocolate, this is my dream, it is our dream, and Jesus Christ’s dream, I believe that place is the Kingdom of Our Lord.

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Categories 2012