I am settled in here to mi casa in Lima, Peru. I’m staying with an awesome couple and another student from my Spanish school who is from Japan. The first week of classes went very well, although I started strong by going to the wrong room and getting lost. The administrator of the school had to come find me and take me to the right place. #n00bstatus
My host family has been great. I was so nervous about this part of the immersion because if you hate where you live, typically life isn’t very enjoyable. And given the amount of time (a ton) that I’m at home, it could have potentially been a disaster. But here’s a little lesson about prayer. Starting in like late March, when I started to get really nervous about this trip, I have been praying for and about my host family. I’d not met them, obviously, and knew literally nothing about them. But I prayed first of all that they’d be hospitable and kind. When I arrived 2 hours late due to airport delays, they were literally in the stairwell of our building waiting for me, and greeted me with a big hug. I prayed, too, that the home would be comfortable and clean. This could not be more true. I prayed that the family would be accepting of my life and needs as a seminarian (daily Mass, no meat on Fridays, etc). I am convinced that I’m living with saints. These two are some of the holiest people I’ve ever met and are more than supportive of me and my vocation.
Last night at Mass, the gospel was a great reminder: “Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.” (Mk 11:24) Let’s not get too carried away with this gospel. It is not saying that if I sit in my room and pray that a Big Mac will appear before me and then believe that it will happen, then POOF a Big Mac will appear out of thin air. Jesus here is asking us to be true, thoughtful, and full of trust when we pray. “Jesus give me this, Jesus give me that” kind of prayers often disappoint us in the end, because he may do as we ask but not always in the way we want or expect. And in today’s culture when we request something and it’s not carried out to our exact specifications, then it may as well not have happened in the first place. But prayer doesn’t work like this.
Jesus knows what we need. And accepting that sometimes we don’t even know what we need can be very difficult. More difficult still is learning that what we need is maybe not exactly what we want. I needed this trip to Lima even though being away from friends and family for another summer is not at the top of my list of things right now. But God has called me and I must follow, uniting myself to him more deeply in prayer every step of the way. It’s hard to say, “Jesus all that I am and have is yours. Take me and do with me what you will.” It’s even harder to say it and truly mean it. I pray that this summer I can finally arrive in a place on my journey with Christ where I can not just say those words with great devotion, but actually mean them from the bottom of my heart.
And now the week in review:
The best thing I ate was: Chilis, of course. But after that some good ol’ homemade Peruvian Chicken and Rice (arroz con pollo)
The worst thing I ate (drank) was: Apple water. Like apple juice but not juice. Literally called agua de manzana.
The coolest experience was: visiting the monastery and catacombs of San Francisico in the heart of Lima
The most frustrating experience was: looking like an idiot while constantly mixing up Spanish and Italian during class.
Please pray for me!