Lee Ann C. traveled with us to Peru during Christmas. Below she shares about a special realization she had during her time there.
This Christmas my husband Kirk, myself, and our 15-year-old daughter Izzy followed the leading of the Lord and went way out of our normal holiday routine to visit the VisionTrust orphanage and Learning Centers in Ayacucho, Peru. Over the years raising our family of six, I have grown quite comfortable with what is familiar at Christmas and honestly, among us, I was the only one struggling with letting that go. Yet there was that tiny part inside of me reminding me how God is faithful to show himself when we let go of our preferences and trust Him with the future. This trip was no exception.
I could go on about how impressed I was by the cleanliness of both the orphanage itself and the children and the excellent leadership of the staff, and even the way the kids are being educated. But these things don’t quite put their finger on what makes Casa Luz so extraordinary. In fact, it took me a few days to identify and name exactly what it was about that place that made it so special.
Here in the States there is a great emphasis on the social services we provide for the poor among us. We take pride in providing at-risk children with food, clothing, and educational services. The one essential our institutional welfare system neglects to value is the love of God as the delivery system. As I processed what I was experiencing in Casa Luz, I realized this was the secret ingredient. As Christians our faith instructs us that we are created from the heart of a loving God and so to meet basic needs without also expressing God’s love within that context is to fail to meet basic human needs.
It is love that makes the difference in the lives of these orphans and marginalized children. This love is demonstrated in the way the house mothers and cooks serve and discipline and shower affection, as if they were their own flesh and blood. It is heard audibly in the stories pastors Mariella and Jorge Clark tell about each one as if he or she was part of their own little family. Most importantly, it was visible in the way the children are open and loving toward each other, willing to share and help, and also in the way they love us as strangers. The suffering they have experienced at such young ages typically would prevent such openness and trust but God’s great love poured out so lavishly in this place has brought healing and resilience to their lives.