Earlier this year, while my husband was on sabbatical in Peru, I spent time at the Tesoros del Señor Child Development Center. I visited the center every Wednesday for five weeks.
A friend at the church I attended in Lima was familiar with the center because it is connected to her former church in Villa el Salvador. She introduced me to the center staff.
In my time observing Compassion’s ministry, I learned six small, but important, lessons.
- Poverty is invisible to the rich people who live nearby.
Because they are afraid to go into the poor neighborhoods, locals who could give their time and resources don’t know what is needed.
- It’s the little things in life that can bring the greatest joy.
It was orange season when I was in Peru and that meant each child got a fresh mandarin orange after lunch. They were so delighted with this simple dessert.
Also, after weeks of using pencil stubs to color with, the children were grateful to get new colored pencils to use. They were always grateful for the smallest kindness, particularly when I sat down next to children as they colored. They loved having me watch (and praise) their drawing.
- Poor people don’t travel.
While visiting the church, I made several tourist trips around the country and was embarrassed when I realized the staff at the child development center haven’t been out of their city. Nevertheless, they were gracious in asking me about my trips and interested in hearing how I liked their country.
- Living with less leads to great faith.
The women who work at the center showed great faith in God during their morning devotions. They had so much less materially than my family and friends, but so much more trust in God’s provision. Perhaps saying God provides all I need is backwards. Maybe the right idea is: I need what God provides. That seemed to be the case for these women of faith.
- Hugs and smiles speak volumes when the language doesn’t work so well.
The children who spoke little English had no trouble communicating their pleasure at my presence even though I spoke little Spanish. And although I was nervous about my poor Spanish, they didn’t mind at all and understood me.
- Fasting from riches makes me more thankful.
When I returned home I was so grateful for the little things I had access to, like fresh vegetables. I was less caught up in all the stuff I might have wanted before. I passed on this gratitude to my family as well. A fast from riches makes us feel richer in Christ as well.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eunice Lehmacher is a licensed social worker with a counseling practice in Seneca, South Carolina. She and her husband have two sons and live in Clemson, South Carolina, where her husband is a physics professor at Clemson University.
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