Laying Claim

A few months ago, I wrote a wee piece about the impact of Peru on me. Thought it might be useful to revisit it-

It’s always difficult when asked to articulate the impact which something, particularly a mission trip, has had on you; you become acutely aware of the seeming banality of the lessons you learned and go through spasms of worry that what you took from it wasn’t big enough, holy enough to warrant the work you put in and- more importantly-big enough for  the support that your family, friends and church provided. I think it is this that scares us away from a valuable process. On going to Peru with the YF in July, I was coming out of a difficult year and was looking for something of God to cling onto. That is what I got. I encountered God through the orphans and the staff. I encountered God when we worshipped in English and when we listened as others worshipped in Spanish. I encountered God in church and in the games. These encounters weren’t ubiquitous, whilst I would describe New Hope Orphanage as a “thin place” we by no means spent the whole fortnight on the mountaintop (although we did spend a day on Huayna Picchu). Instead what I got were moments, moments of insight and joy and pain and God.  These glimpses of God have given my something to pursue and reflect on when I feel distant. Further, they forced me to engage with my faith as something more than the sterile, almost academic exercise it had become. However, through showing me the ways in which the church grappled with political issues, my trip also excited a desire to reconcile my views that I had arrived at through my interests in politics, history and debating with my faith. This, along with the revitalisation of my sense of social justice that Peru brought, led me to apply to go to Rwanda with Tearfund. The prospect of engaging with the political and spiritual issues that Rwanda is dealing with is an exciting if daunting prospect. I think, then, the process of naming the effects of the trip is a positive one. It forces me to lay claim to that which has changed within me and make a positive choice as to what I want to keep. What God had in store for me was not banal just a reminder that the Lord is not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire.

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