Let us pray - for 3 minutes

I have to admit something. I have never been a huge prayer warrior. I don't wake up at 5 o'clock every morning to pray for 2 hours before each day starts. I know I should pray more often than I do though. But I have this problem with becoming okay with where I'm at. When nothing is going wrong, when I feel like I'm living how I want to be. Oh, boy that's the most dangerous state to get stuck in. And that's where I felt I was at. When I get into the routine of not spending the time with God and still think I'm fine, that's exactly where Satan wants me. That's where he wants all of us. Stuck. Stuck within ourselves and not even caring to reach out to the One who gives us everything - including the life we're wasting.
I think my prayer life, or lack thereof hit me last week when I was invited to attend an all night prayer vigil at my little church in Yerbas Buenas. I had never done, or thought of doing, anything like that before in my life. Ok, I can probably fill up at least 15 minutes of talking to God about stuff, but then what. What do I do for the next 6 hours?
I have been searching for the real truth for the past couple months. Not the stuff they teach in church. I want it raw and real. I've been reading what Jesus says. I want it from Him and no one else. And I've surprised myself about how passionately bitter I've become about some things that our present in the church that I belong to (but that's for a later blog). So, in the intent to spend the night doing some serious searching, I decided to go. Not knowing what I was getting myself into.
Let me just tell you something about the little Yerbas Buenas church. They are old. All of them. They are old and cute and wrinkly and they know all of their hymns by heart because they can't see well enough to read the hymnal anymore. When we got there (Stephanie and Jenessa were kind enough to come with me) after the VBS program at Km 6, Daniel was leading out in hymns. After about an hour of singing and listening to a little message presented by one of the hermanos, Daniel informed me that he was leaving because he was tired and had work in the morning. That little gesture left me in charge of the rest of the night.
Well, we were there to pray, right? So I got up to the front of the church and announced that we were going to divide up for some individual prayer time to really search for God. I said we were going to pray for 30 minutes and then come back together and sing some more songs. I looked at my watch. 11:17. I started my prayer. It felt a little foreign to me. Just because I knew I was going to have to continue for 30 minutes. I could hear the soft whisperings and mumbles of the hermanos. Then I started hearing feet shuffling back to their seats and talking. I looked at my watch again. 11:20. Oh, Lord, I said in my head, This is going to be a long night.
I went ahead and finished my prayer. Towards the end of it, the now-bored church members started singing hymns. It didn't take me very long to figure out that all they wanted to do was sing. They just want to praise their God. They lift their off tune voices to their Savior that they love. So we sang. A lot. Many hymns we sang. Many hymns we sang multiple times.
There was one little old lady in particular. She was a little tramposita (cheater) all night. She just straight up laid down on the cement floor and went to sleep. For the whole night. At the end of the night, rather, at 4:30 in the morning we all gathered together for one last prayer. A family prayer. We held hands and swayed in sleep. When it was her turn to pray, I was almost brought to tears. She called out to her Papacito Dios. She thanked Him for all of his blessings and asked for His presence in our lives. Papacito Dios. She was talking to her Daddy. And it was the most beautiful prayer I had ever heard.
Did I have any grand epiphanies after my praying and searching that night?
Not really.
Did I have an awesome God moment where heaven opened and I saw the singing angels?
Instead I shared a simple night with a simple church family.
I did learn something though.
Life doesn't have to be as complicated as we make it.
Religion doesn't have to be as complicated as we make it.
God is our Daddy.
We are His children. His sheepies.
And this is what Christ's words have been teaching me: The passionate, I-would-do-anything-for-you, devoted love for Jesus needs to come first. And if we don't have that, everything else is in vain. All the religion. All of the hymn singing. All of the offerings. The church services. None of that matters.
God has been teaching me a lot this year. More than I ever thought possible. And it's funny how the lessons always come from the weirdest places. From the 3 minute prayers and simple songs of the old church members of Yerbas Buenas who stayed up all night to worship their Papacito.


The cows

Have you ever been face to face with something and had no idea whether or not it was going to eat you up in one snarf? Maybe it was a big test, or a struggle/temptation, or a frienemy. Maybe it was a cheetah or a rhinoceros. For me, it was a cow. 
I have never been around cows in my life. But now I live on a farm, and with that comes the cows. 
It was fun going to the barn with everyone late one night to watch the birth of a calf. It's fine that the boys bring in a pitcher of milk every morning and I have to boil it to get the germies out. I like hearing the them moo during the day. But when the Doctor asked me to go out to the barn to take pictures of the cows, I didn't know what was going to happen to me. It was just going to be me and them. I told Rachel and Lauren that if I didn't come back in 20 minutes to come searching for me. I really don't know what cows are capable of doing. Probably nothing less than man slaughter. 
As I approached the pen, 20 ears perked up. It was very unnerving to be stared at by 10 cows. And then 40 hooves started walking towards me. Just snap the pictures real quick and leave, I kept telling myself. But something else told me to stay. I think it was Temple Grandin.
The bravest cow approached me. I was fully prepared to get stampeded, but it just stuck out its huge purple tongue and started licking my hand. Later I saw it sticking that same long purple tongue up its nose to lick its cow boogers. How nice.


Fish, sin, and peeing my pants

The funny thing about the Spanish language is the similarity between words. At times it gets rather humerous. Especially for me, someone who likes to try and speak even when I have no idea what I'm saying. Examples: the Spanish word for eye, ojo, is extremely similar to the words for cooking pot, oya, and leaf, oja. So, it's pretty much a recipie for disaster for me. I remember going next door to Shirley's house to ask her if I could borrow a pot. "Hey, Shirley," I started, "¿Puedes prestarme tu ojo?" Roughly translated, Hey Shirley, can I borrow your eye? Good one, genius. I had only been rehursing that one line over and over in my head the whole way over to her house. She just laughed at me, handed me a pot, and then I was on my way.
One good thing about making mistakes is that you usually can remember not to make the same ones. Besides just knowing the difference now between ojo and oya, I also know from another equally embarrassing situation that pescado means fish and pecado means sin. It's all good. If you can't laugh at yourself and your own misfortunes, then what can you laugh at? We all know it's fun to laugh at others, but if you can't laugh at yourself? Well, that's just not really fair.
I can think of a number of times when the only thing I could do was laugh. This year I have found myself in quite a number of pickle situations. And it's been great. I have to be honest, I used to be pretty uptight about stuff like messing up. I liked to do things right. Mistakes equaled failure. Now? Mistakes equal a laugh. I don't know what happened or rather what snapped inside of me. But something did. And I think it was for the better.
A few weeks back I was staying at Km 8 at the clinic. I had only brought 1 change of clothes seeing as I was only going to be staying for 1 day. I fell asleep while reading and was woken up by the sound of rain, Chris and Jonathan banging on the front gate to be let in, and the urge to pee. Ignoring nature's call, I jumped up to try and find the keys to unlock the gate. Couldn't find them. At this point the boys were shouting and my bladder was doing the same. I decided that the boys could wait while I ran to the outhouse to take care of more important business. About half way there, trying to carefully dodge the puddles, I realized the unevitible truth that I wasn't going to make it. In a completely frazzled state I just decided to go right then and there. I just want to let you now that here in Peru it is not a rare sight to see someone peeing on the street, in the grass, anywhere really. And then I didn't make it again. Yep, pee everywhere. The worst part was having to walk back to the house with wet shorts. I felt like a toddler again. 
After changing into my only remaining pants and getting thoroughly laughed at by everyone, I  went outside to brush my teeth. It was still raining. Km 8 is full of puddles and dark. I was just setting myself up for another disaster. The ground was super slippery, and pretty soon I found myself looking up at the stars and soaking wet and muddy. Strike 2. After another round of laughs and one bucket shower later I was in bed. Thinking about the series of events that had just taken place, all I could do was laugh. This is how things are supposed to be, even if there is a little pee and mud involved.


Tomorrow morning

Tomorrow morning I will wake up to the sound of rain. Tomorrow morning my mosquito net will be once again confused for a hammock by a black and white furry lump. I will wake up to that incesently purring machine almost touching my face. Tomorrow morning I will also wake up with the urge to pee. An urge that I will have been trying to ignore since 4. Tomorrow morning I will untuck myself from my trecherous haven and muster up all the wit and strength I possess in the early morning to decend the four steps to the floor. By that time I will be wide awake and have to run outside to the bathroom. Tomorrow morning I have to cook breakfast. We have a lot of bananas. Banana pancakes.