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Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Jungle Sweat


Sometimes life is really full. It’s full of great moments, uncomfortable moments, and people, hundreds of people.


We just got back from a two week clinic in the Amazon area of Peru. Imagine going from the bald heights of the Andes, to the humid heat of a rainforest in a few hours. System shock! The first time I went for a run in Inapari I was sweating from the backs of my knees. Seriously? I didn’t even know there were sweat glands back there. Ewww.


I have this tendency to paint everything I experience with a beauty brush, even the bad things. So, quickly, before I rhapsodize about how much I love the jungle, let me tell you… There are BUGS there. Everywhere. And they are huge. They are not the teeny, tiny, tame bugs that we have back in CA. No, they are gigantic termites, multicolored (probably poison carrying) centipedes. They are cockroaches that fly, and spiders that are the size off your hand. If you hate bugs, the jungle is not the place for you. No amount of repellent will save you. Also, you should just expect to sweat, all day and all night long.


Despite the insects, we spent the evenings together as a team; playing extremely competitive rounds of spoons and other card games, and singing. One of the volunteers on the trip was a guy from Egypt and he brought his guitar and song sheets in English, Spanish and Arabic. One morning for our devotional time we sang “Lord I lift your name on high” in Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and English. It was one of those moments where you forget everything outside. It’s just what is happening in the moment. True worship. We were a team of 19 people; medical, dental, optometry, volunteers from the US, Canada, Peruvians, a Costa Rican pastor, and one Brazilian missionary. Pastor gave all the single girls advice on how to choose a future husband. Peggy, the sweet Canadian lady, dispensed hugs like they were candy. And Ester made the kind of food that heals your body from the inside out.


I couldn’t help but love it. I can’t help but think that this is how I want to live. This is the good life. No, not the good life, the full “abundant” life. Living with a group of people with a mutual goal of serving people, and when the heartbreak comes (because it always does), there is someone right there who is feeling it with you.


The full life is playing volleyball with a blown up balloon at the end of a long clinic day, it’s a child nestled into your collar bone, it’s hearing pastor talk about that guy who almost committed suicide that morning but came to the clinic instead, it’s showers with tepid water, and 5 seconds without sweat on your body. Life is full because you have a purpose and you are not trying to walk it out alone.


You can have the full life too. You don’t need to be in the jungle. Pastor Astrubal talks about treasure in Heaven, but it’s not gold or silver or diamonds or anything, it is people. The people we talk to today are eternal. They have souls. How scary is that? People are the treasure and the reward, even when they are ungrateful, unresponsive, or demanding, or when they are telling the youngest member of the team that she looks delicious (because all of those things happened in the clinic too). A full life is one that remembers that people are the most precious thing on the face of this planet. After this trip, I feel challenged more than ever to serve them.

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