Saturday, August 07, 2010
As I've been back, I laugh or groan at the familiar things I encounter every day in this crazy city. For me, everything seems new again and yet so familiar. There are good things and then there are the not so nice things about this city. I have been thinking what my response should be to these things. I think that I can respond two different ways.
1. I can recognize the positives and dwell on the negatives
2. I can recognize the negative and dwell on the positives
It could be rather easy to focus on the negatives of this city like the dirtiness and pollution in the river and lack of proper trash service in certain parts of the city or the backwards way of a people stuck in often inefficient ways. Maybe I could complain about the men that pee in the street or the crazy taxi drivers who honk their horns and use arms instead of turn signals. Maybe I could grumble about having to put the t.p. in the trash can or being cold without heat in my apartment. Maybe I could get upset about how the laundry people did something to the zipper on my pants or about how the taxi drivers are always hitting on me. Or I could get annoyed by the kids in the plaza who shove finger puppets in your face or the guys who flash their artwork at you randomly in the street just because you look like a tourist. I could be frustrated by how the contamination in Cusco stays in the valley and might possibly be what gives me congestion or how I'm always out of breath walking up steps. Ha! I'm sure that I could come up with a million other negative things to focus on every day.
Instead, I feel too excited to be back to feel negative about it. Maybe it's that "honeymoon" period again? I think I recognize the negatives but they are kind of like the bad habits of a relative that you love. You might not like their bad habits but you love the person so even their bad habits feel familiar. If I choose to dwell on the negatives of this city, I would be a pretty grumpy missionary. God's calling on my life is to love the people here despite the "bad habits" and to see God do a transforming work in their lives for His glory. So, here's me focusing on some positives about Cusco. This would be why "I heart Cusco!"
I love the view of the city from my apartment window and the crazy windy stone roads downtown. I love the orange roofs and slopping hills of this valley. I love the little girl named Angela at the CORASON project who hugged my legs excitedly when I said that I was going to be around for a while. I love the way everyone is "mamita" or "papi" and how the lady with the taxi service called me "preciosa" (precious). I love the group of tourists taking pictures of some llamas corralled and left at the end of my street while their owners are too far away to ask for "propinas" (tips). I love dancing at Peruvian weddings and eating large pieces of meat with my fingers. I love meeting friends in the street and visiting the school I used to teach at. I love the Meeting Place cafe where I'm learning how to hand pour coffee and baking pastries. I love that the plaza San Blas can contain an alpaca, hippies selling jewelry, tourists wandering around, ladies vending their wares and Peruvian kids playing soccer all in one moment on one afternoon.
I love passionate Hispanic worship and singing "Dancing Generation" in Spanish. I love the black and white dog that hangs out in the street that I walk from my apartment to the cafe. I love the little kids who smile at you and say "hola!" just because you are a gringo. I love Jack's cafe and the lady named Dora who sells chullos (Peruvian knit hats) in front of the restaurant and gives excellent directions to lost gringas. I love being able to walk to most every place I need to go and being able to see interesting sights every day. I love my landlady's father who collects the mail at the corner hardware store where he works. I love playing monkey in the middle with Armando and Ronaldo at CORASON. I love drinking out of "Lanky Llama" mugs on Sunday nights at church. I love group hugs from former PROMESA students. I love that my roommate is British and we hang out with a gal from Australia whose roommate is from New Zealand.
I love seeing the Mennonite church members and feeling like an old friend. I love being able to knit on the public transportation and having random ladies teach you how to cast on stitches the harder way. I love how a hippie was practicing her unicycle on a rope tied to two posts at the end of my street! I love talking only in Spanish to my former gringa roommate and having people stare at us in befuddlement. I love being able to bargain on almost anything and being able to chat with kids working in the plaza (either selling or dressing up in typical costume for tips) about how their day is going.
But most of all, I love that God has called me back to this city and privileged me with the opportunity to be His servant and shine His light here!!!
(Hey, if I ever get discouraged, I'll just come back and remember why I heart Cusco, so!)