Today is Peruvian Independence Day. It is a big deal in Perú. It is more than just a single-day Holiday – today, July 28th, kicks off a weekend of celebrations around the Fiestas Patrias. For a country that has gone through so much over the past few years – with the COVID pandemic, a near-catastrophic paralysis in the government, social and political protests, and the Dengue outbreak . . . this year, Fiestas Patrias is a significant time to celebrate being a Peruvian.
Perhaps more than just a time for festivity and celebration, the Fiestas Patrias is also a time to take stock and remember what matters most. For much of Perú, this will be time spent with family and friends and a lot of opportunity to celebrate the power of relationships. I was thinking about this when I opened my computer to type a Blog entry for today. I was thinking about the nearly 30 years we have been working . . . serving . . . in Perú and the hundreds of relationships and close connections that have grown over all these years. I was also thinking about how much I have been shaped and impacted by our work in Perú.
One of the boys approached me last week while visiting the Casa Girasoles Urubamba with our Community of Excellence research team. He is a 6-year-old boy I have known for a couple of years. He said, “I want to give you something to share how I feel about seeing you.” He then left the room where we were setting up for the meeting. A few minutes later, he reappeared with a bag of dry cereal. He handed me the small package and said – “you mean so much to me that I wanted you to have this.”
Cereal – especially sweetened cereal – is a big deal for the boys at the Casa Girasoles. It is something they get less often. For this little boy, that bag of cereal represented a prized possession. And he gave it to me. I almost started crying. It reminded me that what we do is about receiving just as much as it is about serving. It touched me deep inside in a way only the tenderness and generosity of a child can.
Today is Fiestas Patrias. It is a time to give thanks and remember why Perú means so much to many. For me, it is a time to accept the blessings my connection to the people of Perú gives me daily.