A young boy, around 12-years-old, holding his make-shift “charango” or guitar and you could see that one of his legs is bent making it shorter than the other one. His worn-out, maroon sweater hugs his thin frame tightly and the sleeves come way short of his wrists. Two younger ones who look 6 and 8 years old are standing next to him singing.
The box in front of them remains empty as passengers hurry past. From within the train, I’m afraid to move because I know the train will soon roll out of the platform.
My heart aches for them, especially the older one with the bent leg.
Even though I was born in these mountains, I felt more like a visiting tourist. It’d been nearly a decade and a half since we’d left Peru. In the early years, we’d go back as often as my parents could save for our flight tickets which averaged about every three years.
We had settled in the U.S. and my father thought the best place for us to vacation was going back to our homeland, and we’d all agree.
I longed to go back and see my Grandma, the one who raised me like her own child. I knew I was loved when I was in her presence.
Unlike our journey to America, when we knew we were penniless, our trips back included meals at restaurants, which were a treat for us. I remember sitting in restaurants with my plate half full because I simply could not finish it all.
I’d look outside and see kids who were making hand motions, begging for food. The restaurant owners would chase them away. Seeing their hungry faces gutted me. As a family we’d never gone hungry, and it didn’t seem right for kids to be wandering in the streets hungry.
And I made a childlike vow – some day when I was grown up, I was going to do something to help children like them.
So that day at the train platform as I watched the kids singing for their next meal, I remembered the promise I made. At the time, I was a junior in college without much in my bank account, and I knew the time hadn’t fully come – not yet.
Years later, it was the image of other hungry faces on TV that haunted me as I worked at my office on Capitol Hill. News report after another reeled in stories of orphan children in former communist countries. The Iron Wall had fallen and the West could finally go into what was once forbidden territory.
I was now grown up. I’d earned the college degree and was earning decent money at a company I respected. But it did not satisfy the longing in my heart. The years were passing by and I decided to heed the call and take a leap of faith.
I jumped off the track of my “normal” life and went to Eastern Europe to visit and love on children at one of the orphanages. It was only suppose to be a 12-day short-term missions trip, but I’m still here 16 years after that initial trip.
As I considered moving overseas long-term, I asked God, “What about the kids in Peru?” And I heard a quiet voice in my heart:
A prophet is not honored in his hometown. Don’t worry, I’ll raise up Czech workers to go to Peru.
I’m still holding onto the promise. I’m afraid I haven’t done a good job of raising “workers” to go to Peru. But the journey is not over and you never know what God is up to.