As I left Peru in 2014, one of the last things I promised my good friend, Emilio, “I will be back for your wedding.” At the time, Emilio was not dating anyone. And I made my promise in faith, not knowing exactly how I would make it back to Peru. Months go by. Emilio meets Alejandra. They get engaged. We meet via skype. Then Emilio asked me the big question: “Are you coming to my wedding?”
I wanted to say yes with all my heart, however, our financial situation has had zero margin to save for plane tickets. So I had to break my promise to Emilio and declined. Then along came Patrick.
If you don’t know Patrick, he is quite the friend. While living in Peru in 2011, Patrick co-founded Nisolo, a social impact fashion label that has come alongside many Peruvians offering them friendship and honest work. Emilio and I have been with him from the beginning of Nisolo and watched it grow into a successful international business that today employees over 80 Peruvians. Patrick also has a huge heart for people. So when he caught wind that I could not afford to go to Emilio wedding in Peru, he emailed me with an idea. This is what he said,
“Emilio mentioned that you may not be able to come to his wedding… I know it would make his year if you could come, and Sally Ward (Patrick’s wife) and I, if it would help your ability to come, would love to pay for most or potentially all of your plane ticket.”
I wept after reading these words. I could not believe what I was reading. Truly this was an answer to my prayers. God enabled me to keep a promise to Emilio that I could not keep myself! Later, Patrick suggested a twist – “Let’s make it a surprise! Let’s not tell Emilio your coming.” Sounds fun to me. And that’s how we rolled.
So for the next few months, I had to find creative ways to not let Emilio know that I was coming. Thankfully, he didn’t get tipped off. On Thursday morning, October 13 this happened….
It was a dream come true only by the grace of God working through my friend Patrick! His wedding was so much fun, an actual foretaste of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
My trip to Emilio’s wedding afforded me my first trip back to Peru since our family left more than two years ago. It honestly felt like I had never left. Of course the adults were grayer (as I am) and the children were taller (as ours are); but other than that, everyone and everything felt the same. It fed my soul to reconnect with some of our closest friends in the world.
I have to admit, it was odd: going to Peru felt like leaving home and going home all at the same time. As I left my family, I was greeted by family. I was home but not yet home. What a great picture of living in the middle of Christ’s kingdom already but not yet here on earth!
It was very sad to leave my family behind, but I was glad to hear that Sandi and the girls vicariously lived through my experience. We all feel a greater sense of closure, remembering all of our wonderful friends and experiences our many years in Peru. As I boarded the plane back home, I had this sense that all that God had taught us, all the memories and experiences He gave us, we are now carrying those with us to Miami.
Peru is chapter 5 of our story. Our transition and training in Atlanta is chapter 6. So I guess that makes Miami Chapter 7. Here we come!
Which lead me to one final thought….
Our first introduction to Miami was through Emilio and his brother, Jose. We met Emilio and Jose in Peru back in 2009 after they were deported from Miami (that is a whole other fascinating God story that we don’t have space for here). As we became friends, we heard many of their stories growing up in Miami and on “the Key” (Key Biscayne).
Our friendship awoken within Sandi and me a fascination for Miami. In private, Sandi and I would say things to each other like, “Wouldn’t it be awesome to live and do ministry in Miami? I can see our family doing life with people like Emilio and Jose.” It is safe to say that if we had not become friends with Emilio and Jose, we probably would have never considered Miami as a place to plant a church. God works in mysterious and crazy ways!
Here are some pics from the trip…