Here it is, my last night in Arequipa. I waited at the home for one of the girls to come home from work, so I could say goodbye to her. Mirella will be gone when I get there tomorrow morning. We had a good chat together, and a less difficult goodbye this time, because this time we knew I would be back, and with my family.
Mirella is a very bright young girl. She has just finished high school, and as I understand it, she has the Peruvian equivalent of the SAT coming up in April. If she does well enough, and God provides a way, she might be able to fulfill her dream of going to the university and becoming a psychologist. Pray for Mirella.
I got back to the hotel later than usual, but I still went back out. I wanted to walk up to the Plaza de Armas, the big public park about a mile away, which is surrounded by all sorts of shops and restaurants. I bought a coffee at the Cusco Cafe, and decided to just walk around the plaza until I was finished drinking it. As usual, there must have been a thousand people milling about.
As I walked along in front of the big cathedral, I noticed a young girl who was helping out a very old woman. This girl looked straight at me and began to say something. I immediately expected a plea for help or money, but as she began I could swear I recognized her. I listened to her very quite voice as she asked, “Are you a pastor?” and “Have you been to the Casa Hogar Torre Fuerte?”
I couldn’t believe my eyes or my ears! This was Lorena, one of the girls from the home. She had been away from the home the last two weeks, visiting with her mother. As we walked along the old woman, who turned out to be a friend of the family, decided on a place to sit down. Lorena then excitedly pulled me along to introduce me to her mother.
All three of us were amazed at this encounter. We chatted a bit, and they asked me where I was going. When I explained that I was just taking a stroll, Lorena asked if I would like some company. I ended up taking Lorena and her mother out for pizza, and we talked and laughed for two hours.
After dinner, I learned that neither Lorena nor her mother had ever had pizza before. They seem to be a very poor family, and I am so glad that God arranged this meeting so that I could help them out a little, and get a chance to visit with Lorena. They walked a couple of blocks with me toward my hotel, and then insisted that I take a taxi the rest of the way, telling me that it was too dangerous to walk this late at night.
So here I sit in my hotel room, still amazed at this night. I have just a couple more hours to spend with the girls tomorrow, mostly in difficult goodbyes, tempered a bit by the fact that we can say “hasta luego”, rather than “adios”.