Sunday, June 23, 2013

God Came Near... in Peru

It started off as a wonderful, lighthearted meal with some friends.  Some had known each other for years, others weeks and some had just met for the first time.  Our host was gracious and generous.  His family, while shy, offered warm smiles and their eyes danced with joy in meeting their new friends.

Dinner came – Peruvian Chinese and let me tell you, the servings were huge!  As is the custom, drinks were not served until after the meal was finished; think liquid dessert.

Over conversation with 12 people, some liked the beverage and others did not.  I was one of the ones who liked it.  So, to help my teammates not appear rude, we traded glasses over the course of the conversation and I did my good deed for the day and drank their juice; as well.  (I wasn't complaining...)

We are offered more – most say they are okay with what they have (they should be, I drank most of it for them!) and then something was said by someone, I can't remember who or what, but suddenly I thought that the juice was fermented.

I can only describe the feeling of having your life flash before your eyes and your heart squeezed with a vice.  Tears sprang instantly to my eyes and I my breathing was rapid. 

Our dear host, having no idea of my journey, was utterly confused.  I was fading in and out of the conversation happening in Spanish, picking up words here and there and not knowing how to find out for sure if I had just drank two pitchers of some fermented juice! 

Instantly, I thought, “Of course, that’s why I liked it so much!”  I felt horrible.  Sinful.  Afraid.  Terrified.

I am able to get our dear leaders attention and get confirmation that it wasn’t fermented – that I hadn’t drank several glasses of alcohol. 

Then the tears came.  While I had been trying hard to hold them back; the flood came.  There was no stopping them.  I cried as discreetly as I could with my head down and tears dropping onto my grey pants.  Why was I crying?

On the eve of my 12th sobriety anniversary, I was overcome with relief, grace, hope.  In mere moments, I was able to, for the first time since I had given my will and my life over to God, thought I was going to have to start over.  I can tell you, that is not how I imagined “starting over” if there was ever going to be one.  It wasn’t going to be by accident, with my Peruvian Friends and my Yearly Meeting teammates watching me drink too much juice! 

In that moment, God came to me.  Covered me with His peace and His assurance and His love.  While assuring my host and my teammates that I was okay and trying to explain quietly “what my problem was,” God came to me.  In a little Chinese restaurant in Ilave, Peru, I felt the presence of God like I haven’t felt for a long time.  God came near…in Peru. 

After supper, genuine smile on my face, I hugged my new friends
good-bye an was able to be truly grateful for the wonderful
evening... it was just what I needed and God knew that!

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