I’ll admit, I am ecstatic that I have luggage. It was a very anxious experience having to wait almost an hour in an airport where I didn’t speak the language to talk to someone about luggage that I believed I may never see again. I got it though. I got it, I have actual clothes, and that’s amazing. However, it’s hard to feel too good about having luggage. Today is a holy day in Catholicism; thus, a national holiday in Peru. Immaculate Conception Day (regarding the birth of Mary, not the birth of Christ (common mistake)). With many things closed, we weren’t able to do our regularly scheduled volunteer activities. Of which this would be day numero uno! So instead of working with kids, I was able to partake in home visits to a few families of which the people there are extremely elderly, extremely well, unwell, and extremely poor. These are people in extreme poverty. We’re talking 1$ a day for a family of four. We visited four homes, only being able to go into two as one couple wasn’t home and the other didn’t want us strange foreigners to come inside. We accompanied a nurse who did home check ups to people who were unable to visit the church sponsored care. One dollar is obviously extremely small but you wouldn’t know it from the attitude of these people. Or maybe you would. We had a woman apologize us to us because she felt bad that didn’t have enough chairs for us to speak. This is a woman who lived in a house the size of my kitchen at home, who didn’t have running water, electricity, or a bathroom. Who hoarded garbage that took up half her living space, and had a stray dog mothering a litter of puppies beside her home. Then we end up at the house of a man who’s had a stroke. A stroke that happened 14 years ago. A stroke that required a shunt in his brain that needs to be changed every 4 years. A shunt that hasn’t been changed in 14 years. And yet, this fella who has physical spasms from his stroke, shows off his garden, gets himself out of a chair to show us an old photo album of his life, and tells us a story of him climbing some giant peak on a beach in Peru. A man who hugged and kissed all of us when we leave, when we leave to go back to a place in a van that has water, food, electricity, internet, air conditioning, all these things that he has zero of and he’s looking happier than all of us put together. It’s alarming to see the conditions that these people live in, but it’s even more alarming to see their attitudes. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I’m just saying, I, like many people can read statistics all day long about poverty levels and low income housing and this and that but until you see it up close can you even come close to comprehending it. And here I am, upset that I have to wear the same pair of shorts three days in a row and had to buy a pair of underwear. That here I am, a guy that in one suitcase probably has more than this guy has had in the last 10 years of his life and I’m the one complaining? I’m the one pissed off at an airline? It’s a humbling experience. It’s a different experience. It’s an emotional one. It’s also just like wow, I bitch and moan about little things that happen in my life that maybe affect my day for five or ten minutes, these people live in worlds that we could never even imagine ourselves in and they do it with a smile on their face. Would they like a better life? Of course, they wouldn’t choose this in an ideal world. But they make the most of it. They make the most of their surroundings. They make the most of our life. I hope I can start to do the same. So it goes.


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