Over the past several years my wife and I became close friends with a special couple from our church. The husband, Fredy, is Peruvian, his wife, Leona, is American.
Nearly every time we visited their house they would goad us to join them on a trip to Peru. “You should go with us,” they would encourage. And they would tell us what they experienced on previous trips. They would show us photos of their relatives in the mountains. They would tell us about the challenges they faced on previous visits.
Time went on. They would remind, “You should go with us.”
Then in late January, I got a text message from Leona, a former travel agent. “I can hardly contain myself…” She went on to tell about drastically reduced airline tickets to Lima, Peru. And she confirmed the numbers by adding, “No, this is not a typo.”
The implication: Here is your chance. You gotta do it.
The four of us had all had enough travel experience to know that deals on airline tickets are time sensitive. If we don’t take timely action the deals go away—without explanation, without apology.
My wife and I had definitely been interested to join them, but we hadn’t made a conclusive decision. Now—we were forced to decide.
We hardly even decided—we just bought the tickets.
Though we had several months to prepare, the clock began ticking. We ran a small Krispy Kreme fund-raiser through several local businesses to help pay for the car rental. That turned out well.
As time went on we sensed there was something special brewing for this trip. We decided we would share our trip plans and story with the church, but it won’t be a ploy to get funds.
Since it was becoming obvious God is very much in this trip He will also amply provide all the resources needed. We were amazed at the provision.
The day came.
We were ready.
Traveling was not new to me–this was my country Number 14. However, in spite of all my traveling, Peru had never been on my radar. Now, here I was. Lima, Peru. What a delight. Yet I felt a weight and responsibility.
We had three main objectives for the trip:
1. Meet Fredy’s father, who lived in the jungle.
2. Meet Fredy’s mother, who lived in the mountains.
3. And, deliver a specially-made recording of the gospel in Fredy’s mother’s native tongue of Quechua, provided by faithcomesbyhearing.com.
Our first stop after arriving in the capital city of Lima was the jungle.
And, yes, jungle it was. We had several opportunities to get stuck with our rental vehicle, but avoided those opportunities. Mud puddles, narrow paths, dangerous drops. Finally we parked our vehicle and walked the rest of the way.
Fredy’s father had previously lived in the mountains many kilometers away. Then one day he ran away. Things in his life caused him to take measures that took him into the jungle where he also started a new family. Fredy, his siblings, and his mother didn’t hear from him for years. They thought he had died.
Fredy and his brother Felix had spent most of their lives away from their father. Fredy is 31 years old. About ten years ago, Fredy had met his biological father for the first time in his adult life. This trip was his second meeting.
Now, here we were.
Fredy’s half-sisters had instructed us that the house was “up there by the banana trees.”
Before we made it to real narrow and muddy walking path, Fredy’s father came down the trail to meet us. What a glad reunion moment! He gave us all a hug and a kiss. What a moment for the earth to stand still. Wow!
But we needed to keep moving. The daylight was dwindling away. We had business to do.
The scene at the home of Fredy’s father, was a jaw-dropper. Feast for the eyes. Far removed from other people. Remote.
We were welcomed by barking dogs.
After all these weeks of planning and imagining, now we beheld for the very first time what we never imagined.
He had killed an armadillo and the shell hung over the rafter. He killed a leopard that was responsible for killing a neighbor’s calf. He showed us the pelt. They had a pet monkey and pet mini leopard (or tigre, as they called it) in their cooking shack. A pet turtle. Turkeys. Dogs. Yes, the jungle indeed.
However, the most historic part of the whole trip was still coming.
At the Table
We were ushered into the small cooking shack to a special meal of caldo de gallina, which is chicken soup. (Literally translated, the name means, broth of hen.) Accompanied by cooked yucca, or cassava. It was yummy.
It was not the food alone that made the meal so special. History was unfolding.
My job was to document the happenings of this important trip. I took a new little GoPro camera to grab footage. I couldn’t fathom the importance of the meeting, but I knew I would not be tasting any chicken soup before I had this history-making table of reconciliation well-documented.
Fredy’s first meeting with his father had been rushed, and my friend wasn’t able to ask his burning questions. Now we would not be rushed as we sat at the table. The table where all parties are vulnerable. (When are we more vulnerable than when we eat and enjoy a meal together?) Indeed, this was the table of reconciliation and reunion and peacemaking.
We enjoyed a most delightful dining experience. Friendly and hearty conversation.
What would be the first personal thing to talk about? What would Fredy or Felix ask first?
What about the direction each of their lives has taken? What would they tell? Who would take the lead? Who would initiate the hard questions?
We enjoyed the delicious food.
Then I asked through Fredy’s translation how his dad felt about our visit. That opened the way for more questions and personal conversation.
Fredy, his brother Felix, and their dad had an extended moment of honesty.
Why did you leave? Did you ever think of us after you left? Why didn’t you make contact with us?
It was a lengthy conversation. They were on a quest to know the truth. They wanted the gnawing in their minds quieted. They spoke their minds, in peace, with grace and respect.
All their questions were answered. They found peace. They found rest. After all those years of questions and wondering, they finally started to know their father.
The mental captives were set free. The bridge was built.
We spent several hours around their jungle home visiting the mountain-side coffee plantation. Walking the mountain to his pasture fields. Picking guava fruit. Taking pictures while holding the stinky little tigre.
Then before we left they treated us to tasty fried plantain. We washed it down with brewed espresso raised on their own farm and roasted in their own kitchen. What delightful jungle hospitality.
Now weeks later, Fredy wants to go back. He did indeed meet his father. He wants to know him better.
Do you know of any similar experiences where a parent and child were separated for years and then met? What happened? Please tell us the story in the comment section below.
[This is only our first adventure on this eventful two-week trip. More adventure stories coming.]