I remember one day a few years ago Todd and I were having lunch at a Mexican Restaurant with Mark and Mickey I think. During lunch Mark asked us for suggestions as to where he could go for supper that evening. I found that a bit humorous since we were in the middle of eating Quesadillas and such at the moment. Turns out he was trying to figure out somewhere nice to take a date for the evening. He said he was going out to dinner with Paige Staggs. I said "Who?"with this crazy eye look on my face. He repeated himself to which I replied "You're lying." LOL That still cracks me up.
I had known (and loved) Paige for a while and so had Mark actually. (Well not the loved part) He had never mentioned her to me before, ever once. This is she and I a LONG time ago, when she was sick.
Mark wasn't lying and basically they have been inseparable ever since that first dinner date. Except for that time he had to move to Birmingham and then Shreveport. Can you say "Face Time?" Or "texting?"
Several months ago Mark let us in on the little secret that he planned to ask Paige to marry him! We were so excited. He showed us the ring that he'd had designed and made for her. IT.IS.AMAZING!
He decided though that he wanted to put it away in a safe place until he was ready to ask her. He wanted to be settled back in our home town and working before he popped the question. So we waited. Everyone kept asking us when... we waited.
After we got back from our wonderful and blessed trip to Peru, one day Mark called me and asked me what I was doing on the following Thursday. He invited me to be in on the shenanigans! He wanted me to bring my camera to catch her reaction. He had gotten a job here in town and was moving back home. He was going to surprise Paige with that news and then propose. We went to her house to wait on her to get home from work. We parked across the street in my car so she wouldn't notice we were there. Once she came in the door, Mark walked into the living room from our hiding spot down the hall. She was so surprised to see him and said "What are you doing here?"
Thats when he told her that he was home for good! She burst into tears immediately.
He told me she would. I was a bit skeptical, but he was right.
After they hugged a bit, he told her he brought her a "happy". (I'LL SAY!) He did bring her "happies" from time to time so there was no reason for her to think anything of it being more than a bag of chocolate, or you know, some bullets... hehehe He told her to close her eyes, no peeking. He grabbed the ROCK ahem, I mean ring and got down on one knee. Then he told her to open her eyes. Thats when he asked her if she would marry him. We were all in tears.
She said YES!
They are such a cute couple, if I do say so myself!
Paige said they needed a "Family Portrait" She told Bella she had a real daddy now! :)
After things calmed down a bit we headed over to our house to show Todd!
We are so blessed to have sweet Paige to be a part of our family and are equally thankful to have her sweet family accept Mark into theirs.
May cant come soon enough. I say that a lot actually, but this time it will be for wedding purposes and not end of school purposes!
I really did mean to do a sort of final Peru post. Starting back work plus busy weekends has slowed me up on that. But I decided to sit down this eventing a go ahead and do that. After our thankfully uneventful flight home and landing in Houston we drove back to Vidalia. On that drive home I spent time thinking about our time in Peru. It was unavoidable because there was so much to think about. So much to sort out. So much that I never want to forget. I remember thinking about the people we met.
Parts of our team
Dan and Charla
Aaron and Marla
Amber (On the right)
Very sweet people wanting to make a difference. Wanting to share Gods' love.
Abundant Life Ministry Team
Trent (Matias) (In the red "jacket" cause its WINTER!)
His wife Shawn and their children.
His nephew Nathan
Courtney and Andrew
(This is Courtney leading the way)
(And Andrew with sweet Teddy)
Nedi (On the left)
Michael and his wife (He was our very capable interpreter)
Rudolpho and his wife (Thats not her...)
and many others
They have given up their lives. They literally are living new lives for God in a new country away from the ease and riches we have here, and have made an entirely different life now with orphans and others who they know are so important to God but who society seems to be able to throw by the wayside.
The safehouse guys
Todd called them the Safeway guys :)
Former addicts who have been rescued from the streets by God through Trent and his team. They have been loved on and shown the love of God. Their lives have been made NEW. Now they are serving God and the people they previously lived among. Addicts, prostitutes, and the poorest of the poor. They are showing them how God can change, and save, and rescue, and love, and protect.
William the Chef
Jessica House Girls
Johnnie (Thats Johnnie beside me in the yellow) What a story she has.
A new place of hope for them. A safe place to go and bring their kids where that team will show them Gods love and forgiveness and help them find freedom in Christ from all those things that have kept them bound for so long. A new world for them so different, seeing people who really care about their lives.
The Peruvian children
Their dark beautiful shiny eyes
Their dirty faces and clothes
Their little hands reaching for yours a little hesitantly - not accustomed to seeing a white face. Not used to seeing an adult smile at them or want to play with them.
And so many names I couldn't understand.
Pastor Danny asked us a few times what we were bringing home from Peru. It was a lot to think about and couldn't be answered for me simply. I still may not know it all even at this point months later. But this I know
Showing Gods love is KEY. His love, his kindness brings the needed change.
What Trents ministry is doing is important. It touches many and requires a lot of energy, time, money, people, effort, and love. We should help.
We need to open our eyes to see the hungry and hurting around us. Don't turn a blind eye. Smile, speak, get out of that comfort zone. Put an arm around someone. Talk to them. Love them.
Love is an action!
I certainly have a comfort zone. I have never denied that. I like it there. It's, --well, comfortable. God though, doesn't really call us to be comfortable. He calls us to lead those he loves to the only one who can bring real comfort.
" Love looks like something. What does love look like?"
After our tour at the Ruins we loaded up in taxis. That was interesting. The traffic is crazy there. Like CRAZY! One taxi even had an accident on the way. It wasnt ours but it was some of our group. However we all did make it safe to Mira Flores and the Pacific Coast.
I have never been real good at Geography and I admit I didnt even know we were going to get to see the Pacific Ocean. I should have, you know, maybe looked at a map or something. What a wonderful treat for me. If you know me, you know I love the ocean. Something about the waves that just continue to splash against the shore over and over and over. Continuously. Without stopping. Always- since the beginning of time. Wow. Then of course there is the beauty.
This day it was pretty hazy out. It was still gorgeous though.
I loved seeing the hills there at the Coast. Never seen that before.
We had lunch there in Mira Flores. There was a mall and restaurants. It was a very nice place for tourists and everyone really. Again some of our group wanted to stick with Peruvian cuisine. My husband however was not one of them, so we picked TGI Fridays.
Then after lunch and a little bit of time there we headed back to Inca Frog and quickly off to the Market. Shopping! I met this little woman there who kindly (although) apprehensively let me get my picture with her.
We got some T-Shirts and souvenirs there and then rushed back to Inca Frog hoping everyone was there. We had split up and did not have cell phones. Thankfully we were all there. We grabbed our luggage and got back into another taxi. (I decided to call them death taxis!) Trust me just close your eyes while riding. Seriously.
We had one final stop before the airport. Parque De La Reserva PARK OF THE RESERVE
There were beautiful fountains there.
They would do laser light shows through the water.
Images projected onto the spray of the water. Music and dancing in the mist. Fascinating. It was really cool and the pictures DO NOT do it justice.
This is our Taxi driver. SKILL HERE SKILL!
Lance about to jump in.
Our group photo!
It was really enjoyable. I am glad we got to do that.
Then we got back into the death taxis. That driving was NUTS! Really it was. Not kidding. Several even used their phones/ipads to video the ride. :) By the grace of God and the skill of our Taxi drivers we made it to the airport for our midnight flight. The flight home was quiet. We thought a lot about our experience and we slept a lot.