Peru is the country that has captured my heart. I arrived there in mid 1956 as a 10-year-old. My parents were the first Swedish missionaries to minister there. I never thought we’d stay because one of the campaign promises of candidate Manuel Prado was that if elected, he would throw out all missionaries. He won the elections, so I was just waiting for the moment he’d make good of his promise.
Our destination was the southern city of Arequipa. “Why are we even driving there?” I asked my dad. “President Prado is going to throw us out and then we’ll have to drive all the way back.” It was a long drive, about 500 miles. It was not like driving on a flat highway, so it took a long time. The road curved around the Andes Mountains so Dad couldn’t drive very fast.
President Manuel Prado didn’t keep his promise. Peru is still open to mission work and my parents spent half a century ministering there. If it was up to him Dad would even be there today, but he is in Sweden and cannot fly any more because of his heart. What a paradox, when his “heart” is in Peru!
I learned in school, in Arequipa, what the red and white colors of the flag symbolize. The red stripes that flank the white represent the blood the soldiers shed in the fight for the countries freedom from Spanish reign, and the white stripe in the middle stands for peace and justice.
I’ve always loved this flag. More than what it symbolizes for Peru about the blood shed for their freedom and the desire for peace an justice, it represents the colors of The Cross. The blood that Jesus shed for our freedom from sin and the pure heart we can have thanks to him. He offers us the ultimate Peace and Justice!
The Coat of Arms represents the natural riches Peru has. The animal kingdom with the vicuña, the rich fauna represented by the tree, and the cornucopia with the coins spilling out represent the mineral resources. But the greatest riches are its friendly people. The indigenous tribes comprise almost half of the 30 million in population.
When I was a kid I learned that there were over 40 languages spoken in Peru. Today I read an information about 92 languages being spoken there. I guess there have been lots of discoveries in the last half century. Whatever the correct number is, the variety is great. I lived and worked in the central mountains of the Andes, among the Quechua-speaking people. I never learned that language because I used the Spanish.
Why has Peru captured my heart? Could it be because the main milestones in my life were experienced there? I got married in Huancayo and our girls were born in La Oroya. But most of all Peru has my heart because there I took my first stumbling steps in the ministry God called me to as a 10-year-old—to give my life to bring the Gospel to boys and girls.
Today I’m using the Internet as my main vehicle. When I publish my lessons and stories for children, I see the people in Peru receiving them. I know that the materials I publish go around the world but I have to have a focus. The Bible says something about that where our heart is, there our treasures will be. I have many treasures in Peru. Each boy and girl is a jewel worthy of receiving the Gospel of peace and justice.
I hope to be bringing that message of Peace ’till the day I die!
¡Viva el Perú! [Long live Peru!]