Dads and Daughters

Long and bumpy bus rides lead to the loveliest of things around here, and we feel so lucky to have captured so many of them for keeps.

We traveled an hour-and-some to the north today. Traffic is tough in downtown Lima  (signs and lights act more like “suggestions” here), but I’m fascinated by the variety of art and architecture we pass by every morning. The projects we travel to, on the other hand, all look pretty much the same- dogs on roofs, and lots & lots of dust.

But ya know what else is always the same? The vibe. It’s a smiley one, for sure, and there’s such a strong sense of friends and family here. Which, by the way, is incredibly comforting for those who are really starting to miss their own. *ahem*

The man in the photo below is the pastor of the church we visited this morning…

We were walking up the hill with him when the little boy in the photo came running up shouting, “Papa! Papa!”. The pastor is not the boy’s actual father, (just his pastor) but that tells you how close their relationship is. It was such a beautiful moment to witness and I’m so glad Kevin captured it with his camera!

Near the top of that hill, we visited a family whose daughter is in the Compassion program.

Their home sits, flimsy and weathered, amongst hundreds of others that look a lot like it. It’s floor and aging roof were tired and worn, but it felt like a faithful little house, and I could tell there was a lot of strength inside it’s walls.

The family has lived there going on nine years. Inside the largest area of the house, there are two beds. Both mattresses droop, but each one is made up nice and neat.

At the back of the room is her father’s bed, with its cherry wood headboard and layers of colorful wool blankets. A picture, drawn by his daughter (Estefania) hangs on the wall near the foot of his bed. She loves her Papa very much.

He broke his back in a three-story fall while he was working earlier this year. Compassion stepped in and paid for all his medical expenses and continues to pay for them as he recovers. Estefenia told us she didn’t get to see him for months while he was in a coma. She said she was so afraid he’d never come home and I could feel how that experience had scarred her because of the way she acted around him.

She sat close, and was quick to make sure he had everything he needed within arms reach. When I asked her if I could take her picture with my camera, she moved up next to him so that he’d be in the photo, too.

My favorite moment? It was this one…

But I should probably preface it with this: I’ve given away two of my three bracelets on this trip. One to our sponsored-child, Fresia, and the other to Estefenia. They’re identical- both mostly brown wooden beads, except for the one big glittery blue one. I wore them almost every day back home. But now back to that moment. It happened right after I took my bracelet off and handed it to Estefenia…right after she smiled from ear to ear. What she wanted, without hesitation, was a picture of it on her wrist, holding her papa’s hand.

That’s where her brain went.

She may only be nine years old, but she taught me so much about what’s really important today.

I have a challenging relationship with my Dad, but I think it’s time to try again and make sure whatever he needs is within arms reach, too. Thanks for the reminder, Estefenia. Compassion kids rule.

For more posts about our time in Peru, please visit Shaun GrovesAngie Smith and Jen Schmidt‘s blogs, too!

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  1. says

    I am a complete teary mess right now. Such a beautiful and touching story. Thank your for sharing your journey, as it has been a wonderful reminder of what truly matters…

  2. says

    What a beautiful post, Layla! Estefenia’s eyes are so powerful, and she surely loves her Papa! What a wonderful reminder to treasure our families. xoxo

  3. says

    I have read every post you have written while in Peru. Thank you so much for sharing. Praying for all of you. Thank you for sharing… so very precious. I loved loved loved your post.

    much love

  4. Ter'e Crow Lindsay says

    Crimany……I read every post……devour each photo…..and I cry. This is such a wonderful journey with you and Kev. The peoples faces tell it all…….they are so full of love and hope.

    I wish I was a bracelet maker! Next trip, I’d supply you with bracelets! Gosh, these beautiful kids are something else………

    Layla, I sympathize with you being an adult child of a difficult parent……..I well understand. Compassion is what we all should all strive for.

    Thanks for the reminder and sharing your day of love………

  5. says

    Well, I thought I was gonna make it through this one without crying. Nope. Not a chance.

    Thanks for your honesty and for sharing your perspective, Layla (and Kevin!) Thinking of y’all everyday. Praying, too.

  6. says

    wow.. great story.. and glad it inspired you to maybe give ur personal relationship w ur dad another go.. my dad was my hero and passed away 6 years ago and I miss him so much.. esp on Thanksgiving!! =) …. that little boy calling his pastor “papa”.. wonder if that means “father” as in priest.. we sometimes call our priest “padre”.. not that it matters.. just made me think of being in church and hearing my (irish, not spanish) mother call the pastor “padre”.. it always seemed a bit odd as we are def not spanish and I never heard her speak any other words in the language.. but Im ranting now… Happy Holidays.. and good luck to you and your wonderful family ; )

  7. Kelly says

    Kevin, thank you for taking such wonderful pictures so we can all understand and witness what you both are seeing. It breaks my heart to see everyone living in those conditions. But the love just pours through on your photos. Amazing! Layla, the stories that you are telling is undescribable. It really opens my eyes about how lucky we are back here. I just want to scoop everyone up and hug them. Their smiles are out of this world. Thank you!!!

  8. gina says

    She looks so fragile, but she’s so very powerful, isn’t she? She made grown ups tear up all across the world! Looking at the pictures, I was sad not seeing any gardens or flowers, just dust. But, I realize that the children are the flowers in that land, adding beauty to the landscape. Reminds me of the german word “kindergarten” or “children’s gardens” : a place where children are nourished like flowers and plants. Good work, you compassionate gardeners! :)

  9. says

    Isn’t it all just amazing? How strong love is? How it blossoms in what appears to be the driest of places…
    You know what else I noticed, as a retired kindergarten teacher? They use invented spelling, too! That probably doesn’t mean anything to most people, but it made me smile. TE KIERO PAPA is what she wrote and the real spelling is Te Quiero Papa. Just a teacher moment. Keep smiling and sharing your heart and your bracelets!

  10. Lori H says

    Right at the end, I got tears in my eyes. I hope that you and your Dad can find a place of peace where you can feel right with each other.Estafania is beautiful, and there is definitely something special with Dads and daughters, (and mothers and sons for that matter).

  11. Leigh says

    Wow… beautiful story! These posts on Peru have been my favorite so far! I have read every one and they have been powerful. Thank you for showing us the other side. We need to be reminded of how truly blessed we are.

  12. Mom Palmer - Katie says

    Layla, this was a beautiful post. Kevin, your pictures have been great. It breaks my heart to see the conditions those lovely people are living in. You can see the love little Estafania has for her dad. She is a special child and I am happy that you shared her story with us. Looking forward to your return home and praying for safe travel for you. You both have some “BIG HUGS” waiting for you when we see you. Love Mom

  13. says

    I am new to reading your blog and came here first because I had Googled the words “Cottage Living” and it took me to your blog home. Since then, I have found your blog to not only be a place of warmth in showcasing decorating types but also a place of true heart and “Compassion.” I have enjoyed your sharing of your trip to Peru and have been moved to tears on reading about your experiences there. Through your talents of writing and photography, you have allowed us to see what the Compassion program is all about and to find out more. Thank you and God bless you in your travels and work there and back home too.

  14. says

    This is a wonderful post, Layla.
    When I see your picture where there way of living, I really think that some people here should learn from them.
    When I hear people here complaining for the last IPhone 5S they’ don’t have, I think we really have lost what is important and what is not…

  15. says

    I have been following along with your visit in Peru. Such strength in the stories and how they are happy without so much that we take for granted. I shared the picture of the girl in her “home” with no roof and walls with my girls. For them to see and feel that when they have so much. We tell them but to see it leaves an impression. And how interesting that I chose to post today as you close with a comment about your relationship with your father. I also have been trying to deal with my father. Reaching out to a man who is not always kind toward me for some reason, yet in his heart I know (and have seen) he is and can be.

  16. Sherri says

    Its true….a picture paints a thousand words. What a beautiful story and beautiful photos. I wish I’d thought about it in time and sent bracelets, hair accessories, trinkets, etc. for you guys to give to these beautiful children so they would have something to remember you by.

  17. Kristy Stanaway says

    another beautiful story. and those big brown eyes – just amazing. love following your adventure everyday. good reminders to all of us what’s really important in this life. xxoo

  18. Raquel says

    I have had the opportunity to visit a third world country and I know how difficult it is to put all that you are experiencing & feeling into words – but with tears in my eyes, I have to say, you did it beautifully. I too, needed to be reminded of what it means to be a daughter and to love – even when it is hard.
    As a side note – we have sponsored children through Compassion for over 15 years – we started before we adopted our two children from S. Korea, so our Compassion kids were kinda like OUR kids. I am encouraged by hearing how this ministry continues to help the least of these.

  19. Rachel says

    I have enjoyed your posts this week. I can feel the emotions of the journey in your stories, We all love decorating and sharing our homes. Sometimes I think we forget just how much we have to be grateful for.

  20. Sharon says

    I am touched by your pictures and descriptions of the people you have met on your Peruvian journey. Thank you so much for sharing them. God truly has taught us that we can grow in his love where ever we are planted and that the things that matter most are not “things ” at all. Thank for for the reminder.

  21. Allison A. says

    I have been out of town this past week. At Disney no less with my own two small children. I wasn’t able to read your blog and I have to admit I missed it. I knew you guys were going to Peru this week and was anxious to hear your stories.

    I have cried at all of them. The pictures are all the words you need Hun. They are beautiful and sad and happy all at the same time. I feel what you’re conveying to us in your words and I can’t help but wish I were there with you, Holding hands, hugging and praying and just taking it all in.

    Today, I too am changed. Thank you for taking time to share with me what you have seen and felt while there. I will never be the same.

  22. says

    Such an odd feeling, reliving my mission trips to Peru through your pictures… makes my heart ache for the people there but rejoice that our God is the God of all and that He is loving them and taking care of them.

  23. Amy says

    And I’m crying again. I don’t think you will ever know how many people you have touched with these amazing stories. You really have a gift for sharing the heart of things.

  24. says

    I love this post. It proves what is important in life. I’m a middle school teacher (with my own 3 year old at home) and it’s hard to teach our kids what is important in life when everything is handed to them. Even when they can’t afford their house payments or utility bills, they can still some how get the money for the newest phone or shoes. I can’t seem to get through some of these kids as to how to cherish what you have. Seeing this young girl’s face, her connection to her dad, and the simple joy of receiving a bracelet makes me want to send 1000 bracelets to these children (not to mention help in other ways) but I just wish our own American children would know the simple joys too. Keep the posts coming, I love them!

  25. says

    I love this post. It proves what is important in life. I’m a middle school teacher (with my own 3 year old at home) and it’s hard to teach our kids what is important in life when everything is handed to them. Even when they can’t afford their house payments or utility bills, they can still some how get the money for the newest phone or shoes. I can’t seem to get through some of these kids as to how to cherish what you have. Seeing this young girl’s face, her connection to her dad, and the simple joy of receiving a bracelet makes me want to send 1000 bracelets to these children (not to mention help in other ways) but I just wish our own American children would know the simple joys too. Keep the posts coming, I love them!

  26. says

    First thank you both for taking us on this priceless journey with you.
    I am taken by how beautiful all these people are both inside and out.
    They have so little but really they have so much. What wonderful people.

  27. says

    Lyla and kevin,
    i have been following the posts of you and your husband and jen.(balancing beauty and bedlam) Every time tears….. I have wanted to sponsor a child for several years…..I decided i have thought about it enough, I made the committment to do that this week. I can’t wait to get connected to my little chosen sweetie. Beautiful people. Beautiful stories of strength and love. Janita

  28. says

    Such a beautiful, powerful post full of equally beautiful, powerful photos. Thank you so much for sharing this journey!

  29. says

    Well, I’m feeling worn-out and raw over here…and your last line pretty much slayed me, El. I’m always amazed by the moments when we realize that we’re all the same, we all want the same things, we all hope for the very same kinds of hope.

    You’re telling these stories as only YOU can. We’re hanging on every word. xo

  30. Harbormom says

    How beautiful to see Estafania’s devotion to her father. And what a wonderfully descriptive and all-encompassing phrase for a strained familial relationship – challenging. You captured it perfectly.

  31. Mary Feagley says

    Tears are welling up in my eyes. Your thoughts, so well conveyed, were so raw and full of emotion. I reflected on my relationship with my father and now the one I see with my husband and daughter. It’s such a unique relationship…fraught with fierce emotions. Keep trying, Layla.

  32. Lisa W. says

    Ahhhhhhhhhh….this really is the good stuff. Broken down homes, dirt everywhere, cardboard walls, AND her only worry is her Daddy getting better. I think all of America could stand a visit here. We have NO idea how lucky we are!!!

  33. Yellowrose says

    Hopefully the conditions people, like this community, live in around the world do more than than merely “touch us.” Hopefully they motivate us to go deeper and ask “What is wrong with the way WE structure our economy that some have too much while others’ basic needs are not being met?” There is enough for everyone’s basic needs to be met. It is up to those of us who have enough to go deeper, learn more and demand that people be paid fair wages, that corporations who want to sell in the U.S., including our own, pay fair wages around the world and that safety nets be made available for those who are sick or who struggle – including those in this country. It is a big task, but it is not an impossible task. It is what we are called to do.

  34. Frances says

    Yellowrose…… you speak the gospel truth. May all who have read these Peru posts take them to heart, and as best they can, move in the direction of working for a better existence for our brothers and sisters, whoever ever they may live!

  35. Nicola Blake says

    You have made me cry every time I have read your post for the last week. I don’t have my papa any more. He went to eternal rest on July 4th 1996. He past away from Renal Cell Carcinoma. I was right by his side through his suffering. There is nothing like having a papa to hold his hand. I cant see to type because of my tears. Sorry, I need to end now.

  36. Rachel Carey says

    I’d rather live in a cardboard hut surrounded with love than in the fanciest of homes….without it. While these peeps live a monetarily challenging lifestyle, they are RICH in family, love, and those smiles.

    Will you return to Peru? Wasn’t it worth that long flight?

  37. Deborah says

    Bless you, Layla! I miss my dad every day. I am glad you are thinking about your relationship with your dad. Prayer and love will help you along the way (oh, and don’t forget to breathe & drink plenty of water!).

  38. says

    Layla, that was a beautiful story. Dad’s are really special people especially to us their little girls. Bless you for your work there in Perua and you relationship with your dad.

  39. Culpepper says

    Layla and Kevin, thank you for sharing your journey with us. You are amazing, generous people. God bless you.

    These images remind me that we are spoiled rotten in our world of plenty. What we often think is of “value” has no real value at all.
    God sees and knows our hearts and what he sees in Estefenia must be pretty close to perfect. Her heart and intentions are pure and her love for her father is boundless. What a fantastic illustration of what we all should aim to be like.

  40. says

    This is beautiful, Layla! I like what you said at the end, that you think it’s time to try again. It’s hard to try again sometimes when people have hurt us but what I’ve learned is that people can change and you have no idea what your love and compassion for your father will do for him (and maybe even for you also).

  41. says

    Your pictures are beautiful and your certainly have captured the emotions of the village people.
    It looks like they enjoy having their pictures taken.
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip .

  42. PreK Teacher says

    I have devoured each of your posts from Peru. How beautiful! They’ve made me even more prayerful for Simon and Nemata the Compassion children our family sponsors. We wrote them long letters this week as a result! Blessings to you!

  43. Melissa says

    This has me in tears – the love between the girl and her father shines through, so beautiful! I wasn’t close to my father, I was a teen seeing things black and white, without much grace for his shortcomings, then he passed away when I was 19. I try to encourage others to show love while you can, nothing is more important than relationships. I wish I could go back and redo that time in my life….

  44. says

    I grew up in that city!! Lima, Peru was home for seven years. My parents were/are missionaries, and we moved down when I was two years old. The dog on the roof!! Oh that brings back memories!!! Also, we would walk into neighborhoods just like you photographed every week. Thanks for visiting Lima. It definitely puts a lot of things in perspective doesn’t it.

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