I believe in the power of music, which is a beautiful art that is taken for granted. Whether you are plugged into your iPod or actually play an instrument, people seem to come together and enjoy the music.
The power of music brought together about one hundred Peruvian kids for one week. Collique is a small town about two hours outside of Lima. The city of Collique is dirt poor, all of it. There are no paved roads, the little trees and plants they have there are covered in dirt, and teenagers hide behind a big wall at night and do drugs. There are very few fathers in Collique; mostly there are only mothers. There are only two races in Collique: Asians and Peruvians, and they do not get along well. Children run wild in the streets covered in dirt looking for their next meal. In Collique, the kids have one set of clothing, the one we gave to them. That is when my stereotype of the people of Collique changed forever, all because of music.
While my church friends and I were in Collique, not only did the kids learn about Jesus and the things He can do, but so did we. This wonderful experience all started with a song that the kids loved to sing continuously: “Cristo Ama a los Ninos,” which means “God loves the children.” They sang other songs like “Tengo Paz Como un Rio” which means “I have peace like a river.” Every morning we would stand next to houses made of wet cardboard and sing songs about how God loves everyone. We watched these dirt-poor kids sing songs about how God loves them. It is very hard to imagine that God loves you when you do not have a bed to sleep in or a father to love you. The power of music was everywhere.
There is a man there named Willy. For a forty-year-old man, Willy is really good at soccer. He is the father of a little girl who is partially crippled. He belted out all the words to all of the songs we sang. Willy would stand on top of the only concrete roof in Collique and dance like a little schoolgirl. Everyone in Collique loves Willy, probably because his is one of the only fathers in the city.
There is another man there who is a pastor; his name is Rino. Rino is dirt poor, much like the rest of Collique. Rino took time out of his busy day as a pastor to teach these little kids about stories from the Bible such as David and Goliath, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, and The Good Samaritan. The children told the Good Samaritan story a little differently. They decided that it was not a Good Samaritan that helped the Gentile on the road; rather it was a good American. Rino would sing his heart out to every song. This music would bring all the niños together. It was a very beautiful thing to experience. Every morning, the children would be waiting for us when we came off the bus singing all the songs we taught them. Every time I passed the smart-aleck group they would say, “Cameron Diaz!!” and all I could do was smile. The children have no one to love them, aside from their mothers. They run on faith alone. Music and faith made this the best week of their lives.
The children invited my Church and me to their preschool one day to celebrate the Peruvian Independence Day. A young boy and girl danced traditional dances to celebrate independence. Music and dancing made nearly two hundred kids smile and laugh. It was great to see all of the Peruvian kids pick a partner and dance to music having a good time.
The hardest thing to do in Collique is leave – and get the kids to stop playing soccer. When it was time for us to leave, a little girl went up to one of my friends who speaks Spanish fluently and said something I couldn’t make out. My friend later told me the girl said, “You don’t know how much you mean to us.” Another boy went up to me and asked me for my nametag, so he would not forget me. The children ran after our bus all the way to the end of town. Every single person inside the bus stuck his or her head out of the window to say their final goodbyes with tears running down their cheeks. There were even people we did not even know waving telling us “adios” and “gracias.” Then a girl from the other local church went up to me put this necklace around me so I would not forget about Collique. It read, “Jesus is the light.” I will never forget my mission trip to Collique and how for one short week God shown His light down a little Peruvian town through the power of music.