I was recently sent by our pastor to the city of Puno, which sits high in the Andes on the shores of South America’s great Lake Titicaca. Unlike the Great Lake Superior that I know from Minnesota, this lake is the world’s highest navigable lake sitting at over 12,500 ft above sea level. The landscape is beautiful, the views are breath taking, and the church I went to serve is fantastic. I spent 4 days preaching, teaching, doing workshops and training key leadership teams for Maranatha Church.

The moment lunch time rolled around, I was taken by surprise. I had been told a small congregation in a village higher up in the mountains had asked if they could prepare lunch for us. After having done a men’s breakfast and a training session that morning, we left for the small town of Chucuito. There a small church was waiting in their building for us to arrive. I found out as they were playing the first and only song, that I would be preaching a message. Had I known, I would not have left my Bible and notes back at the hotel.

After sharing from my heart, and the devotional time I had had that morning, the service ended. The pews were rearranged, and a large tapestry blanket came in on the back of one of the men. They laid the blanket on the floor and opened it up to reveal a heap of potatoes that had been harvested and cooked that morning in a make-shift oven in the same ground they came from.

Instructions were simple. Grab a plate, grab some potatoes, ladle some sauce onto them, and grab a piece of cheese. And that was lunch. I kept looking around to see how everyone else would handle the issue of the potatoes still being covered in dirt. Until I heard one of the ladies laugh and say, “Pastor, the dirt is what gives it a special flavor!”

And so I smiled and ate the potatoes, dirt and sauce and cheese and all, and throughly enjoyed the moment I had to share with all of these new friends.

And as I did, I gained a little bit more perspective on a challege we’ve been facing as a family for the last 71 days. Our bathroom water pipes blew out when the city turned on the water after the landslides in Lima, creating our own personal natural disaster. The three bathrooms in our apartment and our kitchen had to be torn up and all water pipes and sewage system had to be built from scratch.

So our home has been a construction site with workers, and jack hammers, and tile dust, and cements dust from quite some time. It had been getting to me. After big days at church, full weekends of ministry, returning home to a dirty place with no showers or toilets was getting intense. (as I write this, two of the bathrooms and both of our showers are still out of commission.)

And there I was, looking at my food, and it too had dirt all over it…

And the dirt was suppose to give it flavor.

And then I realized that the challenge our family had been facing was a chance to find flavor in the midst of the circumstances and season the moments with perseverance, resourcefulness, and patience. It has been an opportunity to go beyond simply talking about these subjects with our kids to choosing to live them out together as a family.

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

By: Danny Gutierrez

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