Sharon's Sacred Journey to Peru

A Journey to the Heart 11/02

In a circle of light
In the center of love
Feeling the embraces
From God above

Mother Earth nurtures our soul
Where the mountains greet the sky
Awakening our senses
As the rivers flow by

If you listen carefully
The winds call your name
“Come home to love”, they say
You will never be the same

As the drums take us deeper
The flutes help us soar
Heaven and Earth are one
Just like before

So our hearts open wide
And the little children smile
Tears cleanse our soul
Mile after Mile

A small group we are
In a world we came to see
As each day goes by
Opening our hearts with generosity

And as we count our blessings
We thank all our guides
For the gifts we have received
Keeping our hearts open, always, very wide.

I had no idea why I was embarking upon a journey to Peru. I’ve traveled to many places, including Egypt 3 years ago, which was my soul’s desire since childhood. While in Egypt, I had a dream. I was told I must go to Peru to do missionary work. I recall waking up, thinking, gosh it took me 40 years to get to Egypt, now I’m supposed to go to Peru and do what? So, for 3 years many coincidences crossed my path. I met several Peruvian people, received information on retreats in Peru, read articles about Machu Picchu and then, one day I received an email. I had no idea how Dr. Sharon Forrest had gotten me on her email list. She was to guide interested individuals on a sacred journey to Peru. Something inspired me to call for the information. When I received it, I can still recall my whole body trembling as I tried to read the details. I could not even get through all the pages, when I decided to just call and sign up for the trip. A couple of weeks before the trip, I actually sat down to read the itinerary. It was only then, that I came to realize, the trip included visiting orphanages and villages to bring the children clothing and school supplies. My dream flashed in my head and then I knew something was in store for me.

Upon our arrival to the Sacred Valley there were several young adults that greeted Mama Sharon. Hugs and kisses and greetings to all of us came from these beautiful young beings. In the week to follow I had no idea how many times my heart would be touched.

Washington, was one of the young men. Mama Sharon first met him 10 years ago. He was soon to show us his wisdom, compassion and devotion of the heart through every action along our journey together. His sweet older brother Carlos, beautiful Maria Liliana, who witnessed her parents being killed by terrorists, and others brought joy to us every moment they were in our presence. Always smiling, always helping, giving us hugs, holding our hands, and touching our hearts. I remember one day thinking how easy it seemed to them to show affection to strangers and how delightful it felt to receive it.

As we traveled through this dry and mountainous country, exploring the Andes, we saw many destitute villages. Children lined the streets with their big eyes looking into your soul, while their hands gently reach out to you, in hopes that you will give them a little something. Tears rolled down my face mile after mile as we received hugs and words of gratitude when we would hand them one pencil or crayon, a piece of bread or a coin equivalent to about 30 cents. I did not cry because they had nothing. I cried because of their appreciation. I cried when I thought how many children might scoff at a simple gift of a pencil. I cried because I had wasted so much money spoiling my own children, not realizing the level of poverty and lack of education that exists in other worlds. I cried because they hugged me. I cried because I did not know how I could help them.

Although, my Spanish was limited, it did not limit the amount of love that could flow between two hearts. I cried because these children were opening my heart.

Willoq is a community home for over 200 indigenous Incan children in the high mountainous areas. I recall the long bus ride, over the narrow, bumpy roads. I couldn’t imagine that anyone even lived this high up, far away from water resources or access to local food markets. It is the last of the Incan culture and Mama Sharon is helping them through the support of her organization, to keep their culture alive.

As we pulled up to the village, the first thing I saw was a beautiful little boy, about 3 years old clothed in bright reds and oranges smiling like an angel. He was dancing across the grass, honoring our arrival and proud to be greeting us today! Soon thereafter, several other children ran out to meet us. Mama Sharon and our small group of explorers were greeted with open arms. We had arrived with sandals and bread and some school supplies for the children and young adults. They proudly gathered in a circle and several of the younger children danced for us as we clapped rhythmically. One of the gentlemen on our trip, Daniel, a big hearted, lovable restaurant owner from California, was so touched in distributing the sandals. I watched as tears filled his eyes and smiles embraced his lips. I was able to gift the children with assorted stickers. They would chuckle as I would place them on my nose or face and then on theirs. They all ran up to me, reaching out for just “one” sticker to wear, to admire, to feel special. It was better than playing Santa Claus for all of us. For there was no long wish list of toys and video games to fill, there was merely gratitude for the simple things we could offer.

Now, Willoq has no modern conveniences and amenities. Guinea pig is the delicacy that they graciously prepared for us as a token of their appreciation. The Elder, a woman of about 83 yrs., very proud of her people & culture wanted to share time with all of us. She asked us to come see her home, a small clay hut, approximately 10 feet by 10, where she had lived her entire life. Weaving colorful fabrics that represented their heritage was something she has always done. Her heart radiated a sense of peace. She hugged everyone of us as she whispered in our ears “remember me always”. I can still see her sweet little smile, the deep red woven fabrics that draped her body and her hands that held each one of ours.

As we drove back to our hotel, I sat quietly observing the countryside, taking in this experience. I could not imagine living contently with no bathroom, no mattress to sleep on and no Walmart. I was inspired by the joy that radiated through these individuals, the camaraderie, the appreciation for strangers from another land, the simple things that brought happiness to their souls.

Our journey continued through the magnificent area of Macchu Picchu, exploring the ancient secrets, lost civilization, and mysteries of life. We experienced shamanic ceremonies that would open us to new levels of understanding. We listened to the sounds of drums and flutes, receiving blessings, while traveling through time and space as we were initiated as children of the light.

A day at the market was fun too. An enormous amount of local crafters lined the marketplace. A large variety of colorful fabrics, sweaters, handcrafted beads and jewelry, you could not decide what to take home. Paintings, music, ancient artifacts, like a kaleidoscope – beauty was before your eyes everywhere. One young girl traveled with us on that day, Maria Elena. I told Maria Elena, to pick something pretty for herself today. I would buy her a special gift. At the end of our excursion, she had not found anything she would take my money for. So, I asked Mama Sharon, what could she use. She suggested sneakers. So, I gave her $20 U.S. dollars to buy sneakers. Later that afternoon, she jumped on the bus with a huge smile; she proudly showed me her brand new sneakers and other little items that she bought for herself, with some change to spare. She kissed me and hugged me and only later I found out that day was her birthday. Her appreciation for my small gift touched my heart and made me cry. For the rest of the day, everywhere she went she held my hand and would look into my eyes so adoringly.

Mama Sharon has helped raise funds for many children, for food, education and to find foster homes. She has sponsored the children in this picture providing clothing and education for them. These children, out of love and respect for her and the work of her organization, would be there to give us a morning hug, carry our bags and educate us proudly about their country.

The children of Peru demonstrated this sort of appreciation to us all. They could not share enough or love us enough. One morning at breakfast, I overheard one of the women on the tour say “I’m going to miss these hugs every morning”. I stopped to think about that, and realized I would too. It was such a delight to be greeted everyday with smiles, joy and hugs that exuded sincerity.

Our last stop, before going on to Bolivia was another orphanage that Mama Sharon has helped set up. I was the only one from the group that decided to go with her and the boys. This was the place where a beam of light went through my heart and burst it open. It was more remote than any of the other places we had visited. We were welcomed with open arms from the teachers, students and staff. They were proud to show us that the money Path of the Heart had raised was able to help them build a green house to produce their own organic vegetables. Little children of 5 or 6 years of age ran to greet us and hold our hands. Their noses running, most of them barefooted and skin so dry from the lack of humidity in the air, they smiled enormously to greet the strangers with blue eyes. In the classroom, they sang us a few songs. One song really effected me as I recall some of the words: “I deserve to eat, I deserve to have a name, I deserve not to be beaten, I deserve to live, I deserve to be loved. My heart began to melt.”

Later we gave the children a pencil, a crayon and a piece of paper. They looked up at us from their desks, as if we were angels sent from heaven. Some of them would touch our hands gently and smile. They started calling me Mama Gloria and I cried. It was such an honor to have that respect from them. I danced with several of them and tried teaching them a few little games. They giggled and mimicked me and followed me everywhere. I wanted to play with them all day. The older children came out to receive their school supplies. One boy, about ten, took his one piece of paper and wrote Sharon and I a beautiful thank you letter. I was touched that he would take his only piece of paper to write us a letter of thanks. It was in this moment that something ran through my heart. Like a bolt of lightening, I was able to feel all the love that was beaming at us from these little darlings.

It was lunch time and approximately 200 children lined up in an orderly fashion to receive their food. One by one they would take their bowl into the building. Once they were finished, they washed it out and passed it on to another child waiting to eat. They were organized, patient, grateful and never showed any signs of aggression or misbehaving to get their food. They were rewarded with one piece of chocolate, which I got to hand out, upon finishing their meal. “Gracias, Mama Gloria”, one after another they would whisper. My eyes filled with tears again. I have never witnessed such appreciation and gratitude for so little. Even the two teachers, which I admired for their incredible enthusiasm, joy and love for teaching, prompted me to place a big heart sticker on their jackets, they smiled and gave me a huge hug and said Gracias, Mama Gloria.

Upon my arrival in the U.S., I went through a withdrawal. It truly effected me how much we are lacking, in the way of affection, love and simplicity. The streets are lined with people, that don’t even greet each other hello. Stores are everywhere and people shop for more stuff than they could possibly use. I knew that there must be something I could do, to express my gratitude to these children that touched my heart. So, I began to tell my story and tears would fill my eyes. Friends and family decided they wanted to help too. Boxes of clothes, toys and school supplies got sent to the children. Before Christmas time, Carlos emailed me and wondered if we could find it in our hearts to send a box of chocolates for the children. I immediately emailed some people and we all shipped something for the children. Several of the children stay in contact with me. Their letters always bring warmth to my heart, a smile on my face and such joy to know these wonderful beings.

Maria Liliana asked if I would be a friend to her brother, William. William now writes to me about his schooling. He is studying law and has just received a small scholarship that he is very proud of. Assistance will be needed for him to continue his education. I pray that I can help find that for him. In the meantime, it brings me happiness to communicate with these joyful beings.

Recently, Washington came to the U.S. to visit and a few of us had a reunion with him. It was so interesting to have him here and to feel his warmth and enthusiasm for life. We went for a ride one day and stopped for lunch and he insisted on paying for lunch. Of course, I felt awkward about this, but he insisted. I saw the great joy it brought him to give back to me. It reminded me again, how wonderful it is to be able to give and receive. This mere gesture he made continues to keep me inspired to help others less fortunate.

I live a simple life here on Kauai, compared to my past on the mainland. Everyday I am reminded that I am blessed. My heart feels joyful. I have become so grateful for all the gifts I have and all the gifts that God provides daily. When I struggle to make ends meet, I stop and realize that I am more fortunate than many others in this world. I am thankful that I have a place to live and clothes to wear and food to eat. It is a true blessing to be in this country. I am thankful that I have opened my heart to finding ways to help others. Now, I cry when I see the beautiful colors of flowers or the rainbows out my back door. The friendships that I nurture are important to me and my family that I love fills my heart daily.

Path of the Heart is a non-profit organization that Dr. Sharon Forrest has set up to help the children. If you would like to know more visit her website at www.healingnow.com and click on the banner Path of the Heart. She also sponsors sacred journeys twice a year and I highly recommend seeing Peru through the eyes of the children.

Gloria at Ollantaytambo
 


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