We were winding along the Andean highway toward Cusco, with the celestial universe floating above us. As trees, streams, and colorful villages rushed past, I leaned against the van’s window, peering at the navy sky spotted with pinpoints of light. 

It was the second time in my life that I was so deep in wilderness (and artificial light so absent) that the earth’s roof glimmered as a heavenly map. We were heading home after a long, but awe-inspiring day in Peru’s Sacred Valley. Today (5/26) was the day I fell in love with Peru.

While Cusco is a mini-metropolis buzzing with striking cathedrals, tourist traps, and societal vibrancy, in the Sacred Valley God’s creation quietly overpowers humble, rural communities. The tiny towns and mid-sized cities nestle among the walls of rock and vertical countryside. At one point I considered Sacred Valley to be an epic, extended version of Yosemite Valley. When you hit the outskirts of Cusco, you enter ‘Incan’ territory. The hills that once distantly surrounded you in Cusco are now rolling next to you at incredible heights, while the flat campo of the valley sits peacefully underneath. 

Most of that day was spent in the midst of ruins. Although the natural landscape appeared to have a proud, untouched aura, we saw ancient evidence of humanity. Nowadays, where humans are present nature is not. However, in many ancient cultures, civilization was one with nature and in a way enhanced it. I saw this firsthand by seeing Incan wonders—especially the manmade terraces stacking upon the mountainside, creating an illusion of stairs for giants. 


That God enabled man to have such ingenuity and creativity kept me in praise of Him all day. And there are so many mysteries surrounding the Incan construction of perfectly sculpted stone buildings… without any known mechanisms to lift such heavy material. 


That night of gazing at the stars in the Andes has now passed. Now we’re intensely reviewing Spanish as the start day (6/1) of our study approaches. Honestly, I’m anxious about flexing my español muscles and executing our participant recruitment procedures. I will continue to lift this up to God by prayer and petition, knowing He will guard my mind and heart with the peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). The ability to show kindness and care to Peruvian mothers and their babies, in addition to the possible healthcare breakthrough of the vaccine-reminder bracelets, keeps me motivated and thankful to God. My blessings are as many as the stars in Andean sky. 

 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8:3-9

AuthorTrish Braun