Theresa May, her husband Ralph, and their daughter Hannah were with us for five years, working in the town of Trujillo in Peru. Since transitioning out of the program, they have bought a dairy farm in the highlands of Peru, and are now residing there permanently.
As we sat enjoying a cool drink after Mass in the center of the jungle town of Tarapoto, Peru, we mindlessly watched the typical Sunday morning flag raising ceremony. They lifted the national flag, then the city flag and then…a white flag? My husband Ralph and I looked at one another, a bit alarmed. To whom were we surrendering?
Since our 12-year-old daughter, Hannah, has studied here in Peru since we arrived eight years ago, she became the expert. “Mom”, she explained not so patiently, “that’s not a surrender flag, it’s the peace flag.”
Well, you learn something new everyday. I’d never noticed the white flag before, but since then, I see it everywhere. And that got me thinking; one person’s surrender is another person’s plea for peace.
That’s the beauty of the missionary experience, it forces me to step outside myself and see the world in another way. Surrender and peace are two sides of the same coin. The world likes to declare winners and losers, but with peace, everyone wins.