Shortly after moving out of La Carpio in December 2011, a friend suggested that I read a book called ¡Gracias!, by Henri Nouwen. The book is a collection of his journal entries from 1981-1982, during a six-month period when he attended language school in Bolivia and then moved into a “young town” on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. It includes a lot of commentary on missionary work, the state of the Latin American Church at that time, cross-cultural service, and liberation theology.
The book was helpful for me because it crystalized some of the lessons I carried with me when I left La Carpio. The principle lesson being the inspiration for the title: ¡Gracias! – Thanks! On page 16 he states it most directly –
“Gratitude… becomes the central virtue of a missionary.”