In 2014 I went with my mission team to Huancayo, Peru and some other surrounding villages. I was a clown most of the time. What can I say, I am the hyper, ADHD, dramatic type. It suits me. Besides the fact that we were so high in the mountains I was freezing and oxygen-deprived, it was AWESOME! We were split into small teams, and we all preached on the streets, schools, and held huge events together every night. My team, however, was able to go somewhere rather special in addition to the norm.
Huancayo Men’s Prison.
I’ve never been in a prison before. The guards at the gate took our passports and stamped both wrists. “Don’t smear your stamps, they’re the only way you’re getting back out.”
Frisked. I’m extremely ticklish. So much so, I am able to lose all sense of propriety and laugh my head off in a men’s prison in a foreign country. Yup. That’s me.
We walk through gate after gate, locked in deeper and deeper into the prison. I’m scared out of my wits. Not because of the prisoners, but because of what my role is. I’m the statue.
We performed our normal skit, and then we did the skit we do for bored teenagers who could care less about us. It’s called the statue skit. The gist of the skit is that this guy (the speaker) wants to buy a souvenir for a friend back home, so he goes to a store and sees a statue (me) with a cloth covering it. The guy buys the statue, ignoring the shopkeeper’s warning that anyone who looks at the statue’s face WOULD DIE. One of our other guys peeks under the cloth at me, screams, and falls down onto the concrete floor of the prison courtyard. “Dead.” Another team member, a girl — because girls are stronger — looks under the cloth, screams, and falls to the ground.
“I know why everyone can’t look at my statue without dying! Maybe a Peruvian can! Peruvians are so strong, and it’s a Peruvian statue, it’ll be great. How about… you?”
Before we got started in the courtyard, I grabbed our leader by the arm and sternly tell him to pick the scrawniest Peruvian man he can find in the crowd. “If I’m going to be punched in the face by a Peruvian prisoner, he had better be a small dude.”
Nope. Huge, brawny guy. Mhm. Great.
My knees are shaking. The man comes through the crowd and picks up the edge of the cloth. Carefully peers under it. And I scream in his face and fall to the concrete.
“Hey! You killed my statue!”
The prisoners laugh and I enjoy the cool concrete and the feeling of not being punched while the hilarious sight of the startled man is etched in my still closed eyes.