Christian missionary and author, Elisabeth Elliot once wrote, “The important thing is to receive this moment’s experiences with both hands. Don’t waste it. Wherever you are, be all there.” I feel like this is the perfect picture of how our team spent our third and final week serving with Gamaliel Church in the seaside town of Pachacutec.
On this eventful week, the Living Missions Peru staff had the privilege of serving alongside a youth group from Rising Church in Georgia lead by Ryan and Brittany. Although the Rising Church youth group was the smallest team we served with this summer, their enthusiasm and commitment was unmistakable! Our mornings were filled with various ministry opportunities: from painting fences and newly constructed classrooms, to encouraging and sharing Christ’s love with local families on prayer walks, to sharing our faith through market evangelism. Personally, my favorite morning ministry activity was helping out in the kindergarten classroom with another girl from the Georgia team!
Our afternoons were focused on Children’s ministry, and at 2:00pm each day our Vacation Bible School sing-a-long songs rang out through the streets like an alarm calling and inviting the neighborhood children, "Come play and learn about Jesus!" Ryan’s youth group students held nothing back during this VBS time with the children. They played soccer until they were out of breath, danced like it was going out of style, and fully committed to acting out Bible stories, giving the children a picture of our Loving Jesus.
For the Living Missions staff, knowing this was our final week in Pachacutec was our motivation to “be all there.” We didn’t want to waste a single precious moment, knowing there were not many ‘tomorrows’ left.
Ridge Spring Baptist is my home church and was my original connection to Living Missions Peru. In May, the team had a fundraiser for their mission trip. A former Clemson and NFL football player, Woody Danzler, came to give his testimony to all who came. The event was well advertised and we were expecting a larger crowd. Unfortunately, only two people came to the fundraiser. We were all very disappointed, but Mr. Danzler saw an opportunity to motivate and encourage the team directly. After Mr. Danzler's message, we were all even more excited and motivated to serve God in Pachacutec, Peru. Before Ridge Spring's trip even started, we saw God working in ways we could not understand. We could see God making good things out of what we might call "bad situations."
I left about a week after the fundraising dinner to begin my internship with Living Missions Peru. After serving with a few teams in Peru in June, Ridge Spring came to Peru to serve the first week in July. The leaders of the Ridge Spring team had very big shoes to fill as the previous leader of the Peru trip, Andy, would not be coming this year.
Throughout the trip, the leaders of the team--Brian, Peden, as Tanya--showed an admirable trust in the Lord as they stepped into unfamiliar territory leading the team. Once again, God provided for the team in a situation that many people may have found difficult.
The team members of Ridge Spring showed outstanding enthusiasm on their mission trip. I know that many of the team members initially struggled with the idea of going on prayer walks. Halfway through the week, I realized these very people were repeatedly choosing to go on prayer walks so they could improve their abilities to share the Gospel with others. These enthusiastic attitudes encouraged me everyday.
After their work days in Pachacutec, the team had very long team meetings in the evenings. In these meetings, they would enthusiastically worship God, even though they were tired from working all day. After that, they would talk about their work day and give each other words of encouragement.
God gave the Ridge Spring Team many gifts. He provided courage to the leaders of the team who had big shoes to fill, He instilled enthusiasm in the team members, and He gave the entire team the ability to love the people of Peru in God's name.
I hope that everyone from the Ridge Spring team had a great time on their mission trip. I hope they saw God working through them. Thank you all for a great week!
- F.W., intern
This year marked 11 years of Christ United Methodist, my home church from Jackson, Mississippi, working with Gamaliel Church in Pachacutec, Peru. After already personally seeing 6 years of partnership between the two churches, it was such a privilege to spend my 7th and potentially final year in Peru as an intern working with both churches. While my time at Gamaliel may have come to an end, it seemed to be a year of new beginnings for Christ United and Gamaliel. With a new youth minister leading the team from Jackson and many new and younger students joining in the partnership, this year's trip promised great things for the future.
One of the most incredible parts of working with the Jackson team this year was helping lead prayer walks and home visits. Watching high school students help lead people to Christ and invest time in new relationships was refreshing and inspiring. In one instance, we met a girl at the very end of a walk after almost deciding not to go due to lack of time. But the students on the walk were able to relate with the girl about family problems, encouraging her and sharing scripture. This experience was so rewarding not only for the girl, but for the students as well, who continue to keep up with the girl through Facebook. In another instance, a home visit in which we planned to share our faith ended in a very different fashion. A woman named Nanci, who was born blind, shared her incredible story of faith with us, teaching and inspiring us much more than we could have done for her.
While it was great seeing so many new faces, it was also great to see continued growth in the relationships between CUMC students and kids from Gamaliel. For some students, this was their third or fourth year coming back to Peru, and seeing them continue to serve year after year gives me much confidence in the future of the partnership between Christ United Methodist and Gamaliel. Pastor Sergio from Gamaliel Church shared his future plans with us to build more classrooms on multiple floors and to build a soccer field. I know that even though I may not be returning next year, that the relationships there, as well as the construction projects, will continue to grow and shine light on both the community of Pachacutec and the students of the church from Jackson.
- H.F., intern
We have had the privilege of serving in Peru since 2003. We partner with four different ministries throughout Peru: two in the Lima area, one in the Andes mountains, and one in the Amazon jungle.