Spring Break 2015
This month we hosted our biggest team yet -- 134 people! -- a team of high school seniors and their leaders from the Atlanta, GA area. We could not have done it without our team of 28 wonderful translators and staff and 20+ guides from our local partner churches.
It was amazing to see God at work in the smallest of details on such a large trip. We heard story after story of "divine appointments" -- where people felt like God had put them in the right place at the right time to encourage someone, pray with them, or receive encouragement themselves.
We are in awe of how God can use a trip like this to bless so many people. Only He could orchestrate something so beautiful out of so many people coming together: Peruvians and Americans, youth and adults, Christ-followers and seekers, English-speakers and Spanish-speakers.
Youth on the team shared the Gospel message with children, youth, and adults in different opportunities all over Huaycán and Santa Clara, and many people made the decision to follow Christ. Meanwhile, at least 11 students on the mission team also made the personal decision to follow Christ with their lives. Praise God!
Students shared how God was stretching them and helping them to grow through their experiences in Peru; translators also shared how serving in different community ministries was taking them out of their comfort zone and causing them to rely on God more. Amen!
We know that God doesn't need us for anything. He can change people's hearts and change entire communities without anything from us. Knowing this, we are humbled that he allows us to be a part of what He is doing!
Please continue to pray for the communities of Huaycán and Santa Clara. Pray that the seeds that were planted with this team will continue to grow and produce fruits!!
For pictures of this trip, see our Facebook page here. For an awesome video created by Austin, the church's photographer and videographer, click here.
Rising Church in Pucallpa
We flew into Pucallpa on Monday. Immediately embraced by the heat, we traveled to El Refugio de Esperanza (The Refuge of Hope). The next day, we got to go into a village off of the Ucayali River. We got the kids to play tag with us and then did Vacation Bible School. That day we made butterflies to represent how we are new creatures because God changes us. The same day, we went fishing for Piranhas. A few people in the group caught some! We also had an opportunity to go to a local zoo and hold anacondas on our shoulders. It was ridiculously scary!
The next morning we went to the opening ceremony for the school. It was incredible to see how the students from Rising Church were so willing to get up and lead during the ceremony. Sadly, this was the only day that we were able to do Vacation Bible School with the kids who go to the school at El Refugio. We had a busy week ahead of us!
The weekend we were there, El Refugio hosted a camp for children with special needs. Including camp counselors and our team, there were about 60 people present. The team worked really hard to take care of the kids and make sure that they had fun. Special Needs camp came packed with a festival, dance party, and a competition to keep groups active. The theme of the week was "The Love of God," and our goal was to teach all of the campers how much God loves them.
It was awesome to see how this team worked through their tiredness. This was their second week of missions, and personally I know how difficult that is. I am extremely proud of their leadership, their willingness to step up and look goofy with kids, and their persistent happiness that they showed at all times.
- K.P., intern
Rising Church in Pachacutec
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
The second team of our intern season was from Alabama. The week, on paper at least, was very much like any other summer: five or so days of site ministry, a day of city touring, and then send the team back to the states. Piece of cake. Until three of our interns are taken out of commission by illness (nothing serious, mind you, just enough to keep them in bed for a few days). Then, to cap it all, our head translator falls sick as well and can't come to the site either. With our numbers suddenly cut in half, and short a leader to boot, we begin to scramble. Who's going to go cover for prayer walks today? Who's going to help put up poles in construction? Who's going to translate for the Gospel message? Who's going to lead the VBS songs? You get the picture. Now, remember, this is only our second team of the summer, and we are just getting comfortable walking on our new legs, when the rug is pulled out from under us (or so it seems). We needn't have worried, of course, because God's plan was absolutely supreme. Not only did every mission activity go just as planned, either planned by us or by Him, but also many times they exceeded our expectations. We slowly regained members of our family, for we had come to see each other as a family already, and by the end of the week we were nearly whole. (One intern's sickness was just so stubborn!)
The week of ministry culminated in what the local church called an evangelism night. So during every prayer walk and ministry opportunity throughout the week, we--team members, church members, interns and translators--invited people to join us for a meal and a night of teaching, sharing, worship and fun. As someone who finds door to door evangelism not only difficult, but also downright daunting, I was, to say the least, concerned about this night of evangelism. But as we began preparing for the service alongside the church members and staff, I began to see that this way of doing things was not just Biblical, it just plain made sense.
Here, in a community outside of Lima called Santa Clara, a church was doing it right: being the city on a hill. Here I saw the church, partnered with and empowered by other members from half a world away, reaching out to the community, offering food for those who were hungry, rest for the weary, and a hope for those who had none. The best part: I knew this wasn't just a once a year thing. I know that this church continually offers events to the public, partners with the leaders in the community to perform service projects, and always opens their doors to anyone who is willing to come.
I was floored. Down four folks to start with, and then finishing still short one person, things came together perfectly. We were allowed to glimpse at the way that God is working through a small church in Santa Clara, Peru for the furthering of His Kingdom and His Glory. He was never worried about our lack of people. God's plan was supreme. God's plan is supreme. God's plan will be supreme. We got to be a part of that plan. We are a part of that plan and always will be. Praise be to God.
- C.C., intern
Ad Fontes Academy in Pucallpa
My first week of work as a Living Missions intern was in the jungle town of Pucallpa, at a church called El Refugio de Esperanza (The Refuge of Hope). The first day or so was difficult as I tried to adjust to the sometimes-difficult jungle environment. As I tried to keep up with all the kids at VBS on the first day after very little sleep, I remember thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?” Luckily the team from Ad Fontes Academy in Virginia had mostly been there before and knew what to expect. I saw them take on every construction project, every VBS craft, and even every volleyball game with the same energy and joy each and every day. It became quickly apparent to me that God doesn’t call us to be comfortable where we are.
One of the passages this group studied was Philippians 2:4-5, which says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” I saw this attitude in the group as they interacted among themselves, with the children that came to VBS every day, and with the leaders of the Refuge. The team members were happy to go in front of the kids and dance to the VBS songs, as well as shovel dirt for hours to build a new playground. After church on Sunday, the team even served lunch to the members of the church. It was obvious that God had given them servants’ hearts, and following their example allowed me to enjoy my first week in the jungle as I got to know Pastor Victor, Israel, and the rest of the leaders of El Refugio, as well as many of the kids who came to VBS every day. I had many similar experiences everywhere we went over the summer, but my first week as a Living Missions intern was one that I thank God for every day, and one that I will never forget.
- F.F., intern
Calling all prayer warriors!
This week we will be joined by a team of 124 people from Georgia. The team is largely made up of high school seniors who have devoted their spring break to serving in Peru. Together we will serve with our ministry partners in poor areas on the outskirts of Lima: Santa Clara, Huaycán, and Chaclacayo. Please pray for this to be a life-changing week for these youth and their adult leaders! May the Lord work through not only their ministry time, but also through their group meetings, worship time, and Bible studies, to impact the hearts of these students and draw them closer to Himself!
Throughout the week, the team will be participating in many different types of ministry activities in the community: home visits, door-to-door evangelism, market evangelism through drama, radio evangelism, Vacation Bible School, and prayer ministry at a local hospital. They will also visit high schools, a school and a daycare for children with special needs, a home for the elderly, and a home for burn victims and children with special medical needs. In all of these places around the community, we will join hands with brothers and sisters from the local church to share the love and Good News of Christ. Please pray for "divine appointments" -- that the Lord would make connections despite barriers of language and culture so that His name would be proclaimed!
Please pray for our thirty staff and translators that will be serving with us this week. Pray for strength, energy, and cohesiveness to serve as a unified team with a sole purpose of serving the Lord. Pray for clear, focused minds and precise words as we interpret conversations, testimonies, and Gospel messages. May we be not only His hands and feet, but his spoken Word this week!
There are so many others that will pour their energy and time into making this week's plans come together: the bus drivers, the nuns and chefs that run the retreat center where we stay, the travel agents here and back in the states, and the many prayer warriors around the country and the globe who are lifting this team up in prayer. We are thankful for everyone -- near and far -- who makes up a part of this team. Each and every part is important!
Though putting together a trip like this requires a lot of work, we are constantly aware that despite our best efforts, nothing that we can accomplish will ever be good enough on its own. We must utterly rely on the Lord to work this week! He doesn't need us, but He graciously invites us to be part of the work that He is already doing in these communities.
And so with humble hearts and big expectations, we lift this week up to the Lord! Thanks for joining us in prayer!
Marching through March
We have a busy month this month, and we are thankful for so many brothers and sisters in Christ who will be serving with us in the days and weeks to come.
Our first mission trip of the month was a team from Canada. This is their fifth time serving with us in Peru. It's always great to have them back, eh! You can click here to see pictures of their trip.
The team had their hands busy working on construction projects at the school, visiting homes and schools in the neighborhood, helping out at a local children's home, and putting on VBS in the afternoons.
Three ladies from the team put on special teacher training workshops for the teachers at Gamaliel School. This is the second set of workshops the ladies have put on at Gamaliel, and the teachers are all so grateful!
While the Canadian team was in Lima, a team of college students from Atlanta were serving with our partner church in Cusco. The team participated in drama evangelism in local markets, put on youth group programs for the youth at the church, and visited a local youth detention center. They also did some painting at the church and put on VBS for the children in the community. Click here to see pictures of their trip.
We are looking forward to serving with two more teams later this month: a team of college students from Prattville, Alabama and a team of high school seniors from Atlanta, GA. Please pray that the Lord would continue to work through us and through these teams, and that He would be glorified!
Thanks to a group of women from Wisconsin, many seeds of the Gospel were planted last week in Pachacutec. It was an encouraging and uplifting week for so many women both at Gamaliel church and in the surrounding community. It was amazing to see how barriers of language and culture were so quickly broken down and how the women so naturally made connections and built relationships with each other. Through crafts, songs, games, Bible studies, and small group discussions, the women had a chance to open up to each other and share about their lives, their families, and their faith.
Please continue to pray for the women of Gamaliel church, who will continue leading women's meetings over the weeks and months to come. Their desire is to continue building the women's ministry at their church and reaching out to their friends and neighbors in the community with the love and hope of Christ. Pray for wisdom, strength, and passion as these women serve!!
To see pictures of our week on Facebook, click here.
Thank you for your continued prayers!
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.