Fifty-eight gray t-shirt clad travelers with bleary eyes and excited faces stepped off the buses into the crisp air 4,681 miles away from home. We had arrived in Peru! Our group consisting of high school students, parents, and teachers from Fresno Adventist Academy, along with others from the community, had traveled from Fresno, California, to join Quiet Hour Ministries to share Jesus in Urcos, Pinipampa, Cusipata, and Quiquijana, Peru from March 12-24. None of us knew exactly what to expect, but we were hungry for an adventure with God. What would He do with 12 days of surrendered service to Him? Here are just a few ways God worked on this trip.
During the 12 days we spent in Peru, we held nine Vacation Bible School meetings in our four locations. Children in the surrounding communities were given the opportunity to learn about God and His endless love for them. Our nightly programs consisted of praise songs in Spanish, a Bible story, and a craft. The kids absolutely loved to sing. They also had a great desire to learn English. Whether they were learning an entire verse of My God Loves Me, how to pronounce their names, or just the word chair, they were eager for us to teach them. Each night they came, they absorbed the simple, yet impacting stories.
At the Urcos site, one little girl came each night and really enjoyed the meetings. Towards the end, she came up to the team and shared how one night when she got home, she received a spanking from her mother. She told them that she didn’t care about the spanking because her desire to learn about Jesus was greater! Mr. Johnson, Fresno Adventist Academy’s principal, shared this with the group. This really made me realize how much I take for granted the opportunity we have in the States to share Christ and the freedoms that we often overlook.
A medical team made up of nurses, doctors, students and volunteers worked together to serve the poverty-stricken community. If you were to observe the growing line, you would see patients from the age of infancy all the way to the elderly, some even as old as ninety years of age. All were anxiously awaiting their turn to receive medical, dental, and/or vision care; 550-600 citizens received preventive and spiritual care.
When Vanessa Greer, a registered nurse, treated a woman widowed for four years following the sudden death of her husband, leaving her to raise four children on her own, Mrs. Greer knew it was more than just age that caused the pain in the woman’s face and the trembling in her body. The woman opened up about the three jobs she worked in order to provide housing and food for her children, and the constant back pain and anxiety that prevented her from sleeping. After giving her pain and sleep medication, we had a prayer session with her. Upon her return the next day for more care, she was smiling following the first good night’s sleep she has had in four years. As she received the gift of rest for her body and mind, God lifted her burdens.
At the same time, the construction crew actively set about their work with an initial day of assessing the needs of our time-worn churches. Restoration quickly began on the two structures that needed it most: Cusipata and Quiquijana. Major needs such as paint jobs, roof and bathroom repair, and electrical installation were met. Additionally, two of the students painted a beautifully simple sign for each church. Young and old alike worked diligently to bring them back to life and into structures the church members could be proud of.
Not only did we share Jesus through our actions, we also shared Him through our words. A sundry team of eight high school students were used in a mighty way to reach the thirsting hearts of the people. Using the New Beginnings series, they kicked off the evenings with a sermon that revealed the Bible’s validity through prophecy and ended with a study on baptism. The people soaked up every message they heard, and as a result, many children of God made requests for baptism.
In Pinipampa, Taylor Stanic was amazed and humbled to see the appreciation of the people. At the end of the evangelistic series, many of the church members were in tears as she and her team were leaving. They gave them small gifts to show their appreciation. In reflection, she shares, “It amazes me that these people, who have nothing, are so willing to give everything to people who could give so much more. Our trip to Peru definitely showed me life from a different perspective and taught me that Jesus is truly all I need to be satisfied.”
Many unforgettable moments of this trip belong in their own category, such as seeing the mist hanging over the mountains when we flung open our curtains in the morning, dashing through sheets of rain and flashes of lightning after a meeting, or trekking around a rockslide while evading oncoming traffic. Stories could be told of the conversations we had on the buses as we traveled from site to site. Wednesday is vividly imprinted on our minds as the day we left at 2:00 a.m. to see Machu Picchu! The multiple ruins, incredible architecture, and vast natural beauty was breathtaking. Better yet, this Wonder of the World provided an unexpected reminder: just as one could travel to this tourist’s dream and be distracted by the seemingly endless miles of staircases or the glare of the sun and miss out on the experience, so we could be present in the very courts of God and fail to notice the wonder of His presence all around us.
Likewise, while our Peru adventure may be over, the adventure of partnering with the Holy Spirit is far from done. As our group travels homeward, we pray that our hearts will be opened for God to continue to use us in mighty ways every day.
Contributors: Nicollette Ignacio (VBS), Vanessa Greer R.N (medical), Austin Greer, Principal Eric Johnson (testimony about the little girl who would get spankings from her parents for going to VBS)