In the summer of 2011 a mission trip was just a dream for five students and three adults from The Springs church in Cedar Springs, Michigan, but where there is a will there is a way.
After months of planning and fundraising, this past February, our team was able to spend ten days in Peru. The mission trip was quite a journey for each one of us involved. You may wonder why our team chose Peru for a mission trip. For anyone from The Springs church, the answer is easy, our previous pastor and his wife are now missionaries stationed in Lima, Peru.
The main project for our trip was to sponsor and participate in a weekend youth conference. What, no bricks and paint? Some people may wonder how a trip without blood, sweat and tears could be considered a mission trip. The answer is simply relationships. Our mission was to build relationships, to teach each other about our different cultures and learn more about Christ in the process.
A couple of months before the trip, our missionaries explained that we will each need a sturdy backpack to live out of while we are in Peru. What could have been one more expense to our team turned into a blessing from Merrell! Merrell donated eight backpacks, one for each member of our team. Our backpacks went with us everywhere in Peru. At different times we had to leave our home-base for overnight trips and had to live out of our backpacks. We carried everything from clothes, water, and snacks to medications, cameras, and passports.
Here are some of the relationships we were able to make while in Peru.
Our team was able to visit a church in Pisco, Peru, that became a soup kitchen during the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in August of 2007. The I.E.P. Iglesia Evagelica Peruana (the Evangelical Church of Peru), has now become a Compassion International child development center serving many children and families in their community.
We participated in a community outreach project for a church plant in Lima, Peru. Partnering with the Lima Central Free Methodist Church, we handed out invitations for the church service at their new location. The students handed out bouncy balls to the children on the streets.
Aiyana & Kelsey handing out bouncy balls to children on the street in Lima, Peru
We helped with a Bible school for under resourced children in San Juan de Miraflores, Lima, Peru. Every Sunday afternoon, a couple from the Lima Central Free Methodist Church, open their home to children in their neighborhood for Sunday School.
Our team sponsored the youth conference for the Free Methodist Church of Peru. The Congreso de Jovenes, is an annual event held in a different location each year. This year it was held at a camp near Puete Piedra, Peru. There were over 70 participants, representing congregations from the jungle area (Amazon Rainforest), the mountains (Andes or Sierra), and the coastal desert (Lima). Our team provided the finances for renting the facility as well as the event shirts to the participants.
The Basilica Cathedral of Lima was built in 1535. The Cathedral contains the tomb of the Spanish conquistador of Peru, Francisco Pizarro who founded the City of Lima.
The Parque de la Reserva or the Magic Circuit of the Water, which is currently the world record holder for the largest fountain complex in the world, consisting of 13 distinct fountains, many of which are interactive.
Our team had the opportunity to explore the sand dunes of the desert in La Huacachina, near Ica, Peru. La Huacachina is a beautiful oasis surrounded by high sandbanks. We went on a dune buggy ride and sand boarding excursion. The biggest dunes measure more than 755 feet.
We toured the Ballestas Islands in the Paracas National Reserve. They are spectacular islands eroded into many caves and arches that provide shelter for thousands of seabirds and is home to one of the largest sea-lion colonies in the world. The islands are home to over 150 species of marine bird including the Humboldt penguin.
Overall our trip was great blend of mission experiences and cultural opportunities. For all of us, this wasn’t just a trip, it was one destination in our life long journey of serving God. Thanks Merrell for giving us something to carry our stuff in so we could carry out our mission!