Thanks for the Backpacks MERRELL!

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.

Children welcoming our team at the IEP in Pisco, Peru

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. 

 The team and children at the home of Espirita & Ernesto after the Bible School event

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.

Our team was fortunate to be able experience some cultural activities during our mission trip.

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!

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Reflections – By Shila Kiander

It is hard to believe it has been less than 2 weeks since we have been home from Peru.  I can’t speak for everyone, but I am still trying get back into the swing of things.  Family, work, chores, bills, meetings, schedules, etc…  There is something to be said about being on Peruvian time.  In Peru, time is more of a suggestion, kind of like the traffic laws. 

Last Sunday our team had the opportunity to share about our trip during both worship services at The Springs.  Next Sunday we will share at the New Life Free Methodist Church in Sparta.  Then what?  How do we turn a short-term mission trip into a permanent part of our lives?  I have some ideas about this.  It is nothing scientific.  In fact it is only my opinion based on experience and observation. 

Take every opportunity to share your story: Of course your family and friends have probably seen your pictures and heard all about your trip so who else can you share with?  The answer is, anyone and everyone!  But you need to take the first step.  All you have to do is mention that you have been to Peru and it opens the door to share about your trip, the pictures, the cultural sites, the food, the different mission projects you were a part of, and then you can share how you grew closer to God because of the trip.  After our first mission trip, I had opportunities to share with local service organizations, churches, at work and at my daughters school.  Don’t limit yourself , take risks.

Continue to nurture the relationships you made on the mission trip: As a team we experienced things together that made us bond in many ways.  Personal jokes, personal space infringements, and personal growth.  We also built relationships with the people of Peru.  Many of us have already became Facebook friends with some of them.  Don’t let go of these relationships.  Get together with the team every once in a while.  Encourage each other in the areas of growth.  Hold each other accountable.  Do a Bible Study together. 

Do something as a result of your experience on the trip: So the mission trip is over and it was great, now do something!  Make a change in your life because of your experience.  The list is endless to what you can do; learn more spanish, volunteer to work with kids, join a small group, support someone else who is going on a short-term mission trip, research for an unanswered question about God or the Bible, start saving for your next mission trip, etc… 

Be a missionary at home: Just like in Peru, people in our community need to hear about God’s love.  Kids in your youth group need a friend.  Let this mission trip be the start of your life as a missionary.  Share God’s love to everyone you can.  Remember it is all about relationships!

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My Peruvian Testimony – By Sally Nulph

I came on this trip because I felt God´s nudging that I needed to do more,  When I got here, I found myself surrounded by people who do so much more that I am overwhelmed with the richness of their ministry. I got to know a missionary couple who truly understand their work and love the people they serve so much so, that they inspire others to know the culture and the beautiful people of peru. I met a peruvian minister who gives himself to the inner city churches of lima, a peruvian pastor who gave everything to serve God and deal with the aftermath of an earthquake. He fed the people and helped them no matter who they were so that they could survive. This pastor also helps 200 impoverished children with schooling, food, clothing, and ministers to their families as well. The other leaders I came with continue to demonstrate their love and selflessness in their hard work.

One teen in our devotions compared herself to “mega” Christians. I realized that she felt as I did. Who am I compared to these great people, what can I possibly do that will mean anything compared to what these mega christians do. Then I found 1 Corinthians 1:30-31,
“it is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord’.”

I know that God loves me and accepts me right here. He wanted me to come to Peru and meet these beautiful people. He wanted me to know these mega christians. He wanted me to experience His holiness and love right where I am. I know that God is a mega God and that he loves me. As I learn about these people I know that they felt this way too. We all feel how great the needs are, and how small we are at times. Maybe we feel we sin too much, that our thoughts are not pure, that our lives are too messed up, or that we cannot possibly serve God like some of the people I described. But God does take us and transform us into beautiful people. We do not have to be afraid of what we lack or what we have to give up or whether we will ever measure up. We need to only go to Christ. I have come to know some great people here in Peru, and I know that their beauty and purpose are so amazing due to this Amazing God who dwells within them. It is the same God who calls to you. It is the same Jesus who died so that we all could be free from limiting ourselves. He died so we could not doubt ourselves and think we are small compared to others. He died so that we could be right where we are today and know His complete acceptance and love. I pray that if you read this and think like I do, that sometimes you do not have what it takes to be a mega christian, you know that Christ is what is great in our leaders. He is what is great in you and that His love will make you complete.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Something about Sally

I just wanted to let everyone know what a invaluable member of our team Sally was.  Sally made every day fun, every mission memorable and every worship experience more personal.  Sally had a way of communicating God’s love to not only the members of our team, but to everyone we came into contact with.  Sally is a great example of a servant leader.  THANKS SALLY!

Sally working at VBS in Miraflores, Peru

Beth and Sally in the Basillica Cathedral in Lima, Peru

Sally, Kelsey & Shila at the Magical Water Circuit Park in Lima, Peru

Sally worshipping at the Youth Congress

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Peruvian Recipes from the Sunday Family dinner

On Sunday, March 4, 2012, the Global Outreach Team put on a Peruvian family dinner.  Many people asked for the recipes so here they are.

Empanada dough-

Empanada filling- pureed potatoes, sazon, cumin, sauteed onion, and garlic

Quinoa Soup-

Beef Saltado-

Tres Leches Cake-

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Last Day in Peru – By Shila Kiander

Wow!  I can hardly believe in 3 short hours we will be on a plane headed back to the USA.  We got home today from the youth conference.  We are packed and ready to go.  It is hard to summarize the past three days but I will try. 

The conference was at a campground.  This campground consisted of a dormitory, an outside eating area a pool, a hobby farm, and a sanctuary.  The students were told they couldn’t sit in a group, which meant they had to sit with the peruvian students.  If you can imagine it, the Peruvian students were more scared of us then we were of them.

You would be so proud of the students.  They started off the conference shy and quiet, but by the end they were using their limited Spanish and Spanish/English dictionaries to communicate.  They were exchanging emails & Facebook contacts.

The services were good.  It was wonderful to worship with in Peru.  If you would like to hear more about our trip, we will be speaking at both of the Sunday Morning Worship services on March 4th (9:15AM & 11:00AM).

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Day 6 & Day 7 in Peru (2/23-2/24) – by Shila Kiander

This will be the last time we are able to blog before we leave Peru.  We have had a great time.  Some of us have not felt well the last couple of days but that has not stopped us from enjoying our time here.  Yesterday slept in again then helped the Lima FMC church with a Bible School.  I will add pictures later.  Our kids did so great helping with the children.  We are getting real good at riding public transportation.  We rode a train for the first time yesterday.  We have learned that you have no personal space on public transportation.  

Today we are going to a zoo/museum.  It shows the three different regions of Peru along with the animals and plants of those regions.  In the afternoon we leave for the 3 day youth conference.  Hopefully we will all gain our strength.

Please pray for health, strength and safety of our team.  You would be so proud of them.  They are doing great.  We are all missing our families back in Michigan but wouldn’t trade this mission trip for anything!

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Day 5 in Peru (2/22) by Shila Kiander

Today we finally got to sleep in.  In the morning we headed to Miraflores and had lunch at a great chicken place in the Mall.

After that we toured Miraflores, Lima Peru on the “Mirabus”.  We then went shopping in the market and got goodies to bring home to our loved ones.

It was a short day so not much to write.  Tomorrow we will be helping with a children’s program with about 50 kids.  We will be meeting up with a teen group from Tarma and working together.

Please pray for our team as some of us are not feeling so well.  We have decided to sleep in again tomorrow.

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