What is the best part of the trip so far?
Hope: The best part of the trip definitely has to be developing relationships with the kids we’ve worked with. It’s been so cool to see the same kids multiple days in a row and see their faces light up when we arrive. They’ve really enjoyed the VBS activities that we do with them and we’ve all formulated special memories with kids at the various learning centers.
Graham: For me, the best part of the trip has been experiencing the Peruvian culture. Besides Canada and China when I was very young, I haven’t been able to experience a culture outside the United States. Eating the food, getting to know the locals, and seeing the sights has been a dream come true.
Alyssa: The best part of the trip so far has been the relationships we have made with each other, the kids, the translators, our wonderful hosts, and more. Through these relationships I have been able to learn so much about the culture here, and I love learning about their stories and their shared love for the same awesome God we serve. I’ll definitely never forget the feeling of worshipping in multiple languages with people who one month ago we didn’t know, however we are all part of the same family in Christ.
What has been the most challenging part of the trip?
Hope: Since the majority of our time is spent with children, it is common for our team to be really tired by the end of the day. The kids are expecting a day full of fun and games each time we arrive, so many days we have to dig deep to provide enthusiasm and high energy for the children to enjoy. Prayers for continued energy and health of the team are very appreciated.
Graham: Unfortunately, most of the people in Peru do not speak English. As someone who thrives on conversations, it has been very difficult for me to communicate with both the children and the adults. There are times when I want to sit down and have a conversation with the young men and women, but haven’t been able to. Thankfully, we have a God without language barriers, so His will is still being done.
Alyssa: I would agree that it is challenging when the whole team is tired, to put full energy into the VBS activities we do with the kids. God has been showing me that I can’t rely on my own strength and energy to make it through the day, however it is through His power and His love that we can rely on for all that we need. It is the days that I have been the most tired that God has taught me the most.
What has been the most surprising part of the trip?
Hope: I have been surprised to see how quickly the three and a half week trip has gone by so far. The days are packed and feel long, but the weeks have been flying by. Today was the last day we did VBS activities with the kids, and it’s hard to believe that we only have a week left in this beautiful country!
Graham: The most surprising part for me has been the hospitality. It must be shocking for a local to see a group of 13 gringos walking by their home, but we have only been treated with kindness. Whether it’s a simple smile and wave, or a wonderful meal, the people of Ayacucho have welcomed us as family. I am sure I speak for everyone when I say the hospitality of the people here have exceeded expectations.
Alyssa: The most surprising part for me has been how quickly the kids have warmed up to us and loved us. When we arrived at Casa Luz, right away the kids ran up and hugged us, and called us “Tia” and “Tio” (aunt and uncle). It has been so cool to get to know these kids who are so young, and yet show us the love of God so well. This has also been true in the different learning centers- the kids are always so full of energy and love.
What has been your favorite part of the ministry so far?
Hope: It’’s been amazing to see how much love and joy the children have to give; regardless of their circumstances. I personally have learned so much about how unconditional true love really is from children as young as four years old. Before the kids even know us well, they never hesitate to offer a smile, hug, or a friendly, “Hola!” Seeing this has challenging me to strive to cultivate a love that is pure and true in all aspects of my life. These kids have shown me more about what God’s love looks like towards each and every person—no what their past, present, or future may hold.
Graham: My favorite part of our ministry has been the laughter we have shared. Whether the kids are laughing at a skit or our poor Spanish, their smiles never cease to bring me joy. I’ve laughed more on this trip than I have in a long time, and it is so refreshing. God is using smiles and laughter to further His kingdom, and it’s so amazing to see.
Alyssa: My favorite part of the ministry has been seeing how God is using people here to further His kingdom. Our team had the chance to sit down and listen to the stories of Mariela and Tonya. Mariela is Pastor Jorge’s wife and founder of Casa Luz, and Tonya is the women providing our meals for us, and the cook for Casa Luz. They told us how they got started with the ministry, and some individual stories of the kids who we have grown to love. It is so encouraging to hear about the work of the Lord all across the world.
What will you miss the most about Peru?
Hope: Besides the beautiful warm weather and the kiddos I have come to love, I will really miss the hospitality of the Peruvian people. In general, everyone we have worked with and encountered is so appreciative of our mission and incredibly thoughtful. For example, when our team arrived at the Primitiva learning center for the first time, the faculty and staff lined the stairway singing a welcome song and presenting each woman (and Paul Jacobson 😉 with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I have felt so welcome at each place we have visited and I love the example of hospitality that is so evident in the Peruvian culture.
Graham: I will miss the relationships we have made the most. While we haven’t spent a lot of time with each group of people, our relationships are deeply rooted. Hearing your name called by multiple Peruvian children is an experience I will never forget. Distance may separate us, but the love of God will continue to keep our relationships intact.
Alyssa: Like Hope, I will also miss the hospitality of the people here. Hope and I stayed with the same host family for a night, and they welcomed us with so much love, gave up their rooms so we could sleep, and spent the whole day showing us the beautiful city of Ayacucho. One of our host sisters named Ruth also handmade knit hats for us! They made an effort to talk to us despite the language barrier, and seemed truly happy to have us in their home. At lunch, they asked us both what our favorite food was, and we said popcorn. By the end of the day, they had a bag of popcorn for each of us to have. It was such an incredible experience, and something I’ll never forget.