By: Amy Friedman
The highlight of my summers, growing up in Oneida, NY as a child, was when my Uncle Chet & Aunt Betty would come to visit. They were both teachers and would use their summer break to drive out from Oklahoma to see the family. When we saw his big, old boat of car pull up into our drive way, my younger brother & I would go running! He would scoop me up, squeeze my face in his big meaty hands and say, “Que bella fache!” & I would just melt!
The reason I am telling you this is I spent the past 8 days in the poorest parts of Peru, encouraging & praying for our church’s mission partners for Hope & Compassion International. The highlight of the week was when we got to meet & spend a fun filled day with our children. I sponsor a 7 year old girl, Kathia Angelina Espiratu and a 13 year old boy named Julio Cesar Bravo. I chose Kathia because her birthday was the day before my father’s, Nov. 26. And I chose Julio because Cesar is my Uncle Chet’s given name.
Part of the days activities included swimming at a pool.
Now I know my kiddos hadn’t ever been to a pool before, let alone, know how to swim. That didn’t stop Kathia. Just as her name implies she is full of spirit & jumped right in! Julio was much more timid & reserved. However, when everyone except him was in the pool, he decided to get his bathing suit on & join in. Secretly, I was hoping he wouldn’t go in because you see I am not a strong swimmer. Nonetheless, I got in right behind him. There we were, holding hands and jumping up and down like I was a YMCA swim instructor, shouting saltar!!! Then he moved on to floating and kicking. He was so proud of himself! He trusted me as I held on to him. And I trusted God. With God All Things are Possible!
Truth be told, I wasn’t sure if I should even go on this mission trip. There were certainly many reasons not to, but something in my heart was telling me I needed to go. So I said Spirit just lead me. I wanted Kathy & Julio to feel the way I did when my Uncle Chet would come to town. To know that they are loved and that someone cares for them. We are all in this together! Life is like that pool, you can spend your time sitting out or you can jump in. Maybe if you dive deep enough and trust in the Lord, you will find His treasures.
By Morgan Doherty
Wednesday was day 5 here in Peru. Every day continues to be more and more special, which seems impossible yet somehow happens each day. We spent the day at La Despensa (Nueva Sion) which is where most of the kids that Alleluia families sponsor are. We tried to find our friends’ kiddos and spent the day getting to know some of our own as well.
We had the opportunity to visit Randy’s child’s home and meet her abuela and padre.
Half of our group got to see Andrea’s child’s home as well. They are so proud of how they present their home and grateful that we want to come see it.
I personally decided this morning to sponsor my own child outside of what my family has already been doing. It was a surprise for him and for me to get to meet him and tell him today that I am his sponsor, or “madrina” as they say.
Today was filled with many hugs, smiles, and laughter. Thursday we spend the day with their families having fun in the sun and learning more about them. We are all so excited for this time with our kids we care so much about.
By Pastor Mark Juliot
We shared a sunny day Wednesday with our partner site, Nueva Sion. Nueva Sion is the site Alleluia! helped to start in 2016. What started as as about 100 kids meeting in homes and gathering in a small chapel has grown to occupy 3 new classrooms and serve 319 children.
Alleluia!’s connection runs deep here. Alleluia! families sponsor many of the children and the people here recognize the breadth of our relationship. Our third vision trip to Nueva Sion was like a homecoming.
Our group conducted a short presentation centering on Jesus as the Light of the world. He has called us to be his light shining Gods love wherever we are. Pastor Mark noted how brightly the sun shines here and compared it to Christ’s light shining through all they do and are in their community.
By Faith Goetz
Today was our first full day with Compassion and it was one to remember. During our preparation meetings for the trip, we learned that although we would love to, our one week trip is unfortunately not going to change everything for these children and their families… BUT that we can help support and encourage those who work everyday to make these changes.
Today, we had the opportunity to meet the leaders and volunteers of the Presbyterian Church that Compassion works through in Huánuco. Pastor Aquiles, who has been working with Pastor Mark and our team since before our partnership in Huánuco even began, welcomed us with open arms. I don’t think I saw him once all day without a smile on his face and THAT is why we are here in Peru. To refresh Pastor Aquiles and his team. To encourage them as they continue this mission on the ground long after we return to Chicago. To remind him that they have countless brothers and sisters in Christ thousands of miles away always praying for them.
In addition to Pastor Aquiles’ never ending smile, we saw so many heartwarming smiles from the children at the school! They had what seemed like thousands of questions for us and too many hugs to count. They wanted to know all of our favorite things, about our families, our holidays, our travels, and so much more. It was truly a blessing to get to know these children and their strong personalities in just a few hours. ¡Dios es bueno!
By John Fishbeck
After a most welcome night of restful sleep, we were ready and eager to learn more of the good works that the CMA Church has been doing in Comas. We started the day by attending Sunday service at the Church where strengthening relationships in the “family” is key in their efforts to sustain both hope an dignity to the lives of their community.
The congregation listened intently to the message delivered by Pastor Angel Barrientos that centered around feelings of being lost and abandoned, sometimes even in families. These negative feelings can be overcome with sustained hope that things can change in a moment along with knowing that one has a Christian “family” whose members are always welcoming. While I don’t speak Spanish, Pastor Mark who does speak Spanish, whispered to me what the pastor was saying throughout his message so that I could keep up. I in turn whispered what Pastor Mark had said to another mission member on the other side of me (like playing the game of “telephone”).
After the service, our group had the opportunity to Meet Pastor Angel and discuss more about the challenges that he and his congregation face in Comas in fostering healthy family relationships. “No estamos solos” (we are not alone), Pastor Mark reminded Pastor Angel echoing his message. “Somos familia” (We are family). We ended our visit with Pastor Angel and Pastor Mark praying for the good works that each of their congregation members are doing.
We then said goodbye to Pastor Angel and our new friends from HOPE International. We then boarded a bus to the Lima Airport and to our flight over the Andes to Huánuco, Peru to begin the next part of mission trip – Compassion International!