My husband Michael and I had the privilege of going to Ica, Peru this summer. It was our first mission trip together as a married couple, which was super special. There are many things God graciously taught us while we were there, so I wanted to share them with you!
First, Michael and I were encouraged to raise support for the trip along with the rest of our team. Due to our pridefulness, both of us immediately started brainstorming ways to get out of it. We felt like we should pay for it ourselves since we are the ones wanting to go. However, we were told that by not trying to raise support, we would be robbing the body of Christ an opportunity to join in with the work that God is doing. This was eye-opening and convicting and so we decided to send support letters. The response truly amazed us! We were humbled and so thankful to God for giving us such supportive, loving friends and family who are so eager to support us and the work God is doing both financially and with prayer! Countless numbers of people told us they were praying for us. This meant the world to us as we knew we would need to be covered in prayer!
When we got to Peru, we went to a boy’s home called Casa Girasoles (Sunflowers in Spanish), which is similar to a foster home. It is part of the Scripture Union Ministry, who runs several boy’s homes in Peru. 25 boys live there right now, and they are sent there by the Peruvian government, typically when it is determined that the boys are in particular need of protection and nurturement. These boys all have different stories, and have all experienced traumas of different types. What stuck out to us the most was the love these boys have for each other, their houseparents, and us who they had just met. The Peruvian culture is so loving and caring!! That was something Michael and I didn’t know before we went until we got to experience it firsthand!
All of the boys and houseparents speak Spanish, so we had a translator (well actually a couple throughout the time there) with us which was super helpful! I will say…the boys were SUPER patient with us as we stumbled through the few sentences and Spanish words we knew, and they taught us a lot of new ones! Somehow Michael remembered lots of Spanish from years ago, and was able to communicate very well with the boys which was a blessing!! Now we are both wanting to learn a lot more Spanish so that next time we go we will be able to communicate with them more!
While we were there, our main purpose was to build relationships with the boys and love on them, and also encourage their houseparents, Sabino and Esther, who are local Peruvians. God was faithful to build many relationships with them, and we really hope we get to continue to strengthen those relationships in the future! It was beautiful to hear Sabino’s heart for these children, and how he and Esther love them intentionally in such tangible ways. They teach the boys how to cook, make crafts, take care of animals, and more! They are encouraged to pursue scholarships to help them with school after their time at the home, and go out of their way to help the boys look for jobs once they leave the home. Their greatest desire is for the boys to come to know Jesus and the unconditional love He has for each of them, and this is apparent in all the many ways Sabino and Esther pour God’s love into the boys.
Aside from doing life with the boys, eating with them, playing soccer with them, playing card games and learning each other’s languages, on two separate days we got to deliver water to an area that had transitional housing for people that were severely affected by the mudslides and flooding back in January. These people lost their homes, but couldn’t afford to rebuild them, so instead they have made tents, plywood dwellings, etc. until they can move into something more permanent. It was definitely heartbreaking to see their living conditions, and how they don’t even have running water. The water they use throughout the week is brought entirely by the boys or by a water truck (selling the water). For some of the residents, the 5-gallon jugs were all their family had to subsist on throughout the week. Something God continually reminded us of though, is that even if they had a big house with air conditioning and locks on their doors, they still wouldn’t be completely satisfied.
During the mornings, we got to learn how to make bricks and ended up making a couple thousand of them!! Some of the boys from the home taught us and worked with us which was really neat. We found out that the bricks were going to be used to build a church in an area that doesn’t currently have any em-placed Christian presence–the same place we delivered the water to!! So although they don’t have a great living condition, they WILL get to hear the Gospel and have a church home in their very neighborhood!! And THAT GOSPEL is what will completely satisfy them–more than any house we could build them!!!
One day we got to go on a bike ride with some of the boys and the house-dad which was really fun and definitely an adventure!! Haha we ended up riding through the neighborhood that they are going to build a church in, and at one point we were carrying our bikes on a narrow path that had a trench on the left that we could have fallen into, and a humongous fire on our right where they were burning trash!! Haha it was literally out of a movie scene!! It was really fun though and no one got hurt :).
There are so many more stories to tell, so if you ever want to hear more please feel free to reach out to us. We would love to share more with you! I guess the main thing God taught me while we were there is that their greatest need and our greatest need is the SAME: which is to know God through having a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ! Another thing He taught me was that He is actively pursuing His people all around the globe…not just in Huntsville, AL!!! It was cool to see a glimpse of the work He is doing and has been doing in Peru! We have a BIG God who is very busy and intentional :). Lastly, we aren’t called to just go to a different country and try to “fix” all their problems as if we know all the answers and think we have the best way of doing things. It was neat to just enter into the way they are doing things, support them in that, and encourage them. They have got it goin’ on!!!
Thank you again for reading this and for loving us so well. We truly appreciate all of your prayers, and were blown away at how God used His Church to send us and support us financially and spiritually!!
Anna & Michael
P.s. We hope you enjoy the pictures below!