Twenty-three teenagers from Chetek, Wisconsin, set out to make a difference in the lives of the Peruvian people by volunteering at a Vacation Bible School. I was lucky enough to be a part of this life-changing mission’s trip to Tacna, Peru, and this is my story.
Our group and the Earnharts, our host family, prayed and prepared for this trip for over a year. I had worked the whole summer for the cost of the plane ticket and it was well worth the effort. In Peru, not only did we have fun, but we got to experience the awesome power and presence of God in our every-day lives for the 11 days we were there.
On the day after Christmas, my group from Faith Baptist Church got packed up and ready for a full day of traveling. We took a school bus and then a coach bus to get to the airport in Chicago. The flights we had booked were the least expensive we could find. We had been searching the internet for months, trying to find the cheapest tickets to the small town of Tacna. We opted for several lay-over flights, so that money wouldn’t be an over-whelming issue for us.
Needless to say, this plan was not perfect. We ended up waiting for long periods of time or rushing to the point of missing a plane by as little as five minutes. We took those opportunities in the airports to talk, pray, and bond as a youth group.
We continued to play the “travel game” with all of our lay-over flights until we got to South America. When we arrived in Lima, the English faded and the Spanish took over. We were really there, in a new world that none of us knew.
At the Lima airport we found out LAN airlines wouldn’t honor our tickets. We had been awake for more than 24 hours at that point. After much delay, we purchased new tickets and slept on the floor while waiting for our new flight.
We had all we could do to try to catch up on sleep. I remember the first morning, we slept until ten. When we got up Mrs. Earnhart’s helper, Lucia, had breakfast made. The food in Peru was like nothing I’ve ever had. The fruit was fresh, and everything was healthy, organic and natural, as the Peruvian people needed to go to the markets daily. We learned that Lucia had gotten up at 5 AM to go to the market to buy us fresh food.
The Earnharts acted as our translators throughout the duration of our stay because we were not fluent in Spanish. Several of us knew some Spanish, but we did not know enough to communicate effectively. One thing that I noticed was how thankful the native Peruvians were. The people who had come to Christ had given up so much to serve God and chose to live their lives for Him. The Peruvians touched my heart when they prayed aloud for us in Spanish. We understood because of our faithful translators. It was like nothing else.
Going to Peru was so much more than I expected it would be. I knew I would have fun. I knew I wouldn’t be able to communicate well. But I never knew God would change my heart and open my eyes to the realities of this world. God had His hand of protection on us throughout the entire trip, for which I am extremely thankful.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.