The summer before my junior year in high school I went to Peru on a mission trip with my church, St. Andrew Lutheran Church. My church goes there every two years to visit and help an impoverished town called Pachacamac. I traveled there with my best friend, Ruth, and also many other people from my church who I am close to. I chose not to include the names of all the amazing people I met in Peru, simply because it would probably use up the 600 words i have to write this essay.
Pachacamac is about an hour away from Lima (where we were staying at a close friend’s house). The people there basically live in shacks, and often do not have enough to eat everyday. My church has been on five previous missions there, in which they built a church, classrooms, offices, and a playground for the children. A few days into the trip, we finally went to Pachacamac. The second I walked through the gates, I knew I was where I was supposed to be. It was a feeling that I can not explain. It felt so amazing knowing that I was helping all these people, and that they were just so thankful for us. These people have practically nothing, but they will give you anything they do have. The instant they meet you, they already love you, and it is quite a humbling experience. It is a perfect example of how “money can’t buy you happiness.” Seeing all of these people who have nothing and who live day to day, helped me to grow up, in a sense. I became more thankful for all I have, and I became a lot less selfish.
On this trip, I saw first hand how much poverty is affecting people, and it suddenly became real to me—not just something I heard on the news, or read in a textbook. I suddenly had a newfound love for Pachacamac and all the people in it. I wanted to help them all that I could, and make an impact on their lives. While we were there, we ran a vacation bible school for the children, bought them some new electrical equipment for their church, and also built some shelves for their kitchen (they had been storing all their food on the floor). We were not able to do a huge project while we were there since there was only eleven people on our team.
Once I got home, I missed all of the people I had met in Peru tremendously. I thought about them constantly, and I was so sad that I would not get to see them for two years. It goes without saying that I decided I wanted to go back to Pachacamac on MissionPeru 7, which is going to be during the summer before freshman year of college. To this day, almost a full year after I went to Peru, I still think about the people of Pachacamac all the time. I wonder how they are doing, and if they making enough money to support themselves. I hope they are all safe and in good health, and I pray for them a lot. What started out as a fun summer trip, turned into a lifetime of service. I have become a completely different person, and that is all thanks to the people of Pachacamac. My faith in God has grown so much, I am more enthusiastic about church, and I have just become a better person overall.
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