It used to be that as the week went by during our trip to Peru, we got more and more caught up in the moment and remembered less and less to write to you at home to let you know what was going on. It appears that that phenomenon has only intensified!
This week flew by for all of us. Between physical labor and creative projects, frenetic moments of playing with the kids and joyful worship with the teens, and life-giving conversations and nightly meals with the missionaries, we each found moments of peaceful solitude in which to reflect on how this place changes our lives.
Nikki and I (Jenn) stuck together most of the week, making and decorating the personalized gift tags for the kids’ Christmas presents, holding babies in the Teen Moms Bible Study, and helping decorate for a baby shower. We and Jaden made 8 cakes one day which involved the electricity going out and us running across campus in the rain with cake batter under our panchos, to locate and light gas stoves in a few of the houses. Sadly, there WAS one cake casualty due to drastic over-baking, but the adventure was generally successful!
During the day, pretty much every time we would see Nick, Jeff, and Steve, (and, often, Jaden), they were dripping with sweat: usually from jobs like fixing trailers, stripping, sanding, and building a swirly slide for the Orchard children’s home, or tearing apart and reconfiguring the deck and old chicken coop for new use. But sometimes, the sweat was self-inflicted by their insistence on joining 3-touch basketball games and soccer games with the missionaries after the work day was finished.
The whole team helped stuff a couple hundred goodie bags full of popcorn, animal cookies, and cheese puffs for the big AWANA birthday party, and then filled and tied an equal amount of plastic baggies of juice: a skill that we apparently don’t have, which was hilarious to the Peruvian nationals we were trying to help! The next day, we filled decorated paper bags with little gifts for the kids whose birthdays we were celebrating.
The AWANA party was a highlight! Both age groups of kids converged on the AWANA court, riding bikes, using giant, rideable bouncy balls with handles to play volleyball, and running themselves silly until the party started. Then, EVERY ONE (including our team) participated in a game that involved one person being blindfolded and holding onto another person’s shoulders and running around the circle until the guide pointed the blindfolded person into the circle to TRY to find a bowling pin and a beanbag (“try” being the operative word)! The party ended with the birthday kids getting to break piñatas and receive their cake and presents and all the kids getting their bags of goodies and juice. It was so much fun to be a part of their celebration and to see how much fun they all had together!
As Steve often says, we all felt so fortunate to get to “dress out and participate with the all-stars” this week. We love partnering with Kids Alive, Pucallpa, because we know that when we aren’t there, all these wonderful and important things are happening, and when we ARE there, they make us feel like a natural part of their team.
Thank YOU for being a part of that team, too! We believe God created us to be in community and do these things together, and this is a beautiful example of that working as it was meant to!
Steve here. We just wanted to check in to say that it has been a great trip so far, and everyone is healthy and doing well. Any of you familiar with this team and what our mission is know that the primary reason we do these trips are just to be an encouragement and to continue to develop relationships with these amazing servants and the children they serve. But since this is a blog post for a short term mission team in the jungle people are always asking what we’ve been “doing”. Well, the gates open for AWANA in just two minutes (and laughing, screaming kids will pour onto the campus) so I’ll backslide off of my soapbox of “relational missions” and give ya an old fashioned list real quick. Because, after all, if you can’t prove the value of your team with a list of accomplishments what’s the point, right? 😉
-Shopping for Christmas gifts was amazing. It took a solid four hours and it was great to see each member of our team paired up with a missionary. It was so much fun, and I’ll post photos soon if I can.
-Nikki and Jenn have been going nonstop with all kinds of fun things. Baking cakes (Jaden helped), making the name tags for all the Christmas gifts, and doing tons of tasks for the HUGE AWANA birthday party celebration today.
-The fellas have been working down in the shop repairing, grinding, sanding and painting a twisty-slide for out at. The Orchard.
-Jeff just had a tarantula crawl around on him for a while. Just five minutes ago. No thanks. But still a noteworthy accomplishment.
-We sit in with the different youth clubs when we can,and actually the whole gang had a really fun time during the games time with the jr high and high schoolers this morning.
Ah, lists. It always seems like they are such a pale, blurry reflection of the incredible picture that God is painting down here. Sure, our team is a small part of the picture this week, but I see so much beauty in how God is using our little team in all the little moments between the lines/lists. I’d say more, but I really need to go play right now. Just gotta remember to add “playing” to the next list!
Hello friends, family, RHO and all of you wonderful supporters throughout the years!
The bags are packed and the team will be meeting up at LAX in a few hours to board a 12:15 flight and head down to see our friends at the TEC Care facility and The Orchard down in the Amazon basin in Peru. The team this year has some familiar faces like Jeff and Jaden Sherod who were with us last year, and some new faces with Nick Kinnier and Nikki Munson along for their maiden voyage.
2016 will be our 9th year and 11th time returning to the Pucallpa region of Peru. As with most ongoing relationships, the passing time and shared experiences have formed a richer, deeper bond between us and the missionaries at Mision Tec: most past team members not only support one or more kids through Kids Alive, but also support at least one of the missionary families working there. We give and receive updates about each others’ lives through email, Facebook, and Skype. So when we return, it is no longer the once-a-year catch-up session it once was. Instead, we just fall into a natural, symbiotic rhythm with our friends.
A fun bonus service aspect of these trips is getting to be a blessing to the missionaries working in the jungle by bringing a whole host of items to give them a taste of home. Quite literally a taste – we have everything from giant ziplock bags of cheerios to cookie butter, teething cookies, coffee grinders, snacks and candies as well as practical items like batteries, flashlights and all kind of other items. A HUGE thing we are bringing down is all of the funds raised through incredible giving by the church family at RockHarbor Orange Church, who for the fourth year are buying all of the Christmas presents and giant Christmas party for all 200+ children served in the different clubs and programs at TEC. We actually get to go into town on Tuesday with all of the missionaries to go on an absolutely epic shopping spree as they pick out individualized toys, shoes and clothing for the kids they love and serve year-round.
Our work schedule this year will include work projects at both locations as well as participating in all of the weekly club activities with the kids in the different programs. This is especially fun because you never know exactly how the lord is going to use these time – last year Jaden sat in as the special guest for the English class at Homework Club! But as I try to explain every year, these trips really are not as much about what we “do” as they are about us just being an encouragement to the real stars of the show – the people working year-round serving these kids. Some nights it is babysitting their kids for a night so they can have an actual date night in town, some days it is just about taking over a missionary’s group of club kids for a session so they can have one-on one time with a child who needs special attention. Hey, we’ve even given haircuts and put on plays – you never know!
I will do my best to update you guys with some photos and short stories during the trip. Our days are schedule from 7am to 9pm, and the internet can be really tricky down there but we will do our best. In the meantime, can you please support our team with your prayers. Please blanket us in prayers for the general health of our team as well as the list here: