The past few days have been incredible. Each morning we wake up to roosters crowing and many dogs barking. Then we meet for a delicious breakfast and devotionals led by our team members to start our day off well. Next, we jump on the bus and make our way to the learning center of the day where we are graciously greeted by the staff.
Typically, at the learning centers (which are housed in churches), we start by helping with various tasks around the facilities which would usually get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. We have completed a variety of activities including: preparing meals, scrubbing toilets, cleaning quinoa, mopping floors, wiping tables, and much more. In addition, our team has completed three beautiful murals at two locations.
Around noon, we take a brief break for yet another delicious meal created for us. After this, kids start arriving at the learning centers. We typically begin our time with them by trying to engage with them through broken Spanish and laughs. Once everyone has arrived, we start our VBS-type program. We usually begin with a few songs and then move on to our skit about the Easter story. After this, we split up and do games and crafts. Usually the younger children do the craft and the older children play games. This time is typically crazy and incredibly fun! I think we enjoy it almost as much as the children!
After our time at the center is over, our group splits into two and we visit homes of some of the children at the learning centers. The families are incredibly gracious, always making us feel welcomed and appreciated. As we view it as a privilege to be welcomed into their homes, they view our visit an honor to have us in their homes. While they may not have many material possessions, they have a wealth of hospitality and deep love. We are able to learn more about their lives during this time by getting tours of their homes and asking them questions. We end the time by praying for the needs of the family and thanking them for being such wonderful hosts.
Usually we have a bit of free time to relax before yet another incredibly yummy meal. The time following dinner has varied from night to night. We have played soccer, visited look-out points in Ayacucho, gone to the market, and experienced some of the Holy Week festivities in the main square. Finally, we end the night by reflecting on our experiences each day as a team and then going to bed.
One of the best group experiences so far on this trip happened yesterday at one of the learning centers. After lunch, we went to the roof of the building to take a team picture. We were able to see much of the city from this place. After our picture, we took time to pray for the people of Ayacucho all at once and then our translator ended in prayer. God’s presence was so evident and beautiful. God has been here, God is here, and God will be here in the future. We are grateful that God has allowed us to be a small part of His intricate plan for Ayacucho, Peru.
Thank you so much for your continued prayers for our time here. Please specifically pray for the youth camp that will be beginning soon and that we will be a helpful support to the locals who are working hard to provide this for the youth in the community. God is showing His power and blessing us in mighty ways! Each day we are amazed of the ways He is revealing His great love for His people.
We love you all lots!
One of those extraordinarily resilient faces was Diana. Diana is 13 years old and has symptoms similar to cerebral palsy (i.e. stiff muscles, exaggerated reflexes, currently wheelchair bound, etc.). One of the Taylor students, Taylor Treece, specifically had the chance to create a beautiful bond with Diana. This is what she had to say about her experience.
“One of the harsh truths about individuals who have disabilities is the unintentional limitations and social/physical deprivation that is continuously a pattern in different cultures. That being said, Diana is not expected to ever be adopted by a loving family that she most desperately wants and needs in order to reach her full potential. Being sadly informed of this information, I had an opportunity to love and care in addition to the brilliant women who take such amazing care of her in that orphanage. It all started with getting on her level and meeting her where she is at. With a child of God who cannot “formally” communicate with words does not mean she simply cannot communicate. You have to communicate in ways that she can understand and reciprocate. For us it started with the squeezing of hands. I would grab her hand and massage it in such a way that indicated to her my care for her, and she would reciprocate that same squeeze communicating to me her care. This then would morph into her locking eyes, squeezing my hand, and making sounds that I would also reciprocate. With a heart for individuals with special needs, I knew it would take intentional effort to communicate with Diana that is not automatic to many but is natural to her. Individuals who take the time to open themselves up in a different way that is not automatic, allows kiddos like Diana to open up in a way that is natural for her. She also may not experience that on a daily basis which breaks my heart. Situations like this never cease to remind me the beauty there is in different perspectives, and how those different perspectives contribute value to this narrow-minded world. Diana is an absolute joy and child of God. My prayer is that the world can see her value one day.”
We left Taylor around 5am Saturday morning. Roughly 24 hours later, we woke up on the floor of the Lima Airport. What an adventure we’ve had! Our travels have taken us out of Indiana snow storm into the warm Miami heat, then to the coast of Peru. In Lima, we met our translators and our VisionTrust partners, then rushed off to check our bags and get on another flight to Ayacucho.
Following a long day of traveling, we finally landed in Ayacucho this morning (Sunday). Bleary-eyed, we walked out of the plane in awe of God’s impressive creation which surrounded us with mountain ranges and smoky haze. We were quickly welcomed with open arms by the Peru VisionTrust staff and driven to our home for the next week. After a brief time of refreshment and rest, we were shuttled to the church where, again, hospitality and love was the overwhelming theme. Worshipping alongside our Peruvian brothers and sisters in Christ brought joy and unity, despite the language barrier that existed for many of us. We were overwhelmed by the kind words, blessings, and hugs which were showered on us as we left the building.
After a delicious lunch and another brief time of rest, we then traveled to Casa de Luz, the orphanage run by VisionTrust. Walking into Casa de Luz this afternoon, all of us were excited to hang out with the children, not expecting the harsh truth that encompasses their little lives. Entering into the house, we were introduced to five beautiful faces eager to play and love. Through fútbol and talking with the staff, we enjoyed getting to know the heart and mission of Casa de Luz. After a time of play, we returned to our home where we enjoyed incredible food, prepared for the next day, and crashed!
Please join us in praying alongside the VisionTrust staff as they are in need of land to build a bigger facility for Casa Luz and that the Lord would continue to provide consistency for the children who don’t have family. Also, pray that the Lord would continue to bless us with energy and good health. We love you all!
Meet the Peru Team! Please join us in praying for their work with Vision Trust International this week. Check back for more posts from the team members themselves!
Team Members: Marissa Flick, RaeAnne Hankla, Kurtis Hochstettler, Victoria MacDonald, Trevor Osswald, Mariana Pratas, Jimmy Soderstrom, Hannah Thalmayer, James, Tluang, Taylor Treece, Katie Tupper, Emily Voth, Rachel Walters. Leaders: Brandon Magers, Danielle Spoutz