12.01.2014

My Voyages | Peru

  

It was 6 months till my nineteenth birthday.  And I was getting that I-haven’t-accomplished-anything-in-life feeling.  I knew for sure that one of my dreams and goals was to go on a mission’s trip.  But I didn’t know where, or how I’d even get started in something like that.  So I decided to execute a plan of action.  I picked the top three countries I most wanted to go to – Japan, Argentina, and Peru – and decided to try to find a group of people who were going to one of these for a missions trip.  I had different reasons for all of them.  Japan – I just loved the culture, want to/am trying to learn the language, and have friends there.  Argentina – I’ve heard only good things about this country, have tons of family there, and all the pictures I’ve seen show such beautiful land and places to visit.  Peru was the country I least wanted to go to.  If I’m honest, it was one that I never really wanted to visit.  The only reason it was on my list of ‘maybes’ was because I have lots of family down there (since my Dad was born in its capital).  And I figured I should meet them someday.  Peru was a country that part of me felt a bit wary of.  People I knew who had been there told me that it’s a very dirty country, the showers are literally drips of water, it’s a very poor country so certain foods are limited, etc.  So I, having the imagination that I do and being an obnoxious over-thinker, started thinking up all these horrible things about it.  Stupid, right?  Immature.  Childish.  You name it.
But back to going on a mission’s trip…
Since I couldn’t make up my mind which country to visit of these three, I decided to let Google choose for me.  I literally typed in ‘Mission trips to _____’ for each one, found ministries and organizations that I’d heard about/knew friends who had gone with them, etc., sent out emails to their directors.  And waited.
In November of 2013, I got an email back in reply to one I had sent about a trip to Peru…the country I least wanted to go to.
“I know a lady who’s organizing a team to go to Peru next July through Scripture Union,” the email read.  “Here’s her contact information.”
I had never heard of Scripture Union before, but I told my parents, who were both very excited and supportive of me, and sent this team organizer (named Amanda - from Pennsylvania), an email.  She replied quickly, telling me that she was excited at the possibility of me coming with her team (all from the east coast – I was the only Northwesterner).  But she needed an answer.  Soon.  Like, within two days soon.
“Well that’s just crazy!” I thought to myself.  I wanted to have at least a week to pray about it, talk with my parents and best friends, estimate the trip costs, etc.  Amanda told me it’d cost about $2k, that I needed to get a passport, and that I could just send her all the money directly and she’d take care of the plane ticket, bus transportations, hotel room, etc.  Sounded easy enough.  But $2k?  I didn’t have that kind of money hiding away anywhere.
I told my parents about the trip details.  They didn’t even bat an eye before telling me that yeah, I should go.  Just like that.  Especially my Dad, which really surprised me.  He’s an awesome, protective, loving kind of father and he doesn’t even like me going to the store after 9 p.m. alone, so it was kind of a big deal that he’d let me go OUT OF THE COUNTRY alone, and meet up with a group of people who I didn’t know from Adam to go on a mission’s trip for a week. 
My parents’ approval was a big confirmation to me.  And I felt such peace about going that I answered Amanda the next day, letting her know that yes, it was a go from me.
That’s when the crazy fundraising started.  I sent out over 60 support letters, let my church family know of my trip planning, emailed a bunch of people, started talking about my excitement to go to Peru on my Facebook, etc. 
Another confirmation that was huge to me was one day when I was talking to a friend of mine in South Africa.  He asked me what ministry I was going to Peru with and when I told him Scripture Union, he got so excited.  Turns out that’s the ministry he goes on his missions trips with and he told me they’re the absolute best.  No one I had talked to so far had said they knew about Scripture Union…but God used a friend halfway across the world to confirm this trip was the right thing to do.
It took 18 people who donated to my trip to cover all my costs.  Never in my most hopeful dreams did I think that would’ve happened.  And slowly, during all this fundraising time and hopeful expectation, God was softening my heart and I was getting excited to go to Peru.
July 2014 came soon enough.  My flight left Portland at 5 in the morning on June 30th..  Killer to get out of bed and drive to the airport at that stinking time of…night.  Before I left home, my parents hugged and prayed with me.  Dad said how much he hoped I would have a wonderful time with family (I was going to stay with them one week before the team arrived).  And then Mama dropped me off at the airport.  And I boarded a plane…first to California, then to Texas, and then I landed in Lima, Peru.  At 10 p.m.  And I cried when my grandfather (Papi) met me in the reception area at the airport.  I was in a strange country, a stranger to all around me, everyone was speaking Spanish (which I thanked God I knew), and then, all of a sudden, I saw my Papi’s smiling face amidst the crowd of faces and his arms were soon around me as he hugged me long and hard.  I hadn’t seen him in over 6 years.  And here I was.  Finally.
One of my Dad’s cousins had come with Papi to pick me up.  I’d heard so much about him.  He kept staring at me and saying how much I looked like Mama, and how I laughed exactly like her, and how well I spoke Spanish.  Apparently my Peruvian family didn’t think I could be so fluent in it because I lived in an English-speaking country.  But I surprised them.



The week with family flew by.  And every minute of it was fabulous.  Except maybe for the first couple of days.  I had horrible jet lag and had caught some sort of bug on the flight down.  Sleeping was pretty much number 1 on my list when I first got there.  But the rest of the week was filled with sight-seeing, trying new foods in incredible Peruvian restaurants, meeting my cousins, and their spouses, and their babies, and taking pictures, and enjoying Lima.  It’s not that great of a city.  And there is so so so much traffic.  Certain parts of it are beautiful, but for the most part, it isn’t very well kept, and some places are very trashy and dirty.  There are 8.5 million people in Peru’s capital.  And it takes about 4 hours to drive from one side of the city to the other.  Pretty big.

The team arrived from the States on July 8th.  I met them at a hotel and we all spent the night there. I met everyone the next morning, and we had to be on a bus headed for Yungay at 7 a.m.  It was a 9 hour drive.  Not very comfortable, but the people I was with made it fun.  I’d heard some horror stories about teams not getting along on some trips, but if there was ever a more perfect group of people, I don’t know them.  Because our team was the best.  We all enjoyed each other’s company, made each other laugh, encouraged each other.  I can’t think of a single person on my team who I didn’t like.  Honestly.  The best group of people ever.  I felt so blessed and at peace because I was with people who I got along with, and who got along with me.



After the 9 hour ride, we had arrived.  To a small village in the hills at the foot of Peru’s highest mountain.  It was a breath-taking view.  So many beautiful views from every single place you could stand in Kusi (Quechua for ‘home’).  And all the boys!  So many of them to love on and spend time with.  Me and one other team member were the only two people who knew Spanish fluently, and, I must say, we had an advantage to be able to communicate with the boys.  I bonded with so many of them.  They would tell me about their life.  I got to share about Jesus’ love with a few of them.  It was amazing.
Our team raised enough money to buy the boys a flat-screen TV.  And we were SO excited to present it to them.  We all crowded around it to watch the final World Cup Game (Germany vs. Argentina).




The week we were in Kusi flew by.  And so much happened over the course of those 7 days that it would take me a month or so to write about all the details of it.  And also…sometimes it’s best to just keep certain memories in your own heart.
And then I came back.
To Oregon.
I had missed it, yes.  But gosh, I missed Kusi so much.  I was in a sort of depression (you could say) for about two weeks after getting home from there.
And then one day, Amanda messaged me on Facebook.  “Raquel, how serious are you about going back to Kusi?”
I replied: “Let me put it this way.  If I could go back tomorrow, I would.”
“Well is December soon enough?” she asked.
Gosh.  Was it ever?!
Plans were a little rocky at first.  I didn’t have any money since getting back from Peru in July.  I didn’t have a job, was trying to find one, trying to save money for immediate needs and bills, etc.  It was overwhelming, honestly.  I needed $2,500 in 3 months.  But little by little, piece by piece, just like last time, God placed everything in perfect rhythm and put the puzzle together as easy as a breeze.
I purchased my ticket within a month.  And the rest of my funds were paid off a little after.  So it’s official.  I’m going back to Peru on December 22nd.  I will spend Christmas with my family.  My team will come down on the 29th.  It’s only a group of 10 people this time – one of them being one of my best friends, Cody, and Amanda too, of course.  We will spend the New Years celebration with my [adopted] family in Kusi, and I will be back to the States on January 9th.  I can't wait.  I can't wait to see everyone.


I keep having to remind myself that I’m actually going back.  Not because I forget.  But because it’s like another dream come true.  I am so blessed.  So so blessed.  And what a perfect time to go back too.  I have a full-time job now, but my boss is giving me the leave I need to go.  And my job will be waiting for me when I get back.  My family completely supports me.  So do my best friends.  All the money is raised, my needs are paid for and taken care of…and gosh, I’m getting excited all over again just by writing about it.

I want to say a special thank you to all my blog readers who are supportive of me too.  Your comments on my past posts about Peru, your emails, your encouragement – they all mean so much to me.  So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being a fan of my blog, for reading my scribblings, for loving my excitement, and being supportive through prayer or donations.  You have blessed me so much.

Glory be to God.


3 comments:

  1. Hope you have a great trip! :) Love reading about your trip down there.

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  2. I'm so happy for you!!!! <3

    ~Jamie

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  3. This is so, so awesome. God really worked in your life!

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