Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Peru Reflections from March 2016 Learning Opportunity.

Greetings to you all. 

I just realized that I don't think I placed the reflections of the Peru Team's Learning Opportunity on my blog.  My bad. 

So here they are.  

I always love reading how people have been impacted by Learning Opportunities of any kind.  I hope you enjoy how these people have been impacted and continue to be as they unpack their gift of going to Peru.  

Reflection thoughts from Peru 2016 Team
In no apparent order : )

Lucy B
I’ve done this trip two time before but I think this year was the most meaningful, in a number of ways.  I learned new things about myself and about how to love those around me. I learned more about the incredible power and value of prayer, and what an impact it can have. I learned that we have so much to learn from different cultures and churches about how to spread God's love. I was challenged in my perception of people less fortunate than me and my ideas of how best to help these people. This trip impacted me in other ways too but over all it made me realize what a deep love I have for the people of Patchecutec. What an incredible blessing it is to have family in Peru.

Tobie B
This was my third trip to Peru, I had an idea of what to expect and what it would be like. I also however had no close friends on the trip, and no one close even in my small group. At first this made me extremely nervous, and had no idea how it would go. Throughout the week however I was able to come out of my comfort zone and make new friends and talk to new people, which in the end showed up through my work in Pachacutec where I was able to go out of my comfort zone whether it was playing with the children, talking to people in home visits, talking to new people in the group, or praying with people. With one small factor I thought would ruin my trip, I was able to learn a lot more about myself and I could see more clearly how God was working through me during the week.

Danike (from Cornwall CRC)
I went into our Living Missions trip to Peru not quite knowing what to expect.  I hoped to gain a better relationship with God, make new friends, and bring home a better appreciation for all that we already have home in Canada, and sure enough I did!  I believe going to Peru has helped me become better as a person and I hope at some point in everyone’s lives they get to experience as great of a pleasure as all of us did in Peru.

Ryan P
I haven’t found I have changed much yet after returning from my experience of going to Peru but I have gained a great understanding of the world when it pertains to poverty, in how it is not as easily seen in how the children looked like they could go to a Canadian school based off of their clothes and I also learned about the hope and joy that Christianity/ Jesus can give to people in these situations. I may have not enjoyed all parts of the trip but it will serve as one of the greatest leaning experiences of my life and that I am grateful for.

Pastor Steve E (Cornwall CRC)
This trip for me was really good first because I remained healthy this time it was a change for me. But also because I went in with no expectations this time. So I was open to whatever God wanted for me so I was more able to see God at work. Both in myself and in others and that was a blessing

Katrina H
To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to this Peru trip. I was nervous about going because I had heard so many people say how life changing this trip is. I was scared that I wouldn’t have a life changing experience like so many others had. And then I realized that this trip didn’t have to be life changing because that’s not what it’s about. It’s called a “learning opportunity” not a “life changing trip.” And for me, it wasn’t really life changing; but it was definitely eye opening. Peru has such a different culture than North America. Here, we greet each other by shaking hands; in Peru they hug each other and give each other a kiss on the cheek. Even complete strangers like us Canadians. Most of them are super open people and I think on this trip I hugged more people than I ever have in one week. We call the Peru trip a learning opportunity and I did learn a lot over the week.
It was really interesting interacting with people who didn’t speak the same language as me. There were several times during the week that I thought of the quote “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words.” We didn’t need words to show Jesus to the kids, we just needed to love them and be kind to them. Smile at them or wave; or give them hugs or play with them.
There was one day that just wasn’t super fun. Then the next day I realized that I hadn’t been praying very much during the week; because I was too busy or too tired at night so I never really made the time for it. But then that day I decided that I should really pray and so I did. On the bus I wrote down a prayer and it felt good finally talking to God again and just bringing all my requests and worries to Him knowing that now I didn’t need to worry anymore in the day because God was in control of the day. On the way back to the hostel, on the bus I realized that pretty much everything I had prayed about had been answered and it was a really cool experience. From that day on the days just kept getting better and better. I got to know three different girls over the next days; and by the end of the week I was super sad that we had to leave and won’t be able to go back for two whole years! But this trip has been a super great experience for me and I’m so glad I went. It really reassured me that God cares for all His children and listens to every single prayer request no matter how small.

Steven K (Cornwall CRC)
After spending 6 weeks alone in Peru, I was really looking forward to spending time with people I knew. This trip did not disappoint. Like previous trips, I spent a good portion of time with the Mission Team members I knew. However, I found myself being much more social with the people I did not know. I enjoyed meeting the people from Ottawa. The trip was both fun and worthwhile because I was more open. I reached out much more purposely to the children of Pachacutec this time. My knowledge of the Spanish language helped a great deal. As I expected, I felt great satisfaction being able to help with construction work.  I would definitely consider participating on another trip.

George K (Cornwall CRC)
I thoroughly enjoyed the Mission Trip and I just want to keep doing it. From playing with the children to spending time with the Mission Team and the interpreters, I relished every moment. What once intimidated me – home visits – was one of the activities I simply did not want to miss. God was certainly at work when he had my group visit some of the families I visited the first time. It was great seeing them again and hearing how God was working in their lives. It was truly a privilege. The Mission Trip has helped me to grow in faith. The takeaways are too significant to overlook. This is a learning opportunity that is truly worthwhile.

Dianne K (Cornwall CRC)
I think God must have had a great laugh when he heard me say this would be my farewell trip to Peru. He obviously had other things in mind and used Pepe, Pastor Craig, Felicitas and Araceli to deliver his message. Almost immediately after Pepe presented the framework for Living Missions, I felt a tug at my heart. I said nothing. Then Pastor Craig preached on Hebrews and answered the question “Why go on a Mission Trip to Peru?” with “We go to Peru to visit family.” That essentially sealed the deal but was further affirmed when Felicitas praised the VBS program and commented on my passion for teaching and my love for the children. That’s when I broached the subject with George. Finally, my sister in Christ, Araceli asked the question I knew was to come: “Dos aῆos?” And there I was blubbering like a fool and holding on to my friend knowing I would be back. God’s call is much too loud to ignore. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Jackie (Cornwall CRC)
My reason for going to Peru was a promise to my daughter. I did not feel a calling myself. I was worried about the heat and of course, from what I've been told, this was the hottest trip...I prayed for help with this and I endured:). Secondly, I was afraid I'd be too emotional being surrounded by poverty. I must say this was my biggest surprise, I did not expect the area to be so vast but they were happy, made due with what they had and face the same problems that many of us do. I thought I'd want to take all the less fortunate children home but there was no such thing. From what I saw they were taken care of and had loving families! There is no rain, no bugs and sunshine everyday. We were there for the last day of summer, when asking what this meant, I was told, "nothing really, more sunshine". I did feel a lot of curiosity each time a group returned, they would be so pumped and seemed to share a new bond with each other. Now that I've experienced this opportunity for myself I understand. There is a true connection with the people of Pachacutec and it is evident that there is a plan unfolding. Things that happen in Pachacutec do so for a reason! We have a lot to learn from this adventure and I would encourage anyone to experience this learning opportunity or another, if so called, it at least once! A question I've been asked several times since returning is, "will you go again"? I can't answer that now but I will never forget this spiritual journey or the people I had the pleasure of experiencing it with!  

Andrew B (Cornwall CRC)
"Those that have done the learning opportunity will all attest that it's about "relationships". That's true and sometimes can get watered down, BUT it's a different kind of relationship. It's the ultimate relationship. It's a relationship with brother(s) and/or sister(s) who have an unbreakable bond tied by the Holy Spirit in knowing, serving, praising and proclaiming our God and His Son.  And, not only does God bless me with getting to know other Christian people in our other sister churches in Canada, He also allows me to know our brothers & sisters at Gamaliel church regardless of the language barrier, then top it all off in getting to know our Christian Interpreters as well! It's our triune God that binds us tighter and stronger by the end of the week and remains with us even if we don't see each other again. And Yes . . .  it like "Family".  So after this week, I will reflect on one of the many memories. It was when I was standing on a dirt floor, in the market, at a busy intersection, right after the Drama presentation, and we laid hands on people and prayed for them, which they gladly and desperately wanted and needed. I felt the Holy Spirit's power working. It was raw. . . it was moving . .it was powerful and so indescribable!  But as I look back and reflect on the week as a whole, God had showered so many Blessings on all of us everyday of the trip. There is so much more to say."   

Lauren (Calvary CRC)
This is my first time going on the Peru trip and there were many parts of the experience I enjoyed greatly. There were also parts of the experience that made me quite nervous and uncomfortable. However one thing the trip showed me is that there are time when I need to trust the authority figures involved. Some of the things we did in Peru seemed strange to me however the people organizing the trip have been doing it for years and in the end I had to trust that they knew what they were doing. 

Joycegina H
I have witnessed many answered prayers while in Peru.  Not only answers to my personal prayers, but answers to the prayers of others.  It was wonderful to meet new people and experience a new culture.  I learned that despite a lack of sleep and hot weather, God can still use me and I can still do the work I am required to do. 

Working with the women in Gamaliel church, I learned that they have needs and struggles just like Canadian women. They too are in need of prayer and encouragement. Our appearance and living conditions may be different, but inside we are the same.  Despite what they were going through, the women were always welcoming and accepting of us foreigners.  It made me think of how important it is for us as Christians to welcome those who are new to our church or new to our country. 

I am thankful for the learning opportunity I had in Peru because it broadened my thinking and showed me how God is at work in that country. 

Marsha A (Cornwall CRC)
The “Peru Ministry” has had a profound impact on my life and on my faith journey.  God has blessed me with the gifts of learning, growing and loving.  It has been incredible to see a culture, completely different than my own.  I learned about Peru and about God, by being invited and welcomed into the Gameliel community in Pachacutec.  Here they live, love and serve God working together and reaching out, to share God’s love with others.  They opened their doors and hearts allowing us to experience a new culture, to worship God together, and they have embraced us as family.  Growth has come to me in Peru, by how we experience God in new ways.  When away from our regular routine, commitments, friends and family, it leaves only space for others and God.  From sun up to sun down in Peru, we are challenged to see God at work and to feel His love.  With this foundation, we are given opportunities to share that love.  This cycle of “God in – love out” has produced growth in my faith and in my relationships.  God calls us to love!  Our Peruvian sisters and brothers continually remind us of how they appreciate the love between us.  We see and feel the depth of this love.  No matter where we live, we can only shine God’s light by showing His love.  This can be done in many ways and He blesses each of us with a variety of gifts.  In Peru, we are encouraged to stretch beyond our comfort zone to use our gifts for to spread the word of God’s love.  That is my take-away from Peru…I need to love others, by using my gifts, to shine God’s love. 

Romans 10:14-15

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Kayla A (Friend of Lucy B) 
This first trip to Peru has impacted me in many more ways than I could ever express in this text. Entering this culture and lifestyle was so very different than what I was used to, but I was so very changed and honoured by the friendships developed and the special moments we were able to share together. I realized that even though language can sometimes be a barrier that God’s love can be showed through a multitude of ways. From playing soccer with the children, to sharing the gospel story to a mother and her child, I saw that we could all could feel the love of Christ. Coming back home and having the time to really reflect makes me realize just how much of a blessing this trip was. I feel like my relationship with God and my appreciation for what He did by sending His son has grown deeply in seeing the strong faith of the people of the Gamaliel church. Seeing their faith in God makes me want to grow even deeper in mine. In doing the marketplace ministry I was encouraged by the response of the people and how they were so open and willing to hear the story the gospel had for them. Experiencing these special times really encouraged  me to come home and take bolder steps in sharing my faith and sharing the promises and love the Jesus has for everyone’s life. 
I can’t say that it was easy coming home especially since all the moments and experiences were so real and life changing, but I am forever impacted by the memories that were made and I will never forget this life changing experience. 

Peter B
I started (and, I thought, completed) my impact statement while sitting on the floor of the Lima airport:  I have learned that I still have things to learn about myself. For example, I learned that I can get used to being with people 24-7. And I learned that I like teens because I can hang out with them without having to have serious conversations, although they can happen too.
But that doesn’t capture it all by a long shot, and I don’t know if I can capture it, so let me try this:
I work professionally in global poverty and so I didn’t expect to be affected by the poverty I would see in Peru (and I wasn’t). This was my first trip, but my wife and kids have been on a total of four trips and I followed the blogs closely and talked to them when they returned. I thought I knew what to expect (and I was wrong). So in the coming days I expect I will have a number of conversations with people about the week, and I will try and explain how it was, but I won’t succeed. How can I explain that watching a couple of grown men dance like goofballs brought a lump to my throat? How can I explain that an 8 hour plane trip surrounded by teens and looking at Taylor Swift’s purses and hair styles could be so much fun? How could I ever articulate Pepe and Erin’s philosophy of ministry, when they have been developing the philosophy for over 10 years – I agree with them completely, but when I try to explain it I will not do it justice. How can I tell how honoured I feel to be blessed by Pastor Sergio?
That is after one day’s reflection. I am not sure what this statement would look like in another day, another week, or another year. So ask me then.

Michelle H (Barrhaven CRC)
I came to Peru for 2 reasons: to experience Peru with Zoe and to help her to manage diabetes while in a different country.  I came home with so much more!  God is at work in Pachacutec!  It was a privilege to come alongside the Gameliel church and see the joy and the love.  It is true that they may not have a lot of material blessings, but they have joy from the Lord!  I will take home so much more than I came with: the laughter of the children, the smile of a toddler asking for "Agua," the ability of a single mom to dress her children in amazingly clean clothes when I was constantly dirty,the faith of pastor Sergio and his leadership team to minister to those who live in Pachacutec....  May God continue to bless Pachacutec!

Zoe H (Barrhaven CRC)
The theme at the 2015 All Ontario Youth Convention was Imago Dei or made in the image of God. I had spent a lot of time thinking about how true this statement is. Everything is different than what it is like in Ottawa. However, it is still made in the image of God. When people think of this statement they often think of people, people are made in the image of God. When I look at this statement, I realize that it is not only the people but the community, the country, the world.

Sheldon V (Cornwall CRC)
This has been my second trip to Peru.  I wasn’t planning on returning this year, but due to a change of plans I was able to go. I've frequently been asked why I’m returning, sometimes I wondered that myself. Throughout the trip I learned to trust in God, since he has a plan for me. Sometimes we may be uncomfortable and afraid, but he will always be there for us when we need him most. I was grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with friends from my previous trip, demonstrating the friendships we create are everlasting and meaningful. We arrived in Peru as a group of individuals, but left as a family. All of my prayers and expectations we’re answered. I cannot wait to return someday.

Addie (Cornwall CRC)
This learning experience was certainly the biggest eye-opener in my entire life. It showed me that I take advantage of everything that I have and I should definitely be more thankful. It made my faith grow greater, I saw God at work numerous times! I’m very happy that I made new relationships; these people are so kind and considerate. The hardest part was leaving Pachacutec and saying goodbye to all of those children. The way it was organized was wonderful, I never had to worry about where we were going or when we were leaving, I just had to go with the flow. All in all it was an amazing experience and I recommend it to anyone who is interested or feels the need to go!

Pastor Craig
I’ve always loved the Biblical image of all tribes and tongues and nations being gathered together into one people in Christ.  So one of the richest aspects of the trip for me was arriving in a remote village, very unlike any place I’ve ever lived (culturally, economically, and geographically), among a people I’ve never met, and being welcomed as a member of the family.  The level at which brothers and sisters in Christ are immediately able to connect is deeply profound, and to now think of Pachacutec as a city in which I have family members is tremendously precious to me.  The other aspect of the trip that has been the most influential and will likely inspire the most reflection (and further reading) in the months and years ahead has to do with understanding how we as wealthy Christians actually help on trips such as these.  The philosophy that Pepe and Erin are working with is both simpler and more complex than what I often think of as ‘helping the poor.’  It’s simpler in that it puts a much deeper emphasis on simply ministering through our presence (as opposed to being overwhelmed by every need and how to meet it).  It’s more complex in that it involves investing much more deeply and longer term.  I’m really taken in by the idea of adding value primarily through maintaining our relationship with Gamaliel, as opposed to putting all the focus on what financial and physical benefits we can offer.  May God use us to strengthen our family at Gamaliel; may God use Gamaliel to continue bringing radical newness to Patchacutec.

Ella the T-Rex
This was my first time coming on this trip, and I loved it. It affected me in many ways. It made me realize that people do live in shacks, that poverty is much more than just something on the news. I have also realized that I don’t need a nice iPod, or 3 star restaurant food to be content. All I need is Jesus, and this trip has showed me that in so many ways. The people we visited, the kids at VBS, Pastor Sergio. My faith has been strengthened, as well as my relationship with God.

Annette B
Meeting 23 women from Pachacutac during this 2016 trip has been a great inspiration.  Gaining knowledge of who belonged to who in the families at Gamiliel church has given me much joy.  Watching 4 of my daughters interact and engage throughout the week has been a deep blessing.  My only regret is that previous to the trip I was nervous and uncertain about going on this trip.  See you Pachacutec in 2 years.

Leah M (Barrhaven CRC)
During my trip to Pachacutec so far (or Peru for all you people unable to pronounce that), my perspective on a less fortunate culture has changed drastically. Before this trip, I had always thought of places similar to Pachacutec as a society that we needed to change, and that their ways were not the right way to do things. On my trip to Peru, I have realized that we are not here to try and change their ways, but rather try to find ways to change my perspective. I have always heard people express how fortunate of a country Canada truly is, and how blessed we are to have clean water, good food and what a luxury electronics are. I think the biggest luxury we have back home that surpasses the rest is love from family and friends. I have learned a lot about myself and Peru on this trip.

Brittany T (Cornwall CRC)
As I sit writing this, I can hear the interactions of our entire group (and it is NOT quiet). What it is, however, is community. No one has stuck solely with their original group or church family, and everyone has built new relationships as a result of this trip. This is the main takeaway for me from this trip, and it’s what Pepe emphasized to us on our second night: it’s all about building long-term relationships. I may get caught up in my work and day-to-day life like any Type A, but I have really learned the value of slowing down and building relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Although our week is not done as of yet, I believe this was the gift Ron introduced to us on Day 1. These relationships, and those we’ve built in Pachacutec, are my special takeaway from this trip.

Brenda W (Cornwall CRC)
This is my 4th trip and I choose to 100% immerse myself into it when I am here. I force myself out of my comfort zone and remind myself that there is nothing that will happen to me that God and I cannot handle together. Before visiting Maricela and her family who had left the church, I was in tears… really, really afraid! Then I remembered something I had written down and given to each of my team members that morning, ‘ let your faith be stronger than your fear’. In this place it is easy to let God stretch you, just let him! Be His instrument! Amen.

Colin V
This is my 6th trip to Pachacutec and a few trips ago I had questioned if I should continue coming on these trips. I have been encouraged by some other adults to keep coming as I interact well with everyone and especially the youth.  This year I was able to see (I have seen him every trip so far) my friend Fernando, who is now married (last trip he was married) and with a son. Seeing how God has blessed him with a family has been amazing. I am praying for him and knowing that he is here excited to see me and praying for me is amazing. I hope to keep building relationships with the members of Gamiliel church here in Pachecutec and hope that God will bless me with many more opportunities to visit and encourage my brothers and sisters here.

Daniel B
This is my first trip to Peru. And being my first trip I had a lot of high expectations and I can honestly say that all of those expectations were filled. During my time in Peru I was able to interact with many very special individuals. On day two and three of VBS is was able to play with one boy named Jean-Pierre, Unfortunately Jean-Pierre became sick and was not able to attend the last two days of VBS. In those last two days I realized that it was not just the kids who wanted to play with us we also wanted to play with them. All in all it was a great trip and I can’t wait to go again in two years.

Andrea N (Barrhaven CRC)
Knowing my duty for the trip to be the medic gave me the job I love to do and although I was busy in that role thankfully it was not too disastrous.  Reflections on the trip range from dark places to shadows to full sun.  Dark places: It is hard to be lonely in a crowd but that is often how it felt as I was not connected by family or bff’s while here and we did not have loads of time to hang out and have coffee – rather we were very busy as it should be.   Shadows: As the week walked on I became more aware of what my true called for this mission trip was but still had to sort out the particularities. With so many people trying so hard to connect with Gamiliel and the people of Pachacutec it seemed we only had small points of connection before we had to move on to the next connection attempt – BUT we had those moments and I treasure them.  Full Sun: I so appreciate Pastor Craig’s message on our last day with our Friends from Gamiliel – rather should I say our brothers and sisters- our Peruvian family. It highlighted the reason we were there and why we’d go back and see them again.  And maybe that is the real reason this trip started off dark but finished in the sun – not knowing that I could allow myself to dream of a future visit- yet already wanting to develop solid relationship connections and reasons to return.  God has been clear with his reason why I was on this trip and a hope for future visits to share, to learn and connect.  That’s full SUN

Samantha B
This was my second trip to Peru, as I went two years ago. Two years ago I went with two of my best friends and my family, and it was a great trip that I thoroughly enjoyed. This year I went with three of my sisters and my mom, but not my two best friends. Before the trip I wasn’t actually as excited as I had expected to be. I thought that going without my friends wouldn’t be a good idea and I wouldn’t have anybody to hang out with. When I got here and we started the week though I discovered that this was definitely not the case. I was surrounded by amazing people all week, but I never had to be with anybody. I could always do what I wanted to do rather than what my friends wanted to do, and whatever I did wherever I did it I was constantly surrounded by friends. My expectations for this trip were way off and I couldn’t be happier.

Miriam G (Barrhaven CRC)
This trip was hard.  It was hard to see the incredible poverty up close and personal.  It was hard to learn that if a family doesn’t have $12 that a woman gives birth at home and the morbidity and mortality of the babies that results.  It was hard to meet a gentleman on crutches badly injured who worked his whole life in a mine and now has no pension – no money.  It was hard to watch children looking after children and knowing some families would not have a home soon or food because there was no gainful employment.  It was hard to understand that having water for 2 hours a day was a miracle for the local people.  The sand, heat and sickness were hard.  But despite all of this misery there was an unbelievably strong faith and trust in God by the local people that was truly incredible.  So humbling and … so hard to comprehend; so extraordinary.  And so much joy in the children’s laughter and the smiles of their parents.  Indeed …. this trip was hard on purpose.  God is with us in life no matter what.  He was here in our mission trip team, in our small groups – from Canada and locally, and with BFCRC, in all our interactions and all relationships.  Pastor Rick is right – we spend a lot of time in the muck and the mire of life.  And he is so right that we need to Praise God because he takes us up to the balcony to see the beauty and the hope right there within the muck and the mire … so that we may be inspired to continue. 

Pastor Ron H
As we met for our final group gathering, I wanted to share with the group my high, low, God at work and what I've learned, because I have not been doing the video blogs so I can get this blog to you in a somewhat sanely and timely manner. 

So, my HIGH for the week was seeing God at work in each person on this team.  I know they may not even know what that means for them yet, but I've seen glimpses of it already.  The Women's Bible study has been a joy to watch grow, and hopefully be sustainable after we leave.  Steps have been put into place to make sure that happens.

My LOW for the week is the same for every trip.
In giving all of you, and the team, the gift of this blog, and I do think it is a worthwhile thing to do, I don't get the chance to just socialize and yes, dare I admit it, play PIGS, with the group so I don't get to deepen the relationships as much as I would like.
I do still try when I can, but that is sometimes a low for me. 

SEEING GOD AT WORK, I actually pointed out a few people and I hope they don't mind if I just tell you what I told the group.

RYAN, a wonderful person who did an AMAZING job at the drama's, but who I know hated every minute of it because he struggles with crowds and people etc.  Maybe even with his sense of who he is as a person.  Well I reminded Ryan that he has many gifts and to take this week and unpack the gift of being able to see how great a person he really is.  And he is. 

KATRINA, my daughter who wasn't quite sure what to expect from this trip.  Who said to us many times that she's not good with younger kids. 
Who, as you saw in many pictures, actually did AWESOME with the kids and grew in many ways.  I am super proud of you Katrina.  It didn't rain in Pachacutec for me, but it did rain in Lima that morning.  I had to pause for a couple of minutes to compose myself so I could continue.  I must be really tired or something.  : )

ZOE and LEAH.  It has be fun to watch you two interact with the kids and Zoe, you sharing your testimony was amazing.  Thanks for that.  You both did an AWESOME job with the face painting too. 

ANDREW, a man I wish I could see way more than I do. Fun on the outside, sensitive and caring on the inside. A man of deep convictions and a man who just drinks in these trips.  Watching you this week inspired me as I saw God at work in you.

PETER, my most loyal critic and supporter of these Learning Opportunities. Another man who struggles with people, yet rose to the challenge and befriended one or two of our team in ways that were meaningful and beautiful. Thanks for coming along to see what these trips are all about, but in the process being changed by God as well. 

WHAT I LEARNED this week is, once again, that GOD is in control, not me.  That Learning Opportunities are not perfect, never will be perfect, but we continue to strive to make this one as sustainable and relational and non dependent as possible for both churches, and that no matter the critic, and there always are a few, that this L.O. changes hearts and lives in both Countries. 

Some overall reflections from this year’s Learning Opportunity

1.       Pastor Sergio is finished his Seminary training from Calvary Chapel institute of Peru.

2.      Pastor Sergio is no longer supported by an American church.  His support comes via the Christian school.

3.      Pastor Sergio would like the church to be growing more, but he realizes that the Christian School is also a conduit for the gospel message.

4.      Pastor Steve shared that the first two times coming he was expecting to see the H.S. at work.  Wanting to see something happen.  It didn’t always happen.  This time around he’s decided to have no expectations while here and he has seen the H.S. at work in ways he didn’t before.  And that is the learn for we who come here, or do any other Learning Opportunity.  We need to have that attitude when we are living day to day at home.  Knowing the H.S. is with us, but not always expecting a result, but resting in the fact that there will be a result, not just what we might want to see. 

5.      Pepe’s thinking on missions has changed for his own country.  He reminded us that when it comes to doing missions in Peru, N.A. aren’t coming to establish churches.  They are already here.  They existed long before we came.  So we aren’t coming to build the church, or create something out of nothing.  Pastor Sergio already did that when he obeyed the call to come to Pachacutec.  We come to stand beside, learn from, teach, and grow together.  There is 60 years of mission understanding that needs to change and that doesn’t happen overnight.  But it is slowly changing.   For Pepe, for me, for the churches here, and for the CRC as well. 

6.      Missions is no longer just going out to different places to do what feels good for me.  It’s about building long term relationships with a church and learning from each other.  In that learning both sides grow.  An example for us is that Gamaliel church is now doing trips into the mountains - for the past 3 years.  For us we see that the Holy Spirit works in ways we don’t normally see, and the learn for us is to see that happening when we are back home as well.  

7.      In this model we see churches equipped, not becoming dependent.  We see churches in N.A. going to Learn what God is doing in other parts of the world, not trying to fix what they think are problems in that part of the world, or that part of the worldwide church.   In this model we see multiplication that sticks, and growth that is sustainable.   Churches in N.A. model things for a church in another country and that church starts to build a relationship with a church in their country and that church eventually starts to build a relationships with another church.   N.A. churches can learn from the churches they visit and come home and practice what they learn in their own church and in outreach. 

8.      As Pepe says, we don’t want your money, we want people so we can all be blessed to be a blessing.  That highlights the investment vs the cost discussion.  Yes, it costs $$ to go to another country, but the way people are blessed and changed is the investment that brings about both seen and unseen events. A simple thing like modelling behaving during the VBS drama time.  Some of the kids don’t have much family structure and if we can model proper behaviour that is simple but important discipleship.