Hi from Renee,
Tim & I decided that we are not saying enough in the details of some of our outreaches to Peru and that I needed my own page to go into more detail. Of course the challenge is, saying enough without saying too much. I’ll do my best, I promise!
This was the fourth year I’ve taken a team of seven women on mission for 10 days to Lima, Peru, and it was just as amazing and life-changing as all the other years. But what made this trip different from the others was that we had more challenges to overcome than ever before. And yet, we possibly accomplished even more in the midst of it all! It was so evident to us that the grace of God was there to help us do what we could never have done on our own.
The trip really started before we ever left Minneapolis We loaded up 14 suitcases with 700 pounds of items donated from the Girls of Grace bible study I’m a part of! There was clothing, medical supplies, food, bedding, and toys. There were also 50 pillows donated by My Pillow, handmade quilts from two third grade classes, and hundreds of clothing items and toys donated by employees of the Disney Store. Also, over $3,500 had been donated to give towards the mission projects we would be a part of. We had never had so much to give…we were ready!
Before we arrived, there had been heavy rains, resulting in devastating mudslides in Peru. It had left more than 178,000 people homeless. So on our first day, we made blankets for the relief efforts. Then the next day, we joined with 100’s of volunteers from Camino de Vida, the large multi-site church that our son-in-law and daughter are missionary/pastors at in Lima. We helped bring water, clothing, medical supplies, and food to Vallecito, a city hard-hit by the mudslides. There were lines and lines of so many people…with so many needs.
One thing that stood out most to me was when I happened upon a woman who was sitting on a rock ledge. She was just one person, surrounded by a sea of people. But there was something about the look on her face that caught my attention. She looked so tired…so beaten up by life…so in need of help. She tried to tell me something in Spanish, but I didn’t understand her. So I asked one of the other volunteers if they knew what she was saying. He told me she wanted to know if I could help her see a doctor, because she didn’t have the strength to stand in line.
I was so amazed that God had led me to stop to talk to this woman, because I knew right where to bring her…and who to bring her to! One of the “doctors” helping the people that day was an ER nurse, who was part of our team! So I brought her to Tasha, who found out that this woman had recently gone through chemotherapy for cancer. She was still weak from it, and now she’d found out she was pregnant. She was so afraid for her baby! Thankfully, after asking some questions about when her treatments had been, Tasha was able to assure her that all was well with the baby. Then we prayed for her. Her smile as she left the “clinic” was a smile I’ll never forget.
Another day we built two wheelchairs and delivered them to two men who desperately needed a wheelchair. Two other days we spent at an orphanage, where we helped feed and play with children who are severely disabled or have HIV. We also brought new pillows, mattress pads, quilts, t-shirts, and hats to give to the children.
So many of them can’t speak, but their smiles said it all! We were so thankful to be able to bring some love and laughter into their lives.
I also spoke at Ellas, a large women’s group at Camino de Vida, sharing a message about letting our light shine! I was also so blessed to share my testimony at the Grace House, where girls go through a program to help them overcome the addictions or abuse they’ve gone through. Our team then helped the girls make beautiful bracelets to remind them of how much God loves them…no matter what their past has been!
There’s so much more I could say…stories to be told…experiences that we’ll never forget…tears we shared…laughter that carried us through some hard things that happened during the trip. But in the end, I simply want to say that I’m forever grateful to have been a part of every minute of this mission trip. And I’m forever grateful to all of you who helped us go. My heart was touched…and it already is calling me to go back…te amo Peru…
Blessings, and love in Christ,
Romans 10:15 ~ And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
Mission Trip. I (Renee) took a group of seven women, who attend my weekly bible study, on mission to Peru. It was a beautiful way for us to not just talk about our faith, but to put it into action. I could write a book about all of the experiences that so touched our hearts. I want to share about one of them with you.
On one of the days, we assembled wheelchairs to give to three people who were in desperate need of one. We then set out to deliver them. It took a very long time to deliver the first two, and by then it was late in the day. But we still had one more wheelchair to deliver, to a woman whose home was up a mountain!
The roads were very rough, and the higher up we drove, the worse it got. In fact, on one especially narrow, steep road, the tires starting slipping. I saw our driver make the sign of the cross. Needless to say, that didn’t build our confidence that we’d get there in one piece, but we kept going. It was like being in a huge maze, while we kept going higher up the mountain and feeling more lost all the time.
Miraculously (and I mean miraculously), we finally got to the house where Nelda lived. I’ll never forget the smile on her face when we walked in. She was so happy we’d come with her wheelchair. But first, she wanted to tell us how thankful she was for her home.
It had only three rooms, with a few pieces of old, broken down furniture. It was “decorated” with pictures from magazines attached to the plywood walls. But she told us how much God had blessed her. She was especially thankful to have electricity for lights. She pointed to the single lightbulb hanging from the ceiling above us. She was as thankful for it as if it was a chandelier hanging there.
She went on to tell us her story. She was 72, and five years ago, she’d had a stroke. It had left her unable to walk or talk. The doctor said she would never talk again. So she said that she did the only thing she could do. She hummed praises to Jesus all day long.
The verse she lived by was Philippians 4:13, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” The only strength she had was to hum. So she just kept humming to Jesus, until one day, miraculously she was able to talk again. None of her neighbors could believe it. They all wanted her to tell them how she could suddenly speak again.
So she began to preach to everyone who would listen to her about the goodness of God. She also would pray for them if they were sick, so God would heal them like He had healed her. Because God had not only healed her voice but her body too!
The paralysis was now on just one side of her body, but she was only able to take a few steps at a time. So she was so happy to get a wheelchair, so she could go to a nearby park to talk to more people about Jesus. We all agreed we’d never met someone more with such an endearing, pure heart like Nelda!
Well, finally we got her into her wheelchair, and I wish you could’ve seen her face! It was shining with pure joy. We thought that surely heaven had sent us to bless HER. But then she shared about a dream she’d had, and we realized heaven had sent us to her, so WE would be blessed by her!
In her dream, God had given her a jar of honey and told her, “Eat. This honey is for you.” The next thing she knew, she was surrounded by honey bees who were so happy she was enjoying the honey. She could feel their love in her dream, but she didn’t really understand what it all meant.
She went on to tell us that now she knew that the honey in the dream was her wheelchair… and we were her honey bees. She said she could feel our love, just like she had in the dream. Needless to say, we were all in tears by now. Not one of us was in a hurry to leave. We were savoring the beauty of that moment. We had thought we were bringing something to Nelda that would change her life, but meeting her had changed our lives too.
This is just one example of how your giving is impacting lives with the love of God. So thank you from the bottom of our hearts for both your prayer support and financial support this past year. We’re praying you have the most wonderful Christmas and a New Year filled with the goodness of God!