We rode in a bus for eight hours on a winding road over the Andes. Some of our peeps got sick as the bus traveled up to 15,800 feet and back down into the jungle. None of our people regretted the experience though. People bond together when ya all (I have been around southerners) feel uncomfortable together for that long. You start sharing your needs with others and you have no option but to be honest about your bodily functions when you are in close proximity. At one point on this trip, I was sick. It was humbling to be sick when I was suppose to be leading the trip, but I had 14 nurses and truly felt loved and cared for.
We had all types of people. We had Scott and Rachel who brought their 15-year-old son. They were able to meet their sponsored child and share three days together at her project. Their son, Nathan, immersed into the church project right away. He played with the kids and engaged. He was highly impacted and now for his 16th birthday, instead of gifts, he wants to give a gift to Compassion.
I watched Andrew, a pastor from Red Rock Church in Colorado Springs; connect to the pastors at this Peruvian church. I also watched him work hard doing a lot of manual labor. I saw that he cared deeply about this church and was filled with compassion for the people, and I was encouraged that a church leader in America was thinking globally and caring for the poor.
I witnessed two beautiful southern bells from Alabama give up their flat iron for a week and not care if their make-up was perfect. They got dirty, they loved on kids, and they hugged those kids, cried over those kids and were willing to give up their comfort for a week to love the orphan. They never complained!
I witnessed Thea, a cancer survivor from Alabama, dive into the kitchen with the cooks. She connected to Rosa who was the head cook (shown in the headline picture). They learned about each other. They shared stories, they prayed for each other, they cried with each other. By the end of the week, Rosa had learned to perfectly say, “Hi Ya’ll” and Thea had made a friend for life. This is Thea and one of the kids from the church….
Then there was Jean; a wonderful woman from Wisconsin, who in her 60’s had never seen extreme poverty. She asked lots of questions, she dealt with discomfort and the hard travel, but despite the difficulties, she was in all the way. A teacher by trade, this woman knew how to love children and her heart broke as she saw the need. She became a sponsor this week.
The most important lesson that I took home was that the church is truly the bride of Christ. As I saw how this Peruvian church, day in and day out, affect this community and these children, I was amazed at the beauty of the body of Christ.
I admit wholeheartedly, that I can become very cynical of the church in America. I can get judgmental when I see churches spend millions of dollars on fancy church buildings. I can get irritated when I see a church focus all their efforts on the inside of their walls, ignoring the needs of the world and even those in their community. I have been discouraged when the church has hurt people so deeply that they never want to come back to it. I have worked in leadership at the church for 12 years. I have seen the underbelly of the church and know how difficult it can be to serve in the church when it seems like people just come to warm the pews. I have been involved in conflict in the church when good people say such hurtful things to one another. But this week, I saw the beauty of the bride and it was inspiring.
This trip stretched me both physically and spiritually, but it was so worth it. I saw a modern church in America come to Peru, and serve and be blessed, broken, motivated and changed. That is pretty cool! I can only imagine the impact these trips could have if more and more churches and pastors were willing to get involved and partner with Compassion. This trip put a passion in me to speak out and invite my friends to participate, to get uncomfortable.
I want to invite you to take the challenge, get your church involved and go serve a week somewhere in the world. Friends, I hope you would consider this.
To find out more about getting your church involved with Compassion click this link.
Specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy
Life, Family, Faith and Travel...the life of a Jones
Dominican Republic Missions trip
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