2017 Peru Camp
It’s been a whirlwind the past few days and we are just getting around to blogging about Campamento “Arca de Noe” being held in Trujillo, Peru this week. Last Friday (December 30th), a group of 15 students and leaders from Twin Lakes along with 13 team members from Point Pleasant out of Savannah, Georgia traveled to Lima, Peru to serve with Peru Mission in their yearly children’s camp. Much prayer and preparation has gone into just stepping on the plane. Thank each of you who are family members taking care of children or holding down the fort at home while we are away; who have supported a team member financially for this opportunity to share the gospel abroad; or who have committed to pray for this ministry. You are such an important part of this process and we pray once we return that we can communicate/report back the way that God is at work here in Peru.
We were blessed to have our Peru Mission contacts - Hermes and Alleen Tomas - actually fly with us out of Atlanta this year. It was a tight connection for them as their flight to Atlanta was delayed twice. We spent most of our time in prayer as we waited for them. God was gracious to get them to our gate as the last group was boarding the plane. However, together, we had to experience a rough start to the trip as we flew out of Atlanta for Lima. Close to 2 hours out (just clearing the tip of Florida), we were informed that we would be returning back to Atlanta due to some malfunctions with the bathrooms on board our airplane. We left Atlanta for the second time around 11:00pm and arrived around 6:00am. So, what should have been 12 hours of travel turned quickly into 18. Needless to say, it was a long day/night.
We arrived at our hotel in Lima around 7:00am and crashed for a couple of hours before getting ready for our day in Lima. It was a full and fun day as we started out by packing the bus and heading to Larco Mar in Miraflores which overlooks the Pacific Ocean. It is such a beautiful place. This shopping area is built into a cliff. Mangos, the restaurant we ate at, has a patio and is the perfect place to enjoy your first meal in Peru! We sampled some Peruvian cuisine - ceviche, calamari, yuca, canchita, causa limena, and of course…Inka Cola! We hurried over to an Indian Market to pick up some gifts and souvenirs for our supporters with the little time we had left before boarding our bus to head back to the airport. A quick check-in and scurry to our gate had us on our final plane ride to Trujillo - our destination for the week.
Though we had reached our destination, the day was not over yet. In fact, it was just now time to hit the ground running for the rest of the day. We loaded our luggage on taxis, boarded a bus and headed to our hotel in Trujillo. After checking in, we boarded the bus again to head to orientation at Cristo Rey (Christ the King) church. We were greeted by our Peruvian teammates with a human tunnel - our camp tradition, and the way we welcome campers each day at camp. It was wonderful to reconnect with friends and meet new faces as we finally began our week together. One of our Peruvian leaders led us in prayer, the music team taught some camp songs, we covered many details for camp, split up into our group/activity assignments and made plans for the week. One of the most important details was spending time together in prayer. This was a neat time - coming before the Lord together in two languages, - but, also a reminder of the common bond all of God’s children share through the saving blood of Christ…no matter the color of our skin or language that we speak.
Together, we rode the bus over to a local Chinese restaurant - Siu Yon (DELICIOUS - seriously…Peruvian Chinese food is the bomb!). We sat together and began to work through the issues that come with trying to bridge the language barrier. These people are so gracious with us. It never ceases to amaze me. They are so willing to teach and learn. Such a fun night!
By this point, we were all just ready to crawl in bed. And, that’s exactly what many of us did! However, this was also New Year’s Eve. So, several of the team stayed up on the 4th floor balcony to watch the fireworks around the city. The layout of Trujillo is that the main road, Espana, encircles the central city. On New Year’s Eve, fireworks are set off all around the perimeter of the city and from our hotel you can see numerous shows at the same time. It’s a sight to see…even if you have been awake for almost 48 hours!
After a full night of rest, we ate breakfast in the hotel and split up to visit two of Peru Mission’s church plants - Cristo Rey and Cristo Restaurador. Pastors Jaime Avellaneda and Ricardo Hernandez preached on this, the first Sunday of the new year. It is always great to worship together with our Peruvian brothers and sisters. Such an amazing experience thinking of what it will one day be like as we worship together at the foot of the throne!
Allen and Hermes de Tomas hosted the team and all of the missionaries for lunch on Sunday. Their homes are open and used all throughout the year for events like this. The hospitality shown to us is always warm and their food is fantastic! You can purchase the Peru Mission cookbook at www.perumission.org/cookbook.
We took the afternoon to rest up from such a crazy travel schedule to Peru, took care of a few errands before dinner and grabbed some pizza at a local shopping area since most everything was still closed on New Year’s Day. Early to bed - camp starts tomorrow!
I can’t speak too specifically about Monday, because, well…dehydration. It’s real, it happens quickly, and it keeps you out of camp which isn’t much fun. From all reports I have received though, the first day of camp ran as smoothly as we could have planned. We have 113 campers and close to 70 staff members this year. Camp is now largely led by Peruvians. They have been preparing for camp over the past several months by having meetings each Saturday. They have discussed the particulars of dealing with children, prepared skits, and covered many other details so that we could come in and simply assist them. It is so encouraging to see their ownership of this program and the way that they have made it their own and understand the opportunities that exist for ministry within the camp setting.
After gathering supplies and traveling to camp with our group, each day of camp is begun with team devotions. Frankie Daniell and Joseph Brown from Point Pleasant and I have led the morning devotion times up to this point and it has been a good time to focus on God’s word for us as we serve. After applying our first layer of sunscreen and bug spray, we welcome the campers and staff members as each of their buses arrive. Playground, conversation, dancing, photos, and of course the tunnel are all a part of getting camp rolling. Hermes Tomas welcomes the group, we sing a few songs together, we pray and we’re off to activities. Each day the campers rotate through 5 activities - Evangelism & Crafts, Pool, Sports, Octoball, and Super Fun Games. The kids love time with the staff and I love hearing their laughter and seeing their smiles all day long. Watermelon is our mid-morning snack and it couldn’t come at a better time! The mornings are pretty warm and the sun is intense. By noon it’s time for a meal of meat - chicken or goat, - rice, and salad or potatoes is the typical camp meal…except we can’t eat the salad. Trust me on this one!
The afternoons consist of two final activities and assembly. This assembly is where the Bible stories that the kids have been hearing during their evangelism activity come to life. The Peruvians have done a great job this year putting together the store of Esther and Mordecai. The message has been clear, but with just the right touch of humor for the kids. I love the costumes!
Following the assembly, it’s time to load up the buses and head out. We wave our goodbyes, pack up camp supplies and head back to the hotel to shower up before dinner. Yesterday (Wednesday), we were able to head to Delicias Beach for a few minutes and stick our toes in the cold Pacific Ocean. For some, this was a first!
The last two nights have been hosted by Stuart and Meg Mills, as well as Dale and Susan Ellison and their families. We love both of these families and are thankful for their service to the Lord, as well as their warm hospitality to us while we are here. Wow-wee - we have been fed well!
The team also likes to take in the Plaza de Armas, just a couple of blocks from our hotel. This area is still decorated for Christmas, has many street performers, food carts and plenty to take in. Monday night was the first night to go and the Americans apparently made quite a commotion. When a group of 12 white and one black skinned Americans take in the sites together, it’s hard to go unnoticed. Several Peruvians wanted pictures with the group and for some to hold their babies. Still not exactly sure why, but it sure makes you feel like a celebrity!
That pretty much brings you up to speed with where we are. Please continue to pray for our time here, as well as for the details of our travels home. We appreciate each one of you and are excited about how God will use the seeds that are planted this week to sprout and grow in the hearts and lives of these children and their families. Praise be to God!