Peru Update by Adrian Martin

First I must apologize that we have not updated the blog in a couple of days.  We have some injuries and illnesses running through our group and that taken its toll on us.  First on Saturday evening, one of our youth slipped in the bathroom and hit her head pretty good, so we (Carrie, Rev. Sara, and I) drove with her to the hospital.  She checked out quite fine, but gave us a good scare for a bit.  Unfortunately, we did not think of getting the computer before we left so no one could post.  Then last night, I was hit by the illness that I spreading through us and the Peruvian workers and it kept me in bed for the entire afternoon and through this morning.  I’m still not 100%, but I am hoping to get there soon.

On Saturday, we worked hard to finish up our goal of getting the seven footers placed.  This is a five foot deep hole by at least six feet long and four feet wide.  We had to dig that out, place the 25 foot rebar studs in the holes, then pour concrete to stabilize it.  Getting the rebar in was tough as it kept wanting to tip over, so we have several people helping to stabilize it while the Peruvian workers tied it down.  Making concrete began as a process of shoveling.  A lot of shoveling.  We needed 150 shovelfuls of the gravel mixture per three bags of concrete.  Then we had to turn the pile over three times to mix it up.  Then the water was added and there was plenty more mixing.  Then we had to put it in wheelbarrows and drop it in the holes, adding large rocks that we cleaned earlier for support.

Later on Saturday afternoon, a concrete mixer machine did arrive and we were able to crank out some serious concrete.  We were able to finish the footers late Saturday afternoon and then enjoy a much needed rest.  Well, until the head injury occurred.

On Sunday, we began with a wonderful worship service that was translated between English and Spanish.  It was wonderful to experience Christian community with our brothers and sisters in another country.  The preaching was decent (at the request of the Peruvian pastor, I preached about “Following Jesus”) but to me the real highlights were when three of our girls (Caroline A., Camden, and Meredith) sang a song that moved some people to tears for how awesome an offering to God it was.  We also celebrated Communion and it was great to see us all come together around the table.

After worship and lunch, folks went hiking to see some of the wonderful sites around Urcos and then went to the market.  Unfortunately, this is when the illness began to claim its next victims and three of us (myself included) could not be out and about.

We are all on the mend and are excited about the next adventure on our trip: heading to Cusco and then onto Machu Picchu!

I am hoping to get some of the youth who had volunteered to write the blog to do so on our bus ride to Cusco this morning and then we can upload more later today.

Your continued prayers are really important to us!

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Day Four by Jack Bohlen

I am 15 and I go to Providence High School. Day 4 of Peru was much more exhausting than yesterday. Today we worked with all the cement pouring and when you don’t have any machines to move materials or mix cement it’s a little more complex. Digging cement and the red clay in the 4 ½ feet deep holes is not at all like dirt or beach sand so the shovels up to the surface or into the wheelbarrow is much heavier and is hard on the back. This however made lunch and dinner taste so much better. Another challenge is the thin air and altitude. I myself have exercise induced asthma so bending down and shoveling with a mask on to keep out the dirt and dust makes it very hard to breath. So we have a saying that is get swoll. It means get stronger basically and it’s a fun saying to give us motivation and keep on going. Although we try our hardest we still can’t do anything right.  The Peruvians told me I needed to get out of the hole because he was afraid I would mess up which I was because they wanted perfect rectangles and I had a blob. You might think digging rectangles in clay with a pickaxe and shovel is easy but you are wrong. Every time I would scoop out my chiseled clay it the hole would look the exact same as it did before.

I did meet one man at the site who is a pretty cool guy. He was born in Italy but lived in Columbia so he can speak Spanish very well. His English however needs a little work but he gets the message across. And the first day he said I need strong brothers to help me and he pointed at me and Charlie Tucker. So I looked behind me to make sure he was actually pointing at me and indeed he was so I puffed out my chest and very manly like said what can I lift for you. And that’s how we started to get to know each other. After that we talked about each other’s’ past. Charlie and I saying we are from North Carolina as we lifted 100 pound bags of cement like a macho man would. When he said he was from Italy I started to get excited because I went there for spring break so I had some knowledge on the place. The first thing I started talking about since it was lunch time soon was the food. And he was surprised to see I knew some about the culture, and as the day went on Charlie and I would talk to him more and really liked him. So after a couple of chats and hard labor we became his go to guys which was kinda neat.

The cool thing about this trip is we all get along and talk to everyone in the group. There aren’t really a lot of groups or cliques; we all just laugh together in the common room upstairs (which is where all of the guys sleep). Altogether we are always upbeat and ready for the next task unless we have to clean the outdoor toilets then we are all “coincidentally too sick to work anymore”.  Also today we got our Peruvian money so we went out and splurged on the fascinating food and candy that is very cheap to us. I myself got a 3 liter bottle of Fanta because the water has a funny after taste and I like the different taste of cane sugar.

Also the view is amazing everywhere and I love the night time because the stars pop out in the night sky and it’s amazing. That’s really the only good thing about night because we can’t sleep well with the concerts or the pigeons that fight each other on the roof in the morning but other than that it’s breathtaking

Day 3 by Gracie Bartel

Hi my name is Gracie Bartel; I am 17 and go to Providence High School.  This is my first international mission trip. It has been quite the experience so far. I am really enjoying myself and already learned so much about the culture. It is cool to speak Spanish to people who are not my classmates. The views everywhere are gorgeous and the people are so nice. Today at the work site I washed rocks and shoveled dirt and helped setup lunch. There were many odd jobs to be done and I wanted to help with all. There are so many dogs everywhere and they are sweet , we named most of them after characters from the Emperor’s New Groove. At lunch we ate this super yummy soup and I spilled some on my pants and now everybody calls me “Barfpants.”  Basically everything here is different from in the US.

 

 

Peru Day 2 by Caroline Alba

Yesterday, on our flight to Peru, I sat next to a woman who I didn’t know. If you asked me before our journey about what I was most excited for, you probably heard me enthuse about practicing my Spanish with Peruvian people. On the flight to Miami I sat next to two Spanish speakers and I was determined to make conversation. When one of them sneezed I said bless you, but in ENGLISH. UGH! I missed my chance. Luckily, we had another flight to Lima and I sat next to two Spanish speakers again. The woman next to me didn’t seem to understand English, so I was quiet in the beginning. A few hours into the flight, I had to use the restroom very badly and I didn’t want to go to the lavatory as that would disturb my seatmates. I practiced saying I need to use the restroom in my head in Spanish a few times until I finally said to the woman next to me “Senora, Necessito usar al bano” (Ma’am I need to use the restroom). I then quickly slid out of my seat and to the restroom as she mumbled something that I didn’t understand. When I returned, she spoke again and I could only understand a few words. I heard “rapido” and “linda” (quickly and pretty/small) and then I realized that she was saying I moved very quickly to the restroom because I was so skinny. She was probably confused as how I was able to afford a trip to Peru as in most South American cultures, being fat is a sign of wealth and being skinny is a sign of poverty. I’m not sure if she meant it as a compliment, but that’s how I took it and said “Gracias”.

After a bit of small talk later, I told her that I was going to Peru with my church to do Mission Work (“Trabajo de Cristo”). I gave her a rundown of our itinerary and told her that we were going to help the children (“Ayadamos los ninos”) which we technically are since we are building a multi-purpose room. Then she said something that I didn’t understand. She repeated it three times so I knew that it was important. Then she broke down, and I got it. Yo se rezare, yo se rezare, yo se rezare—I will pray for you.

A woman that I just met, that I could barely communicate with, said that she would pray for me, for us as we help others is Peru. Wow. I was a little surprised by this. I appreciated her support and promise to pray, but I never expected a stranger to be so inviting and kind. The next day, another flight, and a bus ride later, we were in Urcos. The Peruvians again surprised me by their warm- welcomes. The Peruvian Christians at the church where we had worship and supper constantly referred to us as brothers and sisters in Christ and praised us for pledging to work with them. They were so appreciative of us; it was almost as if they thought God sent us to save them. Then I wondered if they welcomed all American groups with such wide-arms. Our translators, Sara and Rusty, continued to tell us that people in Peru love their culture, love their towns, and want to share their culture. I didn’t completely believe them until today. I don’t think that I have ever spoken to so many strangers in Spanish before. It was so exciting! And a little stressful. At dinner, Tess Kelly was talking to the band that played for us during worship. She seemed so relaxed and was able to communicate effectively. Well, for the most part she was spitting out random facts, such as the United States has 50 states, but regardless the Peruvians were very entertained.

I am excited to meet new people tomorrow and adjust to the hole-in-the-ground toilets at the work site.

Blessings and Buenas Noches!

Caroline Alba

Wow, Christianity DOES spread worldwide. I know that that is super cliché, but I started to understand the un-explicit, non-verbal bonds that people hold through religions; religion surpasses any language barrier. And even though I didn’t understand most of the worship service at the Urcos Church, I knew that they praise God in the same way we do

 

Day One — We Arrived!

IMG_1615.JPGDay One – We Arrived

After a long day of travel, we arrived in Lima and checked into our hotel at 1:00 a.m. local time.  Unfortunately, we have to be ready to go at 5:45 a.m. to catch our flight to Cusco.  A four hour night of sleep to begin mission trip is always a great way to start!  At least most of us slept on the plane ride to Lima for a little bit!

We are excited to be here, but it might take a little bit of caffeine to help show that excitement!

Changing Gears

The Great Escape has come and gone.  While some of us are still catching up on our sleep, others are riding the excitement of the week.  The struggle is real to remember the closeness to each other, the feel of the Holy Spirit right next to us, and thrill of being with 700 other middle school students.

However, for me (Adrian Martin), at least, it is time to change gears.  The High School Mission Trip to Peru departs tomorrow morning, so I am back in the office switching out things that I needed at The Great Escape for the things I will need for Peru.  Do I have all of the medical forms?  Passports?  Will everyone remember to wear their t-shirts?  How many last minute questions will I get from parents?  Did I remember to take my altitude sickness medication?  Have I got everything I need packed away?  Will I remember to leave or check my pocket knife?

So many things to flip from one trip to another, but it is all worth it!  Seeing the middle school students last week on fire and the prospect of opening the eyes to the global mission Sardis is involved in next week is a wonderful feeling!

As a wrap up for The Great Escape, I have been asked to list the songs that we sung in worship all week.  Here they are:

  • Falling Into You – Hillsong, Young, & Free
  • I Can’t Let Go – Alex Sasser
  • Safe Place – Alex Sasser
  • Good, Good Father – Chris Tomlin
  • For the Cross – Bethel
  • Oceans – Hillsong
  • Real Love – Hillsong, Young, & Free
  • Our God – Chris Tomlin
  • Sons & Daughters – Bret Stanfill
  • Close – Hillsong, Young, & Free
  • Holy Spirit – Kari Jobe
  • Worthy of Your Name – Sean Curran

Also, here is the link to the 488 pictures we took with the church camera this past week:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/144727785@N07/eVx903

As the high school youth and adults prepare to depart tomorrow for our mission trip, I ask that you keep us in your prayers.  Pray that God will open our eyes to see how God is working in the world and for us to see how Sardis is making a kingdom difference!

 

Day 5 – To Everything…

Day 5 – To Everything…

All good things must come to an end, including our week at The Great Escape.  The conference was rejuvenating for the soul, with the lively music and worship, the wonderful speakers, and engaging family time with our youth and adults.  Some have made friends they will stay in contact with through various social media.  (Side note, parents, some of you might be asked to take a trip to Dalton, GA in the near future to meet up with some girls from another youth group, but that’s another story for another day….)

Today was Crud Day, a day to play in slime, yuck, guck, shaving cream, and pretty much anything else that is nasty.  Unfortunately, rain and lightning came and forced us inside quicker than we would have liked.  We were able to participate in two games and it was plenty to get us all messy, but it was not nearly enough for most of us.  Everyone got messy, whether they planned to or not.  Even the adult leaders were not safe, as Melinda found out when she was on her way to get the camera and wound up with two large handfuls of yuck in her hair courtesy of Adrian.

Throughout our week, we talked about having freedom in Jesus, hiding from God and from each other, being a part of a Christian community, and how we respond to God’s love in our lives.  Each youth has been touched by this week, whether they are here for the first time or for the third time.  The adult leaders have enjoyed spending this time with the 18 young people, who have kept us energetic, on our toes, full of laughter, and trying new things.  (Adrian was dancing it up at the dance party tonight, which is definitely a new thing for him!)

Ecclesiastes 3 begins:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

     a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
     a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

As we come to the end of our week, we head home, knowing that there is a time to come to this conference and a time to go home.  Tomorrow it is time to go home.  We now get to figure out how we take what we discussed and what we experienced this week to our lives back home in Charlotte.  Will we be changed?  Will we make a difference?  Will we live a life of gratitude to God?  Only time will tell.

For now, it is a time to pack.  And to clean.  And to sleep so the drivers stay awake on the bus ride home.

It has been a good week and one that was not possible without dedicated adults like Jenny, Melinda, and Harry.  This also would not have been possible without the support of Sardis Presbyterian Church.  Thank you to everyone who makes this week possible!