Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Trip of a Lifetime!!!

That is how our trip to Peru was described, and it certainly lived up to its hype! It is so hard to describe everything we experienced and felt.

It certainly was hard and intense. We did an immense amount of traveling.  I figured we traveled over 80 hours via airplane, taxi, bus, and train.  The first days we traveled multiple hours to and finally reached a small town near Machu Picchu.  We spent a day exploring and hiking around the beautiful ruins.  Ethan had studied Machu Picchu in first grade, so this was one of his dream places to visit!  Ethan absolutely loved his time exploring the ruins.

From Machu Picchu we traveled back to Lima and then took an 8 hour bus ride to Hauraz where we met up with Ade, a Quechuan pastor who was our guide on the trek, and Dan Hintz, a missionary in Peru for 25 years.  Dan and his wife, Diane, have translated the Bible into a dialect of Quechua.

The following day, we took a 10 hour bus ride to get to our first village. Along the way, we drove over a pass that was at 16,500 feet!  The view was stunning of the different peaks around us that towered around 22,000 feet!

For the next 5 days we trekked to a different village each day.  At the village, we were greeted by a lot of curiosity. When we arrived, we set up camp while the kids of the village watched us.  Ethan and his buddy, Keane, were great with the kids as they would immediately go out and play soccer with them.  Our job was to interact with the kids as best as we could. Then the Quechuan pastors and leaders with us would go and invite the adults to an evening program.

Each program started with a viewing of the Gospel of Luke movie which lasted about an hour.  Following that, we would sing some songs for them in English and then a few others performed music in Quechua.  At the conclusion, a leader from the village would come up and usually give his welcome to us, and then he would call a member from each family to come up and receive a Bible from us.  This was the first time that they were receiving a Bible in their own language, so they were filled with joy in receiving it.  It was a very humbling experience to be able to pray for them and bless them as we gave them a Bible.  This was the first time in their life they would be able to read about the saving power and love of our Lord!

We then slept in our tents each night in an open field and woke to a loud call by our guides "Wake up, Gringos!"  We then had a program at the schools in each village.  Again we sang songs and passed out bibles.  It was a joy to watch the kids giggle at the strange sounds of English and our music.

The trekking each day was hard but we were always just amazed at the beauty around us. Our first day hiking was the longest at 9 hours!  It also happened to be Ethan's birthday.  Along the way what we saw seemed like we had stepped back in time 150 years. Not all of the villages had electricity. All of the farming was done by hand or with animals. There was such simplicity in the living.

It felt a little like being a part of the apostle Paul's missionary teams.  We were trekking through the mountains proclaiming the gospel to people that had never heard it before.  Often we would stop by a small house on the trek and give candy to the kids and pass out a Bible to the family.

(Ethan and our friend Eric giving a Bible to a family along the way.)

One of my favorite moments was at our fourth village.  We came to this village that had a wide open pasture with many different animals surrounding us.  I was tired from the trek and was ready to spend some time reading and reflecting.  I was sitting at my tent with another guy from our team when these four sweet girls came and just stared at us. They were watching our every move, so I thought, we better do something with them! They didn't know any Spanish so I asked Dan to help explain the game "Duck, Duck, Goose". We ended up using the Quechua words "Oosha, Oosha, Cabra", which meant "Sheep, Sheep, Goat". The kids immediately loved the game, and they always picked the big gringos to run around the circle! The game lasted maybe an hour and our group went from those four girls to 25 kids.  I then played "Follow the Leader" with them for a while.  Then I juggled tennis balls for them, but they loved it more when I dropped the balls and they could catch or chase after them!  The joy on their faces and laughter touched my heart.

Once we were done with the games, we had the kids sit in circles and color in coloring books we had for them.  The kids were so eager to show me their pictures that they had drawn.  Then we handed out Bibles.

Ethan and I had some incredible times together.  The trek wasn't easy for him but it was good to see him learn to depend on the Lord for strength.  When he was tired, he would quote the verse "I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength."  He would say that over and over and he would keep hiking.

It is amazing to already be back for a few days.  I know that the trip really happened, but part of it seems like it was a dream.  I am sure I will be processing and thinking about the two weeks we spent there for a long time.

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