Believe it or not, it’s easy for missions work to become self-serving. Sounds crazy, I know, but it’s true. We are pre-disposed to focus on how we feel. We like to do things that make us feel good. At the end of the day we must serve, not for how we feel, but for Whom we follow. Jesus served the outcasts. He didn’t do it to find His worth but rather to help those He served, find theirs.
In light of Christ’s example of “personal ministry,” we have decided to make it personal wherever we minister. In the past, we have seen hundreds come to know Christ. All of those new believers have been connected with a local church. Unfortunately, in all the fast-paced ministry, many times we forget their faces and their names.
Last year a small team of leaders from Big World Ventures travelled to Peru with the task of investigating ministry opportunities for the teams we took this past summer. God met us and guided our every step. In five short days, bonds were formed with communities and families that cannot be explained.
We believe what God started last year, He intends to continue throughout all our mission trips. He has made it clear that our mission trip will be all about… “the people we will serve”. These are our VIP’s, and we believe that throughout the year and during next summer in Costa Rica God will be working through us to help the people we will serve wherever we go.
The good news is that you can meet the family’s we got to know on our past mission trip & hear their stories. This is our passion and this is also our plan for Costa Rica for His glory. Meet People from our past Missions:
The Morales Family
Nellie Garay, Melissa Morales, John Marco Morales, Pierro Morales, Gino Morales, Diana Morales
Nellie Garay lost her sister this past year to cervical cancer. Nellie’s sister left behind four orphan children, ages 14-19, as well as her 14 month old grandchild, Pierro. The father of the children left years ago to be with another woman, so the kids had no one to care for them. Nellie adopted her nieces and nephews, and moved to Laderas de San Juan de Miraflores. This is an area of extreme poverty. Many people, including the Morales children and their aunt Nellie, live in shacks made of bamboo-weaved fencing material. As many as eight to ten people, sharing two beds,will live together in a single room home with a dirt floor.
When we arrived at the Morales home, they were very kind and open to share their story with us. During the hour we spent with them, we learned that Melissa, 19 years old, had been molested by her step-father when she was younger. She struggled tremendously growing up and ended up pregnant at 17 years old. Pierro, her son, has no relationship with his father who refuses to recognize him as his son.
We also met Diana who was very shy, unlike her 14 and 17 year old brothers, John Marco and Gino. Both of the boys have dreams of one day studying law and earning enough money to help their family get out of the extreme poverty they are living in every day.
On the day we arrived, this family had only one bag of bread in the house, and they did not even have $14 to pay their water bill. In fact they were two months behind on their water, and it was a matter of days before it was to be shut off. God had obviously brought us to the right doorstep at the right time.
Before we left we paid their water bill, gave them money for food and milk for the baby, prayed with them all to receive Christ, and introduced them to a local pastor. Sounds good, right? It was good… but it’s not the end of their story. Nellie is still unable to find work to feed the kids, and there is no hope that Gino will be able to afford college. Obviously, there is more to be done. How will Melissa and Diana know real love unless God’s unconditional and extravagant love makes it through to their hearts? Our job is far from finished. We may not be able to radically change the situation in all of Miraflores, but we can certainly change the situation in the Morales home, and who knows what God will do from there.
The Associacion Villa Trinidad del Sur, Prolongacion Lomo de Corvina
This area is part of one of the poorest areas in all of Lima. The rows upon rows of shacks in this area are stacked along the government owned hillside. Thousands of squatters have settled in this area where there is no running water, no government assistance, and no sign of hope in the eyes of those living there.
As we drove through street after street of this community, our hearts were broken. It’s impossible to imagine the poverty that these Peruvians live in day after day. There is nothing to compare it to in the U.S. In fact, there is nothing like it anywhere we have ever been in the world.
After a thirty minute tour of the area, we stopped to walk the streets. We had no clue what we were looking for, but it just seemed right to get out of our car and trudge through the dust a bit. We snapped photos and captured videos of some of the sweetest kids you’ll ever meet. As we walked deeper into the community, we ran into a man who introduced himself to us in English. His name was Jacinto Tapia, and he was the community president.
We spent the next hour with Jacinto touring the local day-care facilities. We learned that, just like in many of the poor areas we had visited before, there was an absence of fathers in the community. Single mothers would leave their children for twelve to fourteen hours a day, six days a week to work in Lima just to earn enough to buy food for themselves and their children. It was amazing to see such beautiful children facing such outrageous challenges smiling and playing in the streets.
We knew immediately that this was a community where God wanted to do something special for the kids and single moms this year. It wasn’t enough to simply discover the need and say a prayer for them that night before we went to sleep. Our hearts demanded more.
The Community of Quilla-Wata
It is almost impossible to communicate in mere words what God did in our hearts during the few hours we were visiting Quilla-Wata. This poor farming community, just twenty minutes outside of Cusco, has been all but forgotten by the government. Spending just a few moments with them, we discovered that their water supply was contaminated, leading to an epidemic of parasites in the kids. We also learned that because of their location at the very top of the Cusco hills, the children who wanted to attend school had to walk an hour and a half downhill just to reach the nearest school, and then they had to walk two hours back up… an almost 2,000 ft. climb!
This community, too, was plagued by the absence of true fathers, leaving the women and children to work just to be able to provide for their own existence. Visiting the homes of the villagers, we found that many of them had nothing to eat. Our hearts would not let us walk away with just a promise to do a drama for them next summer…
We pooled our resources and bought food for the 140 families in the community, and we made arrangements to disperse the food the following evening. Our $300 bought cream, sugar, and rice for each household and of course cookies for the kids. When we brought the food back, we were greeted with an incredibly grateful reception. The village prepared a meal for us and invited us into their homes to eat. The president of the community, Manuel Sana Huallpa, personally expressed his gratitude for our generosity. Oddly enough, we were the ones who felt as if we had been given a priceless gift in the form of an opportunity to look into the lives of these amazing people.
After we were showered with flower petals and hugged by everyone in sight, we asked the president what else we might be able to do to serve this special community. He expressed to us the need to provide better nutrition for the kids as well as some type of training for those of working age in the community so that they could do something to earn money for their families. He also expressed the need for clean water that would allow them to live healthier lives, free from parasites. We listened intently and committed to strategize on how we might be able to help.
One thing Manuel mentioned that immediately struck us all was the need for a community bank of sewing machines where the women could come to make things to sell in the market. He explained that their current process of making things by hand kept them from earning enough money to make their efforts worthwhile. (For example: one item would take one week to sew by hand and would have to be sold in the market for around $20 to allow the maker an income that would sustain her family’s existence. However this same item made with a sewing machine could be sewn in a matter of minutes and then sold at a more competitive price in the marketplace, allowing for up to twenty times the production capacity and yielding an extremely higher earning potential for the families.) So as God led us, upon our return to the U.S., we made arrangements for the purchase, delivery, and training of three new sewing machines for the women of Quilla-Wata.
In 2013, we will bring young people to meet the humble people of this community. Who knows what God will do between now and then, but we do know that His story has just begun, and He only writes bestsellers…
Maritza Achata Barrientos & Family
Maritza is one of the poorest in the Quilla-Wata community. We first came upon her home during our visit to Quilla Wata, and we were amazed that such a small hut with no windows and dirt floors could house six people. We did not meet Maritza during our first visit to the community, because she was out working (washing clothes) to earn money for her family. It wasn’t entirely clear if her husband had left her and the kids, or if he had passed away. What was clear however was that her 38 year-old frame was not well. She suffered greatly from pain all over her body and relied on her 12 and 14 year-old sons to work in town during the week to earn enough money for the family to survive.
We met Maritza’s youngest three children: Saida Sutta Achata (10 years old), Cinthia Sutta Achata (7 years old), and Julio Sutta Achata (2 years old). Elmer, Cristian, and Percy, the three oldest boys, were all working both times we visited the community. We were sure that God was up to something and He certainly wanted us to get involved with this family, but we weren’t sure at what capacity until we were able to sit down with Maritza and listen to her story.
Maritza and her two sons, who were working at ages 12 and 14, collectively made around $20 a week. There wasn’t enough money for food and certainly not enough to install windows in the house to keep the brisk evening air from surrounding the children as they slept each night.
We prayed with Maritza just as we had prayed with the leaders and people in the community but as we searched our hearts for what else God had for us, we found God’s hand of provision and hope reaching up through our team once again to meet Maritza’s needs. As we explained to her that God wanted to supply her and her children with food for the coming months and help keep the frigid evening air outside of their home by making a way for windows to be installed, she began to cry. She was overwhelmed with joy and gratefulness. She said again and again, Thank you sir, Thank your sir… If she only knew that it was just the beginning of her new story.
God did even more in our hearts in the cities of Huaycan and Qorqa Ayllu. He revealed His hope in the hearts of the students of Rainbow Kids Uribe’s School and their counselor, Levis Menendez. He introduced us to Josefina Quispe, who was recently widowed in her early 60’s and was sleeping in a mud hut on a dirt floor. God had more in store for us than we ever thought possible, and I am confident there is more to come.