|Peru leaves its mark on small town Nebraskans|
|Written by Wauneta Breeze|
|Thursday, 17 July 2014 20:34|
A short term missions team from Hamlet Union Church left for Peru on June 3 and returned June 12. Team members included, from back left, Courtney Clark, Lindsey Acton, Paul Behrends, Aaron Behrends, Peter Holmes and Sara Behrends, middle from left, Joshua Clark, Megan Christner, Sydnee Harchelroad, Christi Christner and Miranda Behrends, front from left, Sonya Behrends and Olivia Behrends. (Courtesy Photo)
By Christi Christner
The Wauneta Breeze
On June 3, 2014, the Hamlet Union Church (HUC) team set out for Peru on a missions trip through the organization Inca Link.
The HUC team was composed of Lindsey Acton, Peter Holmes, Megan Christner, Sydnee Harchelroad, Christi Christner and Paul, Miranda, Olivia, Sonya, Aaron and Sara Behrends along with HUC youth pastor Joshua Clark and wife, Courtney.
The first glimpses of Peru was a site that shocked this group of 13 from HUC as they embarked on an adventure that would ultimately change their lives.
Trash was thrown carelessly on the ground while both humans and animals sifted through its moldy remains in search of any bits of food or recyclables that could be salvaged.
No matter where the eye looked, all one could see was condemned-looking buildings that were literally falling apart while families of five to eight called them home.
All of it was a picture of poverty and suffering which was, unfortunately, a normal everyday sight in Peru.
The HUC team experienced the Peruvian culture first hand while also impacting the lives of all the staff and locals.
All of the ministries HUC was involved in had to do with children. The kids that live in Peru have very different lifestyles than kids in the U.S.
Kids, even at the young age of two, run around in the streets during the day while their parents go to work.
Many of the parents have long, hard work days that barely produce enough money to put food on the table.
Their children run rampant in the streets, because child care is both scarce and pricey.
Inca Link has taken it upon themselves to set up a day care to get some of the kids off the streets.
The day the HUC team went to Mana, the day care, they led the kids in a craft. The team then split up and helped out with the different projects the kids were working on in their class. At the end of the day, every kid got two suckers the HUC team had brought over from the United States.
“They were so excited to just get two little suckers. It makes you realize just how much we have to be grateful for at home,” Megan Christner, a senior at Hayes Center, said.
The group also got to be involved in Inca Thakhi, the extreme sports ministry. Inca Thakhi focuses mainly on the young boys of Trujillo. There is a lot of gang influences found in Trujillo, which makes it easy for the young boys to succumb to the pressures of the different gangs.
The HUC team had the opportunity to go sand boarding with eight of the little boys involved with Inca Thakhi.
To get to their designated destination, the team had to climb up a mountain of sand. “It was all very strenuous and tiring, but definitely worth it,”Christner said.
The third ministry the group experienced was Elim, the garbage dump ministry.
“I would never be able to describe what I saw to anyone. It was probably the worst thing I have ever seen in my life,” Sydnee Harchelroad said.
There is a whole community that survives off of Trujillo’s trash. The minute the team walked off the bus, they were swarmed by millions of flies, surrounded by flea bitten dogs and met by the curious eyes of the locals.
“We aren’t going to be able to save these people from the dump, because we aren’t their savior. We can, however, show them God’s love and a little bit of hope,” Lauren Dailey, a summer intern, told the HUC team while handing out fruit to the people working in the dump.
Before going into the dump, the team experienced the fruit markets of Peru. As they handed out their delectable treats, HUC also invited the people to the little school house right outside the walls of the dump.
At the school house there are church services held and bible classes for both the women and the children that teaches them about God and how to read and write.
This little beacon of hope not only teaches the people practical lessons like how to crochet things out of old trash bags, but also gives the woman a chance to make a little extra cash.
The women who live in the dump, make bracelets and sometimes even meals that they sell to the different short term mission groups that go in and out of the school house.
The HUC team also did some construction work that needed to be done around the orphanage.
Pasitos de Fe, of the orphanage, has yet to open its doors to the children of Trujillo.
“Even in Peru, there are certain regulations we have to meet to pass government standards,” Ignacio Mireles, the director of Pasitos de Fe, said.
The first project the team had to do was move 3,000 bricks from one pile to another 75 feet away to make a shed.
That project in itself took two days. “We made an assembly line, and sang and talked as we worked. It was actually kind of fun,” Peter Holmes, a Palisade native, said.
When that was over, the team wheel barrowed gravel, rocks and sand to the location of the shed.
“Oh it was hard, very hard, but it was fun at the same time,” Courtney Clark said.
Mornings for the team were always filled with construction. “Everyone was ready for lunch, that’s for sure!” Harchelroad said.
By the end of their visit, half of the shed was already done.
“Sometimes, short term missions groups can get down, and start thinking that they haven’t accomplished anything in their stay. I think it was good for everyone to physically see that they are making a difference in Peru,” Gideon Miller, a second year intern with Inca Link said.
Coming Back to the U.S.
The last day in Peru was emotional for everyone. Friendships had been made with both the staff members and the local people along with memories that will last a life time.
“It was tough saying goodbye to everyone. We had bonded with everyone. I didn’t want to leave,” Christner said.
“I was sad to leave, but I was also excited to get back home,” Miranda Behrends said.
“Everyone had to come up with a word that summed up the whole trip during the final debrief. Mine was ‘awesome sauce’, because that’s exactly how it was. Awesome sauce,” Joshua Clark, the youth pastor of Hamlet Union Church said.
Peru was a one of a kind experience that drastically changed every team member’s life. Many tears were shed, memories made and bonds made deeper. Big things are happening in Peru, to learn more information about Peru or Inca Link visit www.incalink.org.