March 30, 2017 at 2:48 p.m.
A group of nine area residents started planning a mission trip to Peru a year ago, and now that they have returned, they’ll surely be talking about it for the rest of their lives. Not only were they all moved to act by the Holy Spirit and shared that transformative experience-- but they also ate smoked grub worms and floated on the Amazon River together. When you have felt you are loved, appreciated and making a difference in others’ lives, while dripping sweat with others in tropical humidity, those feelings create a bond. This group’s destination was in and around Delfines, a rural parish or district of Iquitos, Peru--the largest city in the world without road access to the outside.
The main mission project included putting down a concrete floor for an annex to the existing church. The mission team raised funds to accomplish this.
They also were instructing Iquitos volunteers in a host of “Sunday School” crafts and lessons. They distributed Bibles to 160 kids in the city, who flocked to the site in droves. “At one point they were handing kids into the (church) building through open windows,” Mark described. New Sunday School songs were sung loudly and boldly, and the children stole everyone’s hearts.
Iquitos has been the beneficiary of mission efforts through Chaplain Ministries International previously. One local man, Mark Allen, who has probably carved out the most gratifying career ever, organizes and facilitates the missions. Allen and wife Chris led this mission team, co-hosted through Kost Church. Chris says she has never been disappointed leading these missions. “God always puts the right people together. (Mark) and I have been many times and it is fascinating how God puts together a team.”
Pat Nelson was the last of the mission group to sign on the dotted line. She renewed her beliefs which she said were falling into a kind of stagnation and her prayers were answered for God to put enthusiasm back into her life. That was all she wanted out of the trip and she wasn’t let down.
Sue Humble was just the opposite. She was the first to say yes. She volunteered for personal growth and working with the children, who even though she didn’t speak their language, added, “Kids are kids everywhere.”
Humble also enjoyed the cultural differences, the food, the rain forest flora and was inspired by the way citizens made use of and were so grateful for the materials the mission provided.
Paul and Jenny Steward traveled with their 18-year-old son Ben and can’t wait to return. Their fulfillment came from helping new believers find their way and in reaffirming and connecting with other Christians.
Jenny said she was surprised at being overwhelmed by emotions as relationships blossomed right in front of her-- even when she did not speak their language.
“I just wanted to go and serve but I didn’t expect how it would impact me.”
Ben was seeing severe impoverished living conditions for the first time in his life-- but also feeling the love. Getting to know Peruvians was easy, he said.”Everybody should be required to do a mission trip in their lives,” he stated.
Phil Demunck is affiliated with the organization and went along hoping to see firsthand how the program works in practice. He was pleased with the welcome from the South American community and proud of how the mission team stepped back and let the people choose what was done and how it was done. The mission team goals were met and things went off without a hitch.
Lowell Nelson said he was touched in observing a rabble rouser young boy, transform during the visit.
The youth was kind of a rowdy disrespectful kid-- but by the time the mission group was departing he would be positive and eager to be included in community efforts. “The reason I went was that I was curious to see how God would use our group,” he smiled.
Peru as a whole had heavy spring rainfall during the time period they were there, but no flooding was experienced in the area where they were based. It mainly rained at night.
The Kost Church will give over its April 23 service to the mission team, to share details of their experience. Plan to attend for an inspiring morning. Kost Church is at County Road #72 and 375th (Kost Trail) south of North Branch.
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