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Impacted by Peru

In June/July I traveled to Lima, Peru with our GFC family to learn and serve with my 13-year-old daughter Madeline and my 16-year-old daughter Millicent. This turned out to be one of the best experiences that we could have had together.

Although I have been involved in overseas missions before, I was on this trip because my daughters “talked me into it”. After sponsoring a child through Compassion International for several years, my daughters had literally begged to go meet her and to find out more about the culture and church in that country. I acquiesced and agreed to take them. I was hopeful that all three of us would not only have a chance to learn and serve but to grow spiritually through the trip. I was not disappointed. Seeing the change and growth in my girls during the trip and a new world through their eyes was incredibly impactful for me. The trip was impactful culturally, spiritually and emotionally.

The cultural impact was immediate. The language, the food and all of our surroundings were immediately different. It was amazing. Homes with dirt floors, often without water or electricity, built to the highest peaks around Lima. The bustle of the small markets as sellers and buyers try to eke out a living for their families. Dogs running wild in the streets, trying themselves to survive. However, I was surprised at how quickly all of the youth adapted. They jumped right in with both feet. Whether interacting or playing with kids at the center and church, or participating in home visits with sponsored children, they served with their heart.

Spiritually, the impact occurred at many levels. At our sister church, we truly learned there was a difference between spiritual and monetary poverty. Relying on God daily, many believers there were filled with Christ’s Love and were so content with their life and situation. So many times and in so many ways, they showed us how to deeply love others. I found myself in awe of their love and commitment to their faith. Our mission group also had an impact on my daughters and me. Many of our group barely knew each other before the trip, but within 24 hours we were a bonded unit. The Holy Spirit’s work was evident in the youth who were not “along for the ride”, but participated in teaching, worship services and all manner of the Lord’s work. My experience was fortified not only by my own experience, but also by watching my children serve. The home visits had a particularly strong impact. Meeting a young girl growing in her faith and knowledge and so mature at 11 years old. She was abandoned by her parents, and raised by her grandparents from 1 year of age. Living on a hillside in a humble setting, she was so influenced and supported by the church and the center in her walk. Seeing the love and commitment between her and her grandmother was very emotional. Her cat named “Gringo” was the comic relief for the visit.

My heart, as with the rest of the group, was filled with joy by the experience with the sponsored children. My daughters bonded immediately with Cecilia, our sponsored child. They had an experience of a lifetime with her at her home, the center, and on our Thursday trip to the zoo and park. The highlight of her day at the zoo was getting to see the penguinos, and playing with my girls on the playground. She invited them to her birthday party in November, and we only wish we could be there to attend. By the end of the week, we were all tearful at the thought of leaving her and Peru.

I am seeing the impact of this trip daily on my daughters. Millicent and Madeline are already begging to go back next year. We all feel extremely blessed by our experience on this Reaching Trip.

A special thank you from me goes out to Millicent, Madeline, Garrett, Trevor and Allie. You young folks were such an inspiration and a source of energy for me.

Clay Runnels


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