If I would have come down to Peru on vacation I would have never gone to the places or worked with the children I did on that awesome adventure. But with Veritas Christian Study Abroad, I did.
One of the biggest reasons I came to Peru was to see something I could not see in the US. Not a place or an artifact—I wanted to see someone with nothing who still had joy.
This is hard to find in the culture of America. Kids with one hundred toys still have no happiness. They often kick and scream until they get their way. This continues as adults. When something doesn’t go our way, we want to give it up and throw it out. People tend to blame others, even God.
Here in Peru, I knew I would see things differently, but this attitude is experienced not taught.
While volunteering at the orphanage, I witnessed this first hand. For three of the days I spent there, we had no electricity. These kids had nothing. They played with wheelbarrows, tires, and sticks. They shared rooms with each other with no privacy. They did intense manual field labor.
For breakfast, they eat two potatoes; for lunch, a scoop of pasta; and for dinner, two pieces of bread. They walk to school a mile away, with only a few clothes to wear throughout the week. These children seemed to have nothing.
And yet, these children had the one thing that brings true joy: Jesus Christ.
They understood what many people miss: even in the midst of having nothing, they have everything—a Savior. Although they do not have a family, they have each other.
Whenever I hear someone, even myself, complain I just think back to this orphanage and realize how fortunate I am. I have never met anyone with such joy. It was the most impactful time I had in Peru and the most humbling experience of my entire life.
This wasn’t the only impactful experience during my time in Peru. The Veritas mission trip to mountains brought us to a village of people with next to nothing.
The kids in this village had permanently burned faces because of the intensity of the sun from which they had little relief. We brought them gifts, hot chocolate, and sweet bread. But this is not what impacted me.
I noticed one of the Veritas girls talking to a group of girls from the village. I went over to listen in. She told the children about God, Jesus, Heaven, and the Bible. The pastor had just given a gospel message, but I don’t think it clicked with them until this moment.
Genuinely interested in knowing more, the girls asked questions only adults would typically ask about God. They had no adult forcing them to listen, and we had no candy to bribe them with either.
They simply wanted to know more.
I pulled a small Spanish Bible from my pocket. One little girl noted, “La Palabra de Dios es muy bonita [The Word of God is very beautiful].”
That really hit home for me. How many Christians take for granted the Word of God and what the Bible truly is and means for us?
We talked with the girls for a little while longer and just before we left, another little girl said, “Que bonita a hablar sobre Jesus [How beautiful to talk about Jesus].”
I will never forget the words of these little girls.
In addition to the orphanage and villages, I helped out the second-grade class at a local elementary school several times a week. I loved having this opportunity.
Every day I walked into the class, they bombarded me with hugs and love. Their love amazed me. I can barely get a hug from my nieces and nephews, but these kids just wanted to play and hang out with me from the moment we met to the moment I left. In a first-world culture, we often look for the things a person has instead of the person himself. God used these kids to teach me about his love and how I should love him.
God’s love is unconditional—it knows no boundaries and will never let me go.
I should love God and others like these kids love. My love for him should not be because he blesses me or because he gives me gifts. I love him because he loves me, he never forsakes me, and he will always provide for me. I will never forget all these precious children and what they taught me in Peru.
Gain a new perspective and witness the faith and joy of children. See what the Lord will teach you, how he will use you, and what unexpected voice will change you. Study abroad and get involved with missions in Peru with Veritas.