Each winter break Penn Newman and Creatio team up to bring students to Peru. We can talk all about what we hope to achieve in these two weeks, what we hope students get out of the trip, and what we hope we leave behind, but the truth is, oftentimes what happens surpasses everything that we hoped for. To learn more about this trip, click here.
For now, take a second and read how God worked on Melissa Schweizer (C'18)'s heart on the 2016-2017 Peru Winter Break Mission Trip.
Going on this mission trip to Peru was definitely a plan that God had for me in my life, and I am glad I heard that call and took it. The journey started even before the trip when I had to fundraise the cost, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to afford it. With the help of my friends and parents, I baked dozens of baked goods, stood outside in the freezing cold, and sold as many cookies and brownies as I could. I also humbled myself by asking friends and family to make contributions, which I normally do not like asking for help in that way, but this was something I really felt called by the grace of God to do, and knew that I was being called out of my comfort zone.
Once I was finally committed to the trip, though I was excited to go, I started getting a little hesitant due to the fact that I don’t speak Spanish, meeting new people, traveling to a foreign place etc. I was lucky to be going with a group where I new a few friendly faces from Newman, which definitely helped with the comfort of traveling somewhere new. As for the not speaking Spanish, while I tried to learn a little before I went, I was still weary. However, this fear was quickly appeased once I got there. You have friends to translate, but the every day interactions, the smiles, and the love you have to give and receive is all you need to interact with the people of Llupa.
So as I said before, the mission trip was definitely a call from God, and an experience I will never forget. I saw God in every person I met, in the nature of the mountains, and all of the experiences. My whole perspective on my life changed. The people of Llupa, with what little they had, were some of the happiest, most grateful people I have ever met, and I could see Christ’s love and joy in each and every one of them. It helped me to realize and truly appreciate all that I do have.
There is also something special about using your talents to help physically build something lasting to help others. I never thought that I would say that I enjoyed carrying bricks and buckets of sand up and down hills for hours or mixing cement. However, these are just some of the skills I was able to acquire, along with witnessing the talents of the engineer/artisan Gustavo who helped us make the clean cook stoves (our main mission), the joy and happiness of the families who were getting the stoves, and the joy and friendships that were forming with the native Peruvians, as well as with my fellow volunteers. God really allowed me to receive more than I gave, which is something that I will treasure and hold with me for the rest of my life.
This experience was something that I really needed. It came at a time when I really doubted God and was weak in my faith. I was able to experience Christ in so many ways, and my doubts were cleared. God made himself not only noticeable in every person I encountered on the trip, but also in nature, especially when we got to climb to Laguna 69 at the National Park. I have never seen a more beautiful landscape in my life, and just walking through, contemplating life, praying, and taking in everything around me, I was able to find peace and feel Christ filling my heart. It was a very powerful experience for me, and I hope that others decide to hear God’s call for this trip, and take it. It will change your life, as it definitely changed mine.