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Posada de Amor: The Inn of Love
I’ve spent many years doing various service projects. I always enjoyed doing these projects because I got to help others while experiencing something new. However, I often dreamed about traveling to a foreign country on a mission trip.
And then it happened.
My church’s high school youth group took a mission trip to Peru. It sounded like a good idea, but it sure wasn’t easy! It took a lot of work before we even got on the plane! We had to earn a lot of money through work and fundraisers. We had to plan out what we were doing and get the supplies for it. Several people, including myself, didn’t receive their passports on time, and had to go out of state to get them! It all finally paid off when we met at the airport at 4:30 in the morning to fly for ten hours to Lima, Peru!
Once we stepped off the plane, I could already tell we were in a completely different place. The people looked different. The customs were different. The air even smelled different! While we were loading our luggage on a bus, a little girl came up to me with her mother, begging for money or help. There were child beggars all over Lima. I prayed that God would take care of them.
On our first full day in Peru, we met all the children at an orphanage called Posada de Amor in the town of Cieneguilla. They were really happy to meet us. All of them sang, danced, and hugged us. One group of kids even sang a song in three languages: Spanish, English and Quechua.
We served at this orphanage and Eliel, their elementary school. We did projects like building walls, painting the school, making benches, putting on an after-school club, cooking, and making a mural. We even took turns teaching English to the schoolchildren. On the day I taught, we played a game to teach them how to say different colors in English. Then, we had some extra time. Someone suggested that we teach the kids question words. I said that I knew the perfect song that translates English question words into Spanish. No one else knew it, but they told me that I should sing it for the students- by myself!
At first, I was nervous to sing for these kids. What if I messed up? What if I sounded bad? (They were all great singers.) But I shook off my fear and confidently began to sing.
As it turned out, the students and teachers loved the song and caught on quickly. They ended up singing it quite a bit. They taught us some of their songs, too. However, I think the best part of the trip was just spending time with the kids.
I loved seeing what kind of toys the little kids played with. A favorite seemed to be stuffed animals and animal figurines. The children liked playing with real animals, too. Posada de Amor had chickens, rabbits, and dogs. The kids loved showing off their toys and invited us to play with them.
They loved seeing our “toys” as well! They loved listening to our mp3 players. (Seven Places was one of their favorite bands.) Once, a three year old girl asked if she could use my digital camera. Although I was reluctant to give it to here at first, I was amazed at how well she handled it and figured out, in a matter of minutes, how to use all the features to take great pictures! It wasn’t very often that the kids got to see a camera, laptop, or mp3 player. They never used any electronics themselves.
We went to Peru to bless the kids and staff, but we ended up being extremely blessed. Everyone on our mission team learned so much from these kids. Even though we had a language barrier, the love and compassion bridged that gap. We also learned what true happiness was. The kids we met have no real reason to be happy. They came from terrible, abusive homes. They have to wear the same outfit for several days. The only toys that they have are hand-me-downs that they have to share with all the other children. Their shoes are worn out and missing laces. They spend several hours each day doing chores and hand-washing their laundry. Wherever they go, they have to walk. But, even with all of this, they are still the happiest and most loving people I have ever met. And they were always willing to help us out.
A new world of opportunity definitely came to me in Peru! I learned to help in any way I could. At the hotel we stayed at, we helped the cleaning ladies by keeping our rooms organized and writing “Gracias” notes. We helped the restaurant waitresses by setting tables and clearing the dishes. Everywhere we looked, we saw a way that we could help someone.
On our last day in Cieneguilla, I wanted to help the community one last time before we left. I started out by writing letters to some of the kids I met. Then, my friend Nicole and I went through our suitcases, took out some of our clothes, and put them in our backpacks. After that, we walked to a nearby store and bought a lot of shoelaces. We put those in our backpacks as well. When we went to Posada de Amor for our last time, we left the clothes and shoelaces so that the children could wear them.
Leaving Peru was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. If I had the choice, I would probably still be there, serving anyone who needed help.
Just because I’m back in the United States doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who need help. Think about your community. Are there organizations or people who could use your help? Even if you only help a little, you still can make a BIG difference!