I spent 10 days in Peru last month with 19 youth and five adults. I learned some valuable lessons that have impacted my life forever.
My daughter Bridget was planning to go to Peru with the youth group in June. Not long after she committed, the coordinator called me to explain their need for another female leader.
What? Yes! If I’m needed, I’ll go!
It was the first mission trip for both Bridget and me.
Besides Alpaca stuffed animals and food for the family to taste, I brought home some valuable lessons that I’m sharing here.
1. Make a decision and be all in.
My daughter and I said we were going and we never looked back. We put down our deposit and then gathered a prayer team, sent out letters to friends and family, and offered our services to work for people.
At the time we didn’t know HOW we would get the funds. But we knew God would provide.
We worked hard doing various jobs – poop scooping, raking leaves, organizing, cleaning, pet sitting, babysitting, etc. God also worked in people’s lives and they gave and prayed.
What are you needing to make a decision about?
Give yourself 15 more minutes, decide, and be all in. Don’t question or doubt your decision after that…ever. God’s got this. He’ll show you the HOW.
2. Be passionate.
Our missionary David is currently building a youth camp. We prayer-walked through the half-built dorms, the empty pool, and every inch of the land. He is passionate about the full circle of ministry…reaching kids through camp, plugging them into churches, training pastors through their seminary, and sending missionaries out to reach others.
Raul, a pastor sent from the seminary, has grown his church from 80 to 750! He preaches 5 times every Sunday because they cannot fit everyone into their small building. He is passionate about keeping teens in the church and teaching them to serve and stay involved.
There are huge groups of people that have nowhere to live. Fifty thousand people come into Lima EVERY MONTH so they just build little houses on the side of dirt mountains along the coast. Pastor Eder is passionate about reaching these people. His church building doesn’t have pews or chairs, the roof leaks, and they’ve had everything stolen more than once.
Another pastor’s wife noticed how many children weren’t in school in the church community. She and four friends began to pray. She now has 10 children living with her that are enrolled in school and thriving.
What are you passionate about? What idea has God given you?
Take action. Prayerfully and passionately do all God is asking you to do.
3. Be afraid and uncomfortable.
The very first night, in the jungle town of San Ramon, we went to an intersection that had a park on one corner. Some of us did a drama and the rest of us handed out tracts.
It was out of our comfort zone. This was the first time we had done it. We weren’t sure of the best way or what exactly to say.
But we did it.
We improved each day.
A few days later, our group of 25 people handed out 1000 tracts in 20 minutes. By that time it was fun! We were willing to be uncomfortable, try different things, and figure it out.
What is fear? What is discomfort?
They are just emotions.
You can handle them.
Instead of avoiding emotion, rest in it. Describe what it feels like in your body. Does your stomach tighten? Neck get tense? Heart beat faster?
It’ll be okay. That feeling, as you breathe into it and realize it can’t hurt you, will eventually dissipate.
What could you do if you were willing to feel fear? And be uncomfortable?
4. Love people.
Even though only four of our group could speak fluent Spanish, we could still love on the people we met. A warm smile and a kind greeting can break through a language barrier.
Peruvians greet each other with a hug, right cheek to right cheek while kissing the air. They do this every time they come into a room AND when they leave. To every single person! I loved that.
Who can you love? Who can you greet warmly and show kindness to today?
5. Use any opportunity to share the gospel.
We were driving 8 hours over the mountain when our bus broke down.
It was the best!
I’m so thankful to have this memory. Every good mission trip story has a bus that breaks down, right?
We waited 4 hours for another bus to arrive.
Guess what we did?
We used that time to share the gospel with a shepherd on the other side of the valley (to the left of the orange bridge).
We crossed that bridge to see some sheep running down the hill and realized they had a shepherd. After going back to the bus to get a tract, a new testament, a water bottle and food, we had good gospel conversations with him.
Also, because the road was now down to one lane (our giant bus was sitting in the other lane), we handed out tracts to every passing vehicle…for 4 hours.
Who could you share the gospel with? Who could you befriend, invite to church, or disciple?
I met Jesus and put my trust in Him because a lady I had just met asked me if I wanted to be discipled. I was 23 years old and didn’t really know what she meant by “disciple.” But I said yes and my life was changed forever!
6. Look 100 people in the eye and think of their soul.
Our missionary host challenged us to look 100 people in the eye and think of their eternal soul. Lima has 10 million people. It wasn’t hard to find people.
For me, unfortunately, it is hard to remember to do this.
I’m determined to get better. I’m determined to be more like Jesus.
Who could you look in the eye today?
Start with your family and then…the grocery store clerk, your house cleaner, your mailman, the neighbor, the driver next to you on the freeway, the doctor, your nail lady…
Tracy Hoth, Simply Squared Away
Tracy is a certified life coach and a professional organizer helping women end their struggle with disorganization through her Organized Life Academy and 1:1 private coaching.
Trusting Jesus when she was 23 years old was her greatest decision. She continues to learn that God is her everything, grateful that He faithfully pursues her.