Thursday, October 6, 2011


This is a descriptive essay that I wrote for my College Writing class.  The subject of my essay focused in on my sponsorship of Aymar this summer in Peru with Inca Link International.  I hope this will help to better draw you into my experience! Enjoy :)

            I pulled the covers up and over my head as the sound of a cheap, tropical ring tone sounded, waking me from my sweet sleep yet another morning.  I couldn’t bring myself to move my body or place my bare feet on the cold, cement floor.  The mornings at the Albergue Children’s Home were always chilly, and today that seemed especially true.  Chills overtook my body as I sat up, wrapped myself in the bed covers and crouched beneath the bunk above me.  The crisp, Peruvian breeze fluttered through the curtains.  I hastily slid the window shut, dropped back in bed and squinted to read the time.  Realizing it was an early Saturday morning, I turned my alarm off and rolled back over in bed.  I painfully pulled my knees into my nauseous stomach and it wasn’t long before my exhausted body fell into another deep sleep.  The door creaked open; half-asleep I heard the sound of bare feet tip-toeing across the floor toward my bed.  Stretching my body, I yawned and scooted to a sitting position beneath my bunk.  Jessica and Cindy, a couple of amigas I was interning with, plopped down next to me. Both of their hands were full as they sat down; Jessica handed me a cup of hot, Manzanilla tea, and Cindy offered me some saltine crackers to ease my nausea.  It was officially day number two that I was confined to bed.  Sickness had overtaken my ability to get up and lead my eager short-term mission team and be with my precious, Peruvian children.
            Sitting cross-legged on my bottom bunk, Jessica, Cindy and I reminisced on the past couple of months. We laughed as we recalled our late nights on the roof and our attempts to build a fire beneath the flawless, star-filled sky.  Our eyes filled with tears as we were humbled by the work that the Lord had accomplished through us while leading our teams:  He opened eyes to the sickening reality of this broken world, foundations were dug and walls were built for the children’s home, Peruvian people were reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We sat in unbelief at the realization that our time together was rapidly coming to a close.  Throughout the summer we had become a family. Together, we lived in the ministry, loved on the Peruvian children in the daycare, did back-wrenching construction, saw brokenness as the “least of these” rummaged through piles of garbage to support their families and watched as selfless people come thousands of miles away to pour out their love to complete strangers. 
One particular ministry that we worked with stood out to the three of us, La Guarderia: The Daycare. Each time we arrived seventy children would dash to the barred windows as the bus came to a stop in front of the building. Every child in the building shouted in one unified song, “Gringooooos!” and as we crouched through the small metal door, we were mobbed with love as the children ran to embrace us. It was in this moment that we felt pure joy, delight, and a love that will never leave the forefront of our minds.  Some clean, and others covered in dirt, these children were cared for with the support of sponsors. The difference between the children who attended the daycare and those who weren’t yet sponsored was their bright eyes, and smiles so big and contagious that you questioned whether they could grin any larger.  They had hope. 
These memories were stored in my mind like a picture book, and as I recalled them, my heart became burdened as I turned to a specific picture - a picture of brokenness, hopelessness, hurt and longing:  Deep brown eyes as big as saucers, looked from the outside of the building in, a three-year old girl clung tightly to the metal bars that covered the windows, “broken and longing” written all over her face.  Her gaze was fixed on what was inside.  Children - riding on the backs and shoulders of the gringos, laughing with joy and contentment, singing their Spanish Vacation Bible School songs as they skipped around the room, hands tightly threaded together with an American girl or boy and sitting down to eat food specially prepared for their little tummies.   Aymar, the younger sister of a girl in the daycare, knew that she wasn’t allowed to come inside.  She hadn’t been sponsored yet. 
As I drew this picture from my mind, my heart broke, tears welled up in my eyes and what the Lord had been impressing on my heart was finally being made clear.  I sat on my bed, surrounded by the compassionate love of my two amigas, pivoted my body, set my feet on the cold, cement floor and said to them, “I have to go back.”  Running around the corner I doubled back and grabbed my towel for a quick shower.  There was no time to waste.  As the ice-cold water streamed through my hair, chills ran up and down my back, “Sponsoring Aymar is a big commitment, Hannah.  Are you sure you want this?” I questioned myself.  Hastily I turned the water off, wrapped my towel tightly around myself and scurried back to my room. 
Quickly calling the woman in charge of the daycare, I shared what God had impressed on my heart when He brought to mind the picture of Aymar’s face behind those barred windows.  The woman agreed to meet me after lunch at the blue, daycare doors.  Stooping through the small door, we entered into the tiny office space.  There I was given instructions to search for Aymar and bring both her and her mother to the daycare.  Nervous and a bit overwhelmed by the idea, I stepped out, and entered into the garbage dump community.  People in this village were covered in the nauseating smell of burning garbage.  I began my search and spotted Aymar’s older sister, Lupita, in the distance, I knew she could lead me to their shack.  As she aimlessly wandered through the garbage on the dirt path, I called out to her in my best Spanish, “Lupita! Tienes una hermana, no?! Quiero madremar ella hoy! Donde esta su casa?” I questioned if she had a sister and whether she could lead me to their house.  Only two years older than her sister, Lupita grasped my hand and led me through the village to their shack.  We finally arrived and my joyful, three-year old Aymar came running to the door to greet me.  Her face lit up, and a smile radiated through all the dirt on her face as I told her that I wanted to be her sponsor.  Aymar and Lupita’s mother came to the door. Although she had two babies, she was hardly more than a baby herself.  I shared with her my desire to sponsor her youngest daughter and she agreed to walk down to the daycare with me.   As I took Aymar’s hand in mine, the four of us strolled down the dirt road back toward the daycare. 
Along with the Daycare staff, we all crammed into the small office space to figure out the logistics of the sponsorship.  My heart skipped a beat in excitement and then silently cried out to God in thanksgiving for the joy that I could now give this precious, little girl.  I sat in anticipation as the Daycare staff discussed the sponsorship in Spanish.  I was too overjoyed to translate what they were saying.  I took Aymar’s sponsorship photo for the website, then gently placed Aymar on my lap as we anticipated the news.
The joy, excitement, and smiles abruptly took a sharp turn in the opposite direction when the staff grew silent and the woman in charge of the daycare solemnly looked deep into my eyes and voiced that I was no longer able to sponsor Aymar.  No details, simply, that I couldn’t sponsor her.  My eyes welled up with tears and I began to question the Lord and what He had laid on my heart.  I held in the tears as best I could, took a deep breath in, and asked one simple question. “Tell me one thing,” I said. “I don’t understand why Lupita is able to be sponsored in the daycare and Aymar can’t be.” Those in the room looked at each other, not knowing the answer to my modest question.  I left the room, and they discussed that question, seeking out the answer for minutes that seemed like hours.
The door creaked open, and Lisa, the woman in charge, slowly walked over to me as I sat on the dirty floor, head bowed, lifting my requests and anxieties before the Lord.  She picked me up from where I was sitting, looked deep into my eyes once more, this time with a new light in her eyes, and told me that I was able to sponsor Aymar.  My heart welled up within me and silently cried out, “Lord, you are faithful!” Now my precious Aymar would not only be given water to sustain her physical body, but Living Water that would sustain her little spirit and supply her with everything that I would never be able to give her! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thanks For all of Your Support!

I know this is a bit late, but this was the letter that I sent out to everyone who supported me during my summer in Peru! - 

Pricilla and I
There and back.  Trujillo, Peru 2011.  Thank you for all of your prayers and support that made it possible for me to have a life-changing experience this summer in Peru.  I wouldn’t have traded the time I spent in Trujillo for anything. 

This summer was full of so many exciting, stretching and growing experiences where God opened my eyes to the world around me and broadened my perspective of His love.  This summer I saw the love of Our Father, God through the beauty of the Peruvian people and their hearts for their own community. 

As an intern, my main ministry this summer was to lead short-term teams that came down from the USA.  During the weeks that we had teams we would do construction in the morning at the Children’s Home (Albergue) where 72 children from the community will soon live and be fully cared for.  We made cement for footers, a driveway and walls for what will one day be a building where the children can learn skills such as cooking, playing music and building.  We made bricks by hand, which contributed to the 300,000 that they’ll need in the end to build a wall around Inca Link’s entire property.  We did a lot of other jobs such as bending rebar, digging lots of trenches, and leveling things over and over and over again.  It was amazing to see the progress throughout the summer and to remind myself and my teams that although it might not look like much right now, 72 children will one day be running around the property that we we’re pouring our love and time into.

Each afternoon we would either have a double construction day, or we would go to Inca Link’s other ministry sites.   One of which was the Trujillo Dump.  At the dump there are hundreds of people and families that dig through the garbage day and night to find things of value like bottles, plastics and glass, food for their animals and themselves, and clothes.  On Saturdays we have an adult and children’s program that is run by the Peruvian ladies from America Sur Alliance.  Their goal is to reach the people in the Dump with the Word of God.  People meet in a shack to hear about the Gospel.  Inca Link is now partnering with the Alliance churches in Trujillo to raise $30,000 to build a building in the dump to better reach these forgotten people.

Aymar Clarita Cruz Luna
Another ministry that Inca Link has started in the last several years is their Daycare in the Victor Raul Garbage Dump Community.  The Guarderia (Daycare) was built by short-term mission teams and now has around 80 kids in attendance who are able to attend because they are being sponsored each month.  We took our teams to the Daycare to do a VBS and to love on the kids.  On my days off, I would spend my time there with these kids.  I absolutely loved the kids in the Daycare and they became so close to my heart throughout the summer.  During the summer I got to know a little, three-year-old girl named Aymar.  She wasn’t sponsored, so she was never allowed in the building.  By the end of the summer God put on my heart to sponsor this little girl so that she too could learn about the love that Jesus has for her, have fresh drinking water, food, and the opportunity to be clean like the rest of the children. The love I have for those kids in the dump and in Peru is so huge, and I would love to give them the world, but we have a God who is able to provide in ways that I will never be able to provide for those kids, a God who is able to touch their lives and mold them into beautiful people who long for Him and yearn for His movement in their own lives.  These people have a hunger and thirst that I can never quench or provide for.  But in this world I am an instrument of the living God, “I am only a pencil in the hands of God, it is He who writes the story.” This summer God chose me to be his hands and his feet in Peru.  To be a leader for the teams that came down from the States so that they too might see how God is moving in Peru.  He chose me to be the hands to pick up all those precious, little children in the Daycare and hug and kiss them as if they were my own, to let them know that they are loved.  To let them know that they are known and not forgotten.  I so wish that I could always be there for those kids, but God called me for the summer to love. I learned that I can stand and let the light of Christ shine through me as I humble myself to be his hands and feet and serve as He served us.  I can point people in the direction of our Heavenly Father who provides for all of our needs and their needs and who can give them everything that I will never be able to give.  God has blessed me, He’s blessed us, for His Glory! He’s blessed us so that the nations will know Him and see His glory! 

There’s so much more that I wish I could write.  God did so many beautiful things this summer.  Psalm 113 was often on my heart.  I lived in the middle of the desert and was able to see God bring restoration to broken people.  These people may be poor physically, but they don’t even consider themselves poor because they are so rich in Spirit.  They would often say that they are content because they have the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is all they need.  These people get it. 

“Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore.  From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.  The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.  Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of their people.”  -Psalm 113:2-8

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Last couple of thoughts

Today is July 2nd! I can't believe we're already into the month of July! I want to just say a couple things before I head out and don't know when I'll beable to post on here again.  First, a couple updates of what my day has looked like this past week:

This past week has been such a blessing. It's been so relaxing and it's been wonderful to be back home at Albergue! We live here when we don't have teams.  One of the days that we were here we took a bus to Helping and had a 6 hour meeting and then went to Pizza Hut after that.  Another day before Vicky and I moved back to Albergue, some of the kids from the dump came over and we played with them at the park and then took them back home. That was really special.  Yesterday Bethy and I went up the water tower and sat on the second floor and had our devotions.  We sat up there for 3 hours and just talked, journalled and prayed for eachother and it was so refreshing. I also went to the Daycare to hang out with some of my girlies yesterday. Those kids are my heart. I love going there and just holding them and letting them know that they are loved.  On Monday some of the other interns and I are taking 5 of the kids from the daycare (these are kids from the dump) out to get ice cream. That's going to be a really special time I think.  Then we're going to take them to Albergue to play for a while.  Yesterday was also Canada's independance day and Jereme (one of the interns here) is Canadian and so he made us all dinner. It was delicious. Afterwards we had worship together with our whole family and then went to bed.  What a wonderful day.

Today I got up early so I could go to the one corner of Albergue and get the internet to post all these things on my blog.  And around 2, some of us are going back to the Daycare to play with the kids and update all of their pictures so that we can send them to their sponsors. One of the things that always breaks my heart when I go to the Daycare is to see the kids who aren't sponsored look into the windows from the outside with longing eyes.  They can't come in and join us because they aren't sponsored.  The best thing though, is getting to go outside and play with those kids after the inside part of the Daycare is over. 

Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts and taking the time to read my blog! I wish I could be more consistant, but I have to do first things first.  You are all such a blessing to me!

Much love from Peru!

June 26th - Back to Lima; I love you PA!

Our team this past week was the best.  They all had such kind, servant hearts and I really enjoyed getting to know each one of them personally. We had such a well rounded group and they're going to be hard to compare with.  I already miss them. 

Vicky and I took another trip back to Lima to drop off our team from PA.  We had a night trip on the bus to Lima so we left around 9 or 10pm and got to Lima at 5:30 in the morning. I slept 3 or 4 hours on the bus and that was my sleep for the night.  We got to the Ittza bus station and met Jose who came to pick us all up, put us on the Linea bus and go to the airport to drop our team off.  We waited forever at the airport, but we finally said our goodbyes and left to go to church with Jose, Luzcio and Juan Diego.  It was crazy saying goodbye because it felt like it was just yesterday that we met them at the airport and now we're like family.  It's crazy how God connects people through His Spirit like that in such a short period of time.  I thank God for every moment that He gave me with PA. What an awesome encouragement they were.

After we said goodbye we went to the Alliance church in Lima. It's huge. They now have to have 5 services because their 3rd service has 3,000 people that come to it!!  Vicky and I were falling asleep in church because we got such little sleep on the bus the previous night.  But after church we walked around Lima and found a place to eat lunch.  We ate Pollo saltado and then I tried my first Ceviche.  Peruvian food is the best and I can't wait to live in Chicago because I've heard that there's some great Peruvian places to eat there. Anyways, Ceviche is raw fish that is marinated in Lime juice with spices. It might not sound good, but it is one of the best things I've had here. It's delicious.

We took our 8ish hour bus ride back home to Trujillo at 1 and were almost late for the bus because we were eating lunch.  We literally ran down the street to catch our bus. We made it back home safe and sound and now we have a little over a week to recoop and do whatever! It'll be nice to have some free time.

June 21st! My B-day :)

I don't think that I could have asked for a better birthday.  Today was literally one of the best days of my life, and definitely top on my list for birthday days :) I literally went up on our roof and just wrote in my journal and cried because I felt so overwhelmed with love.  I thanked God for His goodness to me on this day and how He showed me His perfect love through the hands of my family here in Peru. 

This is what my day looked like:

I got up in the morning and went downstairs to breakfast.  My whole team sang Happy Birthday to me first thing in the morning before I could even sit down.  They are great.  We took the bus to the construction site and right when I got off the bus I was bombarded with more Happy Birthdays from the nationals that were already there at the site.  The Kimbros also all wished me Happy Birthday and gave me a hug as usual.  They are the best.

For construction I got to play in the mud all day with my girls from my team to mix together the materials to make bricks.  So I had to change into shorts so I didn't ruin my pants, and while I was doing that, my friends Jess and Annie went and got a little donut-cake thing for me and put a candle in it and when I got out of my room at Albergue they sang me Happy Birthday and I blew out the candle :)  We had lots and lots of fun doing bricks. And when Annie opened her little snack corner she gave me a piece of her delicious Tres Leches cake. It's probably my favorite cake here.

Joca, one of my friends here in Peru, told me that my gift is coming tomorrow. He's sweet and I'm excited to see what it is! On the bus to lunch all the Peruvians sang me Feliz Cumpleanos and then a couple other Peruvian Bday songs.  THEN when we got to lunch ALL of the teams for this week were there (over 50 people in total) and Marion made everyone stop eating so that they could sing me Happy Birthday AGAIN. hah. After lunch my co-interns for this team, Jereme and Vicky gave me flowers! They were really beautiful. 

The second half of our day consisted of going to the fruit market down town and then spending our day giving the fruit away at the dump.  I think that this time really impacted my team.  I had been praying that God would give me a new experience this time in the dump than he had ever given me before and that He did.  I was able to just stand there in the midst of the dump, in the middle of all of this burning trash, dirty people and animals and just pray for the people.  In Psalm 113, I love verses 7-8 which say, "He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of His people." What a beautiful picture that is. To think of the God of Heaven and earth reaching down and scooping one of His dearly loved children out of the dust and ash heap of the dump and places them with princes! WHO IS LIKE OUR GOD?!

All of us took quick showers and ran real quick to America Sur. (where we have dinner every night when we have teams here.) At dinner I got to sit by Cindy and tell her all about my day.  Then for dessert we all got ice cream! And before we left Kaleb gave me a gift! He said he had been working on it for a while and then he gave it to me...It was 2 journals. Both of them were hand-made from scratch.  And they were awesome.  This was probably one of the highlights of my day. 

We got back home to Helping Hands after dinner and Jereme, Vicky and I prepared for debrief with our team.  I was a little "late" to debrief, but really everyone was just early, and my team brought out a cake for me with candles and sang Happy Birthday to conclude one of the best days ever.  They went out after dinner and picked out a cake just for me :)  As they were singing Happy Birthday, Vicky came up and smashed the frosting from the top all over my face. It's a tradition here in Peru! To conclude the night we had worship in our living room with some of our Peruvian friends, so we sang in Spanish. It was beautiful.

Bethy was sick on my Bday so I visited her, and when I went to my room to write all of this down I found the most encouraging letter from her on my bed.  She is the best.  I love being in Peru together.

Also, Mom and Dad sent a little gift down with Bethany to give me on my Bday and it was the Newsies soundtrack. Hah. I've already listened to it and I love it a lot. It was a fun little surprise.

Lastly, Joca gave me my gift the day after my Bday and it was a "wolf in sheeps clothing" stuffed animal. It's great. He got it for me cause he laughed when he saw it and knew that it would make me laugh too. I love extended Birthdays!!

God is good and He blessed me more than I could ask for on my 18th Birthday. Thank you everyone who wished me Happy Birthday on this special day!! :)

June 20th

Today was the first day that I talked on the phone with Mom and Dad since I've been here. It was wonderful to catch up on life back home and update them on mine. I got to wish Dad a Happy Father's Day and they got to wish me a Happy Birthday...perfect timing.

Tonight at debrief we had everyone share about the reason why they think that God has brought them to Peru, why did they come down here, what were their intentions? As we went around the circle, it was beautiful to watch as God began to break hearts and tears began to roll down faces.  This was also the first time that I had cried in a month. It was a beautiful time of connecting to my team and so refreshing.  At this point in the week we have had our ups and downs...or maybe I should say our downs and ups since that's the order that things have happened. The first day of construction we had a little bit of difficulty because the first two days that our team was down here were chill days and we just rode the bus into Trujillo and then on Sunday went to church and then to Huanchaco to go to the beach.  So the first construction day was a little rough.  But even in day number 2 of construction we saw such a great improvement in attitude and encouragement from the team towards eachother. It was great and the 3 of us interns couldn't have asked for a better team! I'm excited to see what God has instore for this team.

June 15th: LIMA

This was the last day that our KY team (which was actually from my cousin's church back home) was here in Peru.  What a blessing their team was to us.  All of them were such hard workers and a great encouragement to all of us interns.  Plus, they brought us nutella and peanut butter! How much better could it get?

Here are some more thoughts from my journal:

We said goodbye to our first short term team in the Lima airport tonight. We went on a small bus from the airport to Flor's house. (Flor is the lady that we stay with over night each time we have to go to Lima to drop off or pick up a team. The bus right to and from Lima is around 10 hours.  It's about a 20 hour round trip.)  Our friends, Jose and Juan Diego made sure that we got there safe, and they still make fun of me for having 4 years of Spanish and knowing the little that I know. :) But they have been a huge help in learning Spanish while I've been here.

We spent 3 days in Lima at Flor's house.  We dropped off our 1st group and had to stay and wait 3 days to pick up our next group who was coming from Harrisberg, PA.

I found a side note that says: "I learned a phrase that the guys use down here as a joke, it's 'tocame que soy realidad.' - meaning 'touch me, I'm real.'  Apparently it's from some famous soccer guy from Peru who said it one time to a woman who was freaking out about meeting him." :)

June 16th -

The first thing that I did this morning was open my letter from Erica which actually ended up being from Michelle! (Erica Griffith wrote me letters for specific days throughout the summer and some of them ended up being from some of my other friends!)

Every meal in Peru consists of chicken, rice and potatoes.  But I have loved every meal that I've gotten so far.  It's all very delicious.  We ate at Flor's house for breakfast and lunch today.  I am learning how layed back this culture is.  Often times in the States people will just eat meals and then run to the next thing on the schedule. Here, that is not the case.  Oftentimes we are found sitting at the dinner table talking for an hour or more after we are done eating.  This culture is all about the importance of building relationships with people.

At 4:30 Jose picked us up and we took a bus into central Lima. This is like the Washington DC of Peru.  It was so beautiful.  There were lots of historic buildings and statues everywhere.  I took lots of pictures, so I'll have to put those up on the computer sometime.

It gets dark at 6:30 here, so around 7 we went to El Parque de Aguas.  The Fountain Park.  It was one of the most beautiful things I've seen. There were some incredible fountains; in the middle of the park, there's a fountain that does all of this crazy stuff.  It sprays water, but then is like a water and light show mixed together. There is also a much more intense version of the fountain in downtown Cuyahoga Falls, where it's like a game to get to the middle without getting wet, and then make it out dry again too.  I was the only one who failed at this game.  The fountain was huge and Juan Diego saw the water coming, but thought it would be funny to see me get wet.  So i was drenched and had to also go to dinner that way. Wonderful.

Every day I have my hora de espanol.  Hour of Spanish.  My friend Vicky is from Venezuela and she is fluent in Spanish and English, so it's been wonderful to practice spanish with her each day.  In Lima it was especially fun because our friends liked for me to try all that I knew in Spanish and then help me better say things and understand.

On Friday we had our intern meeting and organized our thoughts and prayed for our incoming team from PA.  Later we went and bought a "Tres Leches" cake for our friend Jose and surprised him at work for his birthday.  That was really special.  Then at 7:30 we went to the airport to pick up our first real team that we would lead on our own. Once we finally found them we had pizza in the airport and I had fun hanging out with my team.  I got to know Justin, Jess and Kaylen the first day, and had a good conversation with Brandon.  That first night we slept in a hotel in Lima (which was actually really nice) and in the morning we got home for our 10 hour ride back home.

I can't tell you how much I missed my Peruvian family back home at Albergue.  It was so wonderful to get home and see everyone's familiar faces.