A Glimpse at SLA’s 2015 Mission Trip (Pt.1)
On March 5, 2015, twenty-seven kids and nine chaperones packed their bags into the SLA school bus at six o’ clock in the morning and made their way to Logan Airport. For the following thirteen days, this group of thirty six would set off on a mission trip to Iquitos Peru where they would help fix up a girl’s home called POPPY’S House and hold VBS at a local church.
The first day started out with all the participants gathering with their families in a hallway in SLA where they all tagged their bags and said their good-byes. They then loaded into the bus and sang songs all the way to the Logan Airport. An hour later they found themselves unloading and walking into the international flight sector of the airport. The students and chaperones separated into their travel groups which consisted of about five or six students and two or three chaperones.
After check-in, the group waited for an hour before boarding their first flight to Atlanta, Georgia. After Atlanta they boarded their flight to Lima, Peru, a flight that lasted seven and a half hours.
“Word to the wise, don’t eat international airline food,” Christelle Omeler, a Junior attending the trip shares her remarks on the longest plane ride.
Once they arrived in Lima they had another long lay-over until they were able to board their last flight on a fairly small plane to Iquitos, a flight that only lasted an hour. Once they reached Iquitos, they walked down the stairs onto the runway, an experience that had been new and unique to many. They then collected their baggage and headed out the doors of the airport, and were caught by surprise.
The group was greeted by a bus, which frame was made of wood. It wasn’t the newest bus, but it was the coolest! The group then rode the bus ten minutes down the road to the People of Peru Project where they unloaded their things and head into the dinning hall where they all sat down and awaited directions for rooming. Looking around one could easily tell that barely anyone had gotten sufficient sleep.
After worship and a briefing in the dining hall, the group went and chose their rooms and roommates, and then rested for a couple of hours before lunch. They then hopped back into the old bus and survived a fifteen minute ride down a bumpy, washed out dirt road to POPPY’S House where, for the first time, they met the girls. Things were awkward because of the language barrier, but within a half hour, a football game (soccer in our case) broke out.
And let me just say, the group of about twelve or thirteen girls pounded the mission team. After playing for a an hour or two and getting to know the girls better, he group sat down and had their first hosted worship service there in Iquitos. They sang songs in both English and Spanish and then listened as Zachary Mularczyk, a sophomore at SLA, told the story of Paul and Silas. Some of the kids even took part by acting out the story.
After the little worship talk, the girls and a couple boys that had been invited into the compound to join in worship all joined in on a craft. After everyone finished the craft Pastor Jonathan Nino closed with prayer and everyone headed to their new home for the night.
Once they arrived back at the People of Peru Project, the team gathered for dinner and then sat down in ‘the no man zone’ (this was the sandlot between the boy’s and girl’s rooms) and they had their closing for the day with reflections on the trip so far to close their first day.
On day two at Iquitos the team awoke to breakfast and then prepared to go to Church where they held the service and then went back to the compound for lunch, changed, and then headed out again to spend the afternoon at a zoo where they were able to see God’s creatures like pink dolphins, leopards, pumas, and even giant fire ants (which were not part of the zoo but were walking all over the pathways). They then went back to the compound and prepared themselves for what was one of the most impacting nights on the trip.
Everyone hopped into the wooden bus and drove down to the center of Iquitos where they were given a red ticket. One red ticket could be taken by a group of three and could be traded in at a specific cart for a meal. So from there the students divided up and spread out all over the center of Iquitos around one specific block and searched for the hungry. Tears were shed as people prayed for beggars and children and for God to be with the people they had reached out to.
After an hour of time to wind down after the impacting events, everyone went back to the People of Peru compound and they closed off another day with worship.
Day three came, and everyone prepared themselves for the trip to Belen, which is considered to be the poorest part of Iquitos. They gathered up their things and walked to the front of the compound where they were greeted by a group of taxis. These taxis consisted of two parts: the motorcycle and the cart which had a roof over it. They were awesome.
Everyone gathered into groups of three and hopped into the cart and drove fifteen minutes to Belen where everyone unloaded the carts right into the market where they were greeted by jungle pharmacies, meat houses, little shops full of fruits and souvenirs. The group was able to wander around and ask the locals questions and try new fruits and look at their way of life.
After Belen, the group traveled to the work site, POPPY’S House where they were assigned their jobs and started their projects for the week. After working on painting railings, sanding doors, and working on the foundation of the play set for the day, the group went back to the compound and got dressed up and then traveled back to the church they had gone to the day before. Once they were there, kids trickled in to join in Vacation Bible School. At first there had only been a few kids, but then most of the pews were filled by the end of the first meeting. They followed the same program as they had the first night at POPPY’S House, and the kids loved it!
Several of the students made connections with the kids, and they sang and did crafts together in a way that resembled siblings. It was incredibly touching to the onlookers and left an impression on many.
To read about the rest of the trip, read part two!