Mission Trip to Peru
Before Kim and I had our first date, we spoke on the phone for several hours. One of the many things that we had in common was a yearning to go on a mission trip. At the time, Kim was working as a handyman on his days off from the fire station. He expressed the desire to build homes for people in need. I didn’t know what role I would play on such a mission, but I was open to pitching in wherever I was needed most.
When I first went to Kim’s house (the beginning of 2016), he had a white wipe-off board in his kitchen. Written in the corner of the board were the names Greg & Linda English. He told me that a dental hygienist of his mentioned this group based out of Pensacola that was led by Mr. & Mrs. English. He was told they bring mission groups to build houses in Peru. Kim had a life-long dream to go to Peru to see Machu Picchu. The idea of combining a bucket-list adventure with the desire to build homes for the less fortunate made this a win-win set up for him. At the time, we could have never imagined what God had in store for us!
What Kim didn’t know was that I had a yearning to go to Peru as well. As a matter of fact, while at church one Sunday, my pastor asked us to write down a faith promise on a piece of paper. He said it could be anything that you wish to do for God. It could’ve been to make a weekly donation or to spend more time volunteering or really anything to further God’s love in the world. I wrote down, “Mission trip to Peru.” I’m still not sure why Peru was the place, but in that moment, I decided that any bit of extra money that God provided would be designated as “Peru money.” At the time, however, I was a single mom. Money was tight!! I was barely making ends meet so the idea that there would ever be any extra was doubtful. I had to trust that if God wanted this from me, He would provide a way to make it happen.
Fast forward about 6 months later…my relationship with Kim was gaining momentum. We knew we were God’s pick for each other. Despite the fact that we weren’t married, we jointly put money in the Peru fund. You might be wondering, well where did this money come from? To be honest, it came from God—there was no other explanation for it. Here’s an example… I wrote this in my praise journal on 8/7/16:
Yesterday you surely showered us with a gift and we are abundantly grateful. Kim was told it would be $160 to fix his pressure washer. We were about to forego our plans to paint his house because of this unexpected cost. But when we got to the store to pick up the pressure washer, the employee said that it was Kim’s lucky day. Someone deleted his order from the computer system; there was no record of the parts/labor/cost. He said we couldn’t be charged for it so it’s ours–fixed for free! Kim immediately recognized it as a gift from You and we have praised you for it! In addition, we saved $24 on dinner and got a free movie with a coupon, so it was an awesome day, thank you, Lord! We decided that since the $160 was “found” money that it will go into our Peru fund. This mission trip will happen through your provisions and our faith. 😊 We already have $300 in it (including the money from AT&T’s reduction in my bill)!
Kim and I were married in May of 2017. Our Peru fund continued to grow—the refunded money from Kim’s escrow when we sold his house, refunds from overpaying car insurance—to be honest, my only regret is that I didn’t write down each time it happened. Sometimes we were left scratching our heads with a random check that came in the mail from here or there. It was almost like God was showing off to prove to us that it was from Him! Lol!
Around that time, I went to a Christian Women’s Conference. Compassion International (a humanitarian aid organization) was there handing out packets with information on children who needed to be sponsored. One of the speakers talked about how she had visited her sponsored child and what an impact it made on her life. I took my child’s packet home and after talking to Kim, we decided we would sponsor the child that I was given. However, when I called Compassion, it turns out that they were already able to find a sponsor for the child that I was given. They asked if we’d be willing to sponsor a different child and I said we would. The child that they selected for us was named Jack and his birthday was the day after Kim’s AND, he lived in Peru! Wow! What are the chances of that?! We began to wonder if maybe we could meet him one day–possibly while on our mission trip?!
The months went by and we continued to add to the Peru fund little by little, but the actuality of planning the trip hadn’t happened yet. In 2018, I changed jobs and started working at Berryhill Elementary. One of my co-workers was talking about a mission trip and I told her about our dream to one day go to Peru. It was then that the name Linda English came up again. She told me about Reimagine and about their regular trips to Peru. I told Kim about it and he remembered the name—it was the same one that his dental hygienist mentioned—the one that was written in his kitchen years ago!
Since we were pretty sure God would cover the money for our trip, the next thing we needed was to make the time to go. Kim’s work schedule is VERY difficult when it comes to taking vacation time. He has to request days off a year or more in advance of his trips. Thus in May of 2019, I sent my first email to Linda English through their Reimagine website (https://www.reimagineworldwide.org). Knowing Kim would need to know mission trip dates for summer 2020 by October 2019, I wondered if joining their group was even going to be possible. Linda responded as sweet as could be and said she’d let us know as soon as the dates were set so we could try to join the teams going in 2020. Yay!! It seemed like it was finally happening…or was it?!
Unfortunately, like most others in the world, Covid-19 changed the course of our plans. We were booked to go on the Mission trip with Reimagine in July 2020; we planned to visit Machu Picchu; and we even had a scheduled visit with Jack, our sponsored child—but all of it was cancelled. ☹ And since Peru stayed closed to international travelers for quite awhile, we weren’t able to reschedule for 2021 because the dates weren’t planned far enough in advance for Kim to take off from work. SO, June of 2022 was to finally be our mission trip to Peru–six years in the making!
At this point, we had thousands of dollars in our Peru fund. We had enough to pay for our flights, to stay in the Reimagine complex, for our food, and gifts to be donated to the Peruvian people. We were careful though that the “Peru money” shouldn’t pay for our second part of the trip—to Cusco and Machu Picchu—that part had to be on us. (Kim and I both have a healthy fear of God and we wouldn’t want to mess with using his mission provisions inappropriately! 😊)
The cost to build a home in Peru through Reimagine is $1,000. The plan was to build 5 homes during our 9-day trip. Kim and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary on May 7, 2022. As you may know, the customary gift for a 5th anniversary is one made of wood. So for our 5th anniversary, Kim and I donated $1,000 to Reimagine for the purpose of building a wooden home for a family in need while we were there. After all, the money was theirs from God – we were just chosen to collect it and dole it out.
At this point, everything was coming together, the trip was paid for, a house was donated, we were finally doing a mission trip in Peru, and God got all the glory–how silly of me to think that this was the end of the story!! You would think since this trip was only a few weeks after our The Chosen filming experience (God’s Math Part 1–https://loveisthecommonthread.com/2022/07/19/gods-math-part-1/), that I would’ve realized that the Math lessons had only just begun.
A few months before our journey, we sent Facebook posts, emails, and texts asking for donations toward our mission. Thankfully we didn’t need any more money to cover our trip, but we were collecting vitamins and sneakers to take with us and we also requested any additional money to help with building homes. (https://www.reimagineworldwide.org/donate) There are groups that travel to Peru with Reimagine several times a year. The money donated to Reimagine is used as needed for building supplies, filling of water tanks, electricity bills, health care costs, etc. The wonderful thing about this organization though is that the money is going directly to these people–people who have immediate needs and who have become like family to the Reimagine teams.
A couple of weeks before our trip, we had a “packing party.” The teams who were going brought their donations to the English home so that we could each pack an extra suitcase full of donations. The idea is that no one has too much of one thing in their suitcase since customs can be brutal if they think you’re bringing items to sell. The group collected clothes, yarn, books, vitamins, medicine, feminine care products, sunglasses, toys, socks, shoes, jackets, and hats.
Here is a picture of what I collected before the party. Thank you again to all of you who contributed in this way (and also gave monetarily to cover the cost of the extra luggage or to go toward the building of homes). Like I explained in God’s Math Part 1 (https://loveisthecommonthread.com/2022/07/19/gods-math-part-1/), you provided your part to this equation; YOU provided the loaves and fish…wait till you see what God did to your contributions!