by John Garver
Providence has been sending missionaries to a small and very poor Catholic parish in Chimbote, Peru for perhaps ten years. Chimbote is over 7 hours north of Lima on the coast road. I’d never been on a mission trip before, and now I have been back a bunch of times and I am going again. I think we all need to stretch ourselves to keep our faith walk in motion. There are many opportunities, both near and far. I don’t know if pictures really can tell the story, but they sure help.
The first picture is “Casa Azul,” which is owned by the family you see. They were very happy, because the morning of the picture we repainted their house. It was blue before, but the paint was all chipped and very dirty, like the street it’s on. The second picture is outside the gate of the parish church compound. The kids are just hanging around. The adults have lined up to get reading glasses. For some of them it was the first time in a long time they could read their Bibles. The lady with the baseball cap is Maximina. We built her a house last year. The man in the foreground is our very own Tim Good. The last picture is a small friend I met in Chimbote. His name is bigger than he is — Reyshell Olivares Amaya. I hope he will be there on our next trip.
There seem to be some common themes you often hear in the stories that folks tell about mission trips — the first being that you get so much more back from the people you visit than you give. Second, you grow so much closer to the people you team up with for the mission – I feel a strong and special bond with the PPC’ers with whom I’ve travelled to Peru and back. Finally, you don’t experience something like that, so much outside our normal pattern of life, and walk away unchanged – and that’s a very good thing.