On our second day in Peru, we began our service project. All of us were very excited, but nervous as well, as we had no idea what to expect. As one of the main Spanish speakers from our group, I was to assist my leaders and friends in their communication with the local Peruvians, as we built a classroom and taught the school’s children side by side.
The organization we were working with gave us talks about the importance of cleanliness, coming into contact with germs, and special instructions about water, too. What’s more, the air had begun to feel thin and different to me. For a moment I doubted my strengths and praying abilities.
I had prepared metaphysically for the trip with quotes about fear from Science and Health and the Bible. But they really had not come through to me and shown their light until the morning I sat in our storage room with one of our class leaders, taking a break from the construction and trying to get a hold of things mentally. There was one moment where we were just being quiet and really praying, listening for God, and as I heard yells of laughter and love coming from outside, I thought of the Bible quote, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (I John 4:18).
I realized that fear, or anything unrelated to God and His goodness and omnipresence, was being cast out completely by the pure and whole environment of love. Seeing and hearing that love, joy, and gratitude were all around us threw out any last aggressive suggestions that made me feel so limited and under pressure. I stepped out of the room knowing that God was always on my side, and, with God, I could tackle any challenge that came along.
The false fears of a completely unfamiliar physical environment or limited resources no longer stood in the way of our wonderful, cultural experience. As our service project went on, what I knew was real was the beauty of the children and all of the Peruvians we met, who were such loving and patient teachers and learners. The glorious setting in which we worked and prayed only added to our peaceful time at the school.
The rest of the trip went very smoothly as the pressure of the altitude, skepticism about the drinking water, and fear of germs vanished completely for me. My worries about the quality of my Spanish-speaking skills also disappeared, as the locals were so understanding, even if we forgot how to say something. All of us, even those with just a few Spanish phrases written on the backs of their hands, were speaking a common “language of love” so fluently. The children, parents, and all the members of the community were loving and understanding in all our communications.
Our National Leadership Class grew so much stronger in facing and resisting limited thinking throughout these great victories on the trip. We learned to spot and climb over obstacles with God and each other.
I believe that learning to grow and connect with the Peruvians and ourselves in this atmosphere truly enriched our progress as a class, which I would now call a family. It is so positively amazing when I look back at all of our spiritual triumphs and how much development took place in just a few weeks. It just goes to show that time really is measured by the unfoldment of good.
Hanne Andersen is a junior in high school from California. She enjoys tennis, mountain biking, and art, including photography.
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