Mission visitor helping with a construction project.

The irony of receiving far more than you give.

The first question a mission visitor is often asked when they return home is “What did you do in Chimbote?” For a group of 23 from North Dakota, Minnesota and Montana who visited the mission in June 2011, there was a lot to tell their friends and family back home about their mission experience. However, in the end, it’s what they learned rather than what they did that may surprise you.

Doing Homework

The group mission trip began with a team building day in Lima led by co-leader Susan Trnka, Executive Director of Friends of Chimbote before embarking for the mission. Throughout the course of the next five days, group members delivered beds and gas stoves to homes within the barrios. The homes had dirt floors, minimal furniture and did not have plumbing or electricity. They also completed two construction projects focused on tearing down old estera (woven straw) walls and replacing them with new walls and additional rooms.

Building new walls.Delivering new beds.

Special Times with Special People

Several of the group’s members joined Sister Peggy in her weekly gathering with the parish elderly for the Golden Agers meeting. They ladled bowls of soup, danced and shared fun fellowship with one another. The group also spent time at the local orphanage, playing with, holding and hugging the wee ones living there. On the final evening of the group’s visit, following a farewell mass, the group paid for a meal of meat, rice and ice cream for the parish members. Many tears were shed as the group got on the bus the morning of their departure.

Give and You Shall Receive

When asked what they did in Chimbote, many of these group members will tell you they were busy and worked hard every day; however, the most meaningful thing they did, was to experience a change inside themselves. They felt wonderful about the construction projects they completed and beds and stoves they were able to provide but, more importantly, they astounded at the joy they saw in the faces of the poor each day. The resounding hope and pure love the poor people had for each other, as well as the mission visitors was inspirational.

We’ve all heard that true happiness cannot be measured by the kind of home you have, the car you drive or the clothes you wear; it comes from the kind of person you are inside and the compassion you have for others. We know it’s true, but actually experiencing it is life changing. This is the real gift of a mission trip and irony of giving to others; in sharing your talents and your blessings, you receive the gift of understanding that we are all the same, differentiated only by geography. You give and you receive. When asked if they would ever wish to return to Chimbote, all 23 group members gave a resounding “yes!”

To learn more about a mission trip, contact us.

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