Trip to Peru
Reflections on Peru 2013
Peru was a wonderful experience and I would encourage anyone to go. It not only gave me a greater connection with the people there but also with the St. Joan of Arc parish. It is one thing to talk about the great things the church does, but it is another to actually see it. Similarly, it is one thing to talk about solidarity and another to go out and create solidarity. Throughout my Catholic education in elementary school I would be required to learn commandments, study bible verses, and regurgitate anything from venial sins to spiritual works of mercy. But I have never been this close to my faith. Although teaching helps, I believe it is something that is experienced. I never thought much of putting my money in the donation basket as it passed – all i knew was that it helped in some way. Now I know that it helps kids such as a boy named William studying in a library that St. Joan of Arc funds, it provides a church so that a whole bunch of wonderful teens can have their youth group mass in instead of getting involved in gangs, and it gives kids schools and day-cares in which they receive education previously out of reach. The church does wonderful things. I always took that for granted until those kids made me smile and I made them smile and I finally knew what solidarity meant. I am proud to be a part of the Catholic church. Trips like this give the world community meaning and I wish to always be part of this community. I hope that more people are able to get the opportunity that I had. It truly does change one’s perspective. No words can really do it justice, you just have to go and see.
Every group that goes on a road trip experiences the same stages: the initial ‘excitement of going somewhere new’ stage, the ‘getting to know each other’ stage, the ‘sickness/overwhelmed/exhausted’ stage, the ‘everything you do is annoying’ stage, the ‘thank the Lord! It’s almost over’ stage, the ‘thankful to be with these crazy people’ stage, and the ‘sad to be back’ stage. To say that we each experienced these stages would be an understatement. Each of us lived these stages for twelve days, collectively and individually. There is nothing like being in a foreign country with people who are basically strangers. No other experience gives you the same insight and understanding of people as living in tight quarters or being squished onto public buses or being sleep deprived at 3,000 meters above sea level for twelve relentless days. (Although, we were only at 3,000 meters for 2 exhausting days.) Trips like the St. Joan youth trip to Peru is a once in lifetime opportunity. The understanding and knowledge I gained from this trip can’t compare to what I’ve experienced in America. Living and working with Sister Immaculata gave me a deeper understanding of what it means to live in poverty, but more than understanding, it gave me hope and even jealousy. Before we left on the trip we were asked how we felt about God in relation to the poor. I personally responded that I was excited to see how much stronger his love is and how much stronger people’s faith is. Each experience with each day proved this to be true. This trip has made me yearn to have this unwavering faith in the Lord that so many in Peru have. I am so thankful to Katherine and St. Joan of Arc for giving me the opportunity to go on this adventure. It has given me a fresh pair of eyes and a new determination as I head off to college.
In the United States, we don’t appreciate many things that majority of other countries would be lucky to have. That’s a fact and we are constantly told how lucky we are and we should give back, but everything changes when you witness the poverty that other people live with every day. Giving back is important, but it only becomes real when you see what happens AFTER just making a donation or writing a check. For me, going to Peru was an eye-opener on many different things and we were all changed somehow by being there. Seeing where all the donations and money raised had gone to made the whole experience REAL. Once you see how much the groups there had made of what they had, you learn how big a difference something small can make, every little bit matters, and you have to appreciate the opportunities you have. This realization is one everyone needs.
It was a truly life-changing and rewarding experience. Being able to see how the other half lives is an opportunity everyone should have, as it entirely reworks your mind to focus more on others rather than yourself. The majority of the community was extremely welcoming and emitted an aura of great happiness. The living conditions in the country opened my eyes to what we in the United States take for granted: water, plumbing, air conditioning, etc. It was a real honor to travel to Peru and see Sr. Immaculata doing her missionary work and I hope to visit her again in the future. This was an unforgettable experience and it was all possible thanks to all of the generous parishioners who funded this trip for us. This trip has essentially given me a more selfless perspective on life and has allowed me to stop and appreciate the luxuries that we take for granted.
Thanks to everyone so much for making this trip possible. It truly was a life-altering experience and I feel so fortunate that I was able to participate. After attending nine years of an extremely strict Catholic school and then switching to public high school, I was ready to disregard my faith. This trip, however, provided me with a refreshed understanding of what it means to be a Catholic: simply to follow God by being a good person, to not be so focused on material items that really don’t matter. The Peruvians we met in Trujillo and Mache welcomed us in such a hospitable way, a way that I have never experienced in America. Although most of them didn’t speak ten words of English, and our Spanish was mediocre at best, we were able to communicate, dance, and have an overall fantastic time because of the welcome they showed us. It was just so uplifting and inspiring, because even though they have virtually nothing when measured by American eyes, and two of their houses could fit in my bedroom alone, they were still so grateful for what they had. I was struck by how impoverished and dangerous Alto Trujillo was, and yet they were able to create such a sense of community because of their attitudes towards life and each other. As an American, I was expecting to not be liked that much, but they were all so incredibly thrilled to see a group of young Americans visiting their country. All the Peruvians I met have in some way inspired me to try to be nicer to everyone, and have inspired me to have a completely different outlook on life. When I applied for this trip I had no idea what to expect. We were the first group of youth to ever go visit on behalf of the Good Shepherd Ministry and St. Joan of Arc. For those of you who think you may want to go next year, here’s what you can expect: love; happiness; community. I thought I had an idea of how much I would find this trip rewarding; I had no idea. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and if I could, I would go back every summer, someday maybe to stay. I definitely want to find some way to help Sister Immaculata and the work she’s been doing there. I encourage everyone in high school to apply for this trip. I promise you will never regret it and you will carry amazing memories everywhere you go.
Peru was the most powerful journey that I’ve been on! I experienced an overwhelming amount of love that I will always remember and cherish in my heart. We all think money can fix our problems, but I was wrong. Money can’t fix anything if you don’t have love. I saw that the happiest people in Peru were the ones who had the least. But they were surviving because of the love they had towards each other. Love from God and their neighbors. We need love in order to survive, without it, you have nothing. We are all brothers and sisters that need to love and help one another. I was able to see and experience true love and I have Peru to thank for that.
Our trip to Peru was a very eye opening experience. It shocked me to see the poverty people live in and it really made me appreciative of all the blessings and opportunities I live with. Another thing that struck me was the level of joy the people have. Although they own next to nothing, they cherish everything they do have and are fulfilled because of it. It makes we wonder how incredibly happy we all could be if we looked at our own blessings and cherished them like the Peruvians do.
Before we left on the trip, I was struggling in my relationship with God. While in Trujillo, we visited 8 of the 20 care centers and the kids were so welcoming and happy to see us. They gave all of the group a box of chocolates and a bracelet. Then we got to play with all of the kids at a park. Being with those kids for most of the day changed my perspective on what matters and the true value of what I need. Also, that day opened me up to God. Throughout the trip I grew closer to God and closer to the group.
The 2013 trip to Peru has opened my eyes in many ways. While living in the U.S. I assumed that all people lived similarly to me; everyone woke up and was able to take a shower, have breakfast, and went to school/ work. At night, everyone came home and ate a hot meal, drank clean water from the faucet, and went to sleep in a warm bed. But, I realized that while U.S. citizens live this way, the rest of the world did not live this way. I learned that not all people in other countries get to live in this luxury. Not all people get to shower daily, or get to come home to a hot meal. Not all people have a warm bed to go to sleep in.