Come & Worship, an emerging ministry in Winston-Salem, N.C., recently put together a team to serve on a mission trip to Peru. The team, which included The Rev. Brad Bennett and his wife Sue, Diane Ebert, Antoinette Brey, the Rt. Rev. Sam Gray and Sandra Dorr from Come & Worship and Emma LaBella from Christ Moravian in Winston-Salem, travelled to Peru to build relationships with the Moravian congregations there; to work with the children in the communities served by those congregations; and to help with the inauguration of the English Academy at Jesus, El Ray de Gloria.
We were welcomed at the airport by Ana Maria Huaman Davila, her daughter Gaby and son Carlos. Ana is the pastor of the Rey de Gloria congregation. They opened their home to us and we became a part of their family for the next week; Ana cooked some really great Peruvian food during our time there!
The pace of Lima is very different than Winston-Salem. You need to have very fast reaction times to drive there; Emma buried her head as we emerged onto the busy chaotic roadways of the city. The strange thing is we didn’t see any accidents the whole time we were there.
Living in community
Ana definitely lives in a community. People do not hide away in isolation in their homes; at night you hear your neighbors outside. The church there is very much part of the community – in fact, Ana’s church services are either in a room of her house or on the street outside.
By staying with Ana in her home, we could really see the people of Peru and their daily lives. The people were very warm and friendly. They welcomed us with open arms into their home and churches. We could see firsthand how they worship and how their faith is a very important part of daily life. They are happy people.
They may not have all the conveniences we have but they are thankful and joyful, whether young or old. We saw that they could get along just fine without a lot of the things that we think are so necessary and still be happy. Happiness comes from family and friends and knowing Jesus. We know this, but it really came to light in Peru.
Brad and Sam each preached in the two worship services we attended. After the first service Brad noticed that the younger children were eyeing him and were coming up to talk to him after the service. Then he was told that because of his long hair and beard they thought he was “Papa Noel,” their version of Santa Claus! One young person was disappointed that she didn’t get the candy she wanted. Brad replied, “Next year!”
As part of our work on this trip, we were asked to plan activities to do with the children at each of the churches. Both times were fun and the children seemed to really enjoy the activities. Again, even with the language difference, we were still able to communicate.
The activities were for various ages and consisted of mazes, finding the differences in two pictures and crafts. It was fun watching the older children work with the younger ones, helping them understand what to do.
One activity practiced colors. The leader would hold up a marker and say the color in English. The children would repeat it in English and then say the color in Spanish which the leader would repeat. We taught each other and it was great fun learning from one another! Following the table activities, we sang with them and played games.
We had a large group at both churches. Working with the children was great fun and they seemed to enjoy the crafts and the music very much, as we all did.
Into the community
One evening there was an outdoor concert at Ana’s church. Again, we were in the street. Brad and Sam played for all using songs of all kinds. Some of the neighbors along the street did not come out, but watched from the windows of their homes. What was interesting to us was watching the people sing along in English to the Beatles’ songs that they played. Those in the windows actually took videos on their phones of them playing. Emma and Diane gave testimonies during this event as well. It was a fun evening and enjoyed by all in attendance.
The English Academy that Ana is starting with her church got off to a good start and it is our hope that it will grow quickly. It’s a wonderful thing for the church and the neighborhood. Since we were there as native English speakers, Ana felt our presence would be helpful for the English Academy’s inauguration.
The Saturday before the start date, we went through the neighborhood and local grocery store handing out flyers to the people about the academy. We had an interesting time when they asked questions and we tried our best to answer them.
It was a fun day when we had students show up for the first day of class. They were excited for the chance to learn English and it was exciting for us being able to work with them even with the language barrier. Ana is hoping that as the first students learn English and go back into their homes, the interest will increase over time. It was a blessing for us to be able to be a part of the beginning.
Ana’s daughter, Gaby, makes chocolates to support the school. We found them delicious…so delicious that they did not make it back to Come and Worship!
Ana and Manuel Horna (Manuel is pastor of the Somos Uno congregation) are both wonderful and dedicated pastors and do terrific jobs with their congregations. It was a wonderful trip. We had a great team and are so thankful for the opportunity to have gone.
One of the scripture verses from the Moravian Daily Text on the morning we left for Peru was: “Paul wrote: Your plenty will supply what they need. 2 Corinthians 8:14 (NIV).” It’s easy to see this verse in some kind of economic or cultural we/they perspective where we were going down to supply them with all of our “plenty.” The reality was, we may have taken down a few musical instruments and a pile of flip flops (among other “plenty”), but they did most of the supplying of what we needed – not only practically but spiritually as well.
We are all Moravian Christians – followers of Jesus Christ whether we live in Winston-Salem, N.C. or Lima, Peru. We have the same joys and difficulties, just a different geographical location. We are a part of the same Christian family; we are just separated by miles and cultural context. We were blessed to be a part of their community for the short time we were there. But no matter where we live, we are all in this together.
The Come & Worship team collaborated on this story. Photos by Sam, Brad and the team. Above and right: C&W team members assist with children’s activities in Peru.