The construction project here was something that began 5 years ago with a plot of jungle.
This place was full of palm trees, thick bushes, poisonous snakes, and no humans or concrete. Now it looks a lot different. On this land given by the community one building has been completed, one is fully in process with the second floor potentially being constructed as you read this, a soccer field planted and growing, a security wall halfway done, and several Peruvians employed. This facility will be multi-faceted: an agriculture institute, a place to host soccer events, pastors can be trained, conferences will be scheduled, and (potentially to help with sustainability) where travelers can stay. Each time I visit I can sense how much of a beacon of hope it already has been and will continue to be for the Yanesha people here. It will be a Christ-centered place to help bring education, healthy fun, and improved unity.
Churches and a few individuals support this project. Dozens of individuals have given up a week of vacation to come help build in the 100 degree sun. Previously I have been skeptical on building projects that involve short-term teams. My thoughts: why not just only employ locals? Here with this project I am in full support. Four well-skilled Peruvians are receiving wages that maybe wouldn’t consistently exist otherwise. When eight Americans show up to help there has never been any feelings of “taking jobs” or work hours. Rather, it has been the exact opposite. We all get the opportunity to share a nonstop week of working hard together. Testimonies by example and word are given each day from each nationality to the other. Meals are shared. Maybe some fun like a soccer game gets squeezed in. Relationships are created and these Peruvians consistently speak fondly of memories with these English – and sometimes Spanish too – speaking friends.
Personally I have loved getting to know these guys. They are hilarious, hard-working and very meticulous, so smart at their job, and are becoming more and more open to me as I am to them. Last week a friend Luke Couwenhoven and his wife Bridget came. (She actually took this awesome photo as well as a lot more we will surely be posting over time.) Luke only knew a bit of Spanish but said to me, “Well I’m not sure exactly what you guys are talking about, but it seems like they’ve been opening up to you this week.” Realizations from others like this or personal ones are what make being here worth it. I’m here to do my best in being the example of Jesus, and even if a few random conversations about Native Americans/Peruvians, differences in construction techniques, or sharing about our families is how that was moved forward this past week, I’m all about it.
Here’s a verse our team has shared several times in teaching responsibility with children in the schools. I think it applies well here too.
“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” -James 3:15-17