MISSION TRIP by Linda Hong

It’s been over two years since I decided to put ALL my faith in God and trust that everything was going to work out. I left the life I knew and stepped into the unknown, beginning a life of travel and wanting to make a difference in some way that served God. I had just recently returned from teaching in Thailand for a year when I got an invitation on Facebook from Adam about a mission trip that he would be leading.

A mission trip, huh?

I messaged Adam for more details and it just so happened I was going to be in Denver in a few months, so we planned to meet while I was there.

I met Adam two years ago while cutting his hair. I remembered him telling me about how he was going to Peru to do mission work, and I had so much respect toward someone taking their time to volunteer.

One random morning, I just happened to be working and I saw him out of the corner of my eye – Adam’s back! I couldn’t wait to hear about his journey. It was amazing to hear about how much he helped and the breakthroughs he had along the way! A few months later, I saw his on his status that he left his job to pursue God’s plan for him with Creatio, the non-profit he went with to do his mission trip. The one I was now more curious about…

At this point, I was considered a world traveler. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do this or not. Financially it wasn’t going to be possible until Adam said, “you can fundraise the money.”

Excuse me, say what!? I had no idea this was even a thing – I can do that?? But I hate asking for money. How do I even do this??

Adam helped me out step by step by giving me insight on what actions to take to fundraise money. And I did it. I raised all the money I needed to make this trip possible. It wasn’t the easiest. I had my doubts for sure, but thanks to family and friends I was on my way to my first mission trip!

I would normally go on a holiday to get a break from everyday life but this time I was giving back! I was getting to volunteer my time to make a change and to serve God. I had a flight from Chiang Mai, Thailand to Hong Kong to LA to Miami to Lima, Peru. Needless to say, I was an exhausted time traveler because I left on the day I arrived on. Crazy stuff!

The mission trip had begun! On our first day, we got to explore and it was really neat to see all the culture and churches Lima had to offer. We were at the Monastery of Santo Domingo when we realized that St. Martin de Porres was the patron saint for barbers and hairdressers.

Wait, what?? Can you repeat that again? I don’t think I heard you!

This was a sign from God, literally everything leading up to this trip from the day I met Adam was supposed to happen!! I mean you gotta be kidding me! Can we take a moment? Some people might say it was just a funny coincidence, but there’s no way that randomly happens. And this was only the beginning the trip.

We were on our way up to the city of Llupa — 10,000 feet up to be exact — where we would be spending most of our time building clean cookstoves. I had no idea the altitude was going to affect me like it did. I was the first one down and out when the real work began. It was rough, but just drink plenty of water and you’re good to go!!

The house we were staying at was more than we could have asked for. We had beds, running water, toilets and a place to stay warm…kind of. After living in Thailand, I was always cold! Our days would start by 6am and end by 6pm. We filled it with food, prayers, work, catechesis, and laughter. I think getting our hands dirty and putting the cookstoves together made us feel like we were all instruments in God’s grand orchestra being played in this amazing performance that only the town of Llupa was invited too.

We were working with a local man, Gustavus. He was the conductor if I had to give him a role. The way he worked with his hands was indescribable. We were always in awe of his work! It was great to be able to learn and work with him. One night Adam lead us in a prayer meditation, and he talked about when Jesus walked on water and asked his disciples to trust in him and to walk out to him, without a shred of doubt that they would fall into the water. We had to put ourselves in their shoes and I couldn’t help but smile. Earlier that day, Gustavus showed us the work he had done over his time as an artist. It just so happened he showed us a painting of Jesus walking on water. This was just another subtle sign from God to be aware of his presence.

The days were coming to an end. We were finishing up the cookstoves and catechesis in the city of Llupa. We had a respectable football match with a the locals; they took it pretty easy on us. We celebrated our last day with the whole town with mass and a pachamanca to fill our bellies and hearts with love. Our presence went out with a bang, literally! The mayor came over that night with fireworks to show us thanks from the city of Llupa. It was beautiful, and honestly we were the ones that were thankful for being welcomed so warmly into their community.

It was a 3 a.m. wake up for our day out of Llupa. It was still pretty dark when we were leaving and the sky was cascaded with a blanket of stars. We were all beyond captivated by this beauty shown before us. My eyes were focused on the southern cross and in a blink of eye, a shooting star beamed past us. Pure excitement ran through my body knowing that God is always with us, showing us the way and lighting the path.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path – Psalm 119:105

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