As our kids in the Children’s Homes start to get older, we are always looking for ways to send them out and broaden their horizons in preparation for their future–exposing them to new perspectives, developing their talents and interests, expanding their worldview, and teaching them to serve others. As we have sought to improve the way we prepare our kids for adulthood, God has been very faithful to provide some terrific experiences for them.
Last year, we sent all the teenage boys from the Juniper Tree with their house parents to Mission TEC, the Kids Alive care center in Pucallpa, for a week during their summer break. It was such a success that this year, we sent all the Juniper Tree teenage girls.
The trip was full of new experiences for the girls. It was the first time in a plane for most of them, and coming from the coastal desert of Lima, the blanket of lush green seen from the airplane window amazed them. They loved picking fruit off the trees, swimming in the lake, seeing new animals, and relaxing in the hammock in the gazebo. They were especially impressed by the heavy rain and even got to experience a storm with thunder and lightning. (That never happens in the Lima desert!) While there, the girls served by helping with the youth clubs, homework clubs, the Awana program, and performing a choreographed dance that they had prepared. For all of them, serving was a highlight of their trip, and when asked what the most difficult part of their trip was, they unanimously agreed that leaving when it was over was the hardest part!
The oldest girl at the Juniper Tree, *Mia, flew to Pucallpa by herself two weeks before the other girls, as we wanted to give her more time to get involved at Mission TEC. Mia was there for a total of three weeks, and lived with two single girls who work at TEC. She spent her time helping in the homework clubs and other kids programs. Mia said that she enjoyed working with the kids and liked being useful and so involved in everything. She also loved getting to know the Mission TEC staff and learning from them. Her time in Pucallpa had a huge impact on her, as it was her first taste of being part of a team of adults who worked together to serve and care for others.
A couple of weeks ago, *Carlos and *Ricardo, 16- and 17-year-old brothers from the Juniper Tree, were invited to be part of a team from California that had come to serve at the Friends of Peru Children’s Home in Andahuaylas. This trip was a great experience for the boys in many ways. They bonded with their “brothers and sisters” at the Andahuaylas Home, becoming especially close with the kids close to their age. Carlos and Ricardo were extremely helpful and went out of their way to do a good job, contributing to the work the team was there to do. Both Carlos and Ricardo speak English fairly well, and the week was excellent practice for them! The team was impacted by their presence, and especially appreciated when both boys opened their hearts to share their personal stories of what God has done in their life.
While so far it has only been Juniper Tree kids that have gotten to travel to other Kids Alive Peru sites like this, we hope that before long the kids in the mountain site in Andahuaylas are able to visit the coast or jungle sites. We’ll need to wait a few years before our Orchard Home kids in the jungle are old enough for these types of adventures! We are thankful for the experiences that these kids have had, and grateful to God for His provision for them to do so.
*names changed to protect privacy