Defendiendo mi fe en Cristo

I'm in the final stretch before home service. Just over a week until I fly to the US, and if their first few days are any indication, it's going to fly by with my current team from Concordia Theological Seminary. Ft. Wayne, IN. Last week's Peru youth retreat team is not to be ignored, though, and will feature in this post and the next. 

Having hosted a DR youth retreat team in June 2023, it was like déjà vu all over again for me, to quote Yogi Berra. The schedule was eeeeerily similar, but with an original theme: Defendiendo mi fe en Cristo (Defending My Faith in Christ). Missionary pastors and local volunteers owned the event. Five volunteers from Trinity Lutheran Church in Garden City, KS, and I stepped in to handle mundane tasks so these trusted adults who weren't skipping town a few days later could do what only they could do: help form the young people of the Peru Lutheran Mission into godly adults - including, Lord willing, a future pastor or deaconess or two. 

When volunteers arrive on Valentine's Day...

Day 1: We brainstormed and scribbled down ideas all morning, finally venturing out around midday for lunch at a cute neighborhood cafe and a shopping spree. Prep continued until dinner, after which we braved the crowds at Parque de la Reserva to see a nightly fountain light show tracing the history of Peru. 

The day before the retreat was fueled by Peru's largest croissant! Afterwards, the team & I shopped and otherwise explored Miraflores for a bit, still allowing a generous amount of time to get ourselves organized before we made the hourlong drive to the retreat center (El Refugio) an hour outside Lima. We'd stay one night before the youth arrived to orient ourselves and help ready things onsite, i.e. chairs in our meeting room. 

I could get used to the freshly baked rolls that seemingly featured in every day's breakfast menu! We put the finishing touches on the day's activities first thing, then sat back to enjoy the stillness while awaiting the first busload of attendees. 


Tic-tac-toe, relay-style.

They're heeeeeere!

Opening activity: Bible character "Who am I?"

Team member Kyle (right) talking with Rev. Walterson Siewert (left) over lunch. 

Bible study, part I. 

Go red team! We divided the kids into red and green teams and kept score during each of the games sessions. Good sportsmanship and punctuality also counted :) (In actuality, I had zero allegiance toward either team; red just happened to be standing closer!)

Games, round 1: parachute. 

Games, round 1: human foosball.

Snacktime! Pretzel & grape "swords" and cheese & cracker "shields" - get it? Defending...?

Team leader Shanna (left) with local volunteers (and deaconess students!) Ana (center) and Ángela (right). 

Bible study, part II: application! Rev. Walterson laid out a five-step process for getting at the biblical basis behind a particular tenet, then divided the youth into groups and had them go through the exercise with examples like "why Lutheran baptize babies."

Toasted marshmallows weren't a foreign concept, but we introduced them to the s'more. 

Late night chats...

Day 2! Shanna's husband, Rev. Michael Hageman, led an AM devotion while Rev. Walterson officiated a regular Sunday service back in Lima. 

Prayer partner activity guided by Ana and Ángela. 

Games, round 2: Bible scavenger hunt. 

Hmmmm, where to find the object indicated by Matthew 16:19? 

Games, round 2: tic-tac-toe. 

Afternoon-turned-morning snack: homemade trail mix. 

Rev. Walterson hurried back to hold a closing Divine Service for Peruvian and US volunteers and attendees. 

And the winning team! Each team member got a cross windchime craft, candy (chocolate truffles, as opposed to the losing team's Blow Pops), and the chance to throw a pie (aka paper plate filled with melty spray whipped cream) in either Kyle's or Miles's face. Kyle decided to share the love!

Back in Lima that night, we took cleansing hot showers and chased our Peruvian Chinese dinner with frozen yogurt courtesy of team member Jana. It wasn't time to leave Peru just yet, though...

Until next time, blessings in Christ!