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MEEKER I Meeker resident Aubrey Walsh, a 2012 graduate of Meeker High School and currently a senior at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) in Greeley, spoke recently about her her five-and-a-half week mission trip to Peru, running July 8 through Aug. 15.
Speaking via telephone during her lunch break, Walsh shared about the immediate and long-term impact the trip had on her.
Herald Times: What is your major there at UNC?
Aubrey Walsh: I am an elementary education major with a minor in special education teaching. I plan on being in the field of education, but (I am) not sure yet where I want to go with that.
HT: What prompted your trip to Peru?
AW: I got really involved in a campus ministry called Christian Challenge. One of my friends told me that she went to Peru the previous summer to work for Peru Missions. That piqued my interest, and I applied for the program.
HT: Where in Peru did you actually go?
AW: I went to Cieneguilla, which is about an hour and a half southeast of Lima. I worked for Peru Missions, which owns New Life Children’s Home, and was an intern for the home. Peru Missions (a Baptist missions organization based in Lima) was founded by two missionaries who started planting churches. They also always wanted to start a children’s home and did so about 10 years ago.
HT: What specifically did you do at the children’s home?
AW: I worked with a group of seven girls. I would wake up really early, get them ready for school and then take them to school. I also went out with other mission groups from the United States who did work in Lima. Sometimes they would go to a market and hand out Bibles or they would go to a rehab center and talk about the Gospel. There was never really a schedule. We did things on “Peruvian time,” which meant we didn’t know what was going on until 10 minutes before it happened.
HT: How did you prepare for the trip? Was there anything you needed to do mentally or spiritually to prepare yourself?
AW: I left on July 8, a couple of weeks after I got out of school, and I met up with one of the girls who had been to Peru and another girl who had been on a lot of different missions. I also just dove into the Gospel, read a lot more of my Bible, and prayed a lot about what I was getting into. I had no idea what was going to happen, but I just wanted to go for it.
HT: What kind of experiences did you have? Does anything stand out?
AW: I’ve worked with kids quite a bit throughout my life, but they’ve always been kids that even though they came from broken homes or were foster kids, they weren’t abandoned like (these children). After seeing these kids—(they are among) more than 600,000 abandoned kids in Lima alone—and not being able to comprehend what they went through, but then seeing their love for Christ, that was kind of the biggest thing.
Also, the power of testimonies. When we went out to share the Gospel, we would give our testimonies a lot and speak to people openly about the Gospel, and I saw a lot of people come to Christ. So my fear of evangelism kind of disappeared.
HT: Was there a moment or situation that stands out as the primary impact on your life?
AW: Yeah, there is one. One trip we went out on was to a men’s rehab center. We had gone to a lot of places, but this one had the biggest impact on me. The (people in charge of the) rehab center were skeptical about bringing in several girls since a lot of these men had been in prison or were sex offenders or had murdered someone, (and were in bad condition because of their addictions). I was pretty afraid to even walk in. We were told to stand in the back of the room and not look at any of them in the eyes. That was pretty nerve-wracking. Two of the guys in our group got up and talked about the Gospel (through a translator), and I just prayed the whole time that (those men) would be open to the message.
At the end, one of our guys asked if anyone wanted to give his life to Christ and many indicated they did. I don’t know if they all gave their lives to Christ honestly, but right after that moment all of my fear of those men disappeared because I considered them brothers in Christ.
HT: Do you think this trip is going to have long-lasting impact in your life?
AW: Definitely. It’s a pretty hard transition to come back to the states after seeing everything I saw. Being with those kids and being able to connect with them even though there is a language barrier gave me a new respect for them. As I look forward to the future and about where I want to teach, and even doing more missions work, I think I will always have in mind those people who I connected with in Peru.
HT: Is there anything else you want to get across to those reading this story?
AW: One thing I learned was that my faith has grown a lot through this process. When I first thought about going to Peru, it was not the best time financially; I had no means at all of getting there. I was pretty nervous about sending out support letters, but I reached out to family and the Meeker community and just prayed that if this was going to be where God wants me, then He would make it happen. And He did, times 10.