This trip to Peru was a little different. We had 13 people, and spent the first 4 days in Miraflores, Cusco, Ollantantambo and Machu Picchu checking some things off our bucket lists. After a couple days we were all anxious to get to San Juan de Lurigancho to get started with our mission work. Our first day we were scheduled to build a house with the Reimagine team (about 30 people), which everyone was really excited about.
The night before, I got word that there was a mix up with the dates and Team Reimagine didn't get in until the next night. I didn't dare tell my team yet, because many of them had come on the trip to specifically build as much as possible. I reached out to Deanna, from Reimagine, and begged her to find us some meaningful, important work to do. She confidently said "Your team obviously has a much bigger purpose to fill than helping us build." By about 7pm, Deanna with the help of Giovanna, had a plan for us to paint two houses that had recently been built by Reimagine. A friend had given me $200 cash to fill a need at my discretion in Peru. By 9am we were at the market buying paint, rollers, brushes and primer with her donation. With the leftover we bought 3 soccer balls (The teens were dying to play soccer with the Peruvian kids.) By 10am we were at the job site ready to get to work. These are sweet families that are part of Make a Miracle and we got to bond with them as they helped us make their homes look not only pretty, but stronger against the dust, bugs and wind. The team was happy to be working hard and also interacting with the neighborhood kids, passing out candy and hugs.
Deanna had also asked if we could meet with a family to see if they would be good candidates for a new home when the summer teams come in next year. While we did that, part of the team played soccer with the neighborhood kids. When we walked up to the house, we were all shocked and devastated by this family's situation. The "house" belonged to a single mom, bed-ridden with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It was mostly canvas banners nailed together as a shelter, with no protection against the cold nights. Thankfully "Tim the tool man" Koenning was with us, because we knew this woman (Elizabeth) needed immediate help and we didn't know where to start. We went over some options and decided half the team would leave Hope House Orphanage early the next day and come build a home. Giovanna jumped into action, arranging to purchase the supplies and have the current home torn down and cleaned up. Over dinner we planned who would buy what: Eric had raised money to build a house with Go Fund Me so paid for the structure, Edith wanted to buy bunk beds and new mattresses, Dennis wanted to buy sheets and warm blankets to make the house feel like a home.
The next day we were thrilled to show up to a building site clean and cleared, with a new pre-fabricated home already delivered. Elizabeth was still in her bed, just watching the chaos around her. The four kids (ages 8-21) were so happy to be getting a house, and help for their mother. The cottage was finished in a few hours, and we left to go buy beds and mattresses. We returned with the whole team the next day to show them our handiwork and make up the bedroom. We talked with the oldest daughter about being a part of Team Miracle...a tight group of girls her age who have also received support from Make a Miracle. We made plans for the next team to go see Elizabeth and her kids, and I plan on sending down a framed family photo to hang on the wall. We will not abandon this amazing family, like her husband did. We will continue to love them and empower them in any way we can.
If things had gone as planned, we never would have heard about this situation. Giovanna asked her neighbors who needed help because we needed something to do and that is the only reason we went to see Elizabeth. As she sat on her bed in her new bedroom, she was crying and repeating, "It's a miracle, it's a miracle." We hugged her and cried tears of happiness with her. Thank you Team Miracle for being quick-acting and flexible when needed. Thank you God for leading us to Elizabeth, and showing us our purpose on this day.