Angie Kidd, pastor of Trinity Church United Methodist in Kendallville, Indiana, first encountered Quechua Benefit in 2007, but she did not visit the Colca Canyon until 2010 and 2011. Casa Chapi was under construction during her last visit seven years ago. It has been her dream to return to see it full of children. She tells the exciting story of her Mission in the Andes.
“When my church decided to explore a mission trip, I asked Mike Safley what we could do for Quechua Benefit. He said many Casa Chapi children have never seen the grandeur of the condors flying. Could we take the fifth graders on a field trip to Condor Cross? Would we also take sixth graders to see Arequipa before they go there to live and attend school? There are not enough hands to make these trips possible. They needed a group to dedicate their entire trip to the children and the teachers. We agreed without hesitation. To us, it sounded like a dream mission.
After spending time in Arequipa, we pulled up to the gates of Casa Chapi. When the children began to wave out the windows of their classrooms, my heart was so full it could have burst. We loved knitting, reading, playing on the playground and soccer fields and being human jungle gyms for the kids who could not get enough hugs! If you visit, ask them about their Frisbees! That was a new and fun game for them.
The beauty of Condor Cross is breathtaking, it was even more breathtaking still to see the faces of the children as they saw their first condor rise just overhead. Later, we loved the kids’ beautiful presentation of their native stories. We all ate cake and celebrated being together, not wanting to let go of the moment. Four or five kids held tightly to every adult, and no one wanted to break away. I was the last one to get to the van, and one of the girls was still holding tightly to my hand. I finally had to pull my hand away. I am fairly certain a little part of my heart stayed in her hand.
Next, we gathered the sixth graders for their first trip to the city. No photo could capture their eyes as they took in the city on the walk to the mall. The malls are just like walking into a mall in the USA . . . except when you are holding the hand of a child who has never been out of the Canyon. The mall took on wonderland status. I heard three little girls exclaim, “Lindo!” (Beautiful!) Then they saw it! It was like nothing else they had ever seen before! People were stepping on it and rising into the air! They were uncertain about trying it at first, but then one by one they took their first steps on to the ESCALATOR!
At the bookstore each student and teacher chose a book of their very own. Back at the school, we all signed all their books, and then they read. Oh, if you could hear the sweet sound of fifteen children all reading aloud at the same time. It was like a little hive of sweet honeybees.
It doesn’t end there. Our team is holding an event to share our trip and the mission of Quechua Benefit. The Quechua Benefit mission and wish list of Casa Chapi will be the focus of our Christmas Transformation during Advent. We are dreaming of how to help other churches take trips to build relationships with the children and teachers. We want every fifth-grade class to see the condors fly and every sixth-grade class to ride over the mountain into the magical world of Arequipa. Our team is developing suggestions for other groups. I do offer one word of caution. You must commit to living with a little part of your heart thousands of miles away.
Many thanks to Mike Safley, Dale Cantwell, Alejandro Tejeda, Carmen Aguilar Diaz and Leny Cary Choque for helping us arrange the Peru aspects of the trip. We are feeling so blessed.”