Montery Bay Academy
This trip has been really fun so far. I have really enjoyed the people here. They are so nice and are always smiling. I have enjoyed all the home cooked food we have had. It is really good. The kids are so much fun. They are so excited to just see us and they are always so happy at Vacation Bible School, they keep me going even when I am tired after a long morning of work. It has also given me a chance to get to know people from my school that I didn't’t talk too much before; make existing friendships stronger, and make brand new friendships that I will never forget.
Natalie Cline, age 17, 11Th grade, Monterey Bay Academy
My trip to beautiful Peru has been amazing. I have fallen in love with the people, the culture, and the platanos fritas. Every moment here has been tons of fun. From working to spending time in the city to hanging out with the children, all of this experience has been unforgettable. I’ll cherish the memories we’ve created here.
Sarah Thomas, 17, Senior at Monterey Bay Academy
I have been having a blast here in Peru. The people are so warm and welcoming to us. Everything that we do here is beneficial. I really feel like I am helping people while forming friendships. The Vacation Bible School programs have really helped us form connections with the kids. The kids here are so lively and fun to hang out with. The language barrier was a little intimidating at first, but now after 5 days I am comfortable with at least attempting to speak Spanish. The cooks here at our home-stead are superheroes. Their food is healthy and delicious. I really love the experience I have been having here in Peru. The spontaneous rain showers are so refreshing too!
Taylor Sigh, 17, Senior at Monterrey Bay Academy
Peru is AMAZING! The people here are the nicest and happiest people you’ll ever meet, especially the kids! I’m going to be so sad to have to leave them! You come here to help a culture in need, yet you leave getting so much out of it yourself! I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world!
Hillary Rollins, 15, sophomore at Monterey Bay Academy
We are so grateful for the opportunity to come and serve here in Peru. I’ve never been on a mission trip that worked out so well. People of Peru Project are great and they really make sure that your group is cared for and has the best trip possible. The people here experience great need on a daily basis and even though we can only accomplish so much in the short time we’re here, it’s been a great blessing to be here and do what we can. As a group leader, I appreciate so much the opportunities my students have had to connect with the people here. I hope and pray that they are finding a passion for mission ministry, but also that they are growing spiritually. We are definitely going to be reluctant to leave, even our rain-soaked tents, bug bites and the noisy parrots that wake us up each morning. Thank you so much to everyone who made this trip possible. God bless.
Jason Mustard, older, Dir. Marketing & Recruitment at MBA
The thing that amazes me the most about Peru is that it is nothing like I thought it was going to be, and how the time here goes by so much slower than it does back at home. The people here are never in a hurry, it is very different. I think the thing that I love the most here is the children. They are always so happy to see you no matter what you look like. If your in a bad mood or are just not feeling good the kids will make you forget everything bad that is going on in that moment. I am so happy that I had the opportunity to come to Peru it has changed my life in so many different ways, and I love it! Half of me want’s to stay, but there is that other half that really misses home. My experience here is one that I will never forget and I pray that the work we have done here shows how much God loves them.
Ali Howsmon, age 18, grade junior, Monterey Bay Academy
This trip, so far, has been super awesome! I have learned so much in the short amount of time we’ve been here. Not to mention, I am brushing up on my Spanish. The people here are amazingly sweet. When I decided to come on this trip, I had all these cool things I thought I could teach them but when I got here, they taught me more things than I could ever learn anywhere else. I am so glad and blessed that I came on this trip and I hope I have been a blessing in these people and these kids life as they have been in mine.
Selena Diaz. Age: 16, Grade: Junior, Monterey Bay Academy
I am so glad I came on this mission trip. I love Peru. We have had so many amazing experiences here. I have to admit that I was not expecting the humidity to be so hot! But I guess I didn’t grow up in tropical weather either. When we first arrived it was 1:00 am so we came when the town of Iquitos was asleep. The next morning we ate breakfast and got a tour of the town market. I have to say that it was quite and experience to see goat heads and cow hearts laying out for sale. The people here are amazing. They are so nice and fun. Many speak very good English and can carry on a very interesting conversation. We are staying in tents at a crisis center and the girls here are very sweet and their baby’s are the cutest little kids I have ever seen. In the morning we are working on building a fence and a chicken coop, in the afternoons we do VBS for the local kids. I am getting quite good at my Spanish skills and even find my self talking in Spanglish when I am talking English, mixing in a “Si” or “Muy Bien” every once in while. I can’t wait till we go to the jungle and travel up the Amazon in a boat! I am so excited!
Kira Tyson. Age: 17, Grade: Junior, Monterey Bay Academy.
Before I got here I had all these ideas of what it would be and what the work would be like but it is nothing like I would have expected. Its harder work than I thought it would be all also more rewarding. It is worth all the work in the world. The heat and tiredness is nothing in comparison to the blessing and joy this experience has been. Everyone here is very kind and warmhearted. I have learned a lot about others and myself. This is an experience I will never forget and it will change the way I think forever.
Alyssa Williams. Age: 18, Senior at Monterey Bay Academy.
My stay here in Santa Thomas, Peru, has bean great. I’ve had the opportunity to make new friends, and get to know my classmates better. My favorite thing about Peru is the opportunity to use the Spanish that I know and talk with the people. Although we’ve lost a few to heat exhaustion and papayas, we’re having an awesome time. I’m thankful that we can make a difference in these people’s lives, and hopefully show them Jesus. The people here are so nice; they put a great deal of work into making sure we are comfortable. Being in Peru is like being in a different world, and I’ve had a good time getting to know it. I’m thankful that I could have a taste of missionary work, and am considering doing more missionary work in the future.
Tyler Breitigam. Age 17, Senior at Monterey Bay Academy.
Holy cow I can’t believe I’m in the middle of Peru sleeping in tents while I work in the hot sun and ridiculous humidity. It has been a huge culture shock being in this country. I mean when we showed up I had no idea what to expect and then when I found out I still had no idea till we arrived on sight. However I have enjoyed every waking, even in the middle of the night woken by my sponsors’ snoring, minute and I will never regret going on this life changing experience. I would suggest this trip to anyone and even if you get sick and throw up your guts the whole time. You still would receive the blessing that is seen in the people you see everyday and the individual lives you touch. Once again no regrets.
Greg Peterson. Age 18, Senior at Monterey Bay Academy
I love it here in Peru. It’s really out of my comfort zone. It’s amazing how blind we really are in America. You don’t really get the full idea of poverty until you come to a place like Belen and Santa Thomas, there are people here who own almost nothing. It’s amazing just to see how calm and laid back these people are especially the children. I mean America you see children running around and screaming their heads off and here they’re so calm and quiet. The work that we done here have really been a blessing it residents. We have helped relocate over a couple thousand bricks, rebuilt a deteriorating wall, and begun building a chicken coop. its really cool to see the faces of the children just light up when we say “Como Esta's?”. The insects here are getting somewhat annoying but it hasn’t affected our work ethics. Most of us have a bunch of random dots of blue or white nail polish to suffocate these “chiggers”, tiny bugs that hurt three times worst than mosquitoes and itch like none others. But yeah when we work we can’t feel them while we work cause were to hot. But it’s been a real blessing to be here. Semper Fi
Richard Hittu. Age Classified, Class of 2007, Monterey Bay Academy
The weekend before the Peru trip, I went home to get some more stuff to take to Peru. On the way back to MBA, my dad asked me if I really wanted to go on this trip. Of course I said yes but I was really worried about what I would do on this trip since I wasn’t very close to the other kids going on this trip. I almost felt like backing out at the last moment. I’m so glad that I didn’t because I made a lot of friends here. I’m also really glad that we’re getting a lot of things done. We have hauled a huge load of bricks down to the construction site, tore down and built a new fence, and started on building a chicken coop. VBS has also been really fun too because we get to interact with the local kids a lot. It’s so amazing how fast we can become friends with the kids even though most of us can’t even speak Spanish. Of course there have been a lot of frustrating times on this trip, but it has all been worth it.
Namiko Nagayama, 15
I am bit by insects, burnt, and tired. But even though everyone else is too, no one complains. It is sooo worth it. I would rather be here right now than anywhere else in the world. (Well maybe home with my parents) But anyway, I say God bless the people who will spend two weeks paying to work in the heat. But it’s not about that at all. It’s about being blessed by people with the most beautiful souls I have ever come across. It’s about spreading the word of God. It’s about finding yourself outside what you’re used to and realizing that God is there with you too. It’s about becoming close to people you never talked too, and about meeting new people whose smiles could brighten any problem you are facing. It is about changing the world a little at a time, and letting it change you in the process. It is about God’s love for every culture, every race, every situation, and how we could bring that love to them, because we were blessed to know about it already. This is what I think about my Peru mission trip experience, but I could write many more pages. So definitely come.
Shay Olson. Age 17, Senior at Monterey Bay Academy
Today (April 1st) we went fishing in the Amazon. It was REALLY cool! We had to use a stick with a string attached to it. At first we were just putting berries on the hook as bait, but once one of the girls finally caught a fish, we just used that instead. It was kind of slow at first, but once that meat got in the water it was crazy! We must've caught eight or nine catfish in all! The driver caught some other kind of fish too. The piranha were picking at the meat non stop! I was SO close to catching one! I kept on hooking it and getting it out of the water, but then it would always fall back in. One time I was incredibly close to actually getting it in the boat. It was only like two inches from the edge, but then it fell! It was so close! But even though none of us ended up catching a piranha, it was still a lot of fun! I'm really glad we got the opportunity to do it!
Hillary Rollins, 15, sophomore at Monterey Bay Academy
The jungle was the chance of a lifetime for me. Especially when I went fishing with Peter, the Peruvian watchman.Some other people came with us and we went deep into the jungle by canoe because there is so much water flooded from the rain. It was so peaceful and beautiful. I have never before had a moment like that where it is only nature you can hear. No human sounds at all, just peace. You can really hear God. We saw a sloth, a red and black bird and caught two fish. It was my favorite experience on this trip. I am so lucky to be here.
Shay Olson, 17, Monterey Bay Academy
Well I just got back from the jungle a couple hours ago. WOW! What an experience. I can´t believe I was on the Amazon River. I saw pink dolphins, all kinds of birds. monkeys, snakes, lizards, sloths, but my favorite animal that I saw was the Alligators. Last night, Saturday 31, Larry deFluiter and I went out on a canoe and took our bright flashlights. We paddled out a ways before shining our lights out on the grass, we were looking for red eyes. And we found three. The two little baby alligators that we saw we were able to get so close to them that we could touch them. Then we saw a huge set of eyes and we didn´t want to get any closer than we had to. I had many more fun and memorable experiences that I will never forget. I feel so privileged to be here in Peru.
Kira Tyson, 17, Junior, Monterey Bay Academy
¨Sarah! You have to get in. You can’t be the only one in the boat who doesn’t jump in!¨ I looked into the Amazon River where my friends floated in full clothing. They looked up expectantly. I scanned the brownish water with hesitation. ¨Bragging rights!¨ they told me. I had never planned on even touching that water. I knew where the bathrooms all led to, and I knew that schools of Piranhas roamed the waters looking for dinner. I looked to Mr. Rivera who gave me the last word ¨You have to do it.¨ he said. That was it. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t take the jump. I took off my bracelet from the Bora tribe, emptied my pockets, and jumped into the Amazon River fully clothed. It was amazing! The water felt fresh and surprisingly clean, and I thankfully never even brushed against anything that was alive. Our entire boat full of people floated carefree in the river, oblivious that our carefully smothered and much loved DEET was coming off in the water. Even after I realized I now only had shorts to protect against the jungle mosquitoes for the rest of the trip, I never regretted the jump into the Amazon for one moment. I swam in the Amazon River!
Sarah Thomas, 17, Senior, Monterey Bay Academy
A group of 21 people from Monterey Bay Academy decided to take a different approach to their spring break this year. Instead of going on vacation or just hanging out at home, this group decided to volunteer for the school’s mission trip to the heart of the Amazon rainforest in Iquitos, Peru.
From March 22 to April 3, the volunteers, including 16 students, four staff and one parent, spent their time working in a small village just outside of Iquitos called Santo Tomas. Working with a local humanitarian organization called People of Peru Project, MBA’s missionaries split their time between working construction in the mornings and providing a Vacation Bible School (VBS) program in the local church each afternoon.
“This was such a cool experience,” Tyler Breitigam, a senior from Ridgecrest, Calif., said. “We worked hard, but it was such an amazing opportunity to talk to people from a different part of the world and be immersed in a totally different culture.”
The group was introduced to that culture their first day in Peru. After 24 hours of flights and layovers, the People of Peru Project staff took MBA’s group through the city of Iquitos – the largest city in the world that is not accessible by car – and to Belen, a terribly poor neighborhood on the outskirts of the city. The group saw incredible poverty, but also toured the Belen Market, a colorful maze of vendors selling everything from snake oil (literally) to fresh rainforest fruits to pet sloths.
From Belen, the group traveled to Santo Tomas by way of an old bus and a bumpy dirt road. The group stayed at the same place they were going to be working: the People of Peru Project Crisis Center for Girls. This center was started a little over a year ago when the organization’s founder and director, Paul Opp, saw a need to do something for the young women of Iquitos who had been abused and abandoned. It’s currently home to eleven girls, five of whom are already mothers and one baby on the way.
“These girls have no where else to go,” Opp said. “We essentially have taken them in and given them and their children, if that’s the case, a place to live, food to eat and the hope of a future through education. We’ve become their family. It’s a real blessing to be used by God in this way.”
The volunteers from MBA were able to take part in this blessing, by contributing their time and efforts to the Crisis Center. The group got up each morning and feasted on homemade Peruvian food before going to work tearing down rotted fences, moving huge piles of lumber, putting up a 120-foot new fence and moving 5000 bricks to the construction site of the center’s new dormitory. All this while sleeping each night in tents, enduring 100 percent humidity, 100 degree weather, poisonous snakes and insects and an open sewer ditch right next to the worksite.
“The heat was oppressive. It was palpable,” Bryan del Valle, campus pastor and group sponsor said. “We found that we could work too hard or we’d start losing people to heat exhaustion.”
Each afternoon, the group faced a different kind of challenge with a VBS program that packed the local church each day. Without any advertising, dozens of children from the village would show up every day anxious to get their seat for the VBS activities. MBA’s students and sponsors led the kids through song service, puppet programs, Bible lessons and a craft activity. The children of Santo Tomas loved it so much, sometimes as many as 40 of them would follow MBA’s group home after the program and wait through dinner for the chance to place with their new American friends.
“My favorite thing about going to Peru was playing with the local kids in the evenings,” Natalie Cline, a junior from Felton, Calif., said. “I loved the way they have so much enthusiasm for life. It was amazing.”
As time wore on throughout the week, the students from California began to realize that they weren’t the only ones teaching in Santo Tomas.
“These people in Iquitos and Santo Tomas were incredible,” Ricky Hittu, a senior from Ridgecrest, Calif., said. “It was a real eye-opening experience just seeing how poor the people there are and yet how happy they are. I think that’s a real difference between America and Peru. In Peru, I learned that you don’t have to have a lot of material possessions to be happy.”
The last few days in Peru, the group was able to go on a new adventure, up the Amazon River and deep into the jungle to another project the People of Peru Project is working on. Here the organization is working with a local village on economic development and teaching them how to farm successfully in the dense jungle. The only way to the outpost was a four-hour boat ride, and the group stayed in pavilion, nine feet above the ground in tents that kept the swarms of mosquitoes at bay.
“Every night we rushed into our tents to escape the mosquitoes,” Taylor Sigh, a senior from California City, Calif., said. “Even so, we still had to dispose of 20 or more that had slipped into our tent each night. Otherwise we risked being stung until morning.”
While there the group was able to see some of the organization’s farming projects and present a church program for the local village, who had to come by boat due to the rising water levels of the Amazon. The group sang, told Bible stories and had different activities with the local kids, most of whom had never been to a worship service.
“This trip really made us step out of our box and forced us to discover new talents,” Alyssa Williams, a senior from Ridgecrest, Calif., said. “It was very cool to see how God used each one of us to minister in Peru.”
After a couple of fun stops like a local village where the group played with monkeys, sloths, and anacondas, the missionaries hesitantly made the trip back to the Iquitos airport, and then Peru’s capital, Lima, and finally home back to California.
“It was a great trip for me to go back to Peru, not just because it’s where my mother was born, but really because we had the chance to minister and contribute through service,” Josh Rivera, MBA’s music teacher and a group sponsor, said. “I think that the tradition of mission service is one of the best things we do at MBA. It is a blessing to know that there is a great need in Peru and that we had the opportunity to serve that need.”
For the students who participated on the trip, it was easily one of the more memorable experiences of the school year. For many though, it was an experience that holds even more meaning.
“This trip was really hard at times,” Shay Olson, a senior from Visalia, Calif., said. “But I think that this trip helped to build my character and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
You can find out more about the People of Peru Project at http://www.peopleofperu.org.