Thursday, August 23. Thursday began before Wednesday had officially ended as we said goodbye to 20 of our 24-member team at the airport and hotel. We were all very sad to see each other go. It has been an amazing and memorable three weeks for all of us. We have grown and learned from each other in so many ways and have built close family relationships that will last a lifetime.

When the four of us who were left (Elizabeth, Ruth, Sara, and myself) woke up the next morning, we immediately experienced a big sense of void at the hotel. Rooms, which previously had been occupied by fellow team members, were now empty or being used by someone else. It was weird not being able to go up to a familiar room and either knock on the door or walk in to visit our teammates. How sad!

But for the four of us “leftovers,” we still had one more day in Peru. At noon we met Pastor Miguel in the hotel lobby. He had agreed to be our chaperon and take us to the town square for some last minute sightseeing. Together, the four of us girls managed to squeeze into the back seats of a tiny taxi car (a big change from the bus. Watch your heads! And boy did we feel close to the ground!!) When we got to the town square, we ended up taking a tour of the majestic national cathedral, which turned out to be very interesting.

downtown

After lunch we went to the Indian Market close by and do some more last minute shopping. After purchasing a few things, we went back to the hotel to finish packing, and then out again to get something to eat. We spent our second to last meal in Peru over a delicious cup of coffee and fresh cookies in nowhere else but…Starbucks!!! I know, not the most amazing cultural experience you can have during your last few hours in Peru, but we enjoyed it and it was a warm complement to the cold, drizzly weather outside.

starbucks

Actually, it was my first time ever getting something at a Starbucks. I know – what kind of American girl am I?! I have to go to a foreign country to get something from Starbucks! No wonder I couldn’t stop laughing on our way up to see the hotel roof when a Peruvian guy joined us in the elevator. Too much caffeine! Fun times.

Anyways, after arriving back at the hotel we all decided to take a short nap before going to the airport at 9:30 pm. I don’t think any of us got much sleep, but it was nice to be able to lay low for a little while before embarking on our journey home.

Finally, 9:30 pm came and we were once again on the road escorted by faithful Pastor Salazar and a number of Peruvians who came along as our “farewell committee.” We’re going to miss our Peruvian friends! Other then having to climb to the back of the van while on our way to the airport and count all the luggage to make sure everything was there (we didn’t want to make that mistake again!), checking in and customs went quickly and smoothly for us. Eventually, the time came for us to say our goodbyes, so we boarded our plane and settled in for a 10 hour flight to LA.

And so went our last day in Peru. In some ways our three-week trip feels long, but in some ways it feels really short. As my first missions trip, I can honestly say that it was an experience I will want to repeat in the future. I have grown in so many ways through my time in Peru. I’m sure everyone from the team can say the same. Thank you to all my wonderful teammates: you built me up and did not tear me down. It was a privilege to serve alongside such an amazing group of people in God’s kingdom.

To my amazing team leaders: Thank you for always being there for us and for encouraging us to be true sons and daughters of God whether in Peru or at home. You were godly examples for all of us to follow. We learned so much from you guys!

To all our family and friends at home: We could not have done what we did without all your prayers and support. We cannot thank you enough for each moment you spent interceding on our behalf. May God bless every one of you!

And most of all to our Heavenly Father: You are the One who called each of us to go to Peru. You allowed us to go through hard times to shape us more into the image of Your Son Jesus Christ. We praise Your name for all that You did through us in Peru. To You alone be glory!

Rachael, signing off for the team

late night fountains

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