Dear ADRA Family,
Less than one month ago, ADRA Connections was ready to launch the first trip of 2020. Destination: El Salvador. Project: Build 40 greenhouses with 95 young people from all across the United States.
Only a couple days before the departure date, the growing threat of COVID-19 forced us to make the difficult decision of delaying the service trip. Shortly after, Central American countries began to close their borders.
In the face of our new—if temporary—reality of staying at home, flattening the curve and praying for the end of this virus, we at ADRA still believe in the power of connection, even if our connection looks a little different right now.
Today, Adam, the ADRA Connections manager, shares how a moment of prayer overcame language and cultural barriers to bring volunteers and community partners together.
“In March 2018 I visited Palccoyo Peru for the first time. Finally, atop the peaks of the Andes mountains, after driving for hours in the cold rain and walking through misting clouds at 17,000 ft in altitude, we arrived at the community. The people of Palccoyo are descended from the Incas, hardened skin to match the environment, they live by raising alpaca and growing potatoes.
The community leader, tantamount to a local mayor, met our group and introduced us to a few of the locals. Their huts were spread out far and wide through the winding network of peaks and valleys, streams and outcroppings. Jagged rocks jutted out from sheer cliffs on one side of a hill, while the other descended gradually in a grassy decline scattered with brooks and boulders.
A group had gathered around three homes nestled together in a wide valley. About thirty in total, they were excited to hear the news that ADRA might bring light into their electricity-devoid mountaintop village.
The Warm Homes project was a multi-year, multi-step project to help Palccoyo develop out of poverty. Those families that built permanent adobe buildings for homes would receive a solar panel with light, allowing them to sew alpaca goods, sort and organize produce, and finish homework and studies in the evening time. Future plans to continue assisting their development include wood floors, smokeless stoves, solar walls and more.
I stood in the misty, thin air and spoke to the people. I told them that I would come back with a group from the US to help. It is strange to return home after a trip like that. It is hard to visit my own home and its comparative luxury.
Less than a year later, in December of 2018, I led a church group from Michigan to Palccoyo Peru. We had brought in 25 solar panels, each with three lights. Working our way across the valleys, we installed a panel, a control panel near the door, and lights in the rafters throughout the rooms of their homes. What a joy to stand in a home and watch the face of the owner light up, awash in the luminescent glow of electricity.
To light the first panel, we visited the group of three homes again. We stood in a circle in the living room of the matriarch, holding hands with eyes closed and we prayed in thanks to God. We did not share a Bible study. We did not host an evangelistic seminar. We simply brought light into the homes of an entire community, offering prayer, service and thanksgiving to our new community partners.
When we opened our eyes and flipped on the light. Tears of joy were flowing down the eyes of that old woman. There was a smile on the face of every volunteer. That evening we spoke with the group not only about the lightbulbs, but also about the light of God. We were following the example of Jesus who interacted with people and worked for their good, meeting their needs, and loving them as people.”
Prayer can help transform more than the light inside a home; it can change the light inside of your heart. No matter what you are going through and no matter how dark your world might be in this scary time, never forget that prayer can instantly bring light into your world, just like flipping a switch in your living room. And who knows, it just might bring a smile to your face, too.