Wednesday, April 1, 2015

We're Back!

Monday Reflections Continued....


Yesterday was our last full day. It was bittersweet. I'm happy to go home, but I also really don't want to leave. Even though there were many goodbyes, yesterday was amazing. First we went to the school for the last time. I'm going to miss all the kindergarteners. After we went to the school, we saw how they prepared a special meal called Pachamanka. That was cool, but my favorite part of the day was probably the candle ceremony. First we said goodbye to our host families. Then we began our candle ceremony. I loved it. It was a good way to end the trip. We stood in a circle and passed around the candle. When each of us held the candle, we said what we were going to miss/ bring home from Peru. It was amazing, but really sad. This trip has been life-changing. I'm going to miss Peru so much.


Hello everyone. Yesterday was our last full day in Ollantaytambo and our last time seeing our host families. To celebrate our last day, we were made a special meal called a Pachamanka. The way they cooked the food was especially interesting because they had rocks on a fire for many hours. They put these rocks under, on, and around our food. Then, they buried the hot rocks in dirt. This was cool yet confusing because if you did not know what it was you would think it was a pile of dirt. This was cool because I have not seen anyone cook food by burying it in rocks and dirt. When we finally got to eat the food I was expecting it to taste okay but I was suprised at how delicious it tasted. This food was probably some of the best food I have had including the guinea pig.


This trip has been life-changing and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Yesterday was basically a mess of tears and hugs and I hated having to leave. Saying goodbye to my wonderful family here was definitely one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. This experience and the wonderful people inside and outside of our group have changed my perspective on everything. I have said this countless times, but I do not want to leave. I love having a second family here and I will never forget my brothers and sister and mother and father here. I can remember many times we were laughing so hard we couldn't breathe. Also, the language barrier slowly started to disappear after the first few days and I didn't even notice it the last few days. I loved being able to communicate with people who don't have the same culture or language as me and I became closer with them than I ever thought possible. Overall this trip is the best experience of my life and I have been happier here than ever. See you all in a couple days!

Final Thoughts...

Describe the past two weeks in one sentence...

"Coming to Peru taught me life lessons that I couldn't have learned if I didn't come on this trip." -Andersen

"An amazing experience consisting of memories, laughter, lessons, and a new perspective about the world." -Lauren

"Coming to Peru taught me to be grateful of the little things and learning about new cultures." -Cristina

"A life-changing experience that has changed my view on the world." -Max

"A life-changing experience I may never be able to experience again." -Logan

"An exclusive opportunity that will never come again." -Zachariah

"An incredible series of events that I was fortunate to experience a second time." -Ryan

"A life-changing experience that I will never forget." -Andrew

"A life-changing opportunity that changed my whole perspective." -Matthew

"The experience of a lifetime with an amazing group of people, during which I learned a lot about myself and the world." -Nelly

"The opportunity to show God's love and be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ." -Gabbi

"A series of moments that will forever guide my life in a pursuit to obtain pure happiness through helping others." -McKenna

"A breathtaking place, amazing people, and extraordinary experiences that will turn into extraordinary memories." -Grace

"A beautiful experience while I tried to figure myself out." -Anna Sophia

"A rare and amazing experience that has truly changed me." -Hannah

"Peru was an amazing and life-changing experience where I made so many memories and new friends." -Maddie

"Peru was a life-changing experience where I got to share Jesus' light with others and make new friendships and memories." -Lily

Morning in America

We have arrived in Atlanta and are about to go through customs!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

In Lima

Arrived in Lima, waiting to be able to check in.

Heading home!

Leaving on a Jet Plane

While we never know when we might be back, Ollantaytambo will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Last night we had our candle ceremony. There were many tears and hugs all around.

Today we start our journey back to Denver.

Here is our flight information:
LAN 2064 CUZ-LIM 6:45pm-8:10pm
Delta 0150 LIM-ATL 1:10am-9:00am
Delta 1817 ATL-DEN 1:40pm-3:04pm

Final Monday - Reflections


Last day in the most amazing place. Breaks my heart. It was hard to keep the tears from flowing down my face when we said goodbye to our families. It was really hard for me to say goodbye becasuse last year I thought that I would never see them again, so when I did, it was hard to leave them twice. They will always have a special place in my heart. They loved me like I was their own, they put up with my Spanish mistakes, and they showed me how Christ can work through others. I'm sad to leave. I learned a lot about myself on this trip and I was most definitley humbled that Christ chose me to be His hands and feet. He calls us to care for orphans and widows in need (James 1:27). I wasn't necessarily caring for orphans and widows but I cared for those less fortunate that we are. I feel very blessed that Christ's light was able to shine through me. God has truly impacted me more on this trip. He opened my eyes, my mind, and my heart. I am blessed to have had this experience. I miss you all. See you in a couple of days


Hey guys, it's our last day in Peru. Tomorrow starts our two-day journey home. Today we completed our service project.  We finished the mural, bookshelves, and the blocks. In the afternoon we had ice cream for the first time in two weeks. We also got to see how they prepared our food which was pretty cool. Also for the first time I got to try guinea pig. It wasn't that great, but it's still pretty cool to eat it. We also had to say goodbye to all of our host families which was pretty sad. Overall this trip has been pretty amazing and I hope some day I can come back.


Hey guys, tonight was our last night in Ollantaytambo. Today we finished the final touch-ups on our service project at the school. As a surprise today Adela and the teachers suprised us with ice cream, and it was really good. We also got to see how they prepared our food for the final feast called the Pachamanka. After that we went to the stadium, and we had our final lunch with our homestay families, and it was really good. Finally tonight we had to say our final goodbyes to our homestay families which was really emotional. This trip has just been an amazing, lifechanging, and overwhelming experience. See you when we get back.


The kids at the school left their tiny handprints all over my heart.  The love I felt in the classroom today was amazing.  I love the kids there and by sharing their joy with me I have learned to share it with others.  As I was surrounded by the little kids hugging and saying goodbye to me I felt so much joy and happiness.  As I walked away from the school I realized that these little kids impacted me more than I could ever impact them.  I hope I have left a mark in their hearts as they have left a huge one in mine.  Then we went to lunch with our host families.  It was so cool to see all of the kids on this trip with their families laughing and talking.  I ate guinea pig and it was so gross.  After that we went to our host families for the last time.  They gave me a beautiful Peruvian baby doll but they gave me so much more than that.  We went to mass at the church and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.  I could not understand anything he was saying but I felt the love and faith that filled the air.  Saying goodbye to my host family was one of the hardest things ever. I have had so much fun with them and am so grateful that they have welcomed me into their home.  I am so blessed to be on this trip. Thanks for your wonderful notes that brighten my day and I love and miss you all.  Can't wait to see you in a few days. XOXOXO, Lily

Monday, March 30, 2015

Final Afternoon

Stop for gelato.

The earth oven.

Last Day at the School

Last Day in Ollantaytambo

Here are our plans:
- Community Project Day VI
- Guinea pig and pachamanca "earth oven"
- Final dinner with families
- Candle Circle

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Machu Picchu - Reflections


Dear Jack,

Happy Birthday!!!! You will probably not read this until the thirtieth but even if so, Happy Birthday!!! I'm so sorry that I couldn't be in Denver for your birthday and that I will not be able to wish you Happy Birthday over the phone or Face Time. When I get home I want to hear all about what you did today and what you got. I got you soooooooo many things even though I know that it will not make up for the fact that I am not there. I hope you had a great day and I'll see you soon.




Hey Home,

I woke up this morning to butterflies in my stomach.  I was not nervous... I was filled with pure excitement. I knew today was going to be a day I would vividly remember for the rest of my life.

When we arrived, we started our small hike to a ledge that would look out onto the most breathtaking ruins in the world, Machu Picchu. I decided to refrain from any small view of the ruins before we got there. I did this so that when I opened my eyes I could take a picture in my mind and store it away forever. The ruins were extraordinary and they looked as if they were in a dream. We began hiking around learning all about the architectural, historical and meaningful aspects of the ruins. I had to remind myself about every five minutes that this moment was real. Towards the end of our exploration, we began giving our speeches. While I was giving my speech I could feel the emotions building up inside of me. As soon as I finished I sat down and tears started to fall. I was not crying in sadness, but in happiness. I have never experienced such a day filled with so much meaning. This day will forever stay with me as one of the most important days of my life.

Love and see you all soon :)


Anna Sophia

Hello! Machu Picchu. It's one of the seven wonders of the world. Waking up at 5 is hard; I was so tired and drowsy. But it was all worth it since we had an amazing time. When we finally got up to the top, I felt the coolest feeling in the world. I felt a little opening in my heart. It was amazing and felt like Christmas morning. Everything around me fell into silence and my eyes widened as the little drops fell on my face. The rocks were green with life. We walked around the ruins, then after a few hours, we had to do our speeches. As they progressed, my hands started to sweat like crazy. All the speeches were so deep and my heart was beating plus my eyes were watering. It was then my turn to go. I nearly cried but at the end everyone was bawling. That was my day. Bye!


Today was one of the coolest days of my life. When the group was walking the final steps to see the amazing view of Machu Picchu, everyone gasped. At first you couldn't see much since the ruins were hidden by the clouds. But once the clouds cleared out you could see everything in sight. So far this trip has been unreal and the memories I have made I'll remember forever. Stay chill, Andrew


Machu Picchu was one of the most amazing places I have ever been. Being there was very overwhelming, but breathtaking as well. It was amazing to see everything that the Incas built. We got to see a bunch of llamas which was really cool. At the beginning of the day there was lots of mist around Machu Picchu, and it was amazing to see it dissipate from the mountains. See you guys in a couple days, Max


Everyone has started out their blog with Machu Picchu, so I will start with llamas. I had been waiting this whole trip to see some llamas. When I first came to Peru, I thought I would see llamas everywhere. I did not, however, see any until today. They were pretty cool; they let us take selfies with them and come right up next to them.

Now Machu Picchu.

There are only three things I can think of to describe Machu Picchu: AMAZING, absolutely breath-taking, and all around you. It just engulfs you and it is nothing like the pictures you see. It is so completely massive. The clouds touch the mountains and they make you feel safe. It feels like you could jump off the mountain and the clouds would catch you. We could never see beyond the clouds until the wind blew them away. The wind revealed the city and we had to scramble to take a group picture before the clouds came back. When we all said our speeches, almost everyone started crying. It was just a great, once in a lifetime experience overall. I loved it. I am really sad to say goodbye to Peru soon, but I'm excited to see all of you too.

Grace :)

Machu Picchu

We made it back safely after having a wonderful time!

All ready!

Machu Picchu Day

We are off to Machu Picchu today!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Reflections - Saturday


Today we spent the day with our host families and it was such a fun day. My host family took Matthew, Grace and me to the ruins where we played Uno. Also, we went to the farm and started to husk the corn which was such a cool experience because I had never done that before. After we left the farm we went to the market and went to a chocolate museum and we were able to try milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate which was really good. Later today we went back to the house and played volleyball with our host mom at the farm. When we were done playing volleyball we went to feed the bulls, the chickens, the baby chicks and the guinea pigs. After we fed the farm animals we went back to the house and gave the family the presents we got them. I gave the mom an apron and the daughter a Taylor Swift CD. Grace gave the other daughter a scarf and lotion and Matthew gave the dad a chess board and the son a soccer ball. Last but not least, we had tea together and Matthew and the dad played chess. Today was really fun because I defiently got to know my host family a lot better.



We had the opportunity to spend the whole day with our host families.  Today we worked in our family's field for 6 hours! All of the family and extended family was there including their great-grandma.  They all are so close and were so welcoming in sharing their traditions with us. I got to pick potatoes, husk corn, and peel lots and lots of kernels of corn for a big festival in May. Our host mom is going to leave the corn out for the next two months and it will turn into a sacred powder for the festivities. While I was at the farm I developed a newfound appreciation for the food that I so often take for granted.  We had lunch at the farm of all fresh fruits and vegetables that had just been picked.  After that we walked back to the homestay and bought Andrea some ice cream and played "Red Light, Green Light" (except in Spanish) the whole way.  We walked to the market and I had fun hanging out with my homestay.  We finished off this incredible day day with a game of Uno (which I won) and an awesome dinner of chicken and rice.  I am so blessed to have this amazing experience and share it with so many great people.  I can't wait for Machu Picchu tomorrow except I have to wake up at 5:00. Love and miss you all. XOXOXO, Lily


Today we spent the entire day with our host families and it was super special. For the first time this entire trip I got to spend time with my entire host family. We started the day by playing giant games of Go Fish, Slap Jack, War, Spoons, and other games. It was difficult to explain all of these games in Spanish but it was very fun to watch Maddie, McKenna, and myself try. After that we went to the market where I bought some things for myself and my family (no spoilers Jack) and when I wasn't looking my host family bought me a pan flute and a keychain of a person playing guitar. We then went to the soccer field and got into a game of soccer that lasted a really long time. We had to rush back to the house, devour our dinner, and run back to the hotel so we wouldn't be late. I had an amazing day with my host family and I got to know them much better.



Today was the day that we spent the whole time with our host families. It happened to be the day that our host mom and dad had to go to Cusco, which we were kind of bummed out about, but they told us the tia would be coming. When we arrived, there were quite a few kids in the house so we hung out with them (and washed the dog) until the tia came. Around 11:00, a man walked up who was declared "Tio" by the kids. He took us to the stadium and we played soccer for a while before returning to the house. When we got back, Tia had made lunch, so we all had some food before going out again. We went to the market where we met even more extended family- cousins, aunts and uncles. Before we returned to the house for dinner, we stopped by the park to play some basketball with the boys. We had a great time there, then returned to the house to have soup and watch "Buscar a Nemo"- "Finding Nemo!" Even though we weren't with our host parents, we got to meet their amazing extended family which was really awesome. I'm glad we got the chance to get to know such amazing people.


Today we spent the whole day with our host families and I'm so glad we did. It let me get to my host family and the other students in my host family so much better. In the morning, we had breakfast, did an activity, and then we all headed to our separate host families. When we (Andrew, Z, and I) got to our host family's house no one was really up except for Pancho, our host father. We played B.S. and Slapjack (I think I'm pretty good or maybe that's just me). Later in the day, we went to our host family's stall in the market and helped out there for a few minutes. Very soon after, one of the host sisters, Andrew, Z, and I went on the Pinkuylluna hike which was so pretty and you could see basically the whole town while walking up to the ruins. After the hike we went back home to eat lunch of soup, rice, chicken, and fries. It was so good! After lunch, we watched TV, got my hair braided by my most mother (for the third time!), and then went on another hike with my host mother and host father. The ruins were very pretty but the way to them looked kind of scary because we had to walk by the bull pastures. They were actually very peaceful! We then had sugar cane and went back home and my host mother went back to the market. We played more cards, watched TV, and then went back to the market to help my host mother close her stall before dinner. When we got back home, Andrew, Z, and I played with my host mother's cousin's baby who is SO cute! He's only eight months old! I'm so glad I got to hang out with my host family all day and I wish I could do it again.

Today we spent an entire day with our homestay families (apart from breakfast). It was amazing. We played soccer, went for a hike, played cards, and went to the market. It was really fun. The hike was amazing. At the places that we stopped, you could see the whole town of Ollantaytambo. It was breathtaking. Not only for the views, but also for the enormous amount of steps we had to climb to get there. I don't think I'll ever forget this day. I really got to even further get to know my host family and the day in general was amazing. While we were hiking back down from the ruins, there was a giant cactus. Moises wrote our names in it, and he told us that when we look at the moon in Colorado, we have to remember them and think about them. Even if he hadn't told us to never forget, I don't Think I would have. Today was amazing and I can't believe I got to spend today with them. See you soon Colorado! 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Final Weekend

Just a note about this weekend. Students will spend the whole day with their homestay families tomorrow. This means fewer pictures tomorrow.

Sunday, we will be getting up early for Machu Picchu.

Reflections - Friday


Today was the second to last day that we got to work at the school. For the first hour, the other guys and I sanded and painted multiple bookshelves. After that we had a 20 minute game of soccer which was really fun. Then we sanded more wooden shaped blocks for the kindergarteners to play with. After that, we put final touches on the many bookshelves we painted. During this, the girls finished up a mural on the wall of the kindergarten class and painted the shapes that we sanded. I really enjoyed being able to help out the students at the Ollantaytambo school. See you guys soon...



For lunch today I had a bull's heart and fish egg soup.  I had no idea until after or else I would not have eaten it.  I have actually loved the food here (and the tea!).  The service project at the school was super fun.  The girls repainted over all of the blocks that got covered in dirt and rain.  I hope we finish them and are able to give the gifts to the kids before we leave.  At the school we also have the opportunity to play soccer with the kids.  We played soccer in the rain today and I had a lot of fun laughing and playing with them.   Then we did a really fun WLS activity and had a big SMA soccer game with some local kids. I am having so much fun and love this trip so much.  Love and miss you all.



Today we worked on the service project at the school. We painted blocks and a mural on the outside wall of the kindergarten. Monday is our last day to work on the service project so we worked really hard today. I painted some flowers and a little girl standing under a tree. Miguel is an artist who is helping us with all of the paint-mixing and teaching us all about painting. It's really cool how the people here use what they have for other purposes. Miguel uses the bottom halves of soda bottles to hold/mix the paint. He also uses part of a ripped t-shirt to clean the paint brushes off. I'm really excited to see how the kids react when they see the finished project!

Miss you all,

Grace :)



Today we went to the stadium and did a WLS Challenge. During the challenge we had to balance small soccer balls on tarps, and had to keep them from falling through the holes in the tarp. Then after that we had to grab a hula-hoop and pass it down the line with our arms and our legs without dropping it. Finally we had to jump rope with all of our team and go through one at a time. About 20 minutes later we played a big game of tug-of-war (Ms. Rand's travel group versus Mr. Blair's) and we started to pull, but the rope snapped in half and everybody fell down. Everyone laughed really hard. See you soon!


Today we finished staining all 8 book shelves. I'm very happy to finish them because now we don't have to keep moving them and flipping them over. We also played soccer with the Peruvian kids in the rain. It was a lot of fun. In the afternoon we did activities and played soccer once again. Our activity was more of a race or obstacle course, and soccer was just for fun. Overall this trip has been an amazing experience. My host family is so kind for bringing me into their family and feeding me. Can't wait to see you guys.
- Logan

Afternoon - Friday

We had time to complete a WLS team challenge and play this afternoon.

Moments later... We broke the rope.

Community Project - Day 4