Maranatha Volunteers International recently wrapped up a volunteer project at the La Tinguiña Adventist School in Ica, Peru. A few uncertain moments before the trip included volunteer leadership testing positive for COVID-19. This prompted Maranatha’s volunteer manager, Rebekah Shephard, to jump in as the acting project coordinator with only 48 hours' notice.
“I was willing to go — when you work for Maranatha, you know that this is possible,” Shephard said. “At any point, you could be called to lead a project. I felt confident — I’ve led projects in the past. But with this short of notice, I didn’t have the normal months of preparation.”
Despite little time for her to get ready, the trip went off smoothly, and all of the volunteers had a good experience, Shephard reported. She attributes this to God’s guiding hand in all of Maranatha’s projects, no matter which person is leading.
“I knew the general plan of what was happening on the project, but I didn’t have as much time to plan,” Shephard said. “Our volunteer construction superintendent and volunteer support staff were great. Ultimately, it’s not about the leader that goes; it’s about God’s leading.”
The group laid block walls for one of Maranatha’s large multi-classroom buildings known as an Education and Evangelism Center. The main focus was to erect the large front wall of the structure, which will house eight classrooms when complete. Volunteers also laid blocks for interior dividing walls that make bathrooms, offices, and classrooms. In addition, they set rebar for the support columns on the front of the building.
Besides their work at the La Tiguiña school, volunteers conducted community outreach, the first Maranatha group to do so in Peru since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteers led children’s programs and distributed eyeglasses to grateful residents, who were happy to see visitors after many months of pandemic isolation.
From 2004 to 2006, more than 3,000 Maranatha volunteers landed in Peru, constructing nearly 100 churches and schools. In 2019, Maranatha returned to Peru at the request of the South American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. After several volunteer groups served through early 2020, the work was halted when the COVID-19 pandemic locked down the country in March of that year. Maranatha’s in-country crew has since resumed the work, and earlier in 2021, volunteers returned as well.