Last Maranatha Mission Trip in 2023 Was a Trip of Firsts

Most volunteers from the Tryon church had never flown or been outside the U.S.

Maranatha Volunteers International
Last Maranatha Mission Trip in 2023 Was a Trip of Firsts
Group photo of the Tryon Seventh-day Adventist Church volunteer group that served in southern Peru in December. [Photo: Maranatha Volunteers International]

While it was one of Maranatha’s last projects of 2023, the trip to Peru was a trip of firsts. Not only was it the Tryon Seventh-day Adventist Church’s first-ever Maranatha mission trip, but most volunteers had never been outside of the United States or flown on an airplane.

As 2023 came to a close, the 41-member group from the Tryon Adventist church in North Carolina, United States, traveled to build churches in southern Peru.

The team’s primary goal was to lay block walls for the Cabana Adventist congregation’s new church building near Juliaca, a much-needed upgrade from the tiny mud structure the 30-member congregation had been using for worship. In addition to block work at Cabana, volunteers painted the nearby Cabanillas Adventist church building, which Maranatha constructed in 2005.

Project leader Jonathan Rowe said he cherished the opportunity to serve those in need and engage with the local community throughout the nine-day trip. “It’s an amazing experience, just walking away knowing you’ve helped someone. It’s a very rewarding and rich feeling to give of your own time and talents,” he said.

Beyond their construction efforts, the Tryon volunteers engaged with the local community by carrying out a five-day Vacation Bible School (VBS) program and pop-up medical clinic. Nearly 80 local children attended each VBS session to sing songs, make crafts, and learn about Jesus. The medical clinic also experienced an impressive turnout. “They had a line about two blocks long,” Rowe recalled. Working as efficiently as possible, volunteer health-care professionals treated roughly 100 patients each day. “Our team did a really good job. You know, it was run just like a doctor’s office,” Rowe said.

Having served on four Maranatha projects previously, Rowe was relieved when his group’s cautious uncertainty was replaced with an appreciation that matched his own. “We had people in our group who have never flown on an airplane before. We had a lot of scared people who had never been out of the country. And the overwhelming response was just, ‘Wow. I’m so glad I went,’ ” he shared.

From 2004 to 2006, more than 3,000 Maranatha volunteers worked 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, work had to be halted when the COVID-19 pandemic locked down the country in March of that year. Maranatha’s in-country crew and volunteers have since resumed work as conditions improved.

Maranatha Volunteers International is a supporting independent ministry of the Adventist Church. Since 1969, it has been building churches and schools and, more recently, drilling water wells to support mission development around the world.

The original version of this story was posted on the Maranatha news site. Maranatha Volunteers International is an independent supporting ministry and is not operated by the corporate Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Maranatha Volunteers International