Kenya 2016 Mission Trip: Post #1

October 18, 2016

By J Hill

We’re here in Kenya, halfway around the world in a place that’s full of beauty, contradictions, and surprises. It’s a place that feels both totally foreign and completely familiar. Today was our first day at Watoto wa Ahadi rescue center. It’s difficult to explain how amazing the center really is.

img_3771Geoffrey Mochama, the rescue center’s program manager arrived to take us to the farm just after breakfast. When we first left Maua, the blacktop out of town is busy but otherwise a fairly normal blacktop road. About a kilometer down the way, the road turns to dirt. From there on the road is not simple. It takes a truck, preferably a four-wheel drive, and if it rains, the road becomes impassable. As you travel there you go through one township after another. Each township is alive with activity. People carry huge stalks of bananas on their backs. Motorcycles whiz by with 3 or 4 or 5 passengers. If they don’t have multiple passengers, they’re carrying lumber or multiple crates. People of all ages come out of every shop as pass. What seems like choruses of children wave with excitement. The road gets steeper and rockier and then all of a sudden evens out. You see the first fenced property in quite awhile and Geoffrey says, “this is it, we’re here.”

IMG_3776.JPGAfter entering the gate it’s immediately apparent that this is the beginning of something amazing. Six months ago, 34 street orphans moved onto this farm. Six months before that there really was no farm, at least not one in any organized, recognizable fashion.

Today as we walked the farm, there is a dining hall, a dormitory, a school building, and staff housing. There are crops being grown and chickens are being raised. As we get out and walk around, several of the kids are under the tree with their teacher making beaded necklaces. They’re comfortable and healthy and happy to see us and we are happy to see them. After lunch we had time to spend with the kids. We played soccer. I got to draw with a talented young man named Jacob. We just had time to get to know one another.

For sure there is work to be done. More building needs to happen. More programs need to be put in place. But it is absolutely clear that there is a safe place for 34 of the world’s most vulnerable kids. That there is a place where they know what happens to them makes difference to someone. Watoto wa Ahadi means Children of Promise and Watoto wa Ahadi rescue center is a place where God is working through so many people to put a part of creation back together.

Peru Operación San Andres (OSA) Fall 2016 Mission Trip, Day 4

October 14, 2016

By Patti Peymann Romeril

I am a pharmacist and dispense medications while I am here in Peru. That is my job, my worldly task. I have recently also come to the understanding that this is my “vehicle”.

I am not the most outgoing individual. It is difficult for me to share my testimony or even be openly religious. But here, as I hand out the medications and counsel the patients how to take them, I can see Jesus in their eyes. While serving as a pharmacist, I am serving my brothers and sisters in Christ. And in doing so I am receiving the Love of Christ as well. God has used my skills as a pharmacist to allow me to share His love in a way that I am most capable of reaching many. It’s not about how many medications I dispense or even if I am able to successfully communicate how to take them. That is important on a worldly level but not on a spiritual level. It is more about how I use this as my vehicle to serve their spiritual needs – and mine.

PattiPeymannRomerilPeru2016A.jpgThere are many more patients to serve, many more houses to build, many more worldly needs that we will never fulfill no matter how many times we return. But that’s not what we are called here for. We are here to be the hands and feet of the Lord. We are here to serve the spiritual needs and in turn receive His love. Unlike the worldly needs, the spiritual needs are multiplied exponentially. As we serve, the love of the Lord is felt by us and those we serve.  And they in turn pass it on to others.

PattiPeymannRomerilPeru2016B.jpgJesus wants us to do for others as He has done for us. I am still trying to determine what my vehicle is at home. Here it is clear to me and I strive to carry that back with me and continue to be the Hands and Feet of the Lord. The worldly tasks seem to overshadow the spiritual needs. But I continue to strive to be a good servant in all that I do.

What is your vehicle?  How do you serve others, share the love of the Lord, and fulfill spiritual needs in your worldly tasks?

I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. So you also should wash one another’s feet. I have given you an example. You should do as I have done for you.- John 13:14-15

Patti Romeril is the director of clinical pharmacy for Memorial Hermann. She has been coming to Collique with OSA since 2004.

Patti Penmann Romeril is the director of clinical pharmacy for Memorial Hermann. She has been coming to Collique with OSA since 2004.

Peru Operación San Andres (OSA) Fall 2016 Mission Trip, Day 3

October 14, 2016

By Charis Smith

Lunch making has its own spiritual lessons. This year I’ve learned: “Pieces of bread are not alike.” I am not required to do the shopping because Spanish and managing transportation is necessary. However, I have to make do with what I am given. So, sometimes the loaves of bread, though each are nourishing in their own way, can present a challenge for a perfect sandwich. I run out of whole wheat in the middle of a spreading and have to have a bi-color group. Or the square slices have to mesh with the rectangular loaf and jelly hangs out of the edges. At 11:30, none of these differences matter. All are in a sandwich bag where they belong and people are happily fed and no one gets sick.

charissmithperu2016So God looks at us in Collique, “People are not all alike.” This one has medical knowledge while the other one twists bandaids. Spanish is necessary, but mothers hand over children to the nurse who smiles and holds out her hands. Dentists don’t do eyes and the vision group doesn’t use drills. Music, colors, games, and lots of bouncing keeps children workers busy. At 5:00, each boards the bus, having fulfilled their purpose: the sick are healed, sight is restored, and children are taught how to find the kingdom.

sandwichesperuCharis Smith has been lunch lady for 11years. She and her husband David are longtime members of South Main where Charis teaches 1st grade Sunday School.




Peru Operación San Andres (OSA) Fall 2016 Mission Trip, Day 2

October 12, 2016

By Sam Law

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

Friday morning…off to Peru:

I never wish a day like I had this past Friday on anyone. It was one issue after another. I had done surgery on Wednesday for a rather complicated patient, but had expected her to go home on Friday. Instead, things had gotten a little bit more complicated and required extra time.

At this point I should explain that when I travel, I think ahead of time about what I am going to take with me. The actual packing takes place the morning before my flight. So when I got home from the hospital, I was 30 minutes behind schedule. Things were going well until the time that I was to leave. I went to the place where I always keep my passport and it wasn’t there. PANIC! I thought, “I am going to have to call Ruth and Luis and tell them that I can’t go.” After 30 minutes of panicked searching, I found it where I sometimes keep Sunday School materials.

Thirty minutes before I was scheduled to be at the airport, I called Ruth and told her I was on my way but would be a little late. She was gracious. Traffic was terrible at first, but, fortunately, after that it was smooth sailing to the airport, parking, getting the shuttle to the terminal, and boarding the airplane. I had paid a little extra for United’s Economy Plus and sure enough, more legroom was better. However, a seatmate that took his seat and half of mine plus an uncomfortable seat cushion made it difficult to rest. Our flight was not too bothered by Hurricane Matthew, but there was a little more turbulence than usual. We got to the hotel about 2 am and I was able to get 4-5 hours of good sleep.

Saturday, things improved. We met the new workers in our group. We went to Collique and had a very good lunch of chicken and rice prepared by the OSA mothers. Then we went to our areas and arranged things for our work on Monday. Dinner was at Pardo’s rotisserie chicken and it was good. I got another good night’s sleep until 2 am when a party in an apartment across the street involved loud music and fireworks. Sunday was a good day. We worshipped with Union Church of Lima and enjoyed a Peruvian buffet lunch.

line-outside-sams-officeMonday…our first day to see patients in Collique:

I was so excited to begin our mission work that I woke 30 minutes before my alarm was set to go off (4:30 am).   I was able to prepare at a more leisurely pace and was on time to board the bus. Unfortunately, one of our party who was on his first trip with us, was not on the bus at 7 am. There was a miscommunication and he had to call one of his friends to have the bus turn around to get him. A moderate amount of good-natured ribbing ensued.

The traffic was a little heavier than usual. The bus drivers will tweak the route, but this time we were a little late arriving. Mondays are slow anyway because of new people and trying to improve the process, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Tomorrow we should do better with getting everyone seen. We saw 6 patients in the morning and 6 in the afternoon. Some of the patients had complicated histories and took more time to see. I think we did a good job with what we had to deal with, but tomorrow we hope to see more patients.

All in all it was a good day. The lunchtime peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were made with love by Charis (aka the lunch lady) and tasted just a little better than the usual PBJ. And I had one favorite patient today. She is 39 and has carried 7 term pregnancies. She has a smile on her face and a pleasant personality. She looks 5-10 years younger, but that is hard for me to assess. I saw her 2 years ago when she was midway through her last pregnancy. It was not planned, but she was smiling and gracious and talked about God’s blessing on her and her family. She had a healthy baby and a normal delivery.

We had a lively discussion on the bus ride home talking about our experiences during the day and our families at home. My coworkers are good people, happy doing God’s work to the best of their abilities. I look forward to tomorrow.

I guess my experience demonstrates that even when you are doing the Lord’s work, you don’t always get a Rose Garden. As I told the group during our orientation meeting on Saturday, it is important to remember that you do what you can do each day and understand that while you will not solve every problem, you are making a difference.

line-outside-sams-with-doorSam Law teaches the Chafin’s New Beginnings Sunday School Community at South Main Baptist Church and has been traveling to Collique since the first OSA medical campaign.


Peru Operación San Andres (OSA) Fall 2016 Mission Trip, Day 1

October 11, 2016

By Larry Carroll

This is my first trip to Peru with Operacion San Andres so there is a lot that is new to me. On Saturday, I first saw the OSA house and we began setting up for the coming week’s Vacation Bible School and health clinics. Then there was a baptism of 5 ladies at Luz de Esperanza church in Collique, which was very moving to me. The baptistry was a plastic inflatable swimming pool much like you would find in a back yard. It was evident to me that whether the baptismal pool is elaborate and heated or whether it’s cold water in a child’s pool makes no difference, the commitment is just as real, and the people being baptized are children of God just like me.


Each lady gave a testimony at the end of the service. I was most impressed with each of them and it was evident to me that although these sisters in Christ may be among the poorest of the poor economically, they share in the knowledge that by and by they will share in the riches of eternity in the loving arms of Christ.

Next Sunday as I go to worship in our beautiful church with dressy clothes and good shoes on my feet, my thoughts will be in Collique where these wonderful people are walking up the dusty streets to their church family to worship and sing praises to God, and although the circumstances  of their lives may be very difficult, their faith is very strong.

On Sunday, we worshipped at the Union Church of Lima and I was reminded again that children of God have many differences, but share the most important things in common. What a privilege it is to serve God side by side with many different people.

Today, as I began meeting and working with the children who come to the OSA house, I realized that concerns about a language barrier aren’t necessary. I was able to immediately communicate through a shared name, an injured finger, and high fives. When we visited the preschool, all some of the children needed to feel connected was a big hug.
You can always find ways to connect, even with differences in life circumstances, language, culture, or anything else, if you are willing. Sometimes it comes simply through listening, a smile, a hug, or clapping a hand. What a testimony and inspiration the people here are to me!


Larry Carroll is a longtime member of South Main Baptist, where he sings in the sanctuary choir, serves on the Finance Committee, and is an honored Deacon. This is his first trip with Operación San Andres. 

MainKids Camp Out 2016: Part 2

June 23, 2016

By Dolores Rader, Minister to Children

Camp Out is coming to a close and we are filled with sadness to leave our
friends and this beautiful, beautiful place! It has been such an amazing
camp filled with God’s presence at every turn. Here are a few highlights
from me and then highlights from the boys!

Since worship is our central theme to Camp Out, we have one worship
service each day we are here. On Tuesday, Rachel Moore was our preacher
for our midday service and the girls lead in every aspect of the service
from tolling the hour to singing “Little Lamb” as the offertory anthem to
praying, reading scripture, and ushering. On Wednesday, Suzann Herrmann
and the boys led the evening service at the water. Suzann preached on
looking up and finding God wherever we are. The boys sang Amazing Grace
and ended the service with a joyful “I’ll Fly Away”. As is our tradition,
on the morning we leave, we will have our final Camp Out worship service
outside at the giant cross here at Artesian Lakes. Anna Rader is our
preacher and the camp counselors lead in worship. All of our worship was
based in Psalm 92 this year.

MKCampout2016FWe played at the playground, played capture the flag, hiked, swam, flew
down the slides into the lake, and shopped at the gift shop for candy and
souvenirs. In between all of the fun, we talked about and practiced
different disciplines for personal worship. Amanda Villasenor talked to
us about what the Bible says about personal time with the Lord and how
she practices journaling. We made our own journals and journaled
throughout camp. Emily Westerburg talked to us about the importance of
devotion time and how she and Mr. Trey do this together and separately.
We also talked about ways to ask for prayer from our friends and ways we
can pray when we can’t find the words and when we only want to share our
thoughts with God. We made teeny, tiny prayer boxes, lit candles, and
prayed for each other.


And now highlights from the boys:

I loved everything about this camp. My favorite parts though were playing
with my friends, swimming, free time, and seeing wildlife. –TrevorMcLaughlin

I love camp because we can have fun. My favorite part in camp is the
slides and seeing wildlife. -Ulysses Paredes

I liked naming the wildlife. That is my favorite thing. -Cody Sawyer

I love swimming with my friends and spending time with my friends. For
swimming, I love the slide! -William Fowler

My favorite thing here to do is Circle Time and free time. -Timothy Kutz

Quiet time is my favorite time at camp. -Marco Campos

My favorite part about MainKids Camp Out is hanging out with my church
friends. I love playing tag, swim, and do a bunch of other stuff. -Lee

MainKids Camp Out 2016

June 23, 2016

MKCampout2016DBy Dolores Rader, Minister to Children

Our fourth and fifth graders are at a point in their lives when they are ready to exercise their gifts of leadership and to dig deeper into the practices of corporate and personal worship. Camp Out at Artesian Lakes is the perfect place to safely and boldly lean into these two ideas. Below is a sentence or two from each of the 9 4th and 5th grade girls on what their favorite aspect of Camp Out is, but before you read on to their favorites, let me briefly share some of my favorites.

I love that we bring high school youth to serve as the perfect role models to the children in how we lead with a servant’s heart. They work REALLY hard and at the same time swim and play games establishing relationships to ease the transition to the Youth Group, sing songs around a campfire introducing them to Youth music and traditions, and sit side by side in worship praising and praying together.

One of my other favorite elements of Camp Out is our tradition of “Circle Time”. Every child, youth and adult gets the opportunity to sit in the middle of a big circle surrounded by all the rest of us, where we each, one by one, sisters and brothers, boys and girls, best friends and new friends, offer a sincere blessing which begins “What I like about you is…”. It is a beautiful gift of affirmation to receive and a empowering gift to give. This tradition is life giving and life transforming.

I could on and on about all of my other aspects of Camp Out, but for now hear straight from the kids and counselors themselves…


My fav part of camp is riding the horses. It’s fun. #horses

Gillian Tinsley

I love to ride things mainly horses, and Lily G. Hot coco in my mouth is the best! J Playing games in circle time is great!

Isabella Campos


During camp, everyone has a secret helper. Their secret helper is extra nice to them and pushes them in the right direction.

Elaina Mays

The absolute best thing about camp out is the opportunity to watch each and every child be authentically and completely themselves! We have the BEST kids!!

Amanda Villasenor

I love the outside space at Artesian Lakes. Our house is huge, and I love how big our living room is. #lake

Lily Gribble


I loved the pool another favorite is the slide and finally the store the best of all the three!

Kiran Harper

One thing that I love about Camp Out is swimming. I also love the Gratitude Cafe. I also love circle time.

Lily Durden

The absolute best part of camp is quiet time when all my friends come in my room and we have a snack party and talk. It is nice being new to the church and getting to know everybody. I love circle time a lot. I also enjoy swimming.

Jessie Horton

One thing I like so far in camp is hanging with my friends. Another thing I like about camp so far is Gratitude Café. The last thing I like so far in camp is the swimming and the alligators.

Kayden Nickel


One of the many things I love about Main Kids Camp Out is Gratitude Café. First thing in the morning, everybody in the house gathers to make crazy drinks – topped with sprinkles and whipped cream, and talk about the many blessings for which we are grateful. Gratitude Café allows us to really reflect on the joys in our life, from tangible objects to our friendships and opportunities. This daily morning ritual fills our hearts with thanksgiving and prepares us for the day.

Anna Rader


My favorite things about Camp Out are:

-Swimming in the lake

-Circle time outside

-Free time

Rachel Kee

My favorite thing about Camp Out every summer is watching the development of every child’s leadership skills! I have especially loved so far this week seeing both the fourth and fifth graders be and grow into incredibly mature and thoughtful members of our church family, and I am so excited for the future of the youth group and the church in the hands of such open-minded and knowledgeable Christians. The respect and care for which each and every child treats their peers and counselors and their unrelenting curiosity and joy has made Camp Out this summer an unparalleled experience!

Elysa Tulek