Loving and Serving the Poor

Photo credit: Alejo Molina

Loving and Serving the Poor


Last month I was able to take part in a mission trip to Peru. I have been slow to blog about it because I find it is always hard to encapsulate it in a few words. No amount of pictures or stories seem to do it justice. 

It was my 4th Peru mission with the Christian Life Movement. My first happened when I was working in campus ministry at York University. In subsequent years I assisted in leading trips of university students.

The trips are two weeks long and consist of volunteer work; cultural exploration; missionary initiatives; a curriculum exploring the social teachings of the Church, vocational discernment, and the New Evangelization; and a rhythm of daily communal prayer.   

Our service project this year consisted of building 80 meters of stairs. Why stairs? It is hard to picture the need for these steps if you have not seen the steep, rocky, muddy conditions that residents of Lima’s shantytowns live in (the town were working in was called Las Rocas- “The Rocks”). At times our volunteers themselves were quite nervous about having a fall!

Imagine carrying groceries, water, or a small child up these steep hills.

The work was intense, but over the course of several days we were able to complete our project with the help of many local residents. Our work was infused with a spirituality by the fact that we begin each day celebrating Holy Mass at the work site.


By the generosity of donors we were also able to purchase the materials for the building of a home for a single mother and her 4 children. They were up to that point living in what might be compared to a small and poorly constructed garden shed.

Always one of the most enjoyable aspects is bonding with the local kids of the shantytown and taking them on a special outing to the park.

One of the most meaningful moments for me was when our construction work was complete and we went door-to-door in Las Rocas, inviting people to a Sunday Mass we were to celebrate outdoors, and offering prayer ministry to the people. I can tell you that it is a great departure for my comfort zone to knock on a door and ask someone in broken Spanish if they would like prayers for anything in particular, and then to pray for them out loud in my terribly limited vocabulary.

But it was also profoundly rewarding. People shared their needs and their vulnerabilities with us and we took them together to God. What an incredible experience of solidarity!

Whatever our ethnicity or class, we are all the same before God. We are all in need of his love, his providence, his mercy, his guidance.

I could talk about so many things, but I will just say that I hope we are able to build more trips like this. They are a blessing to all involved and participants always seem to return with a different outlook, and a motivation to build a better world and a better culture back home. 

If you would like to take part in a CLM Mission trip, or to offer support, please do so. It goes a long way!

Photos in this post were taken by participant Augustine Dimagiba. Check out his Tumblr feed

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