Editor’s note: This summer, college students from First Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas, traveled to Peru for a week to serve families at a Buckner Family Hope Center in Lima. During their time, they participated in the Healthy Homes Project aimed at helping families have cleaner and healthier living conditions by improving their homes and surroundings. Kerbey Jacobs tells the story of her team’s experience with their assigned family:

After meeting the family for the first time at the Family Hope Center, we hiked into the mountain to the family’s home. We sat down with the mother, Marcelina, and heard the story of her home and her walk with God. She brought us to tears with her story. I admired her for being so strong for her three kids after everything she's been through.

Marcelina grew up in the highlands of Peru. Her mother left them to go to Lima, the capital city. When Marcelina was 11 or 12, she ran away from home to find her mother. She found her and found out the reason her mother left was because she was seeking treatment for cancer. She ended up passing away when Marcelina was 14.

Marcelina is living proof that God is with us through everything, and even in the difficult times when there seems to be no hope, he is with us, taking care of us. Everything that has happened to Marcelina has happened for a reason and has made her into an amazing woman and mom. Two of her three children suffer from significant medical needs and have been close to death on numerous occasions.

To see the hope in her eyes when we told her our plans for fixing and cleaning her house made my heart so warm, and I thought to myself, ‘This is why I'm here, this is why God called me to Peru.’

The next day when we went to the family’s home, Marcelina was so proud to show us her daughters had cleaned and organized their entire room before going to school to help make our job easier that day. The family was so sweet. I was so amazed at how willing they were to allow us into their homes to help them. I painted the girls' names on the wall in their room and when they got home from school, I asked if they liked it. The smiles on their faces said it all. It made all the hard work and long days so worth it.

On our last day with the family, our group had the opportunity to give them a message of gratitude for allowing us into their homes and hearts. They thanked us over and over for coming in, loving them and their children and organizing and fixing their house.

I feel so blessed to have been placed with this family. They were the biggest blessing on this trip and in my life. We came to make a difference in their houses but they made an even bigger difference in my heart.

Before leaving, I painted a small watercolor quote for them to hang in their home and remember us. It read, ‘Se valiente, no todo esta mal’ (Be brave, not everything is bad). Their reaction and the message Marcelina gave to me afterward warmed my heart beyond words, and we stood there hugging each other and crying. I can't say enough how much this family changed me. I love them so much and will miss them, but they have forever touched me and will always have a place in my heart and prayers.

To learn how you can leave a lasting impact on a family in need, visit our mission trip calendar or contact us to start planning your trip.

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