On the inside, Tamie felt trapped under a nagging sense of inadequacy. On the short-term mission trip to Peru, she saw qualities and gifts in her teammates that eluded her. “I’ll never be like them,” she thought. “I’m not book smart.”
On the outside, though, Tamie was cheerful, not inhibited by expectations for the trip or by the language barrier between her and the Spanish-speaking Peruvian people. She was just excited to serve God in a new way.
“Tamie… was always the first to jump into hanging out with the [Peruvian] kids,” one of her teammates, David, says.
As Tamie and her teammates traveled from Lima to Chincha via bus on the first full day in Peru, she remembers taking it all in. “We saw everything from ocean to desert, nice buildings to extreme poverty,” Tamie says. “I wasn’t shocked, but it would have been different before I was a Christian. [Before becoming a Christian] I was more judgmental, more afraid.”
The team of seven from Hiawatha Church (Minneapolis, MN) spent 10 days building a community center in Chincha as part of EFCA TouchGlobal’s work in the earthquake-devastated region. As they put the final days’ work and finishing touches on a project several months in the making, God was doing some building of His own.
Experiencing God personally
Each evening, the team closed the work day with a devotion led by one team member. All week, Tamie knew her turn was coming to lead the evening devotion — something she had never done in the four years since she’d become a Christian.
While reading about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, God’s words in The Message came alive to her. “For the first time, I really felt like God spoke to me,” she says.
Those nagging feelings of inadequacy melted away as Tamie realized she was made exactly the way God had intended. “I am the way I am as part of the body of Christ,” Tamie says, “and I realized I needed to be fine with that.” No longer did she need to compare herself to others. Rather than seeing a deficit in herself where others were more gifted, Tamie recognized her unique gifts as equally important.
How is Tamie gifted?
“I am more welcoming, a gatherer, a relationship-builder,” Tamie explains. “I’m not a planner. Or an organizer. I’m more go-with-the-flow.” And she is ok with that.
Even if it took her some time to embrace this truth — what she describes as “an amazing revelation” — her team had no trouble recognizing her role. David describes her impact on the trip, saying, “Even though it was hard on Tamie to not have the ability to communicate verbally and be understood, she faithfully tried hard every day to make connections with people, especially kids.”
“She came prepared with a large collection of Silly Bandz that the kids couldn’t get enough of,” David says, referring to the multi-colored rubber bracelets that have gained widespread popularity in the United States. By the end of the week, the Peruvians knew Tamie as the woman with the colorful bracelets.
When Tamie reflects back on her ten days in Peru, she acknowledges it was a great experience — building the community center, working side-by-side with the Peruvians, reaching out to the community, bonding with the children.
But what she really remembers is how God turned her life upside down. “Now [understanding my own spiritual gifts] will lead me to work with who I am to build the body of Christ,” Tamie says confidently. “[Anything else I would do] would be false.”
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Bring a short-term team to Chincha, Peru. Help build sturdy homes for those who, even after more than three years, are still without a safe place to sleep.
For short-term teams to serve in Peru, and that, as God uses them to help change lives, their own lives will also be changed like Tamie’s.