I am in training mode for an upcoming trip to Peru. The last week of May, my daughter Jessica and I are going to Peru to hike the Inca Trail. This is a four day trek through the Andes Mountains, ending with a sunrise entrance to Machu Picchu, one of the most famous Inca ruin sites in South America. This is a fairly demanding hike, with altitudes of over 13,500 feet. My gym time is being spent trying to increase my stamina and get my heart ready for the lung-crushing that lack of oxygen provides. I have climbed a volcano of 9,000 feet and visited Pike’s Peak in Colorado which has a peak of 14,100 feet. Believe me, this will be more than just a stroll in the park.
I had this idea to try to make the trip more than just a vacation. I contacted a good friend, Dr. Richard Waldrop, who works in missions in South and Central America and asked him if he knew of a ministry to children in Peru that could use a helping hand. He told me of a pastor in Lima who works with needy children, feeding, educating and providing spiritual training. Pastor Dario Lopez currently helps over 330 children on a daily basis. These children are impoverished and in need of the care that Pastor Lopez and his group provides. Dr. Waldrop informed me that, as it turns out, Pastor Lopez is currently trying to gather the funds to complete a much-needed building project that will make their work much more effective. I have had email contact with Pastor Lopez and it looks as though we are going to be able to partner together to help the children.
I feel like this is an open door for us.
Here is my idea: I plan to take pledges from my wealthy North American friends (we are all wealthy by the standards of the rest of the world) that will pay a certain amount of money per mile of the trek. The distance of the hike is about 25 miles. If I can get some friends to pay me to climb mountains, the kids in Lima will get the help they need. So a few weeks before we leave, I will be hitting up the people around me … be on guard.
I did a similar project in 2001. I ran a marathon (26.2 miles) and collected money from generous donors. We collected over $10,000 and paid for the construction of a church in El Cristo, Cuba. I hand-delivered the funds there and was changed forever by what I saw and experienced. The money that was committed was a major incentive to me as I trained for and completed the marathon. I am hoping for the same kind of motivation this time around. I am hoping that we can change the future of some of these children.
So I am training. It is difficult to prepare for high altitudes when you live at sea level. But I am committed to the project.