We would be returning two days before Christmas. Being 57 years old and having no experience with board sports, some said I was crazy; but I’ve come to know I was inspired. Regardless of my lack of action sports experience, I love the Lord, and after supporting the organization for several years, I knew it was important for me to tag along and learn more first hand. A crazy peace came over me to seize the true meaning of the Christmas season and just go–no questions asked. I was along for the ride.
During our time preparing for our trip it quickly became obvious that the whole group fell into the “young adults” category–yet another category that I fell out of when it came to this trip. On top of that, they all had experience with either surfing or skating. Despite feeling a bit like a fish out of water, our mutual love for the Lord broke the stereotypes and we set out for Huacho, Peru. We were believing and anticipating that God was going to use our team to bridge the gap between the people we were going to encounter and a relationship with Jesus Christ. Funny enough, it took us traveling 2,600 miles before I realized that I was the only one who actually spoke Spanish fluently. My mind assured me, “Okay Kelly, maybe you were needed on this trip! These “kids” need you to communicate with locals, and you need them in return to learn how we’re going to use skateboards and surfboards to attract youth into curiosity about who we are and why we’re in their country.”
We made a pit stop in Lima on our way to Huacho. We were meeting up with Aldo, his wife, and the Christian Surfer crew to help them host a surf competition. There were many local surfers that had traveled with groups of kids scattering all ages. The leaders were glad to have our helping hands to set up stakes and tents and were more than grateful for the prizes that we brought with us; it was clear that the word had been spread about the contest and we were thankful we came prepared. I made my way around the beach, passing out Bibles that we had brought, excited to know we were putting the Word of God in the hands of many who have probably never owned a Bible before. The event was a huge success and exhausted, we ended the day at Aldo’s home on makeshift beds with over 25 surfers and myself. We spent two more nights in Lima visiting several local contacts, skating around the city–and even on the roof of the house we were staying–as I followed closely behind on foot.
We definitely attracted attention; but on the bright side, it’s so easy to share the Word when someone is curious about you.
After those couple of days in the Capital, we made our way north where the homes and roads were less than we had imagined. The dusty roads and lack of pavement made a bumpy ride, but once again were greeted by such welcoming locals. An old orange VW bus pulled up and Pastor Craig slid open the side door and smiled as we exchanged hugs and stories from the day of travel. We were headed to an even more rural area for a three-day surfing retreat. The dust path seemed to never end and in between makeshift little towns all that we saw was vast and barren fields. I’m confident we were all beginning to wonder what would happen if we got stranded so far away from everything, but about that time we arrived at a secluded beach and as quickly as we arrived, we were dropped off and left. We had packed in every supply you could imagine–from portable toilets to toothpaste. We watched as the only sign of civilization drove off into a cloud of dust. I began to ask myself if I should have tried a more “introductory mission trip” rather than going so big so quick.
Craig and his wife Daisy had been leading this surf camp every year for over 10 years and each year it had grown larger than the year before. We were there to help and support however we could. There were over 70 surfers and friends of all ages and what felt like no man's land quickly became a refuge for conversation.
If you set up a campfire and some surrounding chairs, there’s no limit on how far a conversation can go!
Each night, we would huddle up in our sleeping bags with the odd and all too near animal sounds outside our tents that left us so thankful for each sunrise and the opportunity to live another day. We shared testimonies and meals while Craig and the team helped teach lessons and held several impromptu contests. I was able to witness multiple individuals surrender their lives to the Lord during those three days and got to celebrate together as they were baptized there at the beach.
As all good things come to an end, we packed up our camp site; as we pulled away, the secluded beach returned to the original image that seemed so distant in my mind. I sat on the plane with my time in Peru coming to a bittersweet end and recounted the worries I had before arriving. Over the trip I learned that I had no board, no experience, and yet it wasn’t a problem. The body of Christ is much like a mission team–it isn’t intended to all look the same. Being old enough to be the mother for pretty much everyone on the trip didn’t keep me from finding my role. If creating curiosity allowed us to share the Gospel while skating around Lima, then a 57 year old traveling with a young group of skaters and surfers definitely did the same. While my experience on the board might still need some work, I’m honored and blessed to currently be serving on the best board I know: the board of directors for Ride Nature. It might not be a surfboard or skateboard, but it’s a board nonetheless and I’m enjoying the ride.