Top 7 Moments (& Photos) from CFOI Peru

Here are the top seven moments and photos from my recent trip to the Camps Farthest Out International (CFOI) Camp in Peru. For more about CFOI, please visit their website. Our founder, Del Anderson, was a past President of CFOI and many of our grantees have come through this connection.

Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony

1. Meeting of Cultures

This 5-day camp held in Lima, Peru was an international meeting of over 200 CFOI campers! There were representatives from 20 different countries! As someone who is very interested in culture, I loved meeting people from all over the world; people from places I had visited before (Kenya, Malawi, Australia) and people from places I hope to visit some time in the future (Fiji, Kashmir, Papua New Guinea). We all came with our cultural expectations and cultural norms and together we had to navigate and celebrate our differences (personal space issues, how coffee is prepared) and marvel in our similarities (love of music, shared faith).

Camper from rural Peru

Camper from rural Peru

2. Opening our Eyes

About 1/3 of the campers were from all parts of Peru – many of them from the rural farming communities in the highlands and jungle areas of Peru. Some of my most memorable exchanges were sharing with them about life in the United States and then hearing about their potato farms. (Did you know that Peru has thousands of varieties of potatoes?!?) As in Africa, the folks from rural Panao use cell phones as their primary means of communication! They don’t have email addresses or even mailing addresses because they are so far out, but they do have cell phones. What an amazing world!

 

Music from Peru

3. World Music

From the moment I signed up for the international camp I’d been looking forward to the music – and I was not disappointed! Pictured here is a woman from Peru who sang a beautiful ballad, accompanied by her accordion and the Afro-Peruvian drum.

We also sang meditative songs from Taize France, silly songs from the Philipines, loud Nigerian songs in their local language, praise songs in Spanish, and soaring hymns led by Nelly from Taiwan.

 

4. Praying Together

After we sang together we also prayed together. My prayer group was a wonderfully multilingual group! I felt blessed to be able to use my Spanish skills to interpret for the 4 Peruvians in the group; and I was so grateful for Christina from Germany who shared her German-English skills to interpret for the other German member.

We prayed in many different ways, each praying in our own language. And sometimes we just took time to talk and share with each other about where we came from and what brought us there.

Even members in Prayer Groups that did not have a Spanish-English interpreter, and who had to communicate with few words and many gestures, shared that with such a busy camp schedule this time in a small group was precious time for connecting on a deeper level.

Tanya and Adelina Meza (Peru)

Tanya and Adelina Meza (Peru)

5. Re-Connecting with Friends

This camp was full of friends – new and old! I met Grace Paljor from Kashmir for the first time. We’ve written emails and been Facebook friends for over a year and in Peru we got to greet each other with a hug. I also got to sing and share with our Small Business Fund Coordinator from Nigeria, Ofonime Nkoko. I met new friends from Australia and Peru who are also working on projects of community development.

And many times people I didn’t know came up to tell me how Del had influenced their lives and sent them letters and copies of Seed Thoughts. One of those people was Adelina Meza from Peru who met Del at the CFOI International camp in the 1990s and whose story I’ll write up and share soon.

Playing foosball in Peru!

Is foosball and Olympic sport yet?

6. Games & Laughter

One of the best way to connect with people is to play games, especially games that don’t require an interpreter! There was so much laughter as people from all over took one of the foosball handles and learned the game together. Even when people pushed the ball toward the wrong goal there was encouragement and friendly cheers. Plus, it was during the Olympic games and we had a good time all singing the Olympic theme song together.

 

 

Tile floor in the Lima Cathedral

“Peace” – Tile floor, Cathedral of Lima

7. Peace

“And I prophesy that not until Catholics, Christian Scientists, Methodists and Unitarians, Fundamentalists and Modernists, can forget the differences underlying the science of their creeds and unite in common cause of living their religion […] – may we hope to see the […] victory achieved that will bring peace on earth and good will to men.” — Glenn Clark, The Soul’s Sincere Desire, pg. 48

The experience of a CFOI camp is the practice of living our faith of serving others, forgiving others, and getting to know and love more of God’s creation. I pray that all us will return home acting like and believing that we are on our way to bringing peace on earth.

Time for International Camp!

By the time you read this I’ll already be on my way to Lima, Peru for the Camps Farthest Out International 10th International Camp! I’m looking forward to 10 days of fellowship with friends from around the world, praying for peace, and singing songs in many languages. This week I’m reposting a piece from July 5, 2011 about our SIA partners in India, some of whom I hope to see in Peru. (P.S. There won’t be a blog post next week since I’m not sure what my internet access will be like in Peru.)

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The work of Spirit in Action, to serve God by serving others through economic empowerment projects, rests on the strong relationships we have with our many partners around the world. In our early years, we relied on the many connections that our founder, Del Anderson, had made through his international adventures earlier in his life and through his tenure as President of Camps Farthest Out (CFO) International, an organization that seeks to spread peace throughout the world through prayer.

Cecil Coipollai and his family in Chennai, India

Cecil Coipollai and his family in Chennai, India

One such connection was with Cecil Coipollai, a CFO leader in Chennai, India. Cecil and Del met at an international meeting in 1979 and began exchanging letters, filled with sincere sharing, encouragement, and inspirational literature.

Del felt that we must serve the WHOLE person: body, mind, and spirit. Serving the spirit without acknowledging the needs of the mind and body was incomplete to Del. This is why our work includes economic development projects, as well as information resources and correspondence.

Cecil and other CFOers in South Asia have received various kinds of support from Spirit in Action, including a small grant in 2005 to help with recovery efforts after the tsunami in Sri Lanka. Also, Del sent some literature with every letter to Cecil and the little book titled, Seed Thoughts for Daily Meditation was one of his favorites.

When Del died in fall 2008, Cecil wrote me about his desire to print the Seed Thoughts booklet in English and the local language of Tamil to distribute to CFOers in Sri Lanka and Chennai. He wanted to share this piece, which had inspired both Del and Cicil so much over the years.

This year (2011), that dream is becoming a reality and the booklet will be ready for distribution in Chennai this fall! I hope that many more people will find hope through this booklet which reminds us of God’s presence all around us each day of the week.

Here is a short excerpt from Seed Thoughts. If you would like a copy of the booklet, you can get a PDF version here or email me to have a hard copy mailed to you.

Tuesday: God is Power

When we draw on our own nerve energy and shut off God’s power then we quickly feel tired and exhausted. When we relax the feeling of strain and draw only on God’s power, quietly expecting God to work through us, then we feel no physical strain, but rather exhilaration and refreshment of spirit. “They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” – Isiah 40:31

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