Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Maranatha Volunteers International has been able continue working around the world thanks to our in-country crews. These workers have pushed the mission forward in nearly all of the countries where we are working—all of them except one: Peru. Here, a strict government lockdown confined people to their homes for most of the past year. Construction was not permitted and travel was restricted. Our team was forced to wait, along with hundreds of church members who had been desperately longing for new buildings.
For Maranatha’s country director in Peru, Elmer Barbosa, it has been a trying time. ‘Not very many people understand what kind of lockdown we experienced here in Peru. At first, we spent 63 days on a very strict lockdown in March of 2020. Everything was closed (everything), except supermarkets, hospitals, and pharmacies. And only one person per family was allowed to leave the house. We have two small children that were forbidden to leave the house for 63 days.’
After a difficult year of confinement, recently, Peru has loosened restrictions, allowing Maranatha workers to return to the job sites. As the work resumes, each task the team completes has a much deeper significance for them, and they don’t take any of it for granted.
‘You can imagine the joy we felt being able to go back to work,’ says Barbosa. ‘The week we started going to the job site everyday, my wife told me, ‘I know the country is still struggling, but seeing you actively going to work gives me hope that life will get back to normal.”
For the past few weeks, workers have been constructing the La Alborada Seventh-day Adventist Church, which is nearly finished. They will soon pivot to the 30 de Agosto congregation’s new building. A crew is also working on a large, 10-classroom school building in the town of Ica.
The latest progress has been liberating. ‘The physical labor has a tremendous impact on our health, even mental health. It is more than just building another church, it is the hope that soon life will somehow return to normal. Hope that we will be able to see people smile, we miss that. Hope that we will see volunteers again,’ says Barbosa.
From 2004-2006, more than 3,000 Maranatha volunteers landed in Peru, constructing nearly 100 churches and schools. In 2019, Maranatha returned to Peru at the request of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South America. After several volunteer groups served through early 2020, the work was halted when the COVID-19 pandemic locked the country down in March of that year. Maranatha’s in-country crew has since resumed the work. Maranatha is closely monitoring the situation for the appropriate time to allow volunteers to return to Peru.