River Cities

Lions, Lutherans gather at Grace Lutheran Church for Peru

Lions and Lutherans gathered on Saturday evening, Aug. 16 at Grace Lutheran Church for a culturally rich evening that included Peruvian dinner and dancing, all to raise funds to support needy children who live in the outskirts of Lima, Peru. 

The evening began with a welcome by Sara Kelly, who is a member of Grace Lutheran Church and is the Charter President and founder of the Miami Peruvian’s Lions Club. It seems as though Kelly’s greatest gift is her ability to inspire others. Kelly brought together the community of Grace Lutheran, the Miami Peruvian Lions Club, the Miami Springs Lions Club, local residents, and even a few Lions from both North Miami and South Miami. 

After the welcome and a prayer, Grace Lutheran’s interim pastor, Pastor Dale Young, offered the crowd a bit of advice, “Buen provecho,” Young said, which means bon appetite in Spanish.  

Before guests enjoyed the array of Peruvian cuisine, Kelly shared a little bit about the ministry that is so dear to her heart. 

“I started communicating with the Lutheran church in Lima about three or four years ago,” said Kelly. “Peruvian Pastor Ben Navarro told me about the great need of the people in his community. The church is in the hills on the outskirts of Lima. The people are Lutheran, which is not common in Peru. The local government provides them with water and electricity but there are huge needs, especially for the children.”

Last summer Kelly took a group from Grace Lutheran Church to Lima, Peru, to see it first-hand. After seeing the needs of the people, the group returned with a new appreciation for life and an invigorated spirit and passion to help the Peruvian children. 

Local Miami Springs resident Trish Gorland attended the mission trip last summer and shared some of her life-changing experience with the dinner guests. 

“When we went to Lima last July, it was with the purpose of meeting Pastor Ben Navarro of Luz Divina, a sister Lutheran Church, and to witness what his church ministry is trying to do to help the people in the community. We took two wheelchairs and several bags of clothes and toys for the children.

“Our main mission was to construct a house for a very needy family, a grandmother who was raising her three grandchildren in a hovel with a cardboard roof. The structure had one bedroom and one bed, and only one water faucet, which was the only source of water for the family. In four days, with the help of several men from the community, we put the walls in place for a home with one bedroom, a kitchen and a living room. After we left, the local men placed plastic panels on the structure for the roof, and poured concrete for the floor. The family welcomed Pastor Ben, who gave the blessing and dedication of the new house. It was a very moving ceremony when we all touched a part of the structure with holy water and listened while Pastor Ben said a prayer,” continued Gorland.

“The memory which is most vivid in my mind is the smiling faces of the children. We ate lunch with them several times during our stay. Pastor Ben and his church congregation provide lunch each day for over 80 children in a little building across the street from the church. It is often the only meal the children get that day. The children seemed happy, laughing and cutting up just like any other children. They were not aware of how little they had compared to what our children have here in the USA. They were polite, and respectful. The strength of the community is that everyone works together to take care of each other. If there is a need for clothes, food or other necessities, they go to Pastor Ben as the source. We recently gathered two large bags of clothes and shoes for Sara Kelly to take to Lima for the children. Pastor Ben will keep these items at the church and hand them out on an as-needed basis. I fully support this cause since I have seen first-hand how the gifts of money are used, and the way the clothes and shoes are distributed. Pastor Ben Navarro is a very humble man who takes to heart each member of the community. I have no doubt that whatever we send in the way of support will go 100 percent to those who need it the most.”

Like Kelly, the small group of missionaries who went to Peru last summer fully intend on inspiring those around them to join the cause. Kelly along with the Lions and the missionaries helped to prepare for the special evening, including serving the meal to the guests at Grace.

As the guests sipped on the well-known Peruvian drink called chichamorada and dined on the Peruvian cuisine, they enjoyed conversation and were even treated to a few special guest dancers from the Peru Danza Asociacion Cultural. The dancers got the crowd clapping to the beat as they spun and twirled around Grace Lutheran’s Social Hall.

“I hope to make this a tradition,” said Kelly. “Something that our community can look forward to supporting every year.”

Kelly is not only inspiring those in the River Cities Community to help with the cause, she is working her connections and inspiring those as far away as the Machu Picchu Lion’s Club located right in Peru.  If you are interested in supporting the Peruvian children in any way, you can contact Kelly at miamiperuvianlionsclub@gmail.com.