Joseph Haefs works in the AMG International home office as our Mission Teams Coordinator. Here he shares about his first experience with AMG, and how a short-term trip can have long-term effects not just on those we minister to, but on us as well.

It was December of 2005, and I was on my first Mission Adventure with AMG. I remember so much of my first experience in Peru like it was yesterday. The steady and almost rhythmic sound of the traffic, the street artists performing between stoplight cycles, and the smells of a country whose culinary craft has been honed over hundreds of years. My senses were being bombarded by all the new things, but it was my heart that was marked by lasting change.

I was filled with nervous anticipation as we walked into the child and youth development center for the Bundles of Love program. My Spanish skills were almost non-existent, and I wondered how I would communicate with AMG’s sponsored children. As the program began, a young girl sat next to me, her eyes filled with joy, and her smile beaming in the fluorescent church light. Through my broken Spanish and her patience, I learned her name was Ruth. After the program, we were able to spend time together coloring and playing games. It was such a wonderful, unforgettable evening. I didn’t realize it then, but that five-year-old girl would have a significant impact on my life that continues to this day.

Over the next several years, through AMG Mission Adventures, I was able to continue building our friendship and loved the opportunity I was given. Each time I returned to Peru, I was able to see the joy in her eyes when I would walk through the door, and I am sure she saw the joy in mine as well.

In 2015, my wife, Amy, and I moved to Peru to serve with AMG International full-time. At that point, Ruth was doing well in high school and thriving in her spiritual walk with Christ. It was our joy over the next few years to watch her continue to grow into a beautiful young woman. She flourished academically, athletically, and most importantly, spiritually. Moving back to the United States was difficult for my wife and me, but leaving the kids we loved so much, like Ruth, was even harder.

Since returning to the United States, Amy and I maintain contact with Ruth and her family, and it is my joy to see them when I lead Mission Adventures to Peru. Ruth continues to excel spiritually, academically, and athletically. She is a student-leader in her church’s college ministry, attends the local university where she is studying industrial engineering and continues to stand out on the basketball court. When asked about her upbringing and what has made an impact on her life, she gives all the glory to God for His faithfulness. Ruth remains so thankful for the opportunity she had to attend AMG’s child development center where she first heard the Good News of Jesus Christ.