Navy Reservist helps Peruvian village build church
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Jeffrey Reppert is a Navy reservist who has lived in Asia, speaks Spanish and spent time as an exchange student in Cairo.
So it’s no surprise he might spend 10 days of his summer in Peru — except that he spent it doing back-breaking work to help build a church for a village of 400 near Santipo, about 190 miles northeast of Lima.
Reppert, 49, went with a missionary group in August to do masonry work in the mountains of Peru to finish a church in a farming village. The people who live there also will be able to use the church, reinforced with rebar, as a shelter during bad weather, he said.
Taking the trip was a way to honor his faith while making a contribution to a group of people who mostly live in plywood homes. “More than what you give, you will receive,” he said.
Reppert, an information-technology specialist with 1st Signal Brigade, is working on the wiring needs for the expanding Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek. The Peru trip was his second with Maranatha, a volunteer group associated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. His first was to the Dominican Republic.
To participate, volunteers must buy their own airline tickets and pay for any excursions along the way, Reppert said. During the stay, he and other volunteers worked about nine hours a day on the building. Others with medical expertise, including his sister, Susan Wooley, a nurse practitioner, provided care to some of the villagers.
“You have to be in fairly good shape,” he said, noting that despite his regular exercise regime, he was sore after the first day of work.
On the trip, the volunteers included 25 Christians and one Buddhist. Many religions and denominations have similar outreach projects and some, like Maranatha, welcome people of different faiths, Reppert said.
“It’s different than just taking a vacation,” he said. “You’re getting spiritually fed. And it’s a physical workout.”