Art student finds inspiration in Cusco

By Morgan Schutters, a sophomore from Berea, Ky.

Stephanie Gavin with the WGM team in Cusco, Peru.

WILMORE, KY— During March 15-25, nine students from Asbury College went to Peru as the first team from WGM sent to Cusco.

The purpose of the trip was to assist with a two-day youth camp sponsored by a new church in Cusco. However, sophomore art major Stephanie Gavin experienced a breakthrough in her field of study—photography.

Her group joined with a team of Bolivian missionaries who helped run a camp for children. “We all grew very close to each other,” said Gavin from Waynesville, N.C. “Two campers attending led a married couple to Christ on the last night of our stay. Our spirits were down because we didn’t think that we had been effective. Out of nowhere, this couple announced that they had accepted Christ. It was a very heartwarming moment. Everyone was in tears.”

Gavin also documented the trip in photos. The team stayed with a missionary family who was supportive of all Gavin’s endeavors. “It would not have been a successful trip without their love, support, and significant help,” she says.

Just knowing that God has a hand in her intended career was a big breakthrough for Gavin. “I’ve always felt called to art, trying to defend being an artist to others. I learned on this trip that there is a place in God’s heart for art too. God can use art just as easily as He can use carpentry or anything. That fact is comforting and lets me know that God is leading me in choosing what I do for the rest of my life.”

Putting art into practical application was a learning experience for Gavin in Peru. She documented everything the group did in Peru; from the day they went to one of the Seven Wonders of the World - the Machu Picchu Incan ruins, to their work at the camp. Gavin was able to photograph not only God’s creation in nature, but all the people He has created as well. Gavin said, “It hit close to home for me when I go to photograph all the kids that I had developed relationships with. Knowing that the child in my camera lens has a relationship with the same God I do was profound for me. I couldn’t speak their language so photography became a way that I felt useful and could communicate.”

Nothing kept the team from perseverance and making it to Peru. Many obstacles almost thwarted their efforts. Tornados caused them to miss their flight to Lima on the first day. Then there was a mix up about the tickets to Cusco. They stood in the airport for hours while their sponsors tried to convince the airport officials to let them go.

“The fact that I’d never been out of the country on a mission trip, and have a heart for kids really inspired me to go,” said Gavin. She has done a lot of volunteer work through big brother big sister and wanted to connect traveling, missions and art all together. This was her first time enjoying all three together in one experience. “It was an answer from God,” Gavin said emotionally. “He answered a lot of questions for me.”

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