Hello, I am Sophie! I am a member at PRBC and was part of the BMS Action Teams programme for 2019-2020.

What is a BMS Action Team?

If you weren’t aware of what BMS Action Teams are - Action Teams is a Christian gap year programme run by BMS for 18 - 23 year olds to serve God around the world. One month's training, six months overseas  and a two month UK mission tour, you can find more information via the BMS website.

I was put on Team Peru!

Sadly, due to the current circumstances of COVID19 the UK tour has been cancelled but I am excited for this interview to give you a rundown of what I have been up to for the past six months.

Tell everyone about your team.

I have been asked to introduce you to my team, I thought the best way of doing this was to get them to introduce themselves.

So you already know who I am, but these are my other two team mates, Erin and Jacob.

Erin and I are both 18 and Jacob turned 24 in January, we all got on very well and although we're all very different characters we seemed to gel together.


What did you do during your time in Peru?

So the rundown of our programme was.....

The first month in October we learnt Spanish at a mission language school in Arequipa, a city located in Southern Peru in the Andes 7661ft above sea level!

As well as learning the language, we lived with a Peruvian host family. We experienced an evangelical Peruvian church, made friends and were able to explore new places and try new things! I have many brilliant memories of Arequipa.

For the next 4 and a half months we lived and worked in Iquitos and Nauta, in the Amazon Jungle. For November and December we worked within the churches in the city of Iquitos, planning services and carrying out church services, sharing our testimonies as well as visiting a drug addict project and leading school assemblies.

Nauta is a smaller city located on the only road 60 miles out of Iquitos. We went back and forth to Nauta to help with English lessons during November and December. We also led kids' clubs on training weeks.  Nauta has a BMS training centre where ministers come from up river for pastoral training. We were there to lead a kids' club for minister kids and the local community. In this we led sessions on a theme from the Bible and played lots of games.

We moved to Nauta fulltime for January, February and early March, within this time we ran English classes for kids at the church we attended and helped with Adult English classes which Amy (a missionary from the States) and Laura (our supervisor) ran. We also did odd jobs around the training centre next door and engaged with the fellowship with the local church and had lots of fun.

What were your expectations before you left?

I won't lie to you, I was so scared of going away! I had very low expectations of learning Spanish and I thought I would get nowhere. I had the expectation that Arequipa would be a quick stop off to learn Spanish and the real fun would start when we arrived in Iquitos.

I was so wrong! I loved Arequipa so much and at the end of the six months I could actually see how far my Spanish had improved, I could even stand up in a church service and read my testimony in Spanish which is something I could never have imagined I could do.

How did God use you and speak to you while you were away?

I think God really pushed me while away to use my creative skills but be more out of the box. I really enjoyed the kids' club and English classes we ran in Nauta but Erin and I had to put our thinking caps on and be imaginative to find ways to make crafts and activities with little resources.

I feel God spoke to me everyday but especially when we went up river and visited remote river communities. God spoke to me in the quietness that even in the middle of nowhere he is working. I really was pushed at times and sometimes felt afraid but I felt God with me and he certainly walked beside me.

What did you find challenging and what did you find difficult?

At first I found the Spanish a real challenge! But with prayer and hard work I started to get there!

I found the first few weeks of settling into each place hard, missing home, adjusting to other people’s way of life and finding that normal was difficult and in those times, I found my prayer life became really important in my every day.

Tell us about some of the people you met that really impacted you ?

I think a key part of making the experience so amazing was the people.

When we lived in Arequipa, we lived with a host family. They spoke little English but bore with us with our lack of Spanish, they provided care for us by the brilliant meals they prepared and the love of God they showed towards us was fantastic and that is something that really does stick with me.

The missionaries we encountered while being away were great too and we still stay in contact with them! We were very close to our supervisors Laura and the Mahon Family. Supervisors are BMS workers who manage our projects and are our first point of call, they truly showed us love and guidance when we started our work.

As well the local Peruvians we encountered while doing church work in Iquitos they truly were wonderful people with so much faith and were so welcoming to us.

We also were very close with the church fellowship in Nauta, we ran the English classes there and the fellowship of the church were so amazing and kind to us for the two months we lived there.

Likewise, the community of La Union really impacted me, this is where we lived for the two months in Nauta. We ran kids' clubs over at the training centre and we really did feel a part of their community by living amongst them.

I think these people really did impact my time away positively and really made me reflect on myself, and even talking about it makes me miss them very much.

What did you do in your spare time? Did you visit any exciting places?

What we did in our spare time varied, depending which place we were in.

In Arequipa we checked out lots of cafes, did lots of walking and visited some cool places.

In Iquitos we found again many cafes and enjoyed relaxing there!

In Nauta we would watch lots of films with our friends and would travel into Iquitos every two weeks on our weekends to catch good Wi-Fi and have some food  in the fancy restaurants.

We did visit some exciting places while in Arequipa we checked out Colca Canyon which is one of the deepest canyons in the world! We also visited some salt flats.

We had our team holiday in Cusco where we were able to visit Rainbow Mountain and Machu Pichu.

We also had the experience of living in the jungle for 4 and a half months.

I am so grateful for being able to visit so many places.

Tell us about your final days there and having to leave Peru early.

We had to leave Peru early due to Peru’s government shutting borders to Europe due to the coronavirus, so we left two weeks earlier than planned.  Honestly, this was so hard having to say our goodbyes really quickly and rushing out the country was difficult but BMS got us out safely. We had planned to say goodbye and have holiday weeks for the last two weeks, but this was all cut short.

Final Reflections

Has this experience changed you in any way and the way you look on the world? 

I feel Peru has changed me to reflect more. I felt when away I could actually take time out for myself and reflect with God on experiences, being quieter in myself which is unusual for me. To be calm and be present.

Peruvian people have taught to me to not shop as much and be happy with what you own and be content with that. I am a massive shopaholic but understanding that I don’t need what everyone else has really did hit home with me and changed the way I look on the world!

Looking back, what are you thankful to God for?

I am thankful to God for provision, for every time he has provided for us, whether that was flights to get us home safely or the next step in the plan. Peruvian culture is very laid back so having to adjust to plans sometimes being cancelled was hard at the start but God provided everything that we needed when away even if we didn’t realise it and I am so thankful for that!

What is next for you?

I am planning to head off to university next year to the University of Leeds to do 'Theology and Religious studies' for the next three years.

What can people pray for regarding yourself and regarding the Church out in Peru ?

I think like all of us, I would really appreciate prayer for my family as well as the extra time we have at the moment at home that this will be a place of rest and we can use our time efficiently and positively.

We encountered so many churches when away. I pray that this will continue, that the churches will feed more people and more people shall come and listen.

Also pray for Peru as a nation, like us they are having to self-isolate, let's pray that they too shall feel safe under God's wings.

I really want to thank you for listening, your prayers and support while overseas has been fantastic! So, thank you so much.

Sophie West


 Hi! x
In October I shall be heading out to Peru for 6 months, on a short term overseas mission on a BMS (Baptist Mission Society) Action team! I am so thrilled to have been given a place and be involved with the many mission projects out there.
I will be based in the region of Loreto, working in Iquitos and Nauta near the amazon river. I will be involved in environmental projects while I’m out there, teaching English, taking part in outdoor evangelism, working with the local community by being involved in youth work and the local churches. My mission is heavily based on being part of a community, something I am so interested in! I will be based in a team of young people, who I am excited to bond with.
Prior to going out to Peru I will be training at BMS Birmingham with other action teams on my programme and being equipped to go out to Peru, build friendships with my team and learn more about Christ!
πŸ πŸ›€
After my mission in Peru, I will be on an 8 week tour of the UK in which I will be able to share my experiences of Peru with different churches.
This is something I am so excited about, to empower and help others by working with the local community, but to do this I need to fundraise a sum of money to support my overseas mission with BMS, whatever you give would be appreciated greatly. I will also be putting on different events to help fundraise money but I have also set up a JustGiving page. So please hit the link down below, any donation big or small would mean the world to me!
My JustGiving page has all the details about my mission and BMS World Mission, and there you can give money which will go straight towards my mission to Peru.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭

Thank you so much,
Soph x