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DWU students prepare for latest trip to Peru

Below the equator, in a Third World city where the vast majority of residents have never heard of South Dakota, Dakota Wesleyan University has been touching lives for nearly 12 years.

DWU will send another two groups of 49 students and staff to Chincha, Peru, this May to continue mission work begun in 2002.

This will be DWU's eighth trip in 12 years, working with volunteers from the United Methodist Church in and around Chincha.

Each participant must provide or fundraise $2,500 to carry on this mission of service.

As part of this effort, students and staff have been traveling to South Dakota and North Dakota churches -- most of which have a direct connection with one of the participating students -- and providing worship services.

By the end of May, the university will have sent more than 150 people -- some have made the trip several times -- to this tiny part of the world, building a community center that provides education, daycare, meal programs and religious instruction to children in the area, as well as a clinic and soon, a church.

In the past, DWU has raised enough funds to build a water delivery system on rooftops and helped with children's ministries. This year, the two groups will work to build a church in Satellite City outside Chincha, continue unfinished projects and provide a volleyball and soccer camp for local children.

Ana Morel, originally of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, will be translator for both groups, and Valerie Hummel, Utica, will stay for both trips so that Morel is not alone between groups.

Morel has been on four other mission trips with DWU.

Staff members for the first trip are campus pastor Brandon Vetter and his wife, Vicky; and staff members for trip two are DWU assistant campus pastor Brian Anderberg and his wife, Tonya; Mari Olson from university relations; Leah Rado, the sports information director; and head wrestling coach Matt Sedivy, who has been on the Peru mission trip twice before, once as a student and once as a staff member.